Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Huffington Post Article: The Healing Legacy of the Inka: Five Ancient Principles that we need today

Check out Gay's article on Huffington Post: 

When you read “Inka,” what may flash through your mind is creepy Hollywood scenes of terrible and tortuous sacrifice rituals or Spanish conquistadors slaughtering masses to procure Peruvian gold for King and Church. Apparently any tradition can lose its bearing when human frailty takes the helm. Yet, for all that the Inka system was authoritarian and imperfect, it was one of the greatest empires of antiquity, and its people flourished. What you may not know is that the cultural framework of the Inka is based in ancient mystical philosophies for living in harmony with the Creator and the living world.... We are taught five concepts at the heart of the Inkan philosophy that are crucial to being healthy, balanced, and an “investor” in life, rather than a “consumer” of life: Kawsay, Munay, Yachay, Llanchay, and Ayni. These five concepts are as relevant to us today as they were in the archaic world that brought them to light. Click Here to Read Gay's Full Article on Huffington Post Blog

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Yoga and Psyche Article: Huffington Post

I'm loving the ever growing dialogue linking spirituality, depth psychology, and various mythologies or spiritual and energetic modalities. There are many wonderful conversations going on out there, and I'll try to keep pointing you to them. Here's one for us yoga folks. Just click the title.

Yoga and Psyche: The Marriage of Ancient Wisdom and Depth Psychology

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Pacifica Graduate Institute Celebrates 40 Years

My doctoral alma mater, Pacifica Graduate Institute is celebrating its 40th anniversary. A truly magical place, where students of Mythology and Jungian Depth Psychology are held in the bossom of the foothills overlooking the Pacifica coast and the literary legacy of great teachers and mentors of mythology and depth psychology. The school houses a number of archival collections including those of Joseph Campbell, Marija Gimbutas, James Hillman, Marion Woodman, and reknown classicist & Pacifica professor, Christine Downing. In honor of their 40th anniversary, Pacifica alumni have published a book collecting memories and tributes to our beloved alma mater. Below is a reprint of my article.

Tending the Mind and Soul at Pacifica 
More than fifteen years before entering Pacifica, I wrote my thesis for an M.A. in English on Flannery O’Connor’s work. While I delved into the fascinating world of O’Connor’s themes and character’s, hoping someday to write great works, I found myself jealous of her extended stay at the Yaddo writer’s retreat in New York where she was enveloped for a time in a world of supportive peers and mentors.
It was about midway through my second semester at Pacifica when I realized that I had unwittingly found my own creative retreat. Yes, the schedule was rigorous and the standards were high, but for three days each month, the rest of the world was put at bay while the pursuit of knowledge and our passions became paramount. Always arriving in the mantle of burn out, the Pacifica setting and community never failed to foster a rejuvenation of my spirit and objectives.
Perhaps this was especially important since the Pacifica curriculum functions as a sort of medicine wheel process in which we not only accumulate knowledge, but also activate our inner workings. As we delved into many of the most profound questions, ideas, and stories of humanity, we had the support of the comforting campuses, the caring faculty, and the shared experiences of our cohorts. For example, right from the start of the Folk Story class I was in the grip of powerful archetypes. As I worked on my presentation, I became so caught up that I would work ridiculously long hours on it, even more than thirty-six hours straight as I finished. It was only a ten-minute presentation. This was absurd, and of course, I ran over time and had to be cut off, and I could have sworn that I was only speaking five minutes when I was stopped. After my presentation, we took a break, and I went into the garden and cried—but not alone. Few words were needed as friends sat with me while I finally found myself slipping from the grip of the archetypes. I would never have survived this journey alone. Yet, it absolutely helped me to evolve into the kind of person and writer that I had hoped to become.
Though I’ve been gone a little while now, I still treasure the special friendships and professional liaison’s that my time at Pacifica yielded. We cannot share a soul journey such as this without making deep friendships along the way.

~Get your copy of the PGI Alumni Tribute book

Monday, May 23, 2016

Tending the Soul with Healing Ritual - Sneak Peak

If you've been looking for new ways to deepen your personal practice in energetic, spiritual, and psychological self-care, you may find my new book just the resource you need.

There are many wonderful tools for soul care and development, but I would argue that Ritual is one of the most universal and perennial techniques available to us. The problem is that we have greatly lost the art of Ritual in our rationalistic culture, and for those of us who would be open to the intuitive techniques Ritual provides, we simply aren't sure how to make safe and effective Rituals. Worse, popular media has focused on the most dangerous and perverse forms of Ritual that it can dredge up or imagine in order to sensationalize movies and news.

Ritual, in and of itself is not bad. It is an intuitive tool that can be abused, but in its finest forms, can help us to engage the subtle realms of our minds and our world.

