Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Magician's Paradox: Balancing Power and Enlightenment

Power is the double-edged sword of the magician, the paradox which we continuously suffer for the mastery of our path. One one hand, as one increases in skill and purity one increases their power and the ability to use it for deeper spiritual exploration. On the other hand this power can easily begin to corrupt what one has accomplished, viciously tearing apart any hard-earned progress we may have achieved. If you have studied magic, I can almost guarantee that you have inhaled the luscious scent of this vexatious rose, equally intoxicating, purifying, and devilish. We find ourselves teetering on the edge trying to harness that power yet always risking falling onto its deadly blade . How can we walk the thin line which if crossed successfully will bring with it fulfillment, enlightenment, and joy without falling into the depths that will completely devour us, leaving us as an empty shell, slaves to our lesser selves rather than masters of the elements and of metals? To begin our exploration of this topic lets look at another tradition and one of its key texts, The Yoga Sutras.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is one of the most important and widely studied texts of the Vedic system, which in contemporary time has become more widely known in the West. It discusses and describes the state of yoga (union) and the process one's consciousness goes through to achieve it through the practice of the "eight limbs" of the Yoga system. Most people have only read or studied the first two chapters but the last two are equally as important, albiet wrapped in more mystery than most Westerners are willing to explore. Chapter Three of the Yoga Sutras discusses the subject of the Siddhis, supernatural powers which are attained as a result of one's spiritual progress. These include (but are not limited to) levitation, mastery over the elements, invisibility, divine hearing, the ability to walk through walls, and flying through space. The Yoga Sutras expounds on this topic by saying that these abilities will naturally arise out of the practice of Samayama which is the bringing together of dharana (steady orientation of the mind), dhyana (meditation, effortless awareness at the point of attention), and samadhi (one's awareness appearing as the pure object of meditation, devoid of even the thought of itself). As Samyama becomes firmer, cognition of the subtle strata of the universe becomes more and more lucid. Thus, by bringing ones awareness to these subtle layers of the universe one can gain control and knowledge over them. However, it is through this state of Samyama that the light of fully enlivened consciousness arises, thus making it essential to full enlightenment, although not yet its final state.

Let's look at this state a little more closely. On one hand the person begins to experience the subtle strata of the universe, the underlying fabric of creation. On the other hand the light of fully enlivened consciousness is arising. Here the consciousness begins to illuminate itself, and begins to reflect its own light onto itself. As a result of being in touch with such a subtle layer of existence the yogi may begin to experience Siddhis or supernatural powers. These can occur spontaneously, but as the Yoga Sutras explains one may be able to invoke a particular power such as levitation by bringing one's awareness to that particular layer of the strata. However, at this point the yogi is still not completely free from his ego, and thus this can be a very dangerous state of consciousness. Imagine being able to walk through walls, create fire at a touch, or fly through space? Would you be drawn to explore this further? Even if you told yourself you wouldn't think of yourself as better than another because you have attained this state or allow these powers to feed your ego, can you imagine how easily these powers could become a distraction? Because of this it is warned that they yogi continue to adamantly practice non-attachment, for it is through non-attachment, (even to the idea of non-attachment) that absolute freedom is attained.

Now the magician takes a bit of a different route. Instead of experiencing powers as a result of enlightenment he seeks to gain powers in magic as a way towards enlightenment. He uses his powers to explore deeper levels of purification, to invoke beings of a higher vibration, and to raise his consciousness into higher parts of the Tree of Life. But, the same problem can still arise, this disease of attachment to ego and power. The number of ego-driven people on this path is an often discussed topic...well of course! Most people are not prepared to handle the magical powers that are given to them, which is why the fathers of our traditions always stressed living life most piously when practicing magic. If we look at the yogi, we can see that even he, at this extremely purified state is in danger of much more in danger are we at a lower level?

