Happy Solstice and Welcome to the Golden Age of Truth and Beauty

It’s December 21, 3:28am, the winter solstice 2010.  I woke up to get a glimpse of the total lunar eclipse this morning.  Earlier I had been looking for historical or ancient symbolism of this unique event, a lunar eclipse on the winter solstice.   The winter solstice is the time when the sun reaches its lowest point in the northern sky.  The day of the winter solstice is essentially the shortest of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.  The seasonal significance of the winter solstice is in the reversal of the gradual lengthening of nights and shortening of days.

While I gazed out of my bedroom window (did you think I was really going outside in the 20 degree temps?) at the progression of the eclipse, it came to me.  The solstice is the darkest and longest night of the year.  From here it only gets brighter.  This coupled with the dark crimson moon  reminded me that we are currently experiencing a time of  Kali Yuga, or dark age (not the Goddess Kali).  According to the Hindu faith, Kali Yuga is literally  the age of the male demon, or the age of vice.  Kali Yuga is the last of the four natural stages that the world goes through as part of the cycle of yugas described in the Indian scriptures.

The bright and luminous moon, closely associated with the divine feminine, grew duller and duller.  It made me think of recent times of women forgetting about their divine essence,  and the feminine attributes of nurturing, collective cooperation, creativity and deep respect for the environment.  It made me lament that women have been affected by corporate conditioning, hiding their true beauty behind plastic masks and starving their bodies in pursuit of the perpetually unattainable standardization.  I thought of the unnecessary pain and abuse of not only women, but of humankind worldwide, due to excessive greed, jealousy, selfishness, and aggression characteristic of this dark age.

I couldn’t help but imagine that in this time of darkness (well not really for me, I’m a city dweller and there’s light pollution) is a very important event.  Within the next hour, we will begin to see Luna’s re-emergence as a bright and powerful cosmic entity.  Slowly I’ll watch as the darkness again becomes light.  Is this our release from 432,000 years of  Kali Yuga, or dark age?

I am not Hindu (so please forgive me) but I would like to believe that this is the end of Kali Yuga and the beginning of the Golden Age of Truth.  Women and girls will once again recognize their power and beauty.  The world as a whole (feminine and masculine) will begin to experience a divine feminine spiritual revolution and enjoy the benefits of a more evolved and civilized egalitarian society?

Today’s event can serve as an inspiration.  I will start with myself right now.  I can spare a little (actually a lot) more general kindness to people around me.  I will pay more attention to the needs of others, instead of ignoring them because I’m crankified.  Although I love my body and am generally comfortable in it, I have my moments.  I am going to appreciate and adore it more, even the parts that tend to annoy me (the hereditary belly pooch).  Adoring my body includes getting it into the best shape in can be in, without extreme measures or harmful abuse.  (I need to lose a few pounds of fat).

What will YOU do to bring on the Golden Age of Truth and Beauty?

Hello World!

Some thoughts for today.

I have read some Gurdjief, a lot of Rumi, and studied a bit about “detachment” through Yoga, Sufism and Buddhism. I learn and take what I can from them. The stars and the moon, the tides of the sea, the rhythms of the wind and song of birds, the rhythms of the seasons- these are my Gurus. They are the Mistresses and Masters of all learning, of all being, of becoming and un-becoming. They are the only Mistresses and Masters to whom I can surrender myself.

If my work is about wholeness, it is because of my studies of our fragmentation. Nature is about wholeness, is wholeness. When something is out of balance, Nature re-balances itself. We seem to have built our societies on a culture of fragmentation, rather than integration and wholeness, which lead to growth. My answer to this is to paint women making themselves whole again, wholly integrated with Nature, because we are part of Nature, and to paint trees, and the sea and the moon. Over and over I try to present wholeness.

Noor Jihan is the Goddess of Art and Spirit in Motion. She’s a mystical, magical, woo woo, sparkly faerie mermaid whose favorite phrase is, “shut up and dance”. She is an elegant and graceful bellydancer, a patient, gentle, but tough vinyasa yoga instructor, and a talented painter. There is a deeply feminine, pantheistic, soulful energy to everything she creates. She is an animal lover, herbalist, experienced reiki practitioner, and tarot reader, and is always willing to share her priceless wealth of spiritual wisdom.

I Love the F**k It Way

Tantrikas say, “Delight in the senses and flow with the subtle energies”.

