Saturday, December 31, 2016

Beginnings and Endings

By Rev. Amari Magdalena

Tonight, at midnight we pass that imaginary marker in time that we proclaim as a New Year.  That is, we in Western cultures with our Gregorian calendar so celebrate.  Many others, worldwide, have different calendars to proclaim periods of change.  No matter how or where we draw that line in the sands of time, the end of one period and beginning of another can give us renewed hope and dreams of possibilities to be realized.

Though I feel, at times, this is part and parcel of the illusion of Maya, I concurrently observe that any period of deep reflection followed by boundless anticipation of good cannot be all bad.  There is a hopeful energetic about our countdown of 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 that gives us an adrenaline rush of optimism.  And, in a world so often shrouded in fear and doubt, optimism can gather energy to turn this experiment we call life around.

Some of us will write down resolutions of what we wish to ring in with the new period.  Others will burn in effigy those things which were experienced as negative in the closing period.  Few people in our culture will simply allow this time to go unacknowledged or say ‘ho-hum.’  Something in our human spirit needs these boosts of possibility to become inspired.

As the skies light up tonight, with bursts of glorious light and booms and bangs announce the new, many find inspiration and relief.  For those, the in-breath of the new is long and deep. Others may be exclaiming with passion, “It’s Over!  Thank God. The year of our discontent is finally put to rest.”  Long sighs of relief and deep expiration of breath may follow.

What about the middle though?  Between the agony and ecstasy of endings and beginnings are the protracted period of the betweens.  I believe that herein lies the richness of our lives; the minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day, week to week, moon to moon, month to month experiences of our allotted time on Earth.   It is here that we choose heaven or hell.  This is the space in which we practice our attitudes of gratitude, prepare to receive, affirm for the greater good, etc.  This is the place that occupies 99% of our experience here.  Why wouldn’t we want to celebrate it more consistently and consciously?

Many tribal people know about the good of the betweens.  They rise each day bowing to the returning light and end each day in prayerful and humble thanks knowing that the gift of light will return.  These people understand the fragility of each day. They choose to be in the present moment within the field of all possibilities.  They spread their acknowledgement and appreciation throughout the moon and sun cycles.  For many of them, their language is only present tense-not past nor future-simply stated in the Now. They understand the pre-sent; the gift being offered.

Let us remember than as we shout “Happy New Year” today and tonight, that each day can be a happy occasion to shout and acknowledge this amazing human experience.  Let us keep hope alive in our hearts for 365 days and see what wonderful changes and miracles abound all year ‘round.

"Beginnings are scary; Endings are usually sad; but it's the middle that counts

You need to remember that when you find yourself at the Beginning.

Just give Hope a Chance to Float Up; and it Will!"

From the Movie, “Hope Floats.

[53 Past Blogs are in my book "Shaman Talk" available in softcover and ebook on]

Monday, September 19, 2016

Return to Passion

by Rev. Amari Magdalena

This is a piece I wrote some time ago, yet has relevance more and more in our world. Passion is a subject not all are comfortable with.  Recently during an interview for a possible teaching opportunity, it was remarked, “You are certainly a busy woman.”  This was expressed in a way that suggested that was something not to be valued.  My instant response was, “One of my friends has informed me I’m an overachiever.”  Yet, as it often happens, our first response may not be our best, I reflected on this. The truth that emerged on reflection, is that I am passionate about leading a dynamic life. Unlike many in my senior’s apartment complex who sit their days out, I will not go quietly into that good night.  I hope you will choose to set a blaze under your life too.  Here are my thoughts on passion.

Passion is essential to life.  In its absence, lifelessness prevails.  At its apex in orgasm, life and death merge and we return to the Oneness.  Unobstructed by societal mores and norms, humans are passionate beings.   We are innately encoded with the drive to express our passions on the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels.  Life lived passionately brings us into at-one-ment with All That Is. 

The turmoil, chaos and confusion that we witness around us today is a direct result of suppression of passion.   Frenzy is passion involuted onto itself and manifest in humankind as an aberration of its purpose and intention.  Lifeless people must commit acts of desperation to feel.  The daily barrage of murder and mayhem reported in the public media attests to the lack of healthy outlets for expressing personal passion.

Western society has for many years distorted the purpose of passion in our lives.  Religiosity has played a significant role in this distortion.  Rules and dogma developed by lifeless people have been foisted into consensus thinking to control this volatile commodity.  Suppression of natural passion has led to more and more deviations.    Modern media’s sexual obsession has resulted in unhealthy departures leading to permanent and incurable disease.  None of this divergence has led to health or well-being.

