Monday, September 06, 2004

An Alter...

How do you spiritually nourish yourself? One way, for me, is at my alter. For 25 years I have had alters of one kind or another. My alters have evolved over the years with me.

Initially, I was inspired by Catholic 'poustinias,' or prayer huts, and placed a small bamboo table in a tiny storage closet that I painted white with a gold ceiling and put mystical Jungian mandalas and some mystical Christian images on the walls and I used to go into my prayer room and pray or meditate or sometimes just cry. That was when I lived in Grad Residence. Later I lived in a condo and then a house. My alters shifted to objects as conduits of healing energies and my predilection to the Divine Feminine. Various crystals and incense holders and statuettes and semi-precious stones found their way onto my makeshift alters. When I had a cottage I used make alters by heaping sand into three foot high mounds and flattening the tops and putting shells and stones and feathers and sometimes incense in the sand. After a wind storm blew down some trees, I salvaged a double tree stump that my husband hauled home and on which I placed crystals and representations of the four elements, incense in sand, a shell with water, a candle, and fresh flowers as often as I could afford them. I taught yoga in my home then and my students often brought flowers for the alter too. After my marriage ended I rented out the top floor of my house, which was my room, shared my daughter's room, and had my desk in the kitchen, so I didn't have an official alter for years. My alter then was a quartz crystal ball from Brazil, figurines, Quan Yin holding a baby, Venus of Willendorf, Green Tara, special stones, mystical rainbow obsidian, rose quartz, blue lapis lazuli veined with copper, a large smooth flat stone glued with numerous cottage pebbles, a moonstone white and glistening with colour, glass crystal prisms in the window to catch the dancing sunlight, small quartz crystals scattered in amongst the books, and candles on deep blue glass and wrought iron spirals on my desk.

After I sold my house, moved to the West Coast and rented a three bedroom house, I was able to create an alter in a corner of my room. This alter is quite Tibetan Buddhist and Goddess. An oil painting of the Sri Yantra that I did as a meditation hangs on the wall, the bindu, or centre point, positioned exactly at eye level. The two small figures are Ch'en Rezig and White Tara, masculine and feminine Buddhas, imported from Nepal, their faces painted with real gold apparently- they are exquisitely beautiful. Everything is collected on a hand-carved wooden table from north Africa. At the side is a thick pole from my cottage, found on the beach and so smoothed by the motion of the water of the lake, wrapped in sheepskin and hung with a headdress of feathers. I have Native drums and rattles near, as well as Tibetan bells. My alter space is small, wedged between the wall and a circa 1920s mirrored oak cupboard, and I have to sit with my right knee bent, the left one on the floor- somehow exactly in the pose of Green Tara. Unfortunately I don't do my daily meditation at my alter because sitting like Green Tara for extended periods of time is not very comfortable. Each object on my alter contains years of precious memories and I love to caress them with a silk cloth as I dust them, keeping them clean and shiny.

What do I do at my alter? Why, I commune, of course. Sometimes I do rituals that I make up, or follow procedures from books, incantations and dream magick, entering into the vast and creative flow of universal energy. Mostly, though, at my alter I allow the meditation, the prayer, that life is to flow through me. As I sit, doing a Kundalini meditation, inviting the light of clarity in, images of the world move through my mind, often the suffering of those who I have read of in the news, the suffering of those I love, my own, and I cry, grieving. I ask many questions, always the endless questions, and receive answers intuitively, in feeling. And I am guided here, at my alter, when I need to understand something in my life or make decisions. At my alter I can be myself and can enter into my own deepness to find the wisdom that would be the best path to follow, even if tomorrow it changes. At my alter, I feel close to what is divine, close to everyone on the planet and to our earth itself, spiritually close to all I know and love. I ask for unconditional love and acceptance, and to be able to give these gifts to others. I am comforted, healed, made whole enough to continue on.

Ultimately we carry our alter with us. Many of my friends find comfort at the alter of their church or synagogue or mosque or temple during quiet times. Though it is wonderful to have a sacred space of your own. I hope everyone has a private alter, a reserved corner for special mementos, a garden you've nurtured, a special place in the woods to go and commune, or a tiny triangle in a city park with a tree through which to view the sky, even a bath of soft warm scented water with rose petals can serve as an alter space where you honour yourself and the radiance of life.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Check out my site at Xanga...

