an introduction to talismans

This is part 4 of a 4-part blog on amulets & talismans.

So after reading part 3, did you make an amulet bag for yourself? How did it go?

Now we turn to the sibling of amulets: that is, the complexity of Talismans as the final piece of this 4-part article.

The Greek telesma and, later, the Arabic tilsam bring about the word talisman. These are more complex when compared to amulets. Unlike the various naturally occurring amulets, talismans are crafted works. Cunningham (2019) in his Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs explains how when worn or carried talismans “attract a specific influence, such as love, luck, money, health; as opposed to an amulet which keeps forces from its bearer” (p. 286). Knowing this, the color correspondences that were listed in part 3 of this 4-part series, can be applied here as well. Before moving on, I’ll include a few thoughts on some related European history.

Both amulets and talismans are woven into Europe’s ‘historical marriage’ of religion, magic and medicine. We only have to look back a few hundreds years to see how authoritative power and misogyny laid the foundation for today’s biases, ignorance and misinformation (Magic does not mean heresy.). By this, I mean literally, the exclusion of women from holding positions within Christian/Catholic religious institutions, high-magic orders, and medical practice alongside the formal education required to practice. For those interested, the scholarly writings of Thomas Hatsis offer an in depth look into the pharmacopoeia and folk drug practices of the medieval period. Sure, there were those who misused their status, positions and power, yet how is that any different than today? So, with that noted, let’s look more deeply into talismans.   

While a talisman can potentially be created with any object, it is ritual which surrounds the production of talismans for the purpose of infusing magical powers. In addition, the magical properties of protection and power emerge from the sacred signs found on talismans. In The High Magic of Talismans and Amulets, Lecouteux (2005) explains, “The talisman is, among other things, an incantation, a magic word, a charm set down in writing instead of being recited. Depending on its purpose, the person either carries it or not; it is a personal object that, in order to be effective, should take into account everything concerning the individual for whom it is intended” (p. 24). A talisman’s magical signs and symbols are often obscure (such as a sigil) and this is what some have said to be the reason behind harsh condemnation by the church. Even a few centuries before 1000 CE, talismans became associated with the devil. This negative association, created by church clergy and officials, continued through the Inquisition and beyond. The Dark Ages of Europe lasted around 1,000 years!

To summarize the distinction, both amulets and talismans protect, yet talismans go a step further in that they require ritual preparation (thoughts, plans, care) for a particular purpose, such as attracting something desired. Basically, we charge talismans with our desires. Both amulets and talismans, in their many forms, have been valued by people all over the world for centuries … millennia, actually. These are components of ancient medicine. In fact, a prehistoric male corpse was found in the Alps near the borders of what today would be Austria and Italy with an amulet in the form of a filled leather pouch around his neck. Their use continued, however, although sometimes in secret in order to avoid penalty and consequence. 

Only a century ago, the Bretons (Celts of Northern France) hung starfish over the bed of a child who was experiencing night terrors and nightmares (Lecouteux, 2005). It’s haunting to realize that what many people carry, wear, use, or utter today would have led to interrogation, harassment, possible imprisonment or murder just a half-dozen centuries ago. 

At the same time, it is mind-bending to know that a simple change in terms, from “magic” (pagan) to “miracle” (Christian), makes a difference! After all, magic removes the patriarchal authority of the church. What’s more is that a Christian cross worn around the neck is basically an amulet, as are small pouches with images of saints as seen within Catholicism. When it comes to Christian amulets and talismans, the use of sacred names is important. The utterance or vocal conjuration is what gives the power. Lecouteux (2005) writes that the “mentality underlying the use of Christian amulets predates Christianity itself. It constitutes an interesting form of syncretism that combines elements of the dominant religion with older structures” (pp. 93–94). The appropriation of pagan customs by the church is nothing new and can be observed well beyond amulet and talisman use.

There you have it – a brief introduction to talismans.

Thank you for reading part 4 of 4 – you’ve now completed the entire amulet & talisman blog series. For a deeper exploration of this subject, read Dream Medicine: The Intersection of Wellness and Consciousness (Toplight Books, 2021).

Have you enjoyed this blog series? If so, consider joining me for the Dream Medicine Retreat I’ll be hosting at the beautiful Mar de Jade Wellness Resort in Chacala, Mexico. Details can be found here: 

www.ConsciousChimera.com/Retreats

amulet-making as folkloric craft

This is part 3 of a 4-part blog on amulets & talismans.

