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Archive for the ‘inspiration’ Category

Red Rock Raven, Magik and ManzanitaIt was one of those mornings where I felt the push to get work done. My Corgi Magik who is often a gauge munched on a small branch he found in my collection of rocks. I proceeded to lecture him on how it was important that I work and that I will take him out later. He pouted and looked up at me with those big brown eyes and if he could he would have said, “relax”. I remembered that sometimes when I am frazzled busy that is exactly when I need to go into nature and my place of beauty. So off we trudged into the woods. Walking down the street, a small red rock was on the sidewalk, I picked it up and looked at it more closely. It reminded me of the large Red Rock. I had not intended to go there today, too much to do. I had lectured Magik on how today was going to be a short walk, but I looked at the red rock in my hand and decided to listen. We trudged towards the woods. I was in my head and stomping my feet, moving forward, wanting to get the walk over and done with fast. Just as we climbed the hill I heard Raven’s “cawing.”

There were two of them sitting in a tree, like sentinels, and they were making these “purring” sounds. I hadn’t heard them before. Then they started to make these “popping” sounds also new to me. I watched as they arched slightly backwards to make the low “popping” sound. It’s almost as though their tone or voice dropped lower in order to make the “popping” sound. I was struck by the uniqueness of the vocalization and that they looked like two sentinels on either branch of an oak tree. I stopped to take my camera out, go figure they flew away. “Well I guess I needed to be in the moment with them,” I thought to myself and off we trudged, although my footsteps were a little lighter and my head a little less full.

As we approached the second climb I heard the golden dry grass humming. I wasn’t sure if they were crickets all chirping at once, but something in that steady “hummm” calmed me, it was almost like a chorus of dry golden grass and crickets humming or toning together. The sky was this brilliant blue and the last of my heaviness and mental busy-ness dropped away.

Red Rock Raven, Ravens on Red RockAs we rounded the bend two ravens flew over us, “cawed” and landed on the Red Rock! I was totally awed, and full of wonder and joy! Despite feeling the urge to push myself to work I listened to Magik, listened when I found the smaller red rock, and listened when I saw the ravens. I and others call it listening to the “whispers”. I’m so glad I listened. Magik didn’t notice the ravens and traipsed up to the rock. They flew off, circling above me making that wondrous “purring” sound they made earlier. Gratitude rushed over me! I sat on my usual stone chair on the Red Rock, made myself comfy, got out my aquamarine and started to sing. It was one of those moments where I felt like I stepped out of one world and into another. There was no-one around, the sky seemed electric blue, the golden dry grass sang with me, and the sun and the salamanders seemed to be celebrating, flooding me with passion. Passion for life!

I sang to the forest all mottled with light. I sang to the gnomes who tend the forest, trees and shrubs. I sang to the old woman who tends the woods with such tenderness and care. I sang to them all about the pain in the world, about the violence against women and abuse of children. I sang of regrets and mistakes that I have made. I sang compassion into all the cracks and crevices of the world and my world, to people I remembered, and to those I didn’t know. I sang peaceful blue skies to the places of violence. I sang golden singing grasses to women lost in their pain. I sang raven’s purring to children crying. I sang compassion to eyes watching me. And I sang to the earth gentle as the breeze. Grass “humming”, ravens “purring”, insects “buzzing”, wind “whispering”, ancient tones “droning”. Something deep from within the forest stirred. I could hear her breath. My eyes were seared shut by sunlight, but I could still see the mottled light of the forest. I could hear the flutter of her wings, born anew. Somewhere in the heart of the forest with its mottled light, new life was being born. It was a life filled with the innocence of a deer, and a heart so tender it ached as her wings unfurled and she stepped forth on the earth for the first time. I heard last fall’s leaves cracking under her bare feet. I wondered if they bled? She stepped forth undaunted by the sunlight and caught her breath, the beauty froze her for a moment. Electric blue, golden grass, red rock beauty sang to her, this creature born anew. The wind greeted her, caressed her cheek. She spread out her wings, jumped into the sky and with open arms flew!

I stopped singing and put the aquamarine in my pocket. The wind tousled the golden grasses and the electric blue sky was still there, tangible. Magik came out of his hiding place in the shade and sat, his polite way of begging for a treat. “Not today, you had your treat, we both did.” We got up and headed back home. A shadow of wings flew over me. They were long. The bird was long. But as it flew over me I heard her feathers whisper, “thank you.”

What wildness is born out of our creative play? I would have never known had I not listened to the whispers.

