A voicehearer’s path ~

Archive for October 30, 2008

How totems work, at least for me ~

It seems best to start with Wagle Shun, my south totem teacher. I have felt her presence since I was a small child and will admit that it is her wisdom that has kept me from crashing on the rocks during the early part of my journey. Since she is the totem of the mystic, there is every reason to suspect that this is why I followed that path. Whenever I see one of those wonderful little figurines of her in a home I visit, I start asking the questions that will tell me if the person that collects them is one of her students. I start with her because her gentle guidance is available to everyone if she is who I believe her to be.

Proverbs is full of mention of her, most especially the eighth chapter. It is also full of mention of her opposite number, Folly, whose animal I am unsure of. I believe Wagle Shun is my teacher’s totem, and is most certainly the way she communicates with me. It is she who first taught me not to envy others the things that are theirs by birth, which, once I knew my birth totem was a good chuckle, since that is the raven, and a reminder of Aesop’s fables. Who knows, maybe I am folly and am finally allowing Wisdom to teach me. That would certainly be the way my life has gone, so it wouldn’t surprise me if it were at least an allegorical truth.

These two totems, along with the Snowy Owl and the butterfly have drawn me from early youth. I have had some strong lessons to learn from them. Note the amount of airy totems, which is where my head usually is and then it will be no surprise to you that I had to learn from another totem, one that had drawn me but I had not explored the lessons, the otter, how to stay grounded, balanced and playful. If you understand that the animals as the Native American sees them, are teachers, not G-ds, they can teach you also.

You can start out by looking at the animals that drew your attention in childhood, what were they trying to teach you? Even domestic animals have lessons to teach so do not discredit their influence in your life lessons. If you cannot remember being drawn to any wild ones, there is another, rather slightly off-beat way to learn about totems that have to do with you personally. Everyone is familiar with astrology, some believe in it, some don’t. That’s fine, I will not try to persuade you one way or the other, but it is a tool, should you choose to use it, that can lead you to the knowledge of at least four of the animals that will have been a fairly strong influence in your life.

First go to Alabe.com, look down the page to where you can pull a free birth chart. Enter your data there, save the chart on your computer, it will be a gif image, and save the write-up in a Word document, or other word processing software. (Open Office is free on the web and does all that Microsoft’s does without spending an arm and a leg.) When you have them on your own computer where you can study them, pick out the “houses” that are your birth sign (your character), your moon sign (your inner self), your rising sign (your outward projection for others to see) and the North Node, which will tell you where you are headed in your learning patterns.

After you have found the astrological “houses” involved for your birth, look at Sun Bear’s Dancing with the Wheel. It can be found at most Public Libraries if you cannot afford it, but is a wonderful book to have if you are interested in Native American cosmology at all, so I wouldn’t hesitate to spend the money if you have it. You will find the totems for those four “houses” in that workbook, and full explanations of the lessons those four animals have to teach you. It is not quite the same as having a “Medicine” teacher find your totems for you, but is a good way to start with learning about totems.

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times ~

While I applaud the concept behind much that is being done to throw down old barriers to health care {Dr.s without Boundaries} and other good works that aim at getting behind the walls that have been placed by despots for control of their people, there is an air of the extreme about today’s world that begs for the very disorder that is the Psychiatric dish of the day, i.e. Bipolarism.

This is a wonderful time for people like myself, who prefer to live alternate lifestyles. We are not pushed by society to be something we are not. I never married, it is not that I was not asked, it was that I was drawn to the bad boys. They make fun companions, lousy husbands and worse fathers. As long as you do not expect a long term commitment from them they are wonderfully fun and funny, even when it is they that ask for the commitment.

Yet, there are many in our world who do not thrive in a time where limits are the taboo, and putting boundaries on your life can make you unpopular. I have long thought that the controls of, say, the church, are fine as long as they are not mandatory for everyone. If those controls are the way a person wishes to live, there is nothing wrong with that, just don’t make it law for everyone to live that way. That, however, has not been how it has worked out over the centuries.

We are not a species that easily finds its balance in life, many of us are workaholics, others are drug addicts, many have found their thrills in unprotected sexual activities.  There are many self-medicators who need a glass of wine daily; there is nothing wrong with that as long as it stays at a glass and doesn’t become a bottle daily and starts to interfere with one’s life. And therein lies the rub, eh? We allow our cravings to run our lives and then we are in trouble.

So, is there an answer?

Well, yes, but it is not easy, and I cannot say how each of us will go about doing it. For generations out of mind, society has served as an exoskeleton, bracing us up in ways that were such that we did not have to grow our own bone structure and stand on our own. That exoskeleton has weakened, and in many places crumbled. It is time to find our individual internal bones and strengthen them so that we can stand without the bracing of societal rule to tell us what is right and what is wrong.

Talk about a difficult task!

This is actually where Buddhism has an advantage over Christianity or any other “faith”. In almost all faiths, one is not taught to seek inner strength and purpose, but to look to the deity for one’s rescue. I believe in G-d, so this was not much of a problem for me, but one does not need to believe in a deity to follow the Buddha’s teachings. One needs only to desire internal and true happiness and to be willing to follow the Buddha’s recommendations toward that end.

Let me be fair, here. Christianity, as with Judaism,  the Muslims, and many others has a wide variety of groups within the whole, some of those groups do indeed teach discipline and study. Some teach discipline for all, others only teach this for the group that is part of the inner sanctum. This is also true of Buddhism. So the main difference between the Buddha’s path and Y’shua’s path is the belief in Hashem. Actually, the more I learned of Buddha’s path, the more I realized it is the only difference.

If you study the four gospels, counting Y’shua as a wise teacher from whom you wish to learn, instead of thinking of him as a magical pill you swallow that makes you “whole”, you will find that his teachings bear an uncanny resemblence to the Buddha’s teachings from 500 years before in the orient, 1000’s of miles to the East.

Essentially, Y’shua was teaching how to most sincerely and certainly please a high and holy God via release of worldy attachments, service and humility. Buddha was teaching a path toward inner joy via release of worldly attachments, service and humility. They are the same path, simply two diametrically opposite perspectives. And as the saying goes, one can have it all, as one can please God most high, while at the same time, finding true happiness. Hm, and we can even find balance from the extremes by following Buddha’s middle way.

Tag Cloud