This doesn't mean that we should stop practicing magic, for this path is holy and effective. But, we must recognize the subtle interplay of power and how it is affecting our consciousness. We also must be strong enough to admit when the intoxicating essence of power is beginning to taint and destroy our lives and our work. Furthermore we must remember that it is not for these powers that we are following this path...but for the enlightenment that comes through following this path of which the powers can be used to help complete our Work. By following the concept of non-attachment we can give ourselves a great step-up in this area. Non-attachment allows us to keep our egos separate from the fruits of our labors, from the special powers we may attain, and from the positions of power we may receive in our groups. In essence non-attachment is an act of humility, the one gift of the spirit which opens the door fully for the grace of the Divine.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Vision Of The Tree

Recently I have been practicing a simple, but very special technique meant to further solidify my being with the Osirian current. It is interesting how the more refined my states of consciousness become...the more simplistic and modest the techniques are that I am called to use. I still take time to preform more complex ritual because each one is special and brings along with it a certain initiatory current. But, it seems like when I am in the refining stages of the current more simplified rituals which focus on bringing me into very deep state of consciousness seem to work best. Here is an example...

The other day when I was practicing this Osirian/Yeheshua based meditation I entered into a very deep state of consciousness and began to have a vision. Part of it must remain with me only, but I was guided to share the second half of it with you. It begins with my re-birth in the form of a seed.

Trapped inside the atmosphere is tenebrous and cramped. I feel as if I am suffocating and my head begins to swim with the urge to break free. I am no longer meant to be here, in this state. I begin pressing on the inside of the shell trying to break free, trying to extend my legs and arms outward from the fetal position. Suddenly a crack! and light bursts through flooding my eyes with blindness. Before I can even get my bearings I begin to feel my body expanding outwards, my arms taking the form of shoots, the verdigris fibers stinging my nose with a fresh and equally bitter tang. My legs begin to endure taking on the form of roots, the stretching and expanding uncomfortable my muscles forming twisted caverns beneath the ground. Growing up, out, down my consciousness becomes crystal clear, shooting out unto the ends of the universe. My body becomes hard and flexible, giving it both stability and the ability for energy to flow through my veins and out to the furthest extension of my being. My arms begin to stretch out to the sides and up forming branches and leaves. Pores patterning themselves throughout the leaves calling forth great breaths of Light, for it is not air that they are breathing but the source of brightness above which is shining down. Up ahead is a glorious Light sources raining its brilliance down upon me. It feeds and nourishes me, and every inch of my body strives to taste it through my leaves, my bark, and my fingertips which are now full branches. Birds begin to settle into my arms, making nests, feeding and living off the Light, protected by me, creating a perfect symbiotic and unified relationship. As I look down I see my roots, the furthest away from the Light, covered in a ubiquitous darkness. I begin to understand how even though all is created from one source, and feeds off the Light, their life experience can be so different. One part living far away from the Light, another so close...yet still one and the same. I witness as a branch begins to bring forth luscious fruits...candy red apples. Apples start to spring up throughout the entire tree, and I begin to think about how we are all connected, although living in our own microcosm. Then I see one apple fall, only one, the others stably affixed to the tree and it rolls unsteadily on the ground. Suddenly a hand explodes from the earth underneath and grabbing fervently at the apple it disappears. Confused, I turn to listen to myself...and hear the message. Everyone is given the opportunity to receive the fruits of the Divine..but if one should abuse this gift, or turn away from it, they shall be severed from the tree and returned to the earth.

Your comments will be warmly welcomed :)

Nosce Te Ipsum
Soror FSO

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Updates on Golden Dawn Interviews

I have final confirmation of upcoming interviews with Robert Zink, Tabitha Cicero, and everyone's fave GD blogger Dean Wilson. I hope to have the next interview up this week. Thanks for all the positive feedback. I have been enjoying doing and posting them as much as you all have been enjoying reading them :) To privately contact me with questions or comments please e-mail me at you can also tweet me at werisetogether Also, I came across a wonderful portrait done by a fellow blogger on Moina Mathers. If you have any Golden Dawn related art (poems, drawings, paintings, videos etc) please send them to me via e-mail and I will include them in my blog. Hopefully said blogger will allow permission for me to showcase her portrait here, or I will send a link over for you to enjoy it.

Nosce Te Ipsum,

Soror FSO

Saturday, January 16, 2010

What Is It That Binds You?

I was talking to a Zen Buddhist over Facebook this morning and we were discussing the topic of how different traditions approach the topic of enlightenment. He said that when a person asks how to attain enlightenment in Zen he is then asked "What is it that binds you?"

After hearing this statement even now, hours later, my consciousness is reverberating like a brass bowl that has been expertly played. What is it that is holding you back, holding you to this world, keeping you from experiencing the Divine in your life every day, keeping your consciousness locked in the material, the ego, your desires? What is it that you are holding onto? What is it that binds you?!