As we saw in part 1, amulets come in many diverse shapes, sizes and materials. They hold natural virtues for warding off evil, guarding against negativity, and protecting the wearer or carrier from harm. Part 2 highlighted ways to cleanse amulets.

Have you enjoyed this blog series? If so, join me for the Dream Medicine Retreat I’ll be hosting in Mexico. Details are here: www.ConsciousChimera.com/Retreats

Now, let’s take a look at how we can get crafty and creative!

Customizing Your Own 

In addition to those examples of amulets described in part 1, an amulet pouch, medicine bag, or charm bag can be created. These are often worn around the neck, pinned to a person’s clothing, or placed in a pocket or under one’s pillow. These little bags/pouches can be filled with various items, such as herbs, flowers, crystals and icons. No sewing is required. Simply cut a piece of appropriate colored fabric into a square or circle. Felt, silk, or cotton work fine. Place the amulets of your choice in the center and use a six- to eight-inch string, ribbon or thin leather cord to tie the pouch together at the top. This can be done similar to a European sachet—I’ve been fond of those since I was a little girl. 

Choosing the Best Color for You

Traditional English as well as African American bags are often constructed with red fabric, however, colors correspond to particular attributes, so the use of red is not always necessary. Consider the following additional possibilities – these are just a few examples:

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* Blue for emotional and mental healing

* Green for financial success, prosperity, and physical health matters 

* Purple for confidence, power and success

* White for general protection and purity, or in place of any color

The color you choose in itself can serve as a reminder for what you want. So if I want to protect my physical body or protection around material matters, I’d go with green. If I need to protect my mental and emotional states, I would choose blue. Purple can serve as protection for my personal boundaries, self-esteem, or sense of self. This is the way I think about it, at least.

Today, not only do I carry amulets during the day when I feel I need them, but I often have them on or near me at night when I sleep. This can be one method to help protect people as they dream, go into deep meditative states or trance, or even embark on a conscious, intentional out-of-body experience. Part of maintaining health, in my opinion, is taking action to protect our energy bodies and psyche/soul. Working with amulets is one way to do so.

Thank you for reading part 3 of 4 – the next article (part 4) will focus on talismans. For fuller exploration of this subject, read Dream Medicine: The Intersection of Wellness and Consciousness (Toplight Books, 2021).

Have you enjoyed this blog series thus far? If so, consider joining me for the Dream Medicine Retreat I’ll be hosting at the beautiful Mar de Jade Wellness Resort in Chacala, Mexico. Details can be found here: www.ConsciousChimera.com/Retreats

the care and cleansing of amulets 

This is part 2 of a 4-part blog series on amulets & talismans.

I hope you enjoyed reading part 1. Have you identified any amulets within your possession?

Not all amulets need cleaning, such as plant sprigs, such as a Bay/Laurel leaf, that would only be worn or carried for a short amount of time. Those can be buried or given back to the earth at the appropriate time. See part 1 of this 4-part article for more examples. For crystals and stones, I recommend clearing or cleaning them in simple ways. Below you’ll find some ideas about how to go about this. 

In just one word, first and foremost is intention. Thoughts and prayers are powerful. We can create our realities by what we believe to be true. Before we do ritual cleansing, it is wise to set an intention. While doing the cleaning, hold the intention. These phrases or sentences should be as affirmative as possible and use positive language. Make your intention clear and to the point! Remain authentic. Here are a few possibilities: 

“With this smoke, only love and light remain. I am protected.”

“May this salt water banish all negativity and be a cleansing force now.”

“This amulet protects me and serves my highest good.”

Using the verbal or mental intention of your choice, simultaneously imagine being surrounded in a bubble or egg of soft, golden light.

There are a few ways to cleanse amulets. Salt is a powerful energetic cleanser and is used in many traditions, including Christianity. Salt is used in Catholic exorcism, for example, and salt mixed with water becomes holy water after each are exorcised and prayer over. Prayer, or intention, is crucial for it to function properly, however, the church insists on formal liturgy and avoidance of private, nonreligious usage, thus attempting to take away the natural power of individuals or small groups. For amulets that can get damp or wet, I mix a little salt, about half a teaspoon, with water in a paper cup or disposable plastic container. I gently place my amulets in the salt water, anywhere from one to eights hours. During these longer soaks, I set the intention right beforehand and again near the end, prior to a final rinse. Offering a word of thanks to conclude the cleansing process. Then, toss out the container.

For amulets that should not be exposed to water for more than a few seconds, if at all, set the amulet in a bowl of salt (without the water) and leave it for about the same amount of time. I often do this option at bedtime so that my amulets can get clean overnight while I sleep. In the morning I give them a quick rinse in filtered water, then gently pat them dry, so long as this won’t harm them. After they are cleaned, I thank them for the job they perform. Wash the container thoroughly before next use. 

