I just read an article by Inelia Benz at SERI-Worldwide. She asks us to use our imaginations to visualize a life without fear—“to put our hands into the field of infinite possibility that is the space between thoughts”—so that there is no fear in us, no fear on the planet.
She asks us to write our own futures fear-free.
Benz asks, “What say you?”
What is one obvious thing we humans have in common? We come in many colors and all shapes and sizes, but we arrive on Earth in bodies, many of us ready to tackle life, hoping we will wake up and remember who we are and why we came here. Our sparks of life are given us by the Force that created the universe and, at some point, our sparks will be called home. Our loved ones will be left to deal with our passing and, most likely, questions about their own mortality; and whether or not we who’ve crossed over really will be waiting for them when they make the transition.
What is it like, nearing the end of this physical life? My mom will be 83 this year and she recently told me she won’t be here next year at this time. She was one of seven children and five are gone—just her and her younger sister now. I don’t think she is afraid to die at this point. In fact, having to work yet to survive is wearing her down. Maybe her situation is what had to happen for her to accept that we have no choice in the matter: We come and we go and some of us suffer the tearing pain of leaving life, our children and other loved ones. Life marches on (frustratingly!) without us. I hope I get to peek in on my children once in a while and I wonder if any of our ancestors check on us. Can they see everything? And, are we all wise on the other side? Or, can we still hold onto our grudges? Do we bless or curse our relations from the other side?
I suppose the biggest question is, ‘What happens to us when our bodies go to sleep for the last time?’ Should we fear that we simply end then? Or do our sparks, our souls, carry on in the invisible world? Are we beings of translucent light, appearing as we did when at the end of life–or when we were, say, thirty? (If I have a say in the matter, I’m voting for thirty. “Tsk, tsk. Vanity, thy name is woman!”)
What does happen to us when we die? There is enough in life and literature that I believe we carry on, perhaps experiencing a life review, with some quiet time for reflection on how we did this time around. I recently read somewhere that we must face everything we did, both the joy and the pain we caused, and if we lived darkly, we grow from feeling the effects of the darkness we created. That makes sense to me and I hope it’s true, even though we must then, in the next life, become the victims instead of the perpetrators. It makes sense that we reap what we have sown, but will running on the great (hamster-like) wheel of time ever end? I believe it will—when we become aware of our oneness with All That Is. No need to be hamsters then!
A Poem by M.N. Hopkins
An Angel fell
An Angel fell into a dark abyss
A Human stood at the edge of Darkness and Light
with clear, seeing eyes and said, “Have faith.”
The Angel fell deeper and deeper into the darkness
Again, the Human said,
The Angel continued to fall deeper and deeper
closer to the imaginary point of no return
Once again said the Human,
The Angel paused and looked up toward the Human and said,
“So, it will be.”
The Angel began his flight upward and
outward of this temporary darkness
back to His rightful Home within the Realm of Light.
Note: I hope that you get it or at best, enjoy the feeling it can invoke.
I woke up at 3:18 a.m. and felt an urge to share what I’ve been reading: The Writer’s Complete Fantasy Reference, by Writer’s Digest Books. It is a collection of information about fantasy cultures and races; dress, arms and armor; commerce and trade; the anatomy of a castle and practicing magic. (I’m writing fantasies and, of course, all good fantasies must include magic.) The chapter on magic, by Allan Maurer and Renee Wright, is quite interesting.
In the same way that I was surprised that greed means simply the desire for more than what we need, the definition of magic caught me by surprise. “Religion is an appeal to the gods. Magic is the attempt to force their aid.” This got me to thinking, “Is prayer magic?” Of late, I’ve been asking for what I believe I/we need because of a series of financial surprises that caught me off guard. My computer works now only when it wants to. (It overheats and shuts down randomly, teases me with electrical crackling and beeping, and won’t open jpegs.) My eldest called me recently and said, “I’ve just deposited some money into your account. You need a new computer.” That was a very nice financial surprise. It’s on its way. Yahoo!
Back to magic: Magic is neutral; the application of it makes it white or black magic. It is used for three reasons: to produce, to protect or to destroy.
The laws of magic are:
1) The human will is a galvanic current, a material force;
2) When accessing the ethereal world, one has access to the Akashic Records (the recording of our thoughts and actions from all our lifetimes)
3) The soul is a mirror of the universe, in that everything in the universe is in the soul
4) A trained imagination can direct the will.
