Wednesday, June 29, 2011

spirit animals

Chakras are great. Little spinning wheels -- or blooming flowers -- of energy at key points in our bodies keeping us connected to ourselves and the greater universe. My mind is a ping pong ball (or a jar FULL of ping pong balls), so I suck at meditating, and envisioning the chakras, one at a time, is pretty much the only way I can focus myself. Recently, a dear friend suggested a new meditation technique she'd tried in which you associate a different animal with each chakra as you meditate. You don't choose the animals, of course, you let them choose you. Just open your mind, focus on your chakras, and see which creatures present themselves. I love animals, and I love contemplating and exploring our many and varied relationships with them, so this sounded perfect for me. I've only done it once so far, while sitting in the sun near the La Brea tar pits. I suppose you could/would receive different animals each time you do it, but here's who came to me during my first attempt:

The lion represents the confident creator. He/she teaches you about self love, how not to be so hard on yourself, and how to relax and let go. The lion encourages you to pamper yourself, and to acknowledge that you're worth pampering. When you're feeling stressed out, listen to the lion when he/she tells you to take a break instead of drowning in angst and neurosis. The base chakra is associated with our personal foundation and sense of being grounded. The confident and self indulgent lion seems like a good "base" to build on. (Portrait by Gericault, ca. 1820)

The pig uproots the soil, turning it over in preparation for new growth. The pig helps us become fertile ground for new ideas as we rid ourselves of the old. Listen to your soul (via the pig), and plow up some time in your life for the new ideas you're receiving. The sacral chakra is associated with our ability to accept others and new experiences. So I'm rooting around and perhaps opening myself up to new relationships -- or new dimensions to existing relationships -- particularly in the face of the loss of very important "old" relationships. And of course your relationships with the dead continue to evolve even after they've departed. (Piglet from Herculaneum, ca. 1st century A.D.)

The crab represents the fierce feminine (not the first thing that comes to mind, but okay). She stands for self protection and sensitivity, but can be moody and emotional. She will help you with self preservation through challenging times, and will help you to heal your relationship with your mother (of all people). When you listen to the crab, you listen to your gut and your intuition. The belly chakra is associated with our ability to be confident and in control of our lives. Interesting. The complexities of the mother/daughter relationship are often some of the trickiest things to navigate when trying to gain/retain "control" in one's life. My belly is the root of most of my problems, so I feel this is one of the most important chakras/animals to listen to, but I hate crabs! They creep me out to the extreme! This all makes sense somehow . . . (Vintage scientific illustration)

The deer is the sensitive listener. You can call upon the deer when you need to be heard and nurtured. She gives you the courage to speak your mind. A sense of calm and centeredness comes when the deer is invited into your life. The heart chakra is associated with our ability to love (duh). I think I need to love myself more, so perhaps I can interpret this as learning to listen to and nurture myself. For this chakra, the deer came in clearly, but there was a dove lurking nearby. Both creatures are often associated with purity and innocence, and that's very much the feeling I had from their presence. Is my heart somehow pure and innocent? And if so, is that a good thing? (Scythian gold deer, 7th century B.C.)


The butterfly is the delic
ate transformer. Of course butterflies have the classic cocoon metaphor of rebirth, emergence, and metamorphosis. They also live very short lives, so represent the fleeting nature of life. The butterfly guides you through change and transition, and encourages creative indwelling. She will help you find the power of change within yourself. The throat chakra is associated with our ability to communicate. Second to my belly, my throat is my other primary problem area. Interesting that both of these manifested as insect or insect-like creatures. Heebie-jeebies! Although of course butterflies are quite beautiful and full of all kinds of powerful symbolism (unlike the CRAB). I think I'm a good communicator in general, but I often suppress my own emotions and thoughts, so there's definitely a blockage there. The image that came to mind during meditation was the moth-over-the-mouth from "The Silence of the Lambs." Maybe this should be a moth instead of a butterfly, but they're not that different really, are they? (Maria Sibylla Merian, 17th century)

The whale is the cosmic record keeper, and embodies ancient wisdom. The whale will help you tap in to your intuition and tune in to your inner voice (even if that voice is buried in the ocean depths). The whale is also associated with spiritual rebirth, as in the story of Jonah and the Whale. And of course there's Moby Dick. The third eye chakra is associated with our ability to focus and see the big picture. Whales are damn powerful creatures, and damn powerful symbols. Of course it's ridiculous that my third eye chakra evoked a creature with a giant ivory tooth piercing its forehead. Maybe that's telling me that there's something very obvious about this chakra that I'm overlooking? (Inuit carving)

