Ready Wisdom: Make like a tree. Or How to live entirely in the moment.
There is pretty much a yoga pose for everything, and I seem to have spent most of the last week in tree pose.
In tree, you can root yourself to the earth, which helps on those occasions when you feel as if you might spin clear off the planet.
In tree, you can find that crucial place of balance between pressure points as you lift your branches.
You can reach up to the sky and wave your arms as graceful branches that move with the wind no matter how strong it becomes.
It has been one of those weeks.
When I wasn’t actually in tree pose, I spent time amongst the trees themselves, listening to the wind through their branches, watching their buds unfold, and smelling that sweet spring scent of flowering growth.
Most walks brought me to animals, and that is a fine place to be right now. There is a herd of Highland cattle in our local nature reserve, and they are huge, majestic things to behold.
A half-hour near a herd of cattle is instant relaxation and reminds me of a special knowledge we have forgotten: How to live entirely in the moment.
You don’t see animals worrying about the future and fretting about the past. You see them, instead, simply inhabiting the moment. If everything is fine in an animal’s direct vicinity, then they are fine as well.
I’m not sure I can sign up for the cow hugging I’m reading about in both the US and Dutch presses, but I can sit on my side of the fence in the field, and remember how to inhabit the moment. Then, for just a bit, my concerns subside so I can hold space in the quiet of my center and ground myself with the tree roots.
Once as I sat there, the cows began to sing for no other reason but joy I suppose, and I marveled to hear how it sounded like whale song.
Earth’s two biggest mammals, one on land, and one at sea, sing a common song of joy.
Ready Wisdom that you can apply right now is the theme of Owl Magic, my toolbox of anxiety-busting strategies created for times exactly like these. The instantly applicable guided meditations, stories, poems, yoga poses, and writing prompts in Owl Magic will help you meet today’s challenges from the life-affirming power of your own intuition, because times of change are the times of greatest transformation.
Imagine the poets were right and this is the moment we changed.
Imagine the air stays clean
imagine the grief is gone
imagine the ocean clean
imagine the people together.
Imagine the planet healed
imagine the people healed
imagine the fear is gone.
Imagine the poets were right
and this is the moment we changed.
Have you ever imagined soulless zombie armies, mushroom clouds, alien invasion, and of course, pandemic? We have read about the apocalypse in novels and watched it over and over again on movie screens. We have imagined dystopia and a violent, imminent end to everything we know, and we have probably imagined ourselves amongst the survivors, because who wants to contemplate their own mortality?
These are modern apocalyptic visions. They are rooted in fear, and they always happen to someone else. Except now, perhaps.
The fictional pandemic has suddenly become real, and the political instability is happening to all of us in some way, right now. If we are lucky, we get to sit it out on the couch in our yoga pants. If we are not lucky, we may have been sick, or someone we love may have been sick, or maybe we have to leave the couch because our jobs are essential. We may also be out risking danger to protest for a better world.
It is happening to all of us, and while we are probably all scared and thinking apocalyptic thoughts, we are also experiencing the current moment in very different ways.
It turns out it is not zombies or aliens or nuclear war. It is a virus, a microscopic enemy we cannot even see. It is social upheaval, dredging up all of the dark aspects of this world we need to fix, and it looks like it might have to get worse before it gets better.
Open your owl eyes
Expand your owl vision. Owls always see the truth and are comfortable flying through dark shadows. Summon your owls. Athena is a battle goddess, and the owl at her shoulder protects her in dark places.
This is not the first apocalypse
It has happened many times before, and it is possible to think of apocalypse as more of an ongoing situation than a one-time event. Every time a species goes extinct, they have had their apocalypse. Every time a habitat is destroyed, it is an apocalypse, and the thing most apocalypses have in common is that they are generally man-made.
Are we the apocalypse?
Did the virus jump species to humans because we put so much pressure on the natural environment? Maybe. And is it the nature of the virus to invade a host and drain it until it is exhausted in the same way humans invade the land and drain it until it too is exhausted? Possibly.
While pop culture defines apocalypse as the kind of explosive world-ending event we have seen in the movies, people have, in fact, been predicting the end of the world pretty much forever.
