Posts tagged #creativity

The Outlaw Court - where magic becomes power

We  magic people all know what it's like to feel downtrodden, misunderstood, and woefully disheartened by the  slog of life in conventional muggle society.

The muggles (DISCLAIMER: no one is truly and permanently a muggle.  Every living being is actually intensely magical - but if  someone is in denial about her magic, then she's functioning as a muggle and there's really no other way to say it, sad as it is)  have about a zillion means of raining on our ecstatic enchanted parades.

I've seen dear friends of mine locked up for weeks in institutions simply for expressing too much raucous joy while in a state of kundalini awakening.

I've also seen  fabulous magic people descend into addiction or depression because they just don't know how to make a sustainable living from their magic gifts in this muggle-dominated world.

I'm not going to sit idly by while the Nothing destroys my people.  I'm committed to bringing magic back to its rightful place at the center of our culture and helping magic people to flourish.

The Nothing =  the conditioned negative feelings and beliefs within all of us fear, self-pity, anxiety, self-doubt, resentment, worry, ignorance  in all its forms -- and the relentlessly boring, violent, ugly, consumerist world that springs up when people put their trust in the Nothing instead of in their magic. The Nothing is also the source of all the Static that slows us down in working on our Things.

In the Outlaw Court we're sparking a large-scale Rebirth of Magic (i.e., a Renaissance - from the French "naissance" meaning "birth" and the prefix "re" meaning "again").  And I'm inviting you to bring your fuel to the Renaissance-ing Fire at the cozy and dangerous outpost I'm founding for magic renegades who have a dear Thing that they want to bring forth into the world.

A Thing = a masterpiece, a business, a project, a calling, a relationship, a comedy troupe, a family, a dog show, a knitting group - could be any or all or none of these or something else.  Magic people just have Things they need to bring forth.  That's how the Nothing gets dissolved and how the Renaissance thrives. Through the Things magic people do.

The Nothing is practically impossible for us each to fight alone.  Many of us magic people have tragically gone crazy or gotten addicted to drugs or other numbing agents in the effort to survive the fight solo.  

Yet together - we can dissolve the power of the Nothing in our own hearts, thereby liberating ourselves and those around us.  Eventually we can reclaim this whole green globe  for the reign of  Magic, Imagination, Hotness, and Love - all while staying sane and thriving in the material realm.

So what exactly is the Outlaw Court?

 

The Outlaw Court is a (virtual, imaginal) ramshackle-yet-strangely-opulent outpost in a primeval forest  presided over by a benevolent-yet-also-unspeakably-wicked fairy queen  (ahem, c'est moi) where  magic people from all over the earth (and some other planets and dimensions too, to be honest) band together around a roaring hearth to outwit the soul-crushing Nothing and make GIANT progress on the projects that matter most to  us.

theoutlawcourt

(image: Court of the Faeries by James Christensen)

It's the place where we take our magic and turn it into power - power to make stuff happen while feeling easeful and grand.

In other words, the Outlaw Court is a  secret Facebook group where you get massive support for your magic and your Thing.  To find out more about the forms in which that support manifests, read on.

Yeah, but what's the vibe like?

The vibe is playful and weird and sexy and intimate. It's very fun and smart and quite intensely wonderful.

The Outlaw Court, unlike it's vast mega-festival of a sister group, The Dreamer's Tantra (7000+ members and counting! all of whom you are certainly welcome to join if you haven't already!) is a limited-membership, private, adults-only (18+) affair dedicated to serious magic, serious business, and serious fun. Seriously.

At the Outlaw Court, you don't need to downplay your strength or your vulnerability at all.

You can show up in  your full radiant regalia or just lay in a pile of misery on the floor.  Either way you'll get love and attention for all the parts of yourself and your dreams that need it.

The Outlaw Court proudly shelters and supports magic people of all stripes and flavors:

  • techno-shamans
  • intuitives
  • empaths
  • music-makers
  • dreamers of dreams
  • psychonauts
  • mad artists
  • tantrikas
  • cyber-punks
  • visionary poets
  • shape-shifters
  • dakinis
  • Taoist sages
  • wild beasts
  • gods
  • goddesses
  • muses
  • courtesans
  • witches
  • warlocks
  • everyone else who is awesome
  • - and obviously! - every sort of fairy

What You Get as a Courtier in the Outlaw Court

 

In 2013 - 2014 Outlaw Courtiers receive:

-  free access to frequent Courtier-led  Conjurings

Conjurings = we Courtiers gather in a Google hangout, review our progress on our Thing, celebrate our advances, brainstorm,  and decide on one action step we'll each complete on our Thing before the next Conjuring.

- free access to weekly Coaching Circles offered by  me (these Coaching Circles will cost more than $25 a pop for non-courtiers).

Coaching Circles = intimate group events wherein I give exquisite attention to individual Courtiers to individually to draw out their deepest desires and alchemize that desire into love and power.

- eligibility for the Magical Monthly Gifting

The Magical Monthly Gifting = each month, it's my good pleasure to choose a different Courtier to gift with a lump sum that I've decided to set aside by earmarking a $3 portion of what comes in from each Courtier's subscription fees.  So for example - when we get up to 1000 Courtiers in the group, the Magical Monthly Gifting I'll be able to award will be $3000.

NOTE: for official purposes, I need to mention that the Magical Monthly Gifting is not a lottery or even a guarantee.  It's just me telling you about something I happen to plan to do with a part of each subscription fee that I receive. The subscription payments, once I receive them, will be legally mine (as in, I'll be taxed on them as income). It just so happens that I like to give, so I plan to give.  And I'm letting you know that.  It could also be that I get taken over by a non-gifting virus and decide not to do the Magical Monthly Gifting at all. Very unlikely, but possible. And that non-gifting, though tragic and lamentable, would be my legal right, because it's my own personal taxed income that I can choose to gift or not gift.  So, just a heads up, folks.

