River Fire

River Fire 2014On Saturday, the 27th of September, we traveled to pick up my disabled son’s girls for his access period of half of the school holidays.

Often, at this time of the year, we pass through the city of Brisbane on our way back home. The ending of a two week long arts and culture festival with an event called ‘Riverfire’ is on at this time, but we usually pass it by because by then we are getting very tired after such a long round trip to pick up the girls.

(One has dyed her hair purple, again…I miss her blonde locks).

This year, we picked them up earlier in the day, so we spontaneously decided to stop at Southbank and see how we fared in energy.

The trouble was that we’d taken our dogs with us in the car, so we were not allowed to enter the barriered precinct of Southbank.

(Dogs are allowed in the parklands at any other time of the year, but apparently not during main events. I wish we’d known that before we parked our car, after taking an hour to find a space).

So, after grabbing some lunch at a dog friendly cafe (we had to sit outside), we walked in the hot sun toward Kangaroo Point and found a spot near the Maritime Museum, far from the madding crowd and the music blaring on speakers where the main viewing could be had.

(My husband actually walked all the way back to our car and moved it, after we found another parking space closer to where we ended up… which was very lucky when most street parking was closed off and we couldn’t enter the ‘park and pay’ areas with our dogs).

We actually got a nice bit of grass on a slope overlooking the river, and then proceeded to sit for the next five and a half hours, (during which time we got crowded in by other spectators), until the spectacle we’d decided to view finally happened.

By then, the girls were restless, my back was sore, and my bum was so numb that even I was wriggling…  I hadn’t prepared well for this impromptu event, though we did bring a couple of blankets and travel pillows from the car and some water bottles, plus a nearby kiosk sold us nearly stale popcorn and flavored fairy floss (so we got high on junk food until they also fried up a sausage sizzle).

I was surprised at how well behaved the girls actually were, apart from a near incident when they began throwing small twigs at each other. Of course, cuddly me became the back rest for one of the girls and my hubby, but I did enjoy the snuggle.

When the defence force flyovers began, with helicopters and jets almost ruining our eardrums, we soon began perking up – and when the fireworks lit up the sky at just after 7 p.m. it really was worth the long wait. I couldn’t believe that the fireworks went for over 20 minutes!

We were limited to the section we were sitting at, so could not see the full snaking river length lit up with fireworks (which is why it is called ‘Riverfire’), as the top of tall buildings, bridges, and floating pontoons all blast color into the sky, and we could not hear the music that set the background for this visual feast but it was superb, anyway.

I was brought to mind of how much of life is so easily put aside because we get tired, or are in pain, or dealing with serious or draining issues that mean we feel we have little left to bring to events such as this.

I excused our non-attendance for so many years because of these types of issues, and backed that up by saying that you never saw the fireworks well from beside the river, anyway, because of all the drifting smoke. (Yet the place where we sat didn’t have this problem). I also kept saying you see it all better on television. (I thought I was being practical).

When we lived in Brisbane city many years ago, we regularly walked to Southbank on these nights, (didn’t have to worry about parking, then), and thoroughly enjoyed ‘Riverfire’ with our own children. Watching my grandchildren go silent and seeing the sky lit up like that made me remember that television has nothing on reality (I now admit).

The girls have got me thinking about attending next year – but with better planning and preparation. There were people next to us sitting in fold out chairs, eating hot chicken and tapenade, and having a nice glass of wine… I think I can do that! (The girls think so, too).

Click here to see the video clip.

I hope you like it.

Blessings!
Lianne

Lilipily Spirit – Empower Your Life, Connect with the Divine

Water Dragon

Water Dragon
My husband and son went to check the chemical balance in our swimming pool one morning, recently, and were astonished to see a dark creature swimming frenetically, deep in the water.

Our swimming pool has pale water like the beautiful warm ocean surrounding the Whitsunday islands that we once swam in, so the creature was easy to see.

At first, they thought it was a snake. A snake was not something we want swimming in our pool because snakes can be dangerous in Australia. So my husband went looking for a tool to fish it out with.

By the time he got back, the creature had stopped and was resting on the bottom. It was quite obviously not a snake. It was actually a lizard, called a ‘water dragon‘.

(Check out this link to view a video clip of our ‘water dragon’).

We have often seen ‘water dragons‘ as they are common, here, but we had never seen one actually in the water before. We knew lizards could swim but we never knew they could swim through deep water like a serpent.

The lizard stayed still on the bottom for so long that they began to wonder if there was something wrong with it. My husband prodded it with the pole he had brought but it responded sluggishly, so they got worried that it had forgotten its way out of the pool and was now exhausted. Neither wanted the poor creature to drown…

It wasn’t until it moved slowly to one corner and climbed up the pebbled walls, then peeked above the water just long enough to get a fright when it saw my husband, that they realized the ‘dragon‘ was perfectly fine. It jumped back beneath the water to swim away, obviously well able to climb out of the water at any place. My husband breathed a sigh of relief, and felt happy that it was just enjoying the water of our crystal clear ‘lake.’

I didn’t get to see the actual ‘water dragon‘ but I did get to see the video clip my husband took of it. It’s fascinating to see it swimming and you can imagine very well that a larger one of these could well be the ‘Loch Ness monster‘ from Scotland…

We love ‘water dragons’ but have never seen one around our home before. Usually, the lizards around our home are ‘blue tongues‘ or skinks, both of which are dry land animals. The weather has been unusually dry for some time, though, so water is probably scarce in the scrub where lizards live. We don’t mind sharing our resources with the wild life.

Leaning toward the druidic in my spiritual modes, I also find meaning in such unusual visitations. I decided to look up the meaning of ‘water dragon‘ to see how it gelled with my life right now.

In Celtic symbology, the dragon is a powerful magical animal that denotes transformation and eternal wisdom. There are four elemental dragons, for earth, fire, water, and air.

The ‘water dragon‘ has a meaning of connection, depth and passion, as well as of memories and wishes that have possibly been long forgotten or hidden and are now being brought to the fore.

I find this very interesting, since not long ago I began adding my own writing in our Lilipily Spirit blogs, here, and in that process have been remembering many events from my earlier life, both good and bad.

It is said that the ‘water dragon‘ enables us to face the painful experiences of the past, so that a sense of peace and balance can be restored to our lives. Certainly, by writing blogs containing elements from my earlier life, I have been able to reconnect with the magic and wonder of many experiences that had long been smothered beneath the pain and suffering that ensued from other events.

The ‘water dragon‘ is said to bring courage and compassion to help us face these challenges and I find that interesting since, before the ‘dragon‘ entered our pool, I was wondering why it was suddenly so easy to publically write things I usually feel vulnerable about. I definitely found the courage to put these memories, thoughts and ideas ‘out there‘ when they have not been aired for many decades.

By the end of the day, the ‘water dragon‘ had gone. My husband and son felt a residual sense of wonderment and joy after the visit.

If you are interested in the other elements when it comes to dragons, the ‘fire dragon‘ is known for transmutation, and enables enthusiasm, courage and vitality that helps us overcome obstacles, step up to the plate as a leader, and express mastery in the world. The ‘fire dragon‘ is also symbolic of powerful protection surrounding the circumstances we find ourselves in. Mythical salamanders are known as ‘fire dragons‘, but a more physical example would be any lizards living near volcanoes or volcanic mud.

The ‘air dragon‘ is said to bring insight and inspiration, including powerful flashes of psychic illumination and clarity that can help us get to the bottom of all problems so long as we learn to trust our ‘inner voice‘. It is also said to foster a sense of vitality. Lizards that live in trees or high in the mountains are seen as ‘air dragons‘.

The ‘earth dragon‘ is said to show us our potentials and what power we are capable of manifesting, including riches. It helps us to discover our true inner beauty and how to ground and focus our energies instead of scattering them. This dragon is said to nurture us with the beneficence of Mother Earth. Any lizard that spends most of its time deep in the ground or under rocks might be considered an ‘earth dragon.’

In druidism it is believed that the Earth itself is a dragon and that its blood vessels create a network of lines in the land. These are known as ‘ley lines(or dragon lines) and wherever they meet or cross a ‘power node‘ is said to exist. At these points, the Earth’s energy is strong and healing waters can often be found.

Dragons did not have wings in druid lore but were known as wyrms (worms) and there were many stories about giant worms in the earth. (You can see how a lizard or skink might be considered a dragon when you understand they originally didn’t have wings). These giant ‘wyrms‘ or ‘worms‘ referenced the ‘ley lines‘ and the ancients are said to have built their sacred stone circles upon the ‘node points‘ in these, including the well known Stonehenge. When the ancients talked about the ‘lay of the land‘ they weren’t mapping just geological structures but were referencing this network of power.

Since the word ‘dragon‘ means ‘to see clearly‘ and the ancients believed that the special powers of vision, wisdom, prophecy and knowledge were birthed from the Earth at these power nodes, such special places were under the guardianship of kings who were known as ‘Pendragons(protectors of dragons).

The nodes are also said to have been portals between our world and the supernatural or ‘otherworld‘. Since the druids believed in reincarnation, crossing through such portals was a regular occurrence at the beginning and end of each lifetime. This reincarnational cycle is symbolized in the image of a dragon swallowing its own tail, denoting the never ending cycle of life, and it was very important that nothing blocked the exchange between worlds or opened the portal at the wrong time. Which was another reason for dedicating such points as sacred sites.

I’d like to think that the little ‘dragon‘ in our pool was attracted by the energy coming from our land, and that it found the water in our pool healing.

I remember walking across our plot soon after clearing work had been done many years ago and when the scaffold of our home was going up. An elemental energy rushed through my body with a clear sense of entity. I told it not to worry and said that all the plants and trees we had removed would be replaced – that it would have its garden back again.

Thus appeased, I’ve often found it interesting since that every shrub or tree I planted grew much bigger than the potting labels said they would. I’ve also often been reminded of the entity protecting our land when so much wildlife, and insects like butterflies and dragonflies, have enjoyed passing through despite our land being only one suburban plot amid many.

