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Igniting the Ecstatic Heart: Shamanic Practice 2

A spiritual life is nothing but dogma and deception without the heart's active presence. The heart's active presence will soon wander, bored to death with you, if you refuse to engage regularly and intimately with ecstasy. Ecstasy, the falling into the fire naked losing yourself to One surrender ecstasy that comes in union with your helping spirits is one of the great gifts of spiritual life in a shamanic practice. So then why are our shamanic practices so stodgy, precious, (frankly) boring, and ineffective in creating large-scale life change? Join us for part two of a series on creating an effective shamanic practice in your day-to-day life. This week host and shaman, Christina Pratt, explores the necessary terror in igniting the ecstatic heart and how to keep the fire of true love burning at the core of your shamanic practice while you passionately engage the world.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Graham Hancock Graces Cover of Om Times

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

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Readers of this blog know that I have something of a love affair with the work of Graham Hancock. As I wrote here, it began rather magically as I was preparing for what would be a life-altering trip to Mexico. That trip was made possible by my friend Jill Mangino, who connected me with the organizers of the Flower of Life teacher training, and otherwise helped me get my ducks in a row.

My trip to Mexico, and particularly my visit to Teotihuacan, catalyzed a process in me and not an entirely comfortable one. Through it all, the works of Graham Hancock have served as guideposts. They provided me with a kind of map through a netherworld of myth and mystery.

I am filled with gratitude for Graham Hancock, for his wonderful books, but also for the incredible generosity with which he shares his ideas in interview after interview, seamlessly weaving together the strands of a massive and challenging body of work.

I noticed last night that Hancock had posted a new interview with Om Times on his Facebook page. Imagine my delight when I discovered that the interviewer was Jill Mangino. It's a great interview. Hancock again shows his tremendous knowledge, his analytical mind, and his willingness to ask hard questions rather than provide pat answers. He and Jill discuss many of the hot button issues that Hancock has been unafraid to press through the years: the possibility of very ancient, forgotten civilizations; Ayahuasca and shamanism; the hard problem of consciousness and the dogma of reductionist materialism; and, of course, the TED fiasco.

How wonderful that Om Magazine has brought together two of my favorite people, both so instrumental in my spiritual development.

And so the circle neatly closes.


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Creating a Foundation for Wellness: Shamanic Practice 1

Knowing where you stand in life-and how to truly stand there-is essential if you want to live a spiritual or enlightened life. This is one of the many paradoxes of living life where the real energy that drives things exists under what is apparent. Those who cannot ground their visions will not live them. Those who invest too much in the physical world and cannot let their visions soar will never know why they are here. Join us for part one of a series on creating a shamanic practice in your day-to-day life. This week host and shaman, Christina Pratt, explores the cornerstones needed to create a foundation that will not crumble under the weight of the real life challenges life throws at you or collapse when you need it the most because your denial, like so many termites, has eaten through the beliefs you think support you.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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A Shamanic View of Mental Illness-Tacey: Part Two

Aboriginal elders warned the religious missionaries they encountered that if the trials of initiation were stopped then an even greater suffering would be unleashed on the uninitiated. We see this greater suffering unfolding today in the epidemics of depression, mental illness, addiction, sexual abuse, and suicide plaguing the contemporary "first world" and those who follow in our developmental and religious footsteps. In Gods and Diseases David Tacey explains what our ego-based society cannot understand, that it is "the task of culture to tell the person who he or she really is." And that it is through the trials of initiation that the person comes to believe that deeper truth and use it as the foundation for sustainable mental wellness. Join host and shaman, Christina Pratt, as she continues to explore the power in Tacey's work from his book, Gods and Diseases, which offers a an important way to look at mental illness and the possible new paths toward health and wellbeing that this point of view opens up.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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We Are Legion and We Are Tactless

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.



