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Community Service: Litter Pick Up In Old Bridge

Join us on Saturday, April 18 at 8:30 a.m. for our annual Give Back to the Earth Day, as we pick up litter in Old Bridge. In honor of Gaia, we will spend three hours picking up litter at a point to be determined in Old Bridge. Afterwards, join us for a Thai lunch at a local restaurant. To sign up and for location information, please contact Gaia

The Color of Sound

March 28, 2015

On my drive home last night, I listened to a CD someone gave me. It was one of those CDs that I’d never heard of and had gotten because the person was moving and didn’t want it. It was bound to be great.

Out of my car’s speakers came noise and music. It was pretty awful. But I was determined to listen to it. Someone clearly had thought this was important enough to publish a CD for.

I let myself drift into the music and the noise. People singing in an operatic way, words I didn’t understand, moaning, birds singing, clanking sounds. Letting judgement go. Feeling the sound in my body.

The night seemed a little clearer and brighter. Less alone. Less lonely.

If light and clear could be colors, they would look like what the music sounded like I think.

The music brought back a memory from fifteen years ago attending Spring Mysteries (this week outside Seattle, Wash. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Spring-Mysteries-Festival-ATC/135958786481357) run by the Aquarian Tabernacle Church. A ritual taking us to the underworld. The sounds of people moaning and crying out. Spooky.

Listen to the sounds around you this week. What do they remind you of? What senses besides hearing do they touch? How are they connected?

Ostara Recap

March 26, 2015

Triptolemus, God of Agriculture, led the people in waking up the Earth and inviting Persephone of Springtime back from the Underworld. Persephone recognized the light in each of us and challenged us to find the seed of light and abundance that we all can grow and nurture this year. We charged quartz crystals using Odic breath and put our thoughtforms of growing light into them. Then we planted them to be nourished this season and to bring back to the Grove at Litha for further work.

If you attended the ritual and want to interact a little more with Persephone this season, check out these  Fun Facts.

You can also use your crystal for meditation on the Light. Hold your charged crystal in your dominant hand and imagine Persephone blessing it with the light of Springtime. What images and feelings do you get while holding the crystal? Can you see your light growing?

Persephone at the Brink of Ostara

March 17, 2015

I look out my window at a world very much altered in the past week. From a land of snow, the greenscape has emerged. The air is tinged with the promise of spring to come. This Saturday, March 21, the Spring Equinox, Hands of Change will celebrate an open Ostara at 5 p.m. in Old Bridge to mark the spectacular change from frigid winter to breezy spring.

We will invite Persephone back from the land of Death. Without her, Demeter will not allow plants to grow and flourish, and the people would starve. But with the help of the people, Persephone will return and dry her mother’s tears.

Persephone embodies both She who Destroys the Light and She who Shines in the Dark. As the former she brings winter. When she descends to the Underworld, the days grow shorter and she brings her borrowed light to comfort the Souls of the Dead. We miss the light but often don’t think to be grateful that our ancestors are basking in what is borrowed from us in the colder months under Persephone’s care.

As the days grow longer and warmer, Persephone is able to return and the land becomes green once again. She is the light of hope for the end of cold bleak winter and the return of the bounty of the land.

These are some of the concepts we will be working with this Saturday. We hope you can join us!

Please RSVP to isis@handsofchange.org to receive more location information.

Bright Blessings,

Crow

The Power Of Water

March 9, 2015

If you drop something in water, it usually sinks through the water to the bottom. Sometimes if it’s something filled with air, it floats at the top. It is the nature of the object in the water that determines what happens to it.

Water is malleable. At the sea, it will flow around shells and driftwood as it rushes up the beach. But it’s also strong – a wave can knock us over.

In the form of snow, it can be slippery or crunchy, wet, soft or hard. The eskimos have 53 words for snow (50 Words for Snow). It has so many qualities and can feel like so many things.

Over the next few weeks, as all the snow melts in New Jersey, pay attention to how the water changes. What does the snow become and do? How can we learn this lesson of water?

With Attachment Comes Suffering

March 2, 2015

One of our members threw a beautiful hand-made Kali mask in the bonfire at Imbolg. Several people around the fire gasped as the mask twisted and melted into the flames.

The truth that wasn’t revealed by the flickering light and the darkness was that the mask had seen better days. It was starting to tear; it was dirty and careworn. It’s time had come and gone.

We often hold onto our things and sometimes our ideas when they no longer serve us. We collect things, people, stuff that isn’t needed or helping us anymore. It’s tough to let go of things, even to find time to go through our stuff and decide that it’s time to let go.

