Top books 2015

Top books 2015
Strahov Monastery Library Prague
Image: Bestvalueschools.com

Since February this year, Mindfunda has been talking about dreams, mythology, spirituality and dreams. Looking back at the past months, this is the list of the best books I have reviewed. The Top books 2015 about dreaming, mythology and spirituality.

Top books 2015: Lucid dreaming, plain and simple

Lucid dreaming is a technique that became popular in the seventies because of Carlos Casteneda’s books. He described a technique that was easy: you look at your hands and you wonder if you are awake or asleep. Your hands are always with you. In his younger years Robert Waggoner trained himself to become a lucid dreamer.

top books 2015
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The book is filled  with tips and techniques that are clever and easily usable. Here you can read more about Lucid dreaming plain and simple and here you can see my interview with Robert Waggoner about it.

Top books 2015: Sidewalk Oracles

Robert Moss is an expert writer, a gifted story-teller, and his connection to the Goddess has made him one of my favorite authors when it comes to the subject of dreams and spirituality.

Top books 2015
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When people ask me if I know any good books about dreams I always say: “any book that is written by Robert Moss about the subject is excellent. Mind you, Robert used to be a writer and a journalist before concentrating on the subject of dreams. Sidewalk oracles is filled with ways of bringing magic back into your life. A fun encyclopedia to have around in times when feel the need to breaking the circle to get out of a rut.

Top books 2015: Dreaming

Jennifer Windt has been the one who completed a philosophical map of the field of dreaming. I must confess this is not an easy read, but it will give you so much more insight into the field of dreaming. Its history, its philosophy, its challenges, its limits. Just the book for the cold winter days. A book that will illuminate your mind and hopefully will give you some crazy bold ideas yourself.

 

Top books 2015
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Consciousness, what is it? Were in the brain can it be found? When you have a dreamless sleep, where are you? Professor Evan Thompson, who has written the next book on the list, says: “This book sets a new standard for the science and philosophy of dreaming in the twenty-first century.”

Top books 2015: Waking, Dreaming, Being

Using the oldest known map of consciousness, Evan Thompson, uses the newest neurological insights as a form of cartography. You can see Evan Thompson talking about Waking, Dreaming, Being in my Mindfunda interview with him.

Top books 2015
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Waking, Dreaming, Being touches the fundamental questions about consciousness, combining the newest scientific knowledge of the West with the ancient Wisdom of the East.

Top books 2015: Wake Up to Your Dreams

Justina Lasley created a method called DreamSynergy. An easy to use method that enables you to comprehend the message in a dream you remember. And to take action. Justina told me in a Mindfunda interview how her dreams turned her life around. She found the love of her life, and followed a new career path.

 

top books 2015
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Wake Up to Your Dreams is an easy to use book, with lots of examples and dreams. Justina says: “Because dreams can be complicated, I wanted to create an easy method in a book filled with exercises”.

Top books 2015: Romance of the Grail

Mythology and Mindfunda. Being as interested in dreams as I am, you can not avoid mythology. I have dreamed about Odin before I knew who he was.
And when you say mythology, you say Joseph Campbell.

 

Top books 2015
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The study of the Arthurian myth was a doorway for Joseph Campbell into comparative mythology. Using the mythological tales as symbols for spiritual development in the human psyche. In this book you can find Campbell’s dissertation: “The Dolorous Stroke”.

Top books 2015: The book of SHE

In November I started my first blog series. Throughout the month I publish 4 blogs around a central theme. This month the theme is the Descent. Going into the dark to find your inner light. In November the theme was the Goddess.
The book of SHE fitted right in. We know Joseph Campbell as the man who brought us the knowledge about the hero’s journey. Soon enough there was a lady called Maureen Murduck that acknowledged that women have got another journey.

Top books 2015
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Sara Avant Stover has taken this knowledge into the twenty-first century. Things start to change if you embrace your inner Goddess. The connection that Sara feels with Mary Magdalen is a heartfelt one. The heroine’s journey is a challenge all women must face. To have a guidebook is necessary.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Remember: Christmas is a very special time for dreaming, so join Mindfunda for the Holy Night Dream Incubations.

