Friday, July 25, 2014

The Secret World of Nature


“…realizing that visible bodies are only symbols of invisible forces, the ancients worshipped the Divine Power through the lower kingdoms of Nature… The sages of old studied living things to a point of realization that God is most perfectly understood through knowledge of His supreme handiwork – animate and inanimate Nature.  Every existing creature manifests some aspects of the intelligence or power of the Eternal One… From The Secret Teachings of All Ages by Manly P. Hall, 1977

I find intimacy (knowledge) with God through observing nature and understanding “animal speak.”  Animal Speak – the Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great & Small by Ted Andrews gives one a glimpse into the secret world of nature seldom sought after in the humdrum of everyday life. The dialogue with God, the Holy Spirit, or however, you may describe the Ultimate Source of being, is through a symbolic language.  The knowledge gained through experiential learning goes beyond a relationship with the unknown because it also pushes me to know myself.     

In my opinion, Communion with nature is synonymous with Communion with God.  There are three aspects of Communion fellowship, partnership, and intimacy.  Fellowship is sharing of knowledge in a dialogue that is frequently considered prayer in religious beliefs. Partnership defines how this relationship is a vital part of life. Moreover, intimacy deals with the desires, intentions, and thoughts of the heart.  Typically, we all learn these aspects of Communion from relating and forming bonds with other humans.  

To “know” something implies a theory (concept) has been tested (practiced) and a strong feeling of attachment to that experience provided a foundation (intimacy.)  The symbolic language could be seen as the building blocks forming that foundation.  Experiential theory in psychology would describe two different ways of grasping experience: Concrete Experience and Abstract Conceptualization as well as Reflective Observation and Active Experimentation.  There are also individual preferences to consider, which are categorized into three expressions of thinking, feeling, or doing.  For most people, one expression will be predominant.  However, we reach the secret world of nature through the combination of all three.  This experience is similar to the secret world experienced between humans. 

For example, a man will “know” instantly what the quick glance from his wife of forty years means without any words spoken.  This “sign” conveys much information locked into a glance and a brief-expression. To achieve this level of understanding some dialogue took place over the years that brought the couple into communion.  We can have a dialogue with God through nature and over time achieve such a rapport with our Creator.  One way to understand the signs and symbols in the unspoken dialogue with God is to observe nature. 

Let’s define intimacy before we examine a couple of important aspects of the new language of animal speak.  It is important to understand all aspects associated with intimacy to fully grasp what occurs in our relating to others as well as nature.  

Secondly, let’s discover why Griffin has a long history in art and lore.  These images associated with Griffon are a great example for us to learn the techniques for recognizing and interpreting the signs and symbols. We will also explore how animal speak works in discovering self.  Please note passages directly from Animal Speak will be under the bold titles below. 

The griffin, griffon, or gryphon is a legendary creature with the body, tail, and back legs of a lion; the head and wings of an eagle; and an eagle's talons as its front feet. Because the lion was traditionally considered the king of the beasts and the eagle the king of birds, the griffin was thought to be an especially powerful and majestic creature. The griffin was also thought of as king of all creatures. Griffins are known for guarding treasure and priceless possessions (in some traditions it guards the tree of life).  

Intimacy - An intimate relationship is an interpersonal relationship that involves physical or emotional intimacy. Physical intimacy characterizes by romantic or passionate attachment or sexual activity. While the term intimate relationship commonly implies the inclusion of a sexual relationship, the term is also used as a euphemism for a relationship that is strictly sexual.
Intimate relationships play a central role in the overall human experience. Humans have a general desire to belong and to love, which is usually satisfied within an intimate relationship. These relationships involve feelings of liking or loving one or more people, romance, physical or sexual attraction, sexual relationships, or emotional and personal support between the members. 
Intimacy refers to the feeling of being in a close personal association and belonging together. It is a familiar and very close affective connection with another as a result of a bond that is formed through knowledge and experience of the other.  Genuine intimacy in human relationships requires dialogue, transparency, vulnerability, and reciprocity. The verb "intimate" means "to state or make known."
In human relationships, the meaning and level of intimacy vary within and between relationships. In anthropological research, intimacy is considered the product of a successful seduction, a process of rapport building that enables parties to disclose previously hidden thoughts and feelings confidently. Intimate conversations become the basis for "confidences" (secret knowledge) that bind people together.
To sustain intimacy for any length of a time requires well-developed emotional and interpersonal awareness. Intimacy requires an ability to be both separate and together participants in an intimate relationship.  Murray Bowen called this "self-differentiation." It results in a connection in which there is an emotional range involving both robust conflicts, and intense loyalty.  Lacking the ability to differentiate oneself from the other is a form of symbiosis, a state that is different from intimacy, even if feelings of closeness are similar.