- access to an ever-growing, brilliantly-curated Magic Library of rare books, music, and video resources.

The Magic Library = a page in the Files section of the Outlaw Court secret Facebook group with links to astounding riches to fuel your growth.

- and last but certainly not least: a vibrant, intimate, and loving forum full of magic people from around the world who've been self-selected for their willingness to dissolve the Nothing in themselves and others and bring about the Rebirth of Magic.

What Will Happen in the Outlaw Court

Multidimensional breakthroughs. Explosive revelations. Dissolution of blocks and fears.  The shrinking of the Nothing. The nurturing of businesses and the makings of the monies.  The healing of battle wounds. The births of tantric dragon bodhisattvas. The fulfillment of goals and wishes.  Much rejoicing.

WARNING

 

The Outlaw Court - though very friendly and cozy - is not for everyone.

We're about the pragmatic practice of real-life emotional alchemy and gritty, bloody, sexy,  fierce compassion - and not so so so much about  "love & light!"  and feel-good memes (except, you know, when we are).

This means that the Outlaw Court is best for magic people who are self-responsible adults (18+ only - sorry, kids) and who have a general tantric orientation towards life (i.e., you embrace all phenomenon- including passionate desire and anger and heartbreak as part of your path).

"So how much does this cost?"

 

Pioneer Courtiers who join in the months of October, November and December 2013 will enjoy a subscription rate of just $13 a month, and just so you know -  $3 out of each payment I'll be setting aside to my Magical Monthly Gifting.   The Pioneer Courtiers will continue to enjoy this same $13 per month  subscription rate throughout their stay at the Outlaw Court.

Courtiers who join after 2013 will enjoy a higher subscription rate. 'Cause thems the breaks.

"What if I sign up and then change my mind and want out?"

 

Mind-changing is cool.  Plus, I only want you to be in the Outlaw Court if you really want to be there.  So if you decide it's not for you, send me an email at carolyngraceelliott@gmail.com and I'll cancel your subscription payment for all future months and then take you out of the group and wish you very happy magic travels.   I won't be offering refunds for subscription payments that have already processed, though.  So if you join us, you'll be at least paying for one month's subscription.

"Okay, I'm in. Where do I join?"

Initiation into the Outlaw Court has four steps.  Three of which you do - one of which I do.

Please allow up to 72 hours for the whole process to happen - right now I'm a one-woman show who handles all administrative stuff solo.

NOTE: In addition to being a one-woman show, I'm also a tad absent-minded (kind of like Merlin - so many potions to brew, so little time!).  So if it seems to you like there's a snag in the process or it's taking longer than 72 hours for your add to the group to go through - please don't stress.  Just send me lots of love and another email and / or Facebook message to remind me to add you. Thank you.

1) Click the PayPal "Subscribe" button below and enter your debit, credit card, or PayPal account information.  I'll receive an email verifying your subscription payment.

2) After you enter your payment for subscription, send me an email at carolyngraceelliott@gmail.com with the subject heading "I'm ready for the Outlaw Court."  Include in the email your name on Facebook (very important so I can friend you and add you to the group!).  Also include in the email your answers to the following three questions so that I can introduce you to the group:

  • a) How has magic evidenced itself so far in your life?
  • b) What is your Thing, or what might your Thing be?
  • c) What are your super-powers?

3) Accept my Facebook friend request (very important - this step has to happen in order for me to add you to the group!).  My Facebook friend request should appear for you within 48 hours.  You can also get proactive about it and send me a friend request.  Oooh la la! So exciting! My name on Facebook is Carolyn Elliott.  Same as my actual name.

NOTE: If we're already Facebook friends it's a very good idea to send me a Facebook message and be like "Hey, what's up Carolyn? I subscribed to the Outlaw Court! Yay! Add me to the secret group!"

4) I add you to the group, introduce you to the gang of Courtiers using the answers to the questions you sent me , and the adventure begins!

The Incredibly Alluring and Delicious PayPal Subscribe Button

 

Oooooooooooh.  Isn't it so golden and shiny?

Posted on October 2, 2013 and filed under Uncategorized.

How to Be Creative

There's two of you and only one really knows how to be creative Learning how to be creative readily, consistently, and easily comes from understanding something a little shocking: there's two of you.

Under the general umbrella of "you" there's two personalities, each with their own perceptions and super-powers.  When one is in control, you feel awful.  When the other is at the fore-front, you feel highly delightable and incredibly fun.

The Doubting Self

One of you is your doubting self.  Also known (by me) as "the foul miasma of vast self-rejection" and by enlightened folks like Eckhart Tolle as "the pain body."  You know you're in your doubting self when you feel worried, pre-occupied, rather miserable, hopeless, and disconnected from the people around you.

 

Your doubting self perceives the world as a hostile, competitive, alienating place and talks to you in a voice that's like a cross between Judge Judy and Rush Limbaugh.  She resists everything that happens in your life and the world that isn't up to her standards and walks around feeling rotten and self-righteous.

She's mean, loud, belligerent, judgmental and afraid.  Your doubting self has super-powers of paranoia and despair.  She's widely regarded by much of our society as completely reasonable and normal, even though she's just kind of a jerk.

The Magic Self

The other one of you is your magic self, also known as your genius or your soul or your heart (it's a tricky business, sorting out the difference between "heart" and "soul" although I sure have tried- they're essentially terms for the same energy, with slightly different connotations).

