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Courage

marinarainbow 001“Marina saw a brilliant light at the end of the vast expanse of clouds. The sun was breaking through the grey above. Great shining streaks of light poured through the sky. Marina felt the glorious warmth of the sunlight and melted back into a clear shining raindrop.
Marina and her friends basked in gleaming morning sunlight. She could see light pouring through her and her friends creating an arcing rainbow that stretched to the sparkling sea below.” from “Marina” The story of a baby raindrop. In this scene, Marina changes from identifying as a snowflake; unique and individual, to being part of a rainbow; a community whose whole is greater than the sum pf its parts.
The rainbow represents all colors, all faiths, all types. It is a symbol of unity.
Together, we can overcome obstacles we would not want to face on our own. It takes courage to defend the oppressed but we will br stronger for it. Cowards see something to fear in others, while the brave overcome their fear to find the common good. That’s why, in the long run, we will prevail, even if we face setbacks now. Because we are stronger together.
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Telling the Tao

fotor_147869657337290“The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao” so begins the Tao te Ching; “The Book of the Way,” by Lao Tsu. Over 25 years ago I consciously began my journey on the Path. One of the first books I stumbled upon was Stephen Mitchell’s translation of the Tao. I keep a copy with me and drag it out every once in while. Sometimes I get in a mood where I take my pocket copy with me everywhere, though I may never look at it when I do. The message is pretty simple: Don’t try to control the universe. Be in the moment, let life guide you, and become a master by not trying. Of course there’s more to it than this. I refer you to the first sentence in this post. I’m sure the Old Boy knew the irony of making that the first line of his book.
In the passing years I’ve learned many things, and unlearned many as well. I have to keep unlearning them. One of the things I’ve seen real value in for me is practicing zen calligraphy. The method is very similar to what I’ve just stated; be in the moment, let the universe be in charge and in this way, become a master. As zen is a Japanese form of Buddhism, the calligraphy is Japanese as well. Japanese traditionally write in Kanji, which was originally Chinese, like Taoism. The calligraphic method can be applied to any writing; indeed it can be applied to life itself. Using the tools to render the Taijitu (yin yang symbol) is a natural.

fotor_147869716888396What made me realize this was of course watching Kung Fu Panda III.
I was struck by the idea that the image can be seen to describe a spinning effect; as is often depicted with the yin and yang chasing each other. What was significant this time was how it is a symbol for everything. our galaxy is spinning, the sun revolves around it, the earth around the sun as it spins on its own axis. Dervish spin in meditation. Also, in reading up on the symbol, pronounced “Tai Chi tu” by the way, many of the complimentary aspect it represents were explained including one which I hadn’t thought of: the expanding contracting duality of life. This is key to Hamsa meditation, as well as understanding non dualist Kashmiri Shavism, which is another key component of my education.
So rendering the Taijitu deeply gratifying to me. It is a powerful exercise and a powerful symbol.

 

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Meditation part 1

madonna blueMeditation is an important part of my life. My pursuit of authentic meditation has fueled my spiritual path. When I was a teenager, I was curious to learn about spiritual paths other than the Catholic faith I was born into. A child of divorce, and of a parent who had been previously married, I felt that the rules I had been taught about my family and my soul were not that of a loving and understanding God.
It wasn’t until College that I really became pro active in researching spirituality. Until that point, my thinking was still centered on what had  been drilled into my head since I was born. So I worried that other religions might lead to damnation. Yet I became more and more certain that the people who had been building and guiding the Church were not as divinely guided themselves as they claimed. I was still building a case against my indoctrination into a religion that I had accepted and loved growing up.
I finally came to the conclusion that God showed Himself to different people in different ways. I was certain that God didn’t love Europeans more than Indians or Asains. Why would He expose some people to certain religions and others to other ones if being born in India was a sure ticket to Hell. I also concluded that God would want us to use our brains and our hearts to figure out for ourselves what religion was best for us. Just automatically accepting what I was born into as the only right way to worship seemed arrogant and lazy to me.
I began reading and taking classes that taught comparative religion. I am part Native American, so I went to sweat lodges. I learned about Wicca, which predated Christianity in Europe. Some will take offence at calling it that because it is a modern term. It’s just the term I learned about the worshipers of the Earth Mother Danu. Their way was almost completely wiped out and Danu’s Consort, the horned god, became the image of the Christian devil. Leave it to a Patriarchal society to completely miss that the main deity is a woman.samhain 001

