Creating Sacred Space

Grove of Trees
Grove of Trees (Photo credit: coldacid)

Interior Design is a much more intimate journey than fashion.  While clothing can influence an attitude, it is an external layer, with the purpose of showing ourselves to others.  A home is our intimate space where things are not necessarily seen by others or perfect but it is where we create our art, we go inward, we build our nest and family values, refresh our souls and spirits.

Rachel Ashwell

As we continue to explore the theme of the Enchanted Oasis, I’d like to move into the topic of how we create sacred space in our lives.

If we look back a hundred, two hundred years ago, the ability to create or even visit an enchanted oasis was available to only a chosen few.  Human awareness and conscience has grown so that more and more of us want the human family across the globe to not only see an oasis in the distance, but to live in one.

In the last 100 years, we’ve also seen that the earth is an enchanted oasis among the stars.  In all of the universe, we can see that there are other possible locations for life, but there are also vast distances that do not have the life we experience here.  We now know see more clearly that we need to cherish our oasis in the cosmos.

We are moving into a time when we must work with the earth’s ecosystems and seasons and cycles.  At the same time, ideally we could elevate the livelihoods of all people.

Some say we cannot move into a time of greater prosperity with the same approach that has helped us to bring great prosperity to the western world, otherwise global ecosystems will collapse.  Some say ecosystems everywhere have already passed their capacity.

It seems to me that the wisest among us are calling for a new vision of creating sacred spaces working with nature.

Beginnings in Writing and Life

The way a book begins matters.  It’s the same for a journey of any sort.

The first lines of a novel give us a sense of the style of the author, the storyline of the plot and often the genre we will be reading.

In the same way that a writer works diligently at creating and revising to create a great beginning of a work or story, we ought to spend some time making the beginnings of our journeys something special.

Daily contemplation:

If you are starting a trip, a project, a family or any other beginning in life, have you put as much attention to the beginning of your journey as you are to the final destination?

This is part of the Enchanted Journey series written back in July and August 2012.  

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Creating an Enchanted Oasis in a World Where Violence Too Often Occurs

Enchanted 1955

I had planned to share a post on symbols of enchantment today, but with the latest tragic gun violence in Colorado last night, it seemed appropriate to talk about the challenges of daring to live an enchanting life when we live in a world that is filled with injustice, tragedy, and senseless actions of the few that affect the many.

Whether we see senseless violence in the world or ongoing injustices, we can feel that creating peace and beauty for ourselves is frivolous or a way of burying our heads in the sand.

I felt a tinge of guilt for my own prosperity when I was reading Behind the beautiful forevers Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity  a book by the Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, Katherine Boo, about life in the slums of India.  She spent four years observing Annawadi, a makeshift settlement in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport.  As I read the book, I couldn’t help but be struck by the injustice of so much wealth juxtaposed next to such dire poverty.  For most of us, the way forward is not to all become impoverished but bring balance to our abundance and prosperity.

Yesterday, I heard a riveting radio program that talked about research that has shown that countries where income inequality is high experience increases in a large number of undesirable effects including mental illness, while countries with greater income balance experience more of the good things we all want. In my other blog, I wrote about the increasing amounts of data pointing to the societal problems caused from income inequality in America and other countries around the world.   You might be surprised to find how poorly America shows up on the income inequality scale, or maybe you wouldn’t if you have been paying attention to what has been happening in this country during the last 30 years.

We are living in a time when the questions for all of us include:

  1. How do we keep our heart and mind open to the injustices and tragedies in the world, at the same time that we allow ourselves to experience and create enchantment in our own lives?
  2. Can we use positive thinking and prayers to change the inequities in the world around us?
  3. Is there a change we feel called to make in our own lifestyle?
  4. How can we improve lives for ourselves and help others when we live in less than ideal cultures and social systems?
  5. Can we do something to change the inequalities in our own world?