Your magic self sees the world as a loving den of possibility, a place where miracles can happen and where tons of love can be effortlessly given and received.  To her, the world is basically friendly and supportive.   She doesn't feel the need to resist or argue with anything that is.

She intuitively knows what to do to guide you to the best outcomes in your life.  She knows how to solve problems and invent wondrous works of art and practical usefulness.

Your magic self, in other words, has the super-power of creativity in its highest sense - what the Transcendentalist philosophers used to call Imagination (with a capital "I"!) - it's the kind of genius inventiveness that brings stuff into the world which is full of love  and beauty - not just clever nonsense or utility.

The Whole Trick of Creativity

The whole trick of being able to bring forth art that's richly meaningful or practical solutions that work in a deep, holistic way is to learn how to occupy your magic self much more than your doubting self.

That's it.  Your magic self knows what to do. It's just a matter of letting her live through you.

Yet this is a process that can take some time.  I'm perpetually learning it myself.  The thing is, I've gotten way better at it than I used to be.  How much way better? Well, in a year I wrote a novel, a dissertation, a book of poetry, a book on creativity that's soon-to-be-published, launched a business, helped organize a national conference and threw some really rad parties.

I don't say that to brag. I want to emphasize that I used to spend all of my time chain-smoking and watching Battlestar Galactica and crying (I have multiple witnesses to attest to this, also known as my former room mates). I'm wanting to emphasize that it's possible to becoming astoundingly productive when you start living more in your magic self.

A Sneaky Way to Embody Your Magic Self: Drinking Elixirs

Try this when you're feeling sorely miserable and need to switch gears:

1. Make yourself a cup of tea or coffee.  Make sure it's nice and hot!

2. Hold the mug in your hands.  Watch the steam rise from the cup.

3. Quietly dub the liquid in your cup with a highly improbable, poetical name: "You, coffee, are now the molten lava at the center of the earth." Or, "You, chamomile tea, are now the amber blood of angels."

4.  Sip your highly improbable beverage, all the while imagining it taking its poetical effect on your system.  The angel's blood perhaps makes you feel elevated, the molten lava maybe makes you feel hot and invincible.

5. Proceed with what you've got to work on, now buoyed by some strange magic.

Why this works

Look, it's hard to stay miserable while drinking the blood of angels.  This little exercise moves you out of your rut of ugly "reality" and into the realm where your power lays: in play and metaphor and wonder.  We all too often forfeit our inventiveness because the world seems to have been invented already.  But that's just how things stay boring.

Want more?

We'll be doing a lot more to get into our magic selves and get seriously creative and productive at the Honeybutter House for Wayward Geniuses happening in Pittsburgh in November 2012.  If you're a wayward genius and you want to find out more, you should email me about it now: sweetsongofjoy@gmail.com.

 

Love,

Carolyn

 

Posted on September 23, 2012 and filed under Creativity.

Your deepest gifts aren't unique (and why that's great)

There's probably a finite number of ways that the divine expresses through us human beings.  I can think of maybe a dozen distinct types of gifts of spirit that I've received in my life from hundreds of people. Flavors of Spiritual Gifts I've Received in My Life

  1. Rich recognition and acceptance of my true self, with no judgment.
  2. Absurd, delightful humor that dissolves all self-seriousness and self-righteousness.
  3. A stunning glimpse of the magic underlying the "ordinary" world.
  4. Healing and soothing of unbalanced, unhappy energy or physical injury.
  5. Absorption into narrative or drama that creates a heightened sense of significance.
  6. Playfulness so free and riotous that it breaks through the curmudgeon in me and gets me to play, too.
  7. A deep, compassionate acknowledgement of my past struggles combined with a persuasive optimism for my future.
  8. Relaxing hospitality that makes me feel warmly welcomed and nourished.
  9. Visions of completely bizarre and fantastic other-worlds.
  10. A profound faith in my gifts plus a willingness to support me.
  11. Leadership that guides me to a great destination without ever underestimating or falsifying the challenge of the journey.
  12. A clear-sighted perception of truth blended with an air of being totally non-impressed by my bullshit.

Multiple expressions of fundamental tastes

These spiritual gifts are what people have given to me through their presence and through their art.  Give or take some.

These are the basic flavors of spiritual gifts - like chocolate, mint, coffee, cumin, vanilla, green tea, red bean, strawberry, cinnamon.  There's a finite number of very distinct flavors.

Of course, each flavor has its own unique manifestations.  There's Madagascar vanilla and Mexican vanilla.  Those subtle differences are lovely.  But when you taste either one, you know you're tasting vanilla.

And of course, you can combine flavors.  Mix cinnamon into your coffee and strawberry into your chocolate.  And that's fun.  But it's still the same basic flavors.

The point

I'm making a point of this because sometimes I get really bummed when I notice that someone else is beautifully manifesting a spiritual gift flavor that I like to think of as my spiritual gift.

What the crazy says

This line of crazy goes something like this: "Look at that hussy over there, wantonly accepting and honoring people's true selves and helping them to express their love in the world! How dare she! Who does she think she is?! Doesn't she know that's my gig?"

This line of crazy is exacerbated by folks who like to emphasize the uniqueness of our individual gifts.  If I catch someone else doing what I most delight in doing - then I don't feel so unique and I tend to devalue myself.

Just for today...

Today I'm practicing being cool with the fact that I'm not the only manifestation of cinnamon to walk on this earth.  Er, you know what I mean.  I'm not the only person in the world who radiates the spiritual gift of upliftment and inspiration.  And thank fucking god, because that would be exhausting.

Today I'd like to just focus on being the most delicious bite of cinnamon that I can be, while being totally cool with the cinnamon-power of others.

How about you?