Copyright © 2014, Vlatka Herzberg, all rights reserved. You may not reproduce materials without permission from Vlatka Herzberg.

photos by Vlatka Herzberg

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I’m so excited to share this with you. One of the most naturally beautiful places in the world to me is Iceland. My daughter is currently going to school there for a semester. On the weekend she went on a historic tour of Iceland with a professor and other students from the Icelandic University. During the tour they stopped at museum where the Tapestry of Iceland is being created. The above photo is of some people stitching the tapestry.

While my daughter was waiting for lunch, she saw the tapestry behind a window. A woman asked her in Icelandic if she would like to stitch a thread into the tapestry. My daughter was first surprised that she understood the Icelandic and that she was asked to participate in such an honor. She was the 3041 person to stitch thread into the Tapestry of Iceland and also got her name recorded!

What excites me about all this is the history being woven, and being woven into Icelandic history. The tour was focused on some of the history of Iceland being told through a Saga, the history and saga were as one woven together. What also amazed me is that there are physical landmarks still in Iceland today that were a part of the history and Saga being told today. The Saga’s and their physical landmarks are kind of like an Inuksuk of Icelandic history.

The significance of the tapestry and so many people coming together to weave it reminds me so much of the Tibetan Story Scrolls, Thanka paintings. In Tibetan history, there were holly men that walked from village to village with these ancient and sacred Story Scrolls. They would stop at this village or that, roll out their scroll and start telling the stories, the history and spirituality all woven together as one, and they would tell the stories for hours. At the end, tears would be streaming down the listener’s faces for something sacred was transmitted. That’s exactly the word that a Chicago dancer I met in Canada many years ago used when referring to the sacred and ancient dances of Tibet, “transmitted”. He said that the dancer would become the deity and in that process transmit the spiritual teachings to the students. I believe something similar and miraculous happens with the Thanka’s, the Story Scrolls of Tibet.

I wonder if that kind of magic and mystery is being woven into the Tapestry of Iceland, and for that matter other tapestries, or Story Scrolls that we create with friends, family, and community. Look at quilts for example; often many hands and many stories have gone into their creation.

When I used to teach through story in schools in Canada, I would have the children create their own Story Squares. In groups of 3 or 4 they would draw a story onto a large square cloth and then be able to tell and share it with the rest of the class later. One of my favorite memories is walking into a school and seeing the Story Squares hung like large prayer flags from the hallway walls.

Whether drawn or sewn, weaving ourselves and our history into cloth, we become aware how we are all threads woven together in the Great Tapestry of Life.

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It’s still raining! We woke up this morning to the sound of rain and rejoiced. As many know California Governor Brown has alerted us that the California drought had reached unprecedented levels. Photos on the Internet show cracked earth in dried up reservoirs and brown grassy hills. Many fear that a drought could last many years.

When my friend and I went for a walk a few weeks ago she stopped to sing to a small pool of water. Nearby was a dried creek where there is usually a waterfall flowing this time of year. My friend told me of how she always sings to water to honor it. I believe the Celts and other cultures followed a similar tradition.

When the drought first started, people talked about praying to water, sending it gratitude and healing. Water is universal – it doesn’t matter what your spiritual or religious beliefs are we all need it, and we can all appreciate it.

With the concern of the drought and its long-term impact in our hearts and minds, Theodore, my husband and I started to be more conscious of how we use water and how to conserve it. We also went to water sources took photos and sang to them.

When we first started singing to water and more consciously appreciating it, it didn’t rain magically the next day, but we still continued to thank and bless water. Then last night, we decided to go visit a sacred place with a dried up waterfall during the twilight time. To our great delight, there was no one out walking but us.

As it got darker, we found a spot to sit and I started to sing. Magik our Corgi of course thought that was a good time to find the remnants of bay nuts and snack. I sang and danced to the Undines, the water spirits. I sang gratitude, and I sang hope. I sang imagining that all over the world people stopped what they were doing and started to sing to water, appreciating it, thanking it, loving it. I sang until my heart felt like it released a deep longing into realization, then we walked home. As the woods got darker, I felt a calm and reassurance. We rounded the bend, crossed a bridge and entered a mist. I felt moisture press against my cheeks for a moment then we walked through what felt like a veil and headed back home.

To our delight, this morning we woke up to the rain falling, and after we got up it still continued to rain! We decided to go walk in the rain and celebrate. We weren’t the only ones. Others had a similar idea. We saw families, and friends, dogs and their keepers, salamanders and birds, all enjoying and celebrating the rain in their own, unique ways. I don’t want to always wait for the absence of something to feel gratitude for it, but I won’t miss the opportunity to deepen my gratitude and appreciation for water again.

copyright 2014 Vlatka Herzberg, all rights reserved.

