Archive for the ‘nature as mirror’ Category

The Secrets in a Rose

Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

Photo by Pamela Hale

What do you see when you look at the center of this rose? What emotions do you feel?

When it appeared as one of spring’s first offerings in my garden, I marveled at the perfection of the folds and their graceful sweep. And, I am drawn to the center, wondering in awe at the source of this creation.

The center of all flowers must contain the mystery, the source of their blooming, the secret behind their fragrance and the perfection of their beauty. And of course, if we were to tear the rose apart to discover the secret, we would destroy it. Somehow it is the very form the mystery takes that is part of its perfection. The mystery unfolds on its own, in its own time and in its own way. Just as we do. Just as life does.

I’ve long associated the rose with the power of the Virgin Mary, especially since I live in Tucson, a region where the Virgin of Guadalupe is very present. My husband and I have visited the chapel and shrine to her in Mexico, where a peasant named Juan Diego had an encounter with her and found an imprint of roses inside his poncho afterwards.

For me, the energy and power of the Virgin Mary is paired with Mary Magdalene and the other Marys in the Christian tradition, and the rose reminds me of all of them. They are, for me, aspects of the Divine Feminine that we need desperately now, regardless of our religious beliefs.

And so I was delighted, after I took this photo, to read this article (https://www.thoughtco.com/sacred-roses-spiritual-symbolism-rose-123989 )on the sacred symbolism of the rose that expanded its meaning for me. It turns out that the rose is a key symbol dating from pre-Christian times and associated with devotion to the goddess Venus. For Muslims, roses are symbols of the soul, and are sprinkled through the ecstatic poetry of Rumi and Hafiz. Hindus and Buddhists consider than to be expressions of spiritual joy. And when the fragrance of the rose is present and roses cannot be seen, God is at work.

As for the “mystic rose,” as the Virgin Mary is called, I had never thought of the prayer Catholics offer to her being the “rosary.” The repetition of the rosary is meant to be like a “spiritual bouquet” offered to The Virgin. And since women are particularly devoted to her, she is a powerful spiritual ally for the feminine principle.

I learned that essential rose oil vibrates at 320 megahertz of electrical energy, the highest vibration of any oil. The nearest competitor is lavender at 118. It was humbling to learn that a healthy brain vibrates at a range of 71-90!

If a loved one gives you a rose, no wonder it’s considered a sign of true love. And pay attention to the color. White is said to represent purity, red represents sacrifice and passion, yellow suggests wisdom and joy, and lavender symbolizes wonder, awe and positive change.

I say, be your own lover and give yourself a rose. And you might consider that an invitation for a miracle or angelic encounter. When the deep power of femininity is called forth, mysteries can be solved, wisdom revealed, and the perfection of Beauty can become the medicine for all ills.

 

This post can also be seen on Huffington Post at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/58e17d4be4b03c2b30f6a7c2

Pele Speaks

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

Pele speaks

I’ve decided to renew my relationship with my art, and so I’m sharing this first piece in a new series called Messages from the Mother.

At various times I become aware that my photographs are pretty, but don’t speak to the whole of my awareness–especially in areas that don’t look as pretty! This has happened lately with my aerial photos. I love flying over the earth and always celebrate the beauty that is revealed from above, especially in areas otherwise inaccessible. It feels like such a privilege to be able to fly over uninhabited land, and to study Mother Earth’s contours and colors and patterns.

And…there is more to discuss.

We are all painfully aware of the mess we have found ourselves in regarding our relationship with the Mother. I heard the other day that some experts are saying we have already crossed that tipping point where we could have reversed the damage. Certain species, phenomena and levels of comfort may already be out of our reach. And we have no one else to blame.

And so lately when I fly with my husband over the body of the Mother, I wonder what messages she is sending. What do my own pretty photos of her suggest to me? If she were to speak, what would she say?

Wondering this, I wandered to the desk where I occasionally do art, and opened the drawer. There was a postcard I bought in Hawaii, with a picture of Pele. She is a force in the islands, particularly on the Big Island, where she resides in volcanic splendor, occasionally erupting in seeming fury, destroying everything within her reach.

