The great classical story teller, Aesop, tells the tale of a hungry fox looking for some food.
One hot summer’s day a fox was strolling through an orchard. He came upon a bunch of grapes just ripening on a vine high above his head. Feeling hungry and not seeing much else around him he said, “this could be just the thing to quench my appetite.” He took a few steps back, ran and took a jump up at the grapes but just missed the bunch. Turning round again with a One, Two, Three, he took another running leap at the grapes but still missed catching them. Again and again he tried after the tempting morsel, but at last he had to give it up, and walked away with his nose in the air, saying: “Ahhh, those grapes were probably sour anyway.”
This reminds me of those fellows who go to bars trying to pick up girls. If a girl rejects them they walk away making some crude comment about how unattractive she was, anyway.
It’s easy to despise what you cannot get.
This is also the case with mysticism. Many people go into the practice expecting some specific result and when they fail to achieve it, condemn the whole system. The enlightened state is attainable and worthy of attainment but it requires a degree of commitment that many people are not willing to make. Failing with one approach the committed mystic makes adjustments and gets back to work. The grapes of mysticism are not sour but they do require effort to taste.
The Master Jesus said, in declaring himself One with the Mystical state: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty”
How do you attain this state? You make the effort, continuously, as though your life depended on it. Wake yourself up. Wake yourself up any way you can. Wake yourself up and then wake up everyone else. Don’t be like the fox; keep working until you succeed in tasting the sweet fruit of the mystic.
Mysticism comes from the word “Mystic” which means an initiate of the sacred mysteries. The mystic, by undergoing certain challenges and training, gained knowledge of and especially personal experience of different states of consciousness and levels of being. The mystic came to know reality in a whole new way, one that went beyond normal human perception and involved the development of a direct connection with a supreme being.
Mysticism is both the practices that lead a person to become a mystic and also the practices developed by mystics to strengthen their connection to altered states of consciousness and to help others experience those states.
The main practice of mysticism is meditation – and this can be accomplished in a variety of ways including intellectual study, physical activity, and interaction with people particularly in a charitable way, and various ritualistic programs – besides the common idea of sitting quietly and attempting to gain clarity of mind.
Almost all the founders of the world’s great religions were mystics (Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tzu, Krishna, etc.), and elements of mysticism are apparent in religious activities. However, most religions rely on a structured, formalistic approach to their practices to maintain their organizations and thus, mysticism is often deprecated or persecuted. Mystics, in a religious context, need to be controlled or they might set up a competing organization.
The goal of mysticism is to prepare people to experience an awakening to cosmic reality – that is, an experience of absolute union with the universe or God.
A young woman was having problems with her life and went to her grandmother for some help and advice. “I don’t know if I’m going to make it,” she said. “Life is getting too hard. There’s one problem after another. I’m tired of fighting and struggling; I just want to give up.”
Her grandmother took her into the kitchen and sat her down at the table. She then filled three pots with water and placed each pot on the stove. When the water came to a boil, she put some carrots in the first pot, eggs in the second pot and ground coffee beans in the third pot.
She let everything sit and boil, without saying a word. After about twenty minutes, she turned off the burners. She carefully fished the carrots out of the first pot and placed them in a bowl. Then she pulled the eggs out of the second pot and placed them in another bowl. Finally, she ladled the coffee out of the third pot and placed it in a third bowl. Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, “Tell me, what do you see?”
“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” the young woman replied. The grandmother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The granddaughter smiled as she tasted its rich flavour. The granddaughter then asked, “What does it mean, grandmother?”
Her grandmother said, “Each of these items have faced the same problem, the same adversity: they’ve all been thrown into boiling water and left to cook. However, each item reacted differently. The carrots went in strong, hard and unrelenting. But, after being subjected to the boiling water, they softened and became weak.
“The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after spending time in the boiling water, its inside became hardened! The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they actually changed the water.”
“Now, which are you?” the grandmother asked the girl. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?”