Photo by Los Muertos Crew on Pexels.com

Another way to cleanse is with smoke. If you grow your own herbs and medicine plants like I do, consider making a personalized bundle just for burning while cleaning amulets. Since I live in northern California, a climate not too unlike the Mediterranean where my ancestors come from, I grow plants that were sacred to that area in ancient times. To make a plant bundle for burning, I can pick a couple stalks of lavender and rosemary. I like to combine these with plants that grow naturally next to my house, such as cedar and pine. Since white sage is native to these parts, I have some of that too and may also add it to the bundle. I place them together, lined up evenly, and wrap them with a piece of thread. I suggest using white thread as that is the color of cleansing and purity or black thread, since that is the color for banishing negativity. Either will do. Once the herbs and plants (it’s all right if their flowers are included) are bound and dry, I burn just as one would burn any kind of incense or bundle. Pass the smoke around the amulet clockwise a few times as well as above and below as you firmly hold your intention in your mind. An expression of thanks is important, as these plants are working for us, for our highest good. Another tip: Kindly express gratitude when picking the plants and herbs in the first place. Sometimes, I leave gifts and other times I say a prayer. Consider what is right for you. All I can suggest is that we acknowledge that everything growing out of this earth has energy and is sacred. Behave accordingly. 

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

A final suggestion for cleaning and clearing amulets that can get wet or damp involves making your own spray or spritzer. Purchase a tiny glass bottle with a spray cap. Take distilled or filtered water and fill the bottle three-quarters of the way full. Fill the rest of the bottle with small appropriate amulets—a little crystal and a bay leaf or sprig of rosemary, for example. Then top it off with about 10–15 drops of essential oil. I like clary sage and rosemary essential oils for my spritzer bottles. Let the mixture infuse, so set the bottle aside for a couple of hours, then shake and finally spray around the amulet above and below in addition to all directions moving clockwise. As always, hold your intention firmly in your mind and offer gratitude as the finishing touch before using the cleansed amulet. 

In her book, Italian Folk Magic, Fahrun (2018) shares how she cleans her water-safe amulets—it is the way her aunt taught her many years ago. She combines water, a little dish soap, and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Then, she takes the amulet and moves it around in the solution, clockwise, three times. Next, she takes it out and rinses it under running water before drying it with a clean towel and allowing it a little air-drying time. When completely dry, she takes her amulet in her hands, says, “May it bring me luck” (“Che mi porta fortuna”) and kisses it (p. 103). 

Consider cleansing your amulet after anyone touches it or even if you suspect someone has touched it. Regardless, some people choose to clean their amulets each week, as part of general housekeeping. Obviously, this is for objects that you will have for a long time. For amulets directly from nature, such as a bay leaf, it’s best to return it to the earth when done with it or when it begins to fall apart or decay. These days, there are many people blogging or video posting on these matters. Some suggestions you’ll come across are similar, while others might be contradictory. Go with what makes sense and with what personally resonates. A final word of advice: Do not share your amulets or your talismans (more on talismans in part 4 of this 4-part blog). These are for you and you alone. If you are gifted one, clean it as well. 

Now, amulet pouches or medicine bags are treated a little differently. This will be the focus of the next article, or part 3. Amulet pouches or medicine bags should not be soaked in salt water, obviously, and don’t necessarily need to be smoked. However the contents can be cleaned and cleared prior to becoming part of a pouch though. The ritual act of making the pouch or bag is powerful in and of itself, so clearing or cleaning the space in which the bag will be constructed is a good initial step. Give it all of your undivided attention. Do not multi-task. Later, after the pouch has served its purpose, it can be buried or returned to the earth since it will likely decompose. 

Thank you for reading part 2 of 4 – the next section (part 3 of this series) will offer instruction for making your very own amulet pouch. For fuller exploration of this subject, read Dream Medicine: The Intersection of Wellness and Consciousness (Toplight Books, 2021).

Have you enjoyed this blog series thus far? If so, consider joining me for the Dream Medicine Retreat I’ll be hosting at the beautiful Mar de Jade Wellness Resort in Chacala, Mexico. Details can be found here: www.ConsciousChimera.com/Retreats

All best,

~Dr. Kim

#women

#folkmagic

#craft

#folkloric

#protection

#evileye

#kitchenwitch

#magik

the what and why of amulets

Welcome to part 1 of a 4-part blog series on amulets & talismans.

