2023 the year we learn to listen to life
Week 13--in which we decide it's time to learn to see
Friends, soul writers, mystics, witches, and lovers of prayer,
Since the beginning of this sacred seven year, I’ve found myself tumbling head over heels in love with a surprising and luscious discovery about the mystical life. Maybe you already know this, and I’m the last one to the party, but it came as a surprise. A really lovely surprise. And one I’d love to share with you today.
As you know from reading these Notes from the Fields—some of you since 2008!—as well as reading my books, and perhaps taking some of my prayer intensives, I am about one thing: the mystical life. It’s really the only topic that interests me. But of course, the mystical life is a vast subject, one that has no beginning and no end. There’s always something new to discover.
The mystical life encompasses history and pre-history, religion and non-religion, archeology and myth. It includes prayer, devotion, and ceremony in myriad expressions. It tells the story of the rise and silencing of the Goddess and the sacred feminine. It includes story and imagery, art and architecture, and ancient wisdom speaking silently to us through standing stones, petroglyphs, pyramids, labyrinths, and stone symbols in languages we no longer remember.
It includes cosmic languages such as astrology, numerology, music, sacred geometry, sound, dance, and song. It includes everything that happens in the mystical theta brain wave state from deep soul writing to fertile creativity to sudden knowing and ecstatic awareness.
There really is no end to the joys we can discover as we commit to living a deeply satisfying and often thrilling mystical life.
But there’s one aspect of the mystical life that has been waiting patiently for me to notice. I’ve been so immersed these past three years in exploring the word witch and discovering what it means to be a mystic witch, that I almost missed some big magic.
Magic that’s right under our noses.
That magic is our bodies, our senses.
Our human senses are miraculous. Just open Diane Ackerman’s A Natural History of the Senses and you’ll find yourself swimming in wonder and awe at how our precious human bodies are constructed.
But if our senses are thrilling, what about all our sisters and brothers sharing this gorgeous blue planet? What about the senses of whales and spiders? Lichens and octopuses? Oak trees and crabs?
Ever since an osprey flew into the tree outside my bedroom window on November 1, 1996, I’ve felt close to and protected by this special bird of prey. I sensed that he came in response to my shocking realization that morning that I was afraid of my husband. It can’t be an accident that my osprey came that day and stayed every single day and night for 18 months as I navigated a violent divorce. He’d scream for me and I’d run outside to show him I was fine.
And indeed, my seven-year-old son and I did come through that divorce without physical harm. Emotional, psychological, and financial harm, yes.
But that osprey cast a spell of protection over us that no one seemed to be able to penetrate.
And so, osprey became my spirit guide, my totem, my protector. No matter where I lived—and we had to move three times during that divorce—an osprey would appear. I love ospreys. I know I am safe and loved whenever they appear.
The funniest experience of that was arriving to give a workshop on deep soul writing in Connecticut. As I got out of the car, an osprey flew directly over me and tipped one wing. I smiled and waved, “I love you too!” The woman driving me to the workshop was flabbergasted. I said, “Oh, that’s just my osprey letting me know I’m safe.”
Osprey love for me had become normal. Expected. And still is. I can’t step out of my front door without an osprey greeting me.
And yet, in all these years I never really investigated why or how an osprey lives.
What does an osprey see, feel, hear, know, taste…?
But now, as my mystic friends and I create The A.R.T. of Becoming a Witch: How to Awaken, Remember, and Trust Your Body’s Natural Intuitive Senses, I’m totally immersed in wondering how everyone else on this planet sees and hears and feels. And the more I learn, the more I want to learn. Talk about an endlessly delicious and surprising topic!
No wonder the indigenous peoples of all lands and all times turned first to the animals and plants to learn how to live.
As I write, the piles of books about plant intelligence and animal senses cover most of the floor around my chair. And downstairs? Well, I think there are a dozen more. And five or six on my nightstand.
I’m having the time of life discovering the wonders of what’s been here all along.
