Thursday, August 11, 2016


Tiger Lilies in  a High Meadow

"Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith!” (Luke 12:27-28)

“It is no great measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” (Krishna Murti)

     Sometimes when I am hiking in the mountains, I find a tree or a flower that makes me want to question everything. Encountering a tiger lily in a high mountain meadow, for instance, I have felt the energies of the sun and the Sun behind the sun within the petals and leaves and in the surrounding plants and trees. I had once, long ago, believed that God was in some far away heaven. Then for many years I believed that God does not exist. Over the years, however, I have kept finding myself before a majestic tree or a flower such as a tiger lily, feeling divinity in all things. Inevitably among the trees and wildflowers, in fresh air and sunshine, I sense light radiating through my solar plexus and feel, as I breathe, the magnificence, harmony, and abundance of spirit. After numerous encounters with ravishing flowers and awesome trees, after visions of spiritual symbols during meditation, I ended up finding a belief system that reveals the magnificence, harmony, and abundance of the spiritual and natural worlds.

Larkspur and Arrow Leaf Tansy

     Not enough is made these days of the benefits of fresh air and sunshine. Recently, at seven thousand feet in elevation, after escaping the pollution and the negative mental atmosphere of human society, I felt a surge of well-being so powerful that I couldn't help but entertain a horrible thought: Humans have created societies so polluted and so cut off from the energies of the life-force that many people think that the Source does not permeate the Earth, the plants and animals, ourselves.
     I had another uneasy feeling: I have formed false beliefs that for most of my life have made me feel less magnificent than the tiger lily, less full of the love, harmony, and abundance that, in the fresh air and sunshine at seven thousand feet, I suddenly knew all humans are meant to experience.

Tree of Life

     I did not know that the natural world is full of splendor until I explored every trail through the forest that I could find. My wife told me at the beginning of our relationship almost thirty years ago that you must have flowers and trees and birds in your heart to truly see them. I have come to realize the truth in that statement: You have to open your heart in order to truly see anyone or anything. I did not know about the paths through spiritual dimensions until I opened my heart and mind during meditation and experienced visions of magnificent symbols: a golden, equal-armed cross with angels at each end; a golden plate and chalice on a white tablecloth; a gray lemniscate over my head; a brilliant thousand-petaled lotus with a diamond in the center; a golden crown; a golden Celtic Cross. Then I found these symbols on the glyph known as the mystical Tree of Life.


     Fresh air and sunshine, I have discovered, give me a much clearer perspective. I realized that to be well-adjusted to a sick society I have had to be sick. And, because the Valley is so full of pollution and negativity, I must struggle continuously with my chronic illness on all levels: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. Unfortunately, in my current condition I cannot continue that way and hope to survive to a ripe old age.
     Recently I spent a few days enjoying fresh air and sunshine at the beach and realized that I have a perspective on the central coast that few people have. Forty-five years ago, when I was eleven, my family visited the beach at San Simeon. Starfish, crabs, sea anemones, barnacles, mussels, and kelp tapestried the rocks. A few sea anemones seemed larger than my head, and I was tempted to stick my fingers in their mouths, but I was afraid that they would bite off my hand. I returned years later, only to discover barren rocks: Instead of starfish and anemones and barnacles I found patches of black tar stuck to denuded sandstone. At first I had the nagging feeling that something was missing. After awhile, I realized that the marine life along the shore had been wiped out, most probably, given the prevalence of tar, by oil spills. No one else with me that day had experienced the abundance of life that had once flourished there. To them, the sea shore appeared to be as it had always been. They had no notion of how the life-force had once manifested within countless creatures along the shore.
     It took a short time to wipe out the marine life along the central coast, yet only now, decades later, is the ecosystem showing a few signs of recovery—a few small anemones in the tide pools, for instance. After reading that half of the world's wildlife has disappeared in the past forty years, I'm beginning to think that as a species we are amazingly good at ignoring our impact on the planet. Or perhaps it's even more basic than that: Out of sight out of mind. If we can't perceive something, we have great difficulty believing that it exists or once existed, just as I didn't believe in the significance of spiritual symbols until I experienced them in vision, just as I did not believe that nature is full of splendor until I experienced amazing wildflowers and trees.