What's the basic flavor of spiritual gift that you tend to radiate?  What do you taste like? How do you feel when you notice other people dishing out a similar tastiness? I'd love for you to tell me in the comments.

 

 

 

Posted on September 20, 2012 and filed under Creativity.

What Are Dreams

We all must wonder sometimes: what are dreams? Are they just weird little synaptic hiccups? Or something vaster and stranger?

Theories abound about what dreams are.  Scientists only have a very basic grasp: they know that when humans dream, certain perceptual areas of the brain light up with electrical activity.  This knowledge doesn't really solve any mysteries for us.

I want to offer that what we experience as dreams are actually worlds similar to our waking world in some regards.  How can that be? you might wonder.  Our waking world is so firm and solid - there's the ground beneath our feet, the hours that drag out through the day while we're at work, our stable identities and our stable friends.  Meanwhile, in dreams things shift and alter constantly.

Dreams Are Energy

It can be because our waking world, just like the worlds we experience in our dreams at night, is only energy interpreted by our minds and senses into a specific configuration that seems very stable.  Both dreams and the waking world are just streams of energy.  Though the energy of our waking world certainly appears quite stable compared to that of our dream worlds, it's actually not rock solid.  Far from it - everything we experience as matter is made up of tiny particles moving very rapidly through space.

And consider this: do you remember exactly what you ate for breakfast two mornings ago?  And don't your friends always recall stories about your exploits together rather differently than you do?  And haven't you often perceived things in a certain way that you later learned to be false or incomplete?  I ask these questions only to point out that there's many facets of our reality that are subject to shift.  Memory is especially vulnerable, but even present-moment happenings can be experienced very differently by various subjects.

The Dream Body

Just as we have a physical body with physical senses, we also have a dreaming body with dream senses. The sense organs of the dreaming body correspond to the chakras, or energy centers, of the body. One of the reasons why the worlds we experience in our night-time dreams don't seem as stable as our waking world is that our dreaming senses are not as highly developed as our physical senses.  Many of us have undergone a very thorough education in navigating the physical world via our physical senses (remember your parents telling you to always "look out" for dangerous things and to always "listen" to them? they were drawing attention to and training your senses as they did that) and a very poor or nonexistent education in navigating the dream world via our dream senses (did your parents or teachers ever give you dreaming advice other than suggesting that you have "sweet dreams"?)  In many other cultures in other times, the cultivation of the dream senses and the navigation of the dream world was considered just as important (if not more so) than the cultivation of the physical senses and the navigation of the waking world.

How could navigation of dream worlds possibly be more important than navigation of waking worlds?  Don't we need to know how to get around in the waking world in order to survive? Absolutely, yes.  And in that sense the waking world has a fundamental importance.  But our present society wrongly values the navigation of the waking world so much more highly than that of the dreaming world that we actually end up having a lopsided and less happy existence.   "Man cannot live on bread alone" is an old proverb.  It means that human beings are more-than-physical creatures who need more-than-physical nurturance.  It's not enough to just survive.  We need to flourish at the level of soul, of spirit.  And the dreaming experience is so crucial because that experience is actually where the soul can find its nourishment.

If the human physical form is nourished by food, water, and oxygen, the human soul is nourished by the symbols given to us in our dreams.  Just like we have to gather food and water and oxygen in order to survive, we have to gather and assimilate our dream symbols in order to flourish.  This is something that goes almost entirely neglected in our society because the prevailing paradigm doesn't like to recognize that there's a vast source of power beyond any worldly or material power. The capitalist system that we dwell in masterfully controls material resources and material power.  It has, however, no such monopoly on immaterial power.  The only way that capitalism can perpetuate itself is by having its institutions teach us to deny, ignore, minimize and otherwise neglect the vast power of insight and creation that comes to us each night through our dreams.

Revolutionary Dreaming

By choosing to meditate, keep a dream journal and practice dream interpretation, we begin to cultivate our dream body and our dream senses.  We grow closer to integrating the energy streams of dreams with the energy stream of our waking world.  As we achieve that integration, life within our waking world becomes more intuitive and more in harmony with our deep being.  This occurs because most of us mistake who we are: we think we're our waking egos, a little separate "I" with a personal history of grievances and desires, longings and fears.  In a way, this is correct.  We are our egos. But we are also much more.  We are souls, and our waking ego is just one little part of the whole soul that we are.  The work of being alive is to come to know ourselves as complete, integrated souls.  As we do this work we shed our pettiness and selfishness and become aware of our connection to the larger forces at work in the universe.

As we become fully integrated (Keats liked to say "made") souls, we are more and more capable of working for the good of everyone rather than just for the good of our individual egos.  We're of greater service to others; we generate less drama in our lives; we experience greater joy.  We don't need to look to the external world for validation through status, power, physical gratification and material wealth.  In short, we become free of the snares of greed that tie us into capitalism.  Instead, we become the sovereigns of our own selves, capable of answering directly to the source of everything that exists.

image: [zbigphotography]

Alan Moore is a world-class sorcerer worth studying, and so is your dreaming mind...

Dear Wonder, Here are the gems I dug up a few weeks ago. If you'd like my discoveries fresh in your inbox, sign up here.

THE GEMS

 The Mindscape of Alan Moore - free online documentary 

 

I've enjoyed Alan Moore's amazing graphic novels for a long time, but it wasn't until just the other day that a friend posted an interview with him on facebook that I saw his wild-man visage and heard his intense working-class British accent. Just watching Alan Moore speak feels like its own graphic adventure. This documentary gives ample opportunity to listen to Moore explain himself and his creative ethos in-depth. Which is grand. Here's a bit of Moore's dark, dry humor on his own career trajectory: "I found myself working at a skinning yard and tannery, at the bottom of Bedford road in North Hampton, which was probably the bleakest place I've ever been in my life, waking up at seven in the morning and dragging huge heavy dripping sheep skins over vats of urine, water, blood, excrement....I was expelled from that job for smoking dope in the bathroom.... the next job I could get was that of a toilet-cleaner at a hotel... it more or less went down hill from there until I finally ended up as a comics writer."

