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International Women’s Day

Speak Truth

March 8, 2013. It is a day to imagine balance. And to celebrate the work of equilibrium. Achievement. Justice.

It is a day of global awareness…celebrating women — past and present, with the courage to make their voices heard. And for the future — the songs and struggles of daughters everywhere in this world, who deserve the human right to live their lives in balance and in peace…

Peace in our lives. Peace in our homes, our streets, our cities and towns, our countries, our world. OUR world.

Equity in our lives. Equity in our homes, our streets, our cities and towns, our countries, our world. OUR world.

Speak the truth even if your voice shakes….

Toni

International Women’s Day

IWD

Ode To Joy

December 24, 2012 2 comments

MAY YOU FIND A JOYFUL SURPRISE AND PEACE IN THE MOMENT…

Into The Light

December 21, 2012 Leave a comment

Into The Light

Photo courtesy imgur.com



In astronomy, the seasons move in celestial cycles. As the earth rotates around the sun, it also spins on its own axis, which tilts towards the plane of its rotation (about 23.5 degrees). The northern hemisphere receives less direct sunlight. Days of less and less light, moving towards the birth of winter and a new year. The sun appears at its lowest point in the sky, unmoving on the horizon solstice translates from latin “sun” and “standing still”. The northern hemisphere experiences its annual winter solstice. This marks the shortest day. It is also the longest night. Then, the sun will again ascend in the northern sky as the days begin to grow longer. It is the Earth returning to light.

In the days growing shorter, with darkness falling around us, we enter into our own dark time of sorts. The darkness is considered the space where secrets lurk, and creatures stir –- the vampires and monsters, the underbelly’s destructive and chaotic forces. Our own fears and failings are in that darkness too. It’s a time for assessing who we are, and where we are – in our selves, in our homes, in our community, and in our world. It is a burning and bruising time to examine our collective spirit.

It is an intensified time of natural disasters and man made crisis. In a year of endless suffering – hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, fiscal woes, foreclosures, job loss, war, and violence, it seems that what lurks in the secret, dark corners, at great expense, is being flushed out. Many of us have been knocked down and heart broken in the process.

On the darkest day in the celestial cycle, today is a day of mourning for the loss of lives at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

During the shortest day and the longest night of the year it is a time for illumination. Turn on a lamp, light candles, build a fire: it is a time for rational conversation, compassion and change. The sun, from its lowest point, will follow night and make it way back up into the northern sky. There will be a little more light every day.

The question is: will we use it wisely?

Toni

Shifts, Sounds and Shankar

December 12, 2012 4 comments

Our lives are filled with shifts: seismic, paradigmatic, geographical, sociological, personal, and spiritual shifts. Big and small. And our lives are filled with sound: rhythm, and repetition – music, chant, song, verse, and spoken word.

Endings. Beginnings.

Today is filled with the feeling of a shift. We are aware of the date, and we are in the moment: 12/12/12. Some might note that it is an end…there won’t be another repetitive date for lifetimes, not until January 1, 3001. A door, closing and transformational. Others may say its a number sequence filled with magic and mystery. A portal, open and transformational.

And many of us woke up to the news of Ravi Shankar’s passing.

While Bruce Lee is credited with opening a door to the world of martial arts and to Eastern thought through Chinese philosophy, George Harrison also influenced a cultural shift that would define a generation.

George Harrison was a seeker, looking for a deeper meaning to life beyond the material world and the confusion of fame. He played an instrumental role (pun intended and unintended) in changing how we listen to music, raising our awareness of the global community, opening a door not only to Indian and to world music, but also to Eastern philosophy through Indian thought, practice and meditation. The bridge between East and West was built, note by note, through his friendship, mentorship and collaboration with legendary virtuoso Ravi Shankar.

Pandit Ravi Shankar, from Varnasi, an ancient and holy Indian city, had played with Western artists like John Coltrane prior to his meeting Harrison, though it was his musical collaboration with the Beatles that sent his career soaring, elevating him to cultural ambassador, and introducing classical Indian ragas to the world. He played Woodstock, Monterey and organized the first-ever music fundraiser, held at Madison Square Garden, The Concert for Bangladesh. (The 12/12/12 Benefit Concert for Hurricane Sandy is rightfully part of his legacy, also held at MSG). During his career he played classical Indian music, but also experimented with different genres and collaborated with many artists. His soundtrack for the Apu trilogy by Satyajit Ray is as haunting as are films (see them if you can).

He remained, throughout his life, an electrifying force and powerful presence in world music. Sounds and shifts. Endings, beginnings. A door, closing and transformational. A portal, open and transformational.

Ravi Shankar (1920 – 2012)

Toni

Autumn Reflection and The Tao

October 7, 2012 2 comments

Some fall thoughts on the Tao and water over fire…Rest here, breathe.

At The Intersection of Blood and Guts

August 6, 2012 6 comments


Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
Cheshire Cat: That depends on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don’t care much where…
Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which was you go.
Alice: …So long as I get get somewhere.
Cheshire Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if you only walk long enough.

Crossroads

Sometimes the path you walk seems clearly defined, but then, something happens. It looks unfamiliar, and you realize you’ve lost your way.

Maybe you’ve encountered a rift in the earth. One tectonic plate sinks beneath another. It’s not the kind of ground breaking you had in mind.

Or the way might be flooded and you can’t get through. It’s not the image you had of yourself, rising up from the sea foam like Poseidon, or Aphrodite on the half shell.

Or maybe you are trapped, mesmerized by the reflection of your own image in the floodwater. It’s not what others meant by staying fluid. You might be like poor Echo, pining away watching someone else watch their reflection in the water.

