Presented by Mary Jane Di Piero on April 1st, 2017 §
Reminder from Mano: When you light a candle, give thanks to the fire spirit.
Painting by Barbara Thomas
Here (says Mary Jane) is a tiny story of my life. In mid-March a routine PET scan showed a small spot on my lung (probably a touch of pneumonia from The Cough) and another one on my breast near where last summer’s melanoma was removed. I can’t have surgery until the cough goes away, so I have come home to wait three weeks. What has slowly filled me is great happiness. My highest good, I realize, will be served by abandoning all my normal activities—study groups, meetings, shopping, errands—all but a little heart-required grandson time. I can burrow into my comforters, with candles and beautiful music, sleep, meditate, continue my healing wanderings into childhood and ancestry. The following days have been precious out-of-time ones. When I’m tempted to begin it all again, I tune into the place in my chest where the cough still waits in longing for some deeper kind of attention.
The poet David Whyte, in “Time Is a Season”, says: “To make friends with the hours is to come to know all the hidden correspondences inside our own bodies that match the richness and movement of life we see around us. The tragedy of constant scheduling in our work is its mechanical effect on the hours, and subsequently on our bodies, reducing the spectrum of our individual character and color to a gray sameness. Every hour left to itself has its mood and difference, a quality that should change us and re-create us according to its effect upon us. In many traditional cultures, a particular hour of the day is seen to have a personal, almost angelic presence, something that might be named—though only in hushed tones, and only in ways that reinforce its unknowingness. The Benedictine, Brother David Steindl-Rast, defines an angel as the eternal breaking into time, each particular breakthrough of the numinous utterly extraordinary and utterly itself. Time and each hour of time is a season, almost a personality, with its own annunciation, its own song, its whispering of what is to be born in us. Its appearance like a new conversation in which we are privileged to overhear ourselves participating.”
Recently Barbara has been creating a new book. She has long had a manuscript on the Council of Gnomes, and now, to complete it, she has placed herself in this all-embracing Time space to comb through her years of communications with the elementals and open to new revelations of her life’s work. From our emails and conversations, I would say that this review is bringing her great happiness, as she gives herself permission to simply be with her true self and true experience.
I understand, too, how I can live with a story about myself for many years, and then, with age, wisdom, added information, or necessity it comes to me again from a new angle and clicks into alignment with a greater, higher energy. The resonance refines itself; peace reigns. This arrival of peace, of truth, Barbara always describes as the deep involuntary breath (DIB). When it comes, she knows and trusts. She believes that everyone has some variation of the DIB, which of course doesn’t signify the end of the learning but is a trusted signpost along the way.
The September 2014 blog describes Barbara receiving the Heart of a Gnome from the council. Through her recent reviewing lens, with its added degree of accuracy, she describes the gift anew. “Today I woke up with thoughts about authentic language and ‘I’ messages—that ‘I’ messages come from the heart and ‘you’ messages from the head. And then, voila, Mano helped me remember the gift the council had given me of the Heart of a Gnome, a teaching I had forgotten about.”
She began connecting the “I” message work with the Heart of a Gnome gift. “The heart is authentic and speaks with ‘I’ messages. The heart is personal. It speaks the truth, what it knows and has experienced. The head speaks with ‘you’ messages. It is impersonal, full of opinions and other people’s stories, and it relates beliefs rather than knowing. I have experienced a rebel in my mind, versus a revealer in my heart. My mind acts out in rebellion against plans and purposes I am guided to do. My heart encourages truth through revelation in the action. Akasha’s teaching is that merely having the idea for something to happen will not bring its manifestation. It takes heart desire to fill the idea with substance. The heart is the action motivator. When I think about going to the amphitheater, my mind can easily talk me out of it. (It’s too cold, too late). When my heart wants to go, it happens. As for the Heart of a Gnome, “It is pure, it does not know duality, good and bad. It knows only perfection (‘good’, which to the gnome means ‘God’). It is innocent, like a child, trusting and kind. It is eager to do its best.”
Another revelation was that other helpers she has received in the past—the Joy Guide, the Green Heart, the fairy in her heart—carry the same energy as the Heart of a Gnome. “The Joy Guide was first given to me in 1970, during my first psychic reading. Later in the amphitheater I was told that I had been given a fairy in my heart. And then I received the Heart of a Gnome. I believe these are all different names for the same aspect of consciousness that lives in our heart. All of them have the same quality, the same being; it is the same being I now recognize as the experience of taking deep involuntary breaths when I think, hear, or speak truth. This being is also called the inner child, the innocent one. She is pure and holy and is a constant reminder to live with the truth of heart knowing rather than head knowledge.”
“I see this as such a beautiful gift. I never fully realized the depth of its meaning. As I work with the material for this book, I find that is true for so many things I have experienced and been told. Mano has used this past two months’ work to reveal so many truths in such a deep embrace. As Pamela Eakins has said, ‘Life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved.’ And as John Powell says, ‘To be honest and open and free, to let you see who I really am, takes the rawest kind of courage.’ ”
Presented by Mary Jane Di Piero on March 1st, 2017 §
Reminder from Mano: When possible, have your feet on the soil as you walk. When on concrete, see your feet going beneath, to the surface of the earth. Send love through your feet to the earth and through your eyes to all of nature around you.
Another admirable January event in Nevada City/Grass Valley (in addition to the Wild and Scenic Film Festival I mentioned last month) is the Food and Farm Conference. Among the local presenters was a mom I sometimes see at my grandson’s preschool, a beekeeper. I noticed she was on the conference program and mentioned to her that I was coming. She told me how scared she was, because she’s only been working with bees for 6 years and others have much more experience. She was staying up until midnight working on her power point presentation, worrying. And then she stopped abruptly and said: “But what I really want to tell people is to talk to the bees and listen to them. They have been around for thousands of years and know what we need to do to help them.” I laughed and told her I thought that would be a courageous thing to do.