Amazed at the serendipity, I took the postcard over to my framed photo of the Painted Desert in Arizona. The colors matched perfectly, and so did streaks of light on the postcard and the photo. Meant to be, I figured. I unframed the photo and began my new series.

The large white piece of paper with the black curved form is a scan I saved from my breast cancer treatment. Pele might be saying she needs treatment from the cancer she is suffering from–due to our incessant, unstoppable consumption of her resources.

The two orange circles are photographic records of the emissions of stars. Pele might be reminding me that we are part of a large system–a universe that is interdependent, and still largely mysterious to us. When we remember this, our hubris softens.

The graphs below the star images are records of temperatures in different areas of our country. We know weather is wild now, and we know as the climate changes, so must we.

Below Pele’s face are a weather map from the newspaper, a New York Times photo of the California drought and a report of storms that soaked the plains in a surprise flooding spring rain. “What do you expect?” I hear Pele wondering.

Now, with the re-framed piece on my wall, the beauty of the Painted Desert is more poignant, more bittersweet. Pele is reminding me to change my ways. To learn to live with less water, less possessions, less meat, less waste, less entitlement.

How do I feel about her messages? Of course they are sobering, but they are not new information. So I am grateful that she is working her way into me, into my heart, my thoughts, my body and my actions. I am only one person, but so are you. And how we respond to this gorgeous earth and her needs will determine everything about our future.

 

What Kids Taught Me about the Active Imagination

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

 

Since I was in love with photography, I wanted everyone else to be as well (nothing like the fervor of the converted.) So,I decided to teach small group photography classes in my living room.

Right away, it was clear to me that I raced through the part about f-stops and dove into explorations about light, the energetic nature of matter, and the spiritual elements of photography. After listening to me for one lesson, an adult student approached me and said she thought her son should study with me.

Billy was learning disabled, though in those days there was no label for that. Frustrated by school and in need of a success experience, Billy would “get’ the right-brained way I taught photography. Would I give him lessons?

I had another close friend with a daughter Mary, who was also having learning problems. So for $5 an hour, I worked with the two of them every week for 1 ½ years.  As a former classroom teacher, I had already formed a strong curiosity about why certain kids weren’t learning. Now I was studying all I could find about the new discoveries about the right and left brain. I felt I was being led on a treasure hunt.

The exercises I designed for Billy and Mary became the basis of curricula I would design and teach in both public and private schools. As an artist-in-residence for the South Pasadena, CA school district, I had the privilege of doing a photography project with 60 5th graders. It was called “Seen one Rock, Seen ‘Em All,”( a brazen slam at Ronald Reagan, who had made that comment about national parks.)

I gave each student a rock, and led them through a guided imagery exercise where they allowed their active imagination to play with the inner picture of that rock, allowing it to become part of a larger scene and story. I had them draw the scene and write the story.

Now the fun began. Their next challenge was to figure out how to make a photograph of that drawing, using the rock and other objects. “That’s not fair!” some of them began to protest. “You didn’t tell us we’d have to make this into a photograph! I wouldn’t have thought of something this complicated if I had known!” said one.

The student, Jack, showed me a drawing of a rock that had become an island surrounded by water, topped with trees, and blown by a strong wind causing big waves. “How am I going to do this?” he said as if it were obviously impossible.

It was a class in problem-solving, so I hinted that he might think of movie sets and dioramas. I teamed the kids up and gave them a week until the day we’d set up a simple photo studio and make the photographs, which they would then print themselves later in the studio I had now rented.

The photo above is an example of the student work, which became a school exhibit. Anna “saw’ her rock (at the top of this article) ‘turn into” her ballet slipper, well-worn from all her attempts to make it into a toe shoe, successfully poised on top of the rock it resembled. The hardness of the rock matched her hard work. The beauty of the shape matched the beauty she captured in her treasured slipper. Beautiful, I thought, and a deep message about how important dance was to Anna.