From a center of self-knowledge and self-differentiation, intimate behavior joins family members and close friends as well as those in love. It evolves through reciprocal self-disclosure and candor. Poor skills in developing intimacy can lead to getting too close too quickly; struggling to find the boundary and to sustain connection; being poorly skilled as a friend, rejecting self-disclosure or even rejecting friendships and those who have them. There are psychological consequences of intimacy problems found in adults who have difficulty in forming and maintaining intimate relationships. Individuals often experience the human limitations of their partners and develop a fear of adverse consequences of disrupted intimate relationships. Studies show that fear of intimacy is negatively related to comfort with emotional closeness and with relationship satisfaction, and positively related to loneliness and trait anxiety.
Scholars distinguish between four different forms of intimacy:  physical, emotional, cognitive, and experiential.
·         Physical intimacy is sensual proximity or touching; examples include being inside someone's personal space, hugging, petting, kissing, and other sexual activity.
·         Emotional intimacy, particularly in sexual relationships, typically develops after a certain level of trust has been reached, and personal bonds have been established. The emotional connection of "falling in love," however, has both a biochemical dimension, driven through reactions in the body stimulated by sexual attraction (PEA) and a social dimension driven by "talk" that follows from regular physical closeness or sexual union.
·         Cognitive or intellectual intimacy takes place when two people exchange thoughts, share ideas and enjoy similarities and differences between their opinions. If they can do this in an open and comfortable way, they can become quite intimate in an intellectual area.
·         Experiential intimacy is when two people get together to involve themselves with each other actively, probably saying tiny amounts to each other, not sharing any thoughts or many feelings, but participating in interactive activities with one another. Imagine observing two house painters whose brushstrokes seemed to be playing out a duet on the side of the house. They may be shocked to think that they were engaged in an intimate activity with each other, however from an experiential point of view, they would be very intimately involved.
Distinguishing intimate (communal) relationships from strategic (exchange) relationships may also be a factor. Physical intimacy occurs in the latter, but it is governed by a higher-order strategy, of which the other person may not be aware. One example is getting close to someone to get something from them or give them something. That "something" might not be offered so freely if it did not appear to be an intimate exchange and if the ultimate strategy had been visible at the outset. Mills and Clark (1982) found that strategic (exchange) relationships are fragile and easily break down when there is any level of disagreement. Emotionally intimate (communal) relationships are much more robust and can survive significant (and even ongoing) disagreements.

Love is an important factor in physical and emotionally intimate relationships. Love is qualitatively and quantitatively different from liking, and the difference is not merely in the presence or absence of sexual attraction. There are three types of love in a relationship; passionate love, companionate love, and sacrificial love. Sacrificial love reflects the subsumption of the individual self will within a union and is said to be expressed within the Christian Godhead and towards humanity. Companionate love involves diminished strong feelings of attachment, an authentic and enduring bond, a sense of mutual commitment, the profound feeling of mutual caring, feeling proud of a mate's accomplishment, and the satisfaction that comes from sharing goals and perspective. In contrast, passionate love is marked by infatuation, intense preoccupation with the partner, throes of ecstasy, and feelings of exhilaration that come from being reunited with the partner.  – Wikipedia 

Your Personal Growth: Requires A Tender Heart

"...the day we wake inside a secret place that everyone can see."

The Spiritual and Magical Roles of Nature

There was a time when humanity recognized itself as part of nature, and nature as part of itself.  Dreaming and waking were inseparable realities; nature and supernatural merged and blended.  People used images of nature to express this unity and to instill a transpersonal kind of experience.

In the past shamans, priests, and priestesses were the keepers of the sacred knowledge of life.  These individuals were tied to the rhythms and forces of nature.  They were capable of walking the threads that link the invisible and visible worlds.  They helped people remember that all trees are divine and that all animals speak to those who listen.

The first priest/ess-magicians would adopt the guise of animals – wearing skins and masks – to symbolize a reawaking and endowing of oneself with specific energies.  They perform rituals by the natural rhythms of the seasons to awaken greater fertility and life.  To them, every species and every aspect of its environment had the power to remind them of what they could manifest within their life.  It was an aid to bridge the natural world to the supernatural, awakening the realities of both within the environs of their lives. 

Though these rituals and behaviors may seem primitive and even silly to the rational minds of modern society, they are no less powerful today.  And the laws which govern them – physical and spiritual –are no less viable.  Different cultures expressed these laws in their unique ways, but probably the most distinctly shown is the ancient Hermetic Law of Correspondence “As above, so below; as below, so above.”

This principle teaches that all things are connected and have significance.  We cannot separate the physical from the spiritual, the visible from the invisible.  This Principle gives one the means of solving many a dark paradox and the hidden secret of Nature.