Stephen LeBerge's Lucidity Institute

 

I've been contemplating making Love & Anarchy more about dreams and dreaming-- and in my researches I came across Stephen LeBerge's wonderful resource. LeBerge is one of the pioneering researchers into lucid dreaming, and has published a number of classic books on the subject. The Lucidity Institute page features excerpts from the books and pretty much everything one could need to get started with becoming conscious within one's dreams.

Ithaca - Michael Guy Bowman (free streaming album)

My weekly stroll around bandcamp uncovered the quirky, upbeat and delightful pop genius of Michael Guy Bowman. Listening to this a lot like listening to early 90s Top 40, with all the earnest weirdness of that genre underscored and inflated. Bowman has done for the 90s what the Modern Lovers did for the 50s -- revved it up again with fresh, bouncy enthusiasm and unironic joy.

UPDATES

I interviewed one of my favorite folks, Matthew Stillman, about creativity and living in the gift. Part one of that interview is available now.

Abigail Amalton offered a beautiful guest post on Art, Love and Transmutation.

I've been thrilled to have coaching sessions with amazing folks all over the world. After one session, a client told me that she felt she'd had a bigger shift from talking to me for 45 minutes than she would have from years of therapy. So, that was rad. Wanting your own breakthrough? Why not schedule your own session with me today?

Art, Love and Transmutation - A guest post by Abigail Amalton

Art is about love. It is love, pure love.

 

I can't even begin to describe what music has done for me. How can an art form, independent of the flaws of its creators, catalyze such deep healing and transformation? How can somebody else's stories lead me back to myself, deeper into my own bliss? The deeper I move into the subjective, the more often I hit the universal. Do we all ultimately share the same core?

Art is love. And love is transcendent, transformative. Love has no opposite. Love is the step beyond dualist thinking. Dualism dissolves completely in the heat and light of pure love. This wonderful step beyond is not even thought nor is it just feeling - it's pure being. Love is being absorbed in the flow: the conscious observer-participant co-creating the universe, the drop of water in the endless ocean of existence. It isn't merely an emotion, not merely a state of mind - love is all-encompassing being. It is a subtle awareness of the life force that flows through us - through bone and bloody capillary, through neural networks and the serpentine energetic currents in our spines.

Love is the knowing that this life force is one and the same with what moves stars to begin their lives in misty stellar nurseries, light years away. It is the possibility that everything in this universe, every last little organism, every drop of blood is alive - purely. And simply waiting for us to realize this.

Love is a new way of being on this planet. It revolutionizes each individual who decides to make it a way of life, changing her so that she may never go back, never settle for anything less than pure joy. So what do lovers do? We live for love. We show, through our lives, that it can be done. That we can partake in this cosmic dance with joy - that this is our birthright. Love is the activation of our potential for continued and unending bliss.

Love transmutes.

 

It is the knowing that in spite of pain, we live. Pain, however deep, helps us remember that we are embodied and interconnected. When we reflect on our pain, then we remember that we are ensouled. As long as you love, you'll never lose your soul. So, why continue to hurt? Catalyze the transformation with a deliberate joy in every moment of this ecstatic existence. Push for it. Let it open you up. Let joyfulness be a breaking open of the calcified shell of the ego. Decide you'll never live in the egoic mode again - and when you do, laugh at it.

Live this way and let life have its way with you, move through you - let spirit sense matter in whatever way it will, for the purpose of love. Live this way and you won't have to meet with death to finally live - because you will no longer unconsciously push yourself further and further to hurt simply to feel alive.

Gather with other souls in love and explore collaborative ecstasy. Collaborative beauty. Explorations like these are how the planet will begin again, how we can jumpstart conscious evolution. Let go of the patterns we only cling to out of habit and replace them only with love.

Love is how we will reach the stars sooner than we think.

Abigail Amalton is an amazing artist who lives and creates in New York City.  Check her out over at The Silent Infinite!

5 Ways NaNoWriMo Can Save Your Soul

My Own NaNo Experience

Even though NanoWrimo has been happening for years, very few of my astute friends seem to know about it.  So I'll just lay it out: it's National Novel Writing Month (i.e., November) an internet happening wherein people from all over the world get together on nanowrimo.org and do their best to bang out 50,000 words (about 150 pages) in 30 days.

I've been meaning to participate for years but kept putting it off. I was slogging through a (rather ill-fated) dissertation, which I told myself was a practical pursuit.  So I put my novelling dreams on the back-burner.  Well, screw that.

Now that I've decided I shall never touch my dissertation again and have invited the halls of academe to collectively kiss my ass, I'm having the time of my life with writing.  I started two weeks late (I was too wrapped up in Occupy Pittsburgh stuff).  But after bronchitis sidelined me from Occupying, I got down to the nitty gritty.

I still intend to reach the 50,000 word count by November 30, though. And this means that I need to write 3000 words a day.  3000 words a day?! Of fiction?! My brain says. I'm so not used to this pace.  But I've done it for the past three days in a row, and it feels great. Better than great.  It feels like being a rock star. Or at least a self-published Kindle star.  Which turns out to feel pretty damn bangin', also.

