Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tribal Roots of the Modern Holiday

For most of us, the holidays are about exchanging gifts, getting together with family, lighting candles, and generally making merry. It's fun, but it's not life and death. But did you know that the holiday season used to be a life or death situation?

Tribal people feared the loss of daylight in the winter, wondering whether the days would eventually become so short that they would live in perpetual darkness. When they discovered that the Winter Solstice marked the return of the sun, they celebrated with midwinter festivals.

Pagans later picked up this celebration by burning the Yule log at Winter Solstice to emulate and attract the sun. Here are some other great pre-Christian roots of our modern holidays:

Mistletoe: Druids valued this plant for its healing powers and as a symbol of peace. Enemies would stand under Mistletoe to make peace compacts, sealing them with a kiss.

Merry Making: Romans marked midwinter with Saturnalia, a seven day festival of gift giving, drinking, and feasting (typically around December 17). Saturn is the god of agriculture and plenty, and was celebrated after the fall crops had been sown. Gift giving symbolized the redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor during the season of hardship.

Wreath: Originally the wreath was a pagan fire wheel made from greens that symbolized life. Some made great wheels, set them on fire, and rolled them down hills.

Tree: The tree was originally Yggdrasil, the World Tree that symbolized life. The roots and branches of the tree were thought the hold the universe together. Early people decorated the tree, which stood before the house of the gods, with small lamps that held bowls of fat and cedar wicks, much as we decorate our trees today.

While the Christian holiday traditions are far from the only traditions celebrated around winter solstice, they are very predominant in Western society. It's good to know where these traditions come from and what they originally meant. In all, these celebrations stood for peace, honoring, revival of life, and the return of the sun.

Let's celebrate!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Practicing the Art of Happiness

'Tis the season to be jolly! And are you jolly, happy, and joyful? Probably so (unless you're bogged down with too much holiday shopping, food, and family!). And isn't it easier to be happy during the holidays because we have so many fun distractions. We get time off work, we get to see friends and family we don't often see, and we have permission to celebrate. In other words, during this merry season it's easy to practice the art of happiness.

And that's great, but what about the rest of the year? How well do you practice the art of happiness the rest of the year?

That might sounds like an odd question, but it's not. But it might be easier to explain why with a simple analogy that comes from dog trainers. Dog trainers tell us that we are always "training" our dogs with our every action, command, attention, or lack of attention. What this means is that you don't train your dog only during official training sessions, you train your dog every time you interact with him. Training is always occurring whether you mean it to or not. For instance, if you always push your dog away while you are working in your home office your dog eventually learns that you are "unavailable" when you are in your office. Having been "trained" in this way, he may not come tell you he has to go outside when you're in your office, even if that means that he has an accident somewhere in the house!

The same thing is true of your emotional and mental states. You deliberately "practice" a peaceful state during meditation. That's easy to see. But what about the rest of the day? What if you spend the rest of your day feeling anxious, worried, angry, frustrated, or upset? Then you are practicing those negative states all day long. So while you may practice peace for 30 minutes a day during your meditation, you may be practicing negative emotions for the majority of the rest of your day.

Most of us want to be happy and prosperous but we won't achieve that state if we spend most of our time practicing how to be in a negative state. You have to practice being happy before it becomes a natural state for you. Sure, you might practice being happy and peaceful during your morning meditation but how do you practice that during the rest of your day?

Here are three things to get you started:

1. Make being happy the most important goal in your life. Period.

2. Blow off steam magically when you do feel negative to restore happiness. Get directions HERE.

3. Remember that nothing lasts forever, not even a negative state. Wait out negativity until happiness returns. If you need a quick fix to help you go from sad and blue to happy and in-the-groove, check out the Quick Fix Ebook.

In Magic,

Friday, December 19, 2008

Is Magic Real?

We get so many questions and emails about this that we thought it was time to post a reply!

In the Harry Potter movies we watch children play Quidditch on a broomstick and little wizards and witches casting quick spells here and there with their magic wands. In the movie, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” we watch martial arts heroes literally flying among the trees to fight. These days we’re flooded with all kinds of movies that bring magic into our lives. With all this new found interest in magic, most people are asking, “Is magic real?” What do you think? Is magic real and can you really have magic in your life?

Yes. Magic is very real and has existed as a precise science for thousands of years. Whether you call it magic, magick or majick, it is real. Every single person can learn to do magic. We were ALL born with the talents and abilities that empower us to do magic. The only reason that magic seems so, well, magical is that this society no longer teaches the art and science of magic. In the distant past, magical study was just as important as math, science or the arts. Even the miracles that Jesus performed were based on the use of magic. In fact, magic was and still is the birthright of EVERY planetary citizen.

Can you learn to do the kind of magic portrayed in the movies? Yes – and no. The movies are great at giving you a taste of what you can do with magic, but they aren’t very accurate. In the Harry Potter movies, for instance, the characters use their wands for every magical operation. In reality, you can only use the wand to handle air energies. Your wand would actually explode or catch fire if you tried to use it to throw firebolts and fireballs like the characters do in the movie.

So what can you actually do with magic? Quite a lot. Here’s a short list to get you started:

- Balance your energies for healing and manifestation
- Change old beliefs
- Defend yourself against physical and psychic attack
- Heal yourself and others
- Find hidden information and see possible futures
- Psychically communicate with other beings
- Create sacred space
- Find lost people and objects
- Manifest what you want and need in life

At the very basis of magic is the understanding of the four elements: Air, Fire, Water and Earth. Called elemental magic, these foundational elements are real. Air, Fire, Water and Earth are part of our natural everyday environment. What makes them magical is the understanding of how they operate not just on the physical level, but also at the levels of mind and Spirit.

For instance, while on the physical level Air is just the stuff we breathe, on the magical levels Air is the conduit of psychic communication, enlightenment, understanding, dreaming and more. If you want more of any of these things in your life, then you need more magical Air. How do you get more magical Air? Wear more Air colors, including white for communication and sky blue for enlightenment and understanding. To take this one step further, you could also take on more Air to make your body lighter.

By just extending your understanding and use of the basic ingredients of nature, you are doing magic! Seen in this light, magic isn’t all smoke and mirrors, nor is it the result of Hollywood special effects. Magic is the result of truly understanding and working with the very elements that are all around you.

One final note: Many masters, including Wayne Dyer, have said, "You'll see it when you believe it." The same is true for magic. In other words, the suspension of disbelief and the willingness not to exercise contempt prior to investigation are requirements for magic to be “real.” Magic is all around us, and always is, but our ability to perceive and use the forces of magic depends on our willingness to be open. No one else can show it to you, only your direct experience and observation can “prove” or demonstrate to you that magic is real.

We’ve found that one of the simplest ways to experience magic (and your own magical abilities) is to work with clouds. Clouds respond to your intention, and you can easily move, shape and manipulate clouds from a great distance. And moving clouds that are suspended hundreds of feet above you is quite magical, isn’t it?

To start playing with clouds, send a blank email to clouds@shamanschool.com. We’ll email the instructions to you ASAP. Have fun!