Integrated humans in the absence of rules on their expression of passion have fostered spiritual movements that altered the course of human history; created remarkable political concepts (i.e. democracy); built world wonders; crafted lasting artistic expression in multiple media’s; developed mind boggling technologies; explored outer and inner space; pioneered and invented ingenious tools for quality living; excelled in mastery of the physical form; and “dreamed dreams that no one ever dreamed and said why not.”

Passionless people have destroyed an entire continent’s Eco-system in less than one hundred years; obliterated animals; annihilated peoples; fostered hatred and ignorance; reeked mayhem and destruction to the products of passionate people; disavowed freedom; and fostered a dis-eased humanity.  Unfortunately, passionless people abound today--along with mediocrity.  And, the paltry partnership grows unchecked.  Crimes of passion reported every day in excruciating detail by the public media are committed by passionless people.  The powers that be who seek control of the public mind, corrupt the meaning of passion toward their own greedy end.  A vicious circle ensues with a resultant lasso roping in the cattle for kill.

Vacuous people wandering the megalomaniacal shopping malls and motoring aimlessly on grid locked freeways brandishing tune-out headsets and cell phones are the out picturing of a passionless society.  Couch potatoes eating their way to gigantism in mesmerized stupor before larger and larger cathode tubes from whence spews forth idiocraty and hypocrisy, typify the description American.  Mind control replaces necessity for crowd control resulting in fewer and fewer people having greater and greater influence.

Carpe diem was the cry of my youth and its impassioned message rings ever true.  The only mind control that we need succumb to is that which tunes deaf ear to messages of limitation and amplifies that small inner voice that says, NOW!  For it is in the now, the Tao, that passion prevails.  In the now we are afloat in the sea of possibilities and become the ‘Criatura’ or ‘Criaturo’ (Creator) of our own unique passion play.

Quantum physics has taught us that at subatomic levels we are all part of the essential ‘stuff’ of creation.  In this remarkable time of a burgeoning marriage between science and spirituality, we are gifted with all of the tools for becoming more dynamic, fantastic and passionate people.  Choosing to actively engage our body, mind and spirit as triumvirate of energies, each essential to the other, creates an electric charge--a  quantum leap--that leads us to discovery of Universes beyond our imaginings. 

Why not step out of your box of limitation to awaken dormant dreams, recalibrate your energies and resonance, and to consummate your self-promises?  Carry the gifts creation has laid upon your door!  Become passionate again about every aspect of your life and life circle.  Infuse your day with silliness, eccentricity, brilliance, sensuality, sensory indulgence, and dreams.  Let your motto be, “I cannot be contained!”  And may your personal cantata be a communion of body, mind and spirit that sounds a purifying release for believers in transformative power and PASSION!

[53 Past Blogs are in my book "Shaman Talk" available in softcover and ebook on]

Sunday, August 7, 2016


By Rev. Amari Magdalena

We live in a populous world.  In cities of large to medium size, we are often bumping into one another, crashing at time like the movie Crash depicted.  Were those bumps gentle and warm, perhaps there would be less anger and violence. As it stands today, they are often far from that. This combined with the mentality of personal space and quest for new lands, has had a negative impact on our small planet.

This awareness got me to thinking about consideration.  In the era that I was raised, consideration was taught to us every day.  Manners were instilled in us to always be aware of our behavior and treatment of others.  If we visited family or friends houses for an overnight to more, we were lectured on eating what was in front of us and being respectful to our hosts.  We did not leave our ‘stuff’ all around their home.  Expectation was always trumped by thoughtfulness and consideration of others.  Entitlement, Mon dieu, hardly!!

When we look at the definition of consideration, it is about kindness, and thoughtful regard for others.  The word comes from Latin for “contemplate.”  Hidden in the word is “sid”, the Latin root for “star.” Originally it meant to examine things carefully as if you were staring at the sky in the night contemplating its mystery.

One of the reasons that I became attracted to earth-based spirituality (shamanism) was that consideration was given to all life forms.  There was a deeply inculcated philosophy of honoring Mother Earth and giving thought to all things on the manifest earth.  When one walked “a good red road,” that person was being thoughtful and considerate.