Like the young woman in the story, when we find ourselves in difficult situations, it might be useful to consider the grandmother’s advice. We could ask ourselves: Which am I? After a death, a break up, financial hardship, illness or any of a thousand other problems people face – Which am I? Am I the carrot? Do I start out strong and sturdy but with pain and adversity do I wilt, become soft and lose my resolve?
Am I the egg? Do I start with a malleable, flexible heart, and fluid spirit but with the heat and pressure, though I look the same on the outside, do I become bitter and tough on the inside with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?
Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the bean’s fragrance and flavour. When things are at their worst, the bean makes things better by adding something positive to the situation . When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?
I found this picture of Alice from “Alice in Wonderland” talking to Dorothy from “the Wizard of Oz” circulating on Facebook. Both of these girls have seen some “weird shit” and really have no one to talk to about it – except each other. Unfortunately, their world’s never crossed so everyone they shared their individual experiences with thought they were crazy or just victims of over active childhood imaginations.
As a mystic I can relate to this image. No, I’ve never been to Oz or Wonderland but I have experienced “weird shit.” Most people on a mystic path will eventually encounter something strange and unexplainable. Some of the strange things such as body tingles, lucid dreaming, euphoria, open mindedness, acceptance, and a weird sense of joy are common. After these experiences, when the senses are somewhat attuned, it’s possible to start ‘seeing’ things around you that go unnoticed by others – usually more vibrant colours, more depth in objects, a peculiar sensing of people’s moods and intentions. Occasionally objects or beings from other realms might be perceived as intruding on your space. Communication with people from distant places or times might also occur. There are also various exercises and practices that allow you to deliberately seek out new experiences through activities such as out-of-body travel or merging with universal intelligence. Anyone who has travelled awhile on the mystic path knows about and accepts these occurrences. However, there are other experiences that are unique to each individual, or at least uncommon. One relates to the actual content of any communication with other beings. If you encounter a spiritual master on the path the words and images shared might only be for you. There is a gospel song called “In the Garden” that expresses this concept – the chorus is:
And He walks with me
And He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own
And the things we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known
There is also a uniqueness associated with how you initially push out of the normal world and into the world of mystical enlightenment. Lewis Carroll and L. Frank Baum, the authors of the Alice and Dorothy stories, seem well aware of this idea – perhaps because they both had mystical sentiments. Dorothy reaches Oz by various means – the most well-known is by tornado, but in other stories people get to Oz in other ways, such as by going up in a balloon, through a cave or by diving under the sea. Alice gets to Wonderland by going down a rabbit hole in one story and by stepping into a looking glass in another.
Long ago I was associated with a particular mystical lodge group and I was giving a presentation on the enlightenment experience. I described it as being like turning off Niagara Falls, then standing at the bottom and turning the water back on – a terrifying, crushing sensation that at the same time is exhilarating and liberating as one merges with the deluge and then emerges into the eternal sea.
After my talk, one member took me aside and said he didn’t agree with my image. Not having been through the experience himself, he said that if enlightenment was to occur it must be a peaceful, loving process. But another, older, member was walking by and overheard the statements. He said I was correct in my image – the move to enlightenment can sometimes be a frightening, even painful occurrence.
I was young at the time and did not realize that I should have latched onto that older gentleman and pumped him for more knowledge and understanding of the mystical path. As it is I have not met another person in the flesh who shared my revelations (though I have read about similar events in people’s lives). And I fear that many of the things that happened beyond the waterfall can never be discussed openly with anyone. Like Alice and Dorothy, most mystics in the everyday world must walk their path alone.
