Monthly Archives: November 2012
Since ancient times, certain locations on our planet have become quietly famous for the powerful energy that invisibly – but tangibly – emanates from them. Some are natural formations, such as caves, healing springs, or waterfalls, known primarily to those who live near them. Others are man-made-burial structures like the Egyptian Sphinx, the great pyramids, or Tibetan temples, and other places of ancient worship, such as Stonehenge. While the energies of these magical places cannot be seen, their effects can certainly be felt.
It’s also believed that different sites are endowed with different spiritual powers – some of them quite specific: it is thought that they may enhance health; enlighten the soul or spark creativity. The waters of the Chalice Well in Glastonbury, England, for example, have been proven to be amazingly beneficial in myriad ways, but are especially renowned for their restorative powers and their capacity for enhancing natural psychic abilities. The many stone circles – large and small – that are scattered throughout Great Britain are all amazingly potent sources of both psychic and spiritual energy. Among the most famous stone circles are Stonehenge and Avebury Circle, long venerated, fascinating, and mystifying to spiritual pilgrims for centuries. Stonehenge has several circles of giant upright megaliths, holding huge cross-stones on top. The arrangement of the stones creates a natural “astronomical observatory.” The most famous pointer at Stonehenge is the heel stone, which lines up directly with sunrise on Midsummer Day. This ancient place of worship and ritual, the focus of year-round visitors, but particularly during the solstices, dates back to 3000 B.C. and has sparked spiritual insight for thousands.
In the United States, a people known as the Anasazi created a civilization stretching from New Mexico and Arizona to Utah. Anasazi is a Pueblo name meaning Ancient Ones. The Anasazi showed their respect for the sacred in their kivas, temples lying beneath the floors of their pueblos. The walls of the kiva were decorated with paintings (called petroglyphs), the precise meanings of which are unknown. The best-known sites are in Arizona and New Mexico, sacred to the Southwestern American tribes. Another creation of the Anasazi similar to that of other sacred sites is an arrow-straight, thirty-mile road originating at Kutz Canyon in New Mexico. The road has been viewed as a spiritual line, not unlike “ley” lines, and is sometimes also known as a telluric pathway. Native Americans called these lines “the spirit path.”
The island of Kauai in Hawaii features several heiau (ancient temple sites), where Hawaiian priests and ruling chiefs performed spiritual ceremonies. Kauai is the northernmost of the main Hawaiian Islands. Ancient Hawaiian legends associate it with the lost continent of Mu and with the star cluster called Pleiades. With so many sites in so many different countries, you can probably find one in your vicinity. Or you can make a special pilgrimage to one. Be sure to take time to experience the gifts of the Earth – and the magic and inspiration it holds.
Children in the United States are taught in school that the Pilgrims came to America for religious freedom. But that’s not quite true. They were actually missionaries who chose to come to the New World to plant the Gospel of Jesus in the wilderness.
As their governor and chronicler, William Bradford wrote: “They had a great hope and inward zeal of laying some good foundation…for the propagating and advancing the Gospel of the kingdom of Christ in those remote parts of the world.”
They had endured vicious religious persecution in England and finally fled to Holland where they settled in the town of Leyden. There, they enjoyed religious freedom for 12 years. But it became clear to them that God wanted them to leave Holland and go to America.
So if their motivation to come to America was primarily about religious freedom, they could have stayed in Holland where they already had that. No, they weren’t running away from something, they were following their calling to become missionaries.
So they returned to England and boarded the Mayflower in early September to embark on the treacherous journey across the Atlantic Ocean. The crossing was wrought with devastating conditions. They ran into many horrific storms that threw them from side to side and violently pitched up and down within a very cramped space below deck. Adults and children alike were vomiting; with the stench of vomit, animals, and unwashed bodies, and with the sea water leaking in through the deck above, the conditions were almost intolerable.