So what happened and why are we observing so little consideration of our fellow beings on the planet today?  I believe this may be, in part, why some people want a return to the 50’s–a perceived time of innocence and order.  That is certainly understandable, given that the 60’s brought in the proverbial “throw the baby out with the bath water” time of upheaval.  What might have happened instead of dissolving cultural milieus, would have been the incorporation of some of the good aspects of the old in concert with the new.

Where does that leave us today?  Capable of changing things, as always.  If each of us commits to upleveling our consideration quotient from this day forward, we’ve a much better chance of creating a peaceful, compassionate, loving world.  If we make simple choices, in all areas of our impact on the manifest world and its energies, we will indeed be co-creators of an evolution for good.  As the Hopi prophesies stated, we are the ones we’ve been waiting for, so time to get up, show up, and wisen up.  Like the unfolding Lotus, let us each see our own consciousness opening layer by layer to the awareness of how our actions impact others.

"If we were to make a conscious and frequent effort of treating others with consideration, the effects on us and our society as a whole would be amazing."  Henry Charles Link.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Our Magical Attention

by Rev. Amari Magdalena

With the many untoward events going on in the world right now, our Attention becomes much more important.  In shamanism we talk a lot about Intention and Attention (thus my emphasis with Capital letters).  Attention is defined as where we place our consciousness and monitor our thoughts and words.  Intention is what we really want to achieve by our actions.  If there was ever a time to contemplate those two concepts it is now.  The addition of ‘magical’ to Attention suggests that our consciousness, thoughts and words can be re-focused out of our ordinary material reality to that extraordinary place of higher mind and heart. 

We might equate Magical Attention with the energies of the Nagual–the East to West axis on the medicine wheel.  When we invoke the spirits and guardians of these cardinal directions we are opening ourselves to connecting beyond the veils of our illusion to upliftment and illumination. The Tonal–North and South, are the axis on the medicine wheel that most of us travel in our material, ordinary world connecting us with more earth-ward wisdom and innocence. In my book, Awaken Your Inner Shields: Transform Your Life, I provide information about this.

At this pivotal time in human history, we’ve been presented with an opportunity to take an evolutionary leap forward.  What you say?  How can that possibly be when SO much destruction is reported in graphic detail daily?  My eyes and ears are pained by all of the needless suffering and violence. And, yes, I do understand how upsetting it can be.

I would answer, if you are absorbing the bad news every day, you are missing what is wonderfully transpiring at deeper levels.  If you awaken in the morning and either check out the news on television, the newspaper, NPR, or your favorite search engine’s news, your Attention is receiving mostly bad news.  Should you need updates at mid-day, even more fear and anxiety is fostered.  Home at 6, more news?  To bed with the bad news?  An appetite of that would surely lead to not only gustatory indigestion but indigestion of your very spirit.

Every single day, on Facebook alone, there is a heartwarming story of human heroism and service to humanity.  Occasionally, these stories make it to our national news.  Ted Talks on the radio often have speakers who are talking about some essential aspect of human evolution from their particular perspective.  Inspirational books have been available long before the New Age, churned them out like butter.  Many, many offerings through citywide Meet-Ups provide opportunity for spiritual succor and tools for learning how to move into your Magical Attention.

I believe another aspect of this change, which I’ve written regularly about on Facebook of late, is comprehending that for new growth, the old growth has to be pruned as Chauncey Gardner told the President in Being There.  We have to empty our mind-cups of less than pleasant thoughts, and begin to fill them with hope and belief in the process. 

As we witness the changing of our four seasons, so is the process we are observing now.  Spring brings the new beginnings; summer the growth, fall the harvest, and winter the fallow time.  We too, as a planet, are going through these vary same stages though perhaps not as timely or consistent. I believe we are in the fallow time; old unworkable forms are dissolving and dying right before our very eyes.  Yet their compost can be the manure to feed what will emerge.

Only faith, can bring us to realize that the spring and new world WILL emerge if we place our Magical Attention on that belief and direct our Intention to contributing to creating it.  Cry no more.  This is as it should be. 

Rise up and start getting involved in the processes and forms that will come forth when our chrysalis sheds it cocoon and the New Bright World emerges.  Perhaps not all of us will witness this.  Yet, we alone can plant the seeds that will bring the Dawn of the Peace as a magnificent monarch.  In my head I am singing an old song, You’ll Never Walk Alone, that was SO impactful in my troubled youth, “When you walk through a storm hold your head up high and don’t be afraid of the dark.  At the end of the storm is a golden sky and the sweet silver song of a lark……” 

Readers, I have actually seen that golden sky once in New Mexico–so awe inspiring that I pulled off the road and wept.  It was, and it is, magnificent beyond our limited imagining.  Believe me.