At each level of our development we are seeking a deeper and subtler degree of purification. I have always asked myself "What is it that I need to purify?" or, having noticed myself reacting inappropriately or being attached to something said " I need to purify myself of this". But there is something about the word "bind" that strikes me on a whole new level. I might be just looking at the the same thing from a different perspective, but using the word "bind" instead of "purify" invokes a sense of urgency within. When I think of the word "purification" I associate that with time. Yes, purification takes time so even though I am working on purifying these lower qualities I now see that part of my consciousness doesn't mind if it takes longer to accomplish.

The word "bind" however makes me feel suffocated, controlled, and held back. It is as if someone is telling me "No, you can't live in your full potential because you are being shackled to this existence by illusions, desires, appetites, addictions, and attachments." Re-framing it this way makes me want to go into the Temple right now and stay there doing magic until I emerge like the Buddha from underneath the Bodhi tree. In fact, here I am equally kicking myself and equally rejoicing as I realize I have awaken from another layer of slumber. How easily we fool ourselves into thinking we are progressing when really we are half-sleeping on the floor of enlightenment.

The irony is that they only thing that is binding us to this lesser state of consciousness is ourselves. If we look at The Devil card in the Book T based tarot decks we see that the man and woman standing beneath the Devil, bound to him, are in fact holding the chains. They can choose to release them at anytime, yet their own ignorance causes them to believe they are trapped, tortured, and forced to live in an imperfect existence. We hold the chains to our bonds. Equally, we hold the key to our happiness. Now when I think of "purification" I think of "cleaning out", but when I think of "binding" I think of letting go. What is there to clean out? Nothing. We are created in the image and likeness of the Divine. What is there to let go of? Everything, because there is only one true state of consciousness and that is Unity. Enlightenment is a state of consciousness, it is not dangerous. There is nothing dangerous about immediately achieving it. What is dangerous are the paths sometimes used to get to enlightenment ;techniques used wrongly, purification done too strenuously, but if done correctly, they can be a jewel worth more than any physical trinket.

What I am trying to say is this, it is important to follow our chosen path, and it is important to practice our techniques (properly) so that we can ripen our consciousness. It is the ripened consciousness that is free to realize the bonds which he is so fervently holding onto. But it is important not to hold ourselves back by the false belief that we cannot live in the Truth until some far off time. The Truth is here now. It exists now. It is all around us and within us now. By remembering this at all times it is as if we keep a suitor waiting on the other side of the door so when we are ready to open the door we can embrace him that much more passionately. Let's not forget that our True Nature is there at all times...we only need to turn to it.

Nosce Te Ipsum

Soror FSO

"Before enlightenment chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment chop wood and carry water" - Ancient Chinese proverb

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Update On The Magical Community's Help For Haiti

You are all amazing. Seriously. Over the past few days the magical community has really stepped up to do magical healing and support work for the victims of the Haitian earthquake...and it is really paying off. Right now the relief efforts have been stepped up a notch...Isn't it amazing to know that no matter what happens in the world as a magician you can always do something to help, to move people, resources, and Light to those in need. My heart-felt appreciation goes out to all of you. A special thanks goes out to my readers, our fellow blogger St. Balthazar, my Facebook friends in the esoteric community, the EOGD, Robert Zink, and Mary Kresky for stepping up to promote this cause and for doing the magical work to support it. Keep up the good work all of you!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Magic For Haiti

If you read my blog and are a practicing magician, please take some time to do some healing work for the people in Haiti. We are blessed with the ability to wield our power beyond what most would think imaginable, so it is important for us to use our gifts for the good of others. Also, you get back what you put forth, so if you are in need of a little extra blessings start by giving some to others. If you think your magic is "too small" to help a situation like this, remember my friends we are all created in the image and likeness of the Divine. That means you can tap into infinite resources of power...especially if you are using your magic for healing. So invoke those angels, create those elemental, or whatever it is you do. If you are new to magic and would like to learn how to use it to heal yourself and others than check out Also, I will be preforming a special healing rite this send your healing requests to There is no charge to have your request added to my rite. Many blessings to you all!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Monday, January 11, 2010

