Musings

Musings

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Chosen

 

Greetings all,

So we meet again.  I was beginning to think that I was hanging up my blogging pen.  (Which doesn't exist I compose these from a keyboard).  I have been musing on a few things lately and I think they have coalesced into some sort of sense. 

I tend to call friends to talk on my daily walks with the dog.  I am very grateful for both the walks and the talks. They have kept me within sight of sanity the past year.  During my talk walks, I've often batted a few ideas around.  One of them has to do with ideas that we cling to during challenging times.  Specifically living through our ideals.  I used to think idealism was a good thing.  I still think it may be in theory, but life is not theory, it is practice.  Social media has become a pressure cooker for ideas and how they affect ourselves and those around us. The problem is that we have made ideas more important than people.  I have done this too, and I am ashamed of how easy it is to fall into.  The problem with living in a world of ideas is that they are abstract concepts, people are not.  We need to be able to imagine and extrapolate, but far too often we treat others like set pieces in our ideas and we lash out when they don't follow the roles that complement our ideal imagining.

A particularly vulgar idea which has been dressed up in pretty party clothes is the idea of being 'chosen'.  It pervades our literature, movies, and religions.  Basically the idea that some people are chosen to do great things, chosen because they are inherently good.  This trope works well in stories, not so much in real life.  The people in history who made great changes did so because of their experiences and how those shaped them. They saw something that needed changing and 'chose' to do something about it.  People not prophecies bring about change.  To choose is more powerful than being chosen.  The other side of this is the idea that changing the world is about being special and important.  Which one of us hasn't secretly harbored fantasies of being beloved by many, being the hero, saving the world?  The thing is saving the world is a group effort, and what does it even mean to save the world?  Similar to the cries of people over the last year who wanted things to go back to normal, we have to ask, what is normal?  Is normal desirable?  

We all have a personal mythology even if we don't subscribe to any spiritual belief system.  You can be a scientific materialist and you still have an inner mythology.  It just looks different and uses more clinical sounding language.  The chosen one become the genius innovator or visionary tech magnate.  The thing is solutions and positive change don't always come from sources we recognize.  Wealthy tech billionaire playboys are unlikely to have solutions to the world's pressing problems (sorry Tony Stark), because they don't tend to be as affected by those problems.  Some of those problems they may have even created or worsened.  People who step forth to make changes and confront injustices are most often those that have lived through them.  They don't offer us shiny branded utopias.  They take us a step forward.  Just like us they have their faults.  They have been broken and found a way to piece enough of themselves together to try and make sure that others don't go through the same pain.

Why am I telling you this?  Well many of us are waiting for something to save us: a messiah, a leader, an inventor, or an overly idealized version of ourselves.  The thing is none of those things will work.  What will ultimately save us and preserve the world for our descendants is all of us working together to make things better.  After all, what good is technology if we don't apply it in a way that helps everyone?  What good is a vaccine if people won't take it to protect their community? What good is a code of laws if we don't demand justice?  

How about you?  Have you put your ideals above the lives of others?  Have you judged yourself and others as not worthy because of falling short?  Have you fallen into the trap of seeking a mythical savior either in yourself or in an external chosen one?  If you have step back, look at how your ideals lead you to treat yourself and others.  That should tell you all you need to know.

Peace and Blessings,

Thomas Mooneagle

Saturday, March 20, 2021

A Circle of Flowers & Bone

 

Greetings all,

Happy Spring Equinox to all my fellow Northern Hemisphere dwellers!  This past winter was challenging, darker than most of us have experienced in our lives.  Now the light returns and with it flowers and warmth.  It also meant that I was set on drumming to welcome the turning of the seasonal wheel.

I have been drumming on the equinoxes and solstices for about a decade.  However last spring there was a halt.  I had been scheduled to drum at a healing center, but I cancelled when the pandemic loomed.  I felt that I had broken the cycle.  It was one way that I honored Spirit, and I knew it was understood that I was doing it to protect lives by avoiding contact.  Still as the year progressed and time lost meaning for many of us it seemed oddly prophetic.  Spring the season of hope and new life may have come for the plants and animals but it did not come for the human family.  I did not want this year to be a repeat.  While normal is probably a relative term at this stage, ceremony can help stabilize the seasons of our lives.  Spirit may not have needed me to drum and pray, but I needed it so I set out to find a secluded space.