Mindfunda invites you for a Christmas celebration you will remember. For just 10 dollars you get exclusive access to a restricted private area on Mindfunda during the Holy Nights. Each night between December 24 and January 6 I will share a dream incubation. We will talk about and reflect on our dreams. Ancient belief says that during these nights the veil between the worlds is thin. Register now as Mindfunda More Member, to experience the depth of your dreams.

Meet Magic in Everyday Life: Sidewalk Oracles by Robert Moss

Real magic is the art of bringing gifts from another world into this world

Robert Moss

magic

Don’t you crave a bit of magic in your life? Sometimes you can get so bored: Everyday the same house, the same job, the same pair of shoes, the same type of clothes.
Everyday the same routine: breakfast, coffee, driving to work, answering emails, writing reports.
Everyday returning home: cooking dinner, watching tv, going to bed.
You blink your eyes and another year has gone.

Wouldn’t you like to allow yourself to be surprised? Rediscovering the magic buried deep inside you? To brighten up your life? To break down your daily routine? To live your life following Jack Sparrows*’ compass: the one that leads you were your heart wants to go?

magic
Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean – played by Johnny Depp) is a pirate captain who has a compass that guides him to the thing he desires the most.

 

Well, Robert Moss’ latest book “Sidewalk Oracles, Playing with signs, symbols, and synchronicities in everyday lifepromises to do just that.

A big promise. One that I am excited about because of a dream I recently had. In this dream I am a God, who is very disappointed that people have forgotten the rules about magic. The magic of my kingdom is gone. And like God in Genesis, I judge humanity and decide to destroy it. I wake up feeling very frustrated…
Since synchronicity played its card, this book might be just what the doctor ordered.

magic
Sidewalk Oracles

 

Magic fact #1: synchronicity played its card

Several years ago I asked Robert Moss to do a workshop in the Netherlands because of a dream I had. In this dream I was talking to the head mistress of the Folk University about performing a workshop about dreams there. In the next scene I am in a school, but my class is in another room. Me and some other students walk outside to find our new classroom. Just before waking up I hear a voice-over saying: “You belong to Arthur’s court“.

I did some detective work after waking up. Wikipedia has become my best friend after I discovered it in the beginning of this century. My Watson.  Wikipedia says about the name Arthur: “An alternative theory, which has only gained limited acceptance among scholars, derives the name Arthur from the Latin Arcturus (the brightest star in the constellation Boötes, near Ursa Major or the Great Bear.
And Robert Moss has a special connection with the Bear:

“Don’t cry little one
Don’t cry little one
The Bear is coming to dance for you
The Bear is coming to dance for you”

(Mohawk song)

The Bear is the great medicine animal of North America and in Native tradition, the most powerful healers are those called by the Bear in dreams and visions.”

Because all of Robert Moss’s books are so good I connected with the publisher to ask for his book “Sidewalk Oracles“. I wanted to play them all for about a month and report my findings in a review as soon as I read the title. You can read what happened next in my post about the Grail. Kim from New World Library (who signed her email with Onward and upward, which reminded me, of course, of Robert van de Castle) suggested that I would also review Romance of the Grail. Once again Robert Moss and the myth of Arthur were united. Captain Sparrow has spoken: I have to find my Grail within. I have to find an answer to the questions: “What makes my heart beat stronger?”, “What gives me goose bumbs?”

Magic Fact #2: Jung and synchronicity

“Sidewalk Oracles” is divided into 6 chapters and a prologue. The prologue is an ode to the land. Let the earth speak to you. Robert Moss pays homage to the Goddess. We are children of the land but we drifted off so far that we don’t hear its whispers anymore.

The second chapter is devoted to Jung’s tower. The hand constructed Bollinger Tower of Carl Gustav Jung were he lived the way -in his eyes- humans were supposed to live . Without electricity or plumbing. Pure and simple, going back to his essence. In this tower, according to Robert Moss, Jung produced his best work. Robert shows us different approaches to synchronicity by taking an Eastern, a Western, a northern and a Southern approach towards synchronicity.

In the East you have the I Ching. Jung discovered the Secret of the Golden Flower a book his friend Wilhelm was working on. A divination system that considered the interplay between light and dark, between receiving and  creative forces.