Over time, I came to believe that our spiritual rituals and the blessings we laid upon our home and land might also be the attractors, but perhaps it was the land itself all along?

My eldest son and I were born during the season of Imbolc, which is a fire festival.

In the Celtic zodiac, this means that our signs are dragons. In the southern hemisphere, where we were born, the dragon rules the period between July 21 to August 17. In the northern hemisphere, it rules the period between January 21- February 17.

It’s also interesting to me that the Druid tree for this period is a rowan. I have a few mountain ash trees (also known as rowans) growing along the borders of our land.

Birds often use our pool as a giant bath when we’re not out there (which is why my husband is assiduous with keeping the pool chemicals balanced). Our dining table overlooks the pool and it’s lovely watching them take a dip.

There used to be a group of four laughing kookaburras who sat on the fence and took turns to have a flutter in the pool each day, but then the mock orange hedge grew to thirty feet (instead of the ten on the tag) and they had nowhere to sit any more. That hasn’t stopped beautiful blue winged smaller kingfishers and other birds dropping by regularly, though.

I hope we see the ‘water dragon‘ come back one day.  (The birds had better be on the alert, then).

Next time, I’d like to be there, too.

Blessings!
Lianne

Lilipily Spirit – Empower Your Life, Connect with the Divine

Brain

Picture courtesy of AbsurdWordPreferred
Picture courtesy of AbsurdWordPreferred

When I was a teenager, a lot was going on in my home life that left me super tired. I absolutely loved school and would head off each morning but was soon having trouble keeping my eyes open. So I began wagging afternoon classes to go home, where I would hide under my bed with a pillow and go to sleep.

(I hid under the bed so that, if anyone came home, they wouldn’t know I was there).

At the end of the school day, I would come out from under my bed, still in my uniform, and act as if I had just got home from school. This went on for a while, because the nightly events of domestic friction that lost me sleep continued for some time.

I felt guilty about missing so much school, though, so I went to enough classes to get by.  I also attended tests and exams, and was so surprised that I passed with high scores.  It seemed that I had got away with these ‘time out‘ periods until the regular parent/teacher interviews called my parents’ attention.

I felt even more guilty after that, because my teachers expressed disappointment in me.  I had always been a good student and well mannered, but I had been missing so many classes throughout the year…

(I didn’t blame them. No one knew what was going on in my home life. I was too embarrassed to talk to anyone about what happened, there. I felt that people would think I came from a bad family, if they knew. I didn’t think my family was bad, just that it had lots of problems).

It was what my teachers added to their summations that was astonishing. They said that since I had passed all my exams with such high scores and with such little actual class attendance, they believed I was possibly a genius.

(No, I did not cheat on my exams, and my answers were usually very unique, which are hard to duplicate).

That assessment surprised me. My parents got a bit shocked, not only by the news that I had been wagging school but that I might be a genius.  I think they actually felt confronted by that. (Hell, I felt confronted by it!)  At home, when things went wrong, afterwards, more was expected from me because I ‘should have known better‘.

I didn’t really always know better, though. I may have been smart but I was still a kid. I was still learning about how the world worked. I was still processing information, not just about things but about people and life.

Once the word got out at school, I was ostracized and abused by some, or used by others who called me ‘Brain‘.  I realized that (in the outer world, at least) I didn’t like being smart. I didn’t like feeling that I was the odd one out. So I dumbed myself down. I stopped interacting with my teachers so much. I stopped being the one to pipe up in class with answers. I even stopped contributing to the school magazine. I diverted my attention away from schooling.

I met my future husband when I was sixteen and that was the end of my childhood schooling. (I did go back, later, as a mature age student). I ran away and set up a new life with him because he gave me what I was missing, then – affection, love, and acceptance.

People asked me if I would ever go back. They shook their heads that so much potential was lost in me. They couldn’t believe that such a ‘bright spark‘ was now working as a ‘checkout chick‘ and had aligned herself to a mere apprentice television technician. They didn’t believe we would last as a couple. They thought we were a mis-match, and they thought I had wasted my skills and talents.

I was just happy to be living life as me, not as someone’s expectations of me. On a deep inner level, though, the teachers’ words found home. I actually liked being smart. I just didn’t like people picking on me or expecting me to be their ‘walking dictionary or encyclopedia‘ or ‘automatic answer to everything‘ just because they thought I was smarter than they were.

Long ago, I did some Mensa (high IQ) tests to see how smart I really was. While I’ve lost those scores, now, they were in the top IQ range, then – but an interesting thing happened over time and through the long processes of life – I redid a Mensa test in recent years and did not come off so well. Still intelligent, no longer high IQ level…

What happened?  I never stopped using my brain.  I’d always expressed it in one way or another.  I’d been an artist, a writer, a dramatist – was it because my focus drew away from technical issues and became more creative?  Yet I’d also been a business woman by then.  I’d run my own theater group.  I’d gone back to school and sat further exams.  I’d earned myself diplomas.  Surely, dealing with the technicalities of those modes kept using those parts of my brain?

It is said that the brain has an endless capacity to absorb information. On the other hand, most people have a limit to how much can be recalled. There’s not much use having knowledge stored if it isn’t accessible.

Maybe that is a way the brain prioritizes. Just as we archive information on computers, so that what isn’t absolutely necessary is not taking up too much energy, our brains archive old knowledge, which can get harder to find again as we get older or find ourselves under stress.

(When I started to forget things, my grand-daughter told me that I had a leaky brain. She said that my head was so full that there was no room left in it, so things had begun leaking out… ).

I believe that not being able to access the information in your head can also happen when life makes you tired. When you are dealing with mundane problems all the time, and especially draining ones, your brain can begin to shut down because of overload.

I’ve seen movies and read books where the theme of social deterioration was examined, like “Lord of the Flies.” People question how sensitive, kind, intelligent humans can become so bestial, gross, and lacking in forethought or decency.

I think it is because the brain is selective. Just as it does when archiving old knowledge, I believe it prioritizes the necessities. When we are in survival mode, the brain does not think about good manners and decency any more. It thinks about how best to make it through the challenging moments.

That’s why stories about normal, sane, intelligent people being put into highly challenging and dangerous situations, and having to fight for their lives, are so rife today.

In a society where intelligence has become an aspiration, where the ‘used to be nerds‘ are now heroes, and where even pre-school children are expected to develop advanced intelligence, it is confronting to realize that human nature overrides all the concepts that go with intelligence in any situation of survival.  Instinct often seems to overrule intelligence in that state.

I’ve been through a lot of very challenging circumstances during the course of my life. These were emotional, physical, and fiscal, but not often intellectual. (Well, there were intellectual challenges, but I had a knack for dealing with them… It was the other modes that rattled me). They also came at me from many directions and in different ways, so it wasn’t like I could learn a method of coping and then relax.

While I have amassed quite a history of achievements, I am very aware of how much more I could have done if I had not felt so tired or drained by the personal circumstances I was in, sometimes.

It is not surprising to me at all to learn that highly intelligent people can become so depressed that they take their own lives. When emotion and energy gets so low, not even the most acute intelligence can break through to give them a boost.

One of the diplomas I earned was in method acting. Through that, I learned that people are not born to particular roles or modes in life but have many different potentials inside of them.

The premise of method acting is that roles are not different characters but are the same person who is being affected by different circumstances and challenges.

It seems. for instance, that if the same person is born into poverty and hardship in one life stream, and into wealth and ease in another, they will behave according to the circumstances they find themselves in, the environmental conditions surrounding them, and the physical, intellectual, and emotional stimulations upon them.

So, from that premise, there really is a point to make that character is not embedded but lies in how and where you are brought up, and how and where you enact your life thereafter.

Sometimes character, or the way you interact with the world, has nothing to do with any of these, though. In my family tree, there are members who have the brain disease of bipolarism (which used to be called manic depression).

My mother had episodes of bipolarism when I was a girl (it is not always a life long condition) and tried to kill herself a couple of times. (Shock therapy did make life smoother for her but also blanked out large chunks of her memory. I suppose that might help for someone who is troubled by their memories but it also took away good memories. She then became distant from those she had once loved).

I also have an aunt with this condition, who has talked me through the problems that arose from other affected family members.

Her doctor treats it as a life long disease and told her to think of it as though she has diabetes. That helped her to realize that her medication was not something that she could stop taking just because she was feeling better.

When affected by her bipolar disease, she did not behave badly because of behavioral or character traits. It was because there was an inherent physical condition of chemical imbalance in her brain, that triggered errant words and actions.

Therapy does not help people with bipolar disease because the problem is physical not mental.

People with the disease can talk to a therapist and see the truth and validity of every therapeutic suggestion, and may try to enact this advice in their lives, but when the chemical imbalance trips off they can’t stop themselves behaving weirdly because they need medication to remedy that imbalance.

My aunt told me that she can remember every time she thought or said or did weird things quite clearly. During those phases, it was like her body and actions were driven by some outside force that she had no control over. She could see and hear what she was saying and doing. She just couldn’t stop herself.

Apparently, certain life phases trigger bipolarism in susceptible people. Those are usually puberty, or during other highly hormonal stages such as pregnancy and after childbirth, and also during highly stressful life conditions such as unemployment, fiscal destitution, or difficult and ongoing emotional wranglings.

My grandfather (my mother’s father) had his bipolar phases triggered during an era when ‘mad‘ people were sent to institutions, so when he had psychotic phases (which can be part of bipolar disease) and began hurting his wife and children after his long search for employment failed (it was a time when there were no social services or government handouts, and his farm had become non-profitable), he was put into an asylum.

(That’s when my Nanna moved on with her life and became a single mother. People didn’t know that much about ‘madness’ then and many thought it was for life).

I watched a documentary about the human brain and bipolar disease some time ago. There have been many famous people in history who had it, yet they also had highly productive or creative lives. You can live a fairly normal life either side of bipolar episodes, apparently.

What struck me, though, was that scientists believe that people with such conditions of ‘madness‘ also have the ‘genius‘ gene.