If I asked, point blank: Do you intentionally carry an amulet? You’d likely say no. It’s not something on the forefront of most people’s minds. Were you ever gifted a rabbit’s foot? I was, and as a child I carried it with me…at least for a while. Or maybe instead you whisper, “rabbit, rabbit” at the start of each month. Either way, calling in good luck, or repelling bad luck, with various objects is serious business within cultures across the globe.

These days it seems that amulets are somewhat increasing in popularity, yet again, these are not objects at the forefront of one’s mind. The rabbit’s foot as a good luck charm was quite popular in the United States and Great Britain for decades. The history of this particular amulet is not entirely certain and is connected to several possibilities.

So what exactly is an amulet anyway? 

An amulet is said to contain natural virtues used for warding off evil, guarding against negativity, and protecting the wearer or carrier from harm. As a protective object an amulet can come in many shapes and sizes. The power is within the material. In short, an amulet repels what we don’t want, claims Mary Grace Fahrun, author of Italian Folk Magic (2018).

Here are some examples of common amulets which are culturally and situationally dependent:

Coral

Vervain

Thyme

Garlic

A leaf of Bay/Laurel

A fresh or dried sprig of Rue

Amber

Silver and Gold

A stone, gem or crystal (such as quartz, amethyst, tourmaline, carnelian or onyx). 

Italian red coral is considered an amulet.

Amulets can offer protection in all states, whether in dream, meditative, visionary or waking states. Furthermore, amulets can serve as a general protective element as well as carry a unique function. One historical example is how fossilized amber was used for preventing nightmares with children. Another example could be the Italian corno or hunchback or the hand of Fatima, all of which are meant to provide a specific function—protection against evil eye. 

Apotropaic (aka protective) magic refers to the power to avert evil or harmful influences, bad luck, misfortune, or the evil eye. The popularity is evident, even today, by the vast number of apotropaic amulets and talismans sold worldwide. A very early example comes from ancient Greece in the 4th-century BCE – a relief showing Asklepios performing a healing ritual with a serpent and two apotropaic eyes above. These talismanic ‘eyes’ were also commonly found on ancient Greek vases and throughout parts of the Mediterranean region. See part 4 of this 4-part blog series for more on talismans.

From my visit to the archeological museum in Thessaloniki, 2019.

In the book The High Magic of Talismans and Amulets, Lecouteux (2005) provides some history on the origins of the word amulet: In the first century BCE, we come across the Latin word amuletum, derived from amoliri, meaning to protect, to drive away. Considering what amulets are and are not, the most striking example I’ve come across is revealed below. What you see is below is from an excerpt from my 2021 book, Dream Medicine:

Considering the notion of general protective capacities, let’s turn to Celtic traditions for a moment. Healing, wisdom and truth are sourced from severed heads. The most extreme example of an amulet I have ever come across, unsurprisingly, is that of a human skull fragment. According to Tom Cowan, author of Fire in the Head: Shamanism and the Celtic Spirit (1993), ancient Celts were well known for “their cult of the severed head” (p. 35); they flaunted the heads of enemies from their horses or their own necks. Celtic warriors wore human skull fragments as amulets. Sometimes the entire head was placed on a gatepost, outside a doorway, or on top of a stake for protection. In belief systems where the soul is immortal, residing in the head while alive on earth, it is not surprising that claiming or keeping one’s head “was the same as possessing that person’s soul, spirit and personal power, analogous to the practice found among some cultures of eating the heart or brain of a noble warrior or admired enemy in order to ingest his strength” (Cowan, 1993, p. 36). How about that for a power object!

Now that you know what amulets are and why people carry them, we’ll turn our attention to their care in the next part fo this blog series.

~Dr. Kim

Consider joining the Dream Medicine retreat in Mexico this Fall – we are booking now, so get all the details here: www.ConsciousChimera.com/Retreats

Thank you for reading part 1 of this 4-part blog series. The next part (2) will place attention on the cleaning of amulets. For fuller exploration of this subject, read Dream Medicine: The Intersection of Wellness and Consciousness (Toplight Books, 2021).

#traditionalways

#magic

#power

#ritual

#amulets

#ancientgreece

#talismans

#goodluck

#folkmagic

#craft

#folkloric

#protection

#evileye

#Asklepios 

#rabbit-rabbit

#apotropaic 

oh what surprises dreams bring

“Are you expecting anyone?” can be the first question heard in a household after a loud knock on the door. We all have different feelings about surprise visitors knocking at our door. Some are thrilled to receive a spontaneous visit while others prefer a text or call first, allowing time to prepare for the visit. 

