Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Tonight, as I drink my herbal tea listen to Lee Morgan's The Sidewinder, I read the poem HOWL by Allen Ginsberg. As many times as I have read bits of it, I have never read it all the way through. That all changed tonight. After reading HOWL and other poems in the small black and white book from City Lights Bookstore, my mind is buzzing. Buzzing of exactly what, I still don't know, but man, is it ever buzzing.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Since recently studying Cha Do, or The Way of Tea, I decided to create my own Tea Ceremony. Tonight was the first night in which I performed the ceremony for myself and a dear friend. I used Le Palais Des Thes' Long Jing, or Dragonwell Tea (awesome blend!). Since I adore drinking tea, this was the highest form of respect I could give to it. The ceremony went off well and good tea was enjoyed!
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Years ago, I was introduced to the world of Moleskine; however, I did not appreciate what I have learned about the notebooks since then. I now have the Book Journal, 2011 Daily Planner and the PEANUTS Limited Edition journal in my life and honestly, I am glad to have them. There is something refined in writing in a Moleskine, something that makes one's words feel special when they are placed in the "little black book". Hemingway, one of my literary gods, used them in his lifetime, as did others of a creative nature. This is my homage to the Moleskine, a notebook that I truly do cherish.
Saturday, January 1, 2011
While preparing my second cup of tea for 2011, a nice Hibiscus Herbal Tea with Key Lime from The Republic of Tea, my thoughts go back to my recently read book, The Way of Tea by Aaron Fisher. This is a book for those who take their tea quite seriously, the ones who “live” their tea. Fisher explains to his readers that The Way of Tea, or Cha Do, is not merely dunking a bag into a cup filled with hot water and sipping every so often, but rather employing all senses towards that cup while being in the present moment: to be of the Tao. In the beginning of the book, he tells of the history of tea, of how it was first used for medicinal purposes then later used by tea sages or “cloudwalkers” in China, people who basically studied the Leaf and its many properties. From there, he explains how camellia sinensis made its way to Japan, the rest of Asia and then to the West thanks to the British. Through the years, tea became more than just leaves in a boiling cup of water; it became a way of life, a source for health and of a still and calm mind. For, if one’s mind is muddied with the problems of the day, how can they enjoy their cup of tea? Better still, how can they prepare tea for themselves and their guests? That is where the Tao comes into focus; a still mind prepares the rest of the body for a singular experience to remind them of the ever-changing present. To be of the Tao is to let go of the Past and to not worry about the uncertain Future. All we can focus on is the Present, for that is what is before us in our cup of tea. When I visited Phoenix, Arizona last year for my birthday, I had the pleasure to take part in a Japanese Tea Ceremony at the Arizona Matsuri, an experience I had wanted to do ever since I began drinking tea. The ceremony was conducted in absolute silence as the viewers watched the young woman prepare tea in quiet confidence. Every move meant something to the pleasure of the tea in whole. When we received our cups of matcha, I followed the instructions on how to receive my cup and drank the grassy and bitter elixir with pleasure and calmness in my heart. I was, in short, experiencing Cha Do. Because of that experience and reading Fisher’s excellent book, I began taking tea seriously and making it a part of my life. With every cup, I enter my inner tearoom and calm my mind. Sometimes it is not easy but when it is done, my cup becomes so much more. The Way of Tea is not an easy idea to do in today’s world of noise and muddied thoughts, but thanks to Fisher, it is possible for all to experience, if we so desire it.
Margot Adler’s book Drawing Down the Moon is not a book to be taken lightly, nor is it a “quick” read. Rather, this book is one of the better “behind the scenes” with regards to the Pagan community in North America. Within these pages, Adler tells in an unbiased and highly informative way the stories, myths, practices and everyday living of those who fall under the Pagan description: Witches and Wiccans, Goddess worshippers, Druids and others. She tells their stories and how their lives are not different than others living in this country, for they too hold down jobs, are married, in relationships or single and pay bills while honouring long ago traditions that continue to this day. These are the ones who listen to Nature and understand the Earth’s needs; they work within their realms and discover that magick is alive and well. Each person interviewed tells of their own discovery of the God and Goddess, or that Nature had a voice, or that the gods of olde still do walk the earth but under a different guise.
While reading this book, I thought of my own path and my own spirituality with the lessons learned along the way. Through the course of my studies, I now have a very open mind. I have learned a great deal from talking to people and in books I have read through the years and accumulated over time, like a quilt made from patches of material. It is not the pieces that are of concern, but merely the end result as to what becomes of them. These people have their own path to follow, different than others but the end is the same: seeking of life’s enrichment and a fuller understanding of the world they live in. Pagans have come to view magick in its many forms as simply applying all senses to a situation and then using said senses to the fullest extent. With so many distractions in the world today, it is hard for a person to simply settle their mind into a place of stillness and calming flow. To the Pagan, understanding that we are a part of Nature and of the Earth while respecting such a connection brings that desired stillness and calm to the body, mind and soul.
One part of the book I found to be interesting was how so many people still think that Pagans are nothing more than devil worshippers, drinking the blood of babies and partaking in ritual human sacrifices. There is a distinct difference between a Pagan and a Satanist; unfortunately, people still place the two groups together as one. Then, there are those who think that Witchcraft/ Wicca is nothing more than people trying to escape from reality, forever living in a fantasy world with no mundane responsibilities. Druids are nothing more than tree hugging hippies; Pagans are lazy good for nothings who claim to love Nature while not being productive citizens. Paganism is nothing more than imagination carried out to an extreme and that the gods never did exist; or, Paganism was nothing more than a fabricated lie created by the Catholic Church so as to ignite the flames of the Inquisition. These thoughts boiled down to – Fear comes from not understanding. To quote the book DUNE, Fear is the mind killer. As with all religions, Paganism does not claim to be THE Path, but a Path. All religions are paths, each in their own way seeking a Truth that is similar to an extent. Drawing Down the Moon shows us a world that lies right under our noses and yet works in synch with all of the other parts that create the Whole. No matter your background, we are all children of the Earth.