Most people with bipolar disease are extremely intelligent but also extremely sensitive in their perceptions, (which is what eventually brings them down).

Apparently, this all stems from a genetic condition, and the people who have it ‘sit on the fence‘ between ‘madness‘ and ‘genius‘ until something comes along to push them to one side or the other.

So I’m no longer investing in the idea of being a genius. With my family history, I’d rather be ordinary.

I also no longer fret so much about taking after my ‘starcrossed‘ relatives, since I realized that with all I have been through in my life, if I had the disease it would well and truly have triggered off by now… (So, those who still call me ‘bonkers’, take note).

My son got ‘acquired brain injury‘ (ABI) after his head bounced on the asphalt a few times after being hit by a van as he ran across a busy road at age 13. That was how I discovered that the human brain is a relatively unknown continent, even today.

They used to say that brain cells never regenerate, that when you lose them they are gone forever. That’s why conditions like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are so frightening.

At least now science has begun to admit its lack of understanding of how the human brain works. I mean, there is much that is known, but also much, much more that remains unknown. That’s why coma patients who have been asleep for decades can sometimes wake up, long after the doctors gave up on them completely.

It’s just as well that we never gave up on our son, as a major neurologist did at the time. He told me that my son would most likely be a ‘vegetable‘ and remain in a coma for the rest of his life.

Admittedly, I enacted some powerful healing elements of my own, after that, including spiritual and metaphysical modes, and perhaps those actions got my son back on track… but, while the results were nothing short of miraculous, I still wonder why he wasn’t completely healed and hope that, deep inside his brain, slow healing work is still going on.

It’s been over 20 years since his accident and his condition is now stable in disability, so even the smallest change is something to be grateful for.

Today, he lives a fairly normal life and has children of his own, but needs constant supervision.

Having been his carer for so long, I’ve studied as much about the brain as I could to give me insight into what can be done. His brain is affected like that of an Alzheimer’s patient, in that cells have died and pathways have become dead ends. It’s like swiss cheese with holes in it – many thoughts get through perfectly okay, some fall into the holes and get totally lost.

In the end, there’s not much that a lay person like myself can do. I have to wait for scientists and medical researchers to come up with solutions, and time is against anything changing for my son.

I may get hopeful when I read of new results, like how they can now get rats with severed spinal cords to walk again, but these are not humans and they are not to do with brains. My son’s nerve endings work very well. They just lost their connections in the brain, so certain muscle systems no longer work well.

It is frustrating when some people think I don’t care any more because I’ve run out of energy to keep doing high doses of therapy with him every day.

They tell me that there are things that can be done, but they expect me to do them all. They tell me that I need to up the ante, but I am already dealing with a multitude of other tasks and I cannot focus solely on my son any more.

I still give him healing, sometimes, and it improves his moods and clears his thinking but there is little change in his physical paralysis, his inability to speak without blocking, or his short term memory problems.

What has helped him the most in life has been the lesson of spirituality.

When people pick on him or are too impatient to try to understand his condition, he has been able to shrug that off and forgive them.

When his marriage broke up and he no longer saw his daughters every day, he was able to put that into the perspective of his immortal spiritual self, with his physical life being just a phase in it’s eternal one.

When he got depressed about being lonely or missing his daughters, even though other family are still around him, he used the same references to touch his soul and rise up from the mire that would bog him down.

No matter the physical problems that assail him, he manages to smile and engage in life with the fullness of his being.

For me, that is truly living.

Spirit has always been the key for me, too, in overriding the ‘bog down’ elements of life.  This mode is encapsulated in the metaphor of the lotus lily plant (we use a blue lotus lily flower in our business logo).

In vedic spirituality and buddhism, there is a great focus on the lotus as a flower embodying spirit and transcendence.

The lotus plant is embedded in the mud beneath the water, representing how our roots are embedded in physical life with all its problems.  Its leaves float broadly on the surface of the water to soak in the sunlight, representing the energy we can achieve from accepting our emotional state as just being part of the human condition.  Its flower buds rise up on long stalks above the mud, the water, and all else, to open their delicate beauty for divinity to rest upon.

(If you look at statues or pictures of buddhist and vedic gods and goddesses, they often sit on lotus lilies).

For in these spiritual streams, it is believed that by transcending the worldly ‘bogs‘, and our reactions to physical life, we become more than we are as just human beings, and reconnect with the divine.

While my first touch with spirit came through psychic feelings and manifestations as a child, I explored much further by dedicated choice and found many helpful modes to rise above the physical condition.

There are certain modes that can be instilled through spirit that seem to overcome the limitations of the brain. For instance, I can realign myself in spirit when I am tired and clear my thoughts to enable great focus.

This is not a choice or a mental viewpoint, it is a realignment of the spiritual self by realizing that spirit is actually unaffected by the physical condition, that spirit is the rider within the vehicle of my physical form, and that being tired is just a sensory condition affecting my body and its brain, not my true spirit self.

It’s easy to forget these modes in the course of daily human life. Even though I know these modes, I often forget them as I ply my life. That is just the physical realm asserting itself.

The physical world that forms our mortal destiny has many programmed laws that shape every sensation and reaction. So I am often assailed by one ailment or another, and so is my husband, as we grow older.

These are the modes of the physical realm, that has many challenges embedded into it as par for the course. Even buddha got old and ill and died at the end of his incarnation. Being spirit or spiritual does not bring full escape from the laws that come with life, nor should it.

(For me, there is a reason why I chose to incarnate in a physical body, and overcoming all the natural problems that are embedded with life by using such overrides may wreck my original intentions).

Even as I know these modes, though, the laws that shape my thoughts and body caused me to doubt when I was inspired to try something out, recently.

My arthritis was so bad that I was aching and hobbling around, just waiting for the phase to pass, which it wasn’t doing too quickly. My husband was in much the same shape, and his posture looked as if the world was sitting on his shoulders.

Such inspiration comes on me, occasionally, so I just stood in stillness for a moment and realigned my spirit.  (This is something that many people do amid deep meditation but I find that it is possible to connect anywhere, at any time, so long as you know what you are doing).

So I stopped amid my hobbling pace, stood on my aching feet and ‘adjusted‘ myself. I found that quiet center of peace and energy, deep inside, and remembered ‘who I really was‘ and that my body was the vehicle I was driving, not vice versa… Then I stepped forward again.  I felt graceful. I moved gently and without pain. It was as if my body had remembered how to move in a way to avoid pain, (or maybe it was me remembering that I was the driver). The pain was still there but just niggling, not inflamed.

I decided to try it on my husband, (who has carried with me through many years of spiritual education. So it didn’t take much for him to understand what I asked of him). He stood up, looking old and bowed, and as I watched I could see him find his center, remember who he, too, was, and realign. Or so I thought.  It actually took a little longer for him than it did for me. The first time he tried to walk, his shoulders were thrown back and he forced a strut. I said, “No, that’s not it. You haven’t done it yet.”

(When you have it, it’s a visible serenity).

I left him to it, wondering if he was going to be able to do as I had done, but only moments later he entered the room I’d gone to, smoothly striding like a young man with a glow in his eyes.  His ‘chooky‘ neck had disappeared, his stoop had gone and he walked straight and sure, with smooth relaxation. I said, “You did it!”

(He suddenly looked much younger).

Was this our brains, thinking ourselves into a new mode, or was this the spiritual alignment I believed it was? That’s the doubt I had, for a moment.

(Such doubts for me are always passing. I am always a believer).

To be honest, the realignment did not last all night and we had to keep reminding ourselves – (and our son is also still disabled) – but that’s what you get for being incarnate in a physical realm. It will keep reasserting itself!

So if life makes you feel so tired that your brain doesn’t seem to be working, try realigning your spirit.  Even if, (like us), you have to keep making adjustments, it’s better than giving in to the physical world completely.  (I’m not saying don’t be alive in the physical realm.  I’m just saying you don’t have to let it get to you…)

I’ve often noticed something amazing about those who are aligned in spirit. Despite the fact that their physical bodies get old, they do not look so old.  Despite the problems of life that naturally afflict them, too, they do not look afflicted. Instead, what is immediately noticeable is their ‘glow‘ – an emanation of their life force in the fullness of its being, that you cannot miss as being ‘truly alive‘.

When we allow the assaults that come from the high challenges of physical life to affect our spirit, we get lost in the physical condition.  This causes us to look older than we are, to become frailer, and to be more affected by our bodily conditions.  When that happens, our brains go into overload mode and we begin to forget things, too.

Despite the bombardment that may come from the challenges of life, we can choose to align ourselves differently. That is what having a brain does for us.  Even as we can’t change some things that  happen to our physical condition in the world, we can select what attitudes we take toward them.

Blessings!
Lianne

Lilipily Spirit – Empower Your Life, Connect with the Divine

Coins

CoinsWhen I was a young girl, the Australian currency was pounds and pennies (pence). The penny was not even the lowest coin. The lowest coin was a half-penny. That is half a cent, today!

For a half-penny, I could go to the local ‘milk bar’ (variety grocery store) and buy a paper bag bigger than my head, filled to overflowing with a wide array of assorted lollies (candy).

I could also go see a movie at the local cinema for the matinee session on Saturdays.

I loved the sound of the money words they had, then. You didn’t say ‘harf’ penny for a halfpenny, you said, ‘hay’ penny. Two pennies were tuppence. Four pennies were fourpence. Six pennies were sixpence.

A shilling or ‘bob’ was the equivalent of ten cents, today. A two shilling coin was known as ‘two bob.’ (That was the sum always slipped to me and my sister by our adoptive grandfather during rare visits to his home). In Australian colloquialism, when someone had an opinion, they were “putting in their two bob’s worth.”

A quid was a pound note. (A dollar in Australia, today, but still worth two dollars in the United Kingdom). The quid was also part of Australian colloquialism. If you wanted to say you didn’t really care about something, you’d say, “I don’t give a quid!”  If you really wanted something, you’d say, “I’d give a quid for that!”