The Illuminati is a name given to several groups throughout the centuries, both real and fictitious. The name refers to the supposed enlightened or spiritually evolved character of the members of the group – the word itself means “enlightened ones.” The most influential Illuminati group was called the Ancient Illuminated Seers of Bavaria or more simply the Bavarian Illuminati. This was a secretive organization founded on May 1, 1776 by Adam Weishaupt to oppose superstition, prejudice, religious influence over public life, abuses of state power, and to support women’s education and gender equality. The professed goal of the Bavarian Illuminati was to teach people to be happy by encouraging them to be good – by illuminating the mind and freeing it from prejudice and superstition. More modern goals in line with these sentiments would include total gender equality (including LGBT), racial equality, spiritual tolerance, and the promotion of literacy, prosperity and peace. A key difference between the Illuminati and many spiritual organizations with similar aims is that the Illuminati were/are more militant and prepared to take strong action to achieve their goals. They are activists and their activism was geared towards educating the masses and influencing the powerful to support the elevation of the masses. With such an agenda, it is no wonder the group was outlawed along with other secret societies by the Bavarian government leadership with the encouragement of the Roman Catholic Church, and continues to be vilified today.
In subsequent use, “Illuminati” refers to various organizations claiming or purported to have unsubstantiated links to the original Bavarian Illuminati or similar secret societies, and often alleged to conspire to control world affairs by masterminding events and planting agents in government and corporations to establish a New World Order and gain further political power and influence. Central to some of the most widely known and elaborate conspiracy theories, the Illuminati have been depicted as lurking in the shadows and pulling the strings and levers of power in dozens of novels, movies, television shows, comics.
The Bavarian Illuminati did in fact try to infiltrate educational organizations, religious and metaphysical groups, and government institutions with the plan to convert key members to their way of thinking. They were advocating the establishment of a new kind of society – one based on the concepts known at the time as “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.” These were ideas dangerous to the status quo. How successful they were is a matter of dispute. It is clear, however, that their activism scared the ruling classes in their own time and continues to scare people today.
So how does a group whose stated goals include: ending superstition; limiting the oppressive powers of government, the established religion of all denominations and state backed institutions; elevating the status of women; raising up the poor and disenfranchised; promoting worldwide education; and eliminating economic disparity and war come to be seen as some sort of demonic society bent on enslaving the world? Well, maybe an evil organization has taken to calling themselves the Illuminati but they actually have a completely different agenda. Or, maybe the people who vilify the Illuminati are the ones who want to spread superstition, maintain the oppressive elements in the government and religions, and want to deny people an opportunity to learn, grow and advance. After all, if you happen to be a despotic ruler and you know that there is a group plotting to kick you off your throne, you probably would consider that group to be the biggest threat to social stability on the planet.
Or perhaps it is the Illuminati themselves defaming their own reputation in order to divert attention from their true agenda. The real Illuminati, if they exist, must always function in opposition to the current power elite since it is impossible to be both Enlightened (illuminated) and at the same time seek to dominate the world. Therefore they must operate in secret, behind a variety of masks. The people currently accused of being Illuminati – the financiers, industrialists and politicians – are clearly NOT enlightened. Look instead for groups that oppose government attacks on personal freedom; oppose religious domination of society; promote gender and racial equality; and promote literacy, prosperity and peace.
Adam Weishaupt described preferred members of the Illuminati this way:
“Whoever does not close his ear to the lamentations of the miserable, nor his heart to gentle pity; whoever is the friend and brother of the unfortunate; whoever has a heart capable of love and friendship; whoever is steadfast in adversity, unwearied in the carrying out of whatever has been once engaged in, undaunted in the overcoming of difficulties; whoever does not mock and despise the weak; whose soul is susceptible of conceiving great designs, desirous of rising superior to all base motives, and of distinguishing himself by deeds of benevolence; whoever shuns idleness; whoever considers no knowledge as unessential which he may have the opportunity of acquiring, regarding the knowledge of mankind as his chief study; whoever, when truth and virtue are in question, despising the approbation of the multitude, is sufficiently courageous to follow the dictates of his own heart, – such a one is a proper candidate.”
“The tenor of my life has been the opposite of everything that is vile; and no man can lay any such thing to my charge.”
This weekend is the anniversary of Bruce Lee’s death (July 20, 1973). Bruce Lee is one of the most influential martial artists of all time. Many people, including myself, began martial arts training as a direct result of hearing about him and seeing his movies.
So it was that I found myself studying Tae Kwon Do at one of the largest schools in Toronto taught by one of the best known instructors in the world.
