Monday, November 28, 2011

Do You Understand?

My Occupy Valhalla post from the end of October has received more hits than any other post I've written.  It is an amusing picture and provides some levity to an important issue.  Before I go any further, let me say how impressed I am that this movement has become an international one and that I follow many of these movements (from Occupies across the US and Canada to those in Europe, such as Sweden, Denmark and Britain).  It is a wonderful sign that millions of people "get it".  However, as evidenced by the police actions and media comments, the underlying point of the Occupy Movement is still grossly misunderstood.

This situation made me wonder what can be done to help people to understand better not just the movement but opposing or seemingly opposing views in general.  So, I asked the Runes what we can do to help others understand and I got a very interesting draw - Hagalaz, Thurisaz, Othala/Othila.

Hagalaz, the Rune of Hail is perfect for describing the overview of this heated issue.  I am quoting directly from Sweyn Plowright's book "The Rune Primer", because its interpretation of this Rune fits so well.  "An interesting combination of destructive and creative forces.  The second aett begins here with a change of mood."  Adding to this sentiment is the new age interpretation which calls for change, freedom, invention and liberation.  This is the situation we are trying to get others to understand, whether it's Occupy Wall Street or another difference of opinion or perspective.

The meaning of Thurisaz, our challenge in this question, varies from traditional links to giants and thorns to new age attributions to Thor and gateways.  Either way, Thurisaz is a Rune associated with great power.  Historically, the power has been focused to breakthrough obstacles, which is an appropriate challenge when trying to get someone to open their mind to a different perspective.  Modern interpretation suggests that this Rune, in this instance, requires contemplation before action.  Once the contemplation is complete, we are ready to make our voices heard.  It is challenging, indeed, to channel the power of so many into a single message when that message encompasses such a variety of issues.

With Othala as our action, we have the Rune of Inheritance.  Here, I quote from the new age interpretation in Ralph Blum's "The Book of Runes".  "Old skins must be shed, outmoded relationships discarded."  Traditional meanings support this idea claiming that we have a right to enjoy our inheritance, that which we have worked for, that which our ancestors fought to ensure we would have.  To be able to take this action, we must face the challenge and channel our power around what the Occupy Movement represents on a larger scale.

While this draw focused on the Occupy Movement and how to get people to understand its goal a little better, this draw is applicable in getting people to understand you more generally.  Remember, different perspectives are not always openly or immediately accepted and require a change in thinking.  How do we get others to change their thinking on a given subject and how do we do it ourselves?  We use our voice and present well-thought out information, realizing that the path to understanding requires us to offer the same openness to others that we expect in sharing our perspectives with them.  How do we do that without becoming confrontational and argumentative?  By keeping in mind that our perspective is based on history and learning from both its mistakes and successes.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Following Your Bliss

Anyone familiar with Joseph Campbell should also recognize this week's title - Following Your Bliss.  In today's world, "Follow you bliss" might be Joseph Campbell's tagline.  It is certainly a philosophy worth considering.  I decided to do just that, because in looking back over some of my older posts, I noticed that many of them had to do with finding balance, keeping balls in the air, basically doing what you need to do to get by.  Of course, I am not always one to d that, because I am driven so much by the things that I enjoy, things that evoke my passion.  Of course, this perspective can be problematic, which is why so many of my posts have to do with managing multiple things at once; I need to work on that.

This week is different though.  This week, I say embrace your passions and follow your bliss, for if we don't do things that bring us joy, we will not be truly happy.  I know it is not easy to do this.  I am guilty of it too.  However, this month, I am taking part in NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month.  Taking this challenge has reconnected me to my love for writing in a way I could not have imagined.  I don't want to lose this feeling of bliss when November and the challenge end next week.  To that end, I asked the Runes how can we follow our bliss?  What do we need to be able to do to follow our bliss?

Hagalaz provides the overview for this line of questions.  The Rune of Hail, which is a destructive force that creates disruption, but where creativity may exist in its wake defines Hagalaz.  Traditionally, this Rune represents hail and is viewed in both positive and negative ways.  For, although it is cold and can destroy crops, once it melts, it provides nourishment.  It is a change agent, disrupting life as we know it, but providing an opportunity for new ways of doing things.  New Age interpretations of this Rune seem to fall in line with this assessment, claiming it represents change, freedom, invention and liberation.  I agree with this, because by having our lives disrupted, we are forced to look at things differently.  It gives us the freedom to consider following our bliss instead of returning to the old path.

The challenge that awaits us in following our bliss is - ourselves.  Algiz, the Rune of Self-Defense and Protection is the Rune drawn here.  Fulfilling our dreams or even attempting to fulfill them is quite a scary undertaking, so our natural instinct is to protect ourselves.  From what though?  We go with what we know, even when it doesn't make us happy.  We are afraid to take a chance and believe that, by taking the safe route instead, the familiar route, we are doing what's best.  The challenge then is to try a different route and follow what makes us happy; even if we don't do it completely, that is to say full time, we need to incorporate it into our lives.