The West emphasizes the human incarnation, and even the personality and historicity of Christ, while the East says: ‘Without beginning, without end, without past, without futureCarl Jung.

In the West you have the Iroquois. Robert Moss has a special connection to this tribe. He lives on land once owned by the Iroquois and started to dream about a woman who gave him knowledge in her own language. He educated himself about their habits. In Sidewalk oracles he tells that the word Orenda is used to indicate the power that is in everything and beyond everything.

In the South you have the speaking land. You know when it is time to do something if you listen to the land. Connect with your totem animal to tune into this wisdom.

In the North you have the Trickster. When the Trickster plays his cards things get weird. Time gets ruptured, things turn upside down. You are played for a fool, but you get the last laugh. Or you think you will going to get the last laugh but everything turns out quite different. I remember when I organized a workshop for Robert Moss. He was going to give a two-day workshop on Active Dreaming in the Netherlands. I could not find the way to the location of the workshop. I remember I was feeling completely embarrassed. Thinking about a bad organizer I was, I felt terrible… To my relieve Robert Moss enjoyed being lost. He said: “Open your eyes, the trickster is talking to us”. The intersection we were on was interrupted by several other streets, so we had to search really well before we found the second part of the road were the location of the workshop was. And like the trickster had already predicted, several people decided to change the course of their life. One man had a calling to become Shaman. Another lady had an emotional experience to let go of the pain of her past. 

Magic fact #3: become a Kairomancer

Kairos or Caerus is the Greek god of opportunity. That one moment in time that you can seize good fortune. Gone before you know it.

magic
Kairos

Chronos represents linear time, Kairos represents “that special moment in which you can break the bonds and operate in a spacious Now“.
Robert Moss goes on to discuss 12 rules of Kairomancy. I do hope this word gets integrated in the literature about synchronicity because it is a clever word play. Moss, being a succesful and gifted author, could just be the one to coin this term.

The rules are as simple as they are effective. Dance with the Trickster (don’t we all do that several times during the day?), trust the universe, listen to the land, listen to and honor the gods. You will love this chapter. It will open your mind so you can seize the Kairos moment.

Magic fact #4: playing games is magic

I had a lot of fun playing the synchronicity games. You must buy the book to read about them all. Robert Moss has listed no less than 17 magical ways to play the game of synchronicity. In this way he brings Huizinga’s “Homo Ludens“, the playful way of living, popular in the seventies, back to the twenty-first century. Let me cherry-pick in his comprehensive list:

  • Side walk tarot: on your daily walk you either have a specific question in your mind you want an answer to, or you just let the world guide you. I tried both of these approaches. Loo out for things that “pop up” like they are tarot cards dealt to you by the world.
    I concentrated on the question: “What step can I take to generate more money by doing what I love?” and I let things pop up on the street. Looking for something that catches my eye, that really stands out. Two streets away from my house I saw a car parked. On it was a mandala contracted from pieces of mosaic. Some of these pieces were flying above the mandala so you could easily see that it was built out of loose fragments tied together to a mandala shaped form.
magic
Photo: Margaret Almon

My conclusion is that the wold supports the idea of putting a page of products on Mindfunda aimed at discovering the Self. I am in the process of creating an online product to embrace and incorporate your shadow side.

One day I let the world give me a card. I walked around keeping an open mind and I saw a lovely young girl, completely dressed in black but with a pair of white chunky sneakers. I reminisced about the contrast. No color on the top and all colors at her feet. Then my eye caught this beautiful feather with the same pattern:

magic
black and white united

Black and white united again. This image has such a synchronistic relationship with the mandala of a few weeks earlier: You are on top of the world one minute of life and down on the bottom the next. And you might as well wear your light white shoes to get you trough on your way back to the top. The dove combines the absence and the spectrum of colors in a feather, designed to make him fly high.