There are two worlds, our mundane, physical world and the supernatural word that can be accessed by the use of magic. Dark magicians call on demons and the like to do harm. White magicians call on divine aid to heal and bless.
The use of magic requires arduous preparations such as fasting, meditating, enduring pain, intense sweating and inhaling smoke. Magicians speak, using spells, incantations, invocations, etc; and they take action, practicing rites, procedures, gestures, and using magical tools.
Two principles are used: If one thing resembles another, they are connected. There are secret connections between numbers and letters; and between Heaven and the elements of the earth: soil, air, fire and water. Strong things are called on to impart strength, fast things for speed. Stabbing a knife into the footprint of a person or animal can hobble them. (Jeez!) Similar colors, sounds, meanings, and physical resemblances are used for spell-casting or ritual practices. The second belief is that if two things have ever had contact, they retain a connection that can be used, no matter how long ago or far apart they may be.
Family or traditional magic is passed on and is the religion of hearth and home that preserves various domestic rites that include the worship of Mother Earth, use of kitchen implements as tools of magic, practice of agricultural magic to “work” the weather and simple divination to see future husbands and children.
In Earth magic, the air, earth, oceans and all living matter are a single biosphere. Practitioners work to “awaken Gaia’s planetary mind.” They study dowsing, ley lines, the use of stone circles and sacred sites. Rituals intend to correct energy imbalances caused by bad planning. The imbalances are believed to create a “black stream” of energy associated with illness, accidents and poltergeist activity. Thank you, Earth magicians.
Gothic witchcraft is the dark kind, which can include reversing the practices of the Church, such as saying the Lord’s Prayer backwards or desecrating the Eucharist or a crucifix. Wright and Maurer say that the gothic practices include orgies, child sacrifice, cannibalism, and at times, pornography. Gospels are reversed in the Church of Satan, such as, “Blessed are the strong, for they shall possess the Earth.” Or, “If a man smite you on one cheek, smash him on the other.” (Double jeez!)
Gypsy magic includes fortune telling, divination using a crystal ball, palmistry, reading tea leaves, and the use of tarot cards. Apples are often used in the rituals.
The Wiccan creed is: “An it harm no one, do what you will.” If a spell to do harm is cast, it will return to the sender with three times the power. Practitioners use goddess-given creativity to create their own spells and rituals, often as poetry or song, dancing or chanting. Sacred spaces are created by the use of the four elements, circles and calling for protection from guardians like Mighty Ones or Lord or Lady of the Watchtower.
There is more to the chapter, but my fingers are complaining. Though some of these types of magic may not be common in our time, I’m sure some are. We can see the darkness of gothic magic in the world as we write and read. These were the old ways of magic when humankind struggled with desiring access to the power of the invisible world, and went at it from different directions.
Once Christ’s blood was dripped into the soil of Mother Earth (our mother) the old ways were no longer necessary to become one with God. God has given Himself, Love, to us. Though fundamental Christians would adamantly disagree with me, God, Christ, will always be Love to me.
But, as far as fantasy writing goes, the Writer’s Digest book has lots of great information.
Last night I watched a show on PBS called Australia’s First Four Billion Years. I wasn’t going to watch it, but the introduction said that evidence of the beginnings of life on Earth still existed in Australia and I was curious. They reported that the earth was made from a fiery explosion, chunks of stars that came together through magnetic attraction. Back then, stuff from space collided regularly with the earth and it was an unsafe place for life.
The first life was bacteria born in shallow areas of the ocean; those very same microbes can be found in mushroom-shaped mounds in Australia today. After two long Ice Ages that froze the entire Earth for millions of years, something else was in the ocean: plant life and flat creatures vacuuming along the ocean floors in search of food. More creatures followed—I didn’t understand whether the trilobites evolved—and competition for food was born. Fossilized evidence of early sea creatures can still be found in very old rocks in Australia.
I sat here wondering: Some life forms have survived for billions of years and we humans get about 80 on average? I always want to make sense of everything and this doesn’t make sense. The Bible refers to some people who lived for a thousand years and that’s amazing now, but we have to ask, ‘Why did we devolve to living less than a hundred years?’ Is it all the warring? We couldn’t stop pillaging and killing, so our DNA rewrote itself for shorter lifetimes? Does that make sense?