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La Luna

The people of the village use their torches to light up the dark bog and together they remove the heavy boulder off of Mother Moon. Her radiant face shines with such beauty she touches the hearts and minds of all the villagers and fills the bog with illumination. She lifts into the sky and fills the village and the world with light.

Clarissa Pinkola Estes goes on to talk about her insights into the story of “The Lost Mother Moon”. She talks about how the bog in the story represents emotional wounds both in us personally and in our world. She suggests that the way to work with our wounding is not to avoid it, but rather go into it, feel it, be in the center of it metaphorically and meditatively. While being in the center of the wound, feeling with intensity, we can find the light, even if it is just a flicker. We grab that light and fill ourselves with it, we can come back into our lives and into our world being that light for others and ourselves.

After I finished listening to this second cd of “Theatre of the Imagination”, I checked my Facebook page. A friend had posted a story about a man who had gone to a school where there was a tragedy and he stood in front of the school as a bodyguard, helping everyone feel safer. He came everyday to stand as a bodyguard. No one asked him to. No one paid him. He went right into the center of that wound in that school and in that town, and he was a light.

How can we be a light to each other, our world, and ourselves?

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Imagine the dancing Goddesses with their candles dancing with the trees.

Imagine the dancing Goddesses with their candles dancing with the trees.

This is a slightly different post. My previous posts have had a lot of emphasis on nature. Last year I spent a lot of time unwinding and singing in solitude in nature. With this New Year, the Year of Gratitude beginning, I am exploring ways of expressing myself through sound, movement and story in collaboration with others.

Recently I went dancing with a group of women. I was new to the group. Everyone else knew each other. I wondered how to begin dancing, so I followed the cue of others and began with stretching, listening to my breath, and the breath of others.

Others started to move to their own intuitive flow in synergy with the music. I moved to the music tentatively at first, slowly unwinding, acquainting myself to the floor, the music, and the dancers until I started to feel my own flow. Feeling the flow I became the rhythm, being the music, feeling the presence of others I opened my eyes and saw another beaming face whirling past me. I stepped out of rhythm, stumbled in choppy steps, swaying my head and body, feeling separate from the group. I embraced the cacophony.

Feeling, accepting, flowing, I found my rhythm again, being the rhythm, the breath the music, being the other dancers, all as one. Being the flow, I danced fast, building to a release, witnessing sorrow and judgments. Flowing with them and through them, moving past them. The music slowed down, the dancers slowed down, my breathing slowed down. We dancers smiled at one another and settled in a circle lighting candles on paper plates. We danced with candles!

The lights lowered and we danced with our candles, moving slowly, ever so slowly in circles, sitting with the flames, pondering, honoring, respecting, praying. Two dancers with candles above their heads swayed in unison, gracing the hall with their movement. Hands danced across flames, weaving mudras, kissing the air with wishes and dreams.

It was an evening of freedom of expression and acceptance of that expression. Absolutely stunning! Absolutely liberating! It was a wonderful opportunity to discover more of myself dancing with community. I am thankful!

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Theodore and I went into the woods with Magik the Corgi. It was during the holidays when there was a down pore of rain for many days. The trails where we usually walk were thick with moisture, the sponge like moss absorbing and holding the dampness.

HiddenTrailBeginning HiddenTrailEntry HiddenTrailMossTrunk HiddenTrailWet

We headed down one well walked trail, but Magik had something else in mind. He led us across a stream, down a deer trail, next to a hidden brook. He scooted around and behind the hill, in his way circumventing the usual path.

HiddenTrailBumMushroom

With so much rain, there was an abundance of mushrooms, and Theodore had his camera ready to capture the moment.

HiddenTrailMushroomSpirit

It was much darker and moister back here than the usual trails. The moss covered some of the oak trees from head to foot, making the holes in the trees, mystical portals to Other worlds, visible.

HiddenTrailPortal

Theodore focused on getting close-ups, seeing a world vibrant with Nature Spirits.

HiddenTrailMushSides

Magik’s nose sniffed out the trail that lead us to bones woven around branches. I wondered how long they had been there. They felt old.

ForestTrailBones

I pressed forward, Magik staying with me, Theodore lingering behind, looking through different lenses to see the richness, and mystery of this place.

HiddenTrailSingleShroon

Magik and I stopped to look at a grove tree, one that was a single tree once and probably very large, an ancient tree, now hollow in its center yet branching out with children and grandchildren around it.

HiddenTrailGrove

I wondered how far the trail would go before it got too thick, and entangled with poison oak for us to explore any further.