When it comes to dreaming, things can go a bit differently during those nocturnal adventures. We can ask for a visit, as part of a dream incubation ritual or intentional dreaming practice. However, we may not always get what we expect. Other times, a surprise visitor will just pop up, without any forewarning whatsoever. When it comes to dreams, who are these visitors?

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The ‘visits’ we may recall in our dreams can include a wide range visitors, from babies-to-be to those dearly departed. There is specific terminology for these types of experiences. Have you heard of the term ‘announcing dream?’ Think of a pre-birth (or even pre-conception) communication occurring between parent and child-to-be. Pregnancy is not required for an announcing dream to unfold. Announcing dreams are much more than a mundane dream of a baby, and they come with such visual, tactile and auditory sensation that extends beyond mere fantasy. These kinds of dreams can hit so hard that upon awakening, there is no doubt in the genuine communication that took place.

Announcing dreams are not metaphorical like most ‘fertility’ dreams, meaning that instead of dreaming of a ripe growing fruit, for example, an announcing dream could include a child or baby proclaiming, “I’m coming” or even provide the dreamer with his/her/their name. I’ve interviewed dozens of women about their announcing dreams and can tell you that while they provoke all sorts of emotions, these experiences are memorable and held close to the heart. Announcing dreams are not all rainbows and butterflies, although many times, these dreams spark confidence and enhance pre-natal bonding.

Are you are parent or grandparent? 

Do you recall an announcing dream during the time of pregnancy? 

Photo by Marcos Flores on Pexels.com

As the years pass by, our time inhabiting this body comes to an end. Those weekly or even yearly visits we spent with friends and family do not necessarily have to end just because death has come knocking. A commonly-reported dream experience containing an interaction of some sort with the deceased is known as a visitation dream. 

Unlike announcing dreams, visitation dreams can unfold across the lifespan – they have been reported by children and those at end-of-life as well. Furthermore, the visitation dream experience is not always a happy affair. Here, in this article, let’s focus on the warmer, heart-felt visitations. Allow me to share a memorable one noted in my April 2020 dream journal. This dream segment is also reported in my 2021 book Dream Medicine: The Intersection of Wellness and Consciousness.

It is a warm, sunny day. I see my beloved Nonni sitting on a structure, like a cement block, in a park. She is having a lively conversation on a cell phone, even though they were not common when she was living. “How strange,” I think. I have a good feeling when I see her. She’s wearing a pretty violet and blue dress… As I greet her with a touch and a kiss, I can feel her and I can smell her.

Dream reports of the deceased may emerge shortly after the deceased has passed on or decades after the death. With regard to my dream with Nonni, I can tell you that her death date was over three decades ago. Other recalled visitation dreams are fresh.

Sometimes, although more rarely, an announcing dream and a visitation dream merge. I recall a pregnant woman who reported to me how in her dream as she pushed a stroller where her newborn rested, they passed a bench where her deceased uncle sat. He offered her a smile and a wink. This dream took place two years after the uncle’s death. The dreamer noted mixed feelings – both positive and anxiety-inducing. Since each person holds unique beliefs about death and dreams as well, you cannot predict who will or will not come away from these experiences with peace or tension. 

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Both announcing dreams and visitation dreams can be quite visceral. Experiencers are not easily talked out of the dream’s ‘realness’ as the experience is quite potent. When anyone shares their inner world, such as an impactful dream, it’s best to just listen. After all, the dreamer owns the dream – it was meant for them.

Maybe you have experienced extraordinary dreams, or you would like to. I’m offering an intimate in-person retreat in Mexico this October. This retreat is for those who would like to learn more about extraordinary dreams and liminal state visions, enter a community space where these experiences can be safely discussed, and get personalized support in the dream arts. Here’s the link with the details: https://consciouschimera.com/retreats/ We are booking NOW so act fast to get the best room!

Dream big,

Dr. Kim

8 perspectives on your dreams

Dreaming is hot this year. Actually, the world of dreams and the dreaming mind has received great attention since sheltering in place began. While everyone dreams every night, some people report little-to-no recall. Many people only started paying attention to the dream lives with the arrival of 2020. Sheltering in place led to increased sleep among certain people who noticed an increase in dream recall. If attending to dreams is new for you, you may wonder what it all means. To help, I will share eight perspectives on the function of dreams.