How in the heck do we do that?  Breaking old habits is hard.  Feeling true or content happiness seems like a largely foreign idea these days.  Gebo, the Rune of Gifts is our call to action.  It represents not only a gift in the physical sense, but everything related to a gift, such as the appreciation you feel when receiving one or the fact that gifts are given as a sign of affection or appreciation.  The action required to overcome the challenge of protecting ourselves from ourselves and doing those things which make us blissful, is this - appreciation.  We must appreciate that which makes us happy, be proud of the gifts we possess and support those gifts by pursing the joy they bring.  I'm not suggesting we should change our lives in a moment.  Try to commit to one thing that you truly enjoy doing and do it once a week from now until the end of the year.  Come January 1, 2012, let me know how it's working for you.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Leap, Jump, Step... Just Move

Last week, I had tea with a friend of mine.  She is struggling through some personal issues right now.  On top of that, or possibly because of it, she is very troubled over what to do with her life, what she really wants to pursue, and where her life, especially her professional life, is going.  She seems stuck, not knowing which way to go and afraid to step in any direction.  I assured her that I have been there more than once.  I shared with her three major hurdles I've come up against in my adult life and realized that, in each instance, I jumped blindly into the next phase of my life.  However, while I am prone jumping off cliffs in leaps of faith (and I should point out that my faith in this instance lies within myself, my abilities and the kindness of others; it's tangible even if unseen in the present), I know that not everyone can do that.  Some people need to strap on ropes and special climbing shoes and ease their way down the cliff.  That's okay.  We all take different paths to get where we need or want to go.  The point is that, whichever way we go, we go.

My questions for the Runes this week, then, are what advice works for everyone in this circumstance?  How can we look at this overwhelming situation and be willing to jump off a cliff or strap on as much safety equipment as we can find and lower down its side?  The answer they gave me  - Kenaz/Kano, Othala/Othila, and Eihwaz.

Kenaz (Kano) demonstrates perfectly how the situation should be perceived.  It is the Rune of Light, represented by a torch.  This Rune indicates a time of enlightenment.  The more light we shine on something, the easier it is to see.  In a sense, it offers us a moment of clarity in which we can see the right path.  Now, we just need to acknowledge it.  Once we do that, we need to be willing to set aside any fear or doubt we have and step onto that path.  Our instincts know it's the right one for us.  Of course, that doesn't mean it's going to be an easy path to follow, but it is the one that will get us where we want to be.

 No situation is without a challenge, but some seem more difficult to surmount than others.  When we are struggling and find ourselves in a really tough place, Othala (Othila), the Rune of Benefits and Inheritance, helps us in two directions.  Before moving forward, Othala reminds us to look back and be grateful for the things we do have in our lives, for the accomplishments we've made so far and for the sacrifices made by others (our ancestors and those around us).  Being grateful is not always easy, but once we start to recognize all of the good things in our lives, dealing with the hard things becomes a little easier.  The other direction this Rune helps us with is as we move forward.  We walk down the path we choose by trusting our instincts so that we can receive benefits.  However, although this Rune represents benefits, with those benefits may come personal sacrifices.  That is to say that, to get what we want or where we want to be, we may have to give up something else.

To accomplish this leap of faith (or to scale down the cliff side) and follow a new or enlightened path requires a bit of toughness and stability.  These aspects are demonstrated by Eihwaz, the Rune of Defense and the Yew tree.  We've already established that, just because we choose the correct path, it doesn't mean the path will always be easy to traverse.  Still, we have to stand our ground, demonstrate our faith in ourselves on this path, the correct path.  Eihwaz reminds us that, not only do we have the strength or toughness to do this, but that through the challenges we face on this road we will grow.

No matter how we enter the next phase of our lives, whether by leaping or taking small steps, the process is  the same.  Trust yourself to choose the right path.  The light shining on it comes from you.  Be grateful for the things in your life and the sacrifices of others.  Realize you will have to make sacrifices.  Finally, be strong.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Path to a Career?

Two weeks ago, I talked about having a lot of balls in the air and how to prioritize them so that they can all get done.  With November, comes a slight shift in priorities, because I am taking the NaNoWriMo challenge.  For those of you who don’t know, that’s short for National Novel Writing Month.  The challenge is to write 50,000 words toward a novel in the month of November.  While I’m not doing too badly, given life’s little circumstances, I am a bit behind.  So, today I ask the Runes what I need to accomplish this task.  This is what they said.

Isa, the Rune of Standstill or Ice.  I’m not sure I like this overview on first sight, but I can accept what it represents, because it doesn’t mean that nothing is happening.  Instead, it can be a sign of caution or it can indicate, as the idea of ice brings to my mind, a sense of calmness or, instead of a standstill, stillness.  Of course, if I am traveling an icy path and must be cautious as I traverse it, the only way to succeed is to submit to it, give in and realize that this is the way I have to go.  Now I know I must find time to do this.  To be fair, this is true.  If my time were all my own, I would spend it writing.

No situation is without its challenges and my challenge in finding time is Ehwaz, the Rune of Movement and the Horse.  The theme of a journey continues with this Rune, likening to a close relationship such as that between a rider and her horse.  Ehwaz signifies things such as travel for pleasure and a new attitude about life.  In many ways, as I shift more toward writing as a career and not just a hobby, the journey does become more pleasurable and, with that, my attitude improves.  If I am the rider and my writing is the horse, then my challenge is to guide the horse where I want it to take me both within the story I am telling and in my career as a professional “rider”.

It seems as though my action has been established for me in the two previous Runes – I am on an icy path and I must guide the horse over it carefully to make sure I get where I want and need to be.  It is probably precisely because I think I have it all figured out that the Runes bestowed Mannaz, the Rune of the Self, Humanness on me.  What does this mean?  Every journey we undertake begins with the self.  As humans, we all possess strengths and weaknesses.  We are wise to inventory those aspects of ourselves before climbing into the saddle.  Therefore, while my path may be clear and I know I am in charge of reaching the destination I have determined, the only way I will accomplish this journey is by facing who I am, good and bad as I start out on this path.

Isn't it interesting that I asked the Runes about completing a single task and they presented it as a step toward something much more satisfying than finishing a project. NaNoWriMo may be only a month long challenge, but it is one of the important stops on my path to a career as a writer or rider if you prefer.  Giddy-up!