I wasn’t a particularly good student physically – but I thought I had a good grasp of the philosophy. One night, after a late class, I was sitting alone in the small break room having a Coke (that’s how long ago this was – a health club offering Coke as primary refreshment). My plan was to just chill out for a few minutes before getting on the subway and heading home. As I sat there, sipping my Coke, the Master came into the room. He looked at me and I felt like I was caught in a trap. I really didn’t want to engage – I just wanted to finish my drink and go. He looked at me intently and then opened a closet and pulled out a mop and bucket. He then proceeded to mop the floor.
I have said many times that I don’t really have any masters. There is no individual or group that has influenced me to the point of guiding me along any particular path. I take knowledge and inspiration from many sources and I admire the teachings and systems of many schools. But on the whole, I walk my own path. This tendency does not seem to be something I worked out over time. It does not appear to be a well thought out strategy. I think I just don’t have that urge to discipleship. And I see the first recognition of that tendency way back then in that martial arts school.
Philosophically, I believe I should have jumped up and said “No, Master, let me mop the floor.” I think a part of me even wanted to. But another part of me thought, “hey, this guy’s rich why doesn’t he pay someone to do this.” I remember even thinking back then that this might be part of some test – a test I would fail – because I did not get up and offer to mop the floor. I quickly finished my drink and beat it out of there.
And I’ve often wondered how different my life would have been if I had mopped that floor. When I was younger I speculated that I might have been made a favorite and given special training. Or maybe I would have been introduced to some new martial art way of life. Would my reaction have been different if it had actually been Bruce Lee mopping the floor instead of just some highly trained teacher that I paid for lessons?
Today I wonder if maybe allowing myself to be a disciple then I would have more easily accepted other masters. Perhaps I could have specialized in some religious or spiritual path and grown to become a leader of some school or system. I’ve certainly been part of many valid paths, and I’ve been offered many opportunities to commit to some powerful people and organizations. Occasionally I’ve even felt as though “This is it! This is the way.” But the feeling never lasted. All the schools and teachers I’ve encountered have shown themselves to have clay feet – at least in my estimation.
And so I walk alone. And follow my own path – one that is hidden until I reveal it to myself.
Bruce Lee said:
“Absorb what is useful, Discard what is not, Add what is uniquely your own.”
“Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.”
“When one has reached maturity in the art, one will have a formless form. It is like ice dissolving in water. When one has no form, one can be all forms; when one has no style, he can fit in with any style.”
The 10-day World Pride festival is in full swing in Toronto. This is the first time this international event has ever been held in North America. The celebration honours the history, courage, diversity and future of gay communities throughout the world – but also strongly emphasizes the importance of human rights concerns of all kinds. We all need to thoughtfully consider what it means to live safe, free and joyful lives without fear of persecution or censure.
Things have certainly changed in the world since the days of the Stonewall riots of June 28, 1969 – the spark that ignited the whole Gay Rights / Gay Pride movement – but the changes have not been nearly as great as they could have been. Although there is now more sexual openness and equality for most people, violence and oppression still exist – and not just in far-flung “backward” parts of the world – right here in cities like Toronto. Despite the annual parades and marches violence is still a daily factor in many people’s lives. It still requires a great deal of courage to declare yourself openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, two-spirits, queer, asexual or anything else that might conflict with 17th century Puritan sexual morality.
Back in the summer of 1971 – totally oblivious to the New York riots of 1969 and totally unaware of the mass protests that were to come following the Toronto bathhouse raids of 1981 – I lived in a section of Toronto not particularly known for its tolerance or acceptance of alternative life-styles. It was a violent community filled with underemployed people – some desperate to escape their circumstances but many resolved to remain forever in the under belly of society. Known as Corktown, Cabbagetown or Regent Park, in those days the neighbourhood was a place where the “respectable folk” of Toronto wouldn’t be caught dead, unless they had “shady business” to do. Of course there were a lot of nice people living in Regent Park – hardworking, honest people just hoping for a break in their lives – people that watched out for each other and the neighbourhood kids. And yet there really were nasty people around that it was best to stay away from.