[53 Past Blogs are in my book "Shaman Talk" available in softcover and ebook on]

Friday, July 1, 2016

Having a Foot in Both Worlds

By Rev. Amari Magdalena

In the early 90’s when I was introduced to alternative spirituality and involved with consciousness groups in New Mexico and Atlanta GA, there was a fantastic quality to life.  Much discussion in the groups was geared to finding ways to escape the mundane, material world.  It got pretty crazy to the point of talk about going to the 39 Parallel to wait for “the ships” to pick us up and carry us away to the galactic command.

About this time the wonderfully satirical book ET101: The Cosmic Instruction Manual came out.  That is, I took the book to be satire and laughed my way through it.  After the adjective awesome got so overused in groups as to be meaningless, I began to have my doubts about the escape plan. Having been concurrently introduced to Earth-Based Spirituality, my grounding exceeded my gullibility in the exit strategies.

Today much of the farther out woo-woo of the New Age has been tempered down a bit. Many of us actually discovered ways to make this material experience more fun and rewarding.  We finally grokked the fact that Earth time can be quite wonderful.  Lots of us got on the pulpit of save the Earth by raising consciousness about climate change and human impact on the environment.  We started to appreciate and enjoy the earth experience. Some of us taught respect of all things in the manifest world.

Somewhere in that shift we also recognized the importance of not surrendering one set of explorations to the exclusion of another.  In better words, we figured out that having a foot in both worlds was the new definition of sanity.  We began to stop being seekers of a spiritual path and consolidated our beliefs to embrace the power of being finders.  That magically lead to a wonderful integration of both worlds and a lot more satisfaction and contentment with our particular lot in life.

One thing that I’ve observed, as an elder, is that reason prevails when we move from extremes on any given continuum to an integrated central.  This posture allows us to meet wide diversity in recognizing similarities and resolving our differences.  I suppose we might say that our mastery leads us to finding that bridge across extremes to a place where all worlds could meet in a deep peace.

With the disparate energies now present of growing violence and turmoil juxtaposed to an expanding spiritual awareness and consciousness, more than ever sanity prevails when we choose to have a foot in both worlds–material and ethereal.  We can recognize that path of humanity that is not working without too much judgment and choose to right our own thought and actions ship towards upliftment, expansion and harmony.

If ever there was a time for individual mastery of thought, word and deed, it is now.  As we are able to embrace the biblical “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil,” we can serve as way-showers for others on the path of spiritual and material integration.  We can serve as example of a dance of life that has two feet, one in each world, moving gracefully with beautiful symmetry and rhythm. 

As we are approaching a time of celebrating Freedom, it may also be a wonderful period to free ourselves from enslavement to outdated thinking and collective fear/negativity that prevails in our commercial media.  When the proverbial rockets red blare in sky-filled demonstrations, let us see the sparks as new ideas for creating a reality in which personal freedom and collective responsibility reign supreme as we place one foot firmly in each of our magnificent worlds.

Peace be.

[53 Past Blogs are in my book "Shaman Talk" available in softcover and ebook on]

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Summer Solstice

Re-entering The Void at Summer Solstice
by Amari Magdalena

Polarities of their nature bespeak irony.  And so it is with our seasonal celebrations.  At the “High Noon” of summer light as we extol the virtues of the maximum hours of daylight, we turn the corner into the void and begin the process of contraction.    From Winter Solstice to Summer Solstice we are in a phase of expansion, seeding and growing our hopes and dreams.  From June 21st until December 21st we begin to draw our energies within, ever so slowly to celebrate harvests and then release.

Both our sun and moon express four distinct phases, which parallel one another nicely.  While the moon completes each phase in 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, the sun’s phases are more protracted taking our calendar year to complete.  In earth-based traditions throughout the world sun and moon celebrations served as calendars or markers for the passage of time.

June 21st decrees the celebration of the North (the polar opposite of the South that we are experiencing).  Along with the summer solstice, it is also near Father’s day marking the maximum influence of the principal we know as masculine.  While our Spring and Fall Equinox represent balance, the solstices symbolize extreme.  Solstices are more “Tonal” (tonal being ordinary reality); equinox’ are “Nagual” (extraordinary with the availability of magic).  The summer solstice then is a time of excessive immersion into the material world (Tonal).