When I hear or read about a tragic event like the shooting in Colorado, I choose to focus not only on the causes of the senseless violence, but on the outpouring of the kindness of strangers to those who have been hurt.  There is so much goodness in the world, and we need to remember that too.

The enchanted symbols that I’ll return to discussing tomorrow can help us realize that our questions are the same ones that humans have struggled to answer for millennia.  Perhaps seeking a more enchanting life individually can lead to new understandings of how to create a better world for all of us.

The Green Man – Enchanted Symbol of the Earth

English: Photograph depicting a carving by Pau...
English: Photograph depicting a carving by Paul Sivell, titled “Whitefield Green Man.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The first symbol of enchantment in my Enchanted Oasis series is the Green Man, a reflection of our longing for connection with nature.

Given the role of all plants in consuming our carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen in the air for us to breathe, perhaps the Green Man symbol is a mirror of something deep within us that knows we are more intimately connected to the green world than we realize.

If you’re unfamiliar with this symbol of enchantment, Wikipedia discusses the idea of the green man in this way:

A Green Man is a sculpture, drawing, or other representation of a face surrounded by or made from leaves. Branches or vines may sprout from the nose, mouth, nostrils or other parts of the face and these shoots may bear flowers or fruit. Commonly used as a decorative architectural ornament, Green Men are frequently found on carvings in churches and other buildings (both secular and ecclesiastical). “The Green Man” is also a popular name for English public houses and various interpretations of the name appear on in signs, which sometimes show a full figure rather than just the head.

The Green Man motif has many variations. Found in many cultures around the world, the Green Man is often related to natural vegetative deities springing up in different cultures throughout the ages. Primarily it is interpreted as a symbol of rebirth, or “renaissance”, representing the cycle of growth each spring. Some speculate that the mythology of the Green Man developed independently in the traditions of separate ancient cultures and evolved into the wide variety of examples found throughout history.

We are indebted to the artists and sculptors among us who create these beautiful symbols of man intertwined with nature. For my own part, the Green Man symbol shows up in the novel series that I’m revising this summer, in a slightly different manifestation.

The artistic use of enchanted symbols can also be a reminder for many of us to take practical action.  The Green Man reminds us that it is in our best interest to remember our close connection with the trees of the earth.

Typical boreal forest.
Typical boreal forest. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are many ways to work on the sustainability of our world, but in my opinion,  few are more important than maintaining and rebuilding forests around the world.  The challenge is that climate change is going to make this more difficult. Across the U.S.  global climate change is creating fires that destroy forests like those in California this year, and without frosts to kill insects that attack trees, many species of trees are suffering.  So, we’re going to have a battle on our hands.

Does the Green Man or other symbols of enchantment intertwined with nature speak to you?

If maintaining a green earth is an important issue for you, how might the use of an enchanted nature symbol in your art or life add to your commitment and actions?

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Symbols of Enchantment

Chiron and Achilles in a fresco from Herculane...
Chiron and Achilles in a fresco from Herculaneum (Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As we continue our theme of the Enchanted Oasis, I thought it would be fun to explore symbols of enchantment, that we find in our lives and sometimes use in our writing.

The symbols we use and encounter in our daily lives, our stories and our mythology reflect so much about our longings.

For the next several days I’ll be sharing posts about several symbols — the green man, the minotaur, Chiron, mermaids, the phoenix, ghosts and genies of jin.  These are symbols that have been meaningful to me and continue to appear in many places in our culture and its stories.

What symbols of enchantment speak most deeply to you?

As we continue to explore our inner and outer enchanted oasis, these symbols can be pathways to discover the questions that pull your life forward.

The Vulnerability of the Enchanted Heart

English: Ilustration of "The Emperor's Ne...
English: Ilustration of “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Español: Ilustración del cuento El traje nuevo del emperador. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the great paradoxes of living a life aligned with the enchanted part of our human nature is that we must be vulnerable to create enchantment.