The sixpence was my favorite. – that was the third coin up from a halfpenny, and my Nanna put lots of sixpences in her delicious brandy-soaked plum pudding each Christmas. My cousins and sister and I would gobble it down, mucking through the yellow custard drizzle to find our treasure and race to the ‘milk bar’ before the grocer went home for his own family celebration.

My sister forgot to check for sixpences one year and swallowed hers. It was a long wait over the dunny (toilet bowl) before she saw it again. My uncle also chipped a tooth on one he forgot to sort with his tongue. That only added to the fun for us. There were risks involved in getting your sixpence, and most kids love a challenge.

After the currency changed, Nanna kept a hoard of sixpences just for the Christmas pudding. When we found one after that, we would be given a five cent piece to spend.

It just didn’t have the same feeling to it. When you have to stop and wait for Mum or Nanna to get their purse to swap the coin, you can’t get the lead on your cousins and buy out all the best lollies at the shop before their legs can get them there… As well, instead of a huge bag of lollies, we could buy just twenty with five cents (…I know, still more than my grand-daughters can buy today).

I missed seeing the lovely young queen on the back of the old coins. She had long strings of ribbons and curls blowing in the wind. The queen that came with the new currency was older and had a saggy chin (although she did have a tiara). She didn’t look so happy.

I did like the variety of Australian wildlife on the new coins, though. The old bounding kangaroo was getting a bit stale by then.

Even when Australian money became ‘americanized’ in the 1960s (albeit not as greenbacks, but with bright and happy colors), one cent went a very long way. The average wage was about $40 a week. A car cost a few hundred dollars. A house was a few thousand dollars. It’s amazing to think of the difference in cost between those things now and then, but the truth is that the value is still about the same. All they did was increase the numbers, so the wage went up at the same time as the cost of purchases. That’s called inflation.

My school was into teaching the value of savings when I was a kid, and bankers sometimes visited our class to spread the word. They even gave us free tin moneyboxes that looked like pieces from a monopoly game, but when you rarely see money at all, saving it seems such a waste when you could go and buy that comic book you would never be able to get any other way…

My money box never got filled up. I had good intentions, but the comic books always won.

My mother would sometimes stoop to pick up a coin as we walked along a city street. She’d say, “See a coin and pick it up, and all day long you’ll have good luck.” I never saw her get particularly lucky, though.

She had a similar mode for bird poop falling on her shoulder or head. She thought that if she bought lotto before cleaning it off, she’d win. She never did. So I had to learn to not worry too much about being embarrassed about the way my mother looked… Hey, it was all for a good cause!

Once I started earning my own money, I learned the value of having a large purse. Every time I bought something, the coin section would swell with new change. It didn’t matter how many times I tried to count out that change to spend on another item and get rid of it, it was soon back and stretching the leather.

I always wondered why guys (or in Aussie lingo, blokes) didn’t have coin sections in their wallets. Well, some did, but they were so small you’d never get any real change into them. I wasn’t surprised that men didn’t even try.

I was surprised that they just put the loose change in their pocket. I thought, maybe they like the sound of that change jangling together as they walk? Then, I’d see them running and wonder how the change didn’t fall out. It wasn’t until I started putting my hands into my future husband’s pockets for fun that I realized that men’s pockets are super deep. Then I got very jealous…

Of course, after we began living together, I didn’t mind him putting his change in his pockets when I vacuumed the couch and found a trove under the cushions. My mother taught me well. “Finders keepers!” she would say when she found coins in her couch…

When bank cards began to circulate in the 1980s, everyone was wary. The thought of swiping a card to buy something seemed ludicrous. How could we trust the banks at their word that they wouldn’t take more money from our accounts than what we had actually spent?

For a long time, I resisted getting a bank card. I liked to have control over my own money, not rely on others being trustworthy enough to handle it for me. (Well, I was right to worry, since now I pay debit fees for using my own money, when back then it didn’t cost anything to get some from a friendly bank teller).

It’s strange how time inures you to things. Eventually, resistance to trends wears down until you just give the new modes a try. (It’s good that some trends pass, though, or my sister would still have a skinhead hairstyle, today). One day I gave in to the bombardment of applications in my letterbox and have never really looked back.

Today, my purse is stretched not by coins but by cards. I have cards for just about everything. I have to prioritize which cards to leave at home and which ones I really need in my purse, because otherwise I can’t shut the thing.

For years, everything was bought with a swipe. My purse had rarely seen notes or coins, but now a new wave of shopkeepers are bucking the trend and going back to ‘cash only’ sales. It’s very frustrating to want the delectable pastry in the bakery window, only to be told I need to find an auto-teller to get the cash to buy it. That’s not convenience!

As well, I had to learn to hoard gold coins somewhere in my bag ($1 and $2 in Oz), for the times my grand-daughters were with me and came across one of those rides they scatter through shopping malls. (I know, I could have said no, but I’m a grand-mother, now!)

My disabled son goes to the bank each week and gets his allowance out in lots of bagged coins that he uses to pay for his purchases. I thought this was just another of his oddities until I finally ‘twigged’ why he did it.

Being disabled and only able to use one hand, he had difficulty handling notes. They would often fly away or fall to the ground as he fiddled with his wallet.

He didn’t like to use his eftpos card because he knew that he had a limit to what he should be spending, and his short term memory loss meant that he could easily forget how much he had spent and would eat into the money he needed for bills. So his solution was to get coins.

I thought this would be a problem in most shops, counting out the coins so laboriously, but most shop-keepers are very patient with him, (possibly because he has a lovely smile). They also are often glad of the extra coins for their till. When people buy things with notes, these days, the notes are usually large ones, and that means that cashiers need a lot of change.

I still have a penny in my drawer at home with the year of my birth on it. It is smooth and dark brown, with a bounding kangaroo on one side. I remember getting pennies when I was young that were bright pink copper, just minted, but if I cleaned my old coin today that apparently reduces its value. Not that the year of my birth is a good year for rare pennies. They minted lots and lots of them, then. So the value is all for me.

Blessings!
Lianne

Lilipily Spirit – Empower Your Life, Connect with the Divine

Orphic Egg

personal photo by lianne
Personal album photo by Lianne of the Greek Orphic Egg seen in the museum of Olympia, in Greece

Right now, the spring equinox is at its peak where I live in the southern hemisphere. We celebrated the feast of Ostara last weekend with our friends and had a lovely quiche for lunch.

Eggs are always on the menu at this season of the year, since Ostara is about new life. The world is waking up again after the sleepy cold of winter and new babies will soon be born among the wildkins.

This morning, I woke with the Orphic Egg dominating my thoughts. I was lucky to see an ancient statue of the Orphic Egg when I visited Greece with my husband in 2002. (What looks like chains on its surface are actually a stylized snake).

The Orphic Egg is also known as the Cosmic Egg. It is said that all life burst from this egg and that it birthed the universe into being.

The egg is most often shown with a serpent (snake or dragon) coiled around it. This is an interesting thing since when these images were first created no one had microscopes or the medical knowledge of how the female ova (egg) needs a male spermatozoa (looks like a snake) to cause the changes that eventually lead to birth.

I also find it interesting how ancient streams of religion cross cultural barriers and pop up the same concepts in different ways. You get a great sense of how not only trade in goods and services was going on in ancient times, but also a swapping of ideas and ideologies, and even spiritual themes. I wonder how much the Orphic Egg concept in Greek mythology was influenced by the ancient Aryan religion of Vedism, which predates it?

In Vedism, the Kundalini life force is seen as a serpent or snake and is known as creation energy, birthed in desire.

Similar concepts to the Orphic Egg are related in ancient Sanskrit and describe the expansion by division of the god force, Brahma, from the womb of life, (a process called Brahmanda – Brahm means ‘Cosmos’ or ‘expanding’, Anda means ‘Egg’).

Before life separates itself into individual cells this way, Brahma energy is one being. To manifest the cosmos, it needs to separate into many beings (or cells).

As many beings or cells, Brahma can then experience relationship, which it is unable to do as one entity. By experiencing relationship, it is able to examine its own thoughts, ideas and concepts, and test their mettle.

You could say that the egg is the potential of new life, and that the serpent on the outside of the egg is the Kundalini catalyzing change so that new life begins its transformatory journey toward becoming manifest.

This expansion is known in cosmology as the ‘big bang’ or the point when life could no longer be held in a small, fixed point and broke dramatically out of that focus to become the universe we know, today.

All life has Orphic Egg potential. The seeding ‘eggs’ of our ideas, concepts, and ambitions lie dormant until we energize and activate them to expand.

We do that by applying energy of some kind, whether that is spiritual or physical. That energy is aroused by desire, or motivation. It catalyzes division in our ideas and concepts (allowing us to examine the relationships and dynamics between them just as Brahma does), and thus it activates growth (or the passage to enlightenment).

Each cell first comes into being in small stages (or steps) and the ‘egg’ multiplies exponentially until the totality of its DNA (imagined or pre-coded) thread is fully manifested.

Like the friction necessary to achieve the pleasure of orgasm (cosmic shakti), the seeds of our thoughts, ambitions, or activities must ply through the scary emotions and shudders of progress to achieve that end.

If we get worried that the ideas we have activated may be ‘duds’ based on ‘diamonds in the sky’ aspirations, it doesn’t mean they’ll actually produce failure. The fact that we have activated them at all means they have potential.

Instead, our concerns point to a need to be flexible and adaptable, just like a penis looking for the ‘G’ spot in a vaginal wall. When it hits that ‘magic button’ every potential explodes into glorious manifestation – but first it has to find it…

Orphic_EggIn Vedic terms, at some point in its static existence, Brahma had an idea that it was motivated to explore. It became aroused, and desired to see what the outcome might be from that exploration. If Brahma had given up because the cosmos wasn’t shaping as it had imagined, then our universe would never have come into being.

My Orphic Egg message said a lot to me this morning.