HiddenTrailFace

Ahead we saw it, this majestic old Oak covered with moss. I sat at the bottom and began to Sound Heal. Magik was out of sorts that day. Maybe it was all the busy-ness of the holidays, but he was eating every single bay nut he could sniff out in a frenetic sort of way. He finally settled at the bottom of the tree and surrendered to the earth as I sounded for him, sweeping hand movements gently caressing his soul.

HiddenTrailM&Me

It wasn’t until we got home and looked at the photos that I saw the creature sitting near the top of the oak, like a Guardian of the Oak or the woods, hunched over, four legs and wings. It is easy to let my imagination soar with images of moss, leaves, mushrooms and trees.

HiddenTrailSoundGuardian

Magik gifted me that day by receiving a Sound Healing session in the woods. For the adventurer of the heart, I offer Sound Healing Hikes, individual Sound Healing Sessions in the woods. Magik is not the only client who enjoys them. Although I have to say he gives me a pretty good testimonial with his joyous, spirited smile.

HiddenTrailMSmile

Interested in a unique experience, a Sound Healing Hike, a Sound Healing Session in the woods? Email me for costs and details: Soundhealher@comcast.net.

HiddenTrailGuardian

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©2012 Vlatka Herzberg

Sienna ran through the forest, deeper and deeper still, sprinting like a deer on the run. She felt the dampness of the mist cloak her, hiding her from the world she left behind. She bent over to catch her breath and noticed a gate, rusted, old, hanging onto its last hinge. Sienna shoved it and it creaked with complaints of being still for far too long. She tiptoed into this hallowed place, aware that she was not alone. Eyes were everywhere watching her. She was afraid to move in case she stepped on someone. “Who goes there?” Amidst the ferns and roots, Sienna saw a large face, moss-covered nose, fern hair, dark slit for one eye, an old tree trunk for the other, roots reaching out stretching, digging deep into earth, searching for light. “It’s I, Sienna.” she muttered. She closed her eyes part way so that she could see through the haze of lashes, soft vision, and then she saw him, or at least she thought it was a him. She caught her breath and hesitated. He smiled. “Fear not child of the forest. You are welcome here.”

Sienna looked around and saw more faces looking at her. “I have wandered into the woods many times, and have never found this place or seen you.” He Who Watches Without Being Seen laughed. “We are seen when we choose.”  “Why today?” Sienna asked. “Why not?” he smiled. “Have you seen the wind dance and the trees laugh?” he asked. “Only in this sanctuary, not in my world. People have forgotten how to dance with the wind and laugh with the trees.”  “Will you?” “Of course.” she said and instantly the wind twirled around her, taking her by the hand. They danced with a fervor, spinning wildly out of control, until Sienna fell to the ground laughing, and the trees laughed with her too.

He Who Watches rumbled with laughter. “What’s so funny?” asked Stone Face. Sienna stopped laughing and looked into Dry Creek. Shrouded by leaves, was a face, oh so smooth, delicate lines for eyes and nose, and a just so mouth, as though someone had brushed it on. “Life.” said Sienna. “Sometimes life is funny.” Stone Face blinked, blank. “Well I don’t think it’s funny. So many humans walk this way and all they see is hard rocks, wet water and lots of green. Seldom do they stop and see what isn’t seen.” “I’m doing it.” smiled Sienna. “Humph.” grumbled the stone. “I know that the stones talk, the wind sings and that when I walk through the forest I am seen.” said Sienna. “What does one person matter?” grumbled Stone Face. “I am not only one. There are many.” “Where?” asked Stone Face. “Here and there, and everywhere and that matters. Sienna smiled. “Humph.” A twig snapped. Stone Face froze.

Leaves rustled, a deer approached. Sienna turned and gazed deep into the deer’s eyes. The deer blinked and shape shifted into a tall woman with a gentle, deer like face, with large, black doe eyes, and soft, long deer like ears. She swept across the creek and gently laid her hand on Sienna’s shoulder. “You have heard our call, and have come.” “Of course.” said Sienna. “Shall we?” asked Deer Woman. “There is a whole Other World waiting to explore.” Sienna followed. Deer Woman guided  her towards a hollow tree trunk, and began to step into it. “Wait.” said Sienna. Deer Woman looked deep into Sienna. Her eyes moistened with tenderness. “See with more than your eyes.” she suggested. Sienna took a deep breath and let go of things needing to be the way she thought they ought to be, and then she really could see. “It’s a portal.” she exclaimed. Deer Woman nodded, extended her hand. Sienna took it gratefully. Together they stepped out of one world and into another.

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