And in some times and places, it did end. But never for long, and often not at all.
Notice the fear behind the apocalyptic vision.
Apocalyptic predictions generally follow times of disruption or uncertainty, often involving war, plague, or the sighting of comets in the sky.
One of the earliest apocalyptic predictions was made in ancient Judea by the Essenes, who thought their battle with Rome was the end battle. For them, it was the end, but it was not the end for everyone.
The world has been predicted to end by antichrist, fire, and flood at different times by different people—yet still, we are here.
Between 1290 and 1335, Joachim of Fiore predicted the end of the world twice. His second prediction was a rescheduling of the first after it failed to materialize, and that was followed by the Black Death, which many considered the real end times.
Cotton Mather predicted the end of the world three times, and Nostradamus was specific in his prediction of July 1999.
We all remember the Y2K predictions and the Mayan Doomsday of 2012.
How many times and ways might the world have ended?
Bad things have happened, bad things are happening now, but the world has not ended yet, and neither have we. Every previous apocalypse has been based on a false fear.
We are living in our own apocalyptic Between Times, which brings us to our next universal law:
The Universal Law of Courage: Own your fear and face it down through direct action.
This is how to make your fear a constructive agent of change in a rapidly changing world.
Read more in Owl Magic: Your GUide Through Challenging Times from Sea crow press.
“ This combination of reassurance that there is still magic to behold, that we still have the power and vision to significantly change our world for the better, combined with practical steps that empower us, is healing. Owl Magic” provides just the right amount of heart to remind us what it feels like to be a human being with hope, and enough history to help us put our lives into perspective.” ~Vashti Stopher Klein, author of The Soprano, the Monster, and the Dragonslayer
“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”
It’s been a long week of political uncertainty with second lockdowns casting their shadow. We are perhaps finding that life does indeed happen while we make other plans.
We are not the first to experience this.
Over the past few days, I have been thinking a lot about an earlier pandemic and time of unrest, and the surprisingly relevant legacy of a fourteenth century anchorite who overcame dark times with faith in love and a kind of yoga she called Body Prayer.
“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” ~Julian of Norwich
I think we could all use a little bit of Julian of Norwich at the moment because her experience can stand us well today.
In Europe, the end of the fourteenth century was also a harrowing time. One-third of the population died of bubonic plague as the Hundred Years War raged and the church split between rival popes.
Like today, the structures people assumed were permanent began to vanish. And like today, a certain kind of wisdom helped people survive the uncertainty.
Think of it as Owl Wisdom.
Owls have a quiet about them, allowing them to observe and notice. They embody an independence that lets them forge ahead with the vision to see the way. They occupy the moment and work with what they have. They soar above the fray.
Here is the owl wisdom you can apply to your situation, the same wisdom women mystics of earlier times tapped into as their worlds convulsed.
In the late fourteenth century, one mystic found peace in the storm by finding a connection to a loving God through something she called Body Prayer. Her name was Julian of Norwich, and what she called Body Prayer looks a lot like modern yoga.
It is also full of owl wisdom
As an anchorite at the church of St. Julian in Norwich, England, Julian of Norwich would have been at home with the idea of social isolation. An anchorite chooses a solitary life to cultivate internal focus.
Quarantine? No problem
Her real name is lost to the ages, but it is almost certain she lost her husband and children to the plague and nearly died of it herself. While ill, she experienced a series of visions about the nature of love, which redefined her connection to God and faith in goodness through awful times.
She described her experience in the first known book in English written by a woman. It was called Revelations of Divine Love.
She was surprisingly modern. As her contemporaries worshiped a harsh patriarchal god, Julian of Norwich called in a radically feminine deity that added motherhood and love to the equation. Her god was both father and mother, and, as the transcendentalists would centuries later, she saw God in everything as she declared salvation universal.
Here is an expression of our next law straight out of an earlier time of pandemic and social upheaval:
The Universal Law of Love: The force that binds everything together. It is not romantic love. It is the energy behind the Law of Connection. It is unconditional and all accepting. It is the opposite of fear.
Think of it like gravity.
It is the glue that can hold us together, individually and collectively, through tumultuous times.