I'm up to 9,205 words. What am I writing? That's a great question.  I'm not exactly sure.  I set out to write metaphysical / visionary fiction a la The Celestine Prophecy, but yesterday while writing it occurred to me that what I'm doing is a lot more like Tom Robbin's Still-life with Woodpecker than anything overtly "spiritual" or "enlightening."  In other words, my book is absurdist and extreme and philosophical and rather funny-- which I am totally okay with.  I actually feel like I've met myself again.  You see, I usually go through life thinking that I'm not especially hilarious.  Because I'm not really a witty-quips kind of girl.  But I did write two-prize winning comedy plays back in my playwrighting era.  And as it turns out, my knack is for funny situations. Wow, it feels great to remember that.

I feel so great after my three days of NaNo'ing, that I decided to suggest ways that doing it might save your soul, too (it's not too late to jump on board! or to get psyched for next year!):

5 Ways NaNoWriMo Can Save Your Soul

1) It can reconnect you to all those bizarre, arcane interests that you've been shoving off to the side.  How does this happen? Well, you're trying hard to meet your word quota for the day while making a main character interesting, so you assign him the first job-description that pops into your head: "Pittsburgh's only successful alchemist" and then you get to spend a half hour on wikipedia reading up on the lost art of turning lead into gold.

2) It can bring you together with others! And by this I mean, NaNoWriMo gives you something to talk about on Twitter. - I don't know about you, but oftentimes I feel stumped for things to say to the Twitterverse.  In my life last year, back when I was a humble private citizen instead of the attention-whoring authoress I am today, this would not have concerned me.  But the importance of getting down with social media in order to spread the word about my bad self has been so drummed into me that now I actually feel guilty if I go days with out tweeting.  My real life friends think that this is a pathology specific to me, but I know you tweeps out there in interweb lands dig what I mean. Well, the rad thing about NaNo is that I can just search for the #nanowrimo tag and instantly find lots of other brilliant creatures to commiserate and celebrate with.

3) It gives you something to do on dreary, ugly, cloudy, yucky November days.  Today, my whole dreary day was made better just by reading Tom Robbin's irreverent novelling advice in the NaNoWriMo pep talk acrhives: "A topic is necessary, of course; a theme, a general sense of the nexus of effects you’d like your narrative to ultimately produce. Beyond that, you simply pack your imagination, your sense of humor, a character or two, and your personal world view into a little canoe, push it out onto the vast dark river, and see where the currents take you. And should you ever think you hear the sound of dangerous rapids around the next bend, hey, hang on, tighten your focus, and keep paddling—because now you’re really writing, baby! This is the best part."

4) It lets you feel like a kid again.  -- The breakneck speed of NaNo'ing doesn't leave much room for literary pretensions to grip you.  You just gotta go go go, baby. And that turns out to be incredibly freeing and way more fun than trying to write The Great American Novel.  In fact, please never try to write The Great American Novel. It's a pretty sure fire-way to end up crazed in a Hollywood dive or with a shotgun in your mouth

5) The sense of accomplishment can re-affirm your belief in yourself. - If you're anything like me, you put off great artistic aspirations because-- well, they're so great that they just seem too hard.  This means that you never get started. NaNoWriMo is so beautiful because it heavily lowers the bar. Not only do you not have to write the Great American Novel, you can just write "something that doesn't make you want to throw up," as NaNo founder Chris Baty likes to put it in his excellent and encouraging guide, No Plot, No Problem.

The poetics of occupation: pressing reasons we need to "occupy" our own cities

The Poetics of Occupation

I've been thrilled and privileged to participate in the Occupy movement via Occupy Pittsburgh. While sitting out in the cold and rain, I got to having some deep thoughts about the poetics of the occupation and I figured I'd share them here with you.

 

 

The term "occupy" has obvious military connotations.  The poetic use of the term as a metaphor to describe a peaceful protest demands some reflection.

 

Currently, the U.S. military is just winding down a massive, costly and controversial occupation of Iraq. This occupation of Iraq is the  prominent cultural back drop in the minds of most Americans when we hear the term "occupy." "Occupy" in this sense suggests going on to foreign soil where we're not particularly wanted or welcome and ensuring that our interests are protected there.

 

Thus, the notion that we would need to Occupy Wall Street, for example, frames "Wall Street" as a kind of hostile foreign nation, a place where we need to send "troops" (of peaceful protesters) in order to control the situation there and to protect our interests.

 

But Wall Street IS American soil, right? Why should we feel we need to "occupy" it?

 

How Wall Street Made Itself a Foreign Land: Usury

The answer to this, I believe, lies in the spiritual dimension of our financial institutions and failing economy. The spiritual malaise of Wall Street, the banking industry, and the corporations has created a sense of alienation and violation so potent that those institutions can no longer be perceived by Americans as even belonging to their country. There's a sense of these institutions and corporations as alien and hostile.  This sense is not imaginary or paranoid.  It's completely correct, and it has its root in the alienating and hostile actions of those institutions towards the American people.

 

In order to make my point clear, I need to explain a few rather arcane (but fascinating!) points which I first learned from Lewis Hyde's brilliant book, The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World.

 

To begin, the banking industry's practice of usury is a practice that was recognized in spiritual traditions throughout the ancient world as an act which promoted division, suspicion, and alienation within a community. I think we need to reconsider ancient and indigenous attitudes towards usury in order to understand the extent to the unity and spiritual virtue of the United States has been violated by Wall Street.

 

Today, "usury" means "lending at unbearably high interest." In the ancient world, usury just meant charging any interest at all on a loan.

 

Lending at interest itself is now widely accepted and taken for granted as perfectly acceptable and normal.  Loan-sharking, or lending at really high and outrageous interest, is the only stuff that raises eyebrows now.  Loan-sharking on the part of the banks is a large part of what created the sub-prime mortgage crisis.