  • Deja Vu (already seen). Have you ever had the experience that you are re-living a scene? You might be having a deja vue experience. Art Funkhouser is doing research about these experiences and dreaming right now.
    My experience with deja vu was at the death bed of my father. I was standing by his bed that Friday, not sure that he was still in his body. I remember looking up at the white ceiling plates and wondering: “Where are you?” when a remebered a dream in which exacltly the same thing happened. A nightmare I had five months earlier had preparde me for this terrible moment.
    In that dream I young boy had escaped his hospital bed because the doctor was trying to murder him. When I looked up in my dream I saw his green eyes (the color me and my father share) shining through the white ceiling plates.
    My father died that night of pneumonia. With a little help from the doctors who eased his pain with medication. The medication that eased his pain made it more difficult for him to breath. It was a medical descicion non of us could prohibit. The doctors had decided there was no sense in keeping him alive. It took me a long time to forgive them, even though I have always realized that in medical terms it was the most sensibvle thing to do.

 

  • Another game most of us know very well an dis always fun to play is bibliomancy. Robert Moss starts out with the story about the Sibylline Books. Roman Emperor Stilicho at first refused to buy the Sibylline books because of their absurdly high price. But each time he refused, three books were destroyed by the Cumaean sybil. Finally he gave in. The books became used as oracles with information about everything that appears and disappears. They were consulted to get a second opinion about decisions the state made. General Stilicho, master of Rome, destroyed them. Out of grace by the Gods for this offense, the Roman Empire collapsed.Now that we have a fair warning not to offend our shelf elves, we can concentrate on an issue we need guidance on. Close your eyes, grab a book and open it. Let your eyes feast on the text and see what resonates with you in this moment of time. I reached and grabbed out Dreams and premonitions:”Every time I envision my black panther walking besides me. I feel fearless, powerful, free and invincible“.A line from the story “Into the panther’s cage” about a woman getting an early warning about a brain tumor. Her deceased husband gives her a dream warning and she decides that she will get into the cage of this wild animal to look him in the eyes. It saved her life. Now she envisions herself walking around with this beautiful guardian animal.

 

  • There are a lot of games in this book: 17 in total. Using your own dream diary as a way of performing bibliomancy is one of my favorites. Too bad my dream diaries are online. Maybe someone could make an app for that?

 

“Sidewalk oracles” conclusion

Now does Robert Moss put his words into action? If you want a real good book about the games you can play inviting magic in your life, “Sidewalk Oracles” is the one to buy. But when you are knowledgable about synchronicity there won’t be many new facts in the book. This need not be a bad thing. It is always good to have a rule book in your shelf that you can use every day. And Robert Moss has a way of presenting known facts with stories from history that will enlighten you. He is a great story teller.

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Romance of the Grail: 3 discoveries

“The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature”.

Joseph Campbell

Grail and synchronicity

Several years ago I had a dream that ends with a voice-over telling me: “You belong to the court of Arthur“. I respond that Arthur is just a story.

I was wrong. The myth of King Arthur and the search for the grail is so much more.

Do you believe in synchronicity? When I requested a review copy of Robert Moss’s new book Sidewalk Oracles (a review is coming up, I am playing the games so I can walk the walk just as much as I talk the talk) something happened. Kim  of New World Library asked me, “Would you also like a review copy of Romance of the Grail?” I gasped for breath; synchronicity did not just knock on my door, but kicked it in.
Years ago, after having the dream I mention above, I discovered that Arthur meant bear and bear was the totem animal of Robert Moss. The Bear is the oldest worshiped deity of the world,  “So this is a bear god: the valley, and the river there , running by Lourdes, is called the River of the Bear (the Ourse). This is the God Arthur. I think I can make the point that Lake Geneva  is therefore the source of the whole idea of King Arthur’s departure on a boat after his death to the Isle of the Golden Apple, the Isle of Avalon” (Romance of the Grail).
So I invited Robert Moss to give a workshop on Active Imagination in the Netherlands. And now his book about synchronicity guided me back to Arthur and the Grail

Romance of the Grail

Joseph Campbell coined the term monomyth. To quote Wikipedia: “..Monomyth refers to the theory that sees all mythic narratives as variations of a single great story. The theory is based on the observation that a common pattern exists beneath the narrative elements of most great myths, regardless of their origin or time of creation”.
That is an attractive idea isn’t it? The idea that we, members of the human race, are so very much alike in our needs, in our challenges and in our solutions, that the basic problems myths guide you through boil down to a couple of themes.
I want you to know that I find this a very work-able assumption even though it is criticized now. I also agree with the critics. Ellwood stated in 1999: “A tendency to think in generic terms of people, races … is undoubtedly the profoundest flaw in mythological thinking.” But putting that aside, I think the contribution Joseph Campbell made to mythology is phenomenal. He brought mythology to you and me, into our simple lives and made us feel the energy of the Gods and Goddesses.