And where does God/Love come into this picture? If Edgar Cayce is right, we are angels who fell to Earth, creating unique bodies from thought-forms, bodies that lusted after each other, making the strange creatures we think of as myth. That is when God, Cayce says, created man, Adam, and woman, Lilith, from the earth, with bodies programmed for enlightenment: remembering where we came from, that we fell, and realizing God wants us home, as in at-one-ment.
But Adam insisted Lilith be subservient to him; she refused and left him to roam the world her way. Scary stories about her are still told in some parts of the world where people fear that Lilith comes after their newborns as payback because we are descendants of Eve—not her. Because Lilith, created equal to Adam, would not submit, God created Eve from one of Adam’s ribs so that she would submit and, well, we all know how that story progresses. I have to ask, Are women in general, at our core, so rebellious that we choose to throw off the balance between us and Higher Love? I cannot believe this is true–at least that it’s just females. We humans all like to stir up trouble in that area.
So, where do we humans go from here? There is a great movement in place toward peace and caring for one another, as we begin another 26,000 year cycle of time. How about we become one world, with seven billion friends? I’ll bet our life spans get much longer then.
I just published an ebook through Smashwords and had quite the time following the directions for creating a Table of Contents (sorry, Mark), even though I carefully read the Smashwords Styleguide. (I did try to cheat and use a paragraph indent and space between the paragraphs–I like the look–but the Meatgrinder caught me. I’m so ashamed.)
So, I looked elsewhere online and found some instructions that, combined with some from Smashwords, allowed me to figure out how to do it properly and easily. (I’m assuming this, since my book wasn’t kicked back due to TOC problems. My Table of Contents passed the EPUB and NCX checks the first time!) I’m sharing these steps because it’s way less confusing. I hope they work for you, too.
To create the TOC takes several steps. (Please note, I have put some pre-TOC notes below these directions.)
1) Type the words “Table of Contents” at the top of the new page just after the front matter. Highlight those words, go to Styles, click on Normal and select Modify. There you can set the size, (such as 18pt; anything larger will get you booted), bold or italics and choose center or flush left, however you want it.
2) Then click anywhere in the three words, go to Insert>Links>Bookmark and type in Bookmark Name: ref_TOC (for Smashwords).
3) Back from the Table of Contents heading, hit Enter twice and type the list of your chapters (in the Normal style, usually 12 pt regular text). I named my chapters like this: Chapter One Notes Along the Path (all on one line); Chapter Two So Long, Guilt, and so on. (Can’t use tabs because they won’t line up in the ebook, so I just used two spaces.) After I typed them all in a list, I created my own modification for the list of chapters: I highlighted all of them and went to Normal Style>Modify>Paragraph and set the changes as: Flush Left. (My Normal is justified text.) I also wanted the list indented, so I used Paragraph>Indentation> Left>.50. Single spacing looked tight (apparently two returns between them messes them up) so I set spacing at 1.5 and saved it as ‘Chapters List.’
4) Now, you go to the first page of each chapter inside the book, one at a time, and repeat the following process for each of them:
Put cursor anywhere in name of chapter one. Click Insert>Bookmark>Name. They can only be set in this fashion exactly, with only ‘Ch,’ only numerals, and no spaces anywhere on the line:
I used a reduced name for each chapter so I could recognize them later. At the bottom, choose Sort by: Location.
5) Now, back to the Contents page. Highlight each chapter on the page, one at a time, then right click>Hyperlink. On the left side of the box, click ‘Place in this Document.’
6) After all chapters are done, open Insert>Links>Bookmarks. You should see your list of chapters there. Click on each one to confirm that it works.
One thing happened that I didn’t like (or do anything to cause, as far as I know). When I clicked on each of the chapter titles, my links did work, but I couldn’t see the text that follows. I had to scroll down to see it, even though I didn’t use more than one return, or page breaks, after the chapter titles. I guess this is an ebook thing, or I would’ve been booted out by the Meatgrinder software for this, too. Or, maybe it’s something else. I don’t know. But, using the above directions, it passed through Smashword’s Meatgrinder software.
Here are some PRE-TOC notes, things you should know before creating the contents page:
There are no page numbers because on e-readers the text flows as one very long page. You create a link to the chapter titles instead.
After the Copyright or Dedication page, do two returns, place a page break, if you want one (Insert>Pages>Page Break), and do two more returns before adding Table of Contents. (If you don’t do two returns, the words before and after the page break can stick to the break.)