The eagle lives in both the ea
rthly and spiritual realms, and can teach you how to live in balance with your earthly reality and your celestial spirit. The eagle can ease you into a state of grace, and reconnect you with your personal power. The crown chakra is associated with our ability to be fully connected spiritually. I suppose the eagle is almost a cliche for this chakra, but there was definitely a sense of a golden eagle (specifically) with its wings outstretched over my head, in a protective way. Whatever you think about chakras and spirit animals, it's comforting to think of a majestic eagle watching over you as make your way through life, especially during the difficult times. (John James Audubon, 1833)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

robert, 1839

This is a self portrait by Robert Cornelius (1839), and is one of the first photographs of a human being ever produced. How amazing is that? And how dashing is he? I love his tussled hair, his high collar, and that slightly menacing gleam in his eyes. I'm reminded of Mr. Rochester, Mr. Darcy, Adam Ant, and Ray Davies of the Kinks! Never mind the inherently mysterious quality of the photograph itself. It's just so evocative! And to think that this was a man walking around and living a life in 1839, just like we do today. It's like a magical glimpse into the past. In fact, it IS a magical glimpse into the past.

Credit for bringing this to my attention is due to Ms. Tovar and

Monday, June 6, 2011

the mysterious mercedes

The suspense is killing her. Furthermore, it has recently come to my attention that Marzipan is not even her real name. The official adoption papers list one kitten fitting her physical description, but going by the name of Mercedes. Who is this imposter living among us, chewing on the curtains, abusing small bunnies, and lolling on vintage paperbacks?

Meanwhile, a certain individual who until now had no particular love of felines was recently seen sketching this image of a cat resting comfortably on a chair in our home. Will the mysteries never cease?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

pee wee

We saw Pee Wee Herman's Big Adventure on the big screen this weekend. It's over 25 years old, but still awesome! I want to emulate Pee Wee's joie-de-vivre. If you like filling your yard with plastic deer and flamingos, do it! If you like wearing funny suits and red bow ties, do it! If your dream is to find your beloved red bike, do it! He's so content and confident in his eccentricity. It's a beautiful thing, really. But of course, there's always the dark side. "There's a lotta things about me you don't know anything about, Dottie. Things you wouldn't understand. Things you couldn't understand. Things you shouldn't understand."


My totem animal for the year is the white buffalo, or bison. What's the difference anyway, you may well ask. Basic geography. Bison live in the Americas. Buffalo live in Africa and Asia. You're probably actually envisioning bison in your brain when you think of buffalo. Like this guy. Sacred to the plains Indians of North America. Systematically wiped out by the white man. Now existing only in our national parks.

Honestly, they've never been one of my favorite animals. I don't understand how they don't tip over on their noses with all that weight in their hump, shoulders and heads, and those comparatively narrow little flanks. But I admit I was quite impressed with the few I encountered in Yellowstone Park many years ago: their big, shaggy bodies; their steamy breath in the snow; their cute little babies and they way they're so protective of them; that attitude of impatience that you sometimes sense in a wild animal (okay, I'll let you admire me for a moment, but I'm getting annoyed, and you should probably move on and leave me in peace before I gore the side of your car). Like all animals, they are in fact awesome if you stop to think about it for a minute.

The white buffalo (bison!) is especially sacred to the Lakota people because it plays an important role in one of their origin myths. Each time a white calf is born, it's believed to have special significance, and indicates the presence of the White Buffalo Calf Woman. The bison is a link between the earthly and the unearthly. Wasn't there an X-Files episode about this? She symbolizes rebirth, and a return to harmony, balance, spirituality, and feminine energy. The bison is a reminder of the greater whole, and the interconnectedness of all life. Of course the bison also symbolizes provision, gratitude, abundance, strength, blessing, prosperity, which all makes sense given how much the Native Americans relied on these creatures, and how much these creatures gave to them. So in that way, the bison is also a reminder that we should be grateful for what we have, and that we should be receptive and accepting of what is given to us in this life.

Much of this feels very relevant to me at this point in my life. Especially in conjunction with the other information and insights that came out of my tarot reading today (interpreted and guided so sensitively by the divine Ms. S.), and things I learned during my Spirit Springs retreat. So I'm embracing the white buffalo as my guide for now, and will try to remain open and receptive to whatever it has to show me.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

evolution becomes revolution

I cannot even describe how excited I am about this movie! Rise of the Planet of the Apes comes out in August. I just watched a bunch of trailers, and if the movie is even HALF as awesome as the trailers, I will be on cloud NINE! What is it about this subject that drives me so crazy? I'm covered in goose bumps, my heart is racing, and tears are welling up in my eyes. It elicits such strong emotions in me -- happiness, excitement, awe, fear, hope. I know it's only a movie, and I know the Burton remake of the original Planet of the Apes was absolutely horrible, but this one looks so promising! It seems to be tackling bigger and bolder ideas about what it means to be human.

Hail Caesar! Let the Revolution begin! I can't wait until August 5, damn it. I want to see it NOW! I want to LIVE it now!