 

We can keep in mind that the banks have practiced the intense form of usury-as-loan-sharking and that this practice has led to the current widespread poverty and outrage, but in order to understand the severity of loan-sharking, I want to start by discussing the problematic spiritual dimensions of usury, period.

 

In order to understand why usury (which is now so widely accepted) would be seen as a spiritual problem, we first need to understand a little bit about the way gifts work.

 

The Increase of the Gift

An interest-free loan is a form of a gift. For example: if I give you an interest-free loan of $1000 dollars, and you are able to use that loan to invest in a business which then makes you money. A year later, you return to me $1000, but you've still been able to create an "increase" out of the loan that I gave you, an increase that you wouldn't have been able to enjoy if I hadn't loaned you the $1000 to begin with.  So the increase that you make on account of me loaning you $1000 is a kind of gift from me to you.  Theoretically, if I had held on to my $1000 and not given it to you, I could have used the $1000 to invest and thereby enjoyed the increase myself.

 

Gifts are really cool because they create relationships of community and connection.  There's something magical and in harmony with the natural growth and decay of nature in the increase that properly treated gifts can create.

 

In indigenous cultures which maintained gift economies, it was always considered imperative that the increase generated by a gift  be passed on or used up, and never hoarded or used as capital itself. This passing-on or "paying it forward" was thought to be necessary in order to keep the "spirit of the gift" moving. So, for example, if you were able to make $2000 out of the $1000 interest-free loan I had given you, it would be good form for you to spend that $2000 on necessities for you and your family or to throw a big party and share the wealth. It would be very bad form for you to keep that $2000 to invest as capital or to hoard in savings.

 

The idea behind this is that gifts in a community should be kept in circulation and not used to unduly benefit or to create an unfair advantage for any one individual. When gifts are hoarded or used to create only private benefit, the spirit of the gift dies and the nihilism of separation, meaninglessness and isolation arises. This nihilism of separation creates a general atmosphere of cruelty. It's the atmosphere we're living in now.  It's the atmosphere that the Occupy movement has arisen to protest.

 

The Spirit of the Gift

We can think of the "spirit of the gift" as a sense of gratitude that puts human beings in an attitude of reverence and love for each other, nature, and divinity.  When gifts are kept moving and circulating, no one person has giant storehouses of money or goods to use as "security." The "security" and "prosperity" of an individual is instead intimately tied to the security and prosperity of the community, and thus to relationships of good will, love, and interdependency. Furthermore, a person who is living in the spirit of the gift, rather than seeking to extract and hoard the riches of the earth in warehouses instead respectfully fosters and tends for the earth so as to continue to enjoy the bounty of her gifts in a sustainable fashion.

 

Living in the spirit of the gift is an act of faith.  It involves a surrender of control.  This surrender entails two spiritual attitudes that are largely unknown to our control-obsessed modern world: 1) A general trust that the community / nature / divinity will continue to provide and 2) A graceful willingness to accept death and suffering in the event that the community / nature / divinity does not provide.

 

The act of living in the spirit of the gift is something which my favorite poet and all-around-awesome dude, Jesus, pointed to many times, perhaps most memorably in his Sermon on the Mount, when he suggested that everyone live "like the lilies of the field."  The lilies of the field, J.C. pointed out, don't do any work or save for rainy days, and yet they're gorgeous and happy. The lilies live in the spirit of the gift, accepting the nourishment of the sun and earth and giving forth radiant beauty.  Then they gracefully die when it gets cold and they don't whine about it. They don't control or hoard anything.

 

The Nihilism of Usury and the Control Freaks of Wall Street

Usury, in essence, is an expression of fear and clinging to material existence.  It's a refusal to surrender control. Usury hears about the notion of living like the lilies of the field and says "screw that!"

 

Usury seeks to maintain control over the increase generated by a gift.  It thus kills the spirit of the gift and creates disconnection.

 

When I give you that $1000 interest-free loan, I'm letting go of my say over that money. I'm letting you "use" it.  In turn, in our little gift society, I trust that you will put your "use" of the gift (the increase you accrue from investing it) to benefit all of us.  But I'm trusting. I've surrendered control of the "use" of the gift.  Through my trust, I'm making space for the spirit of the gift to live and breathe.

 

When I give you a $1000 dollar loan with 20% interest, I'm not letting go of my say over that money. I'm not trusting that you will use the increase of the gift to ultimately benefit our community and thus me. I'm demanding that you put the increase that you generate through your "use" of the gift back in my pocket. Thus I am controlling the "use-stuff" or "use-ury" or of the gift. In my control, I don't trust you and I certainly don't love you.

 

Usury = commerce between foreigners

Lewis Hyde explains:

 To ask for interest on loaned wealth is to reckon, articulate, and charge its increase.  The idea of usury therefore appears when spiritual, moral, and economic life begins to be separated from one another, probably at the time when foreign trade, exchange with strangers, begins. As we saw in an earlier chapter, wherever property circulates as a gift, the increase that accompanies that circulation is simultaneously material, social, and spiritual; where wealth moves as a gift, any increase in material wealth is automatically accompanied by the increased conviviality of the group and the strengthening of the hau, the spirit of the gift.  But when foreign trade begins, the tendency is to differentiate the material increase from the social and spiritual increase, and a commercial language appears to articulate the difference.  When exchange no longer connects one person to another, when the spirit of the gift is absent, then increase does not appear between gift partners, usury appears between debtors and creditors. (144-145 The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World)

 

The key point that Hyde makes here is that usury begins when foreign trade begins.  It's an economic relationship forged between groups of people who have no necessary bonds to each other communally or spiritually and who do not trust each other.  It's a relationship of outsider to outsider.