Aside from individual nasty people, there were whole streets and blocks kids were warned to avoid for various reasons. And we whispered to each other about what might be going on in those areas. For example, Toronto’s “Red Light District” was within Cabbagetown’s borders – just along Dundas Street between Sherbourne and Jarvis. And there were notorious pick up joints and criminal hangouts like Spot One, Norm’s Open Kitchen and the New Service Tea Room. But the worst place of all, we were told, was the St. Charles Tavern at Yonge and Wellesley.
If a kid was dumb enough to walk past that place alone, even in broad daylight, the story was that he might be snatched off the street, dragged into the back room and have all sorts of unspeakable things done to him by sexual deviants and perverts. The St. Charles was probably the best known gay bar in Canada at the time. It was frequently raided by the police because in those days there were all sorts of possible crimes connected with homosexuality. Strange as it might seem today it was, at that time, against the law for a man to wear women’s clothing, so the police could just stop a man in the street on suspicion and search him. If he was found to be wearing women’s underwear, or something other than white cotton boxer shorts, he could be arrested or just plain beaten up.
Regent park tough guys might also hang around these places with the intention of passing the time by beating up a few “queers” or “faggots.” And the police were never too concerned about investigating such crimes. As I said, it was not a section of Toronto particularly known for its tolerance or acceptance of alternative life-styles.
I lived on the southern border of Regent Park around Queen Street east of Parliament – and all these “no go zones” were more west of Parliament and north of Queen – far from my stomping grounds. But that didn’t matter to the haters and fear mongers. The patrons of places like the St. Charles Tavern were a threat even to the low lives of Regent Park.
There were, of course, cases in which a certain type of person might wander into Regent Park with immoral intentions. Perhaps they thought the people in my community were easy prey. I, myself, was confronted several times by deviant individuals and literally had to run away screaming for help. And perhaps some were that particular sort that actually wanted to be beaten up. In Regent Park they got their wish and these people did not make return appearances and certainly did not live in the community.
Now, I’m describing all this because there was a particular young man who did live in the neighbourhood and who used to ride his bicycle along Queen Street towards Parliament. There was no doubt in the mind of anyone who saw him that he was heading for one of those well-known dens of iniquity. How did we know? First, he was a thin, haughty looking youth, who proudly rode his bike down the centre of the street with his head held high and had rainbow tassels streaming off his handle bars. The rainbow was not yet recognized as the symbol of gay pride but even then we knew what it meant. Boys DID NOT decorate their bikes with frilly tassels. And if that wasn’t enough, he wore puffy sleeved, brightly coloured shirts with a long lavender scarf around his neck that fluttered out behind him in the wind. As far as I know, he was never accused of doing anything other than being “queer.” He never tried to hurt anybody. Kids weren’t afraid of him. But his appearance and mannerism was enough to make him the subject of scorn.
Now, people said things as he rode by as you might imagine. He was laughed at and openly mocked; an easy target for the most childish of insults. Yet, what stands out most for me was the way he held his head up: proud and defiant. Sometimes I would see him riding by with black eyes and bruised face; sometimes with bandages. As I said this was not a tolerant neighbourhood. And seeing his bruises, some people mocked him even more as if he somehow deserved to be beaten. Sometimes people claimed to know the guys who beat him up and would smile as they spoke of it.
I don’t know who that young man was. I don’t know his name. I don’t know what happened to him. He rode his bike along Queen Street all that summer: rainbow tassels streaming off his handlebars and his lavender scarf blowing in the wind. He rode with his head held high, seemingly indifferent to the abuses hurled at him and the violence he endured. Was he brave? Was he courageous? Or was he just stupid? I don’t know.