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Sanctuary of the Beloved

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I recently had an experience that made me realize that I need to rededicate my life to what I’m passionate about. I have been concentrating on writing and illustrating children’s books, which is one of my life’s deepest passions. However, this is a long, arduous process, even when I’m self publishing and eliminating the middleman of trying to find a publisher. In the meantime, I need a creative outlet and focus to keep me centered in the moment. This has always been mainly spiritual work for me. I do sacred calligraphy, spiritual paintings, poetry and things of this nature. I have always just sort of worked on calligraphy until I feel like I need to work on children’s books and then I want to paint a landscape and then a painting of Mary, and back to calligraphy, and then I make a painting of the Goddess. And then they just sort of get piled on to my website in their various spots.

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There’s nothing wrong with this per se; but I had the inspiration to create a space dedicated to my spiritual work, thus giving it a more cohesive feel.

 

The things I create can provide inspiration and solace. We are all given ways to help each other, and I don’t have to be the leader, I can be an artisan that creates little talismans that help people to focus on their spiritual goals, mantras, inspirational motifs.

The space I want to create for these things; for people to come to is the Sanctuary of the Beloved.

The Beloved is the Source. Some may refer to this Source as God, or Goddess; Buddha, Devi, Jesus, Allah; to me all rivers spring from the same Source, and they all lead to the Ocean. The Beloved is how I refer to Her. To me She is Love itself.aditiwc

I once had to evaluate the qualities I would look for in God. Who could I dedicate my soul to? Who could I rely on for steadfast guidance in all things at any time? Was is the God I was raised to worship? The patriarchal figure that gets angry at the slightest provocation? The one who condemns to hell people who aren’t born into the correct religion and perform the functions and rituals just so? The one to whom we ascribe all suffering to being a test? The punisher with a long list of what’s acceptable and what is not?Untitled5

I realized that I was also told that God is love. literally. Not metaphorically. This made sense to me. Here was a God I could do business with. Also, I thought that in all likelihood, the patriarchal idea of God was created by men, human men, to keep women in line. In ancient times some societies were not patriarchal, they were matrilinear; that is men and women were equal, but lineage or birth lines were traced through the mother, not the father. This makes sense because you always know who the mother is. Patriarchal societies had to have strict rules about sex to insure that the king passed his kingdom on to his son and not some other guy’s son. The best way to insure that everyone knew men were in charge was to say that God was a man, and He said men were in charge. We’ve been dealing with this for five thousand or more years. So to counteract that deep subconcsious embedding that God is a man, I celebrate the Goddess, from whom we are all born, who nurtures us and protects us. Who deserves respect and is every bit as wise and powerful as any male deity. A God who was truly Love wouldn’t care what religion someone was. Monotheist religions are meant to control people, not help them to grow spiritually. Besides, Male and female are not complete without each other. If God is a single source, than God is neither male nor female, but God.

Goddess

God as Love is someone I can dedicate my life to; dedicate my soul to. In any situation, you can choose love; You can stop and say, what is the loving thing to do? All the other rules either hold up to this or they don’t. Everything becomes much clearer, much easier. I’m not perfect, but I don’t have to be. because God is Love.

I may go into more detail about my personal beliefs another time. Here, I just want to lay the ground work for the Sanctuary of the Beloved.

The Sanctuary is the heart.

Visit the Sanctuary here

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#AlwaysChooseLove

the faerie TreeI am a scatterbrain. Maybe I have a condition: ADD or ADHD. I don’t know. I flit from subject to subject. Lately I have been concentrating on Faeries. I am in the process of writing and illustrating a children’s book about faeries. It will be written in part if not wholly in some form of verse. I could conceivably write it in verse and prose and claim the whole thing was “free verse” which in part took a prose like form. I’ve read some modern poetry which seems to me to be prose. Incidental reminiscing of mundane events, beautifully rendered and proffered as poetry in the latest poetry journals which I leave on the shelf unbought because I don’t identify with it. It doesn’t touch me or move me. So, whose going to identify with faerie poetry written in some archaic style that people don’t even read anymore? I will I guess.