I went to a local park, I often have in the past if I did not plan an event at a center (or something like a pandemic occurred).  I've always been a little nervous about drumming in public spaces.  I do live in the bible belt and I really don't wish to be accosted by angry Fox news viewers.  For this reason I always look for the most out of the way space, off the path if possible when I drum.  These days it is more to avoid people who don't understand how to social distance or the proper way to wear a mask.  Luckily there was a clear sky and plenty of warm spring sunshine, this did lead to one complication.  Everybody was at the park today.  I had to park a bit down the road.  Even with a mask I try to avoid getting near people.  So I was blessed by the appearance of a path I'd never noticed before.  It took me to green clearing ringed with twisty trees and small white wildflowers. It was perfect, and it was far enough from the main path that I felt confident I wouldn't be intruded upon by nosey religious zealots.  Then something else caught my eye, some sun bleached bones.  I was amazed at how many there were, and looking at them I'm pretty sure they were deer bones.  So I got the idea to put them in a circle, and that was my circle to drum in the spring.  It is important to note that I did not plan this, I was simply looking for a safe outdoor space to do my ceremony. When I saw the bones it all just clicked though.  So I drummed, and I sang, and I prayed.  I carried the intentions for those in my spiritual circle and community.  I feel better now, like I've renewed a promise.

It wasn't until I was walking back to my car that I realized the significance of the ritual.  The bones and the flowers really were the two sides of ceremony.  So much has died since the last spring equinox, so much that will not renew but only leave a mark.  This winter really was a season of death like we've not seen in generations.  We have over half a million dead in this country since last year.  How do we move forward with that?  At the same time poking up through the soil amidst the bones were the flowers, the new life was bursting forth even amidst the ruins of the old.  There was beauty still in the world. That is what I needed, and the circle, well I needed to create a pattern, a frame of meaning for what has transpired. I needed to rejoin the broken circle of the seasons.  We all need meaning in our lives, especially when tragedy strikes.  Contained in that circle was death, but it also held the promise of life and renewal.  There is nothing more springlike than that.

How about you?  How are you making meaning in this time of transition?  Recovery seems within our grasp and yet we are still not certain what shape it will take.  We don't know what the rhythms of life and death will hold for us in this strange new world.  What broken circles do you need to bring back together? What has died that needs to be honored and mourned? As the color of the light deepens into the bright half of the year take time to reconnect with the powerful forces that exist in nature.  Call upon the spirits of wood, stone, fire, water,  flower, and cloud to remind you of your place in this world.  You are needed or else you would not be here.

Peace and Blessings,

Thomas Mooneagle

Friday, February 19, 2021

Through the Nightlands

 

Greetings all,

It has been some time.  There has been quite a lot happening in the world since my last post.  To be honest I didn't know if I wanted to write any more blog posts.  It's been a dark time.  Like so many of you I am uncertain about the future. The new pattern of my life hasn't yet crystallized.  I've felt alone in the dark, left with only pessimistic musings on how life will be.  It isn't exactly the sort of thing I like to share.  

So it's been a year since I knew this was going to hit here.  I had no idea that it would hit so hard and last so long.  Like many  the life that I was living before the pandemic seems like a dream now.  I saw people, I could simply walk into a store without having to worry about dying or bringing death home to my loved ones.  I hugged people often.  I went out to eat.  This is not to say that life was beautiful before all this for me.  I was in an unsustainable pattern, but I just didn't know a way out of it.  Now I am in a different pattern that also isn't sustainable,  and now I can't get hugs....or sushi.  

I look back and realize I had stopped asking things of life and was just taking whatever scraps were thrown my way.  I had stopped wishing and hoping.  I was drifting through a dream.  Not that I was ineffective, I managed to do a lot of good for folks.  I  just wasn't getting where I wanted to go.  A while back a friend of mine sent me a woven mat from the Navajo nation.  It sits on my altar the pattern represents the storm.  When they were looking for a gift for me the elder indicated that this was the one I needed and they were very clear about need as opposed to want. 