Tiger Lilies and Arrow Leaf Tansy

     The losses, of course, are due mainly to cultivation and urbanization and pollution and the need for food in an increasingly overpopulated world, but how easily we forget the threads in the divine tapestry when they are gone. And those threads, I've discovered, are just as important as any spiritual symbol in helping me know the Source. Over the past half century, I have noticed a correlation: The more I experience the divinity of the life-force within other creatures, the more I experience the divinity of the life-force within me. Conversely, the more I forget how the life-force manifests in other creatures, the more I forget the divinity of the life-force as it manifests within me. 
     The more we forget, the more we are likely to see the world only in human terms. The San Joaquin Valley, where I have lived for forty-five years, over the past hundred years has changed dramatically from an ecosystem with an abundance of wildlife to a patchwork of farms and ranches and cities. John Muir, upon entering the San Joaquin Valley in 1868, noted in a letter, “The valley of the San Joaquin is the floweriest piece of world I ever walked, one vast...sheet of flowers.” I was startled to read Muir's letter because I had traveled numerous times across the Valley before I encountered any wildflowers at all—a few baby blues and poppies on a stretch of ranch land. We forget that before the Valley was cultivated and the dams were built, the San Joaquin River
Snow Flower Plant
would flood periodically, refreshing the wetlands and aquifers, creating a flyway where birds would blot out the sun, where herds of deer and tule elk and prong-horned antelope would roam. Since the 1940s, the San Joaquin River, due to water diversions, has died at a sinkhole most years instead of flowing out through the San Francisco Bay into the Pacific Ocean. Wetlands now are down to four percent of their historic levels, and the wildlife population, found primarily now on a few small refuges, has dwindled to almost nothing. The loss of what little is left is continuously couched in human terms: jobs and homes and people versus species of wildlife. Industry and business continue to win. Because fewer and fewer people have experienced the magnificence, harmony and abundance of nature, the political will to protect what's left in places like the San Joaquin Valley has nearly evaporated. The splendor of the life-force continues to vanish.
     Forgetting creates a disconnect, a moral chasm. During droughts farmers keep demanding more dams in the foothills, ignoring the fact that farming and ranching and a few cities have already destroyed a vast, once-thriving ecosystem in the Central Valley. They ignore the fact that dams in the mountains would destroy more ecosystems so that the public would have even less access to the life-force in all of its stunning manifestations. I would not have known the sacredness of rivers and forests had I not dedicated myself to experiencing wildness on a regular basis, often in places where farmers want to build dams. So many nowadays do not experience wildness at all. So many people, rarely experiencing the interrelationship of life in wild places, have not come to know and revere the life-force in plants and animals and the ecosystems where they live—or in other people. Ecocide, another example of the sickness of our society, threatens the very fabric of nature, yet once again the hydraulic brotherhood is planning to commit ecocide for its own benefit, angling for public funds to dam public lands in the foothills near Fresno.
Tiger Lilies by Rivulet
     Please don't think that I am romanticizing nature. Humans are struggling like every species to survive in a predatory universe. After many excursions into the wild, however, I no longer consider horrible either predation for survival or death. All creatures end up sacrificing themselves for other beings, even if only for worms and ants and flies, which are essential for the health of the world. The transition from the physical to other dimensions occurs as regularly as birth into the physical realm. Since I have experienced divinity within life, I know that divinity exists within death. Since I am open to death, I am open also to the magnificence, harmony, and abundance of life.
     Ecocide, which occurred in the Central Valley not long before I was born and along the central coast during my lifetime, has made it ever so much harder to know the magnificence, harmony, and abundance of spirit because in those places the magnificence, harmony, and abundance of the natural world has vanished. Dion Fortune states in The Mystical Qabalah, “matter is crystallized spirit, and spirit is volatilized matter” (214). Through a uniquely human activity, spiritual ritual, one can get in touch with subtle natural forces, but one can also experience the subtle forces manifested in nature. The remaining ecosystems in the mountains could very well save this society if enough people open their hearts and recognize the Source in all things and get in touch with the divinity in nature and themselves and other people.
     The inability to perceive divinity within nature stems in large part from fear: the fear of otherness, the fear of shattering the ego, the fear that if we stop controlling nature we will never have enough—for survival or to impress other people. During my recent trips to the mountains and the ocean, I realized that my entire life I have been fed a lie: I will be special and respected if I fulfill certain conditions, such as making a lot of money, buying a big house and/or a hot car, or achieving exemplary status in some career. Due to my worsening chronic illness I touched the hem of eternity over a year ago, and I have realized since then that, like the vast majority of other people, I have just kept doing pretty much the same things over and over in the same places for most of my life and that I will never, no matter my circumstances, be more or less significant than any other creature or person on this earth. I realized that every living thing is magnificent, not for what it does, but as a divine, transitory expression of the life-force within the web of life.