Dear beautiful friend,

Check out my site at Xanga!

See you there, here, wherever~

warm bright blessings, Brenda

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

The Body's Song

His hands, his fingers, powerful, yet gentle, knowing the terrain of muscle and bone, following the contours of my body, the energy currents of cells that form and re-form ankle, knee, thigh, shoulder, chin. Slowly, kneading deeply, oil sliding between the flesh of palm over the flesh of body, he massages my back, the spine carrying messages from a profuse nervous system, where I feel the world feeling me, to the brain, an interwoven system intricate beyond comprehension. In the dance of the flow of the body, knots, whorls, angles and lines of pain appear sometimes as his fingers find dramas recorded in my body where I hold fear, grief, rage, and the pressure that he applies, and my wincing until I remember to breath deeply, to surrender, and then his fingers feeling the release of tension, and moving on as the dance between his hands and my body continues its, by moments, soothing, jarring, and deepening rhythms. My body and his hands are like a duet, the sensual flow of a shared meditation, as he glides from chest to belly to limb, massaging, creating a song of healing. He reads my body as a musical score, a site of memory, a terrain that holds the record of an entire life, a map to a soul. My body responds to his touch, opening, a flowing braille of energy patterns, as he guides the lifting of the burdens, whatever they may be, and facilitates a release into deep healing...

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Clarifying the spirit...

When I exercise I cleanse my jumble of frustration, difficulty, sadness, worry, exhaustion. Exercise clarifies my spirit so that I am able to perceive the bright and sparkling energy of the world that we each share in.

Can I universalize? The process of exercising purifies, cleanses, releases what is holding heavy on us. It helps us to attain our goals, hopes, dreams, because we know we have the strength and the will, the discipline, and learn this from our sustained effort in our exercise. It isn’t easy to hold camel pose for 3 minutes, jog for 5 km., do a flowing dawn greeting of Tai Chi, dance hard for an hour. We can relate this willful sustaining to other parts of our lives and do what we most want to do — we generate energy for transformation while exercising. Exercising releases energy for whatever we wish it for ...

By circumstance rather than by design, I now frequent a gym. I like working at my own pace, systematically, on areas of my body, and being part of a larger group of people also systematically pushing their limits ... young, old, muscular, beginner, of whatever belief system, it doesn’t matter, all working hard in our sectors ... only perhaps connecting by a wan smile through the sweat ... and everyone's effort-full bodies, in motion, leoline or lumpy, smooth or wrinkled, all beautiful to behold, the pitch-full effort, the vulnerability, the creases of effort across the face, something about the indomitable spirit in each of us ...

It's like giving birth, painful, hard, excruciating, but it will come to an end, in 10 more minutes, when you can get off the Cross Trainer, or at the final count of 20 you can put down the weights, knowing you're building inner strength through this effort. We each have our private routines, our hurdles, and we hurl ourselves through them knowing we will ultimately feel incredible. Afterwards we are renewed, shining brightly, and move into the remainder of the day humming with our newborn selves.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Trout Lake, Vancouver

Sometimes the lake is white.
When the sky is thick with white cloud and the sun is high, so that shadowless light pours over us, the lake flows white to its edges.
Today it was glass-clear under the gentle rain, not reflecting anything.
Most often it is a mirror of varying shades of blue, from the clear sky, and green, from the trees and bushes about its borders.
I like to watch the direction of the waves from the window where I workout, sweating, a reminder, like a spiritual release, of the tension of the body.
Mostly the waves flow westward; it is special when they flow eastwards.
It is a small lake with a duck population, a few kingfishers, and a dog beach with numerous swimming and barking and frolicsome dogs.
At the other end, hidden, is a beach for people with logs to rest against and thick white sand.
From my view, my eye follows a deep maroon-leaved cherry tree, a birch tree with its bark like parchment, a perfectly shaped festive pine tree, and graceful willows like ancient river gods on the way to the lake, the trees framing the water through the space between us.
Everyday the lake is a meditation: the grass and the trees and the birds and dogs and the people, and the water.
The lake offers a glimpse of fresh, flowing beauty, and of what is unchanging, though I could not tell you about what is unchanging, only that today the lake was glass-clear.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

from my current work...