I had been having some doubts about work projects still ahead, and even though so much had already been done I’d sometimes wondered if we were in over our heads.

So the Egg said to me, don’t give up yet.  Keep plying. You’re still enjoying the ride, and the heights are yet to come.

Blessings!
Lianne

Lilipily Spirit – Empower Your Life, Connect with the Divine

FEET

Photo courtesy of freepik.com
Photo courtesy of freepik.com

I was born with what the doctor called ‘flat feet.’

What are ‘flat feet’ you might ask? Well, they are feet that never formed a support arch. The soles of flat feet do not show the characteristic indentation in footprints that most people have. All parts of the sole of the ‘flat’ foot touches the ground at the same time.

The doctor told my mother that I would get sore feet as I grew older and that I would not be able to run like other children.

There was no prescription for my ‘flat feet’. It was simply a genetic aberration. The only advice was to get strong and supportive shoes to wear to school, but to not wear shoes at all whenever that was possible, because apparently a bare foot works harder and can develop what is called a ‘false arch’ if the muscles are worked hard.

If you look at my feet today, I have an arch. I didn’t have one as a child. Instead, I spent most of my childhood barefoot when I wasn’t at school.

The bad thing about a ‘false arch’ is that it doesn’t do what an arch you are born with does for your foot. That is, it doesn’t support the foot properly. So people with ‘flat feet’ and ‘false arches’ get sore and tired feet as often as those with just ‘flat feet’.

The doctor was wrong about one thing, though. Having ‘flat feet’ never stopped me running. Hell, having ‘flat feet’ never stopped me walking extremely long distances, either. I loved doing both.

I had strong legs. They would drag my ‘flat feet’ along with them anywhere they wanted to go.

I became an athlete with my ‘flat feet.’ I ran and won races at school regularly. I joined an amateur athletics club in my pre-teens and was as good as some girls who were my peers in the same club, who actually went on to become Olympic athletes in later life. I won many races in inter-club sports events on weekends. I gathered lots of ribbons. When I left athletics behind in my teens, it wasn’t my ‘flat feet’ that stopped me. It was ineffectively diagnosed and untreated asthma. At the end of each race, I had no breath left. That frightened me, so I stopped going, and my mother just accepted that I stopped. No questions asked.

That was just the days I lived in, as a child. People were not as intense about things as they are today. So long as there was no obvious emergency, my mother didn’t bother too much.

She did have to bother when I adventured on demolition lots in my bare feet. I had a preference for balancing on planks of stacked wood, only the planks had rusty nails still in them and those rusty nails would end up in my feet almost every time… After that, the pain would get bad within hours, so she had to take notice and get me to the doctor.

I never really learned to stay away from planks with rusty nails, and tetanus shots were a feature of my childhood. You didn’t get tetanus shots automatically in those days – no preventative medicine like today. You got tetanus shots after you had already begun to feel the effects of infection.

My mother did warn me not to go back to the demolition lots once. So I started balancing myself on our neighbor’s low brick fence. I pretended it was a tight rope. I imagined I was sure-footed, like a mountain goat. I thought I could do anything with my body that I wanted to. I stopped balancing on our neighbor’s brick fence when I slipped and fell with one leg down either side of it. Bricks bashing the sensitive area between my legs were a very powerful teacher, much better than rusty nails…

I was always walking and running, jumping and climbing as a kid. Nothing kept me down. I was up at the crack of dawn, listening to the bird song, and couldn’t wait to go outside to see what the world was up to.

When we lived with my Nanna in my earlier years, I would take long walks with my sister and cousins through the suburban city streets on weekends and holidays. Sometimes, we would walk all the way from inner city Brunswick into the center of Melbourne – a long way for little legs and feet, (and just as long for adults), but this is what we did, then. There were trams we could have caught, but trams cost money and we didn’t have much of that, so we walked. (It was the days before I owned a bicycle).

Sometimes, we would walk all the way to the city zoo, (the entry fee was much cheaper back then), spend all day walking around looking at the interesting animals, and then walk back home. (The city zoo was near the center of Melbourne, too).

Sometimes, we would walk to Merri creek down near the brickworks with their smoking chimney stacks (stopping a while to talk to the brick-makers and watch them making bricks), and try to see where the water went to (we never found out where it went to because it went too far even for us, and muddy creek banks were much harder to traverse than city kerbs).

Sometimes, we walked to the formal park that was blocks away from my Nanna’s house and played ‘chasey’ and ‘hide and seek’ for hours behind the huge clipped hedges that bordered the dense green lawns. (We had to be quiet whenever we saw the gardener because he didn’t like us playing behind his hedges).

All these areas were a long way from my Nanna’s house. We had wonderful exploratory adventures, but mostly along roads full of traffic that had very few trees and lots of pavement.

Even when we explored just the streets local to the one in which my Nanna lived, there was lots to see. In an environment so devoid of other greenery, the front yards of people’s homes were fascinating. We sometimes picked the flowers hanging through the fences, to take home to our Nanna. A lady caught us doing that, once, and asked us why we wanted her flowers. When we told her they were for our Nanna, she got some secateurs and cut off some very beautiful roses for us to take home.

On hot days, then, we were not as organized as kids today may be on such outings. We did not take snacks or water bottles. If we got thirsty, we would knock on someone’s door and ask for a glass of water. If we were lucky, the house-holder would give us a biscuit or a sandwich, too.

We lived in an era of relative innocence, when even city people were friendlier and had more integrity. While I know today that kids sometimes went missing or had bad things happen to them, then, we didn’t know that at the time. Nor did our family. Going on these little adventures were just part of ‘growing up’.

At the end of the day, we would arrive back home in time for dinner, exhausted, but my ‘flat feet’ did not feel pain much then. My legs would ache, though. My mother said I was suffering from ‘growing pains.’

On Saturdays, my mother would slip us a half-penny and my sister and I would walk all the way up to Sydney road from Nanna’s house, to go see the matinee movies at the cinema. After dinner on many nights in summer, the whole family would go for the long walk to Sydney road, blocks away from Nanna’s house, to walk past the closed shop windows and nod and talk to the neighbors as they promenaded with their families on the same street.

Even after we no longer lived at Nanna’s house, whenever we returned to stay there during holidays, my cousins would join us for walks in the streets. Sometimes, we’d go into blocks of flats and knock on all the doors and run away. It was such fun to make people come to their doors, only to find no one there, or to hear people say, “It’s just those bloody kids!”

I never lost my love for walking. After I married, we, too, would often walk into the town center after dinner, taking along dogs and children.

Many of the holidays we went on after I had a family of my own involved hiking in the country, exploring whatever paths, trails, caves, hills and mountains there were to see. We climbed paths in the Grampian mountains with our young family, once, and reached an outlook over distant valleys at a point where a stony spire called ‘The Needle’ sat. I was standing with my children taking in the view, (and too scared to go too close to the edge), when my husband spontaneously decided it would be the perfect thrill to jump out onto ‘The Needle’.

This was a spire hundreds of feet in height. It barely had a flat area at its top of six feet. He jumped across the eight feet gap to that flat top before I knew what was happening. I’m sure I heard an audible gasp from all the other hikers taking in the scenery, there.

I watched him get up from the crouch of his landing. It was hard for him to even turn. The space surrounding the spire was breezy. All I could think of was am I going to become a widow? (Actually, I voiced that, since my children had seen him jump there, too). I joked, deadpan, “That’s right, make me a widow in front of my children…”

The kids thought it was a joke. It wasn’t. My husband knew it, too, once he was out there. While he’d landed well, when he was actually on that dizzy tip he realized that he did not have the room for a run up to jump back that he had on the jump out. Eight feet of air over a possible many hundred feet fall is not so exciting when you may actually miss a landing. (I wish he had thought about that on his way out).

Luckily, his feet did make it back to the safe side of the gap. We returned down the mountain but I was a bit moody by then, so I didn’t take it well when he continued playing around in front of the children, walking right at the edge of the narrow track where the hill rolled away in a severely steep drop. I did not think it was a very good example for a father to give, and that was reinforced when he balanced on a log embedded in the edge and the log slipped out and fell down the drop, nearly taking him with it. Once again, his feet found sure ground, just in time.

My ‘flat feet’ didn’t really become a problem until I was in my mid-twenties. Then, I had to get special insoles for my shoes because it felt like I was walking on the bones of my feet all the time. The inflammation and swelling in my feet was almost unbearable. I really developed a sympathy for the poor little mermaid I read about in stories as a child, who swapped her tail for legs and feet, only to be cursed with every step feeling like she was walking on knives. I knew what that was like.

I’m not a person who ever lets such things keep me down for long. I don’t believe in molly-coddling myself, (although I will take ‘time out’ and a rest when I need it). That possibly came from my Nanna, who also had many health problems to deal with throughout her life. Nothing ever stopped her for long, either. People were always telling her to slow down and take a rest. Her reply was, “I’ll get plenty of rest when I die.”

So I took up acting and dancing on stage. I was good at the acting, not so good at dancing on stage. Stages can be slippery, sometimes, especially when you’re in high heels and climbing up and down steps. I slipped badly on stage, once, and had my ankle bound for months. It took nearly a year to fully recover from that very bad sprain. I stopped doing musicals and concentrated on comedies and dramas after that. (Sometimes, when you refuse to recognize your limitations, life has a way of making you face them).

I also loved to dance at parties with my husband. I could dance for hours and hours without ever having one alcoholic drink to ‘warm me up,’ because I just loved to dance. At the end of these activities, though, my feet really felt it. By the end of a night of dancing, I was hobbling on my way to bed. I was lucky to have a husband who enjoyed giving me foot massages. By golly, he is the most superb foot massager I have ever known. He can keep on massaging my feet through hours of movies on television. He sometimes falls asleep while he his massaging, he just goes on so long, and the funny thing is that he wakes up and keeps on massaging as if he never stopped. I call him my maintenance man. I’m lucky to have him.

If I ever feel that my feet are getting really bad, though, I think about what my son has to put up with. He became disabled in a traffic accident when he was only thirteen. The outcome was that he still has partial paralysis in his body, today.