Metaphysical types say, “stay present and don’t judge”.

Psychoanalists say, “feed your inner child”.

But how can we sum all this up for the regular folks?

Just fuck it.

I’ve always lived this way, and sometimes people just didn’t understand.  My dad always used to say, “Lisa only does what Lisa wants to do”. I was always baffled by his statement because I thought (but NEVER said) “well, what the hell else should I do?”

I don’t attend baby showers (fuck it, I just go online and send a gift).  I don’t buy black pants, even if someone says they slenderize, fuck it, I’ll just be fat.  I don’t eat beets and I don’t wear pumps.  Why?  Because I don’t want to.  I don’t stress about how other people say I should raise my child, and I don’t give a rat’s hairy ass if my neighbors think I’m scandalous and I feel good about it.

So,  I can’t believe I didn’t come up with the F**K it Way myself.  Someone else constructed a philosophy that so succinctly and perfectly sums up how we should be (if we want to).  I LOVE LOVE LOVE this so I’m going to share it with you all now.

That brilliant somebody  is John C. Parkin. The son of Anglican preachers, realized that saying F**k It was as good as all the eastern spiritual practices he’d been studying for 20 years. Having said F**k It to a top job in London, he escaped to Italy to set up the retreat center The Hill That Breathes, where he now teaches regular ‘F**k It Weeks’ with his wife Gaia.

How F**k It Works, Pt. I:  (from the Facebook notes)
You realise that things don’t matter so much after all.
Most of us believe that meaning and purpose in life are good things to have: where the heck would we be without a sense of meaning and purpose for goodness’ sake?

In fact, from a young age we start to pursue meaning – and the bigger MEANING – of life. This process usually culminates at around age 18, late at night, drunk and arguing with other students about The Meaning of Life.

Funny, then, that we get so much relief from saying F**k It to things as adults… given that we usually say F**k It when the things that mean a lot to us have begun to cause us pain. For example, if keeping fit means a lot to you, but the early morning runs or the squeezed-in gym sessions have started to become like torture – then you’d say F**k It and stop training, or do something else.

When we say F**k It, we say ‘Well, it’s causing me so much pain, it’s not that important is it?’.

And as we start to say F**k It to things in our lives, we realise that it’s the things most matter – that mean the most – that either cause us pain or have the potential to cause us pain.

Saying ‘F**k It’ reduces the hold that these ‘meanings’ have on us.
In Buddhist terms, we begin to release our attachments.
And meaning is attachment.

The logical conclusion to this, of course, is that nothing matters, really. And this is a horrifying possibility to most people. It is, after all, the opposite of the purpose/meaning drive that I mentioned earlier… the drive that pushes people through their lives… the drive that takes people from the search for meaning through material things, through love and relationships… and then through the search for ‘spiritual’ meaning.

Very few people get to the perception that ‘nothing matters’… but stopping the relentless search for meaning in its tracks is not a bad idea.
This starts with the perception that ‘meaning’ always has the potential to cause pain. It starts with the perception that most things don’t matter as much as we think they do. It starts with saying ‘F**k It’ to the things that are causing you pain.

When you do this, you start to sense the irresistible whiff of freedom… and that’s a wonderful and addictive thing.

Feminine Spiritual Revolution

In ancient times, the initial concept of a higher being was feminine.  Most societies worshiped the Goddess, the Great Mother, creator, provider, and sustainer.  Civilization was matriarchal, however, there is little archaeological evidence that the female members of these societies held themselves superior over their male counterparts. Humankind was in harmony with nature.   Generally goddess worship had been balanced with the honoring of both the male and the female spiritual attributes.

Eventually, as societies became less agrarian and more technological, the Goddess was replaced with a mighty but wrathful male god figure, and the ensuing cultural programming of patriarchy separated human beings from the biological reality of the natural world. Thus, the masculine attributes of aggression, greed, and hyper-competitiveness became exaggerated and dominant while the feminine characteristics of giving, nurturing and creativity of the species were repressed.

Mother Earth by Lisa Iris

As a result of the repression of the feminine archetype, there arose a violent and pathological imbalance in the our world. This was reflected in the devaluation and gross abuse of women in the culture at large, and the replacement of the feminine values of peace and cooperation, manifesting itself in excessive competition, domination and needless violence.  People began dying from heart disease and respiratory illnesses, brought on by psychological stress and environmental degradation. Sadly, in this dark age of declining cultural values concepts such as justice, equality, human rights, and common sense rapidly deteriorated.