Given the extremes and the irony of our celebration of the North in summer and the South in winter, both celebrations are about light; more of it and less of it.  As we acknowledge the longest day of the year with the highest point of the sun, let us remember to take advantage of all that is revealed in the blazing light. 

Summer Solstice in ancient times was a daylong celebration and observation in northern most climes was 24-hours and 12-hours in the lower latitudes.  In total light a circle was set with many burning candles lit.  A large bonfire was constructed nearby.  Singing, dancing, chanting and/or drumming began.  Vigilance was kept throughout the night until dawn, when the candles and fires were extinguished. 

The summer solstice may then be a time to give oneself permission to totally immerse into the masculine principal yet acknowledging the winter solstice conception that led to this luxurious fertility.  Set your ceremonial circle with objects of light and representation of the golden, orange, red colors of the sun’s brilliance.  Acknowledge fire for its power of transformation.  Strew the altar with seasonal flowers and ripening berries.  Feast and surrender to the fire within.  Engage in fire ceremonies.  Trance dance.  Tone.  Make joyful noises with percussion and flute.  Invoke Archangel Michael or the Celtic god Lugh (pronounced Looch), god of light, warmth and inspiration.  Sing the praises of the sun in all its representations including the sunship of the Christ energies.  And slowly but surely, put out each candle in tribute to the returning darkness and the great mystery of the void.  Honor this phase of growth, trust and love and “Coming Into Being.”

[53 Past Blogs are in my book "Shaman Talk" available in softcover and ebook on]

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Being On Hold

By Rev. Amari Magdalena

We’ve all experienced being on hold.  Terminal “push this push that” to get a real person phone calls can be unnerving. Waiting for an appointment with a doctor.  Standing in long lines anywhere. Awaiting a visitor or event that is not on schedule.  We are presented with myriad ways of what we might deem wastes of our previous time that sorely test our patience.

Usually, I will get busy doing something else until the person or event resolves itself.  Often though I’m hung up ostensibly ‘on call’ for business.  It feels like “Waiting for Godot” the famous play on the theme of unresolved waiting for an imaginary person who is not coming; as life flashes by.

I might compare this to the waxing and waning natural rhythms of our celestial bodies the sun and moon.  In waxing periods, we may experience bursts of energy. In waning cycles, we may reach a place I call “the betweens.”  In those times of little overt happenings, we may feel that not as much is working in our lives.

Perhaps our frustration levels rise.  We might feel these times are a waste. For me, this is when I move into “Mental Traveler” mode or daydream.  If I can remove myself from the frustration of waiting, I can enjoy a whole canopy of imaginings in my mind.  It’s perhaps a little active dreaming that I do to keep my mind active and reduce the overt negative judgment of being on hold.  In shamanism we might call it journeying though most likely it is a middle world journey with more conscious awareness than the usual other world journeys.

However, we navigate being on hold, our mental state will remain a lot more positive if we develop strategies for doing something else while we wait–mentally or physically.  Time here on the earth plane is indeed precious.  It is important for our wellbeing that we appreciate the gift.  Thus alternative ways of relating to the betweens can create a win/win situation for us so that we are able to feel good about such times.

Queuing up a beautiful landscape travel or meditation video may be one successful strategy if the hold time is related to a computer.  Playing some music on our headphones may be a good hold strategy for phone calls rather than listening to jarring and/or repetitive hold music.  Changing our visual focus to the outdoors may be useful as the horizon tends to, for me, hold the promise of what is around the next bend or curve of life.  Whatever helps with even breathing and less stress breath-holding and rising anger, can make our lives feel so much clearer in the moments.

And, last resort, whatever is keeping us on hold for more than a reasonable time, we can hang up or just go out and enjoy our lives.  For those people who tend to hang us up, going out and enjoying our lives may give them an important lesson in respect for the time of others.
Release the holds that you can and improve your passages of time with the ones that require your time to get something important accomplished. Say goodbye to those persons or situations that unnecessarily detain, confine and restrain your energy.  If you can’t end the relationship, create appropriate boundaries. However, you find your way to coping with being on hold, choose to set yourself free.  We’ve one wondrous life, for sure.  Enjoy it and find a bright spot to focus on when you find yourself next on hold!

[53 Past Blogs are in my book "Shaman Talk" available in softcover and ebook on]

Thursday, June 2, 2016

This is the Day!

