Invitation to Wonder is a delightful meander on nature, cycles, metaphor and physicality, and touches on so many subjects you might not have otherwise connected. I'm just starting to read, but already finding it full of wonder and insight.
Talking about the mystery of birdsong, which apparently only male birds do (and only in the spring to attract a mate), Ayers says that because young birds learn their songs from their fathers, variations build up over the years to create disctinctive regional "dialects".
She says that bird-song is probably more individual artistic creation than species-specific expression, and goes on to report a fascinating biological fact:
"Experiments with zebra finches prove that birds actually rehearse their songs in sleep, using their dream time to hone a whole range of improvzations they'll implement come dawn."
Perhaps I find this fascinating partly because of how I too experience creativity in that liminal dream state. I often wake up with particularly pleasing phrasing for something I'm trying to write about, and Ayer's words make me wonder if I've been "rehearsing" the sounds and word patterns for the prose in my sleep. I know I also sometimes work out a design problem or find a particular shade of color I need for a painting when I'm dreaming, waking up with the answer as I surface into the new day... Isn't it interesting that we share this phenomenon with our bird relatives, too?
But what about you? I'm curious... do you ever work things out your dreams?
Every year I respond to the drum beat of a Solstice ceremony held high in the Santa Cruz mountains where I join 25-40 others in dancing to the Tree of Life and declaring my intent, my commitment, for the next year.
It's almost impossible to describe the power of this experience in words, but I'll give it a go:
Tall trees, a deep horizon a meadow with open sky, where unruffled deer witness a communing circle of earnest hearts, entering ever closely the domain of their destiny.
A circle of Humans sitting in the bounty of the gifts we hold, Listening for what it is we feel we must offer back in the grace and gratitude of this fullness.
My own commitment, in this next cycle of the sun, is to hone my inherent, god-given aesthetic intelligence into a powerful instrument of Light.
I offer this commitment for the benefit of all sentient beings, and ask three blessings to guide my way:
May my voice be sourced in Silence. May my words evoke the magic of original Knowing. May my images be graced by the catalytic spark of Beauty.
My annual Dreaming Ceremony was a little different this year, due to the series of storms that hit the California coast in the last few weeks. The winding mountain road I took to get there was a 2 hour obstacle course of rock-slides, flooded low spots and downed power lines, so it was no surprise to find there was no electricity when I arrived.
We gathered that first night in a large room in the Santa Cruz mountains, lit by a roaring fire in the fireplace and the glittering lights of this year's altar (created by Lightning Dove, aka Sue Blondell). The heat in the building was electrically generated so it was cold and we were all wrapped in medicine blankets and woolly socks - some of us wearing scarves and hats, and even gloves.
It was magic...
One of the main motivations that takes me to the Dreaming Ceremony - and the Summer Solstice Ceremony that bookends my year - is the wish to realign my system to the rhythms of the natural world. The conditions could not have been better for that purpose, or for the collective Dreaming we all came to do together...
Later that night I took a flashlight back to my little cabin in the woods and lit a bunch of votives to do some journaling before snuggling into bed and watching tree shadows moving outside my windows. I left my porch light on so I could tell if the electricity returned and when it came on in the middle of the night I was kind of disappointed.
But that wasn't the end of our adventures with the weather- the electricity was on and off throughout the four days of ceremony and the darkness in the Kiva was especially deep when there was no electric current to distract us from the Void. My body actually began to remember what it was like to live without it and the re-calibration of my internal compass was well and truly set by the end of our time together; I figure it's good for another six months at least!
My magical friend & mentor FireHawk Hulin passed along this fabulous video from the Symphony of Science, which samples media snippets from the brightest scientific heart/minds of our time. The message is simple: "we are all connected", but there couldn't be more crucial knowledge for us humans to carry as we go into our next decade.
The power of this symphony's lyrics is literally stunning, and I find myself fascinated by the last line of one stanza - "we are a way for the cosmos to know itself" whose implications are still reverberating ...
The beauty of a living thing is not the atoms that go into it
But the way those atoms are put together
The cosmos is also within us
We're made of star stuff
We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.
Many people have asked for more details on the First Peace work I experienced in New Mexico ... so I thought I'd show rather than tell you. The venerable RainbowHawk has created a series of paintings that illustrate the Eight Universal Principles of the First Peace. These powerful images tell the story better than I ever could, and I've added some of the words that accompany each principle in the First Peace Circle Handbook.
But first, a little background; the concept of "First Peace" comes from a quote by Black Elk;
" The First Peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness, with the Universe and its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the Universe dwells Wakan Tanka, the Great Spirit, and that this center is everywhere, and it is within each of us. This is the real peace, and others are but reflections of this.
The second peace is that which is made by two individuals and the third is that which is made between nations.
But above all you should understand that there can never be peace between nations until there is known that true peace is within the souls of the people."
The Eight Universal Principles are the foundation for the consciousness of the First Peace, so by working with them in our own psyches we truly begin to seed lasting peace in the world.
If you'd like to see any of the images in more detail, just click on them.
#1. Prayer Dance of Awakening: East
"Spirit as Light Emanates Life Force"
With this universal principle is the call to realize that, as humans we are a manifestation of light in human form, a manifestation of the Divine, and as such we are called to develop this consciousness that has no restraint or boundary.
When I don't write anything for a while it's usually not because there's nothing going on. Rather, perhaps because there is SO much going on ... I often feel like this seed pod, ripening and ripening until I'm ready to birth a thought into the world.
There is an external order to my web design work that usually begins with some some variant on the following:
Understanding the project thoroughly - things like its purpose and perceived audience, the vision or message it is meant to convey, special needs, budget and time-line, its relation to other parts of a campaign, desired scope or impact, how much control the client wants or needs, what their tech skills and interests are, etc. etc.
Honing in and clarifying the structural elements that will be needed - what are the navigation links and how should they line up, technical format, key concepts/words, naming conventions, a rough idea of content, etc. etc.
Exploring my client's aesthetic preferences; embodying their pre-dispositions, their likes and dislikes, and coming to shared agreements on "look and feel"
These are all elements that I can share with my client, they are what I say "out loud". But lately I've begun to become aware of another, subtler process that is happening internally, right alongside these external steps. As soon as I start gathering the data in step one, if I pay attention I notice that I'm listening more deeply for the things that are not being said: hopes, competing needs, dreams, aversions and aesthetic quirks, what they want the result to "feel" like, etc. etc. and often without my knowing when or how, a process of incubation begins.
Much of the time I'm only half-aware of what is happening, but inevitably, in its own pace, what I can know with my external senses begins to dance with my intuition and the as-yet unknown. The creativity that flows in my underground streams starts to converge and sooner or later images and sense impressions begin to take form.
I learn about them in my dreams or when I sit down to work on a design and something wholly unexpected emerges. Or, I find I'm always thinking of the project on some level and sometimes I catch a reflection of my thoughts or a disguised version of what I'm silently looking for.
As I become more aware of this process, I'm able to move with it more fully. When that happens my work feels lighter and more "fun" while the results get better and more satisfying.
What about you? Do you have an internal work process that runs parallel with your external routine? What's it like? Are you aware of it? How does it make itself known?
You may remember a project I mentioned in a post written last October, on the Powers of Place - well, I'm pleased to say I'm now the point person for creating the online communications for the whole project - stay tuned for more about that - but for now I'm excited to announce the launch of Our Luminous Ground.
Luminous Ground is a WONDERFUL journey into the pattern language of sacred lanscapes all over the earth and I want to invite you who find the earth sacred and/or have something to share about your own experience with power spots around the world to come check it out, subscribe, and contribute.