Landing, implanting, and burrowing: are these motions of our embryonic selves not the processes of our lives?

Everything, a whole future life, hinges on this moment of contact.

It is a lunar surface only because it is dark and dreamlike. Our first home, and we enter it with a 'universal password' that suppresses our genetic markers so that our mother's immune system will accept us, who her body awaits, has always awaited.

Her body has been primed for our signal, long before she was even born, the receptors for our entrance were instilled within her warm and moist and soft and nourishing interior.

She knows we are here. We are in deep communion.

On our voyage into life, we have been a fertilized egg, a zygote, a morula, a blastocyst, and now, an embryo, and, in two months, a foetus, and, when we are born, a baby.

The end of this journey only the beginning.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Sacred lines...

'This precious human body is a stem of gold.' -Lady of the Lotus Born (Shambala, 1999)

What can I say? I cannot add to or subtract from the thought and its expression. It comes from a translation of an ancient Tibetan Buddhist poem that is rich with tantric imagery.

'This precious human body is a stem of gold.'

I feel like the most exquisite and precious finely-wrought jewelry. I feel like a stem on a thousand petalled lotus, an image of enlightenment. I feel fragile and precious and like a swaying stem of gold in the wind. I feel like the stem on a goblet of gold pouring wine into your sweet lips. You are fragile and precious and pricelessly beautiful. A great artist crafted you.

Your precious human body is a stem of gold…

Can I lay down now and weep over the beauty of this simple line?

'This precious human body is a stem of gold.'

I read it again, silent in reverie. What is it about this line that moves me so? It takes me on vistas beyond imagining. I see reeds of the Nile and Egyptian princesses, and gold veins in the mountains of Tibet and Tibetan Buddhist queens, and the delicate filigree of the Renaissance artist with his rich mythologies, I see the Communion Cup and the Pagan Chalice of old, I see the intricate interlacings of Celtic motifs, I see sensitivity in the world, I see honouring the delicate system of gold that we are, our bodies flowing with gold light, and I am silenced by this line.

'This precious human body is a stem of gold' …

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Celebrating Peace: Venus Transit, 2004

A huge burning sphere, like a god, and like a god, holding a planetary system close, with life on ours, and a planet of gases passes between the combustion of nuclear fission and us. It is what we have named the planet of love, and she is like a tiny dot. Does she sing her way across the face of the sun, or does she run from tangent to tangent under the watchful eye of the world watching her make her transit? She is charged with transforming each life with harmonic surges and is to usher in world peace and create prosperous influences for everyone. There are parties all over the world celebrating her gift to us, the gift she gives by orbiting across the immense face of the sun as a tiny shadowed saviour. When will we turn our sights from divine intervention bringing peace to our world to our actual world? And be peacefully active/actively peaceful/peace activists? How can we hope to stop the wars and the deaths and the pain and the suffering by watching vainly out of our tiny, shielded telescopes? Venus' passage over the sun, a wonder to behold, a rare event not witnessed for three generations, but honour your time here, my friends, and let her go in peace.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Riotous Weaving

A weaving of glossy vines, fat leaves shaped like hearts, and the flowers of the morning glory, delicate yellow and orange bursts, cascade over the entranceway, snake around tree trunks, grow thick over the fences. Dandelions sprout everywhere, crowds of buttercups cup open to the light. Pink wild roses draw bees in to their ecstasy. It is a thriving mess. Reminders of a memory grown thick with overgrowth and in need of pruning. What is this way of clarifying the mind? Of sweeping the garden clean? I would rather the tangled underbrush and profusion of weeds and plants than a manicured mind no matter how appealing it seems. Perhaps it's the African jungle of my childhood, and memories of the cadences of growth, riotous all around, and free to be invasive, holy, repulsive, beautiful, rooted in rich soil, symphonic under the sun. Let it run rampant, my memory, my heirloom.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Reading Is Writing

Reading is a form of writing. As I creatively interpret what I am reading, I have a special gold-tipped technical pencil that has accompanied me through many books over many years, underlining what I love or what strikes me, writing notes in the margins, and on re-reading, writing more notes. Writing along with what I’m reading is an outering of the inner process of re-creating and re-interpreting an author's writing. Reading is as creative an act as writing is. At their best, both are happy hard work. And I don't just mean critically reading, I mean deeply reading, with the mind and the heart. If I have a book on my shelf without a mark in it, it’s like it wasn’t inspiring or thought-provoking, didn’t require the writing that the best reading is.