The psychodynamic perspectives seem to be most familiar to dreamers. Freud would have said that dreams express hidden instincts and reflect one’s instinctual drives. Wish fulfillment may have played a part in the conversation analysts of Freudian dream theory. Around that time, Jung developed his own ideas. He is credited with the Compensatory or Complementary Hypothesis which suggests that dreams are a natural expression of our imagination. Furthermore, dreams, he would tell us, integrate our conscious and unconscious lives.

As time went on, and science further developed, Hobson’s Activation-synthesis Hypothesis claimed that dreams were not as meaningful as once believed because dreams arose from neurochemical changes in the brain, nothing more. But this wasn’t the only explanation for dreaming. A cognitive perspective emerged where Hall posited that dreams are continuous with the dreamer’s waking concepts, meaning that one’s dreams reflect one’s waking life concerns. This is known as the Continuity Hypothesis. Attention has been given to developmental perspectives as well, so theories of information processing and dreams are also important to consider. In this territory, we marry dreams with memory consolidation. We can’t deny that dreaming plays an important role in the life of every human. Dreams help process and organize stimuli from the day as well as help us store information into memory. Let us not forget the role dreams play in human evolution! Dreaming has an adaptive function and threat stimulation theories abound. Consider all that dreams do here: Dreams help us adapt to current life situations and circumstances; Dreams provide an opportunity to perceive and avoid threats; From a social aspect, dreams allow for practice and even the strengthening of social bonds. It is not necessary to recall every dream because much of this takes place below conscious awareness. Have you ever wondered how dreams might aid in the processing of emotions? Hartmann’s contributions towards emotional processing theories are worthy of attention. Did you know that dreams help us to process emotional experiences and even adapt to them? Dreams partly do this because they integrate recent emotional experiences with other past experiences – ie they’re very associative. Furthermore, dreams can help us to solve problems in that way (though more emotional problems/conflicts in life). On a personal note, my dreams have been very valuable for such reasons.

Transpersonal psychology has something to say about dreaming as well. Images and symbols are part of us and reveal the dynamics of our inner life. Dreams show us, in symbolic form, all of the different personalities that interact within us and make up our total self.

Last, but not least, are perspectives on dreaming that emerge from traditional ways of knowing and indigenous cultures around the world. Here, we acknowledge soul and spirit, and the interconnectedness of all beings. Dreams serve to guide and offer spiritual sustenance. When we dream, our soul may travel. These perspectives are more fluid. There is little or no separation among waking and dreaming states, or those in between.

So, are you recalling your dreams lately? If so, I hope you are keeping a dream diary! When reflecting on your dreams, refer to this article as often as you like. There are several perspectives to consider! Consider one or all of them when determining the meaning of your dreams.

If you’d like to take a deep dive, and have a blast doing so, you may want to attend my October dream retreat in Mexico. Information can be found here: https://consciouschimera.com/retreats/

I wish you a rich dream life,

Dr. Kim

be still and know

Almost immediately after posting the last blog, I learned of the death of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. If there is one word to describe him, I’d say it is PEACE. In honor of this global spiritual leader, I dedicate this piece of writing to Thich Nhat Hanh as well as all those who live, act and lead with compassion. 

What I feel most moved to share here, today, are about a dozen of my favorite sayings, or quotes, from diverse spiritually-based lineages. Of course, I will begin with a few wise words of Thich Nhat Hanh

“The past no longer is, the future is not yet here; there is only one moment in which life is available, and that is the present moment.” 

“When we are mindful, deeply in touch with the present moment, our understanding of what is going on deepens, and we begin to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace and love.”

“Life is available only in the present. That is why we should walk in such a way that every step can bring us to the here and the now.”

Taoism also embodies great wisdom. Here are some sayings attributed to Lao Tzu:

A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.

Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.

Stop thinking, and end your problems.

And, of course, who doesn’t love Rumi? Here are some of the mystic lessons emerging out of the inspiration of Sufism:

Remember, the entrance door to the sanctuary is inside you.

You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the ocean in an entire drop.

If the light is in your heart, you will find your way home.

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Pexels.com

We have living treasures as well. If you are a Nor Cal local, you may have spent time at Spirit Rock and sat with Buddhist monk Dr. Jack Kornfield. Below you will find a couple noteworthy quotes: 

“As surely as there is a voyage away, there is a journey home.”

“Everything that has a beginning has an ending. Make your peace with that and all will be well.”

And last, but definitely not least, I want to put attention on His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama. I wish to see him in-person one day. However, I will close with one of his sayings that now feels somewhat ironic:

“Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.”

This month makes another Conscious Chimera anniversary, and another Valentine’s Day. Thank you for following my blog and reading these writings I share with the world!