How many fairy tales involve the vulnerable one — whether a young child, a princess or simple thinker — who drinks the poison, takes the road no wise person would take, or dares to say the Emperor has no clothes? It is almost universally the vulnerable heroes and heroines who save the day and return enchantment to the land.

We live in a time, like all others in human history, where we can create an enchanted world as long as there are those of us who are willing to be vulnerable in service of love, truth, beauty or whatever ideal(s) calls to us.

This is a good time to contemplate what vulnerability means to you in both your life and writing.  Where has your vulnerability been the key to the enchantment moments of your life? How might your vulnerability be your strength now?

Today, dare to ask for help, express your feelings, admit that you don’t know how to proceed and release your need to be in control.

See if you can create some new small or large moment of enchantment in your world by opening up to your vulnerability.  The world is depending upon you to listen to the vulnerability of your enchanted heart.

The Enchantment of Everyday Living

Enchantment Goat
Enchantment Goat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before we go much further in this blog series on accessing our inner and outer Enchanted Oasis, I want to offer a few disclaimers:

  • The word Enchantment can be off-putting to some people.  There are many people who fear anything that has an element of magic to it.  My belief  is that enchantment is like the goat in this picture – natural. I suspect  prohibitions against magical or intuitive ways go back to times when “magic” was used against people in manipulative ways by priests or shamans. Or healers with superstitious or evolving medical practices ended up doing things that were hurtful instead of helpful.  This negative type of magic is NOT the kind of enchantment that I am talking about..
  • My idea of enchantment is to work with and expand the natural energy within each of us and outside of our selves to create results in our lives that feel magical or enchanted.
  • Also before going further in talking about accessing our inner and outer enchanted oasis, I want to be clear that I don’t consider myself to be a spiritual sage or saint, or to be fully awakened to the God-consciousness within.  I am on a journey of spiritual growth and expansion as much as anyone else.
  • My views are meant to stimulate your own discernment and spirit, not to dictate any particular path for you.

Our Energy

You may not think about this often, but everyone creates an energetic transmission with their words, presence and actions.  It’s up to each of us to choose to open up to and create an enchanting presence with our life.

My chosen spiritual task this summer is to increase the connection with my own enchanting energy and increase the amount of enchantment in the world.  I’m hoping that some of you will also work to increase your level of enchanted living for your own sake and for the sake of our world.

Our Time in History

We are living through times when perhaps being frugal or constricted is going to be more valued for a while.  That doesn’t mean that we have to give up enchantment,  perhaps quite the contrary. In the next week, I’ll be sharing about the ways in which we create enchantment through our everyday choices of where we live, how we live, what we eat, what types of clothes we wear, who we spend our time with, and connecting with the spirit of the earth.

Yesterday, I asked you how it is that you stay connected with the Enchanted Oasis inside of you.

For this weekend, I ask you:

How could you increase the level of enchantment in your life over the next two months, between now and the next season?

I ask this question to prepare you for the months ahead.

My intuition says that the intensity of life is going to increase in a new direction by October of this year.  Some of that intensity is normal seasonal change. Beyond that, if you’re quiet within yourself now and the next few months, you can feel an energy building up.

We see it reflected in global economic challenges, climate change, growing gaps between the rich and poor, and so many other outer trends.  If you’re astrologically inclined, there are major alignments shifting between now and October.  We’re moving into a very intense time for most people.

It’s best to be shifting yourself now, before this more intense time hits.

That’s part of the reason that I’m writing about enchantment.  To live an enchanted life, does not mean that everything goes the way you had planned.  With a focus on looking for creating enchantment, you make your life and that of those around you easier.

So, again, I suggest today and this weekend think about how you might increase the enchantment in your life, because the changes you make now could make the rest of the year a one of dazzling intensity versus one of overwhelming intensity.

Are any of you feeling this same rising wave of intensity coming?  Just curious.