Reading on the NET takes away the ability to write what you're reading because you can't write on the screen; it is not like a page. Hence it's more like endlessly scanning articles, news reports, discussion group emails, e-books that you can print or copy over to files, but who does that regularly enough?

What we need is a way to automatically save writing that we love, or are intrigued by, or captivated by, or angered by, or inspired by, easily, with the press of a key, and the ability to underline, make notes in the margins, to write what we are reading.

I love the memories that my books are -- not only what they are about, but of my own journey through them, traced out in those penciled lines, scribbled comments, stars, and exclamations...

Thursday, June 03, 2004

The Earth Is Teeming With Becoming

The spinning globe where we live, move, have our being is a highly creative planet. Consider the diversity of plant life, of animal life, the complex balances of our atmosphere. Let images of it drift through your mind: green leaves, flowers, trees, roots, soil, earth, rocks, sand, water, creatures small and large on desert, mountain, plain, valley, in the ocean, on land, in the air, and people, filling, covering the globe, of every race and type, in all environments, a flowing, interweaving complexity of forms, of intelligences, of evolution.

The earth is teeming with becoming.

Earth isn't striving to become invisible, to become spirit. Earth is a great artist, forever creating new forms out of old. How about thinking like this: spirit is life-force, purely, simply, which exists in abundance and is not a product of a separate divine substance; rather we are an 'emergent consciousness,' growing out of the unending dancing and singing of the fundamental units of matter of which we, and everything, is composed.

Nestled as we are here, in the starry sky, under our sun's blessing.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

The Threshold That Travels With You

On the threshold, between, juxtaposed, straddled, the one and the other, the place of seeing, from whence to where, a doorway stood at, always open, the border, the crossing never crossed, waiting, moving with the threshold as it hovers over horizon after horizon, new vistas, old habits, new experiences, memories, all framing the doorway I forever travel through.

Today, with soft laughter, the doorway has grown thick with vines and jewels, birds nest in the leaves, feathers float over the step, spread like a carpet welcoming you.

I place jewels in your hair, ruby, diamond, sapphire, amethyst, and power feathers, and dance the dance of the threshold with you, the one and the other, stamping our feet, waving our arms, enjoying the moment between, our merry madness echoing across the streets, the fields, the mountains, and over the ocean.

We fly with our thresholds, carrying the next moment with us, when it will all tumble into place, at last, understanding, fully realized, the salt air crisp against our nostrils, our cheeks lit, our hair streaming, the panorama of colours at dusk fiery on the edge of the evening as it rushes on.

*"You" is always you, my reader, who is creating this writing by reading it...

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Our relationship with ourself, softly, softly...

Today, it's go ... softly, without resistance, softly, without worry, softly, without thought for anything but the sensitivity around me, the delicate balances, the nuance, everywhere, everyone I see, the dozens and dozens of people I brush past, softly ... I see how hard you are trying, I see how much effort you put into living, loving, stiving, looking after yourself, your family, your work, your friends, your life ... softly, I witness you, perhaps I am in the line behind you at the grocer's, watching your back, your graceful movement as you lift items from the cart to the counter, your energy of survival delicate but strong, and we smile at each other, before moving on ... all day, the soft smiles with my children, aquaintances, strangers ... a treat of almost pure chocolate on the way home in the train, and even the mountains a haze of indigo velvety in the distance jagged against a gently darkening sky ... in the softest way, I say this to you.

Monday, May 31, 2004

This Is What My Blog Is About

Krishnamurti says, "You cannot depend on anybody. There is no guide, no teacher, no authority. There is only you -- your relationship with others and the world -- there is nothing else." (Not even Krishnamurti.)

This is what my blog is about. Only our relationship with ourselves, each other, the world. There is nothing else. If it doesn't happen here, in these relationships, it happens nowhere.

Only the power of the connection, I must remember to remember to tell you that. And that you are your own teacher. The first and final affirmation: "I am that I am."

I can't travel into what is disappearing any further than this.

Archeology of Water

This began with an image of memory scrawled in a notebook in April 2019 that I knew I would work with, either in a poem, or perhaps video. ...