Terrestrial animals have always had a strong symbology associated with them.  They have represented the emotional side of life, often reflecting qualities that must overcome, control, and re-express.
Birds have often been considered the symbols of the soul.  Their ability to fly reflects the ability within us to rise to new awareness, bridging the earth and the heavens.  

Water is an ancient symbol of the astral plane and the creative element of life.  Various fish and other forms of aquatic life symbolize guidance to particular expressions of intuition and creative imagination.  They can reflect the feminine side of our essence.

The Masked Sorcerer – a common symbol associated with Shamanism, its image is taken from prehistoric cave paintings.  Early man, surrounded by mysterious forces, responded to them through imitation.  The man attempted to bring the divine in accord with humanity.  Priests used totems and images to assist in coming face to face with the mystery.

The true shaman, the true naturalist, works to reconnect conscious human life with Nature and Spirit through totems and rituals.  The images of the animals and the expressions of Nature help us to transcend our ordinary, waking consciousness so that we can more easily attune to ethereal realms and beings.      

The Lesson of Responsible Relationships

The intricate web of connections of all life – whether predator or prey – is reflected most strongly through trophic or the feeding process.  Solar energy is transformed by plants into food which then goes through the food chain.  Plants manufacture food from the soil and the sun.  Grasshoppers eat the plants.  Frogs eat the grasshoppers, and so on.   Most ancient societies recognized this interaction.  Rituals and ceremonies were performed before, during, and after hunting.  These rituals grew out of recognition of the intimate relationships between an individual and the spirit of the animal. 

People are beginning to recognize the interconnectedness of all life. Contact with a diversity of life expands our vision of life.  As we start to see the expansiveness of life, a greater, more spiritual vision opens up.  We must understand the repercussions of our life upon all other lives.  We are not separate.  We are related to all things. 
This higher vision is the magic of this lesson of predation.  It is also why the element of air and its direction of the East are associated with it.  Air and the East are related to creativity, inspiration, and higher awareness. 

The element air is often representative of the powers of the mind, of new wisdom, and higher intuition.  Air links the heavens and earth.  It is a symbol of the unity of all things.  It is what ties all life on this planet together.  It is the subtle influence of relationships.  The links are not always visible, but they are always present.  Before a major decision was made in many Native American societies, the long-range relationships and effects had to be considered.  

This kind of vision goes beyond mere foresight.  As you learn to recognize connections and repercussions in your life, you can learn to follow the ripples of actions and events to the past and future.  Most psychic activity can be tied to this lesson of predation.  Most psychics that make accurate predictions can do so because of their ability to see relationships. 

Let's take a look at the relationship and characteristics of the two animals associated with the king of all creatures the Griffin; These two are the lion and the eagle.    

The lion has been symbolic of a variety of energies throughout the years.  It has been a symbol of the sun and gold.  It was a symbol of the sun-god Mithra.  The Egyptians believed that the lion presided over the annual floods of the Nile.  Early Christians believed it to be the human opponent of the eagle. 
The lion is unusual among members of the cat family in that it will live in groups called pride.  If a lion shows up as a totem, you can expect lessons and issues dealing with community and groups to surface.  Within the pride, the females are the best hunters.  The lion cubs lead a relatively care-free existence.  Their parents are patient and affectionate with the Cubs, and most individuals with lions as totems will find those same qualities developing within themselves. 
The lion does not fight for the sake of fighting.  It avoids confrontations and will leave the scene of danger if possible.  Lions also hunt primarily by stealth, and the most common method of killing is strangulation.  This technique is something for those with this totem to practice developing when pursuing new endeavors and objectives in any area of life.  Be stealthy for the greatest success.  Since the females of the pride do most of the work, it reflects the idea of the rising of the feminine energies.  The sun has not always been a masculine symbol.  It does give birth to new days, and it nurtures and warms life.  Thus, it is not stretching the correlation to see the lion as the assertion of feminine energies to bring forth birth and new power.  Trust your feminine energies – creativity, intuition, and imagination.  Don’t be afraid to roar if you feel threatened. 

The eagle is one of the greatest and most admired birds of prey.  It has served as an inspiration to many societies.  Their ability to soar and hunt amazes and thrills those who are a witness.  Eagles, in fact, are so good at getting the food they spend very little time hunting.  The fact that they are still good at feeding themselves from the land and still soar to great heights in the sky reflects much about the unknown significance of the eagle who comes as a totem.  They will teach a balance of being of the earth but not in it (the wings of life).  Both the bald and the golden eagle have come to symbolize heroic nobility and divine spirit. 
There once was a belief that as old age approached, the eagle’s eye would grow dim, and the eagle would then fly so near the sun that it would become scorched.  It would then seek out a pure water source and dip itself three times into the clear water, and its youth would be destroyed.  
This reflects much from a mystical point of view.  It hints at resurrection, but it also hints of alchemy.  The fire of the sun and the clear water are opposite elements brought into harmony in a manner that elicits a change.  