Golden Dawn Interview With Nick Farrell Part 2

Salve to all my lovely readers! I hope your days are being blessed with health and happiness. As promised, here is the second part to my interview with Nick Farrell. I hope you have been enjoying his widsom and experience as much as I have. Some of you know that last week I preformed a special prosperity ritual for all of the people who follow my blog . I figure since you are doing so much for me by giving me a sounding board for my thoughts, why not do something for you? Besides, you deserve it! We all need a little extra help right now. Since it was such a blessing for me (and to some of you who e-mailed me about the results you saw) I am going to do some healing work this week. As I do not know all of you personally it is important to "follow" me so I have some reference as to who you are during my ritual. It will be preformed on Friday so if you haven't started following yet or know someone who needs a little extra Light...feel free to spread the word! :) Also, if you have a specific healing request you can e-mail me privately at or go to to have an entire group of Adepti work on you during a special monthly ritual that we preform. Heck...why not do both? And now without further ado...part two of my interview with Nick. ( and Nick if your reading this Bonjourno!)

Nick Farrell Interview Part 2

What are the qualities that you believe define an Adept? How would you describe the differences in the work that an Outer Order member does and the work and Inner Order member does?

An Adept is one who is “most themselves”. The outer order shows them how to become that and does the work on the sphere of sensation that alAlows that state to manifest. A second Order Adept, knowing themselves and their position in the universe, is able to be a conscious co-creator with god and explore inner space.

Is there any type of magic that you particularly enjoy i.e. skrying, Enochian, divination, etc….

I am a big fan of ritual. It is the triple leo side of me I like a good performance.

As far as your personal work is concerned, what do you consider to be the most important thing for you to be focusing on right now?

Last year I was involved in establishing the Magical Order of Aurora Aurea which is a Golden Dawn order. When you do this it is traditional to call yourself an obscenely high grade and do little work for the rest of your life. Although NAM and ZAM grade the Second Order of the GD is all documented there is little work that has been done on the other sub-grades of the 5=6 and the 6=5 and 7=4. It is my idea to develop a system to work myself through those grades and write the material for the second order to develop as I go. The fun is to crack the symbolism of the system and make it more practical.

Do you feel the Golden Dawn has helped you to attain the life that you wanted and to reach the goals that you have set for yourself in life?

Magic has shaped me and my goals and defined most of what I do. If I am happy it is because I have managed to archive a magical goal. So it really your life, if it isn't then you are not a magician. Sure, magic has helped me achieve goals but I am not sure if I would have had those goals if I had not been a magician.

What do you think makes the Golden Dawn unique?

I still think it is the most complete unending system out there.

Some people believe the Golden Dawn can be tailored to anyone, do you believe it is for everyone, or do you think it is really for the niche, ceremonial magician?

Golden Dawn groups divide into three types. There are the tourists who come along for a look. They might be in the group for the rest of their lives but they never 'live' the system. Then there are those who study it and allow it to transform them. Magic becomes their life pattern. Then there are those who are born magicians. These are rarer and usually cause a teacher the most problems. The GD works for all these types and each group should have a balance of them. Most groups are formed from a majority of the first group with a smattering of the second type and if they are lucky one or two real magicians.
But I don't think it is for everyone. The modern golden dawn has made a huge mistake in believing it can be inclusive and that any one can come along and be nurtured up the levels. As a result standards have fallen to the point that people are becoming Adepts without knowing the basics. Orders are said to be successful if they are big rather than how many Adepts their system produces. Real magic does not suffer fools gladly and I think there are too many fools who have floated to the top.

What do you think is the current state of the tradition? How would you describe the climate? Do you think that it is really just a lot of in-fighting as the internet makes it seem, or do you think that the internet does not represent what it really going on in the community as a whole?

I think the Golden Dawn is splitting into three clear factions. The first is those who think they can make money out of it, the second are those who believe it should be run along masonic or religious lines and the third are those who are only interested in the magical side. Magical Golden Dawn groups talk to each other and use the internet to share information. When they argue it is more of a row based on techniques and usually is patched up. The masonic style groups take people through the grades and status is accorded by grade. Such groups are more expansive because the numbers of temples which are under their umbrella equates to their personal status. They are more likely to be concerned with lineage or what they perceive as being the tradition. They get very upset if their status is questioned or threatened. Then there are those who a trying to make money out of the Golden Dawn system who see any one else out their as competition. I would like to think that the Magical Golden Dawn will win, but what is more likely is that they will move the the background, perhaps not even calling themselves Golden Dawn to avoid being drawn into such conflicts. I think it will be harder for those who are searching for a real Golden Dawn group under that name to find a good one.