The morning of her presentation in the high school library, the wild rain had slowed things down, the ceiling was dripping, and the tech guys were not able to project her power point. When she realized she was on her own, she visibly straightened up and began to speak from her heart. She didn’t just mention the talking-to-the-bees part, as she might have, possibly with a trace of embarrassment. She made it the framework for her entire talk, beginning with how the bees sing the world with the resonances of their constant humming— which summon the flowers to open and create life forces of well being. She wove in so much knowledge about natural beekeeping, including the need for responsible practices and interfacing with commercial beekeepers, that her expertise seemed to pave the way for, and merge seamlessly with, her deep, respectful relationship with the bees. Every morning she takes her tea to the hives and tells the bees about her life, what is happening and what she is thinking. “What kind of response do you receive in return?” I ask. Well, during the day she gets intuitions, she says, a sudden idea, an urge to call someone, a knowing that she needs to tend to something.
She has sung into place this other layer of reality with the bees, based on mimicking the way bees live in nature and on the folklore of beekeeping. The old beekeepers, for example, didn’t go into the hives (didn’t have the removable frames that would make this possible), so they had to have other ways to discern the health of the hive; they watched the entrance and learned to read bee behavior. This young beekeeper balances going into the hive with observing from the outside; she incorporates the old with the new and distinguishes between frantic out-of-health hives and those where the bees are organized and have their wits about them. It’s humbling—she lives in that space of humility and gratitude. She sometimes loses hives, and then, in the other direction, she discovers a swarm and thrills to the bees’ natural way of birthing the new hive.
This idea of learning to watch the entrance, the gateways, from outer to inner, to feel the pulses, pertains as well to working with the devas of the garden, the gnomes, and other nature spirits—with what’s under the earth, what’s inside the tree, and even what’s deep in our own cellular structure. I intuit my way through the membrane of consciousness, the imaginative and true journey, but I don’t have to reject the microscope, the magnifying lens, the thinking path. Working with the heart AND the intellect is a discipline worthy of my complete attention.
Barbara notes that the beekeeper’s way of receiving sudden knowing, through intuition, is the way Mano impresses her to action or to receive a teaching. “If I follow a sudden idea by writing it into the computer,” she says, “pages of teaching may follow.”
The elementals give constant encouragement, and Barbara documents it with the quickness and efficiency of modern technology (that is, her laptop). “When I once told my team I felt like I was slipping backward in my connection,” Barbara remembers, “Mano encouraged me not to fret over these lapses. ‘It is all part of the learning process,’ he said. ‘To fret and feel dissatisfied with yourself only depletes your energy. Move into self-love. This is a big project and shift, not only for you but for the collective. Love yourself and set intention for the desire of your heart. When you live in gratitude and appreciation the joy will follow. Just breathe love in and out and the rest will fall into place. We are ever here supporting this integrative process. Sit in silence, Barbara. We do not want to feed your mind. You know the answers. We want to feed your heart so you can connect with your passion for this work.’ ”
The Council of Gnomes also provides context for Barbara, bringing the old into alignment with the new. One day, several years ago, the council wanted to talk about her personal history, over lifetimes. “You were part of a wave of consciousness that came to the planet to bring forth a new consciousness. This energy came into the earth’s etheric in Lemurian times. After the flood it was decided that many would enter the earth physically, while others of us would remain in the etheric. We, the Council of Gnomes, have stayed in the etheric. You chose to enter the physical. We work with the consciousness of the planet as you work with the consciousness of humanity by specifically working with your own physical consciousness.”
“The big experiment was to individualize, using your God consciousness of creativity to embody a form. You were to stay connected with the God source and the consciousness of Earth Mother, uniting the two as one—two sides of the whole, like Janus, the god who could see in both directions at the same time. You also, in this present time, walk in the physical world of personality while being overshadowed by your higher consciousness.”
Barbara reflects on the wealth of information that has come to her over the years, “as my team and teachers try to give me the big picture, encouraging me to wake up. Each one of us who wakes up sends out an energy that will go out through human consciousness and assist others to wake up to their own connection with their guardians, guides, teachers, and soul. A major teaching is for me to live from the inside out and give up my old ways of living from the outside in, always thinking I know what would be good for others and trying to match my thinking to fit with their beliefs. The night my husband Jim died, as I went back to bed, I heard the inner voice say, ‘Will the real Barbara Thomas please step forward.’ I felt this as a challenge and an invitation. I accepted and now am led to share publicly my relationship with gnomes, angels, and the spirit beings on my land. I choose to live by what I know is true for me, a single individual. I don’t have to wonder if what I share is right for others; they will know.”
Presented by Mary Jane Di Piero on February 1st, 2017 §
Reminder from Mano: When you drink a glass of water, say thank you to the water elemental.
Painting by Barbara Thomas
Each January Nevada City/Grass Valley hosts the Wild & Scenic Film Festival, with a rich offering of movies about the natural world, about people engaging in environmental and cultural innovation and preservation, about finding honorable ways of existing in this most interesting time. I have launched my own search, in these days, for people whose authenticity makes me feel alive and awake, who are unapologetic about their spiritual explorations, who can see and work and research different viewpoints and look for the underlying connections, who can say no without scorning and vilifying.
The prizewinner for me at this year’s festival was not a movie—though I saw plenty of inspiring ones—but a free event at a coffee house early one morning. A couple, Mark and Clare Dubois, led a session called “Moving Beyond Mind”, in which, separately and together, and with us attendees, they called into being a flow state of energy that was palpable and elevating and lasted for a long time. It was an exciting experiment.
Mark, a long-time river activist, set the tone of “learning through experimenting” with stories of his early days of river running and how he learned not to break paddles by resisting with strength and force but rather came to dance with the currents, to breathe with the river, to find the “through line” when faced with rapids and walls of water. “This is an incredibly sacred time we’re in,” he said; our collective wisdom is needed, and we’re all in the same boat.
Clare, who created treesisters.org, stated the challenge: “We’re in a colossal inherited momentum and need to understand how we got here on an energetic level. It involves shaming of the feminine, having intuition hammered out of our wild natures, being taught not to honor the sacred but to be consumers, and not learning to deal with pain. Trying to become sane can feel insane.” She also emphasized, however, that “the feminine side is not just woman; it’s the receptive side, attuned to listening, sitting in humility and receiving. This side is starting to receive a different intelligence. The doing side can then help figure out the solutions.”