It reflects several needs for those with an eagle totem. 
1.      There must be involvement with creativity.  Three is the number of new birth and creativity.
2.      A willingness to experience extremes in a controlled condition and thus facilitate the alchemical process within your life.
3.      A willingness to use your passions to purify (flying into the sun) and to use your abilities even if it means being scorched a little.
4.      A willingness to seek out the actual emotional aspects of oneself and immerse yourself within them, and by doing so rediscover the lost child and awaken a higher sense of purity, passion, creativity, healing, and spirituality.
For those with eagle totems, a new vision will open.  This vision will be far reaching to the past, within the present, and to the future as well.  The mating ritual of the bald eagle is one of the most mystical and intriguing aspects.  A powerful form of sky dancing occurs.  The birds soar, loop, and plunge into deep dives.  At a certain point, they grab each other’s feet and lock talons, rolling, and falling, until the mating is completed.  Then they separate and soar upwards to repeat the process over and over again.  This reflects some of the mystical joy, danger, excitement, and power of the sexual energy experienced by those with eagle medicine.  It can open them to new heights and thrills.  
Eagles don’t always swoop down to kill.  They have tremendous control over their powerful wings, and they can glide slowly and silently down so that the prey does not hear them coming.  They are also known to be able to stop their movement and just hover in the air for brief moments to make the strike more accurate.  A new sense of timing and movement will begin to develop with those of eagle totem.  Eagles are a sign of great power, a power that goes beyond their actual size.
To align oneself with Eagle medicine is to take on the responsibility and the power of becoming more than you now appear to be.  From a karmic aspect, it reflects that the events will now fly faster, and the repercussions for everything you think, do or say (or fail to think, do or say) - positive and negative – will be stronger and quicker.  To accept the eagle as a totem is to receive a powerful new dimension to life, and a heightened responsibility for your spiritual growth.  However, only through doing so do you learn how to move between worlds, touch all life with healing, and become the mediator and the bearer of the new creative force within the world.   
Don’t we all want the remarkable qualities of the lion and eagle?  It’s not hard to see why the images of the lion and eagle have been very popular over time.  What if the animal you connect with doesn't seem so incredible?  Let’s say a rat, for instance.

The sight of the rat usually distresses most people.  Rats often carry contagious diseases, and though rats don’t have a very elegant reputation, they are tremendously adaptable.  In Chinese astrology, the first year is assigned to the rat.  A legend tells how at one time Buddha summoned all the animals to him.  Of all the animals, only twelve showed up, and the first was the rat.  To honor each of the animals, Buddha named a year after each one, giving the first year to the rat.  People born in the Chinese year of the rat are said to be success-oriented, sometimes restless and nervous, but always very shrewd.  No matter what type of animal energies one connects with there are positive and negative aspects to learn from and grow. 

Western astrology uses animals as totems as well.  For instance, the fixed signs of Taurus (the bull), Leo (the lion), and Scorpio (the eagle) are animal totems while Aquarius is the human sign.  These symbols are also used as biblical references.  The Latin root fixus means "to latch on to," or "to fasten." They fix things in place and are able to engage in sustained activity over a long period of time. The gift of the fixed signs is that they can stick with something to the end.  However, it's hard for them to let go, even when something appears to be a lost cause.  They're not known for their flexibility and have a harder time with change than the other qualities.  On bad days, they can be dogmatic, rigid, stubborn, petulant and severely patronizing.  Usually, there's a mix of qualities in a birth chart, so nobody has to bear the weight of all those nasty traits.  I've personally worked diligently on subduing these negative qualities and focusing on the positive qualities, since I have (three of the four fixed signs) Aquarius, Leo, and Scorpio in my chart.  

To “know thyself” more intimately through observing certain characteristics in animals that reflect aspects governing your own behavior could bring you to a greater understanding of God.  Animal Speak has become a classic reference for anyone wishing to forge a spiritual connection with the majesty and mystery of the animal world.  As Manly P. Hall stated,
“…realizing that visible bodies are only symbols of invisible forces, the ancients worshipped the Divine Power through the lower kingdoms of Nature… The sages of old studied living things to a point of realization that God is most perfectly understood through knowledge of His supreme handiwork – animate and inanimate Nature.  Every existing creature manifests some aspects of the intelligence or power of the Eternal One… From The Secret Teachings of All Ages by Manly P. Hall, 1977
To experience the secret world of nature is to know every existing creature manifest some aspect of the intelligence or power of the Eternal One.

For animals to speak to you... they must be free to roam the land naturally!  
© July 25, 2014  3rd Dog

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