 I've been thinking about the storm I find myself in, what has challenged me the most about it, and what I need for myself to get through the next storm.  I am also thinking about what I want.  There were so many distractions before, but now there is no escaping what hasn't been working.  I know that I need more relationships based around mutual support.  I know that  I need to do more than just work, even if that work is something I enjoy.  I know I need to travel more and celebrate with others the successes and commiserate the losses.  

Why am I telling you this?  Well I think a lot of us had been living life like we dream at night.  We are carried along by the dream rarely questioning the pieces that don't make sense.  We've been crossing the Nightlands in a car that someone else is driving.  Maybe it is being driven by our culture, maybe by our family's influence, or maybe by our personal past.  It is like one of those dreams where you are trying to drive the car from the backseat and you are barely able to stay on the road so getting where you want to go is forgotten.  We've been treading water alone in the dark.  It's time we swam to shore and look towards the dawn.

What about you?  What has this journey through the dark shown you?  Do you have what you  need to get where you want to go? There will be a push to get things back to normal as soon as possible.  You have to ask yourself if normal was enough for you?  Were you really happy or were you just able to distract yourself from your sorrow? These can be painful questions and realizations.  You can feel overwhelmed or worried that you just can't ever find peace and satisfaction.  It's time to make our needs a priority, and while we're at it we can make the needs of our fellow travelers one too.  Safe journey through this night and all the ones that follow.

Peace and Blessings,

Thomas Mooneagle

Friday, December 4, 2020

Collective Grief

 

Greetings all,


I hope you are safe and healthy.  It has been some time.  I have been in a dark place so I haven't really had the words till now to pen a post.

Right now where I live, we're in the midst of a large surge in virus cases.  Thanksgiving has come and gone, and the damages are yet to be tallied from the many gatherings that have occurred.  I learned that a friend has been in the hospital with covid since before the holiday.  I am safe working from home as is my family, but still I feel so much ominous dread.  Since I last checked deaths from the pandemic in the US are around 280,000 and it is highly likely that we'll be over 300,000 by the new year. I am finding it hard to fathom.  How do we deal with a loss like this? How do we brighten the season when the season is bringing death to so many, and financial ruin to many more?  How do we come together to grieve, when we are so divided not only in distance but in beliefs?

Since my last post I have been greatly relieved that we will have new leadership in our country.  However the current power structure seems to want to set it all aflame before then.  I realize that I am suffering from trauma, not individual trauma but a societal one.  What I feel is not only personal grief, but grief for the world.  This is not new to me, but it is certainly magnified. Post pandemic something will have to be done to help us come to terms with our losses.  Space must be given for our grief both the personal and the collective.  No one alive today has faced circumstances like these.  I have been thinking of gathering with other healers after all of this passes and spending a few days in ceremony.  It is no accident that the last time I received a hug (March 6th) was also the last time I drummed in a circle. We need our circles and right now many of us are without them.  

Why am I telling you this?  Well all of us have some degree of empathy.  We may be isolated physically but emotionally we are all connected.  Our fates are entwined.  We feel what the world feels, and right now that is deep sadness as well as anxiety.  We must find a way to grieve for the collective if not now, then when it is over.  Otherwise that unspent grief will poison our souls and darken our hearts. 

How about you?  Are you shuddering from the weight of the world?  Are you suffering in silence with no outlet?  Do you believe that all you are feeling are your feelings?  If so you may want to take a few moments each day in a darkened room to allow the tears for the world and for yourself to flow.  Grief is part of the healing process. We cannot be made whole again without it.  So we must grieve together and apart for those we know and those that we don't.  Take care of yourselves.

Peace and Blessings,

Thomas Mooneagle

Friday, October 16, 2020

Welcome to the Darkness


 Greetings all,

Welcome to the Darkness, I've been waiting for you....

Those are the first lines of my new book.  The book I am continually avoiding working on these days.  I thought it would be an appropriate way to start this post.  I haven't been writing much the past few months.  I've been busy working on other projects like live streaming, launching a second youtube channel, and otherwise overhauling how I conduct business.  Basically I'm trying to move my whole practice online.  It makes it easy to relocate. 