May you know love and peace,

~Dr. Kim

to enter the state of heaven

I hadn’t planned to write about near death experiences today, even though the last time I wrote on the topic was early 2018. Yet, a new friend living in Chicago highly suggested I read Dying to be Me by Anita Moorjani. Dying to be Me is Anita’s incredible, jaw-dropping account of her experience with end-stage cancer, the near death experience (NDE) she recalled as physicians told her family ‘this was it’ and, finally, her miraculous healing (which unfolded much quicker than any doctor could predict). If you are unfamiliar with the NDE, refer to my page https://consciouschimera.com/2018/02/07/the-near-death-experience/ which will quickly explain and describe the phenomenon. If you don’t know, believe me, you’ll want to.

Now people suggest books to me all the time, especially those aware of my current healing journey. I must admit that I do not always have the interest or the motivation to read or purchase those books. However, in this case, I felt compelled to do so. Once I had it in my hand, Moorjani’s Dying to be Me was difficult to put down – I read it cover-to-cover in just one week (that’s unusual for me). The messages Moorjani received during her NDE were so deeply profound, I decided to write this article to simply share what I found to be the most important elements, at least for my life. And instead of making a list or using bullet points, I will weave together her ideas, but in my own words, in the three paragraphs below.

Heaven is a state, not a place. What many refer to as “God” or “the Divine” is not really a distinct, separate force, entity, or personification, but rather a state of being. Everyone can enter or experience this state, which transcends duality. Religions are a pathway to know truth, in order to discover or experience that state of being. Each one can get us there. There is no superior religion. Our true home is not a location, but rather, a way of being.

The notion of ‘past’ lives may be misleading, since everything (past, present, future) appears to unfold or occur simultaneously. Sequenced, linear time is just experienced as we exist in these bodies, with these minds. When we ‘cross the threshold’ at death (aka returning to the Whole), we enter all-at-once-time. In that space we come to understand that everyone and everything is connected and alive – there is no death. Everything we perceive is conscious to varying degrees – even the sea, even your houseplant, even that mountain in the distance. So when we so-called ‘die,’ we all return to the same place ~ pure consciousness.

We are more powerful than we ever realized. Unexpressed power and energy may turn inward leading to the development of undesirable outcomes. So, instead, we can directly, intentionally express our magnificent power and energy outward for miraculous outcomes. After all, we are all pure consciousness at our core. Ask yourself: “How do I feel in this very moment, right now?” Your answer determines how you conduct your life here. Since every moment is the present moment, be yourself, live your truth. Create your reality right now.

There you have it, what I have found to be the most valuable insights from Anita Morrjani’s book, Dying to be Me. I have never met Moorjani, but would absolutely love to. Since we have not, I will express deep thanks for what she has shared through her writing, here in my writing. Her unforgettable experience holds the power to radically shift humanity, if we allow it.

Even with the level of detail Moorjani shares of her experience, it can be challenging to truly grasp it. Since our physical senses can only reveal so much about reality in its totality, learning to navigate through altered or nonordinary states of consciousness, can open doors to what, for some, would be unimaginable. Lucid dreaming, dream yoga, deep meditation, yoga nidra, intentional out-of-body experiences, shamanic states of consciousness or other hypnotic or trance states are some of the doorways. We have access to them…always.

May your 2022 bring with it the extraordinary,

Dr. Kim

#NDE

#IANDS

#neardeathexperience

#consciousness

#anitamoorjani

#cancer

developing your intuition

The term intuition is arising in many discussions lately regardless of how misunderstood it is. These brewing discussions conceptualizing intuition can sometimes seem messy, complex, intricate. One question I hear often revolves around how one can distinguish a reliable ‘intuitive hit’ from anxiety-provoked perception, sensation and chatter. This is important to consider given that so many people make big decisions based off of intuition By understanding what intuition is and how it works, we can come to rely on it. Here, in this article, I’ll share some definitions, science, and my thoughts on this hot topic.

I think of intuition as an evolutionary, life-promoting sixth sense also referred to, by some, as “a gut feeling.” This kind of insightful perception is immediate – it does not involve reasoning, critical thinking, or reflection. But how is intuition experienced? Intuition can arrive as a felt sense, an inner voice, or even as visual imagery. Furthermore, intuitive knowledge arises in a nonverbal flash without having links to a memory or emotional pattern.