Don’t use Word’s Table of Contents creator. It doesn’t work in EPUB docs.
Remove Hidden Bookmarks (I didn’t think I had any, because I hadn’t started the TOC, but sure enough, I had two. These mess up the real table of contents.) In Word 2007, go to Insert>Links>Bookmarks. (2003 is probably similar.) Find ‘Hidden Bookmarks’ box, and click and unclick it. Delete all of them.
Everything in the book (at Smashwords) has to be either single-spaced or 1-1/2 spaces. Can’t use double space, or anything else like ‘Exactly’ and so on.
Your entire book should be based on the Normal Style: Home>Styles>Normal. This would ordinarily be 12pt, the font you select (ebook producers offer several choices) and either Flush Left or Justified text. You modify ‘Normal’ (click on Normal, select Modify) for everything that is not 12 pt paragraphs, like 18 pt for the words “Table of Contents;” and I used 14 pt bold for the title of each post from my blog. Think about your modifications, create and name them. (My names were 18pt Centered and 14pt Title.) Then you’ll be ready to create your TOC. If you don’t like the way they look, just modify again.
Hope this helps and keep at it. :)
I’m proud to announce that I’ve put a whole bunch of posts from Notes Along the Path into an electronic book called “A Lighter Way of Being.” It can be downloaded, free, at Smashwords:
If you don’t have an ebook reader, and would like to read this book (or any other) on your desktop computer, you can download these free reading programs:
Ereader to manage your ebooks on your computer: http://www.makeuseof.com/pages/download-open-book-managing-your-ebooks-with-calibre
Adobe Digital Editions:
Amazon Kindle App for your computer: http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/ref=kcp_short_kindleapps?ie=UTF8&docId=1000493771
If you use Mozilla Firefox as your browser:
No download required for Google. You can read online from any device: https://play.google.com/store/books
KOBOs electronic reader:
I pray these loving words will heal others as they have healed me. :) Please let me know what you think, or feel. Thank you very much.
I’m slowly reading Edgar Cayce on Angels, Archangels and the Unseen Forces by Robert J. Grant. I had a long wait the other day, though, and got to read for a couple hours. One interesting idea from the Cayce readings is that God created all souls to have free will; we all knew then that we were of God and we created in relationship with God.
God’s Number One, Lucifer, began to envy God and started playing around with creation. I guess it was pretty thrilling and he began to move away from God, taking with him souls who wanted the same independence. Some souls didn’t go—they are who we call angels. Some moved away a little but still could feel God. The ones who fell farthest are us, the people of Earth. We are aware of our ‘deal with the devil’ now, aren’t we?
Grant says there is a great debate about whether or not the ‘falling away’ was part of God’s plan. Cayce said it was an unintended error and God wants us all to come home. Apparently, the creatures of mythology (giants, centaurs, etc) were real. They were the bodies created by the first souls who followed Lucifer into darkness. There was no way for them/us to sense God’s light in those bodies, so our human bodies were designed with seven spiritual centers. These can be activated safely through spiritual practices such as meditation, so that we may find our way home. After a while, Jesus Christ came to Earth to experience being human, activate the centers, and show us how to get home, for which he was killed. Many of us are thinking of Him this weekend.
Here is some material from the book about angel hierarchy. It’s interesting to me that our Creator has given us so many helpers:
The Seraphim are at the top of the list and remain closest to God. They are the fire of Love that cleanses.
Next are the Cherubim who emanate wisdom; keep the records of our lives and hear our prayers.
The Thrones are justice and karmic forces. Though I agree it doesn’t seem like it in our time, they are present in our world as the energy that battles activities of injustice. I guess things would be much worse without them.
Next are the Dominions, who are present in nature. They are the originating source of God’s plan for creation. Sounds like they got their orders from the Boss and went to work on making an incredibly wondrous world for us. (Maybe that’s how the earth was created in seven days!)
The Virtues bring God’s grace to us through the Holy Spirit as miracles.
The Powers are the warrior angels who have authority over every dark force on our world. They radiate creative power to us. When the creative force is misused, it is the Powers who correct it.
Next are the Principalities who guide the policies of leaders of nations (who are open to being guided, I’m assuming) and govern the spiritual awakening of the masses. We live in a time right now, the author says, when they have opened doors for us that have been closed for thousands of years, and will not open again for thousands more. That’s why so many people have asked come to Earth now. Spiritual opportunity is available to every single one of us now. It’s an important message to get out there.