The Dubois’ morning experiment involved contemplating with a partner the question “How can I find the through line?”—first from a purely intellectual mind space, and then from the heart. The meditation that followed focused on the heart space, and just as I began feeling a great tingling on my skin, and then an expansion first of my head and then the rest of my body, Clare verified the energy shift and then tracked it for the remainder of the gathering. I was gratified to feel myself as a data point in this exploration of awakening consciousness.
“We can create a much greater continuum,” Clare encouraged. “Our souls can be woven into a greater intelligence, to which we have access. We have no idea what we’re capable of.” In the face of fear, the safest response is to become “logged into infinite power” and to begin learning how to stay connected. “Fear, scarcity, and separation are the old; love and connection are the new.”
We must have both our masculine and feminine sides actively engaged, it’s clear to me, even if our personalities and our innate inclinations lean more to one side than the other. That balance is the experiment, the work. Barbara’s “Healing Burned Woman” story, dvd, and workshops all aim toward this, and she has been receiving and presenting it for many years. Now, with the great stirring from lethargy this presidential election has stimulated, with women (and many sympathetic, attuned men) meeting and marching en masse all over the world, perhaps the realization of balanced matriarchy and patriarchy is closer at hand, or at least ready for a renaissance. This awakening, this moving beyond mind, must be embued with Spirit if it is to stay true and avoid being entrapped by ego, by mere power. We know so well that revolutions are always tempted to become that which they’re striving to replace. To this end of maintaining balance and staying attuned to Spirit guidance, I would like, now, to turn to some of the practices and practical advice the nature spirits have given Barbara.
In the Council of Gnomes Barbara hears:
“We are here to ever remind you, as we promised we would—to assist in your waking up. We remain faithful to our commitment; you are now awake. The next step is for you to ‘get out of bed’ and move into life, the great work. Everything is in place. We would like you to be diligent about your agreements with your body elemental regarding keeping your body, mind, and spirit in alignment. Your ego is infiltrating. You can feel it by your thoughts of concern for your family. Be true to your own self and those you love will have the energy to be true to themselves and to ask for what they want.”
“Keeping each day clear and complete in itself, so you don’t have clean-up from yesterday waiting to be done today, will be of enormous help. We have given you companions to assist you in all you have to do. If your house is in order, there will be little to distract you. Putting things back where they belong, even if you are going to use them again soon, is the best plan.”
“We have always appreciated working with you from the standpoint of your wanting to be healthy, and yet we realize how much time you have spent in the past protecting your body from fatigue, or fear of fatigue. This is no longer the way for you to work. ‘Ask and you shall receive.’ Ask when you go to bed at night for your body to wake invigorated and strong. Ask to be alert, alive, and radiant with life force. It is all a matter of Spirit, of how much Spirit is available and being fed to the body cells, to the elementals in the body, to the light sparks within the light body.”
“When humans stopped taking responsibility for their life force functioning at 100%, the elementals of the earth had to give their life force to keep humans alive. This is no longer necessary as you move into increased consciousness. Start thinking in terms of the life force that comes through your body in movement. Your lungs breathe air, you drink water, you think. Each body, each element, has its ‘right of exchange’. As you breathe in the life force, you breathe out blessings of a human to nature. You give love and appreciation. This reciprocity enriches the elementals and you as well. It increases your life force and it expands their consciousness, because they now have received a conscious element from a human being. As a human, you are very important to the elementals.”
“The key is always for you to be open and willing and to take the unfolding process one step at a time. There is a deeper unfolding beginning to occur now; we can only tell you that it has to do with the learning you are doing in the various mystery schools. We have brought you more than one path, more than one way to learn, so that you would not get stuck in one method but be open to the flow of ideas that come from without and from within. We bring you many facets to feed your many-faceted mind. The goal is to integrate and unite the different facets into a whole.”
Presented by Mary Jane Di Piero on January 11th, 2017 §
Mano reminder: Ask more. Ask more often. Ask more specifically.
Painting by Barbara Thomas
As my heart warms . . . breathing deepens, brain relaxes, spine straightens to align harmoniously with the flow of earth and cosmos. We all, I am sure, have these soft interludes, when we slide out of our logical brain and make way for magic. We fall in love, with other people but also with our dogs, our sports heroes, our music, our work, our gardens. We find ourselves longing to return to some beloved activity over and over again: fishing, hiking, sailing, walking in the rain. All sorts of passions take us by surprise and cause our hearts to lurch and then surrender. Balancing left-brain linear with right-brain intuitive— logical thinking with magical thinking—brings joy, creativity, laughter.
Does it matter how we name these qualitative (versus quantitative) resonances? My friend relates them, simply, to a love of life. When this blog was in its early months, she encouraged us “to invite people to be open to experiencing and being deeply touched by nature, and to present this invitation in different ways.” She observed that “when we cultivate relationship we find our own names. If ‘gnome’ doesn’t work, another word will.” Barbara says that when she first became aware of the spirits within nature she kept asking, “Who are you? What is your name?” One day the answer came: “Your teacher I am. Your teacher I will be. What name you call me matters not to me.”
But then the question comes to me: How graciously do I, do we, accept the names others choose? And how free do I leave them to share with me their spaces of the heart? What I find myself wishing for these days is a softening of mind-borders, with the acknowledgment of the emotional state—this “in love” state—being something I look for in the other, and recognize as something I know, no matter what this person is calling it or even how well hidden it is. It’s like in the novel (and movie), A Man Called Ove, when a band of neighbors gathers around the curmudgeon Ove, because, often enough, they catch glimpses of great kindness and decency beneath his gruffness.
I would also appreciate people giving gnomes and nature spirits the benefit of the doubt. Rudolf Steiner cautions against “unfounded disbelief,” and I always think it would be great if people did the exercises and experiments in the right-brained world before declaring them invalid and beyond proof. How could it hurt to talk to a tree or thank a rose for its beauty, particularly if one could manage to do it objectively, with a true spirit of inquiry and without a judgment blocking the energy?
Sometimes the bridge to understanding is just a matter of pursuing a conversation with patience and good will. I have a friend from high school—a former college coach—who reads this blog regularly and has made gallant attempts to understand what’s going on here. His “normal” self, however, occasionally worries about what he sees as my relentless pursuit of “something that does not exist.” He has called it weird and goofy, this cultivation of connection with unseen beings, but I think what really bothered him was his lack of certainty that I actually believed in this other world. When I assured him that I do, and that my spiritual strivings are way at the top of my life’s pursuits, he was ok with all of it and pleased that we could keep on being friends across all divides. Me too! Those are critical parts of the dialogue, really: trust and open hearts. And I regard the dialogue around differences as an important one.