As for Jack, I couldn’t wait to see how my biggest protester would solve his problem. And so I grinned proudly when, on the day of our shoot, he walked in  with his partner, holding a plastic tub he would fill with water, tiny trees he’d made of paper, and a hair dryer.

Seen one rock, seen ’em all? Sorry, Reagan. I don’t see them that way. And neither do kids, who can see more than we think, when we give them a chance to keep their imaginations alive.

Photographing the Unseen

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

Most people approach photography in a documentary way photographing an event, a person or an object in order to remember it, or to say, “This is how it is.” We tell a story of what we see. But another way to approach photography is through the question, “What have I not seen?”

Now we’re on a treasure hunt! And rather than thinking of “shooting” something with the camera (or phone,) we might think of opening the lens to something new. Just writing that opens my heart to the possibility of a magic moment where I might discover…anything.

Instead of “capturing” a moment, I’m willing to be more passive and let something new present itself to me. It’s the difference between a reporter covering an event and two friends of lovers having an intimate conversation. I’m open today to having a heart-to-heart with the Creation.

This kind of experience opens our inner eye. We find that what was formerly unseen was there all along, but we weren’t seeing it. Maybe we weren’t slowing down enough. Or maybe we weren’t broadening our vision. Or getting close enough. Or maybe we were being too literal and saying to ourselves, “There’s a leaf.” Instead of looking at that object as a way for us to see how light acts.

And what happens when our inner eye is opened? Well, my experience is usually gratitude. Appreciation. That wonderful expansive feeling that comes from being opened to the beauty of something or someone.

So here’s an assignment for you:

Go out for a medicine walk using your camera. The kind of camera makes no difference. Set your intention by asking the Universe to reveal to you something you haven’t seen before. It could be small–like the inside of a flower or a curve of the mountain, or the way your friend’s nose looks when she laughs. You aren’t after masterpieces; the purpose is to open your inner eye.

Share what you find–others would like to see! And tell us how your inner eye opened. That is, when you saw what you saw, what did you see about yourself, or the world, or a way you could be? You can post photos at Facebook.com/PamelaHale9.

What does my wild heart desire, #3

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

Those of you who live in AZ will understand why the snow storm we just had was a major miracle. If you live in Kansas City, you might not agree this week. But for desert dwellers in the middle of a long drought, water in any form is good news.

More importantly for my wild heart, the snow created a fairyland that made me feel about six. Sitting in my home office, I could feel my wild heart sitting up to take notice. “It’s turning white!” she said, anticipating an adventure.

Sure enough, after part one of the storm my husband came home and we put on our boots and went for a walk. Crunching along, halfway around our usual loop, it started to snow again. Slowly at first, then more and more intensely. We started to laugh. Slowly at first, then more and more intensely. Our dog began to prance. We were in the middle of a full-on snow storm.

By the time it all ended, our table on the hill was uninhabitable, but my wild heart loved the scene. And here are some of the reasons:

  1. My wild heart loves surprises.
  2. My wild heart loves wildness in nature.
  3. My wild heart loves beauty.
  4. My wild heart loves transformation.
  5. My wild heart loves joy.

I got all these in one walk. There’s something to treasure, to consider, to keep.

And you?  What does your wild heart love?

What does my wild heart desire, #2

Monday, February 4th, 2013

The second process I’ll use to explore what my wild heart desires is photography. I went on a walk in Catalina State Park, which is a treasure right next to my house. (I know, my wild heart is already grateful.) I took some photos—not thinking too much about why, except I was attracted to that scene—and now I’ll dialogue with them.

Seeing the great Catalinas, touched by the setting sun, I remember that my wild heart’s desire is always to live near beauty, with beauty surrounding me, and to be on the Beauty Path. That is, if for some reason I find myself in a place that doesn’t seem beautiful, I will find beauty there, or create it. Thank you for reminding me of how much I love beauty.