I’ve eluded to my process before; it’s rather backwards. I’m sketching faeries, writing whimsical verse with a fountain pen in a beautifully bound sketchbook. I’m approaching my subject elliptically, sneaking up on it, as it were. My son has nightmares, so I’ve decided that I am going to have the faeries chase out the nightmares. That’s basically the plot as of now.faerie Knight

I’ve also discovered that the faeries wear armor and live kind of like gypsies; in fancy wagons and stuff. So, it’s slowly taking shape in the fog. The nightmares themselves may be creatures of the otherworld too. My hope is reading this book, children will go to bed, feeling they have the power to drive away nightmares. Psychologically, if one feels they need not fear nightmares, then that is precisely the case. It’s all very FDRian.

So, now I have to come up with the dark creatures, which shouldn’t be a problem, given the genre; there’s probably more scary creatures in the otherworld than friendly ones. I’ll probably have a child for the fae to protect, and maybe Danu herself will make an appearance. That’s why I started this post with the bit about being scatterbrained. I wanted to abandon the faeries and court the Goddess for a time; but in the space of a few paragraphs I see the two aren’t mutually exclusive. The Goddess by the way is Love. whether she is Danu, Devi, Gaia, Demeter or Isis. Or Jesus, or Krishna for that matter. Whatever name you worship: #alwayschooselove.wiccan-grail-001

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Faerie Sketches

I’ve been working on a new series of faerie sketches for a children’s book. Some are more finished than others. Most of them are in a little 5×7 sketchbook that my wife gave me as a gift, so the sketches are kind of small. These newer ones are being done with water soluble graphite, watercolor pencils and markers. They are helping me to flesh out the story. I’ve also been writing some poetry for the book, but again, more as sketches or ideas that may or may not end up in the book.

All I can really tell for sure is I probably won’t do the finished pieces in watercolor pencil and marker.

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Om is Where the Heart Is

omtibet 001 (2)In the beginning was the word and the word was OM. Chanting OM is like a tuning fork for your soul. The ancient sacred sound permeates the Cosmos; creating it and sustaining it.

In the 1950s Bell industries aka the phone company was experiencing static on their lines. They assigned 2 physicists to find the source of the static; Peebles and Dick. What they found was a vibration that emited from everywhere simultaneously. At a frequency that matched exactly what scientists postulated the remnant of the big bang would vibrate at. The universe was created by a sound, and is sustained by it. omEPSON007At Azul BlueDragon, we offer ancient, sacred Sanskrit words and phrases, rendered in the expressive Shodo style of Calligraphy,which utilizes a meditative technique to harness the spirit of Creation, imbuing the very ink on the page with energy.

For a limited time, we are offering a free digital download of the sacred Om, to keep. You can print it out and use it to decorate your home or office. It’s our gift to you. (via Free Download! Om Sanskrit Calligraphy!)

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On the Hunt

faerieEPSON024What mysteries lurk beneath the surface, looking outward, unseen; waiting to be discovered? My work methods are unorthodox. Try as I might to sit down and devise a tale of my own making, I find it’s a bit like hunting. Not that I have ever hunted anything except cats with my childhood dog; Heidi. Nevertheless. One has to pick up the scent, track one’s quarry. I have to lay in wait, sniff the wind. It’s a merry dance, the hunt. I do research, I conceive a subject; in this case faeries. I devise a format: a picture book. I want it to be in verse, but not the verse of picture books. They’re all so much the same.
My research takes me to medieval poetry. I skip Victorian because that’s where everyone hunts for fairies. But I’m not looking for the story. I’m looking for the voice. I’m looking for something antiquated. Something to give a flavor of a treasure long-lost and discovered anew. In medieval verse, there was a taste for alliteration as much as if not more than rhyme. I find I’m not ready to unravel sonnets and the tricks of language that make poets from Shakespeare to Shelly thought great. Wordsworth’s genius eludes me. I find I like Taliesin.

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To lure my prey I paint some of my subject. I write endless babble without any plot or destination in mind.