Barbara says that she doesn’t pursue a conversation about her involvement with nature and the elementals if she doesn’t sense receptivity from the other. She intuitively knows when to offer an opening and doesn’t go further if the invitation remains unacknowledged. For example, a local contractor recently working in her house had a discernably nice energy. After observing that he had lived in the Santa Cruz Mountains for 20 years, she ventured to ask, “Have you ever experienced the elementals or angels in nature, or had special experiences?” He said that his first wife had been interested in those things, that they had done sweat lodges. He missed that world, he acknowledged.
Barbara continues: “When people immerse themselves in nature, they are in the realm of elementals and angels, with or without knowing it. The name you assign doesn’t matter; and church teaching has nothing to do with that special feeling of being in nature. I believe that everyone inwardly yearns for a feeling expression that’s not mental and that wakes them up to the things they love to do. Once while chatting with a friend as we sat on the ground at the base of a redwood tree, just as I felt the special feeling that comes from being in the forest, my friend said, ‘Barbara, I just saw the most amazing thing. That redwood tree just overshadowed you with a blessing.’ ”
Mano is always urging us to build relationships, at first just by speaking to the trees and flowers, saying hello and expressing appreciation. “What name you call me doesn’t matter to me; what’s important is for people to become aware of what happens in nature,” he says. Indeed, Barbara emphasizes, we couldn’t breathe, we couldn’t live, if it weren’t for nature. When we make a conscious connection and “keep coming back” to enhance it, we show our willingness to participate in the grand scheme of life. “When I step outside and pay attention, I feel the freshness of the air and am embraced in love and well-being. Then I stop and acknowledge that and just breathe it in, embracing Mother Nature’s darshan, her holy blessing. The wind brushing against my face is the blessing of the air element; all the elements are there.”
Presented by Mary Jane Di Piero on December 1st, 2016 §
Reminder from Mano: Bless the objects in your house that serve you and give you pleasure (for example, the computer, stove, flower arrangements). All of these are composed of the elements of earth, water, air, and fire.
Mother Tree with added visual
A friend joked the other day that perhaps this election was a great conspiracy on the part of the gnomes to wake us all up. From one perspective or another, the vitriolic campaigning, the great confusion about truth, the shock of the result, the fear and then new resolve the election has stimulated—most everyone I know considers this a new turning, remembering nothing like it in our lifetimes.
Where are the sources of hope and resolve? I am interested in imagining these for myself, and I am fascinated with what others have come up with. One nearly 80-year-old friend told me she has her tennis shoes at the door, ready to march. Two other women, established biodynamic farmers, want to make an impact by helping young women farmers who are worn down with tight money, raising young children, feeling isolated as they and their partners strive to live an ideal of organic, healthy growing. A recent acquaintance, having devoted himself to activism for many years, is now concentrating on beauty—through a poem, for example, that explores the sensual, spiritual essence of a tea ceremony. The uniqueness of the responses is beautiful; the ones I resonate most with are those willing to tolerate bewilderment, avoid blame, stretch toward authentic truth, keep working through fear to arrive over and over again at “dauntless courage of the soul”.
Uprightness is a gesture I keep reminding myself to live into, and that leads to connection with the divine. Then my feet go naturally into earth and communion with nature spirits. This acknowledgement, gentle, continual, that we can call on other realms of being for help, at small, intimate, personal levels and in larger worldwide arenas, is one that I often find missing in the public discourse. And it is the very one that keeps me going.
Barbara wrote last week about a friend’s request for help in relating with some small trees he must cut down on his property. “I learned a lot,” she said (she is always learning a lot). And her process is exemplary of how we can approach this great trouble (and glory) of a world.
“I went to the amphitheater Saturday morning to ask the trees your question,” she writes to her friend. “As I entered I went to the mother tree first as I always do. At the base of the tree my attention went to a configuration of energies: one shape of the bark looked like a gnome cap and below it was a gnome body. Then my vision changed to view a face with a big bushy beard (its body would have gone into the earth). I spoke to this form and recorded our conversation on the computer.”
Dear Sir, I saw you at the foot of the mother tree, first as a gnome with pointed cap, then as a mature adult face with a big beard. I came to ask guidance on how my friend should communicate with the 5-foot-tall redwoods he has to remove. Are you the one to guide me? [I got a yes.] I thought it would be Mano.
Mano knows and understands, but I wanted to take this opportunity to connect in person with you. I am one of the Master Gnomes who has represented the redwood trees in your Council of Gnomes. That is why I show myself to you as a gnome with pointed red cap—the personal code we have with you to identify the presence of an elemental. Others might have another image or feeling that identifies the spirit who is developing a relationship.
In regard to the question of communicating with the small redwood trees, the communication with any aspect of nature goes through the heart and feeling side of life. When a person’s heart and mind are in union, those feelings convert the concept into thoughts and words. Sometimes the reverse is true: the words are clear and convert to a feeling that communicates the content of the conversation.
Always begin a conversation by opening to the Great Mother—Mother Nature, Mother Earth, Angel of the Garden, Angel of the Land—whoever is in charge and guiding and protecting the area of land you are in, and whoever guards and protects the smaller trees you are wanting to communicate with.
Touch the plant. Send it love. Tell it what is happening and what must happen. Express your feelings. Thank it for its presence on your land and in your life. Thank It for the contribution it has made to your life and the beauty of the land. Then tell it that the time for its removal has come and ask the larger trees around the area to absorb the energy of the little one. Ask that a special blessing be offered to it, like wearing a crown for being a sacrificial offering for the need of the area.
Be aware that the tree has learned and grown in wisdom by volunteering to interact with a human. Its service is complete, and it has been recognized and respected, even loved, by this human. Many of us come as emissaries to build the bridge of consciousness between human beings and nature beings.
The first step comes when a human hears the call to live in the forest, to live with trees. The second call is for the human and nature being to relate and interact. The third call is for them to grow together in consciousness.
