A few months ago, I decided that I would gather some herbs from our existing house to use as a ritual for our new home.
My intention is to create smudging sticks to clear the space of our new home and bring in energies of our current home. I collected sage for wisdom, lavender for purity and peace, and thyme for the freedom and time to enjoy our new home.
I planted these herbs several years ago, and have watched them come back season after season. They are like old friends to me.
These were all picked when they were blossoming in the spring and early summer.
Now, I am searching for a good blessing to use in this process.
John O’Donohue wrote a wonderful book of blessings called To Bless the Space Between Us which has many wonderful blessings.
I love what John O’Donohue had to say about home:
Home is where the heart is. It stands for the sure center where individual life is shaped and from where it journeys forth. What it ultimately intends is that each of its individuals would develop the capacity to be at home in themselves. This is something that is usually overlooked, but it is a vital requirement in the creativity and integrity of individual personality. It has to do with the essence of a person, their sense of their own inner ground. When a person is at home in his life, he always has a clear instinct about the shape of outer situations; even in the midst of confusion he can discern the traces of a path forward. When one is at home in oneself, one is integrated and enjoys a sense of balance and poise. In a sense that is exactly what spirituality is: the art of homecoming.
This post concludes my brief and cursory exploration of symbols of enchantment in this blog.
Outside of this blog, I’m currently writing more stories and in-depth discussion for a book that I hope to have published this fall, but can’t include it all here.
My goal is to share the highlights of this new book freely with you, and hope you’re enjoying this journey through our Enchanted Oasis.
When I was thinking about the topic of enchanted symbols, I asked myself:
What are the most powerful enchanted symbols in the world?
My mind immediately went to the powerful symbols we see in the external world:
Symbols for money
International Business Logos
Stories and Movies
Flags of Countries
All of these symbols influence our actions, whether we realize it or not, and are very powerful in both good and negative ways. We need to understand our personal and collective relationship to these symbols of power and control, as well as their positive side of freedom, peace and prosperity.
Yet, when I asked my spirit and heart this same question about the most powerful enchanted symbols in the world, I received a different answer.
One that may sound too simplistic or trite, but I don’t believe it is.
Spirit told me that our most powerful symbol of enchantment is our smile. The smiles and genuinely kind expression on the faces of the people around us are more powerful than we often recognize. Symbols of currency, business, country, and even religion are temporary. They will pass from existence some day. Some stories may endure for thousands of years, but if we put much focus on these symbols, even religious stories, we can miss an important piece of life.
Smiles are also temporary expressions. They can be recorded through art, but the true power and enchantment of smiling comes from daily use.
We may not understand or appreciate other people’s customs, food choices, beliefs, religions, points of view etc. Fortunately, the creator of Life made us capable of communicating unconditional love and peace through our face. No expression is more powerfully good than a genuine smile. It not only transforms others, it transforms us. Scientists are now recognizing that sometimes we can act as if, until it becomes true for us, though I’m not suggesting that you discard difficult emotional experience and only smile.
There is a reason, that this simplistic symbol 🙂 is used in so many places, including social media. There are other emotive symbols, and other expressions, but none of them bring as much good will and connection as a smile.
The most powerful stories share the timeless wisdom of how we need to cherish the gift of Life and be our best self in the moment. Every religion teaches this. And we can show our understanding and faith in something bigger than ourselves through our choice to smile.
We cannot hoard our smiles and save them for another day.In fact, the more we use this enchanted symbol to connect and appreciate the people and loves of your life, the more enchanted our life becomes.
There is much in life that can cause us to feel pain and sadness. Look at the News any day and you will see suffering. We cannot run away from heartbreak. Yet, even in the midst of whatever is happening in our life or the world, each of us, no matter what our situation, has received this gift to create the most powerful enchantment in the world – a smile.
For me the question for today, and the rest of my life is:
How have can I use my own magical power of a simple genuine smile to enchant my world today?
What do you think the most powerful enchanted symbols are in the world? I’d love to hear your ideas.
I leave you with this blessing:
May you every day enchant the world around you and receive the very best enchantment that life has to offer!
For millennia, humans have discovered and created symbols and stories of how the world works that protect and nurture us. Sometimes the symbols were called Gods and Goddesses, sometimes they were enchanted figures. Never has humankind had more access to more universal symbols than we do now, and maybe that is part of the challenge we face moving forward.
Perhaps, we need to choose more carefully the symbols we individually and collectively allow to guide our lives and art.
Many spiritual practices involve focusing on the good in life through prayer, or repeating a mantra or contemplating a sacred icon. Unfortunately, the pace of modern life often pulls us away from the very symbols that refresh our spirits, and we settle for a focus on stories of fear instead.
The Power of Symbols of Fear
Symbols have an energy about them, whether they are dark or light.
Yesterday, in America, we saw the worst case of the tying together of a dystopic movie about Batman with a horrible real life image of death and destruction. Some people blame Hollywood for creating visions and using symbols of violence and being able to spread them to us in ways that earlier humans never could have experienced.
