Plastic Deities

Plastic Kali – 2019

Freedom of religion, an internet connection and the run away consumerism in this country produces some strange things. Odd tokens of spiritual access. Plastic Jesus, Glow in the Dark Mary, Ganesh window decals, Buddha garden statues, all manner of the Pagan pantheon in resin. All cast and readily available in newage shops and the internet. These icons and deities will live forever. Literally.

They also send a mixed message in the now deeply demanding fight for the climate, water, the soil and the morality of this kind of consumption. Unless you live under a rock or practice willful ignorance you know plastic in all its forms is choking the planet. Earth is becoming littered with the cast offs of one use plastic and the durable plastic of everything else.

I went to the Parliament of World’s Religions a few years back. I listened to a panel of women I knew were in the forefront of creating a new way of being on the planet. They were writers, activists, proclaimed environmental protectors of water, seeds, and earth. They spoke of the evils of GMOs and the fight ahead to move towards a sustainable world that protects all life. They said inspiring and useful things.

They also were drinking water from plastic single use bottles. At one point you could see they had to address this and they did by saying they were refilling the bottles. It also felt like they were covering their obvious hypocrisy. It was awkward. And for me personally, it raised alot of questions around the integrity of walking one’s talk.

In 2009 I went to Egypt and experienced mountains of plastic waste, water bottles, and other things that could not be absorbed by the tourist industry of a nation that thrives on the spiritual pilgrimages of others wanting to connect to the mystery that is there. I also saw this first hand in Mexico, Costa Rica, across the United states…. etc…. it made me really aware of the way we are sold the access to these sacred spaces and the impact it has on the people who have for centuries worshipped and revered their heritage. We are guests yet most people see these countries and places as zoos for their personal gain…

Experience colonialism. Spiritual Colonialism. We trap countries and the people in an endless cycle to support our consumption to find ourselves.

The pilgrim, the spiritual seeker is also a consumer of instant gratification and a polluter. This is embodied as spiritual bypass with the acceptance of certain actions for the greater cause at the expense of cultures, art, ideologies, self discovery, that elusive enlightenment that drives this bus.

Adhi Two Owls

The easy of access through social media to other cultures and beliefs has fueled an industry of cheap one time used spiritual experiences that hack away at the deeper practices of how we are part of a complex ecology of consciousness and engaged experiences.

Spiritual education/enlightenment should create a mindful understanding of our connection to a Divinity in whatever name you wish to call it as embodied in the world around us. It needs to offer a process to grow more aware of our interconnectedness and inter-reliance on each other and all things.

This more tangible experience requires sacrifice and work. The knowledge that there are consequences for actions and that an individuals needs are not more important to the whole.

The spirit leftovers of our exploring should be of stuff that can be composted into new ideas and forms. Clay. Wood. Metal. Stone.

Plastic is the material of a false God.

The Moon

Full Moon – 2019

She rose from the horizon full and bright.

Holding back nothing with her glow. The brightness dimmed the heavens. She laughed loudly.

Keeping the stars in their place. Shimmering rays across the surface of the waters….

Adhi Two Owls

Stilling the Mind

My mala – 2019

Twice in my life I have said Om Mani Padme Hum 108,000 times. Each occasion this mantra filled the spaces between work and sleep. It ran through every bead in my mala. It buzzed in my head. It beat in my heart. It whispered between the membranes of my cells. It fell off my tongue and the visceral resonance of it hummed in me for a long while afterwards even in my dreams I could hear it.

The practice entrained my mind into a place of silence. A space so vast and quiet it stunned me. No thoughts. Just the breath rising and falling. Fully present in the body. I could deeply listen to the sounds near and far in some hyper stereo surround sound. My eyes saw the world with out the attachment of past judgments and prejudices. I was free.

It never lasts though. That is why it is a practice. More mantras. Another bead rolling over my finger. Repeat. Mantra. Bead. Stillness . Breath. Repeat…. This rhythmic tactile activity that shifts consciousness.