Then, back in the real world, my one year old is having nightmares. I feel this is my legacy. He has his mother’s eyes, and his father’s untamable imagination. Perhaps the faeries can be called upon to drive them away. I’m generally unconcerned with whether fairies are mischievous as conceived in the Christian era or minor nature gods as seen previous to that. To me all things are manifestations of the Source: Love. In fact, along the way as I fill my sketch book with non sequiturs and rubbish, I hit upon a new mantra: Always choose love. It becomes my hashtag. It is to be a guiding principle in all I do and create, so that when I am done here, I won’t have left only rubbish behind. Looking back on my work, one could argue that it has always been my mantra, just latent, undiscovered. So my faeries will be bringers of light.
I may be getting closer, but still the hunt goes on.faerie

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Zen Calligraphy

Zen Calligraphy, also known as hitsuzendo, is a style of calligraphy that does not rely on traditional calligraphic aesthetics; instead it is created by the calligrapher, who puts him or herself into a meditative state, and lets the energy he taps into, flow through him and into to the calligraphy. If this is new to you, you may be saying, “what the what?” Let me explain.enzo

First, when I say meditative state, I don’t mean like a hypnotic trance. I mean that the calligrapher empties himself (I’m going to use the male pronoun, because I am mainly speaking from my experience, but understand that this is a method that women use as well) of his own thoughts and opens himself to become an instrument, an extension of the brush if you will. In this way, the true Self is the calligrapher and not the ego. As this is a Japanese style of calligraphy, we will use the Japanese term Ki to refer to the energy that the calligrapher channels. This energy can be seen in the powerful and free look to the brush work.zen tiger

This calligraphy was developed by Zen Buddhist monks and is itself a form of meditation. Traditionally, the work consists of a Japanese word or phrase, but can also be a picture or an abstract brush stroke. Once the method is understood, the practitioner is not limited to Japanese calligraphy, but can use the method in any art form. Indeed, Zen masters explain that there is no difference between “shodo” the way of the brush and “kendo” the way of the sword.faith

I have begun to apply the method to Sanskrit calligraphy. In Sanskrit, Ki is Shakti. Both words refer to the same energy that permiates the cosmos, and gives us life. It is everywhere and everything is made of it. It creates, sustains and will ultimately dissolve the universe. In India, Shakti is worshiped as a goddess. The awakening of this energy and connecting with it is known as kundalini yoga.devi

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Sacred Calligraphy Blog #1

It’s 2016 and like many people, I have decided to use this landmark to focus my efforts personally and professionally. To this end, I have decided to concentrate more on meditation and trusting in God this year. Professionally, this translates into focusing more on sacred calligraphy. While I have been doing this for years, I feel that I reached a turning point last year, in making the calligraphy more of a personal expression. This has always been my goal, but at first, I was so worried about getting the letter forms correct, that what I was doing could be better described as hand lettering.

My training for this is particularly unique. Many people study calligraphy, many people study typography, and many people study sacred languages. (Actually, in all three cases, many is a relative term; these are rather specialized fields of study) While there is no doubt some crossover in these three areas, the Venn diagram (imaginary in this case, as I am too lazy to actually research the numbers to make my point) is smallest in area where all three fields of study converge.

In this blog, I will talk in detail about the meditative quality of various methods of sacred calligraphy, the difference between how I approach different styles and different languages, as well as what makes for a good word or phrase. People have been doing this for thousands of years in every culture known, so there’s lots of room to study past masters. Be sure and let me know what your interested in, and if you do sacred calligraphy what your approaches are.

img005 krisnaEPSON011 (2) img014 omEPSON007I focus mostly on Sanskrit for my calligraphy. I’m basically learning Sanskrit one sacred word at a time. Sanskrit was developed specifically to record the Vedas, the sacred scriptures of India. There is also Tibetan Sanskrit, which is related, but not the same as the Vedic Sanskrit I focus on. The letterforms of the language are known collectively as Devanagari. There are plenty of Sanskrit scholars who know more than me and Vedic scholars as well. I do not claim to be the foremost authority on these subjects. I do not claim to be the best calligrapher in the world. I think you will find my approach fairly unique, although I don’t think I’m the only one in the world doing what I’m doing. I also am learning Zen calligraphy, which I freely adapt to the various languages as a style while also learning the more straight forward methods of kanji calligraphy. I have also done Hebrew calligraphy. I have done all of these professionally, and am going to expand my repertoire this year. Perhaps I will learn Tibetan Sanskrit and maybe some Arabic.  I can only promise it will be an adventure.