What is the Magical Order of the Aurora Aurea?

The Magical Order of the Aurora Aurea is a modern expression of the Golden Dawn tradition. It is an international Order with its Headquarters in Rome with Temples forming in Ireland, England, Wales and Slovinia. We also intend to open temples all over the world.
Although it is a traditional secret magical order it operates two public programmes. The first is its correspondence course which places its teachings in the hands of people who would not be able to join a working magical temple. The second are its Anticums which are public rituals and workshops organised by its initiates. While the Order is running, we have yet to go public. It will probably be ready in the next few weeks.
It is orthodox Golden Dawn but its teachings require more practical work in addition to intellectual study. This does not mean that we have put inner order techniques in the outer, but instead have organised a system of study which requires regular practical effort and alchemical changes in personality. We are also interested in the magical layers involved in the initiation rituals. We do not use the cut down versions of the Golden Dawn rituals that were published by Regardie and are the mainstay of modern Golden Dawn groups. Instead we use the same rituals which have been part of the Golden Dawn for more than a century.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Interview With Nick Farrell Part 1

As promised, here is the next interview in my "Golden Dawn Interview Series". A big thanks to Nick for taking the time to share his thoughts. After talking with him I realized he is a veritable Golden Dawn machine! ...full of zeal and motivation. For the enjoyment of my readers and the community at large I am posting the entire interview in two parts due to its length. I hope you enjoy...If you haven't yet, please read my first interview with Samual Scarbarough, some questions are the same, but I think its nice to hear a variety of viewpoints on similar topics in our community.

What was it that first interested you in magic? and Why did you choose the Golden Dawn System?

I was interested in religion as a kid but something about the art and idea of magic drew me in. I was always imaginative and found that exoteric religion was simply too shallow and proscriptive. The Golden Dawn attracted me because it was a complete magical system. I trained in groups that were derived from Dion Fortune and I always had the feeling that while such systems were good at some things they were not complete. This left the teachers free to add bits that they though were important which meant that other ideas came unstuck. The GD gives you a map and then it says “start from here”, while other groups I found would give you a jigsaw puzzle with the corners lost down the back of the sofa.

Were there certain changes in personal growth that you expected to see? Where these accomplished? If so, how quickly after being initiated?

I didn't expect any personal changes really, just development. I had been working in the magical tradition since I was 17 and was initiated into a Golden Dawn order when I was 33. I knew a lot but there was no structure on which to build. However there were some changes at key points in the grade system. The outer order of the GD is about becoming yourself as an individual and being confident about that. I think that during my period on the outer I evolved from someone who sat back and learnt other people's views to someone who was happy to express his own ideas. I became 'famous' for actually saying what I think and comfortable projecting those ideas in writing or standing up in front of people. This caused problems for some. I have a nasty knack of not doing what I was told and there is my sense of humour which I like but some people take seriously. My 5=6 was the most dramatic initiation I experienced though and that caused a personality change where the different aspects of myself fused together. It did not last but now I notice there is a 'plugged in' Nick Farrell and one which is ordinary and a bit weaker.

How would you describe spiritual growth in the GD system?

It is furry, with a few spots and tends to like chocolate :-) Actually it is like most forms of spiritual growth. It is hard work that requires sacrifice. People make the mistake of thinking the GD is about intellectual understanding and long involved rituals. It can be that. There a lot of people who sit there and pontificate for hours about the Geomatria of the Supreme Ritual of the Pentagram and its relationship to the spiritual alchemy of the godforms of Atum-Re but cannot do a lesser ritual of the pentagram if a demon was burning hoof prints into the carpet. However there are also those who do and they are the most fun to work with.

It seems many mystical traditions have similarities in mystical experiences, as well as ones that are primarily within their tradition…how would you describe the spiritual experience of the Golden Dawn?