In closing, Barbara assures her friend that he has heeded these calls through his concern and by reaching out for guidance on the correct way to relate and communicate. “Well done, friend,” she says, “and thank you giving me the opportunity to learn.”
Presented by Mary Jane Di Piero on November 1st, 2016 §
Reminder from Mano: Soften your heart and send love to the flowers in your garden.
This blog will be Barbara’s writing about her two-month commitment in the summers to spend several hours in the amphitheater each day. First, though, comes my introduction. The three-way agreement among Barbara, Mano, and me is that I will start each blog with something personal. When Mano suggested to Barbara three and a half years ago that she ask me to help with the blog, we both expected that I would just edit and present her notebook writings. However, at our first meeting Barbara received the suggestion, from Mano I believe, that I was to add my own perspective, become involved in the conversation. Who knows what would have happened if we had gone the other direction! I recently read something that encouraged people to look every evening for the miracle that had graced their day. I suspect that Barbara’s intuition was one of my miracles.
This month I thought of prefacing Barbara’s sacred daily pilgrimages with some of my notes from David Abrams at the Lama Foundation workshop I mentioned in last month’s blog. David is full of ecstasy and the longing to preserve diversity, in nature and in humanity. The ecstasy, the “being in love” comes through “tending the boundary between the human world and the more-than-human world.” If I become too preoccupied, too busy, and cut off communication, or fall out of relationship with a “more-than-human field”, all of my human relationships can become brittle. For after all, those close to me cannot possibly fulfill all of my mighty needs and longings. So I must remember that I can go out and consult with the trees.
Now I am going to cut the David part a little short in order to include an even more personal observation . . . my early morning dream today. (But please check out David Abrams, Becoming Animal, to see how full of juice his words are, and how full of singing.) So there I was, in the dream, back in the rec room of my childhood home. Barbara was teaching a circle dance to several women from the Lama workshop and we were having a little trouble getting our feet to move properly. I suddenly perked up, popped into a new state of energy, and was able to do the “step-two-three, together” rhythm—albeit imperfectly. Then I realized that some of the stuff in the room was junky, or broken, and I started to clean it out. Would by father mind? I wondered, but then I quickly remembered that he had already died.
We are free, then, to dance without ancestral restriction, to sing to the trees, to recover old wisdom and discover the new, acknowledging the sacredness of place—in this case, Barbara’s amphitheater—but also our own. Here is her story.
The world calls.
Emails demand to be answered.
Desk work, postponed too long, is screaming for attention.
And promises made to self to drink water, exercise, brush teeth long and lovingly (no more quick touch until it tastes good).
People to connect with, family to attend to.
The world calls.
I want to, I will get to, will answer the calls . . . soon.
But for now, Nature, Mother Gaia, the Beings of the amphitheater—
their call has priority.
It is not the loudest call I hear.
It speaks so softly,
I know from experience that
if I don’t respond
I may lose the ability to hear.
And so I go.
Computer over my shoulder
Scarf around my neck
Sun hat on my head
Jacket for warmth as I drive Betsy on
the familiar road.
This is my third year of daily travel to the
amphitheater for the two months of summer.
I call it my Summer Journey.
When I arrive I open my heart, greet the Mother Tree and say,
Mother I am here; I have come home.
Moving into the amphitheater proper
I greet the great circle of trees with Presence.
I open my heart and say hello.
Hello to the god and goddess of the temple in the East
Hello to the God and Goddess of the temple in the South
Hello to the God and Goddess of the temple in the West
Hello to the God and Goddess of the temple of the North
Hello to the place of the rising sun
Hello to the place of the setting sun
Hello to all those who live above
Hello to all of those who live within
Hello to Gaia
Greetings to the dwellers within this sacred place.
I open my heart, silence my mind to sit in your presence.
I am available to interact with any who wish to come.
I wait to see if anything happens.
What does my imagination see?
What does my imagination hear?
I wait and record in my computer what, if anything, happens.
I wait to hear a voice, one I recognize or a new presence.
I often spend time lying on the earth,
often sing songs to the beauty of nature around me.
Every day I do an ink stick drawing
to honor a request the Nature Spirits have made.
Over and over I say to the space around me:
You are so sweet.
There is such a sweet feeling present here today.
Thank you, I love you.
I will be going now.
Does anyone wish to speak before I leave?
Sometimes from behind me I hear a voice in my imagination say,
Yes, I want to speak.
And then I record the conversation on the computer
and leave when it is over.
Day in day out,
I make this journey daily for the two months of summer,
usually staying one or two hours, perhaps three or four.
Beyond that, I go when I am called.
In the last 29 years of living on this precious land, I estimate
I have made this trip 7000 times.
I used to walk.
Now Betsy and I travel together.
And always, all ways the Beings of the land
are there to greet and bless us.
Presented by Mary Jane Di Piero on October 2nd, 2016 §
Reminder from Mano: Say hello to the Spirits of the land, the Geni Loci, when entering a park, going to the beach, hiking in the mountains.
Painting by Barbara Thomas
Knowing that Spirit (angelic or elemental) is always placing “next steps” in my path and that I’m committed to paying attention, in mid-September I attended a Gift Economics workshop at the Lama Foundation near Taos, New Mexico. Two of the presenters are authors whose books have been very important to me in the past couple of years: Charles Eisenstein: The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible, and David Abram: Becoming Animal. The third presenter, Pat McCabe (Woman Stands Shining), is a Dine elder who works also in the Lakota tradition and is a friend of my daughter’s from Taos. This perfect coming together of valued people I had no idea were connected felt like a calling—to something, perhaps a confirmation of my destiny path or even a sliver-hint of a new one.
One night, toward the end of my stay there, I woke up feeling disappointed, wondering what I had learned and why I had felt so compelled to attend—perhaps partly because Charles and David had arrived only for the last two days of the event. I consoled myself: surely I have been around long enough to know that the gifts we receive may not always be the ones we anticipate, and that their importance may register only later, as reflection sets in and the streams of new relationships play their tune. Now, although I still do not know how this New Mexico time will inform my core story, I feel abundant joy and energy around it—with the new community that blossomed as we sat together for many hours in Lama’s dome space, and with the integrity radiating from leaders and participants.