More than 40 years later I still remember that man and wonder what his life was like. And I think about all the other men and women of that time who chose to be defiant and stand up for the simple right to be themselves. They were not deviants, perverts or sexual predators – they were just people with different desires. It takes courage to stand up for your sexual preferences today but it must have taken ferocious bravery to do so back then. Imagine what it would be like to have your whole life be a protest against intolerance. More than just marching in a parade once a year or waving a rainbow flag – it was living in constant rebellion. Imagine a world where you could be beaten up for wearing a puffy shirt or even killed for holding hands with someone of the same sex. Not in some far off Middle Eastern country where we think all intolerance now resides – but right here at home – places like Rome, Jerusalem, London, Toronto, Madrid – these are cities where World Pride has been held and will be held in the future – the intolerance and hatred that man felt in 1971 still exists in all those cities and in other cities around the world. And the courage it took for that man to ride his bike with its rainbow tassels is still needed today.
World Pride starts with the Gay community where perhaps courage and organized protest is still needed most. But it extends to all people who wish to express themselves freely, creatively, artistically, romantically and joyfully but cannot because of the fear, ignorance and intolerance of the dominant forces of a community. Is it possible for people to live safe, free and joyful lives without fear of persecution or censure? I hope so. But we must all stand together – men and women; gay and straight; rich and poor – we must declare loudly and openly that the peaceful pursuit of love and fellowship is the right of all human beings in all nations at all times.
There are 8 basic mystical festivals that have been celebrated around the world for thousands of years. The names and specific dates may be modified in different cultures, and some of the rituals associated with them may differ – but the underlying theme stays the same.
The Spring Equinox or Ostara in March – symbolizing re-birth and renewal
Beltaine or May Day, which occurs about 6 weeks after the Equinox – symbolizing spiritual union and fertility
The Summer Solstice or Lithia in June – symbolizing the light of consciousness and spiritual awakening
Lammas or Lughnasadh, which occurs 6 weeks after the Solstice – symbolizing the harvest and first fruits
The Autumn Equinox or Mabon in September – symbolizing balance and transformation
Samhain or Halloween, which occurs about 6 weeks after the Equinox – symbolizing the final harvest and remembrance of things past
The Winter Solstice or Yule in December – symbolizing the triumph of the light and the birth of the divine
And Imbolc or Candlemas, which occurs about 6 weeks after the Solstice – symbolizing change and setting new goals
This year Litha , the Summer Solsticeis on June 21st.
Nearly every agricultural society has marked the high point of summer in some way, shape or form. On this date the sun reaches its zenith in the sky. It is the longest day of the year, and the point at which the sun seems to just hang there without moving – in fact, the word “solstice” is from the Latin word solstitium, which literally translates to “sun stands still.”
There are numerous deities from around the world connected with the sun and therefore honored on this day. Some of them associated with this day include:
Amaterasu (Shinto): A solar goddess – sister of the moon and the storm god of Japan. She is known as the goddess “from which all light comes” and is much loved by her worshippers.
Aten (Egypt): This god was at one point an aspect of Ra, but rather than being depicted as an anthropomorphic being (like most of the other ancient Egyptian gods), Aten was represented by the disc of the sun, with rays of light emanating outward.
Horus (Egyptian): Another Egyptian solar deity, he was the child of Isis and Osiris and is often conceived of as a savior god who brings light to the soul.
Apollo (Greek): The son of Zeus, King of the gods, by Leto, a mortal woman, Apollo was a multi-faceted god. In addition to being the god of the sun, he also presided over music, medicine and healing. He replaced the older god Helios, the titan that drove the sun chariot across the sky. As worship of him spread throughout the Roman Empire into the British Isles, he took on many of the aspects of the Celtic deities, and was seen as a god of the sun and of healing.
Huitzilopochtli (Aztec): This warrior god of the ancient Aztecs was a sun god and the patron of the city of Tenochtitlan. He battled with Nanahuatzin, an earlier solar god. Huitzilopochtli fought against darkness, and required his worshipers to make regular sacrifices to ensure the sun’s survival over the next fifty-two years, which is a significant number in Mesoamerican myths.
Sulis Minerva (Celtic, Roman): When the Romans occupied the British Isles, they took the aspects of the Celtic sun goddess, Sulis, and blended her with their own goddess of wisdom, Minerva. The resulting combination was Sulis Minerva, who watched over the hot springs and sacred waters in the town of Bath.