Even simpler, maybe the compass rose has lost its petals and you realize you are traveling in the wrong direction.

Have you ever found yourself lost like this? Are you lost, right now, like this? Does it feel like the intersection of blood and guts? Which way do you go?

Go this way, and it’s the blood of the walking wounded, or the sacrificial lamb. Maybe that lost little lamb is you. Or maybe you will be the one to hurt someone else down the road. It’s the easier path to take. No apologies necessary. Losses cut. The escape route.

Or go that way, with guts – it’s taking the long, winding road. Perseverance. Compassion. All options and consequences considered. A harder path to walk.

None of it’s easy. Free will? It’s a bitch.
Maybe the journey takes us along all of the paths. The road is filled with seekers, navigating blood and guts. May the rose ride up to meet you, may the wind be at your back… We are Whitman wanderers walking towards a glowing inner light…


Abracadabra

August 1, 2012 6 comments

Abracadabra

In language, some words diminish in value, the meaning loses its weight over time. Today, everyone’s a genius. And everything that happens is epic. There are also words and phrases that completely lose their true meaning, their relevance, and their beauty, in a devolution of their original form.

Over the weekend I attended the virtual Essential Magic Conference, hosted in Portugal by Luis de Matos. It was filled with the best in magic, and attended by over two thousand people from 74 countries. It is a fine learning experience, and creatively stimulating, even if you are not interested in magic. One of the presenters was Norberto Jansenson, whose work combines storytelling, mystery and magic. His talk was intense and inspiring, and something he mentioned struck a chord. It was the true, lost meaning of “abracadabra”.

While the word “abracadabra” may bring to mind faded images of magic acts replete with red curtains and a rabbit in a hat, the original word is far more compelling. There is a theory that the word is derived from a Semitic language. Jansenson says it is Aramaic in origin: “Avra kehdabra” — meaning “I will create as I speak”. How beautiful, rich, and powerful. It represents the spontaneity that, in the moment, gives way to articulation and creativity — sparking and igniting right before your eyes. It is a shared experience of wonder, from the ancient Greek theater to this morning’s street performer, occurring in full presence of the moment.

With a little digging, I found the source of the phrase may originate from these three words – ab (father), ben (son) and ruach acadosch (holy spirit). The three points form a triangle, a trinity, and the enclosed space of the three lines is where building is possible. Where things begin. Where magic happens. Art. Articulation. Astonishment. I will create as I speak. Abracadabra.

With gratitude to Mr. Jansenson for creating that moment,

Toni

Sound of Silence

April 13, 2012 17 comments

While walking through Brooklyn’s Williamsburg, I came across this poem written on a window that had been cemented over. Even though it is not English (it’s Italian), it evokes a dark mood, with its sloping black S words on a cement wall. The alliteration creates a snaky hissing sound, and the words seem to reveal dreams with the weight of a serpent, writing, eschewing vanity (smiling monkeys “spit on mirrors”), vulgarity and its slippery steps, slinking and sinking into the night’s moon…and silence. Is this a dream of awakening — an uncoiling spiral of kundalini energy? A anxious, sexual dream filled with innuendo? What significance does this hold for the writer? What compelled him to write his dream on the wall?

I also read a friend’s blog post, author Dr. Jean Raffa’s post on the significance of dreams. It’s a exploration in brilliant decoding, explaining the meaning and symbols a particular dream revealed to her. These are the things that propel us towards spirit, their unfolding and synchronicity plug us in to a deeper awareness. But, they require an intimate relationship between our consciousness and our attention. In today’s world, we wade through information overload and a pull towards material possessions. Information is not knowledge. Objects are not symbols. They distracts us from tapping into discovery of the self. In the truth of that discovery, even when it’s painful, we have a better sense of the world and our relationship to it.

Both the wall poetry and Dr. Raffa’s blog reminded me of Paul Simon’s tune, Sound of Silence, with its recounting of a dark and moody dream. The image and symbolism remain with him when he wakes up. The song, written by Simon when he was only 21, is a cautionary tale of how our distraction, apathy and materialism point us in the wrong direction. Lack of awareness is isolating, and ultimately leads to a breakdown in communication. That kind of silence is never golden and a neon sign can never supplant our divine spark.

How about you? Do you focus on symbols, or objects? Are you brave enough to decipher and share share your dreams?

Awakening

April 4, 2012 7 comments


And the day came
When the risk to remain tight in a bud
Was more painful
Than the risk it took to bloom…

~Anais Nin

Photo by Toni Josephson

Rocking The Mortal Coil


Sing with me, sing for the years,
Sing for the laughter, sing for the tears…

Steve Tyler‘s song has always haunted me. How could someone so young instinctively understand the arc of our human life in all of its mystery, and express it with such mature perspective? What? This rambunctious rock and roller?

“I know nobody knows, where it comes and where it goes….” The words takes us into the depth of our mortality; life and time are ephemeral. That wake up call comes to us at a tender age, when we lose a pet, a friend, or a parent: you means this all ends?

The mortal coil winds into our awareness, spiraling around us in our knowing, and, in our not knowing. While we are here, we seek a meaningful experience. We want to make some sense of the mystery. Sunrise, sunset.

Max Frisch said, “Time does not change us, it unfolds us.” Our life lessons are experiential, and they are book taught: they keep us grounded. Our dreams house our spirit, our mythology, our creativity, our divinity. Even in uncertain skies, our dreams teach us to fly.

We are rocking the mortal coil.

Dream On,
Toni Tan