By Rev. Amari Magdalena

“This is the Day,” Graham Dashwood declares, in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, as he realizes that he’s through leading a life whose end game is not one he wishes to play.  Do you ever feel like you have a starring role in someone else’s life?  Are you aware that you are living roles of expectations that family, friends, lovers, employers and societal edicts have dictated? Have you wondered where you, your authentic self, has disappeared to?

We are living in fast moving and often precarious times.  Change is upon us with increasing demands on our mental, physical and emotional natures.  Many of us have had to wear a lot of hats to meet the demands of our different roles.  Perhaps we’ve felt like quick change artists in a play with many cumbersome costumes.  More likely a bit of us may have been lost along the way. We have mastered doing at the expense of being.

Yet some internal message we are receiving in the deep recesses of our minds, speaks to us. Its message may be soft or very loud. Basically it may be asking “where is my spirit.”  Where is that essential me?  Am I anywhere near fulfilling my dreams and living in concert with the real me? Will I just go on in over-drive until this little vinette I call my life is over?

When we get caught up in the doings of life, we often loose the magic that it truly represents. We are born because we chose to incarnate, to acquire this flesh and blood body.  Our life script is influenced by our early caregivers and takers and a plan for spiritual growth that is perhaps beyond our human imagining.  Each of us has a specific purpose in being here. Our soul wishes that we will realize our purpose and accomplish our mission. In between our birth and death, we are gifted time and experiences towards that end.

Though it may not always be apparent I believe we are actually here to enjoy this ride. Oh, maybe not every day, though we might choose that attitude.  Certainly we are not incarnate to be punished or ‘do time’ for our supposed past life regressions.  I feel we are here to have the full body experience in every possible way.  Along the way, hopefully we are also staying in tune with our eternal spirit and fostering its growth.

What I do know to be true, this nearly three quarters of a century down life’s highway, is that each day is a gift.  When we choose to be more present in the moment, we can experience gratitude for this wondrous gift; we can choose to life actively, magnificently, and dynamically. No matter the external circumstances, tugs and pulls, we can each declare, “today is the day!” We can embrace the day and surrender living the lives others dictate for us.  In our declaration, we can find our authentic self who knows how we can fulfill our dreams with whatever time is afforded us.

Perhaps you are saying to yourself, sure it’s that easy, not!  She doesn’t know the stresses I’m under or understand my circumstances.  Who is she to say this?

What I will share with you is that I’ve been through the hell of life.  I’ve been at the edge of giving up.  At 47 I was so close to early exit that each day was precarious.  One day in rainy, cloudy, dark Seattle the sun shown.  I was out laying in the sun.  The warmth on my body caused me to totally relax.  I heard birds joyfully singing.  In that very moment, I came to a realization that I could capture more moments like that and turn my life around. I could choose heaven on earth.  That realization moved my life towards embracing each day and following my dreams.

What I wish for each of you reading this, is a moment in which you make an active choice to embrace life and declare, “This is the Day”!  That you quit living your life for and through others and recognize that at the end of your life hopefully you lived your life for you.  Trust me, others will appreciate that much more than you losing your special Divine Spark to please them. And, you will lead a life that you enjoy and are grateful for.

“You think this is just another day in your life. It's not just another day. It’s the one day that's given to you today. It's given to you. It's a gift. It's the only gift that you have right now and the only appropriate response is gratefulness.”  Louie Schwartzberger

[53 Past Blogs are in my book "Shaman Talk" available in softcover and ebook on]

Monday, May 23, 2016

Loss and Grief

By Rev. Amari Magdalena

A recent program that I listened to on NPR discussed the impact of loss and grief on the airplane crash victim’s families.  It got me thinking about all of the large and small losses, and resultant grief, that we each experience on this physical plane over a lifetime.  Some of our losses we more easily recover from under the old adage, “live and learn.”  The big ones may take a lot more time and for those we may find acceptance on some levels yet may not ever fully recover in the sense of being the same person we were before the loss.

Years ago I wrote in a poem, “Or would the moment die its own fleeting death anyway ...As we are living and dying in moments.”  This was not meant to be fatalistic rather a recognition that there are all kinds of deaths that we come to cope with over our time on this Earth; each in our own way. The path to coping and acceptance are as varied as the causes or conditions of the deaths.

There were two times in my life that I’ve felt overwhelming grief at death.  One was the year that Martin Luther King, my cousin Patsy and Bobby Kennedy died in April, May and June correspondingly.  I could not fathom such grief at loss of leadership and a young, beautiful cousin. It took a good year to find some peace with their individual and collective passing.