Fast forward to today, it’s time for a revolution.  We are not talking of a new religion here.  Much blood has been spilled in the name of religion.  We are upon a resurgence of feminine spirituality.  Spirituality, unlike religion, emanates from within and is a deeply personal voyage, and each person must find their own path and answers in their own unique way.

Goddess, by her many faces across continents and cultures is a role model for tolerance, inclusivity and diversity. She represents restoration of the sacred, oneness and life-affirming values.  Whether deity, archetype or ideal, the “feminine face of god” can become common ground – a broad and diverse umbrella under which many can gather and find safety from the storm of chaos.  She makes no demands people worship no other god but her, entitling select groups to feel they are the chosen people with the only keys to the kingdom – or with the right to convert the other heathens of the world. No fatwas, inquisitions or crusades in the name of Goddess. No decimation of foreign cultures deemed “other.” Nor does Goddess give humanity the right to dominate and exploit the natural resources of Earth, its people and creatures. Within Goddess Spirituality, we are stewards and caretakers of Earth and its many peoples, not the masters. ~Karen Tate, http://www.karentate.com

So when we embrace the concept of the divine feminine both individuals and communities benefit.  Men and women alike are able to break free of old harmful patterns and tip the scales away from dominance and aggression and towards creative power, sensuality and intuition for a more benign human existence on this planet.  The masculine energies will not become namby-pambyfied, and the feminine energies will not become rough and mannish. There will be a balancing act of the two energies resulting in actions that stem from thoughtful, cooperative, and intentional actions.

As women, we will put an end to the abuse and martyrdom that has plagued us and resulted in full scale death and destruction.  We can rise to the occasion and be effective sisters, partners, and givers of life.  We can shape our individual and collective destinies and grow and prosper.  I don’t believe that we will literally create a Utopian society where war and conflict no longer exist.  However, balance is the key.  Now is the time to raise the Divine Feminine aspect in all of us to her rightful stature, creating a balance and respect between the masculine and feminine energies within and without.  Are you ready?

What is Tantra? An Informal Explanation

I have been getting this question a lot more lately, “what’s tantra”?  Nobody wants to hear my well thought out and researched dissertation on the topic.  They want to know what it is, what it means to me, how it could help them, in 90 seconds or less.   So here we go:

Tantra is a way of life, a world view, and a spiritual practice that involves full and non-judgmental acceptance of self and the full integration of mind (intellect), body (senses), and spirit (heart, connectedness to all of creation) into one unified being.  So you see your whole self not as good or bad, but just as is.  Tantra goes against the Puritanical concept that the physical body is dirty or sinful, and instead views sensuality (the senses – hearing, seeing, feeling, smelling, and tasting) and sexuality as inseparable from the spiritual self.  In short, tantra is like sensual yoga.  Tantra does not however, degenerate into the practice of hedonism, or overindulgence and irrational devotion to extreme pleasure.  The idea is that passion and desire are pathways to experience a higher state of spiritual consciousness, or pure contentment.  The practice of tantra, much like yoga, taps into subtle energies and moves them through meditation (both moving and still), visualization, and ritual to affect health, beauty, state of mind, and overall wellness.

Tantra does not require adherence to any particular religious beliefs, dogma, or rituals and rejects all forms of prejudice. The only required ideal is to live as a whole and authentic human being, without the exclusion of natural passion, creativity, enjoyment, and sensual perception in order to become and remain deeply connected with life.  Tantra is not all fun and games.  It is challenging in that you must remain “present” most of the time.  To be present means to be unattached to the past or preoccupied with the future.  The focus is on the here and now.

I originally sought tantra as a way to experience a new dimension to my bellydance.  It turned out to be an effective means of anger management, greatly developed my sense of intuition, enhanced my sex life, and helped me to be a more effective parent. In broader terms tantra is very useful in stress relief, living a lifestyle that promotes wellness, emotional stability, more meaningful relationships, and general success in challenging endeavors.

I teach tantra workshops and provide coaching to individuals and couples.  For more information see: LifeBliss Solutions.

The Grace in Falling Apart

by Pamela Slim
Escape from Cubicle Nation
from Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur

There is a dark, ugly and awkward place that many self-help enthusiasts don’t want to tell you about.