The book is composed by Evans Lansing Smith who spent many hours reading and listening to lectures of Campbell and who attended a lot of his travels and workshops. By reading the notes of Campbell Lansing Smith was able to present the wealth of knowledge that Joseph Campbell left behind. The work of a man who used to read 4 hours every day for nine years with the sole purpose of educating himself. Reading this book will let you reap the fruits of his work on what is called “The most important mythology for the Western World”.

Romance of the Grail discovery #1

Editor Evans Lansing Smith, chair of the mythological studies at the Pacifica Graduate Institute, has composed a book that will elicit several aha’s.
He starts out with painting the background of Europe through the centuries. His main point is that there simply was no European culture. Europe was invaded by Indo-European tribes since the Neolithic times, 10,200–8,800 BC. and Roman Emperor Theodosius I, Roman Emperor from AD 379 to AD 395, issued decrees that made Christianity the official religion of his Empire. Europe became subjected to a religion that had its origin in Jerusalem. The old pagan traditions were destroyed. The European (Western) emphasis on the individual shifted towards the Eastern sense of community spirit.
So this totally alien point of view was imposed on Europe. Europe had perfectly good religions and mythologies and this other thing was brought on top of it.”

The Christian church believes that we are born in sin. Jesus Christ can save us but the only way to come close to Christ is to get the sacraments from a priest. And a priest was able to behave in a rather un-Christian manner, without being disciplined by the church.  Of course not all of them, but many did. The Arthurian Romance is a way of dealing with this controversy.

Joseph Campbell’s never before published master’s thesis “The Dolorous Stroke” in the Appendix of this book provides clear insight into the genius of Campbell’s mind. His analysis of the similarities and differences in Grail stories with great detail. The Fisher King, based on Jesus his statement:  “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” is wounded by a lance at the time of a feast. So the King is wounded. Worse than that: he is made sterile. He can not reproduce anymore. And he is closely related to his land: his land also becomes infertile. This fertility God is wounded. The church is too much about following rules and ignores the spiritual side of the sun. The connection of people with their own sense of spirituality was cut off. The King was wounded.

The solution was to be found in love. Joseph Campbell’s Romance of the Grail distinguishes between erotic passion and agape: spiritual love. The romance that the Grail perspective prescribes is a combination of love that is born in the eyes as well as in the heart. Parzival as described in Wolfram van Eschenbach (German knight and poet who inspired Wagner’s Parsifal and who uses the name Parzifal spelled with a z), is a happily married man who enters the Castle, meets the Fisher King but does not ask the question: Who serves the Grail?

grail
Parsifal in the tarot

 

Wait.
I just told you that love was the answer.
No here is a happily married man, married out of love which was quite uncommon in these days. He is in the castle, with the wounded King. So all the variables are present but no catharsis. No solution. He fails to ask the question that could heal the King. Why?

Blame it on the mother? He was told not to ask too many questions. He did not want to come across as impolite. So he dismissed the question in his heart. Growing up you need to decide if you are going to head your parental advice or if you are going your own way. And make some mistakes along the path. Because the mother of Parsifal wanted him to be polite.

Again here is a mythical notion to let rules be rules. To follow the heart. Campbell said “Follow your Bliss” for a reason. Don’t we all know that moment when we follow conventions while our heart screams out something different?

Romance of the Grail discovery #2

An important theme in the Grail stories is the theme of enchantment versus disenchantment. Sometimes in dreams you are the only one who sees flowers. Sometimes in waking live you are the only one who sees the beauty of a person, of an event or of a tragedy.
Everything needed is already there only it is not being seen. And what the hero is to do is to clarify the situation

grail
picture: Plantscapers.com

 

I remember a few months before my mothers’ death I had a dream of her sitting with a sister of mine at the couch in the palace of the Bishop. I saw flowers everywhere. All the guests where talking, laughing and eating and I seemed to be the only one aware of those flowers. I followed the trail outside. In the hallway there was an undertaker. I felt so much grief in my heart when I handed over the flowers to him (a lot of the flowers lay on the floor at his feet). I asked him to take good care of my mother. Waking up I realized that I could only survive the loss of my last parent by seeing and honoring the flowers embedded in the situation.