The most important jewel from the conference—the one I am just now most moved by and certain about—came early in the week through the presence of Pat McCabe. Like Barbara Thomas, Pat follows Spirit, not just occasionally, when it occurs to her, but as a daily, moment-to-moment practice. Being in the presence of such exemplars is a great gift. In the mood of a gift economy, I wonder, how do I value such people and what they bring? I can show my gratitude best, I think, by emulating them, in my own particular way.
Being in that space, with Spirit, requires dreamtime. Pat spoke of how, after a divorce, she spent many days feeling paralyzed. But paralysis transformed into stillness, and then came the message: “This stillness you have is going to be more important than you can imagine.” Barbara goes to the amphitheater nearly every day to feel into its profound stillness, and then to engage in a listening and response with Mano and the other nature spirits. Today I sit by my little fish pond in the sun, bluebirds flitting close, my head expanding into . . . peace.
Yet the journey is not all peace. Barbara’s old dialogues hold so many instances of her forgetting to tune in to Spirit, sometimes for weeks, and then apologizing and recommitting. Pat describes a visitation by the Sun Mother, who gave her direction that she didn’t like and didn’t want to heed. Through this back-and-forth tug— resistance and forgetting giving way to turning things over to Spirit and accepting—the fundamental alliances are forged. The road becomes smoother, reliable, but not without challenge and hard patches.
Early on, Pat said, she was unable to hear Spirit messages because she had an expectation around how they should come. Barbara, too, writes of her initial distaste for gnomes and her gradual process of being opened through teachers and books and, above all, Nature, until she became familiar with and trusted by the elementals. Pat talked about a long period of being tested, not so much a trial, she felt, as Spirit’s checking to find how well she could hear, how willing she was to listen, and how useful she could be. In Barbara’s notebooks, Mano, Rama, and other gnome spirits tell her how they are “training” her to serve the greater cause of reconciling angelic, human, and elemental realms.
I don’t want to contort these two elders into similar boxes—their differences, indeed, are beautiful. They come from different traditions, white European and Native American, and use different tools. Yet I am moved to note a kind of skeletal coherence—a dance—of likenesses. Both women are deep reminders to me that this listening to Spirit is the only response to our crazy world that makes sense.
It’s also interesting that both of these wise women are nurturing the recovery of earth wisdom lost in the witch burnings of the Inquisition, and of thus rekindling a sacred way of living that has an authority beyond patriarchal rule-based rigidity. When Spirit recently asked Pat to orchestrate a series of seminars in Europe to address wounds from this time of great separation, she was initially reluctant to accept this task, which was logistically as well as emotionally difficult. It involved visiting five countries for four-day Human Reunion ceremonies with a group of indigenous women she gathered from across the globe. Each presented her native wisdom and knowledge around the issue of masculine and feminine relationship, as imbedded in indigenous ceremony and the traditions of working with and listening to Mother Earth.
Barbara—from her receiving and publishing of the Burned Woman (available on this website) many years ago, and through the workshops she regularly conducts on “Healing the Burned Woman”—points out that it is time to heal our ancient fears of living in close communion and co-creation with Spirit and Nature. She believes that we all have the burned woman wound within us, whether we were victim or perpetrator (indeed, we may have been both, in different lifetimes).
Barbara painted the burned woman portraits long before she received the story that accompanies them in her book. Both paintings and story came through her more than originating from her. As she relates the experience: “I woke up one night hearing the words, ‘There once was a time, a horrible time’ repeating itself over and over. I got up, sat down at my computer, and word-by-word the whole Burned Woman story was revealed. As I wrote the words I saw paintings I had done 40 years earlier as illustrations for the story.”
“Those paintings were done in the year I was learning to paint. Without realizing it at the time, I was also identifying my inner process and discovering myself as a woman, an adult. I ended up with the self-dedication to be authentic. When I read the quote, ‘To be honest, open, and free, to let people see who I really am, takes the rawest kind of courage,’ I made a promise to myself that I would be that kind of woman. Another quote that has led my life is, ‘Why am I afraid to show you who I really am? Because it is all I’ve got, and if you don’t like it, I have nothing else to offer.’ ”
“Spirit is still in a BIG OVERHALL of my personal identity—who I am and what I am about. My guess is that it will never stop.”
Presented by Mary Jane Di Piero on September 1st, 2016 §
Reminder from Mano: If you live alone, after sending blessing to the food, open your inner awareness and notice if you feel a spiritual presence sitting at the table with you.
Painting by Barbara Thomas
For several months I have been engaged in an ongoing conversation with this melanoma that made its presence known in early May. My first melanoma, in 2010, was in my eye; this one appeared as a nicely contained lump in my breast. Since it’s a re-appearance—even though it’s seemingly not related to the eye cancer—the diagnosis was metastatic melanoma. If you google this, you will find quite a dire prognosis. For the moment, with the removal of the lump and no other scanned hot spots, I have slipped around this beckoning toward dying, with the only further medical remediation being more frequent PET scans for awhile. I ponder: What am I to do now? I feel that something is different. Perhaps the absence of pain throughout the experience (like the first time, actually) signals another prod to attention, a message more spiritual than physical. The body-mind-spirit conversation and searching thus continues, with a new shade of urgency and also a forgiving softness.
The idea I get is that this is about tying things together—the meditations and aha! moments of a lifetime, the molecular disturbance in my body (inclining toward melanoma-cell production) and my body’s high good health through the years; the material practicalities and the spirit realities; good communication with those I’m aligned with and those I’m not, with those on the physical plane and those in other realms. And more than that: within all the categories are other layers. In the physical health category, for example, how do I figure out what to eat in light of all the cancer diets in the air? What alternative treatments do I want to engage in and how can I manifest these from outside the medicare system? Which of my daily activities shall I faithfully continue and which need to shift, and how many can I actually fit in? How do I chart my unique path in the midst of dozens of “Truth About Cancer” alternatives and a medical establishment that at best skirts around most of the “integrative” treatments, opting for vigilant, radioactive check-ups?
I go back to the Talking with Angels quote in last month’s blog, and to the angel’s constant reminder to “ask.” Mano and the elementals in Barbara’s dialogues keep saying “ask” as well. I think: yes, ASK!; expect a response, and be infinitely patient in waiting on the response. Both. Also, pay attention to what grabs, and holds, my attention, the passions that show me each next step.