Tiger Lilies in Sunshine

     After hiking through the mountains regularly, I have also come to believe that a typical city street is far more dangerous than a trail through a forest. I have encountered bears and mountain lions and coyotes and bobcats and rattlesnakes and tarantulas and scorpions but have never once been threatened by any of them. I cannot say the same about people, especially people in cars.
     Ritual, I have realized, is especially important as a way to keep in touch with the life-forces because we are losing nature more and more every day. After my recent trips to the mountains and to the coast, I understood that I needed to perform a ritual as potent as fresh air and sunshine to help me overcome my chronic illness and keep me in touch with the glory of the life-forces, so I chose to invoke the energies of the Sephira on the Tree of Life associated with Jupiter and the magnificence, harmony and abundance of the spirit: the Fourth Sephira known as Chesed, referenced as “The Glory” at the end of the Lord's Prayer.

Path 21


     On the Tree of Life, the Tarot card The Wheel of Fortune is associated with Jupiter. At one point the Greeks associated the Egyptian God Amun with Zeus (Zeus Ammon); the God Jupiter is the Roman analogue of Zeus. As a self-created, transcendental God of creation, Amun over time became fused with other Egyptian Gods such as the Sun God Ra and the fertility God Min. Coalesced with Ra, the source of all life on the physical plane, Amun is the “hidden” Sun behind the sun. Amun, combined with Min, represents the potent life-forces of the Source manifesting on the physical plane.

Four of Pentacles
Sun in Capricorn
Jupiter in Chesed

     The Tarot Pentagram Spread works through association chains of spiritual principle. For instance, the decan correspondence of The Four of Pentacles is The Sun in Capricorn. All the Fours on the Tree of Life correspond to Jupiter in Chesed, the fourth Sephira. The Pentacles are associated with the Earth element. Invoking the Wheel of Fortune using the Egyptian pantheon, with Amun as Jupiter, the meaning of the Four of Pentacles is powerfully clear: The Source, Amun, combines with the sun, Ra, and with the potent life-forces symbolized by Min to permeate the element of Earth, in other words, physical manifestation.
     The association of Amun with other Egyptian Gods represented by the Fours creates powerful association chains.

Four of Cups
Moon in Cancer
Jupiter in Chesed

  • In the Four of Cups, The Moon in Cancer, Amun combines with Nephthys, associated with The Moon, and with Khepera, associated with the morning sun and Cancer, creating a state for clear psychic vision, for seeing deep into the soul and connecting with the divine spark and the Source.

Four of Swords
Jupiter in Libra
Jupiter in Chesed

  • In the Four of Swords, Jupiter in Libra, Amun joins with Ma'at, maintaining inner balance through connection with the Source even though conflict and false beliefs might threaten to disrupt the mind.

Four of Wands
Venus in Aries
Jupiter in Chesed

  • In the Four of Wands, Venus in Aries, Amun joins with Hathor, Goddess of love and the harmony of proportion, and Horus, God of power, courage, strength and discipline, to perfect the inner work of understanding the harmony, magnificence, and abundance of the spirit and the physical world.

Fourth Sephira, Chesed (Mercy)
Central Card of Pentagram Spread: The Wheel of Fortune
Modifiers: The Fours

Decan Associations:

Four of Pentacles, Lord of Earthly Power: Sun in Capricorn
Associated Major Arcana Cards: The Sun (The Sun), The Devil (Capricorn)
Egyptian Gods: Ra (The Sun), Min (Capricorn)

Four of Cups, Lord of Blended Pleasure: Moon in Cancer
Associated Major Arcana Cards: The High Priestess (The Moon), The Chariot (Cancer)
Egyptian Gods: Nepthys (The Moon), Khepera (Cancer)

Four of Swords, Lord of Rest from Strife: Jupiter in Libra
Associated Major Arcana Cards: The Wheel of Fortune (Jupiter), Justice (Libra)
Egyptian Gods: Amun (Jupiter), Ma'at (Libra)

Four of Wands, Lord of Perfected Work: Venus in Aries
Associated Major Arcana Cards: The Empress (Venus), The Emperor (Aries) 
Egyptian Gods: Hathor (Venus), Horus or Montu (Aries)