There is enchantment in the descent to the underworld to meet the dark aspects of your soul. To become aware that deep in the darkness is the soil that nourishes the flowers. And to realize that not everybody will appreciate them. That there are people who do not even see them. What was the last time when you saw flowers where no one else noticed them?

Romance of the Grail discovery #3

Almost all  of us know the Grail as the story of the love between Guinevere and Lancelot. In our time this theme is relevant and the most handsome actors and actresses depict the honorable fight between lust, love and honor. In 1995, the film  First night depicted Richard Gere as the attractive Lancelot who tried to walk away from temptation. Romance of the Grail explains how a story about the ancient Celtic fertility gods was reshaped in a story about adultery.

 

Grail
Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot
First Knight

“After Renaissance, a god wounded by a lance, whose injury entails the blight of his land and the misery of his people, revived by a magic question or salve of blood was incredible. Therefore it was not surprising that Tennyson should have substituted a sin of adultery: the sin of Guinevere and Lancelot”.
In the middle ages in the story Lancelot, le Chevalier de la Charrette written by Chrétien de Troyes this love mentioned for the first time.

Guinevere was abducted by a Lord that belongs to the underworld. In ancient times ladies were in the habit of being abducted, waiting for a knight to come and rescue them. While Arthur stays at Camelot, Lancelot climbs on his horse and goes out for his love. He drives so hard that two horses die. He hesitates for three steps if he would take a cart driven by a churl. He would be faster in the tower were Guinevere is kept prison but a card is used for people who ride in the cart are being taken to be hanged or punished in some way. He hesitates for three steps but takes the cart.

Next trial is what we know as the Perilous bed.
“This is the masculine experience of the feminine temperament: that it doesn’t quite make sense, but there it is. That’s the way it’s shifting this time, that’s the way it’s going that time. The trial is to hold on, be patient and don’t try to solve it. Just endure it, and then all the boons of beautiful womanhood will be yours.” [Transformations of Myth Through Time]. Once a hero has integrated the anima or the feminine side of his character there is another challenge. The bridge of Swords.

The bridge of swords is the Razor’s edge as Somerset Maugham described it in his novel.

Grail
The Razor’s edge

If you follow your own path you can be swept away by your own passion. As Jeffrey Leach puts it on Amazon in a review: “The Razor’s Edge” really has a simple message. It asks us to reflect on how we lead our lives. Do we follow the masses or seek inner fulfillment? Is it right or wrong to drop out of society and follow our inner selves? Maugham makes us ponder these questions as he introduces us to his characters.

Finally our hero frees Guinevere out of the tower but she is as cold as ice. Why? Because he has hesitated for three steps. His ego for that moment was a few seconds stronger as the passion in his heart. No mercy for the brain. Ask yourself: when was the last time I acted out of love, without thinking? At this moment whose path do you follow? Your own? And if so: that is still no guarantee for fulfillment: you have to walk on a sharp edge to avoid getting cut. It is almost impossible, but it is worth it.

Romance of the Grail conclusion

I started this blog by telling you that being offered Romance of the Grail for a review was a moment of synchronicity. So while reading it and making notes I tried to look at why Arthur, the Bear, came knocking again. In four years I have made certain steps to follow my passion about mythology, spirituality and dreaming. And what everybody told me: that it does not pay the bills, unfortunately is true. Still I feel rewarded in so many other aspect: the people I meet, the books I read, controlling my own time.

I like the way the Romance of the Grail is crafted. I like the fact that The Dolorous Stroke is an appendix of this book. I feel so much more informed about the symbols and the themes that prevail in the Arthur myth that I can only advice you to read the book and let the magic work for you. As Joseph Campbell explains:
“We have recognized at the heart of the Celtic mythology, a belief in the might of magic”. I think we should all shelter and nurture this believe.