Scientists say that humans pay much more attention to dark events and symbols of doom than we do to happier events because of how our brain works. The fear center in our brain is always on alert to protect us, so we are naturally looking out for danger and how a tragic event might happen to us. And of course the media and Hollywood play up to these fears, as does much of mythology and religion.
If we look back thousands of years, the fear center has dominated our mythology, particularly in our focus on mythical Gods of War and real life ones as well. Every spiritual master has taught us that we must move beyond fear, but that’s tough to do when you’re surrounded by messages and symbols of fear.
More and more people are recognizing that we can’t keep living out of that fear center in our brains and hope to create a better world, despite the fact that as human beings we are fragile creatures and can easily get hurt in the world. That’s why it matters what symbols we give our attention and focus.
Healing with Enchanted Symbols
What then is a practical alternative to dealing with the constant bombardment in our daily lives with negative messages and symbols?
First of all, I believe that religious symbols generally speaking have an enchanted quality inherent in their being that heals us. Almost every religion talks about miracles and our power to create them in our own lives through compassion and love. So focusing on religious stories, symbols and ideas is a way to heal with symbols for many people.
There are other types of symbols that can be healing and those are the ones we find in our stories and novels and movies. If you had to come up with a fictional enchanted symbol which is the antidote to modern fear, what would it be for you? How do you manage the symbols and stories that bombard you every day?
One of the ways I counter fear is to look for stories with a positive vision of the future, another is to look for ones from the past that contained wisdom we can still use. The third is to write my own stories. Two of my favorite enchanted symbols are the centaur and mermaids, and both of these figures are modified in my novel, in ways that you wouldn’t necessarily recognize the original symbol.
A centaur is a symbol of the capacity for both wildness and wisdom in man. The centaur Chiron was said to the be the teacher of Achilles, and for astrologers the planetoid Chiron is seen as a healing force in the sky. It interesting to see how we interpret symbols differently in different times of history. If you watched the Harry Potter movies, you saw centaurs running wild in the forest, mostly as symbols of wild freedom. This interpretation seems fitting for what we see in society now, because in some ways we have lost touch with the healing part of our animal nature.
Mermaids to me are connected with the healing power of water and our oceans, and are generally seen as gentle creatures that often rescue humans from shipwrecks and danger. The exerpt of my novel that I shared a while back included genetically modified whales, that in many ways serve as mermaids in my story.
Finding Your Own Healing Enchanted Symbols
We are living through a time when the conditions of human existence are changing so quickly, and we don’t have enough of a collective utopic or even positive future vision to offset the dystopic and life destroying symbols that are abounding in the world and our stories now. The creatures of enchantment that collectively have fascinated us in recent years have been werewolves and vampires, and dark knights.
For those of us who are writer, artists, thought leaders, societal change experts and healers, we need to be aware of our own symbols. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t create dark characters or symbols or stories. I just wonder if the world could use some different kinds of symbols and stories that uplift our hearts and minds. The great mythologist Joseph Campbell said we needed new myths for this new time in history.
This is one of the major challenges that writers and creative types of our time in history must address. If we want a better future, we need to be purveyors of new symbols or a new empowerment of old symbols with energies of peace and freedom and social justice that have laid dormant for too long. There is a need to create masterful new stories that go beyond violence, conquest and fear. Yet, we have to also to tell the truth of our fearful and violent times as well.
Here’s a few questions to consider:
Are there enchanted symbols that keep appearing in your life and stories?
If you had to choose a favorite enchanted symbol what would it be?
What period of history might it come from?
How might that symbol inspire others to view life differently?
What are the most powerful symbols in the world today?
Tomorrow, I’m going to complete this brief exploration of enchanted symbols by talking about what I believe have become the most powerful symbols and stories of enchantment in the world, and they might surprise you.
As I was working on my writing today, I came across this great quote from the Dalai Lama:
“We humans have existed in our present form for about a hundred thousand years. I believe that if during this time the human mind had been primarily controlled by anger and hatred, our overall population would have decreased. But today, despite all our wars, we find that the human population is greater than ever. This clearly indicates to me that love and compassion predominated in the world. And this is why unpleasant events are “news”; compassionate activities are so much a part of daily life that they are taken for granted and, therefore, largely ignored.”
Personally, I believe he is on to something. My belief in the love and compassion within the vast majority of humans gives me hope that as time goes on we will find better ways to live with each other and the earth.
Ferdinand ran to the middle of the ring and everyone shouted and clapped because they thought he was going to fight fiercely and butt and snort and stick his horns around. But not Ferdinand. When he got to the middle of ring he saw the flowers in all the lovely ladies’ hair and he just sat down quietly and smelled. He wouldn’t fight and be fierce no matter what they did. He just sat and smelled. And the Banderilleros were mad and the Picadores were madder and the Matador was so mad he cried because he couldn’t show off with his cape and sword. So they had to take Ferdinand home. And for all I know he is sitting there still, under his favorite cork tree, smelling the flowers just quietly. He is very happy.