Sunna or Sol (Germanic): Little is known about this Norse goddess of the sun, but she appears in the poetic eddas as the sister of the moon god.
Notice that in Greco-Roman and Egyptian myths the sun is male and the moon is female, but in many other cultures the sun is a feminine power.
Depending on your individual spiritual path, there are many different ways you can celebrate Litha, but the focus is nearly always on celebrating the power of the sun– the symbol of the light of consciousness and spiritual awakening. Consider the sun at the height of its power, with all the Light and Energy of the cosmos flowing through it onto the people of Earth and use that power to help you achieve your destiny.
Joyously take stock of your life and seek fulfillment – realigning with your goals and purpose.
Consider getting a new job if you aren’t satisfied with your current one, or taking some training courses to help you overcome any obstacles that keep you from doing what you truly want to do.
Upgrade your wardrobe, hairstyle or general appearance, and review your overall levels of fitness and health. You could also consider ways by which you can make others healthy – Perhaps get involved with the healing arts, or even with the ecology movement to help heal the world.
Consider spending summer solstice away from home. Visit Britain’s Stonehenge, the Egyptian and Mexican pyramids or even the growing New Age community in Sedona, Arizona. These places, along with many others, have wonderful Summer Solstice festivals to take part in.
Throw a party with a bonfire. A bonfire is part of the tradition of the summer solstice. Fire has always been a source of protection for human beings, scaring off the creatures of the night, both ordinary and magical. Nowadays you can reinvent the bonfire as a great reason to hold a summer solstice party with friends. In England, rural villagers built a big bonfire on Midsummer’s Eve. This was called “setting the watch,” and it was known that the fire would keep evil spirits out of the town. Some farmers would light a fire on their land, and people would wander about, holding torches and lanterns, from one bonfire to another. If you jumped over a bonfire — presumably without lighting your pants on fire — you were guaranteed to have good luck for the coming year.
Sunwheels were also used to celebrate Midsummer in some early Pagan cultures. A wheel — or sometimes a really big ball of straw — was lit on fire and rolled down a hill into a river. The burned remnants were taken to the local temple and put on display. In Wales, it was believed that if the fire went out before the wheel hit the water, a good crop was guaranteed for the season. Residents of some areas of Ireland say that if you have something you wish to happen, you “give it to the pebble.” Carry a stone in your hand as you circle the Litha bonfire, and whisper your request to the stone — “heal my mother” or “help me be more courageous”, for example. After your third turn around the fire, toss the stone into the flames.
If these suggestions are too adventurous or time consuming for you, you can always just sit outside and read a book -this is a simple but still highly appropriate way to get connected with the sun and nature.
The important thing is to mark this day in some special way. Honor and appreciate the Sun for the all the blessings it bestows on the Earth and think past the mere physical body out in space to the spiritual aspects it represents. Take time to immerse yourself in the true Light, Life and Love of the Universe.
We are often deceived by appearances and end up making snap decisions about a situation without taking into account what we should know to be true as a result of our past experiences or insights. Many people are ready to assume the worst about a person, even a person they know quite well, without considering all the relevant evidence. In the heat of the moment, with emotions flaring, some are likely to jump to conclusions before they’ve evaluated all the facts. When only the senses and intellect are being used – only what is being seen and experienced at the moment is evaluated – it is easy to be mistaken about the true nature of a situation. If there is time to reflect and analyze the issues, then, of course, the intellect can help reach a well formed and clear decision. But when there is no time for a studied response, the mystic has the advantage of using intuition. Practiced intuition, strengthened by regular meditation, allows for a more cosmic view of the world and the events transpiring before us.
Unfortunately, not everyone is prepared to rely on intuition in the heat of the moment – it is not within most people’s comfort zone. Far easier just to react to the world rather than being one with the action.
Take for example Aesop’s fable of the Beekeeper and His Bees:
Once there was a kind and generous Beekeeper who took special care or his bees. He always made sure the bees had everything they needed to make their honey; he never took more than his share and always tried his best to protect them from any harm.