The foundation of intuition is in the body. The body and intuition are very much connected. Neural correlates, particularly the tenth cranial nerve (aka vagus nerve), are involved. This extra special nerve travels far, running from the brain downward to organs and the gut. So, it is our organs, nerves, and brain that form a multi-way communication system. Remember, the brain is not the only one sending out messages. Knowing this, we can work with other locations in the body to further develop our intuition. 

Key to truly understanding the complexities of intuitive process includes familiarity with the nervous system, therefore, I will include a little about it here. The autonomic nervous system (ANS) has three parts—the enteric, the sympathetic and the para-sympathetic. The enteric, sometimes called the intrinsic nervous system, is a complex system of 100 million nerves that regulate digestive activity. The enteric system transmits and processes messages in addition to other functions. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for action, such as defending ourselves or running away from danger, so blood pressure increases, digestion slows down, and the heart beats faster, while the parasympathetic is like put- ting on the brakes—resting and digesting, for instance. Here, pulse rate decreases, blood pressure slows, and food can be digested. The ANS is always working so that our body’s internal functions behave normally. 

Here is where our behavior and lifestyle come in to play. Many of us have lost our relationship to ourselves, especially our own bodies. Knowing that the parasympathetic nervous system and the vagus nerve are not isolated, overly busy lifestyles (always being on the go) lead to a nervous system that is activated (Over-activation of the sympathetic is tied to health problems, but that is for another article). From that activated place, it is impossible to remain fully embodied and tune in to our deeper ways of knowing. Thoughts are much faster than the rhythm of the body! One way to counteract this and regulate ourselves is through conscious breathing which slows the heart rate. Nature can help too! Pair that with exercises for grounding, which are done by attending to sensation. Through these processes we can think more clearly and increase embodiment, thus giving ourselves the opportunity to further develop our intuitive ability, because they slow us down. It’s just what we need to develop intuition that is clean and clear.

Side note: if the idea of embodiment is new for you, read this – Embodiment is both a state and a process. It is inhabiting the body and locating ourselves. At this very moment, notice what your body is experiencing—that’s embodiment.

Always remember, intuition is connected to the body. Do not confuse intuitive hits with information emerging from states of anxiety or old schemas and perceptions. With continued practice, we come into deeper relationship with the body, attuning to our inner awareness more and more. When we do the work, we can come to trust our intuition, I believe, given the right circumstances. 

I’ll close with the words of friend and colleague, New York based Somatic Psychologist, Dr. Jennifer Frank Tantia: Considering the body as “a gateway between consciousness and unconsciousness, and when those two parts from our thoughts to our emotions to our embodied experience can speak to each other, we can start to find a more holistic way of living in ourselves.”

May 2022 bring fulfillment and growth,

Dr. Kim

PS. Two things: In my new book, Dream Medicine, you’ll find an entire chapter on intuitive development. So, if this topic is important to you and you can carve out some reading time this season – a luxury these days – order the book here: https://mcfarlandbooks.com/product/dream-medicine/

I teach skills for developing intuition in my California private practice. If you are a CA resident and would like to work with me one-on-one, just click on that tab found within this website. 

#intuition

Dream-based Wellness

Attention to wellness and health have really rose to the surface of human awareness these past two years. Blame it in COVID-19 or perhaps a long awaited shift in consciousness (that piece is of less importance). The value of this attentional shift is that more and more people appear to be taking their heath matters into their own hands. Health practices are vast, spreading across multiple levels, from physiological to spiritual. Recently, I wrote an article for Ryan’s Dream Studies Portal (see https://dreamstudies.org/ if you are unfamiliar with this website). The article I wrote is titled Cultivating your Dream-based Wellness Practice. There, I consider some of the various ways we can participate in our own wellness maintenance and healing, no matter our background or belief system.

Here is a short excerpt from that article: “For anyone’s dream-based wellness practice to bloom healthily, there are things we can do to move it along. I’d like to share some tips for supporting any sort of practice whether it be liminal dream experiences or lucid dreaming. A sleep hygiene routine is the foundation, so I have found. Below are some concrete things you can begin today to encourage the best of outcomes.”

The entire article can be found here: https://dreamstudies.org/dreammedicine/ . Now even if dreams or dreaming are not of high interest at the moment, what you’ll find there are ideas for maintaining wellness through the cold, dark, and sometimes stressful, weeks ahead. As you read over the 10 tips I listed, consider which of them are priority for you this season. Maybe you do many of these already! Or perhaps, these tips will inspire a reorganization of your evenings. It’s a great time to reassess as we enter this new, quickly approaching phase of the year…returning of the light.

Happy Solstice everyone! May your inner light shine bright!

~Dr. Kim