 

Think about this: usury now colors every exchange in our financial institutions.  The banks lend to us, the people, at interest-- and in the case of the sub-prime mortgage crisis at insanely high, loan-sharking interest.  They might call themselves things like "Bank of America" but to them, we, their debtors, are obviously foreigners.

 

The Occupy Movement as a Gift Society

Therefore, it makes perfect sense that the movement against the banks, against our financial institutions and corrupt government and corporations calls itself an "Occupation" and takes the form of physical encampments.

 

We are occupying Wall Street and occupying symbolic squares and parks in our hometowns because the banks have made themselves foreigners to us through their usury.  We have no fellow-feeling and good-will for them because we have no trace of a gift relationship with them. They've destroyed the spirit of the gift through their rapacious lust to control and their absolute unwillingness to trust.

 

They've treated us, the people, their fellow citizens, like strangers.

 

To speak in biblical terms, our financial institutions have committed grave sins and the consequences of those sins are alienation and disunity.

 

It is absolutely no accident that the Occupy encampments in NYC and throughout the world are operating as communal gift economies with free healthcare (in the form of medic tents), free education (in the form of teach-ins, speakers, and lending libraries), free food, free shelter (in the form of donated tents, clothing, sleeping bags, etc.), and free entertainment (as people share their musical and artistic skills).

 

The Occupy encampments are modeling the living power of the spirit of the gift which the banks, corporations, and corrupt government of the United States had sought to destroy through usury, among other means.

 

Debts create suspicion, scarcity, distrust and death.  Gifts create love, abundance, trust and life.

 

Why doesn't Occupy need to articulate demands?

In the Occupy movement, the spirit of the gift is rising up and roaring through the hearts and minds of people throughout the world. This is what makes it enormously powerful and wonderful.

 

This is why it doesn't need to "articulate demands." The demand of the movement is implicit in its very existence.  The medium is the message.  Gifts, not debts. Consensus, not tyranny. Community, not commodity. The time has come. The spirit will prevail.

 

Check out this tour of the gift community at the Occupy Pittsburgh encampment, given by yours truly:

 

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTMvFWhjNq8

 

Love!

Carolyn

Guest post!

 

Dear fabulous writer,

 

Awesome Your Life gets 1,500 new readers a month! Whoah! I want to spread the happy, so I've been thinking that I'd love to start publishing great guest posts here on Awesome Your Life.

 

My readers are interested in personal and societal evolution and in the "dreamy side of life"-- so any thoughtful essays / how-to's that you've got that has to do with dreams, higher consciousness, astrology, myth, theater, ritual, neo-shamanism, tantra, positive thinking, psychic phenomenon, self-improvement, societal change, holistic health, online entrepreneurship, gift economy, tarot, creativity, etc. would be totally welcome.  It's fine with me if the article has already appeared on your own blog. I'm all for syndication.

 

Please go ahead and send me your post a long with a brief bio in the body of an email to sweetsongofjoy at gmail dot com. Let the piece be between 500 - 1000 words. I'll get back to you promptly to let you know if your post will be a perfect fit.

 

Love! Carolyn

An Open Love Letter to Creative and Brilliant Men

Dear Creative and Brilliant Men, I'm lucky to hang out with you all the time-- at parties, at meetings, at home (that's you, my wondrous partner).  I see you doing your thing out in the world-- researching, performing, building, teaching-- and I notice the skepticism and shaming you endure from society in general, from family, and from the women in your life (sometimes even me).

We tell you to stop playing around, do something serious, bring in the cold hard cash. ("Why don't you do right, like some other men do?")

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2f40eQcYXk

("Why don't you get outta here and bring me some money too?")

Please don't listen.  Please be you.  Please make and do insane stuff that dazzles me.

I look around and I notice that a lot of the creative recovery material out there is geared toward women and focussed on fostering the divine feminine.  Of course that's incredibly important-- but I just want to say that my divine femininity needs your divine masculinity in its full force-- whether you're my friend, my lover, or just some guy whose show I go see.

I need you to be out there and in here with me relentlessly playing, pushing the edges, stalking strange prey.  I need you to be cheeky, cocky, and totally out of my control.

Whenever you do this-- whenever you inhabit the glory of your playful masculine nature with no apologies and no shame (something that's very hard to do in an age where masculinity is constantly caricatured as base violence and lust) you invite me into a dance and give me freedom to deeply embody my femininity. I can relax. I can surrender.  I don't have to be managing everything.  Your strength and verve can make me forget myself-- and in doing this, put me in touch with the well of pleasure at the core of my being.

But this isn't always clear in the moment. Sometimes I resist. I might give you a tight-lipped smile and shake my head in disapproval.  I might nag you about making more money. I might not look like I'm totally thrilled when you spend the weekend on an esoteric research project instead of taking me out.  I could act like I don't care that you've got mad skills when it comes to painting, rapping, laying labyrinths or making robots.  Like I'm not impressed. Like I'm not delighted.

But the thing is-- I am, totally.  And whenever I don't show it it's only because I'm stuck in my own nonsense fear and grumpy neuter adultness.  Be patient; keep burning; keep flashing.  Your strength and commitment to your purpose is irresistible, intoxicating, liberating.  It opens me, melts me, kills the dead parts of me.  And leaves me so glad that you're my friend, my lover, or the dude who's show I'm seeing. Because fuck knows I need to be opened, melted, killed-- again and again. (The ladies of Heart know what I'm talkin' about).

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXOO7QVHgXs

("He's a magic man, mama!")

So if you're feeling tired or discouraged or bedraggled today please don't give up. Don't give in to the pressure to be normal. Don't stop. Keep on. Please push harder and venture more wildly-- for my sake and for that of all the women you love, dear magic man.

Love,

Carolyn

 

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