After my post-surgery doctors’ visits to Stanford in early August, I drove to Ben Lomand to spend some time with Barbara, the amphitheater, and Mano. Mano had cooked up some good questions for us, mostly about what we think the blog has accomplished, where it can go from here, how doing it has changed us. We spent some lovely hours writing and comparing notes. And then it occurred to us to ask readers to contribute to the discussion as well. One of Mano’s questions was: What feedback have you received? We don’t have a very complete picture of who is reading the blog, or of whether it wants to become more of a dialogue with readers, or how it can become more compelling. Neither Barbara nor I regularly check the mailchimp site to see if those statistics would enlighten us. So we have decided to ask people more directly about how they resonate with the blog. We are grateful for those of you who have written comments and talked with us personally, and we invite more of both!
In his reflections, shared with Barbara before our meeting, Mano assured us that he, as Spirit, is guiding us each step of the way and that our responsibility is simply to be open, follow our hunches, and notice what is brought to our doors. “My vision is clear,” he said. “My intention is for the blog to open the way and inspire others to explore their own connection with nature, with the non-physical world. I also wish to acknowledge that without you I could not bring my message out of my heart to the world. I live in gratitude for your willingness.”
Mano again explains the original earth plan. “In the beginning, when the planet was first inhabited, people, angels, and elementals were intended to work together to create a world of perfection—one that gave pleasure to everyone, equally. No one was more important than anyone else. The people were to envision what they needed in order to live in the third dimension, the angels were to take up that need and create a plan for fulfilling it, the elementals were to work creatively with substance and form to manifest the desires of the people, as pictured and held by the angels.”
“The blog has been opening consciousness to elementals; now it is time to open consciousness to the reality of angels and to encourage a working relationship with them. I orchestrated Mary Jane’s friend to give her that Talking with Angels book. There will be more information from that source to help people explore their partnership with the angelic realm beings, and with the world.”
“The needs of the planet have intensified. The angels need help. They need people to remember their part in creating the Perfection by naming what they see needs to be done—to communicate with the angels who then create the plan and pattern and give that blueprint to the elementals who work in substance and create the form.”
“I have said this so many times and it needs to be said again. God has given the people of earth free will, which limits the angels and ascended ones who desire to help. They need to be asked and given an open door to work through. You and Mary Jane have become my open door. Each person has guardian angels and elemental beings just waiting to be recognized, loved, and talked with. This love, gratitude, and appreciation give them substance and fuel to work with. In this way they can create change.”
While I was in the Santa Cruz area, thinking about this idea that we will bring the angels more directly into the blog, I read Angels in My Hair by Lorna Byrne. All her life Byrne, living in Ireland, has seen and talked with angels in a naturally matter-of-fact way. Yet I was interested to notice, especially after reading the reminder from Mano of the “original plan”, that she doesn’t mention nature spirits or elemental beings, even though she’s smack dab in the land of leprechauns. The veils in Ireland, I’ve always thought, are thinner. It floods through me that this plan, which I’ve attended to only lightly, is precisely what will link all the searches and pieces and strivings of my life together: the rightful alignment of angels, humans, and nature spirits—as a realization of the whole and a weaving of the physical, palpable, linear with the spiritual, etheric, invisible.
Presented by Mary Jane Di Piero on August 1st, 2016 §
Reminder from Mano: “If you see a face in the bark of a tree or leaf configuration, say hello, I send you love.
Painting by Barbara Thomas
Last night I picked up a book a friend had dropped off—Talking with Angels: Budaliget 1943—a transcript of the Friday afternoon dialogues with angels four Hungarian young adults had toward the end of World War II. An opening line caught my eye: “The angels said, ‘What could be more natural than our talking with each other?’ May this book help many new dialogues to be born.”
Three artists and a teacher, three with Jewish roots, these four were living in a time of great stress, confusion about the truth, and the need for sources of strength and courage. In our own highly polarized days, with all sides thundering their “truths”, peddling fear and succumbing to it, I can’t think of a better antidote than having dialogues with angels and nature beings. It means developing a tender and intimate inner life, learning to quiet the soul and deeply listen, seeking and valuing imaginative pictures that in time, with nurturing, can lead to spirit reality. I feel that it also involves keeping a steady eye on the fear we carry deep inside us from the Burning Times, when those who worked out of intuitive realities were killed. A friend told me recently that each time she comes to a definitive turn toward balancing her left brain with her right, the fear surfaces, often accompanied by a physical ailment, like headaches. It is important, I believe, to name these fears, to trace them back, even to embrace them as a manifestation of our “fight or flight” adeptness in keeping us alert and safe.
The angel speaking in 1943 Hungary suggested, in addition: “Do not change the bad—strengthen the good! Thus the good will absorb the bad, which is all around it. I have more to say: Praise! Praise the praiseworthy in everyone, everywhere! True praise strengthens; you will see wonders. But never praise falsely, and never lie, even with good intentions! Ask!”
“August is my birth month,” Barbara writes, “and always a time I am open to the gifts life presents to me to celebrate my presence on earth. This year’s gift is ANGELS. I didn’t realize this until Mary Jane’s draft for the August blog arrived focusing on angels. Every morning this past week the morning sun shining on the forest leaf configurations has revealed the shape of a different angel. My thoughts were, ‘Oh, isn’t that interesting?’ Today I realize this is my birthday gift; the angels want to be more present in my life.”
“Before I believed in angels I was intrigued and sustained by the Bible verse, ’God has given his angels charge over thee to guide thee in all thy ways.’ In my mid 20s angels started appearing in my abstract paintings. Then synchronicities and coincidences began to happen. A book about angels came in the mail from an anonymous benefactor. I met Patricia, a woman who interacted with angels and followed their guidance to work with me until I ‘woke up.’ My son’s babysitter Maria was from Panama of Chinese descent and saw the nonphysical world from birth. Today as I was listening to the Ascended Master Teachings, the suggestion was made that we could be of help to the angels.”
“Because we have been given free will, the angels cannot intervene in our lives unless invited. So I have developed the habit of calling in the angels each time I see a need, read the newspaper, or when I remember at a concert or public gathering to invite the guardian angel of everyone present to come close and give a special blessing to their person. I have an angel night light; each time I see it, and remember, I say a prayer something like, ‘Come, come, come all of the angels, come to protect innocent people, come with solutions to our world problems, come and do whatever you can to stop destructive people and keep our world safe. I thank you. I love you. I bless you.”