The other time was even more egregious.  Within a period of three years, I lost a 3-year-old grandson, a 52-year-old sister and a 17-year-old nephew.  I’d had a premonition that major grief was about to descend several weeks before the first death; thankfully I was given no idea whatsoever what was to come. And, the grief wasn’t over I sensed after our beautiful Diego was gone.  What a roll-a-coaster ride those short years were.

Each of us must find a path through our grief and losses. What saved me with the latter griefs ultimately was the grounding that daily sustains me through earth-based practices and the medicine wheel of life. I feel extremely fortunate that I found this path as it has sustained me as no other in my lifetime.

In working with my personal grief, and others in my family and pastoral counseling, I’ve seen that there is no formula or time frame for processing grief.  The ‘get over it’ mentality that so very many people espouse to avoid deep feelings, just doesn’t work.  The degree of loss includes: the circumstance of the loss; the people or loved pets involved; the place one is in their life; the supportive environment or lack thereof; the time in life; etc. 

For some people, counseling is effective; for others grief support groups.  Others may take solace in their religious or spiritual practices. I believe there is no right way.  Each of us, with some support, or help, can find a pathway that works.

I’m also struck by what I said in the poem, we are living and dying in moments.  That knowledge, for me, means that I want to embrace my life in the now with appreciation for each day and the people who are now in my life.  It also means that I can treasure what is presented to me today without worrying about what might be taken away tomorrow or what was taken in the past.

Dia de los Muertos ceremonies are a wondrous way to celebrate our friends and family who’ve stepped through the veil.  At that time when the veils are thinnest between the material and ethereal worlds, we can bring into our presence those loved ones and celebrate them.  At other times, memories and pictures help us keep a loving connection with our beloveds. 

Birth, life and death are the triumvirate we all live with.  Being gentle with ourselves, allowing grief it’s due, and coming to feel thankful for whatever time is allotted us and our dear ones, can move us a long way to acceptance and appreciation for the fragility of this wondrous play, Life.  The key is living and loving.

[53 Past Blogs are in my book "Shaman Talk" available in softcover and ebook on]

Friday, May 13, 2016


By Rev. Amari Magdalena

There was a wonderful share the other day on Facebook about perspective.  It got me thinking about just how relevant perspective is to our state of mind and contentment in life. For many of us, particularly those living alone, it is easy to lose perspective when we encounter the bumps and detours that life presents; no one to bounce things off of.  For others even living with others, perspective can be skewed.  All of us are, at times, fairly insular in our world view; we are the center of our universe.

When our small universe presents challenges of body, mind or spirit, we often fall into feeling sorry for ourselves with the accompanying pity party.  At times, we choose to wallow in the suffering that we are experiencing.  Some choose to isolate themselves at times like this; others broadcast it through their downtrodden energy.

It strikes me that what is needed are new filters through which to view challenges, bumps and detours. We might liken this to using a camera.  Some people are more adept with the instrument; others not.
What is clear to me is that we each have an internal camera, along with our external one (our eyes).  To a certain degree, we simply take a picture of what we see with your eyes.  Yet through processing or developing the picture our internal camera tweaks the picture: in modern terms, we might say we Photoshop it.  That internal processing is very unique and determined to a great extent by our life experiences and cultural inculcation.

Additionally, we seem to have a propensity to repeat the very same processing method we've previously used for similar pictures.  We are on a form of auto-pilot with those. This can be time-saving yet may also represent a sort of blindness.  Perhaps we do this repeat procedure to save time; perhaps it is simply habit.

If we continue to process pictures on auto-play or pilot we are not considering the present moment, circumstances, and presentation before us.  This creates a lot of views that may be outdated or distorted.  The distortion effect may lead to misunderstanding, prejudice, assumption, and limited thinking.

We could apply this to the events in our own lives or to our perception of events unfolding before us in the lives of others or the world.  Truth may go begging when our camera lens is clouded or fractured.  Recognizing any distortion by running our perceptions through a new truth filter may be of great value.  Asking or questioning ourselves, when we find ourselves making judgments about a person or circumstances, may help us discover new truths.

In my own life when I question negative thinking, I often ask, "Is this true today?
Are the feelings or thoughts or perceptions I am experiencing based in what is presently before me or some half truth from another time and place?  This helps me greatly in clearing my filter and perhaps coming up with new ways to view what my camera is focusing on.