It depends on the person. Each person has inside them a key to a part of the rainbow that is God. I think they find that and then find that they have deal with the other colours too. No one's rainbow is ever complete but it is theirs and they are happy with it. I would like to say that you see into the gates of infinity and touch the throne of heaven and certainly I have had spiritual experiences like that. More often though it is seeing the colours of god in your daily life and knowing what to mix to get the image you want.

What have you found the biggest pitfall in the Great Work and what advice do you have to give about overcoming it?

Believing that you are small. It is easy to think you are small when you stand on the rim of a small galaxy before the infinity of space. To make matters worse we have religions and other people tell us that we are at the bottom of a spiritual ladder two steps up from plankton. However the way I see it we are meant to be co-creators with infinity and you don't get that sort of job by thinking small.

Have you had what can be described as “peak experiences” of consciousness while doing magic or as an effect of magic, for example Unified Consciousness, one-pointed awareness, out of body experiences, levitation, etc…if so could you please describe a meaningful one? Have you found these to be common within people who study magic and the Golden Dawn?

I think they are overrated, certainly as a mark of spiritual progress. I mark diaries of students who tell me they have had them but you are left with thinking “well now what?”. A spiritual experience is not worth much if you can't do much with it. While most of the time it is people trying to impress you, generally these experiences are like electricity arcing in the darkness. It is all very impressive but it is not going to cook your dinner or light your home. The ones that get on my nerves is the person who tells you they have had a spiritual experience but say they don't have words describe it. I usually tell them to write a poem or draw a picture as art brings the experience down the levels. If they can't, and the experience does not translate into changes in their life it is not doing anyone any good.

How has the Great Work changed for you over the years?

When I started out I was a small child looking at the sky and it all felt too big. Now it is an adventure.

Have you found the Golden Dawn system to work with other systems…do you advocate using it with other systems…such as Eastern traditions?

In the west there are few traditions that do not owe something to the Golden Dawn. Most of the time they work together ok. The Eastern system doesn't. The GD founders were over awed by the Eastern systems and some of it found its way into the tradition. But I think if they looked harder they would find the same thing in the West which worked better. I use the Eastern godform techniques with Western gods and some of the breathing techniques. But I don't use charkas and some of the stuff on the aura. I prefer the western idea of the Sphere of Sensation which is similar.

Are there any particular techniques in the system that you believe are absolutely necessary to master for personal and spiritual growth?

Regular meditation work. Ironically it is the one thing that many GD schools think is pointless and few enforce. However if a person is not doing regular meditation work they would be better off watching a nice video.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Things I'm Digging Right Now

There are just some great Golden Dawn and esoteric resources I am digging right now and I thought I would share :)


The Way of Hermes: New Translations of The Corpus Hermeticum and The Definitions of Hermes Trismegistus to Ascepius (long title, awesome read)

Marriage As A Path to Holiness: Lives of Married Saints by David and Mary Ford (in case you didn't know this was possible)

Meditation and The Kabbalah: Aryeh Kaplan (always informative and interesting to go back to)

Golden Dawn Blogs:

Some good, although unfortunatly little know blogs

the last one you may find intriguing as it is written from the perspective of someone who is not within the occult community, but whom met Robert while on a trip to India...and became interested in his life's work. Its nice to hear an outside perspective.


Beats Antique- if you haven't heard these guys, they are amazing, and will really get those juices flowing to do some magical work

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Purification of The Soul Through the Loving Gift of Gratitude

Happy New Year everyone! I hope that you were as blessed by the season as I was. Although, I have to admit, as a creature of habit I am more than happy to finally be back into my regular schedule...and I am very exited about this coming year! Did anyone notice that amazing full moon we had on the first?...a beautiful healing moon, full of nurturing energy. My hope for myself, my students, and all my readers is that we all remember everyday how blessed we are (even if the circumstances seem dire), and take that gratitude and share it with others...this is the best way to bring even more blessings into our life.

