Saturday, December 27, 2014

Rare Sightings (2002)

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As the year draws to a close, I'm finding pleasure in revisiting and, in some cases revising, some of my writing (poetry, essays) from many years back. I wrote the following piece--"Rare Sightings"--in the early winter of 2002. With a few minor tweaks, I offer it here.



Rare Sightings

by Eva Yaa Asantewaa (2002)


I

This past autumn, two immature male Stellula calliope hummingbirds began their migration across the Rocky Mountains, heading for their wintering grounds in Mexico.  They never made it.

A storm blew them way off course and, in November, these two minuscule but dynamic featherballs ended up in New York City’s Fort Tryon Park.  Basking in our unseasonally warm weather, they fed upon purple-blossomed Salvia, chased bees, and squabbled with each other over territory, offering the first sighting of calliope hummers in New York State.

Birders from all over the metro area flocked to the park to spy and photograph these scrappy little guys.  Members of New York City Audobon provided feeders to help them survive, for surely, while mild temperatures had soothed our city through some of the worst days of its history, we would soon face winter’s sharper mood.  Blossoms would fall and, with them, hummingbirds would die.

Weeks passed; reports of hummingbird activity continued deep into December. These charming stocking-stuffers drew widespread attention in the media and on the Internet, sparking heated controversy among birders and naturalists over whether they should be fed and encouraged to stay in the region. Bird trappers were consulted; trapping and resettlement spoken for and against. Feeders were hung, mysteriously “disappeared,” and dutifully replaced.  In any case, the birds seemed uninterested in the proffered food since they could still get pretty good Salvia blossoms.

The two hummers were last reported seen on December 27.   Although I never went looking for them, I keep them as my symbol of something rare discovered since September 11–the tenderness of our wounded city.

II

I’m trying to hold onto memories of what I witnessed in those very delicate moments beyond the initial shock of trauma.  Open, softened, vulnerable faces full of true, unguarded feeling.  A betwixt/between state known by mystics and witches as the place of all possibilities, of transformation.  A place as small as a hummingbird and as packed with life.   Rare sightings.

I know it sounds crazy, but I actually felt much safer in New York in those days. I allowed myself to believe that we might change our lives and our world, might replace audacious towers with unfettered minds and hearts as capacious as the sky, might awaken at last and keenly feel our kinship with all people, all beings, and with our gracious, suffering Earth.  In “What I Believe,” Albert Einstein wrote that our human tendency to think of ourselves as separate from everyone and everything else was “a kind of optical delusion...a prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.”  He urged us to expand “our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures, and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

How ephemeral, how endangered were those moments.  Soon, something else awoke, sucked energy into itself, and took shape.  Flags and flag merchandise sprouted all over our streets–sold by struggling immigrants from Africa and Haiti--and New Yorkers wrapped flag logos wrapped around their heads and chests like bandages.

In due time, this uprising spread to the upper echelons: Sunday Times ads for tony midtown boutiques offered evening bags encrusted in red, white, and blue rhinestones, and Old Glory’s stars and stripes sculpted into fine crystal.

We’d claimed an identity, a self-definition, a belief to lift us out of uncertainty. A good, strong wall that would not crumble.  Cloths to cover mirrors in the house of the dead.  Masks to conceal the pain, the questions on our faces, and the ravages of our sleepless nights.

How reassuring it must have felt to suddenly feel so sure.


III

On September 28, I was scheduled to teach a long-planned visualization and self-care workshop for staff members from various agencies that our city’s wounded and often-shunned souls–the homeless, people with AIDS or mental disabilities, and survivors of sexual abuse and rape. In light of the attack on the World Trade Center, I reworked my plans.

We asked: What is the role of the healer, the helper, the caregiver now in the wake of terror?  Participants spoke of their struggle to maintain competence and compassion as they coped with feelings of confusion, fear, helplessness, and anger.

New Yorkers had been asked to stay on high alert yet, somehow, go back to “normal.”  In the safe space of our workshop, we decided that “alive” and “honest” and “changing” were more important that “normal.”

Taking crayons, colored pencils, and markers, each participant drew a “Mask of the Transitioning Self”–not an actor’s illusion but a shamanic container for the shifting, miraculous energy of growth and Spirit; not something deceptive and unreal but something as real as it gets.  I also gave each a blank sheet of paper to take home and hold in readiness for rare sightings of the “Mask of the Future Self,” the new selves that would emerge with the passage of time.

