Monthly Archives: August 2008

The God Box

I just have a few finishing touches to make on a commission for my mother’s partner. She had a plain wooden box that someone had given her and wanted me to decorate it. The only guidance was that she wanted to use the box to hold her kabbalah cards. Each card has one of the 72 names of G-d printed on one side. The other side had a short meditation related to that specific name. Knowing this client, I knew that she would want want something elegant and understated.

God Box

For this piece, I used a water-release decal paper for the Hebrew names and the winged solar disk line drawing. I painted the sides and trim gold and left the top and front unpainted. After applying the solar disk, I painted the inside of the disk gold. I glued black felt to the inside and bottom of the box. I still need to touch up the golden disk and some of the varnish, then clean up a little gold paint in places to neaten it up.

Since the cards focused on the 72 names, I thought the same motif on the box would work. At one point I was going to do all sides of the box with the names, but then thought that would be overkill and visually cluttered. I went with the winged solar disk after reading about the wings of the Cherubim on the Arc of the Covenant. I also liked the idea of blending symbols from Hebrew and surrounding cultures — much like any good Hermetic would do. Plus, the solar disk reminded me of the sephirah Tipharet, which in Hermetic qabala is the highest level of spiritual evolution humans can attain and still be incarnate.
God Box -- top God Box -- front

Last Night I Dreamt A Song

Last night I had a dream that, thankfully, I woke up from.

Becoming had gathered in a park for a thanksgiving feast. There was much grumbling because there were a lot of people milling about, it was a bit chilly, and it had started to sprinkle.

I asked everyone to gather around the tables, which were filled with delicious foods, and hold hands to bless the Source of Life. But no words came to me, and we stood in silence for a few minutes.

Then Eric turned to Ashley with a questioning look on his face. She nodded and said “yes, you should.” He turned to me, and I said “Go ahead,” without really knowing what he would say.

Tentatively he began to sing:

“Reaching for connection
Deep inside our blood
Open your heart
Open up your heart”

The tune was simple and easily improvised. We all began singing and clapping. As the music became louder and more alive, we began improvising and dancing around the tables. The experience was so joyous!

And then I woke up — with the song still in my head. I sang it to myself several times, hoping to remember it the next morning. I tried to go back to sleep.

But my bladder thought differently, and I realized if I didn’t record the song now I would not remember the tune in the morning.

So, I grabbed my cell phone and went to the restroom. Afterward, I called my voice mail at work and sang the song.

This morning when I awoke, I could remember the words but not the melody. Lucky that my bladder had intervened.

Becoming’s monthly circle is all about connecting to ourselves, each other, the world around us, and the Divine that flows throughout. One of the lines we use in circle is ,”Let us open our hearts to the Heart of the Universe.” I’m not sure about how to interpret the second line of the song, except perhaps that the drive to connect is something so inherent to us as humans and divine beings, as close and vital to us as the blood that pumps through our veins.

Rather than change the words to align more closely with things as I know them now, I feel it important to honor the song by sharing it as it was given to me in the dream and to listen to the message it brings.

Childhood Dreams

Yesterday I began watching this video of Carnegie Mellon Professor Randy Pausch‘s “last lecture” given September 18, 2007. Pausch recently died from pancreatic cancer, and my good friend Ketzirah posted her mourner’s kaddish and the video over at Peeling a Pomegranate. The lecture is about accomplishing your childhood dreams and enabling others to accomplish their dreams.

About 15 minutes into the lecture, I tried thinking about my childhood dreams. What did I want to do or be when I grew up? And I couldn’t think of a thing. I couldn’t remember ever even thinking much about what I would do or who I would be when I grew up. I couldn’t think of any passion that revealed itself for the future as in “When I grow up, I want to be a veterinarian, and I want to be famous and walk on the moon.”

Is it possible that I went through childhood without thinking about the future, without any kind of guiding dream of what I would accomplish? Did I just forget?

So, I called my mother. I explained the context of the lecture and how I couldn’t remember any childhood dreams. I asked her if she, as she is my mom, remembered me ever saying anything about what I wanted to do or be when I grew up.

“Not really,” she said hesitantly (probably wondering where this current round of weird questions about my childhood came from). “You were never really concerned about the future when you were a kid. You played mostly by yourself and created elaborate imaginary games. You talked to yourself constantly. You liked to do artistic stuff — drawing, coloring, finger painting, writing little stories, dancing and singing. It didn’t matter if you were the only one there — you acted out all the parts and pretended there was an audience too. Just as long as you were being creative, you were happy. When we moved into the apartment and you had playmates, you would make up stories for them to act out, and you would direct them. You were also so creative and had so much fun doing it.”

I agreed that’s pretty much how I remembered it, but I could also remember the content of some of those imaginary scenarios. I was a messenger sent from one tribe to another through strange and unknown forests. I was a preacher speaking in front of thousands about how we needed to be good to each other and share our stuff (my parents were ministers). I was a talk-show host interviewing world religious leaders at Camp Chesterfield’s Trail of Religion. I would sing and dance without caring if anyone was around to see or hear. I would draw and paint and make up stories as I did so.

OK, so all well and good, but it’s pretty hard to work toward dreams or goals in life when what really makes you happy is just to have the freedom to have fun, be creative, and do something meaningful and wonderful. That’s all I’ve really ever wanted. That’s what I really want now. But the “adult” part of myself keeps nagging at me that how can I make any plans for the future if I don’t know exactly and specifically what I want to do or be. Because really, it’s just what catches my attention and interest in the moment. I have always been prone to wander off when I see something that I want to explore in more depth.

Maybe if I just keep those things in mind with whatever I do: freedom, fun, creativity, meaning, and wonder. And just take whatever opportunity comes my way to explore and make up my own stories and act them out for myself and others.

I woke up this morning feeling happier than I have in a while. And I wanted to dye my hair blue.

Ambivalence of Lammas

For many people, Lammas is a time of celebration of the first harvests. For me, this time of year is a struggle, especially with the blast furnace heat and/or oppressive humidity of the last three places I’ve lived (Oklahoma, Houston, and DC). In August, I feel like someone forgot to close Balor’s evil eye after Lugh killed him. I’ve also just read The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl, which could also account for my ambivalence toward the season.

Orange 10 of Swords Lugh dies
and the sun strikes
with rays of heat
that oppress in revenge,
with spears of light
that burn our eyes and skin.

First fruits
Red blood

August comes
and the earth gasps
in the death throes of summer,
a fever pitched battle
against the coming dark.

Barlycorn
Eat and run.

Written in August 2006