I was blessed over the holidays to learn a true lesson about gratitude (in retrospect, how appropriate!) and I have come to see that it is a real tool to that can be used to bring positivity and healing to any situation. Over the holiday I was in beautiful, sunny California at an an amazing condo on the beach in San Diego, a city which has a million fun things to do. I was really looking forward to having a, fun filled vacation...and what happened? Someone was sick every day I was there. First it was my son, then my mother, then my husband, then my mother in was really a recipe for disaster- a bad mood, and a bad trip just waiting to happen. Whereas in the past I would have let my attachment to my expectations, and my desire to have the trip be a certain way cause me to be disappointed, then irritable, then angry, then just plain worn out from 2 1/2 wks of sickness...I was determined to not let it be so. Recently I have been working very hard to not be attached to my desires, expectations, or material inclinations...and this to me was a great test for that. But, I have to admit that while this has been my goal I wasn't quite sure how to reach it. Was it through control of my thoughts, or by constant testing until it was burned out of me, or through prayer and fasting? What I found through my Christmas ordeal...was that the key was gratitude. No matter what happens, no matter what is taken away...there is still something to be grateful for. And whereas intellectually one may think that by attaching your consciousness toward another material thing would be contrary to the goal...gratitude for the blessings in your life has the alternate effect of going beyond the ego, and taking us away from attachment. I realized the fullness of this concept in the simplest of choices I made while on vacation. My son was sick? How thankful I was that I could watch over him, while to beautiful ocean was outside to soothe me. My husband was ill? How wonderful it was that it didn't happen until he got to CA so I could be with him and see him after a week of being gone. My mother was throwing up? How thankful I was for the time we did get to spend having heart to heart conversations...every time a feeling of hopelessness tried to take over I would combat it with gratitude and thanksgiving to the Divine for all the great things I did receive while there. Even if I didn't get to go surfing, and to the amusement park, and around to take more photographs (I love photography), the small, simple moments were far more meaningful. And although this may seem like a small lesson learned in a small situations...the power of gratitude showed itself to me during a far more difficult time in my life when I was no where near where I am in my consciousness today...when I was truly lost in darkness.

There was a time when I was so wrapped up in my own pain that at one point I couldn't get out of bed. My depression was so debilitating that it culminated in me dropping out of college. One day, as I lay there in bed, thinking about my life, I realized that no one was going to "save" me. No friend or family member was going to come bursting through my door and say "Get up! its time to start living your life!" It was up to me to take the first step to having a fulfilling and happy life. I thought "there are so many people who are happy, what is different for them?" and from somewhere deep inside,(which I now realize was the whisper of my Higher Self) I heard a tiny voice that told me...choice. We all have a choice. The world is the world, and we see it for what we believe it to be. There are just as many "bad" things as there are "good", there are just as many "mean" people as there are "nice"...but we see what we want. I was always flabbergasted when I was out driving, or shopping, or going to school by how rude and inconsiderate people were. But how many people had been nice that I hadn't noticed? Were people maybe extra rude because I was always in a foul mood? On and on my thoughts swirled around in my head, and I went from thinking that I was a victim of a terrible curse to realizing that I had some control over my life, and that maybe my life was a result of who I was inside. So I took that first step, allowing my feet to slide out from the covers and feel the carpet beneath my bed, and I thought "how nice it is to have carpet". Who do you know had been thankful for carpet? But that thought was a start, a new way to look at the world. It was a new way to cultivate an attitude that wasn't so full of darkness and despair; a way that kind of tickled my heart and gave me hope. After all those months it was like a refreshing drink of water given in the desert. So I started to cultivate the attitude of gratitude when I could...of course having a new attitude about life was a challenge to overcome, but now I had a tool. So I counted my blessings- food, shelter, the ability to not have to sleep in a cold street in the winter, the beginning my blessings seemed few, but there was always at least one things that I could be grateful for and over time I realized how great even the smallest one seemed. And now 12 years later, I have so many blessings, family, friends, happiness, healthy, a graduate degree, a beautiful son, and this lesson has come full circle in the smallest of illness over Christmas vacation, and I am made fully aware of its power.

The only way to true happiness is to look outside our small selves to our Higher Self which resides within us and throughout the whole realize our intimate connection with everything and everyone. The material realm, the material consciousness of the ego strives for more, and is never satisfied always leaving us feeling empty no matter how much we gain. But, when we connect to our Higher Self, we connect to the source of all and thus can never feel empty. We accomplish this by purifying ourselves to our lower natures and exalting our Higher Self. Gratitude is the loving way to purification, for it automatically humbles us and withdraws us from the ego. It fills us with love, hope, and kindness, and causes us to want to share it with others...thus becoming a self-perpetuating gift.

May we be grateful for all that we have this year, and share our blessings with others.

Nosce Te Ipsum

Soror FSO

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