Have you ever had your foot ‘go to sleep’ on you? Have you ever tried to walk on a foot that has ‘gone to sleep?’ My son does that every day. One of his legs is in a constant state of partial paralysis. He can’t walk at all without that ‘sleeping’ foot hitting the ground with a heavy thud. Instead of walking, he hobbles, swinging his leg along because he can’t feel it properly. He does that all day long. (I don’t know how he does it!)

Yet he has inherited my love of walking. He takes his little dog for hours of walks each day. Sometimes, he does complain that he has pain in his feet and legs from walking (when he feels pain, you know it’s bad), but it doesn’t stop him going out again. He just enjoys the movement, and he enjoys being alive.

There are many different kinds of pain to deal with in life. We can either let them seize us up and make us afraid to do anything again for fear of that pain, or we can move through the pain, deal with it, accept it as par for the course, and never let it keep us down.

My son and I choose the latter. 
(Albeit, for me, with a little help from my hubby…)

Blessings!
Lianne

Lilipily Spirit – Empower Your Life, Connect with the Divine

Ostara, and a bit about my pagan modes…

Photo courtesy of cepolina.com
Photo courtesy of cepolina.com

 

My spiritual rituals stem from the eight annual pagan festivals (called the Wheel of the Year).

Being a pagan is a difficult thing in the world I live. Mainstream faiths still reject paganism, though forms such as buddhism are now found more acceptable, mostly due to the promotional efforts of the Dalai Lama of Tibet.

Some friends of ours love being pagans and have even erected a small circle of stones on their property, where they enjoy holding their rituals, or just hanging out and communing with nature in – but they get worried that their neighbors live too near and may see them through the shrubbed borders. They worry that their neighbors will find them unacceptable if they know they are pagans, so even as they do rituals on their land they are always keeping an eye out for any who might be hanging around.

In Europe or America, perhaps paganism is more ‘out there’. The traditions are more firmly rooted and, even if other faiths don’t accept paganism, they don’t bat an eyelid when they see it.

In Australia, I often get an immediate sense of withdrawal from people when I tell them I am a pagan (unless they are also a pagan). There is a sense of horror that comes from them even if they are not practicing christians, etc.

I’ve formed a very clear picture of how mainstream religious propaganda has worked its way deep into the bloodstream of even the atheists, and many people seem to instantly believe that pagans kill little babies and drink their blood. (That’s just a metaphor. Some people don’t think that way, but they do seem to think that pagans are up to no good).

It doesn’t happen like that. (I’m referring to sacrifices). I don’t know that it ever did. I do know that a couple of thousand years ago the romans were having trouble keeping the celtic people down so they spread a deep propaganda about their lifestyle.

Such things were normal in ancient times. Even the ancient egyptian pharoahs rewrote obelisks with their own version of history when they came to power and usurped previous rulers.

The romans were trying to assert their authority amongst a very widespread and varied conquered community. Having failed to manage the still unconquered celts and stop their raids on roman settlements, the best way to undermine them was to take away their ability to find shelter in the lands they traversed as they rebelled against roman rule.

Malign gossip does that. Spread malign gossip and even people who like you look at you with questions in their eyes. If that malign gossip says you make human sacrifices and especially prey on newborns, whole communities will stand against you without even discussing the matter first, just so you don’t get any opportunity to do it to them. That’s how propaganda embeds.

Once the romans became christians, they upped their ante on the celts. The romans were opportunists who had absorbed the good elements of every society they managed, and made them their own. Take a look at the columns on roman buildings and you will see the ancient designs from greek architecture. If you go to Greece, those columns are made from solid rock, carved and slotted together with superb precision. The columns you can see in ancient Pompeii, however, are pseudo greek columns. To save time and effort, the romans created a rubble filled column, veneered it with a brick shell and plastered that with concrete to make it look like carved stone.

They did a similiar thing with religion. When they decided they liked the greek gods better than what they had at the time, they usurped the whole kit and caboodle and just renamed the gods and modified some of the story-lines to suit roman taste. Soon, all the romans were visiting Jupiter and Venus, Apollo and Diana, etc., in their temples, (who used to be Zeus and Aphrodite, Helios and Athena in Greece).

When they finally did quell the celts, they did the same with the celtic spiritual faith of druidism. By that time, the romans had also become christians, so they melded two faiths into one and chucked out the old roman (used to be greek) gods.

Celtic spirituality and christianity had something in common which the romans admired. They both brought the masses together in firm obedience of spiritual law.

Since the romans were always on the alert for opportunities to benefit themselves, they realized that these faiths could control the people across their widespread conquered communities in a far better way than strong arming them with soldiers ever did. It took up a lot less resources, too.

So that’s how christianity got the festivals of Yule (or Christmas), and Easter.

There were no such festivals in the original christian faith. The original christian faith was an offshoot of judaism. If anything, they would have celebrated hannukah, passover, and similiar. It wasn’t until the romans absorbed christianity and druidism at the same time that christianity became druidic.

Druidism was the spiritual belief system of the ancient celts. While they had names for gods, goddesses, and elemental energies they also believed in reincarnation, so names in the long term of immortal life were really irrelevant.

When you have thousands of names from thousands of lifetimes, it’s really a matter of ‘pick one.’ So when the romans took over the celtic spiritual faith of druidry and renamed the same gods and goddesses and elemental forces as saints, angels, and patrons of christianity, the celts didn’t bat an eyelid. So long as the meanings were the same and the rituals were similiar, the celts were very adaptable in their spiritual modes. That’s how the celts became christians (or christian themed druids, per se).

Honestly, you could say that druidism never really died out at all. Modern christianity is today very different from judaism, and it’s all to do with its celtic roots.

Celtic festivals such as Ostara (called Easter in christianity) were also very long events in ancient times. They could go for two to three weeks at a time, because people gathered from far and wide to attend and they didn’t want to just roll up for a ritual and go straight back home again.

Feasting and dancing and getting together with friends, and also taking the opportunity to do some political groundwork and law-making, all happened in this period, and the main ritual was semi-flexible around the solstice or equinox of the season. That’s why christians were able to move the solstice ritual of Yule to the fixed point of a roman calendar day in December (Christmas day).

To understand this flexibility, you need to know that celtic rituals were not calendar oriented but season aligned.

Ostara is a spring festival, the Feast of New Life. The time it is celebrated depends on which hemisphere you live in. Spring happens at different times of the year in Australia, for instance, than it does in the northern hemisphere.

When pagans in Australia celebrate the spring equinox in September, in the northern hemisphere it is autumn (or fall, in America). When Australia pagans celebrate Ostara, northern hemisphere pagans are celebrating the ritual of Mabon, which revolves around the autumnal equinox. Both are seed rituals. Ostara seeds new life in the world. Mabon seeds new life in the spirit.

Paganism generally honors all life, worldly or spiritual, and all its connections.  I aligned my ritual modes to it because of this spiritual adaptability, and because I believe in the acceptance and absorption of all other religions and spiritual faiths.

My belief is in all people being on the same path toward the divine. Actually, I believe we are all elements of the divine, and that everything and everyone that exists is connected as parts of the divine.

Despite propaganda from other spiritual and religious streams, paganism is a simple spiritual faith that means you can be a buddhist, a christian, a jew or a muslim, or any other faith at all and still be a pagan.

(This may help you to understand why I can also happily attend any religious or spiritual event, in temples or churches of any faith. The divinity I honor is an archetype, and archetypes cross all lines or demarcations).

You begin to see why and how the ancient celtic pagans allowed the romans to take over their faith and even align it with christianity – because it’s all about the energies, the expression of those energies, and the connections – about all humanity, no matter from what country or language or whatever modes they use to forge life in this world, existing as one being in spirit.

Ostara is a feast named after the celtic goddess of new life.

The words oestrogen and oestrus come from the goddess Ostara’s name, which is also spelt Oestre. These words relate to hormones that make a woman an entity who can become pregnant and give birth, and the sexuality and desire that makes her amenable to be impregnated. (If you have ever seen the statuette of the archaeological find called the ‘Goddess of Willendorf’, the goddess Ostara is expressed in this child-bearing figure).

The symbols of Ostara have long been the hare (now an Easter rabbit) and the egg (now an Easter egg). These elements are about virility (sexuality for intense breeding, as the hare or rabbit does) and new life (the egg and all its potential).

In Australia at this time, Ostara does not align with the christian period of Easter. Those events do happen around the same time in the northern hemisphere in spring but not here. We only get our store-bought chocolate eggs at Mabon, which is another type of egg (seeder) ritual. We have to cook and paint our own eggs for Ostara.

Usually, we have a brunch with friends or family on the weekend closest to the equinox, so we can all get together on a day when we don’t have to work. That brunch often has eggs in it. We love making omelettes.

It’s a day of being thankful for what we have, and of noting the new elements of life coming into being, the seeds of the future ahead of us. It’s about feeling blessed by the divine and making sure we look at all the ways divinity does that for us, so we don’t miss anything and certainly don’t take it for granted.

Yes, we will be making a sacrifice, but only of part of our delicious feast, which is spilled onto the ground to return it to the cycle of life. (The birds, animals, and insects polish this off…)  In this way we give our tithe to the divine and say thank you for all we have been given.

The ritual of Easter, celebrated by the christians, has similiar themes of new life. While christ dies on the cross, his body is taken down and then reborn in a spiritual manifestation. In his resurrection, he wipes away the sins of the past and enables new beginnings.

These are the same modes used for Ostara, just with a different story. Each spring, we are given the opportunity to begin again, to seed a new life, and to honor all life in its divine manifestation.

(Well, we can actually do that any time, but since many people forget that they have the ability to do it, we can use rituals to remind us… Pagan rituals are no different to the modes of any other religion or faith attending temple or church, but our temple is the world, itself).

The rituals of paganism are always reflections on the rites of passage in life.

The elements expressed touch on birth, death, relationship, sorrow, joy, and many other subjects that people may often find difficult to express or deal with in the course of their lives.