Can the Grail be here? You range through the house
seeking, only to return to the great sky-lit space.
She says, “Be still, and open. Stand like a tree,
open like a flower, like a chalice, at your crown.”
You remember the crown you once wore
and you let that go, and open. “Drink the light.”
You drink deep, and something opens deeper in you
in the cavity of the heart, a cup is filing with light.
Light streams from the heart, pure waterfall, and you know
you have found the Grail, in the one place it can be found.

Robert Moss

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I will interview Wanda Burch about her book She who dreams in November so sign up and don’t miss it.

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Myth stories: mythological musings #3: Shamain or halloween

Remember when you were young? How your history teacher would tell you with radiant eyes- about the Greek mythology? Mythology seems far away. How are mythological stories relevant in your life today? Mindfunda explores mythological themes in 4 blogs

Your mythic life
Myth Stories
Culture
Crises

Halloween and the Celtic culture

Today I want to explore different cultural mythologies. Halloween, celebrated October 31st is an inheritance of the Celtic culture. The Celts invaded Europe and brought their own gods and mythology. Rowan Moonstone has written a lot already about the festival of Shamain. The word is pronounced “sow-in”.
The Celts came from Asia and settled in Europe. We can still see similarities between Indian religion and Celtic paganism.
For example, the horned Indian God Siva Pasupati and the Celtic Cernunnos look very much alike.

haloween
Cernunnos
halloween
Pasupati

On the eve of October 31, when the Celtic New year began, the souls of the death  who would still wonder about on the earth, were allowed to come visit their loved ones and say goodbye this night. The veil between the worlds was thin and spirits and fairies roamed the earth this night.

halloween
The Celts
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Professor Emeritus of European Archaeology Barry Cunliffe tells in his excellent book “The Celts”: “In the Christian calendar Toussaint (All Saints) follows the ceremony of All Souls 31 October – 1 November, when the souls of the death are said to visit the realm of the living… Liminal interludes were dangerous. They were times when anything could happen and it was only by careful adherence to ritual and propitiation that a precarious order could be maintained. in Irish mythology it is the period when divinities and spirits of the death move from the underworld among the living and sometimes interfere with devastating effect in human affairs. It is this same concept and package of beliefs that comes down to us today in the rituals surrounding Halloween. In the last two decades of the twentieth century, Halloween saw something of a revival in western Europe, largely as the result of a reintroduction of an Americanized version in a form attractive to young children“.

Halloween in the Roman culture

In his ‘Dreamers book of the death‘ Robert Moss* writes about Lemuria. An old Roman religion where rites and exorcism drove the lemures, the wandering evil spirits away by giving them beans. The Vestal Virginis prepared their mola salsa, salt cakes made of the first wheat of the season.

 

Dreamers Book of the Death
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After the church tried to suppress all traces of the old pagan festival by appropriating it; May 13 became All Saints Day, or All Hallows Day. A century later, satisfied that the Lemuralis was history, but troubled that the Celtic Samhain was very much alive, Pope Gregory III switched the date of All Saints Day to November 1.

The feast of Lemuralia lasted three days. The earth was occording to the Romans during three days in May, from the 9th – 13th visited by two kind of souls. The gentile souls who came to guide their offspring: the Lares. And the evil spirits called the Larvae. The evil spirits were fed beans: food for the spirits and driven away with loud noises.

“Ovid reports that it is the duty of the head of a Roman household to get up at midnight and walk around the house in his bare feet tossing black beans over his shoulder and chanting “With these beans, I redeem me and mine”. Family members then turned out in force, clashing bronze pots together and bawling “ghosts of our fathers and ancestor, be gone!” nine times.
Robert Moss in Dreamer’s book of the death

Halloween in America

In the thirties “trick or treat” was played by children in America but it wasn’t untill the fifties that it became populair. Donald Duck, as well as the Peanuts’ strip of Charles M. Scutz refered to it in their comic strips.

halloween

In Europe, when I was a child, we never ever played trick or treat. It was not until the beginning of this century that stores began to sell witches hats and pumpkins.

< Jumped in from elsewhere? Start at  part 1

*In November Mindfunda will review the new book of Robert Moss: Sidewalk oracles. I will use the oracles in the book and write about the synchronicities I encountered so stay tuned!

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