In my new book, Tending the Soul with Healing Ritual, I explain what Ritual is and how it is relevant in today's world. I also outline key components for doing safe and ethical Rituals. Part One of the book offers theory and clarifications to prepare the reader for the menu of Rituals offered up in Part Two.

In Part Two, you will find a variety of Do-it-yourself Rituals to help you clear heavy energies, bring in light/refined energies, and to help you make transitions in your life. These Rituals help you to work at multiple levels, including psychological, emotional, energetic, and spiritual.

Click Here to take a peak inside at the Table of Contents and first pages of introduction.  The book is available at your favorite bookseller or online.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Tending the Soul with Healing Ritual

Finally, my new book is on its way! Coming in April!!

If you’ve been linked with my website, blog, or social media over the last year, you’ve seen a notice or two about the upcoming release of my book Tending the Soul with Healing Ritual. Well after years of thought, months of writing, and more months of proofreading and editing, the book is at last in its final stages.
I’m excited that this delivery is finally at hand, and I hope you will find the result as helpful as I have dreamt it would be.
I have been a writer all of my life. Even as I child I wrote poetry and kept journals. Eventually I found ways to get published here and there in various venues, but life usually seemed too demanding for me to complete one of my fiction or non-fiction manuscripts, though I eventually did that some years ago. Most writers will tell you that writing is not hard, it is the finishing that is hard. It is the anal, detail-driven, perfection-focused elements of polishing and producing an end product that are the really hard parts of writing. Therefore, writers don’t usually take on a book project unless they are passionate enough about it to do the hard labor.
There are several unfinished manuscripts in my files that I would have much rather undertaken than this one. This book, however, demanded to be written. No matter what project I picked up, snippets of this content would leak through, and finally, I put aside other ventures to focus on this one. It just seemed that the Universe was calling this little guidebook into being. So I wrote it.
I don’t profess this book to be a great masterpiece of wisdom. However, I do believe it is a great introductory guide to awakening one’s intuitive nature and rediscovering the common sense of the heart and soul. We’ve embraced rationalism so extremely in today’s world, that we have invalidated the inner wisdom and intuitive sources of wisdom that we were all born with – instincts and gifts. Through learning the essence of ritual and the nature of intuitive healing, I strive to reawaken the intuitive senses. It is my hope that this little book will open readers to the parts of themselves that they’ve either been ignoring, muzzling, or have just forgotten how to hear.

 I’ve posted the final version of chapter one of my book onto my website, to give you a head start on it. The book should be available through local and on-line booksellers by this April of this year. The first two chapters introduce the healing nature of Ritual and how to make Rituals for your personal practice. Part two of the book offers a four-chapter menu of Rituals categorized by the primary element that drives the Ritual mythically: Earth, Water, Air, Fire. If you enjoy the first chapter and would like to read the second before the book is available, send me your email at & I’ll send you the second chapter for free also. As always, I welcome your feedback. Click here to read a  Chapter 1 Sample.

Monday, January 4, 2016

New Moon Ritual for the New Year

Each time we embark on a new calendar year, we feel as if we’re getting a fresh start. Or as if we should be able to get a fresh start. We make that new list of resolutions or goals, and we vow to leave the sludge of the last year behind. However, it is many-a-year that we discover that our best intentions get squashed or simply fade away once we are back in the flow of life.

The problem often lies with the fact that while we genuinely want those new behaviors or situations, we haven’t really done any rebooting at the deeper levels. Many of our behaviors are entrained in our cells and many of our patterns reflect the beliefs embedded at the unconscious levels of the psyche. People often talk of the power of intention, but how do we invoke those intentions at a holistic level?

Certainly techniques in meditation, qi gong, yoga, active imagination, transpersonal psychology, and other energetic, psychological, and spiritual offer processes that have helped millions find holistic health, balance, and fulfillment. While I enjoy the benefits of these, I personally find personal Ritual my favorite resource for making a definitive and lasting change in my life.

Through Ritual, you activate the mind (conscious & unconscious), body (material & subtle), and soul (divine self). Depending on your beliefs, you may also tap into the Sacred other. Thus drawing on various attributes of the above list, creating a harmonic resonance with the natural world and your authentic self. The trick is, you must step fully into the process as if you were an actor stepping into a character. Shed your tendency to worry about what your Ritual looks like to your insecure and rational mind. Once you are ready to begin, fully immerse yourself in the process, the way a child steps into make-believe—making this moment the truest reality.

Here’s a Ritual to help you release the old and embrace the new. The first New Moon of the year is approaching and would be the perfect time to embark on a Ritual for initiating a new personal cycle. However, you can do this whenever it works best for you.

There are two parts to this Ritual. The first is a shedding Ritual. The second is a prayer packet that will release your intentions as Grandmother Moon begins to fill back up with light and energy.