“We each have many angels assigned to us. The delight comes as a method of recognition or communication is established. Some angels communicate with me by giving me a sudden prompting nudge to take an action. A certain feeling, a deep involuntary breath, is confirmation and affirmation that my current thought is accurate. Sometimes I hear a bell or inner sound. I always think an angel is present when a synchronistic event occurs. Sometimes I create an inner spontaneous dialogue to find out what is happening. The thoughts are so fleeting I can easily miss them; I have learned to create these conversations on the computer, and then I remember and learn.”
“When Jim and I spent a year traveling in Europe, I established a communication with the angels when I started noticing tiny white pin feathers floating through the air or marking a bench I was about to sit on. I wondered, then finally recognized, that angels were actually communicating with me when I saw two pin feathers sitting on the roof of the car as I got in. At the end of our trip they were still there. This angelic connection became a constant comfort and support. The day after we returned home our year-old granddaughter went to the emergency hospital. I went to the amphitheater and said out loud. ‘I can’t stay long. I just wanted you to know what is happening to Suzanne,’ At that moment I noticed what looked like a leaf float from the top of the madrone tree on the other side of the amphitheater and drift gently toward me. As it got close I saw that it was a small white pin feather. I put out my hand and it landed in my palm. I knew the angels were there and that Suzanne would survive. She is now an adult with a beautiful family of her own.”
Presented by Mary Jane Di Piero on July 1st, 2016 §
Reminder from Mano:
Touch the leaf of a tree, bush, or flower and tell it you love it.
Painting by Barbara Thomas
Barbara documented the following gnome encounter in May 2011. It sounds so natural and matter-of-fact, someone unfamiliar with her dedicated striving through the years might imagine that she has a secret channel into the elemental realm. In a way she does—a connection she has been moving toward and cultivating in one way or another for all of her 88 years. Even now, I never observe her taking her communications for granted, using them to her own advantage, or sounding self-satisfied about them. Rather she has developed many tools for clarifying and refining what she hears in her imagination, including use of the pendulum, artistic exercises that access the right brain, humor, cross checking, prayer, spiritual studies, spirit and human allies, and the patience to allow time for understanding and verification.
I was looking for something in Rudolf Steiner’s Festivals book the other day and found one of his very characteristic comments about this process. The content of his Whitsun lectures, he says, “is for the most part in the form of pictures, because pictures refuse to communicate themselves in the narrow, rationalistic way that is possible with concepts and ideas. People think that once a concept has been grasped they have got to the root of everything to which it is relevant. No such opinion is possible in the case of a picture, an imagination. A picture or an imagination works in a living way, like a living being itself. We may have come to know one aspect or another of a living person, but ever and again he will present new aspects to us. We shall not be satisfied, therefore, with definitions purporting to be comprehensive, but we shall endeavor to look for characteristics which contribute to the picture from different angles, giving us increasing knowledge of the person in question.”
Here is Barbara’s picture-story:
With my back to the greenhouse, I sit next to the lemon verbena tree and am embraced with her fragrance as we prepare for meditation with the garden angels and elementals. Andrea opens the seven directions; we chant to still time, space, and motion. She invites the garden angel, the angel of Amity, and all the spirit beings associated with this land to join us.
Within my inner eye I see an old gnome with a long beard. He stands about three feet high and looks at me directly. He is different—not like the others I have seen working in the garden. His clothes are dark; his grey beard reaches almost to his knees. I don’t know if he is wearing a hat or not.
I simply observe him, face to face. We don’t communicate until Andrea guides the meditation into the deep earth to connect with the goddess of the land. She asks the goddess to bless the garden, the plants, and the nature spirits. Immediately the gnome comes back into my vision, excited to receive the blessing of the goddess. “I am surprised,” I say to him. “I would think that she blesses you all of the time.” His reply forms in my mind: “Yes, she does bless us all of the time and that is like everyday blessings. But when a human asks her to bless the garden and the nature spirits, it enhances her blessing a thousand fold and it becomes a big celebration, Like a birthday or Christmas.”
I realize that he looks similar to another gnome friend I relate with when I enter the faerie sanctuary under the amphitheater. I ask if he is Lov-o-lay. “No,” he says, “but I am of the same stature as that one.”
Our conversation continues. I tell him that I have had a garden in this part of the land for 25 years. He is well aware of this; he has been with me from the beginning he says. “I came when you and Jim started your garden and set the big intention for it to be a healing spot on the planet, a homeopathic dose, with humans and nature spirits working in conscious cooperation and harmony. Your prayer was that this healing would open love, respect, and harmonious interaction between human beings and nature beings. That kind of an intention rang throughout the halls within the earth.”
He heard and answered the call because he wanted to work with us. He liked being with Jim when he would sit in the driveway and carefully pull the weeds from between the rocks. Jim never knew he was there, as I have not known of his presence before today, but he likes working with us and with our land.
He has taken it as his responsibility to keep the garden beautiful. Even though I do not work there as much as I used to, it still always looks good. This has surprised me and I call it a sweet garden. He is the one who brings the sweetness. Two years ago he brought the wild ferns into the north bed. This gives the garden a rich vibrant energy all summer long.
As I prepare to leave, the gnome tells me that he has shown himself to me as a very old one, with his long grey beard and subtle clothes, because he wishes me to recognize that he is one of the old ones, the wise ones. He is part of the group I refer to as the Master Gnomes that live within the land.
Now as I write this he stands in front of me to make me aware of another bit of information. My being able to see him, and his ability to communicate with me, is in response to a daily prayer I have been offering for two or three weeks. Each day I go outside and speak to Mother Earth, telling her I know it is hard for her to make this shift upon her axis with ease and grace. I realize that If she didn’t have to deal with humanity’s fear and discordant energy this shift would be simple for her. Since that is not true, she shudders as she makes her shift, with little earthquakes here and tornados there. I tell her I am sorry. I want to do my part to make it easier for her. I make her the promise that I will make a shift within my own consciousness to support her as she makes her shifts. This master garden gnome’s desire for me to see and hear him so clearly is evidence of the subtle shift I am making.