The quote below sums up my thinking on this subject.  One can just as easily apply it to "when watching yourself and your reactions...."  I believe that we can choose to change our perceptions through highly focused awareness and commitment to re-viewing all that is within our scope; especially when it is causing us any angst or unhappiness. 

The choice to see heaven or hell each day is ours alone.  No external force can manipulate our inner camera, truly.  We alone can "Windex" our perceptions and click on a focus that creates greater happiness and contentment.

“…and so it is with life.  What we see when watching others depends on the clarity of the Window through which we look.”  

[53 Past Blogs are in my book "Shaman Talk" available in softcover and ebook on]

Thursday, April 28, 2016


By Rev. Amari Magdalena

Intolerance, defined as “unwillingness or refusal to tolerate or respect opinions or beliefs contrary to one’s one.”   It’s Latin basis: “in” for not; “tolerantem” for to bear, or endure. Seems, to me, to be a lot of that floating around these days especially on the social media sites.
We all have our opinions and beliefs.  Some are shaped by our life experiences; some by exposure to belief systems that we particularly resonate with.  Opinions and beliefs are valuable to the extent that our ego investment in them doesn’t allow for a change of mind or awakening to the new.  They become a problem mostly when we are disrespectful to those opinions and beliefs of others not in concert with ours.

Lately there has been major intolerance regarding the political debacle that we are witness to in this election year.  Another cyber world example of intolerance is regarding food-vegan, vegetarian, omnivore, etc.  Public breastfeeding is yet another example of polarized opining. Global warming or climate change, yet another.  Transgender use of bathrooms; another hot button. So many areas of disagreement. The issue is not necessarily about our personal views on any of these subjects rather our lack of respect for views that are 180 degrees from our cherished opinions.
Many spiritually based people hold a precious view of a world that works for everyone, these days.  Much is said about bringing everyone on board to express their particular gift or talent and find appreciation in so doing.  The word Peace probably has exponential hits or clicks every day.  Yet it’s all just empty words unless we are willing to extend respect to those who differ with our opinion, beliefs, views. 

As I’ve been contemplating this blog for a week or so, I have become painfully aware of my own areas of intolerance.  I’ve found myself observing something that doesn’t resonate with me and a judgment or intolerance floating across my mind.  To remedy this, I’ve turned my negative judgment around and found a way to express the thought in a more positive vein.  Perhaps there is something I may learn by what I am witnessing; or possibly it will give more credence to holding my belief with more reverence.  Yet R.E.S.P.E.C.T. is required if I am to move past intolerance and judgment.

Aretha socked it to us in her famous song.  It may be time to revisit its wisdom. “Ain’t gonna do your wrong.”  Catch that last word, wrong.  When we are intolerant, judgmental, and make the other person wrong, there is no possibility of respect–let alone peace making.   Respect too has Latin origins: respicere (see respect (n.). Meaning "treat with deferential regard or esteem."

Can you imagine a world in which we greet people “I esteem you?”  Possibly it is a better greeting than Namaste because it truly says that I/we/you honor the person in front of us and not just the spirit within. And that, my friends, is what I truly believe is necessary for us to create a world that crosses all lines of division: ethnic, creed, religion, culture, age, sexual orientation, etc. 

If I want to know what makes you tick, I can only find that out by being willing to listen to you, truly listen and pay you due respect.  For example, my oldest son is politically my polar opposite in allegiances.  Yet, I learn something every single time that we have an in depth discussion about his beliefs.  I discover that some of it does in fact resonate; some does not.  I know that if we had more flexibility in our body politic of the moment, this kind of listening could only strengthen platforms by incorporating doable ideas that potentially serve all of the people. 

Discussions about food could take on a different tone.  Instead of shaming and blaming, vegans and vegetarians could share their personal stories of increased health and energy.  Politicians could choose broader platforms that address a broader brush of their constituency.  Climate change could be opened up more for discussion without so much human shame and blame.  Breastfeeding and human sexuality would have their due if we were willing to explore our deeper feelings about our bodies and their function.  The growing LGBT community could be viewed with compassion for their deep struggles in societies that hold more concrete beliefs on what is ‘normal’ and not in human sexual  behavior.

We are birds of many feathers and hues; each one of us. By becoming more and more aware of respect, esteem, and tolerance, I believe we’d have a much better chance of creating a world community of love and compassion.  I’m committed to working on my areas of intolerance.  I invite you to have that “Come to Jesus” moment yourself and learn to give what you wish to receive; R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

[53 Past Blogs are in my book "Shaman Talk" available in softcover and ebook on]