Clearing string. Cut pieces of paper, approximately the size of standard post-its or a little bigger. You also need several feet of string and something to wrap the paper around as an offering in fire, such as sage, incense, or flowers.

Set your intentions to open Sacred Space, and then write on the slips of paper all the things you need to shed. Any old grudges, doubts, habits, illnesses, etc. that you don’t want to take forward should be listed on the page. This is not a hit-list, but rather a list of those things you choose not to continue to stay tied to as you continue your journey. You don’t want to write with hate or a destructive attitude, but rather offer up a freeing, an unraveling. You may write one or more word or phrases on the papers.

When you are finished, tie your papers with the offerings onto your string. For each paper, focus on the words you wrote and wrap it around the sage (offering). Now find where it feels as if those feelings/issues live in your body, and begin winding the string around the paper. As you wind it, imagine unwinding it from your body—and drawing it out. Tie a knot, then pick up the next piece of paper and follow the same process until you have made a string with all of your papers. You can add length to your string and more papers until you feel you have identified all the heavy stuff that restricts you from stepping into who and how you truly want to be.

Now, in a hearth or fire pit, or some other safe place, light a small fire. Place an offering of gratitude in the form of sage or something beautiful to burn on the fire. You may want to sing a chant or say a prayer, but when you are ready, yield your string to the fire. Lay it in, and as you watch it burn, imagine all that stuff still being drawn out of you and into this Sacred Fire. Let it go with joy and appreciation to the Divine. The Great Mother not only brings forth life, but also mulches all that we shed. Stay with the fire until your prayer string is burned up and the fire is safe to leave.

Prayer Packet
Prayer packets, called Despachos, are the core healing practice for many Peruvian shamans. This is a simpler version of their process, but can be a very powerful process when done with sincerity. You are effectively making a mandala inside the paper, then offering it to the Sacred.
Materials: A sheet of wrapping paper approximately 3 feet square. Ribbon, flowers, incense, candies, and other things that would make nice offerings to nature and the Divine.

Again, working in Sacred Space, set your intentions to create new patterns for the new year. Lay the paper out before you, and begin by making a circle with one of your items to outline the size of your mandala, which should take up only about the center third of your paper. You want to be able to fold the sides over and tie it when you are done. You may create the border of your mandala with sage or candy or flowers. Whatever feels right for you.

Once you have the border, begin creating a work of art with your offerings. With each item you are offering special gratitude to the Universe, Nature, Spirit, your guides, any elements of the Sacred that you recognize supports your life, as well as people and situations that have benefited you. Believe me, none of us live by our own devices, so now is the time to recognize the way in which the Universe and the Sacred support you. You do this by focusing on a thought or feeling and blowing it (with your breath) into the offering that you hold in your hand.
You also want to choose some items to blow in your intentions for the new year. Now is the time to focus on the positive, so imagine the healed states, the goals, the ways of being that you want to create for this year. Focus on your intention, find where it resonates in your body, then blow that into the flower or candy or whatever you have chosen.

After you energize an offering, lay it out in the mandala to continue to make a work of art. Items may be stacked upon one another as you like until the mandala feels completed. The Peruvian shamans like to offer up symbols of Mother Earth, Father Sun, the ocean, stars, and the opposites of masculine and feminine. They also like to offer up whatever they think Spirit will like, so they use colorful candies and other items. Personally, I like to also place seeds and foods that creatures of the Earth might like. But you can use anything you wish as long as it is healthy for the environment.

The key to these offerings are gratitude. When we feel gratitude it dissipates or completely displaces feelings of fear, anger, bitterness, and so forth. At least for the moment. In that moment, if you can be without those heavy emotions, you can be open to healing, and the rewiring or rebooting that you seek. Find the things to be grateful for and place offerings in a state of as pure a feeling of gratitude and appreciation as you can.

When you have finished, fold the four sides of your paper into a packet and tie it securely with your ribbon. I usually like to make one last thank you with a flower or stem of rosemary and place it in the ribbon.
Now find a good place outside to bury your packet. By burying the packet, you are giving it to the Universe to mulch it and receive the blessings and intentions it carries. These seep out into the Universe as the packet mulches and infuses the Cosmos with your intentions, your energy.

If you don’t have a garden, yard, or nearby woods to bury it, then here are two other options. 1. You can make a very small packet that you can bury easily in a small garden, or 2. You may burn the packet. However, burning speeds up the release of the energy, and for this packet, the objective is to release the energy over a time as you engage the new year. However, energy follows intention and the most important element of this Ritual is how you have set your intentions and engaged your energy.

I wish you a joyful and meaningful new year. I welcome feedback on how this Ritual has gone for you.