One day, when the Beekeeper was away, a thief got onto the property and plundered the beehives, breaking up the honeycombs and stealing all the honey.
When the Beekeeper returned, he saw the empty hives and all the damage and was very upset. He stood staring at the wreckage with tears in his eyes.
Just then the bees returned from the pastures and seeing the damage for themselves and the Beekeeper just standing there they viciously attacked their caregiver, stinging him without mercy.
The Beekeeper cried out “Why are you doing this? I’ve always taken such good care of you. You let the thief who plundered your hives get away without harm while you direct all your rage against me.”
The bees, for all their beauty and industry, are simple creatures. They can do little more than react to what life throws at them. It is to be hoped, however, that we can assess situations with a little more depth.
The natural world, the universe, is a big place. There are billions of galaxies, trillions of stars and untold numbers of planets. Living things thrive throughout all creation. On Earth alone there exist some 9 million known species with the likelihood of many more millions yet to be discovered. Yet, most of us seem to go through life thinking we are the only creature worth a thought – and not even all humanity, but just our own small collection of people.
Similarly, the mystical world is really like an enormous and lavish palace, with countless rooms, long hallways, sweeping staircases, elaborate bathrooms, fully stocked kitchens and pantries, ballrooms, game rooms, and beautiful balconies overlooking lush gardens and breathtaking vistas. And yet most people, even those who might consider themselves metaphysically minded, seem content to live in one or two Spartan rooms – never even thinking of exploring and enjoying the full extent of their dwelling place.
Why is this? Why do we humans choose to limit ourselves? What stops us from accepting and experiencing the splendors of the world around us?
Common reasons are fear of the unknown, lack of faith, and low self-esteem. Through fear and a diminished sense of self-worth the average person pretends to be content to live a life of limitation. It’s easy to say that the wonders of the universe do not exist, or, if they do, they are too hard to get. It appears to some to be much better to keep to an accustomed place in life and never strive for a real sense of living. Oh, of course, it is true that many people seek wealth and fame, prestige and worldly honors – they have no qualms about using and manipulating the people and things around them in order to grab up the rewards they think they should be going for. And many people of this sort do gain the world – but at what price? What makes it ok to chase after and exploit the things of the flesh but to ignore and perhaps mock the things of the spirit?
The beauty and power of the universe, the grandeur of the mystical palace are not things that need to be bought; they cannot be stolen; and no amount of manipulation will help a person acquire them. Real living is free and available to all – we just need to accept it into our lives. Perhaps this is why people fear and shun the mystical world – they are suspicious of anything so wonderful that is simply given to us as a gift by the universe.
Stepping out of a little bare room and into the magnificence of the mystical palace is easy and also one of the most difficult things that can be done. However, the difficulty comes from the need to change our own mind about reality. We must have confidence that the palace exists, faith enough to believe that our desire to live fully is justified, bravery to face the unknown, strength enough to resist the temptation to stay where we are, and a willingness to embrace the transformation of our heart. It can be done if one will only accept the possibility, stand up, open the door and step through into a new life.
To claim the mystical palace requires an expanded sense of awareness – an imagination and freedom of spirit that will allow them to draw the wonders of the universe into their personal circle of being. The way to expand awareness, raise the consciousness and enlighten the spirit is through meditation.
Meditation is easy. It requires practice and a bit of discipline, but it is easy to learn. While you choose to confine yourself to your little room, like a monk in a cell, why not sit quietly and let your thoughts turn inward to your spirit. Breathe deeply and freely and let all your fears and worries flow out of your life while peace and harmony are allowed to grow within you. Soon you will find your heart growing lighter, your awareness will increase and you will open up to new possibilities in life. In time it will seem like the most obvious and natural thing in the world is to just stand up, walk to the door, turn the knob and step out into the splendor and freedom of the mystical palace. Once you set your feet on the path and begin to explore your real place in the universe, you will be amazed at how truly remarkable the world can be.