One of the most consistently baffling things to me about the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church is their tone-deafness. Do these Church officials really not know how out of touch they seem when they answer outrage over vile abuses with platitudes about forgiveness for perpetrators? The rush to forgive their own brethren left countless children vulnerable to non-rehabilitatable criminals. This was nowhere more true than with one of the Church's most notorious offenders: Marcial Maciel Degollado.

And they're still doing it.

Even as they are wrestling with lawsuits from his victims, his children, and the descendents of elderly people his organization bilked out of their fortunes, the Legionaries of Christ scramble to protect his legacy and his name. And of course they do it in an attempt to do what Maciel did best: raise money.

They have already raised $40 million of a needed $100 million to support an outrageous land-grab in the Holy Land. On the ruins of an ancient temple, they intend to build a new complex including a luxury hotel -- how very Maciel of them.

At issue is a women's institute promoted with a brochure entitled Magdala: God Really Loves Women. Yes, it's so nice the way God keeps forgiving women for being sexual creatures. Worse, it equates the Magdalene with Maciel. (I actually got a little queasy just typing that sentence.) The brochure text is truly unbelievable.

Bergholz Amish Win Appeal

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.



It brings me no joy to report that Sam Mullet and his Bergolz Amish followers have won a victory in an appeals court and may "become loose" against the express wishes of many local Amish.

A deeply divided ruling from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals went against the jury's determination that the hair-cutting attacks, with which Mullet's minions terrorized the greater Amish community, constituted a religious hate crime.

The majority of those convicted had already completed, or nearly completed their sentences. The real issue, as ever, is with Bishop Mullet, whose fifteen year sentence offered his community a life free of his sexual demands on the women, physical abuse of their husbands, and the psychological control he exerts over all of his Bergholz Amish.

It is not illegal to run a cult. It is not illegal to extort sexual favors from adult women, in most cases. It is not even illegal to consign grown men to incarceration in chicken coops. It is illegal to terrorize neighboring communities with physical abuse and assaults on their dignity, and it is for this that Mullet and his co-conspirators were convicted.

The larger question from the beginning has been whether cutting off the hair and beards of other Amish constituted a hate crime, in other words, were the crimes motivated by religion.

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A Shamanic View of Mental Illness-Tacey

What we diagnose as "mental illness" today grows ever more resistant to reason, logic, pharmaceuticals, or medicine. What if these are not illnesses of the mind, but diseases of the spirit? Author and scholar, David Tacey, explores how we would understand and treat mental illness if we understood that by shutting spirit out of our lives with our beliefs we have forced spirit to enter through the side door of illness. When we understand how spirit is trying to work with us through disease we can see that our suffering can be resolved or transformed only when we introduce the dimension of our soul into the healing equation. Join host and shaman, Christina Pratt, as she shares Tacey's work from his book, Gods and Diseases, which offers a powerful example of the way in which looking at mental illness through a different lens opens up new possible paths to health and well-being.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Negative Thinking Associated with Longer Life

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.



"The nice part about being a pessimist is that you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised." ~ George F. Will


The data in support of "negative thinking" keeps piling up. I have posted a number of things about studies and assessments showing that staying positive doesn't necessarily bring positive results for either our physical or mental health, and can even be detrimental. See here, here, here, here, here, and here, for a start.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal addresses some of the newer findings that show pessimism and negativity can be better for you, depending on the circumstances and your natural disposition.

Experts say pessimism can at times be beneficial to a person's physical and mental well-being. Some studies have found that having a more negative outlook of the future may result in a longer and healthier life. Pessimism and optimism are opposite ends of a spectrum of personality traits, and people generally fall somewhere in between. 

One study found that older people who were pessimistic about aging had better health outcomes and greater longevity.

A study published last year in the journal Psychology and Aging found that older people with pessimistic views of the future were more likely to live longer and healthier lives than those with a rosier outlook. The researchers used data from a nationally representative survey in Germany of about 11,000 people. Among other questions, people were asked how satisfied they were with their lives and how satisfied they thought they would be in five years.