In using ritual this way, pagans enable a learning or processing experience for these mundane events. They also transform them into simple phases of existence in the life of the divine.

Blessings to all, and may the year ahead be full of wonderful new beginnings, fresh starts and youthful exuberance!

Lianne

Lilipily Spirit – Empower Your Life, Connect with the Divine

Bug

Photo courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net
Photo courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net

The first car I ever owned, personally, was an old Valiant Chrysler that my brother-in-law gave me. It was a tank. I mean it. Thick with steel so tough and heavy that it seemed the best thing to be driving on the not so safe environment of a road.

I was so thrilled to have my own car. I was well into adulthood by the time I got it. My husband had always done the driving because I was too scared to learn after seeing my sister crash the family car into the front porch during the only lesson my mother gave her when I was younger. So I didn’t even get my license until I was heavily pregnant with my third child (and could only just fit my big belly behind the steering wheel).

It was a few years after that when I got the car. I felt like I’d won lotto …but I didn’t have it for long.

At that time, I was working late at night as a cinema usherette and driving back home on country roads in almost black conditions. (We lived in a small seaside town, half an hour from the city).

There were few street lights to punctuate the very long, straight road that led to my place. I remember driving along the road that met that one and a little voice in my head saying, ‘Something’s going to happen tonight but don’t worry, you’ll be okay.

I didn’t give too much attention to those little voices back then, so I just kept driving.

Halfway down the long dark road, another car slowed my momentum, so I pulled out to pass. At the same time, I saw headlights in the distance.

I panicked, too tired to assess effectively how far away they still were, and tried to pull the car back in. Instead, I overcompensated on the steering wheel (no power steering in such an old car), and suddenly found myself going ‘slow motion’ like a carousel on the road. (Well, it seemed that way). Spinning round and around until the car came to a stop against a concrete light pole on the other side.

It hit the pole with a bump that smashed the windscreen to smithereens, and made the engine jump out of its housing to leave a massive dent in the bonnet.

I sat behind the wheel and looked at the pole now embedded between the doors on the passenger side of my car. The vehicle I’d tried to pass had carried on its way, unaware of what had happened. The headlights of the oncoming traffic didn’t arrive as an actual car until well after I’d got out the door, took a look at the now truly convex car bonnet, and had been to the other side to see how the pole had embedded itself halfway into the steel chassis.

That was a surprise. Modern cars that were around at the time would have crumpled into a tin foil ball around that pole with such an impact, but the Valiant was perfectly okay apart from the bonnet and the half moon shape in its side. It had proved its worth.

So the little voice in my head was right. Something did happen, and I was okay. I walked away from that accident and hitched a lift home with the car I’d tried to avoid crashing into (that had been the distant headlights), after it slowed to check the scene when it finally came upon me. (Which was lucky, because these were the days before mobile phones and if it hadn’t stopped, I would have had to walk ten kilometers in my high heels).

All I had was a bit of whiplash when I went to see the doctor  (or so I thought… it was thirty years later before the real damage showed with severely increased degeneration in my spine).

The car was a write off, though. Even steel tanks don’t drive too well with an un-housed engine, a convex bonnet, and a two foot inroad on their side.

I gave up my job at the cinema after that. The hours were too late, the drive too long, and I had small kids who needed a mother. I was lucky that the car had not done one more spin on the road and crashed the pole into the driver’s side, instead, so I cut my losses and left… but I missed having a car.

Months later, I saw an old Volkswagen for sale. It had seen better days. It was already thirty years old but it was cheap and I could buy it and, better yet, my husband was able to get it going.

Again, it was my own car. The paintwork was old and cream colored. I bought some cans of red spray paint, thinking I would turn it into a ladybug – all red with black spots – and I did start that artwork but it never got finished. Instead, it was simply a cream colored Volkswagen part painted in red, and with red splotches over all the rest.

My kids loved that car. The movie about ‘Herbie, the Love Bug’ was still being aired. Volkswagens were very popular.

Fact is, it seemed that lots of kids loved that car. I’ve always wondered why. Maybe it was because of the movie but there were lots of other Volkswagens around, then, and kids didn’t seem to run all excited after those cars like they did after mine.

If it had been actually finished in the artwork I’d wanted to put on it, I could understand, because it would have been a ladybug (ladybird), but it wasn’t. So there seemed to be no reason why kids ran after my car whenever they saw me driving around the estate where I lived. It was a splotchy red and cream car, that looked like an abstract painting rather than anything in particular.

Yes, it was unique, but it didn’t seem to be that attractive. If it had been guys running after the car, I might have thought, ah, it’s not the car, it’s me – but they weren’t guys, they were the local little kids, and I didn’t even know them, personally.

I had a soft spot for the car, too, but it broke down a lot and since it was the days before mobile phones I often had to walk to the nearest house (which wasn’t always so near) to ask if I could use their phone to call my husband to come tow it.

In time, we had enough money to upgrade to a new Holden Commodore, that ran better and also had air-conditioning and power steering, (which I didn’t know I missed until I had them).

I didn’t want to just sell my beloved little car. I wanted it to go somewhere it would be respected. It had done me good service. So I gave it to my younger sister-in-law as her very first car.

She had the red paint job professionally finished and added a black GT stripe. (It was not to my taste – too normal…)

Not long after she began driving it, my lovely Bug gave up the ghost. My sister-in-law complained that I had given her a dud.

Well, it was working fine all the time I had it (after my husband got it going each time it broke down).

There were many things I didn’t miss about driving that little car once I got the perks that came with my new one but I’ll never forget the fun times we had together, the freedom it gave me as it took me places and the squeals of delight from the local kids as they tried to chase it.

That car had personality.

Blessings!
Lianne

Lilipily Spirit – Empower Your Life, Connect with the Divine

Old Books

Photo courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net
Photo courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net

I loved books as a child, so much so that at every gift giving occasion my family would give me books. That was nice until I saw my sister getting dolls and other nice stuff to play with. I felt I was missing out and I let my mother know it.

The next gift giving occasion, I received a doll. I loved her beautiful blonde hair that was just like mine but quickly found some scissors and cut it short, as mine was styled (a la the actress, Mia Farrow, my mother said). My mother didn’t say anything. She knew I did it to make the doll more like me.

Despite loving the doll, it was soon put aside for my books. I wasn’t really a girl who played with toys much. It was getting my head into a book, drawing on the white paper my Nanna collected for me from the butcher, or going on grand imagined adventures in the world outside that pushed my buttons.

My love for books continued as I grew older. My mother learned to speed read in my early teens and taught me how to do it. We had already been churning over the library with an armful of books each week. Speed reading meant a book a day, so we got through a lot but in the end we had to re-learn how to slow down. By speed reading, we got the information in but did not get lost so well in the imaginary worlds the authors’ created. It took the fun out of reading.

I was once a great fan of romance novels – not the modern ones or ‘Mills and Boon’ types but the old fashioned stories that came from authors like Georgette Heyer or the Bronte sisters. It was a shock to me when I met my future husband, to learn that being feisty and slapping his face when he was not being nice was not as acceptable as those stories proclaimed.

In later years, I learned of studies that showed that romance novels were the thinking woman’s soft porn. I thought I agreed with that, considering how randy they made me feel, but then concluded that if they were soft porn they had a very frustrating result in my day and age. Men just didn’t live up to those suave, passionate and seductive standards. The hippy revolution brought about a society that was all about getting it on, right now, not romancing a woman until she was ready for action – and if a man was surly with you, he was just surly not sultry. If I asked my boyfriend what he had on his mind when he looked at me through half closed lids, it wasn’t that he wanted to get me into bed, it was that I’d said or done something he didn’t like. So unless I wanted an argument, I didn’t go there…

As a young woman, I started reading thick tomes of fantasy adventure novels. Each time a new series would come out, I’d end up buying every one. I loved fantasy adventure novels and science fiction best. I churned through two to three inch thick tomes in a couple of days. It was my escape from the world.

Because I hadn’t finished high school when I met my future husband and then ran away from home with him, I went back to finish my schooling as an adult, after my kids had birthed. Then, in English class, I re-associated myself with my love of writing and all my earlier forays into it as a child came back. I’d earned awards at school in earlier years for my writing, and I’d had some poetry and short stories published in magazines. So this renewed interest spurred me to write my own novel.

I’d become a freelance actor before going back to school and had already established my own amateur theater group by then, which I’d written some plays for, so writing a novel was just another step on my creative path.

By that time, my reading included scripts for my acting work and reviewing new plays for the theater group I founded. I was reading less and less for pleasure and more and more for purpose, albeit expressive and creative purpose.

Although I was still reading those, something changed once I began writing my novel. I found it extremely hard to pick up my fantasy adventure books and read them. I still bought them but they sat on my shelf waiting for me to read because every time I began reading I kept thinking of the novel I was supposed to be writing, and thought that I would be better investing my time and energy in that rather than in the depths of someone else’s book.

My long and deep association with reading the written word in novels pretty much came to a halt, then. Is that sacrilegious? Some would say so.

It’s not that I never read again. I have read the occasional book since but my life was so much more focused on expression rather than receiving after that. I was extremely busy expressing myself, in work, through creative endeavors, and in relationships. I didn’t have time to read, other than newspapers, magazines, and for information.

I never actually finished writing that novel. It got almost completely written but was redone and reworked over and over for many years until real life got in the way. It’s been some time since I got back to it. It still sits in the recesses of my mind, not even as just one book but as a series of novels… maybe for another lifetime, now.

The last time I read a book of fiction from cover to cover in recent years was when I was stuck on a ship for three weeks with a companion who didn’t want to leave the cabin much. The television didn’t have anything to watch on it, so I read the novel I had put in my bag for a ‘just in case’ situation. I was lucky to have had that book but since I got off the boat I still haven’t read another.