After surviving 44 days of storms out of their 66-day voyage, the weak and sick passengers finally saw land on November 9th, 1620. The land they saw was Cape Cod. Even though it was not their original destination of the northern part of the Virginia Colony (today’s New Jersey Shore), the ship got caught in the shoals off the bottom elbow of the Cape and after fighting to get it released, they finally decided that it was God’s will for them to stay where they were and start a new colony.
In the midst of a blinding December snow storm, they were blown into Plymouth harbor. They came ashore at Plymouth and discovered the ground cleared and recently cultivated, but there were no Indians anywhere to be seen. And oddly, the area was strewn with human bones.
They built a common house where they could take shelter until they were able to begin building their own homes. But with their immune systems weakened by the rough voyage, they began to get sick and die. By March there had been a total of 47 deaths. They were in desperate circumstances because the food they’d brought on the Mayflower was all but gone.
But on March 16, 1621, a lone Indian appeared, walked up to them and said, “Welcome Englishmen!” The Pilgrims found out that his name was Samoset, and that he was a regional Indian chief who lived about 40 miles to the southwest, in Massasoit. The following week he appeared again, this time bringing with him a Patuxet Indian named Squanto.
Squanto, who also spoke English, offered them his services. He taught them how to trap eels in the mud flats of the bay, what berries were edible, what herbs were good for medicine, and how to trap beaver, which would later become a source of income for the Pilgrims. Most important of all, he taught them how to plant corn, and plant it the Indian way — by burying dead fish with the seeds, to fertilize the seedlings as they grew.
Squanto’s story, the Pilgrims would learn, was fascinating. As it turned out, his tribe, the Patuxets, had lived at Plymouth. But in 1617, a plague, probably brought by French fur-trappers from the north, had killed every member of the tribe. That explained why the Pilgrims had found the ground covered with human bones. Squanto had escaped the plague because he had not been there.
Squanto had been kidnapped in 1605 by an English fishing expedition and taken back to England, where he lived for 9 years in the home of a merchant named John Slanie. He’d learned to speak English well, and became accustomed to English food and ways.
In 1614 Squanto was brought back to America on another fishing expedition led by John Smith of Jamestown, Virginia fame. When it came time to depart, Smith ordered one of his captains, Thomas Hunt, to stay behind and trade for beaver pelts. But Hunt tricked Squanto and 19 other young braves into getting on board his ship. He took them prisoner and sailed to Malaga, a slave trading port on the south coast of Spain. There these American Indians were sold as slaves.
Luckily, Squanto was purchased by a monk who took pity on him. He lived with the monks for a year before getting his freedom. He worked his way back to England where he stayed until 1619, when a Captain Dermer brought him back to the New England coast in exchange for his services as a pilot in American waters. But when Squanto got back to his village site at Plymouth, he was shocked to discover all of his people were dead, killed by the plague two years earlier.
Heartbroken, he traveled 40 miles southwest to the tribal seat of the Wampanoag and Chief Massasoit, who took him in. He stayed with them until March of 1621, when Samoset had returned from Squanto’s village site to tell him that some English had settled there. Squanto suddenly had a new reason to live. He would go and help these white people.
In October, when the 20 acres of corn the Pilgrims had planted under Squanto’s tutelage had been harvested, the Pilgrims wanted to hold a celebration festival. They invited Massasoit and the Wampanoag, and of course Samoset and Squanto. Massasoit came a day early with 90 braves and women and children. Would feeding all these people deplete the supply of corn that the Pilgrims had been stored up for winter? Not at all, because Massasoit had his men hunt for the occasion and they brought 5 deer and also wild turkeys. There were fish from the bay, berries and other fruits, roasted corn and the Pilgrim women supplied vegetables from their gardens. The festival lasted 3 days, complete with bow and arrow shooting contests, foot races, and relay races. It was a good and peaceful time for whites and Indians together.
Probably many times during the celebration, the Pilgrims stopped to thank God for his miraculous provision of Squanto. If it hadn’t been for him, there wouldn’t have been any reason for the celebration and Thanksgiving. God had sent this American Indian, who spoke English fluently, ate English food, understood English customs and ways, and knew about the Christian faith because of his time spent with the Spanish monks. He was the right man, in the right place, at the right time.