Sometimes it comes up from behind and hits you in the head like a wooden plank.

Like when you get scary results back from a cancer test, or learn your spouse is cheating, or lose your job.

Other times it creep ups on you inch by inch as you are in the midst of being busy.

Like when you wake up one day and realize that you really want to do something different but don’t know what. And that your current work feels hollow, and meaningless. And that you know you have done great stuff in the past, but don’t know if you are capable of doing great stuff in the future.

It is the meantime, and it happens when you leave the comfortable, creative groove of feeling secure in your life and enter into the territory of I have no idea what is going on and I really want to feel better and won’t it stop now?

It can feel really, really awful.

The reason it feels awful is that you have no grounding. You are not producing great work. Your long-term relationships feel awkward.  Your sleep is fitful. You want to do something but don’t know what it is. Most people don’t understand it. You don’t understand it. You just want to go back to the way things were in the “good times.” You want to be a Linchpin, a world changer, a force for good. But all you can manage to do is watch reruns of Law & Order.

In the confusion, there is grace

If you let yourself sit with the confusion and sometimes dread, sadness and anxiety, a wonderful thing happens.

You find yourself.

Under the fancy degrees and impressive experience and a stellar community profile, there sits a quiet and unassuming person.

One with the confidence and wonder of a 5-year old. One without preconceived notions of what is responsible and appropriate and without fear of disappointing anyone but herself.

And you can ask her: If none of this frenetic activity really mattered, what would I be doing?

Or perhaps:

  • Who do I really want to work with?
  • If I had a dying breath and had to say something to the inhabitants of this planet, what would it be?
  • How do I want to spend my limited time on earth?
  • Who do I really love? Who really loves me?

Great, meaningful, deeply significant work happens when you really marinate in the meantime.

It is not a distraction from the creative process, it is the creative process.

Khalil Gibran explains this perfectly in The Prophet:

“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.

Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.

And could you keep in your heart the miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;

And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.

And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.”

If you are feeling awkward and out of sorts, take a deep breath and sink into the feeling.

Renewed creative spirit must be just around the corner.

Sometimes Being a Goddess Means Getting What You Want…duh?

Sometimes being a Goddess means getting exactly what you want. So being that I am a Goddess, why the heck am I surprised when it happens! I’ve recently embarked on some personal journeys, some for growth and understanding, some for just plain silliness and amusement. With all of them I have found that I am often surprised and in recent instances flat-out shocked when everything goes my way. How is it that with all the study and meditation I put into my spiritual practise, all my belief in the power of positive energy, focus, and visualization, that this Goddess can amaze herself with her own power?

And honestly it’s not just amazement. There is no real problem in being amazed. The problem arises as this amazement is accompanied by a little fear and trepidation. It’s like running so fast you think you could fly, and then freaking completely out when you look down and your feet no longer touch the ground. Imagine the anxiety felt when the sky is the limit but your not sure what direction to go in, or worse yet, how in the world your gonna get back down. Here is where I find myself. I’m at this junction where I have willed several scenarios into being. And now it is the job, the duty of the Goddess to act responsibly, steer the ship if you will. But I don’t know a thing about flying except that I’ve always wanted to do it!

I’m laughing now as I think about it. It’s funny how one can come to a moment so self affirming and self actualized and be hurled into a spiral of self-doubt as a result of it. Being confronted with your own strength can be terrifying because you realize that the “what if” monster isn’t dead. Has not been extinguished by your confidence or valor. That even at your highest point, you can still have a moment of doubt within yourself where you question, “What if I screw this whole thing up?”. This just proves to me further that one’s biggest adversary is the one that lies within. Now what am I going to do?

This is the point where one needs to focus harder and see the visualizations to the end. This is where self-doubt is dismissed and something stronger than faith is taken up and made to surround you. I say stronger than faith because by this point you have already proven your ability. At this point it is a matter of believing it. I don’t just think I can fly, I know I can!

Aset Musheera (Shemeka Hollis) is a DC artist, poet, essayist, mother, sister, student, lover, awesome best-friend, and enthusiastic liver of life. She revels in the journey of the life experience and encourages everyone to explore the inner passions keep tucked away in the vessel we mistake for our identity. She is silly. She is cogent. She is loving. She is present in this experience. She IS. Bless