I am reminded that I am always looking for my path. That the exploration–the finding and following my path–is a lovely adventure in itself. My wild heart loves that exploration and isn’t nearly as attached to the destination or the end result as my mind and my ego. Another good reminder!

This scene reminds me that reflections–even in an ordinary rain puddle–can be lovely. The way nature is reflected is a treasure, if we just remember to look. My wild heart loves to find lovely reflections, both in nature and in my own inner landscape. She loves the process of taking time, of looking and remembering to remember. She wants me to always allow time for this.

Finally, I stop and see myself–my shadow–in the landscape. What does this show about my wild heart? The photo tells me that my mind and ego tend to think my shadow–the parts of me that aren’t visible to me in “normal life”–show up in natural ways in order to be recognized and accepted. That means the parts of me that aren’t so nice and pretty are going to show up in my outer life through my relationships, and they’ll also show up in my inner landscape. And that is a good thing. My wild heart doesn’t care if I have imperfections. She’s all about discovery, exploration, venturing into uncharted territory. She says we can all have wonderful discoveries when our shadow shows up. Sometimes these involve healing old wounds and other times they involve seeing and recognizing our gifts.

What do these four photographs say to you about your own wild heart? I invite your comments!

Creating Beauty as a Safe Landing Space

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

It’s so easy and delicious for me to sink onto a place of beauty in nature and feel safe in that “All Is One” feeling. Next to ocean, or stream, or wind through the pines I am reminded of the life force that courses through all things. I am in my safe landing space at those times.

And then we know there are other moments. Moments that suck. Moments that are almost intolerable. Moments when we don’t want to be here. Moments when we feel like life must be against us. These moments do not feel like safe landing spaces.

So what to do? Especially since those ‘other moments” are when we need a safe landing space the very most.

Well, I say we create beauty. We must.

I love to talk about Victor Frankl, because he is the most extreme example I can come up with of a human who could create beauty out of the most meager ingredients. A concentration camp survivor whose whole family was exterminated, he credited his survival to his decision to find meaning in every day.

If he could do that in those circumstances, surely I can do it in mine.

But how, in those moments of despair, frustration, fear, or anger do we create beauty? There is a lot of ugliness in the world, after all.

I think it’s a choice. About how to see.  Without being a Polyanna, without denying, we can choose to see beauty.

I can choose to find the beauty in an ordinary task like peeling a vegetable that God made, or even cleaning a toilet I’m lucky to have. I can choose to find beauty in weeding a garden where I’m making room for new life. I can choose to seek out the beauty that accompanies some of the worst tragedies, where in the midst of great loss there is some moment of exquisite love. I can choose to not be blind, but just to see “through a different lens.”

Maybe this is part of our work on earth. At least it makes our journey here more lovely.

Do it for you. Create beauty just to make your day better.

Do it for someone else. See if that doesn’t make your day better too.

See if when you create beauty, it doesn’t make you feel safe somehow. Safe in the fact that you are a creator. Safe in the fact that there is beauty in the first place. Safe in the fact that creating beauty is a well-worn path. A sacred one. One which has eternity in it.

Ah, now you have landed. In a beautiful place. On solid ground.

Communicating with a Controller

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

I remember flying along this gorgeous coastline in Baja, Mexico, with my husband Jon. It was before I got my pilot’s license, and so when he urged me to stop photographing and take the controls, I got instant butterflies. 95% of me wanted to fly, but the 5% that was terrified had the capability of ruining everything.

This makes me think of the beginning of my career, when I was a classroom teacher worried about maintaining discipline. Even on days when I had 95% of the class involved and focused, I was always afraid of that 5% that might take those controls away from me.

If “flying” is a metaphor for the 95% of us that knows how to break free of gravity and soar, we still have to learn to deal with the 5% that suspects we might crash at any moment. I call this “communicating with the controllers,” which is Lesson 5 in my book, Flying Lessons.

The challenge of this lesson is dealing with negative feedback. That might include the kind of inner voice I heard when my husband urged me to take the controls and I was afraid I couldn’t do it. Or, it might be outer feedback, like the kind I would get from disruptive students.