Every situation presents a choice of action. Imagine what happened when Julian of Norwich’s life was derailed by bubonic plague. In no time at all, she lost her family and all the trappings of active, worldly life in medieval Norwich. She could easily have reverted to fear, the opposite of love, and simply ceased to be.
What sustained her in her Time Between?
Our lives have also changed rapidly. Within one week, most of us found ourselves in a state of lockdown due to the coronavirus. It was a scene repeated all over the planet. Maybe some of us have been sick or lost loved ones. Some of us are sheltering in place comfortably. Some of us are suffering, some of us are dying, and some of us are leaving quarantine and picking up the pieces in a changed world roiling with political instability. For all of us, the futures we planned are uncertain.
What can sustain us in our Time Between?
The Pose & The Meditation: Body Prayer
Stand firmly on your yoga mat. Body Prayer consists of a series of four standing poses. First, initiate your prana breath, breathe deeply, in and out. Then shift your focus.
• Await – the posture of receiving. Hold your hands open at waist level. You are welcoming the presence of God or your highest self.
• Allow – this is the posture of opening. Reach up with your hands open to welcome the coming of God’s presence or the presence of your own highest self.
• Accept – the posture of taking. Cup your hands at your heart and take in whatever comes.
• Attend – this is the posture of willingness to act on what has been given. Extend your hands with palms open.
Await, allow, accept, attend. Repeat the sequence while maintaining the breath.
A new title for a new moment. Combining the creative force of the feminine divine with the wisdom of the owl, this book guides you through the anxiety of the current moment. Owl Magic helps reclaim your intuitive power so you can build a better future from the position of your highest self. ~ SHERIANNA BOYLE, AUTHOR OF EMOTIONAL DETOX FOR ANXIETY
Owl Magic takes you gently by the hand and leads you to deeper self-awareness and self-actualization through stories, myths, meditations, and writing prompts, inviting us to peel back the layers of who we are and how we navigate an imperfect world so we can step into our true power. ~RACHEL JEPSON WOLF, AUTHOR OF THE UNPLUGGED FAMILY ACTIVITY BOOK & HERBAL ADVENTURES
Times of change are the times of greatest transformation.
Meet today’s challenges with the life-affirming power of your own intuition.
Open the Owl Magic toolbox of simple anxiety-busting strategies designed to reveal your hidden power.
Journey at your own pace through guided meditations, stories, poems, yoga poses, and writing prompts.
This unique interactive guide provides many routes to your highest self so you can seize the incredible potential of the present moment.
What seeds are you planting now?
The autumn dark descends earlier each twilight, but that doesn’t have to leave you cold.
Now is the time for deep interior work. The early dark signals the great turning within, the ancestral soul-seeking, the ancient memory tugging at the edge of the psyche as the afternoon fades and the moon peeks over the clouds.
Brew your tea. Cast your spells, sit within your quiet, and choose your focus, for what you focus on will surely grow.
Where I am in the Netherlands the dark comes early indeed. But the Dutch have a tradition of keeping things cozy, so the night is lit with flickering candles and met with warmth inside. It is time to reflect and take stock, and as we face increasingly challenging times ahead, it is time to care for ourselves and each other.
The descent is necessary so the return can happen.
In descending, find your ripest, most potent pomegranate seeds, and bring them back safely to plant them in fertile soil that they may flourish. Our job right now is to find the seeds, our mission to plant them well, and our goal to see them grow.
Mary Petiet writes with a passion for connecting and empowering women to live from their highest selves.
She is the author of Minerva’s Owls and Moon Tide: Cape Cod Poems, and a contributor to the anthologies Jesus, Muhammad, and the Goddess, She Rises, vol.2, and Awaken the Feminine!: Dismantling Domination to Restore Balance on Mother Earth. Her work has appeared in Feminism and Religion, Sage Woman, The Wayfarer, and she is a contributor to Mother House of the Goddess.
Join Mary on Facebook or online at www.marypetiet.com and be the first to hear about her new books. She loves to hear from readers at firstname.lastname@example.org and is available for work with book groups and online readings. If you love Owl Magic, please be sure to tell your friends and leave a review on Amazon and Good Reads.