Our stuff takes on a life of its own. We use our stuff to remember our past. It becomes alive with thoughts and memories. But it really is just stuff.

Literally or figuratively we can hold our stuff (physical or emotional) in our hands. If it gives us joy, then we should keep it. If it doesn’t, it’s time to let that go. The same idea can be applied to old sweaters, to relationships with people that weigh us down, to commitments that hold us back from our spiritual and personal growth.

Often it’s tough to say “no.” When presented with an opportunity, we want to say “yes.” But if we hold that opportunity in our hand, so to speak, and we feel guilt, obligation, dread or any other negative emotion, “yes” isn’t the right answer. It’s more than okay to say “no” if something doesn’t bring you joy and doesn’t make the world a better place.

Start to let go, little by little, of things, ideas and people that aren’t contributing to your joyful experience of this world. Do so with kindness, both to them and to yourself. Find a new home for them, but allow them to live somewhere else.

Bright blessings,

Crow

Removing Obstacles to Being More Peaceful.

February 22, 2015

One of my favorite quotes, attributed to Martin Luther, is “I have so much to do that if I didn’t spend at least three hours a day in prayer I would never get it all done.” Martin Luther King Jr. echoed his sentiment:“I have so much to do today that I had better spend another hour on my knees,”

What I think this embodies is the idea that we are all so busy rushing around trying to check things off our to do lists or just keep our heads above water, that we forget to spend time on the care of our souls. I once heard prayer explained as talking to the gods, and meditation as listening to them. It’s easy to rationalize that we don’t have enough time to meditate or that we “aren’t able to,” that quieting our minds is too difficult.

I have a tiny statue of Ganesha in my shower sitting on top of my pumice stone (and one might consider how the pumice stone is metaphorically related to all this). This morning I found myself chanting while I showered “Ganesha Sharanam Sharanam Ganesha.” This got me thinking about hto insert small moments of sacredness in our day.

Chewing can be a great way to meditate. Really paying attention to what we’re eating, tasting it, savoring it, masticating it until it’s really pulverized. They say, “You are what you eat.” Take that seriously – pay attention to the nutrition that is entering your body, that is creating your YOU today.

At night when I’m waiting for my child to fall asleep, I sit on a prayer bench in my room and silently chant “Nam myoho renge kyo” for ten to fifteen minutes before I go back to check on him. The way I think of this chant is the lotus grows in the mud; the deeper the mud, the more beautiful the flower.

A lot of people shy away from meditation because they think they “can’t do it.” The only can’t in meditation is not showing up. You aren’t doing meditation wrong if you can’t clear your mind. You need only sit to meditate and notice that you are thinking and then try to let the thoughts float away like incense smoke. Sometimes it helps to light incense to remind you that thoughts are like smoke.

If you find yourself waiting in line or at a doctor’s office, close your eyes (or keep them open if it’s not too distracting) and listen to your breath. Follow your breath until it’s your turn.

Watch less television. It sucks up an amazing amount of time. It’s a way of checking out. I’m inviting you to check in.

See if you can find even five minutes a day to add a little meditation into your life. Your soul will thank you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

February 16, 2015

What! Thanksgiving in February? That’s right. One of the best ways we can communicate with the gods is to express our gratitude for their many blessings.

Sometimes when we are in a bad emotional place, it’s difficult to think of anything that we are grateful for. It’s hard to imagine that we’ll be happy again or feel grateful even for the difficult time, but we learn lessons from exactly those hardships. And later on we remember those harder times and are grateful we’ve come through them.

When we wake up in the morning, if we can think of three things that we feel grateful for, it helps to bring more happiness into our world. Like attracts like, as we know, so the more we choose to focus on what is good in our lives, the more light will enter and the happier we will feel.

Start small, if it’s hard to think of something to be grateful for. Be grateful for a hot shower, or something good to eat. Be grateful that you have arms and legs (some people don’t).

Every day try to think of three new things to be grateful for. Gradually, you will get into the habit of noticing what blessings are in your lives and more blessings will come.

Express gratitude to those people you love — tell them you love them, tell them how much you appreciate them. Name the specific things that they do that you appreciate.

Express gratitude to the people who annoy you — it will be easier to have compassion for them.

Thank yourself every day for all the good choices you continue to make. Appreciate how hard you try.

Open yourself a little more each day to the light that surrounds us and that emanates from the Divine Realm. It is our birthright to be happy. Notice your own happiness and let it grow.

Bright Blessings,

Crow

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