Most of us are familiar with the Archangels from references in the Bible to Michael, Gabriel and others. Of note, Edgar Cayce said (while in his meditative-trancelike state) that the archangels are equal to those above them but have chosen to stay in lower realms to guide humanity to the highest levels of consciousness; this means they can call on all angelic forces for help.
Next, Grant described the known duties of specific archangels. With this information, we can call on them according to our needs.
Uriel is the guide who comes when all seems lost. He is the force that, “opens a door when a window closes.” His message is never, ever lose hope because hope brings him to us.
God’s healing power flows from Raphael and he also inspires divine art.
Raguel is fascinating. He guards the planets of our solar system who, Grant writes, are each archangels that radiate inspiration to us. I read somewhere that Archangel Michael is embodied as our sun, which certainly reflects his power! Through us, Raguel regulates conflicts between good and evil. He is also the guardian of the above-mentioned spiritual centers in our bodies (called chakras).
Sarakiel is the voice of our consciences so that we may learn from our misdeeds and change our thoughts and actions.
Gabriel is God’s divine messenger who carries the lily, the flower of Mary, who represents purity as the mother of Jesus Christ. Gabriel is present with innocence and is said to be at hand for divine resurrection, which Grant describes as becoming one with God without the death of our bodies.
Ramiel oversees mystical visions. He may also play a role in guarding the records of our lives, which Cayce calls the Akashic Records. Thus, Ramiel may be present when we stand before God awaiting judgment. In some records, he is among the fallen. I do take some comfort from the fact that Cayce says God is anxious for us all to come, no matter our misdeeds.
On a final note, J. Everett Irion, who I never met but love anyway, was asked at a presentation if the Antichrist was born in the U.S. and alive in our times. He answered something like this: “Have you ever felt anger, lust, envy or hatred? Have you gossiped with ill-intentions, acted cruelly, debased others? The Antichrist is present wherever negativity is.”
On that note, I’ll end here knowing that tomorrow we celebrate Christ’s rising from the darkness into the light. We’ll see you there, Lord! Eventually. :)
By Barbara Richardson
Barbara Richardson lives in eastern PA but her roots, personal and ancestral, are in New England. She grew up in a nonreligious family so the spiritual journey is her own, with influences from a variety of sources. She is an avid reader.
Some years ago I came across a gem of a book, The Parables of Peanuts by Robert L. Short, who presents the Peanuts gang as actors with a quasi-biblical script. In one memorable scene, Schroeder is holding a placard proclaiming, “Christ is the answer,” to which Snoopy responds with his own sign that reads, “What is the question?” Indeed!
In my opinion, Snoopy, that indomitable WWI Flying Ace riding his “Sopwith Camel” in dogged pursuit of the elusive Red Baron, had it exactly right. It is a human frailty to grasp our Linus security blankets for dear life, rather than fearlessly entering the difficult questions that life and faith present. We want answers, seek their comfort, and therein avoid whatever would challenge the “truth” as we understand it.
Faith, by definition, is a leap into the unknown and unknowable. Like iridescent hummingbirds, we hover over the Abyss of Unknowing. We can debate about God until the proverbial cows come home but ultimately there exists no reassuring proof. Although we can experience the Holy in a myriad of ways, the Ultimate Question remains unanswered. So faith, as I see and experience it, lies in the questions, not in answers that can be verified and quantified scientifically.
The quest is what propels us toward new insights, motivations, and scientific discoveries; rigidly held belief systems keep us in a comfortable rocking chair, moving but going nowhere. The English mathematician and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead stated it this way: “The worship of God is not a rule of safety; it is an adventure of the spirit, a flight after the unattainable. The death of religion comes with the repression of the high hope of adventure.”
This mystery we call God resists definition. We can desire the structure of a particular belief system and enjoy membership in a community of believers but our personal faith journey must preclude any dogma that Midas-like transmutes faith into certainty. (Remember what happened to Midas?) Mystery keeps us going. We wonder what is around the next bend in the road, beyond the horizon, and over the rainbow—and we go there, propelled by this spiritual quest that comes from we know-not-what, but name, Mystery. I think it’s pretty awesome that, when asked, “Who is God?” we can, for once, be rendered speechless.
And remember, the silences hold the secrets . . . this is the song of the soul.”
~Neale Donald Walsch