We're well past 6 months into the pandemic and I am sure many of us have reached the limits of our reserves.  Here in the northern hemisphere we're also heading into the dark half of the year.  So welcome into this dark time of uncertainty.  In the midst of this we have gaslighting on a societal level here in the U.S.  and a continued culture of oppression and genocide.  These are tough times.  It's easy to get run down and despair when our only outlet is online, but that outlet is also full of the poison and rhetoric that disheartens us.  I like many of you, have at times lost faith that there could be any hope for a brighter future  in our lifetimes.   This is with all the training, techniques, and spiritual tools that I have at my disposal.  I can hardly imagine what someone who has access to none of those is experiencing.  I'm also able to sequester and work from home.  Many people don't have that option. 

I have found myself despairing and then beating  myself up for despairing which then spirals into self judgment and of course more despair.  What this has taught me is that no one gets out of the darkness unscathed.  It's not that I'm weak, it's that I'm human and vulnerable.  I have limits to the amount of energy I can access to combat stress.  When it is depleted I move much more sluggishly to get anything done.  I've not been especially productive and the self recrimination I've felt has shown me just how deeply the cultural programming of how we value ourselves goes.  Intellectually I know that life has value outside of productivity, but in my bones I still feel the need to justify my existence by accomplishing something.  (Like writing a blogpost...)

Why am I telling you this?  I am quite sure many of you are exhausted, depressed, and anxious.  I want to let you know that you haven't failed to walk a spiritual path if you're feeling that way.  All of those emotions and experiences are part of the dark night of the soul.  The pain we are feeling can make us go deeper and acknowledge truths about ourselves, our beliefs, and the way we've been conducting our lives. It may clue us in to what matters to us, and give us clarity about what we want and don't want from life. That said it is not an enjoyable process. 'For the night is dark and full of terrors.' (GOT quote) 

So how about you?  Are you stuck in the pit of despair?  Are you struggling to match your ideals to your feelings and experiences?  Are you judging yourself by standards made for better times?  I would suggest that you cut yourself some slack.  Do your best to find compassion for yourself in these times.  Experiment until you find what works for you.  Then practice it, make it your super power.  When the time comes, you may be the one to teach others resilience.  The world is dark now, you are the light.

Peace and Blessings,

Thomas Mooneagle

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Holding Pattern


Greetings all,

I am still here.  I hope you are persisting against the odds in these very challenging times.  I find myself looking back a lot lately.  Summer nostalgia is usually at its strongest after the midpoint, but this year it seems even stronger.

I find myself thinking of people who are no longer in my life.  Some of them have died, some of them I have parted ways with.  It's funny that I am missing the people lately that I parted with on poor terms.  It's not that I want them back in my life, just that the times when we did get along were good and the smell of the season makes me long for those simpler times.  I'm not so far removed from those times to remember that I wanted to escape those moments into a different future.  The trap of memory is that we can picture things either better than they were or worse than they ever were.  The truth is that each time in our life is a mix of good and bad.  The same holds true for relationships.

For many years, I hung onto anger for the people who had hurt me even long after they were gone from my life.  At first, I did this as a way to not be fooled into letting them back into my life.  The anger was a shield to keep their energies at bay.  Empathy can be an Achilles heel, and I found that anger was a good way for me to declare and enforce boundaries.  I still think it has its uses, but not for the longterm.  Holding the pattern of anger or hatred for years is exhausting.  I'll be honest with you guys I have hated a bunch of people.  I did this because it made it easier to stay angry with them and push them away.  I needed to keep them away because they abused and hurt me, repeatedly.  Now, I am wanting to open my heart again to new possibilities, to new hopes and dreams.  I don't think I can do that until I lay that old anger and hatred aside.  I want to, but I am also afraid that without it I won't have that shield for those people who would hurt me again if given the chance.  (Yes they would do that, which is why I banished them from my life).  I have started saying to myself, " I don't hate them, I just don't trust them."  That alone is a huge step for me.  