Today at 2pm eastern, we are gathering to explore how to see.
Really see. See beyond the limitations of our human eyes. Which, magnificent as human sight is, are actually quite limited. The spectrum of light is massive. And our human eyes see only an infinitesimal spec of it. But butterflies? Oh my Goddess! They see a vast infrared spectrum. The world, through their eyes, is surreal. And thrilling.
And what about beings with more than two eyes? Or eyes that see almost 360 degrees. (Here’s looking at you owl!) Or beings who have eyes that move completely independently of one another. What in the world do they “see” in their brains. Oh, but wait, many creatures don’t see with their brains. Why, some of them don’t even have brains.
The downside, if I can call it that, of learning about the endless variety of “seeing” in our world is that I find myself glancing at the clock at midnight and saying, ooo, just ten more minutes. OK, just another page…
The book that has me wide awake into the morning hours right now is The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness.
Now we’ve all seen movies and videos about the wonders of the octopus. Perhaps some of us have even visited octopuses in an aquarium. Sy Montgomery, the author did. And her description moves me deeply. Sy is conveying lots of science about this astonishing creature.
But, because Sy loves the octopus so, she also conveys the mystery. The magic of this cephalopod. The wonder.
Learning to See by Cathy Pratt
Consider Sy’s description of her first encounter with an octopus named Athena:
“Athena’s suction is gentle, though insistent. It pulls me like an alien’s kiss. Her melon-sized head bobs to the surface, and her left eye—octopuses have a dominant eye, as people have dominant hands—swivels in its socket to meet mine. Her black pupil is a fat hyphen in a pearly globe. It’s expression reminds me of the look in the eyes of paintings of Hindu gods and goddesses: serene, ll-knowing, heavy with wisdom stretching back beyond time."
And later in the book:
“The octopus eye, unlike our own, can detect polarized light…. Our eyes are binocular, directed forward for seeing what’s ahead of us, our usual direction of travel. The octopus’s wide-angle eyes are adapted to panoramic vision. And each eye can swivel independently.”
And then this head-scratcher. After experiencing how an octopus instantly changes colors which reveal what it’s experiencing including big swings of emotion, Sy writes:
“Human eyes have three visual pigments, allowing us to see in color. Octopuses have only one—which would make these masters of camouflage, commanding a glittering rainbow of colors, technically color-blind.”
That’s just one of our sisters on this planet. And she has a lot to teach us about seeing what our eyes do not see.
To help us do that, my collaborators and I have spent the last two weeks creating a delicious introduction to Blind Vision for today’s live gathering at 2pm eastern. And we had great fun putting together 27 visual explorations for our members to play with during the next two weeks. Explorations you can do on your own or with friends around the world. We are quite the global community stretching from Hawaii to Turkey, over half the globe.
The A.R.T. of Becoming a Witch is fun. Delicious, mysterious, magical fun. But it has a very serious and profound purpose. A life-changing purpose.
This intensive is a window into a mystical life that reaches back in time to the wisdom of the ancestors.
Before patriarchal religion told us we humans were the penultimate creatures and gave us so-called “dominion” over the land and the animals, our ancestors lived in a very different world. A world of reverence for all creatures and for the land Herself.
We’ve been hungry for that world ever since. And that world is possible. She is on the horizon. If we can just learn to see what wants to be seen. And hear who wants to be heard. The time is now. Won’t you join us?
If you register before 1pm, I'll send you the zoom and agenda email. If it's after 1pm, just click on the active link on your paypal receipt and you'll land at a page called Thank You for Registering and you'll see the zoom link.
And don't worry if you can't be with us live. Everything will be recorded and available tomorrow.
to learning to see,
PS: If you the special letter or any of the previous newsletters introducing your five intuitive senses, Mystos the Raven, and the Mystic InnerVersity Crest, and YOUR letter from the Queen of Magicians, they're all available on my website under BLOG
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