This is the true story of the first New England Thanksgiving!
*Based on an essay by Peter Marshall
Did you just have a dream a few minutes before logging on to this newsletter? Did you dream last night? You are in interesting company, Alexander the Great, Robert Louis Stevenson and Rene Descartes all believed that they were guided by dreams. You have had thousands of dreams in your lifetime; good dreams, nightmares, beautiful dreams, and so on. Dreams provide us with priceless information about our inner selves, and the rich and varied symbolism in our dreams can guide our lives towards psychological health and spiritual clarity.
We have always been fascinated with our dreams
All through the ages, dreams have fascinated humankind. The Native Americans of North America cherished their dreams, and dreams played an important role in all aspects of their culture. Gifted prophets, priests, scientists, doctors, artists, and philosophers in the many cultures of antiquity attempted to decipher the obscure symbolism of dreams to discover the essential truth hidden within. Of course, this search for meaning continues today.
Composer Richard Wagner and physicist Albert Einstein were both inspired by dreams. Wagner’s opera Tristan and Isolde was inspired by a dream, as was Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. As a young boy, Einstein dreamt that he was sledding downhill so fast that he was approaching the speed of light. When he awoke, he knew he had to understand the meaning of this dream.
Freud, Jung and New Age
Over the course of the twentieth century, our understanding of dreams underwent a complex evolution. Sigmund Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams proved to be a breakthrough. Published in 1900, this work became the cornerstone for psychoanalysis and a therapeutic tool for treating mental illness using the techniques of free association and hypnosis. Although Freudian psychotherapy is no longer seen as an effective way to heal a disturbed mind, it did open the door for dreams to become the subject of scientific research. One of Freud’s most important discoveries remains a central psychological premise. Emotions buried in the unconscious surface in disguised forms in dreams, and working with dream symbolism can help uncover these buried feelings.
Psychiatrist Carl Jung was greatly intrigued by Freud’s theories. Eventually, Jung’s fascination with psychology and precognition, in addition to his disenchantment with Freud’s emphasis on sexual themes, led Jung to conclude that dreams are natural reactions to current situations. Dreams offer clues to insight and personal growth. They may be forward-looking as well as retrospective. Dreams may tap into a mysterious reservoir of mythological images, presenting symbols and archetypes that share a fundamental essence with those of all other cultures. Most importantly, dreams provide a channel of communication for our psyche, helping us to understand our very being. Jung developed an entirely new vocabulary to analyze dreams and the structure of the psyche.
Jung’s broad and complex view of dreams inspired further research. In 1953, scientist’s first attached electroencephalograms (EEGs) to the eyes of test subjects and discovered that everyone spends part of each night in a sleep state characterized by rapid eye movements (REM). It’s during this REM phase that most dreams occur, particularly longer and more vivid dreams.
During the 1960s, working with dreams became part of the New Age experience, and people began talking about lucid dreaming, astral traveling, and out-of-body experiences (OBEs). New Age personalities expanding upon dreams were anthropologist Carlos Castaneda and mystic Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. Castaneda wrote about a conversation with a mysterious sorcerer named Don Juan. One of Don Juan’s mysterious powers was lucid dreaming, or a person who is aware that they are dreaming. Rajneesh wrote The Psychology of the Esoteric, which developed a logical framework for explaining a range of dreams from the ordinary to the extraordinary.
Everyone dreams, it’s universal, but how many of us remember our dreams, or can decipher them. For some, dreams can be a mysterious source of creativity and problem-solving, or even precognition. For the psychoanalyst, dreams provide a window to the subconscious and its repressed desires. For still others, dreams can be a pathway to spiritual growth, or a gateway into the parallel worlds of the shaman. It’s up to you as a unique individual to search out the special meaning of your dreams, because they will only unlock and open up one world – your own.