Excerpt from The Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf
The Story of Ferdinand was my favorite book when I was a little girl. I cherished the story of the bull who loved flowers and refused to fight. This is a powerful story because it reminds us that there is as an enchantment that comes from staying opening to our natural awe, which gives us life and often protects us in dangerous situations.
Many of us have heard that if we want to be happy, it’s good to spend some time every day being grateful. An associated practice that increases the happiness and enchantment level of our lives is opening up to this natural power for awe.
The gift of experiencing some kind of difficulty in life is that sometimes the loss or removal of something that we once took for granted or the challenge of dealing with the world as it is brings us the opportunity to re-discover our power for awe in new ways.
Right now, my children and I are in awe of the medicine that has removed most of the tremors from our little dog. She can now crawl across the floor after lying almost lifeless for several days fills us with awe. She is not necessarily cured of her illness, but even moments of the freedom to enjoy her little life are precious to us.
Little children often are wiser with this aspect of enchantment.
As we grow older we forget what it was like to be a small child and filled with awe at the glories of the world around us.We forget that it is an entirely appropriate response to giggle and become amazed over the simplest things like the ability to blow a bubble or snap our fingers or smell the scent of a beautiful blooming flower.
Jesus seemed to be referring to this innocent sense of awe and trust in life when he said to enter the kingdom of heaven, we must be like little children.
If you’re going through a tough time in your life or even if everything is better than you could have ever hoped, see if you can discover that part of you that holds your natural awe of the magic of life.
A daily dose of opening up to awe is another way to discover enchantment in whatever season of life you may now be passing through.
As you go through your day, find one or many things that bring you a sense of delight and awe. Then for at least five minutes allow yourself to be completely immersed in your own innate sense of wonder and magic. Awe is always there waiting for you to open your eyes and breathe in the beauty of your life.
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.
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.
Both quiet and silence are aids to enchantment, because they allow us to hear the “chant” of nature, the sounds of our interior lives, and music. The incessant and inescapable noise of modern life, standing in the way of an aural relationship with nature and making it nearly impossible to hear our thoughts, blocks enchantment. To be susceptible to the spells of everyday life, we have at least to perceive nature, both inner and outer.
Thomas Moore, The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life
Yesterday, I invited you to take a journey of inner and outer exploration of our spiritual source in these white hot, thirsty days. You may live on the other half of the world where it is cooler, perhaps cold and blustery now. Some of us in the Northern hemisphere would love a blast of that cold!
Perhaps, in some way, the earth is sending us a message. Many of us believe that the earth and all of nature would like us humans to embrace a more enchanting way of life.
The metaphor of the Enchanted Oasis is not a particularly new one. It is one as ancient as human history and appeals to many of us, because no matter what time or climate we live in, we experience times in our life that feel like we are walking alone in a desert, searching for something magical to ease the burden of life. There are times in our life when we feel that the world has lost its enchantment.
In its biggest view, the Enchanted Oasis is a metaphor for the spiritual center that we all have, whether we recognize it or not. The Enchanted Oasis is NOT the entirety of our soul, it is the mysterious energetic diamond within each of us that allows us to be able to live joyfully on a constant basis, not just when we have peak experiences in life.
Often, we try to create an enchanted life by looking outwards and seeking to improve ourselves to be more appealing to our family, beloved, culture or world. We believe that if we become:
then, we believe we will deserve to live joyfully and create a more enchanted life.
Most of us have discovered if we are honest with ourselves, that transformations for external reasons don’t really work if we are not also connected to our own spiritual center.
On top of that, much of the time, when we hear the process of Awakening discussed, it is made to sound like an arduous journey that can only be accomplished through years of meditation, contemplation, celibacy, public service, and contribution to others.
Sometimes we have to be willing to look deeper into the enchanted world in which we live.
Have you ever noticed that there are people who the outer world would consider to be failures or at least not very successful who have a greater spiritual presence than many so-called spiritual people? These enchanted folk might wear unfashionable clothing, struggle to survive, be unhealthy or sick, have no great ambitions. Outcasts. Anonymous souls who will never be known in the greater world. Yet . . . because they are connected to their own Enchanted Oasis, they are a greater force for good in this world than many of us who seem to have everything.
I’m certainly not advocating that we all become poor and struggle or choose to define personal and global prosperity as a bad goal. It’s just that the Enchanted Oasis within and without does not require any of this.
This is what Jesus, the Buddha, Lao Tzu and so many others were trying to help us see. We can tap into our Enchanted Oasis today and everyday, and there is no hierarchy of who deserves this gift.
As we begin this journey together, I’d love to hear your thoughts:
Do you believe that each of us contains a compassionate, life nourishing spiritual center, an Enchanted Oasis within us?
Do you have practices that allow you to maintain joy despite whatever outer events are happening in your life?
Would you like your life to be more enchanting?
Are you living out of the Enchanted Oasis within you?
I suspect that many of you are already living out of your Enchanted Oasis, but you might not have thought much about it in those terms. Let me honor you for being and creating an Enchanted Oasis in your part of the world.