“Om Mani Padme Hum”

The most common translation is “a jewel in the lotus” referring to the deity Avalokiteshvara. The deity of love and compassion.

Another possible interpretation of this mantra by the Tibetan Buddhist scholar Daniel Lopez, is that the middle part “Mani Padme” is a female deity Vidya known also as “Wisdom” the consort to Avalokiteshvara this would make the mantra translate to:

“She of the lotus jewel”

I would like to think the mantra as neutral and androgynous. Representing the potential in all of us to remember the jewel that birthed us. The jewel being the Universe…. that singularity that began this Universe. Stars are the lotus where all is created and destroy in the cosmic experience…. Lotus grow from mud, the ferment and rise to bloom in the sunlight. We are all born from those star lotus wombs.

We are of the Universe

We are born of the stars

Regardless of it’s etymology and my personal musings. The exercise of repeating the mantra, moving a bead, works to slow and stop my mind. The busy nebulous of endless thoughts, thinking, images, ideas, problem solving, the cosmos in the cranium….

… that stillness is the unknown that place where everything begins.

A jewel

The Taste of Soil

Root vegetables can grow most of the winter if the preparations are done right. It is the rituals of generational knowledge, the practices of things that build our folkloric memories of home and family. The way traditions are passed down.

On my mother’s side they used their hands. They worked the soil. They built things from wood and stone. This wisdom is in me as the story I belong to. The history in my bones.

After the Harvest – 2019

I have memories of my Grandfather in the fall of the year digging trenches in his garden and lining the sides with ply wood. He would transplant the escarole and other greens into this trench and cover it with a canvas tarp before the frost. This gave us fresh greens for most of the winter.

Lentils – 2019

Escarole was a main ingredient in almost every soup while growing up. It was delivered in a recycled paper grocery bag by my Grandfather. Picked fresh. It needed to be washed or it would be gritty. I remember standing at the sink washing it and draining the leaves in the old dented colander.

Escarole

My favorite soup to put escarole in is chicken. It was the last thing added to the soup. It mixed with the onions, celery, carrots and broth to add just the right amount of bitter. That tang that marked the green’s unique flavor. Chicken soup is not quite right without it. Escarole brought the essence of the earth. The taste of soil. A much needed reminder during the winter months

These kinds memories are the stories that defined what we internalize as home. That sense of belonging to a place and a time. We know the taste of the soil that grows our roots, strengthens the fibers of our being and gives us the nutrients to be whole.

Take time to taste the soil that feeds your soul that gives you the resources you need to make the world what it needs to be.

A New Year and Road Ahead…

Prayers for the year.
Prayers for those I met for those I met for the first time
Prayers for those I held in sacred space
Prayer for the ones transitioning
Prayers for the new ones just born
Prayers for those resisting
Prayer for those who have walk along the road with me all these years
Prayers for the kind
Prayers to those who fight for the waters
Prayers for those who have lost their way
Prayers for the addicted
Prayers for those who seek answers
Prayers for those who hear the song of the universe
Prayers for the artists and those who make things
Prayers for the ones who fight for what’s right
Prayers to the ones that know every thing is connected…. prayers to all of those I forgot …

These prayers were offered into the Shamhain fire this year. The beginning of a new direction and perhaps a deeper root into the next evolution of my life. To serve is often a foggy road with very little to guide you. What is certain is the ground beneath the feet and the movement forward. Meeting each moment as it presents itself. Trust is the hardest lesson to navigate. The signs and signals present and disapear. The power of choice and knowing when and where to push beyond the hesitation and risk.

The best laid plans are not part of the Cosmic GPS for mortals. We are tested. Each day we get to start again. We get to show up and the explore the mystery and if we are lucky, the curiousity, the choices we make and everything else aligns, then life will take us on adventures.

I am Blessed by all of you in my life.