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The True Root of Illness-Maté

One significant root of disease is the chronic stress created in the body by suppression or denial of emotions and the resulting abnormal release of emotions. "Complex unconscious psychological stresses underlie and contribute to all chronic medical conditions, from cancer and addiction to depression and multiple sclerosis," states Dr. Gabor Maté. . Join host and shaman, Christina Pratt, as she continues to explore how looking at illness through a different lens opens up new possible paths to health and well-being. Given the message in Maté's work, an aspect of our path to health and well-being must be to learn to express our emotional life in timely, honest, and healthy ways. Since contemporary people have no idea what healthy emotional lives feel like, Maté offers us a template to investigate our emotional life and a standard for the emotional competence and honesty needed to support vital health and well-being.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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A Shamanic View of Mental Illness-Somé

When we look at mental illness through a different cultural lens we can see something entirely different than the standard allopathic interpretation of the situation. There are other ways to look at what is actually happening to someone who has been diagnosed as "mentally ill." Malidoma Patrice Somé is committed to helping contemporary people to see that we can use ritual, albeit adjusted rituals, just as the Dagara people do to relieve the suffering at the core of "mental illness." Join host and shaman, Christina Pratt, as she explores the current work of Somé that shows that a different perspective opens up very different possibilities. Ritual can open the way for the individual's healing relationship with helping spirits that supports a cure or definitive movement out of the "mentally ill" state of being and back into the world as an individual better equipped than most to give their gifts to the world.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Dawkins Keeps Digging

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

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Does someone maybe want to take the shovel away from Richard Dawkins? 

His recent Twitter battle, discussed here, is having a ripple effect I don't think he expected or intended. It's rather interesting to see Richard Dawkins so completely on the defensive. He did, after all, set out to do what he does best -- use logic and reason to make sure everyone who disagrees with his world view knows how stupid they are. But it backfired and brought him a lot of negative feedback, even from some atheists. I think he may be learning the hard way that it's not as easy to get away with belittling women as it used to be.

His latest post on the issue shows him to be in full damage control mode and you know what they say: If you're explaining, you're losing.

I have briefly explained (it’s in An Appetite for Wonder) that, as a small boy, I was the victim of a pedophile teacher in the school squash court. He pulled me on his knee, put his hand inside my shorts and fiddled for about half a minute. It was very unpleasant, but it didn’t ruin my life and I had the temerity to say so in my memoir and elsewhere. I had the effrontery to downplay my experience and imply that it could have been worse. The teacher could, for example, have . . . well, I didn’t specify details, but anyone can fill in some of the appalling things that have happened to other children of both sexes.

Pandemonium in the Pigeon-lofts. Freethought Feeding Frenzy. “Dawkins actually said – I kid you not – that his experience in the squash court wasn’t the worst thing that ever happened. Wow, just wow. Where has he been these past few years? Doesn’t everyone nowadays know there are NO gradations? All cases are exactly equally bad. How dare Dawkins BELITTLE the horrors of pedophiliac assault?”

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Freedom From False Passions-Working with Water

When we focus on the element of water we are focusing on the quality of our relationship with our own emotions. Do they flow or not flow? Old emotions denied or future emotions feared don't flow. As transformational force water is the warrior who is willing to change form, to do whatever it takes to create freedom of flow and to transform the enemies into allies. Join host and shaman, Christina Pratt, for the new series, Working with the Elements. This week she explores how we can work with the element of water to create the space to open our hearts in life. Only with an open heart can we properly learn from life as the Teacher and gain wisdom from our experiences in life. There is big medicine to be found for those who are willing to do what ever it takes to cultivate a wise heart and become a force for healing, reconciliation, and peacemaking in the world.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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The Richard Dawkins Problem

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.


Richard Dawkins has stepped on his crank. Again.

Another day, another tweet from Richard Dawkins proving that if non-conscious material is given enough time, it is capable of evolving into an obstreperous crackpot who should have retired from public speech when he had the chance to bow out before embarrassing himself.

“Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse,” huffs Dawkins. Seeming to have anticipated, although not understood, the feminist reaction this kind of sentiment generally evokes, he finishes the tweet: “If you think that’s an endorsement of date rape, go away and learn how to think.”

I've really written very little about Dawkins, the man, and restricted my criticism to his dogmatic atheism and his disingenuousness in that arena. He has a long history of intemperate, ignorant, and insensitive remarks, particularly in the areas of gender politics and sexual violence. I've never thought it deserved a free-standing post because it's not really relevant to discussions of his atheist views. This is, I think, for reasons articulated in that same article.

Dawkins’ narrowmindedness, his unshakeable belief that the entire history of human intellectual achievement was just a prelude to the codification of scientific inquiry, leads him to dismiss the insights offered not only by theology, but philosophy, history and art as well.

To him, the humanities are expendable window-dressing, and the consciousness and emotions of his fellow human beings are byproducts of natural selection that frequently hobble his pursuit and dissemination of cold, hard facts. His orientation toward the world is the product of a classic category mistake, but because he’s nestled inside it so snugly he perceives complex concepts outside of his understanding as meaningless dribble. If he can’t see it, then it doesn’t exist, and anyone trying to describe it to him is delusional and possibly dangerous.

I think there is a connection between Dawkins's scientism and a kind of emotional stuntedness. He's suspicious of subjective experiences and seems to think that our emotions should follow a logical process. If you were raped this way, you should feel like this and if you were raped another way, you should feel like that. I mean it's only logical. And why on earth can't you be ruthlessly analytical about rape? You must be stupid.

Are the Poles Shifting?

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

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I've been talking about pole shift for a while now. Several years ago, I started getting intimations that it was imminent. There's a little more on these of messages here. I just didn't really know what to make of it. The gist was that things were going to shift in some very surprising ways, that the systemic injustice that I find so excruciating had reached the end of the line, and that this was somehow connected to or simply concurrent with pole shift.

I first learned about the idea of pole shift many years ago when I was reading a book on Edgar Cayce. I had no frame of reference for the idea so it rolled off my brain like beads of water from an oily surface. Years later, when I first became acquainted with the work of Drunvalo Melchizedek, I heard it again and thought, so is that what Cayce was talking about? I liked Drunvalo's take on this. It was fairly optimistic and tied the idea of pole shift with an expansion in human consciousness.

Drunvalo says all kinds of things and some I really do take with a grain of salt. But he always struck me as a sincere fellow and so much of what I learned from him has proved itself to me that I keep a lot of his more outrageous material on the maybe pile. His ideas on pole shift fall into that category.

Pole shift has been a subject of debate. It's an accepted fact that Earth's magnetic poles have shifted more than once, in the distant past. That this has caused crustal displacement is disputed by most experts. Charles Hapgood theorized that they did and that it was associated with changes in land masses. His theories have not gained wide acceptance.

Mainstream science has been as strident and dismissive of concern as it has been vague on the particulars. The simple truth is that there's a lot they don't know about how this works and the potential effects. As discussed here, some theories have us already in the beginning stages of shift. The message from officialdom has been that while the magnetic field of the planet has been weakening for over a hundred years, and while we are probably overdue for a pole reversal, the last known one having occurred about 750,000 years ago, the next is probably at least hundreds of years off and will occur gradually, probably over thousands of years. In other words, calm down, people.

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Freedom From False Passions-Working with Fire

When we focus on the element of fire we are focusing on the quality of the relationship we have with our own spirit. As a transformational force, fire is the healer who is showing us how to engage in the art of release and sacrifice. The fire helps us to free our hearts to love what truly matters to us and free our lives from the patterns of thinking, speaking, and acting that drain our hearts of their natural fullness for all life. Join host and shaman, Christina Pratt, for the new series, Working with the Elements. This week she explores how we can work with the element of Fire to kill our false passions that lead to the arrogance, aggression, and ambition that sickens our world. There is big medicine to be found in the Fire; it brings the blessing of freed energy so that you can feel and follow the true passion of your soul's longing.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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