I don’t know what it is. It’s strange when I remember how many I went through in my younger years. Perhaps it is because life is so very busy and so very creative in so many other ways, I don’t need to escape any more. I have so much going on in my own mind, I don’t need other people’s stories to uplift me. Plus, when I read what they write, I often find myself reading the words that already sit in my head.

I still love books, though. I still like to have them around, and all that I read is still embedded in the grey cells, somewhere.

One of the first books I got a sense of being greater than its content was a small bible I had been given by missionaries visiting my school when I was a child. It had golden edges to the pages that shined in the sunlight, and the delicately thin pages were a delight to turn. They reminded me of the tissue paper pages between the sepia photos stuck onto the cushy thick paper of my unmarried Aunt’s family photo album, with a padded velvet black cat on the cover that I liked to run my fingers over as a child.

While I am no longer a christian, today, I still appreciate the feel of that bible. It was the first time I knew a book not by its words but by its cover. I loved the soft leather that held those wafer thin pages together, too. The minister of the church my mother went to had a larger version of that bible that he carried around almost everywhere he went. I was asked to read from his bible during one Sunday meeting. It was lovely to stand at the podium and read from this beautiful book with its red silk marker dangling at the side.

The words of the bible never really got into me as they did in my sister and others, though. I felt that most of it was a history or a genealogy, and it was hard to read. I don’t like books that are hard to read. That’s why I never made it all the way through J.R.R. Tolkein’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ series, and had to wait until they made it into movies before I truly got hooked. I suppose that’s why books like the bible need translators and interpreters like ministers, priests, and nuns. Like Buddha, I’m not a fan of second-hand interpretation. I like to assess things for myself.

My adoptive father’s family home had shelves of old books with tooled leather-like covers. I liked to take them off the shelves and try to read them as a child but many were difficult to process. The language and the grammar were different to that used in my world and the pages were stained and musty.

I have to say I was not a fan of old books. I hated that smell. I hated the old, neglected feeling that came from them, as if they had been finished with so long ago and just sat there waiting for something good to happen, and it never did… and by the time I came along, it was all too late – they had grown old and spotty, and stank.

Sounds harsh, I know. Actually, there were some that I did perservere with, like the stories of Robin Hood, Shakespeare’s poetry, or William Wordsworth and his daffodils… The words were enjoyable when I got to them. I just didn’t like the feel and smell of old books – the inside pages, anyway.

The outside of the books were different. It was the outside of old books that inspired my imagination best. I loved the years of handling that had roughed their covers, the years of body oil embedding in their imitation leather, the fraying and the tatting, and abrading of gold or silver tooling… I delighted in that.

I would much rather look at a whole book case of old books from the outside, (though they do beg to be picked up for at least a peek inside). For me, old books are to be cherished for what they are as a whole, rather than for just what is in between their covers.

I would much rather read the information that old books have in a newly printed form… but as an artwork, old books say it for me. I am sensually invested in old books.

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover. Well, I do. In this case, the cover is its history. It’s the way it has lived in this world.

People can be like that. If you think of a person’s life as being the pages of a book, over time the activities and memories of the past get blotchy and spotted, faded and yellowed, no matter how important or delightful their content once was. With much of the past no longer aired, these inner histories become stale and musty… but the outside of their book is more beautiful as it ages. It becomes an artwork. It is the archaeological sum of their life. Fascinating.

Today, I am renewing my interest in the written word, that comes between a cover. (I’m still getting my head around e-books). I’m really enjoying exploring the ideas and imagination of other writers, again, and especially reliving the metaphysical information I learnt so long ago, now expressed with new vision by modern authors.

While I prefer to read current reprints than the inside pages of musty old books, the technological media of today does not have the pages I enjoyed turning long ago. Modern paperbacks and e-books don’t have the sensuality of old books with their hard or leather covers, either. It’s all about the content and not about the art or its mellowing.

I do miss that.

Blessings!
Lianne

Lilipily Spirit – Empower Your Life, Connect with the Divine!

Puddle

Photo courtesy of cepolina.com
Photo courtesy of cepolina.com

When I was a very young girl, still living in my Nanna’s house in the suburbs of Melbourne with my mother and sister, I befriended a shy young greek boy who was our neighbor.

One of the reasons he was shy was because other children picked on him. He was chubby and even then our society looked down on people who were much heavier than others.

I did notice the way his legs chafed together in his shorts and that he got breathless quickly. I also noticed how his mother would come out into the street and spoon feed him, which was fascinating to watch. I concluded right then that the reason my friend was so round was because his mother was force-feeding him as if she was fattening a chicken…

(If I got hungry I had to go home, or starve… there was no way my mother or even my Nanna was going to come looking for me to feed me in the street…) 

When I looked at him, though, my first views were always of his golden brown curly hair, his smooth olive skin, and the glorious smile that lit up his whole face. I made it my mission to bring that smile out as often as I could and we became fast friends.

The little street in Melbourne where we lived did not have nature strips. There were bitumen pavements but no trees or grass and the closest park was blocks away. It had once been an area of nouveau riche people, (probably after the Gold Rush), so there were some large houses in the street and residents with better incomes. In the main, most of the residents were like my Nanna – not so well off, and working hard to make a living. The days of the colonial Gold Rush had long gone.

By the time I was born, the street had become part of an area where many European immigrants lived. They tended to use their yards for anything but children’s playgrounds. They’d have grape vines and veggie patches and concreted ground where tables welcomed family meals but not a lot of space to play, so the greek, italian and turkish children played in the street. My sister and I, being celtic-gaelic descent Australians, were the odd ones out in that scene but well accepted.

My greek friend wasn’t. I don’t think it was just because he was chubby. Chubbiness was common among the immigrant children though he was heavier than most.

(My sister and I were also the odd ones out because we were skinny. That’s why our playmates’ mothers often invited us to lunch. They thought we weren’t getting enough to eat…. Nice to remember being skinny once…) 

I think the other children avoided him because he was so serious, and over responsible for his little sister who he had to watch over when she played in the street.

Maybe that, too, brought us together. I was also serious and I had a little sister I was responsible for. (My mother had put her in my arms as a baby and told me I had to look after her, and I did). I could understand the heaviness of that. We had something in common.

The difference between us was that although I was shy, too, nothing could keep me away from the games going on in my Nanna’s back street. Excitement and the fun of being active overrode every caution

While the other kids played cricket, chasey, and hide and seek in our back street, my greek friend did not go there. He lived in our front street and his mother would not let him wander far away. So I would go out there to play with him. I wanted him to have what I got from playing games with others. It was in those moments of playing games that my shyness disappeared.

By nature, he really wasn’t very active, so we played marbles. I got very good at playing marbles and winning all his tom-bowlers but I never kept them. At the end of each game I let him have his marbles back.

One day, he knocked on my Nanna’s front door and called me outside. He said he had something to show me.

He took me up the street to where a flat concrete driveway led to a red painted tin garage door. On the driveway was a puddle. He squatted beside the puddle and said “Look.” So I squatted beside him and looked.

The puddle had the clearest water. It had rained the previous day and the ground around it was now fairly dry but the puddle remained because it was sheltered by the cool shade thrown by the small alcove of rippled tin fence leading into the garage.

The sky was reflected in the puddle and we could see ourselves clearly on the surface but that wasn’t what he wanted to show me. “Look at the bottom!” he said.

On the bottom was a whole new world. There were all sorts of different colors – reds, browns, greens – and things that looked like lichen growing a forest in the watery scape, along with rotting dead leaves merging into the silted land beneath them. There were also tiny newts darting through the water. It was amazing.

Obviously, today I think that the puddle had formed there many times before and possibly had rarely completely dried up, but in that moment something triggered deep inside me and I began to look at the world in a different way.

Firstly, my friend became a romantic poet who made me realize that people don’t always show those deeper parts of themselves so readily. You either have to earn their sharing or wait long enough for them to reveal those elements, but there are often secrets hidden deep inside others that are beautiful and fascinating if you can discover them.

Secondly, I learned that wonderful life can exist in the most confined and unlikely places, that it can thrive to the full in the most ephemeral of moments, and that we need to always be on the alert and awake to each moment in case we miss that extraordinary burgeoning.

Thirdly, I noticed that things are not always what they seem. If I had only peered at the sky or myself reflected in the pool and had never looked past them, I would never have known about the world on the bottom. (Maybe I would have seen but not really acknowledged it, because my focus was too much on the surface).

In our street, although we were not well off, there were big houses with people who were well off. I got to see inside some of them because my Nanna earned some money cooking meals and cleaning house for those who were old and frail.

I learned to view those people not as being different to us or as having more than us but as just people living life and going through its processes in the best way they could.

That attitude may have been fostered by the way my Nanna interacted with those she served. She was never a servant. She was always a friend and a person who cared.

(Nanna’s family had been well off, too, since they were part of the pioneer group who opened up scrub land to farming in the Mallee region of Victoria. She’d also married into another family who were embedded in Australian history, but you’d never know that by talking to Nanna or by the lifestyle she and her children led after her marriage was dissolved – in an era when such things were not done. She was a hard-working, no nonsense battler, just like her immigrant neighbors).

While the way Nanna interacted with others may have grounded me with a general sense of equality when it comes to other people no matter what their wealth or status is, it was the puddle lesson that made me look more to the inside rather than the outside. After that, I could never ignore the underworld or undercurrents in all things, all situations, and all people in my life.

I never view people as being just what they show on the surface. I never class them by what they have or have not.

(Nanna, too, was not what she seemed to be, in her life as a struggling single parent. No one would ever know her founding story unless they were privy to it).

I may not always acknowledge my observations outwardly. The things that I see are secrets that should only be revealed when the time is ready. So I will interact with people on whatever level they seem to want from me, all the while looking well beneath their surface.

Because of this, some people don’t trust me. They think I have ulterior motives. They think I am plotting something.

I’m not. I’m just looking for the bottom of their puddle, that hidden inner beauty that my eye has learned to see.

I am so grateful to my shy greek friend.

Blessings!
Lianne

Lilipily Spirit – Empower Your Life, Connect with the Divine