Why am I telling you this?  Well it came out of a conversation I was having with a friend online about  how to hold someone accountable, but not have to carry the emotional weight of the hurt they caused.  I'd like to honor the good that came from those relationships, but I also don't want any of those fuckers back in my life.  I'm certain that most of you have experienced something like this.  I also know that like me many of you are starving for social interaction.  Maybe you are thinking of reaching out to that old toxic person from your past just so that you have someone else  to talk about the good old days.  I just have one thing to say to you , "DON'T DO IT!" Don't repeat my mistake of allowing people who don't treat you right back into your circle just so you can avoid the pain of being alone. If you're that lonely, talk to me.  Seriously I am as stir crazy as the next person, you'd be doing me a favor.  

So how about you?  How are you navigating relationships in these strange days?  Are you reminiscing more?  Are you looking at the past through colored lenses?  Inventorying our past is useful as long as we are being truthful about it, and not emphasizing either the good or the bad over the other.  Are you holding onto old hurts so that you can hold onto your boundaries?  Maybe it is time to set those feelings aside while keeping your boundaries.   Maybe it is time that we love ourselves enough so that we don't need to hold onto hurt in order to take care of ourselves.  Maybe when we're done loving ourselves, we can share that love with those who will honor us.

Peace and Blessings,
Thomas Mooneagle

Monday, July 6, 2020

In Dark Places

Greetings all,

I hope you are healthy and safe.  We are in the midst of dark days.  There are likely darker ones ahead. So of course I am working with light in the studio.

I've been fascinated with playing with light for a long time.  I did a self initiation ceremony fifteen years ago for which I ordered fifty glow sticks of various colors.  I hung them in a circle in a small forested area near my home.  Part of the ceremony was to light them up as I entered right after the sun went down.  It was one of the most magical nights of my life.  The beauty of that multicolored phosphor light has stayed with me.  Years ago I bought a ceramics book at a convention.  In one of the chapters there was a photo of a clay lantern.  It had a lovely ovoid shape and very fine curvilinear cut outs to allow the light through.  I immediately wanted to make one.  I had tried on numerous occasions to make something that vaguely embodied what I had envisioned.  I have repeatedly failed in that attempt, until now.

I haven't yet fired this piece or the others in the series, but I am finally hitting the aesthetic I pictured. I started having more success when I changed a few things: the tool I was using to carve them, when in their drying cycle I carved them, and bringing them outside on my deck to carve in natural light.  (Made the process more enjoyable than doing it in the dark basement studio).  As I bring these ideas into physical being I find moments of joy and peace even in the pandemonium that we have shaking our world.  I don't think it is an accident that right now I am working on creating forms that only show their true beauty in the darkness.

I try not to look ahead too much because the future is smoke and while things could change to bring about a more just and healthy world they could also go the opposite way at this juncture.  I say that not to frighten you, but to emphasize just how important this moment in time is.  Many people are re-examining their relationships in their life, not just to other people, but to their work, their time, and their values. We have people in the streets demanding concrete changes to how our society runs.  We have people re-imagining the world.  At the same time, we have systems of power structures working overtime to maintain control of the narrative, and to offer us false choices.  We can refuse those choices and demand our own.  I am for the most part sheltering in place, sharing what I can, and creating.  I want to bring more beauty and wonder into the world.  So I create with my hands and heart.

Why am I telling you this? Right now it seems that my ability to create in the visual arts is finally coming to maturity.  I don't think it is an accident that it is happening now.  What ability or talent is bursting forth from you in this moment of crisis? As the structures of our narrative have fallen away what deep need in you is finally being expressed?  I know many people are cooking for the very first time, or baking, or sewing, or getting outside daily, or really giving their loved ones time.  There is something special inside of you that yearns to be birthed into the world, and oddly enough it may be exactly what the world needs.  If not the actual product itself, the energy that is generated from your act of creation.  Maybe it is joy that comes from it.  Maybe it is peace.  Maybe it is stillness or even love.

Not all of you have had the time, but many of you have.  Are you courting the aliveness within you? Are you reconnecting with the essentials of your own nature?  Are you recreating your personal world, or are you just waiting for a return to normal?  The world needs all of you right now.  The parts of you that have been pushed into the closet of abandoned dreams and wishes need to be brought out.  So go, venture into the darkness, and if you need a bit of light, take a lantern with you.

Peace and Blessings,
Thomas Mooneagle