I would submit that our reaction to both kinds is fear: fear of the fear we feel, or fear that we will not be able to stay in control. Or fear that we were incapable all along; thinking we were was just a lie. And fear can hijack a good intent, a calm mind, an open heart and a good experience.

The lesson I learned from Clio, my flight instructor, was about discernment. Which voices are telling the truth that will keep you safe and set you free? And where is your true voice, which you need to use when standing up for yourself is the answer.

Here’s a summary of Clio’s advice:

1. Be kind. The 5% may be afraid. Fear can make them (whether they are outer or inner voices) say terrible things. Take that into consideration.

2.  Be fair. Remember, they are the 5%. Are you listening to the 95%, or are they just invisible, their hands folded politely on their desks, their voices muffled behind their modest smiles…What if you asked them to raise their voices in song?

3.  Ask for help. Ask your partner, your friend, your angels, your guides, your God, whomever you trust the most for help. For listening. For caring. For hugs. For company. The 95% of the controllers are trying to help you survive.

4.  Keep the whole journey in mind. Remember, it’s this part that is hard. The big picture journey probably has a much more beautiful arc to it.

5.  Remember, everything is relative. You sometimes think the world is coming to an end. When yours looks like that, so does the larger one. Still, there are those other times when all is glowing, when the leaves of every tree are on fire with sunlight, and when the moon is huge and white and all-knowing. When life is holy. When you are perfect, just as you are.

 

Rising to the Level of Peace

Sunday, December 18th, 2011

Holidays, despite the fun and joy and lights, can exacerbate the tensions within and between us. People are tired and expectations are high. Sometimes scenes we imagined would be warm and close present unexpected tension. When that happens, it can feel like our feet are stuck in the sand. Hard to move out of the situation or through it with much grace.

The old way would be to try to power through it. Summon the adrenaline. Fight back. Use mental or even physical force. We know where this has led in our personal and corporate lives–to wars of private and global dimensions. Surely it’s the season to something other than digging ourselves deeper.

In my new book, Flying Lessons: How to Be the Pilot of Your Own Life, I made the suggestion that we “rise to the occasion” by elevating our consciousness and finding a new, higher form of power.

Here are some practical suggestions, just in case you get a chance to practice! If you are triggered by someone and tempted to act out of the old kind of power, here’s an alternative formula:

1. Stop.

2. Breathe.

3. Call on your inner observer.

4. Ask that observer what the highest good could come out of this situation.

5. Ask how you might contribute to the highest good.

6. Review your options.

7. Make your powerful decision and then act from that place.

Now, how does the landscape look? Even that sand that once entrapped your feet might form lovely patterns from your position as the observer who can rise above the “gravity” of the challenge.

May you find true peace in your own heart during this holy season.

The Story of the Sand Spirits

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

I walk along the Pacific coast of the Baja peninsula. The stones at my feet are thrown across the sand like a random galaxy, and I connect their dots, picking out constellations. As the tide encroaches, waves wash up stones and other objects. Suddenly, I have company—a mystical sand woman! Her head is a glowing coral stone that seems to contain her facial features. Streaks of iron filings paint an aura around her head and give her a clear neck, shoulders and gown. She silently declares to me that she is a sand spirit, a form here for a fleeting moment.

I photograph these forms for four days, not touching anything. Back at home, I am delighted with the images, but still have no idea what I’m going to do with them. Two weeks later, I go in for a routine mammogram and am diagnosed with breast cancer. The rest of the story is about how the Sand Spirits become part of my healing journey and eventually part of others’ journeys as well.

I invite you to explore using the Sand Spirits in your own personal life, to activate the ocean of wisdom inside you! They will help you find your purpose and passion, help solve practical problems, facilitate deeper communication and bring out the healer within.

On Saturday, October 8, you can set aside 6 hours just for you and give yourself the gift of working with a tool that will show you how to move ahead in any area of your life and evolution. For information and to register, copy and paste this link into your browser:  http://tinyurl.com/sandspirits.