We ended the workshop by telling the story of our masks, then placed them, along with our blank sheets, in the center of the room.  We blessed the masks and empty pages, blessed one another and, after many hugs, returned to the streets of our city.

I can see those blank sheets now beginning to fill with new words and colors, faces alive with change, and hummingbirds making their way to purple blossoms in warmer climes.

Here’s how a miracle works: Not knowing what to do with this work-in-progress--this essay about changing that has bedeviled me with all the changes it has undergone--I set out three rows of five Tarot cards to help me find my way. The layout was nice–its message, in a nutshell, was “Don’t worry.” That didn’t really ease my mind.  But when I reshuffled the deck before storing it in its sack, I caught a glimpse of the top card–the Three of Coins.

I own over twenty divination decks [update: now over eighty], and I’ve had this one--the Alchemical Tarot deck by artist Robert M. Place--for years, but I don’t believe I’d ever seen this card in any of the many readings I’ve done with it. How is that possible?  Maybe I did see it but quickly and not so clearly.

Tarot’s coins–more commonly called pentacles--symbolize earthly, material things and concerns.  The number three represents physical manifestation.  The Three of Coins suggests something being given shape and form.  Place’s Three of Coins shows a man seated at a desk, holding a quill pen.  At first I thought he was writing, but then I saw it. He’s drawing the outline of a face.

©2002-2014, Eva Yaa Asantewaa

Monday, December 8, 2014

New book pays tribute to feminist author Merlin Stone

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Cover of Merlin Stone's When God Was A Woman (1976),
a formative work of the Women's Spirituality movement

Merlin Stone Remembered: Her Life and Works
by David B. Axelrod, Carol F. Thomas, Lenny Schneir and Merlin Stone
(Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd., 2014; 384 pages)
ISBN: 9780738740911

reviewed by Eva Yaa Asantewaa, hummingwitch
originally posted to InfiniteBody

Merlin Stone's research into ancient Goddess civilizations and spiritual beliefs (as author of When God Was A Woman and Ancient Mirrors of Womanhood) and her prodigious creativity on the feminist scene of the 1970s and '80s, touched the lives of many women and our male allies. When I was a producer and host at WBAI, New York's Pacifica radio station, I interviewed Stone (World Watch: Goddess at Dawn, May 1988) and, in 1990, had the honor of speaking on a panel with her, Spiderwoman Theater's Gloria Miguel and other feminists working in non-mainstream spiritual traditions and the arts. Later, Stone invited me to assist with a new audio project. We began to meet, but our work was interrupted and never completed. In declining health, she passed in the winter of 2011.

We're now at a time when young women often distance themselves from the feminist label; when the public discourse, even among feminist activists, relegates spirituality to oblivion; and when the religious dictates of patriarchy demonstrate their disastrous effects on a civic and global level. I was excited to learn that Llewellyn Worldwide planned to bring out a book on Merlin Stone's life and contributions. Surely, Stone would speak to our condition once again, offering alternative perspectives and motivation.

Merlin Stone Remembered--a rough patchwork assembled by admiring colleagues and family members--is not, by any stretch of the imagination, the book I'd hoped to read. Ideally, that book might be researched and written by an independent scholar, not a committee intent on unnecessarily and redundantly pleading The Case for Merlin Stone's Greatness. It would offer both a deep, detailed, coherent, reasonably objective portrait of this unusual and unusually determined woman, born Marilyn Claire Jacobson in Brooklyn in 1931. It might give us an engaging account of her many travels throughout the Mediterranean and Near East, to the extent that adequate documentation exists, and a professional assessment of her life's work. At least the introduction by noted ecofeminist Dr. Gloria F. Orenstein takes pains to put Stone in the context of other pioneering, if often controversial, authors such as Helen Diner, Monica Sjoo, and Marija Gimbutas.

The book's collaborators take a preemptive tack, defending their inclusion of a memoir by Stone's companion, Leonard ("Lenny") Schneir. A professional poker player and dealer in gambling memorabilia, Schneir lived with Stone for decades, seeing her through her final illness and death. By all accounts, the relationship was a happy one and, for Schneir, instructive and transforming. Apparently, though, the book team ran into some unidentified women's objections to the idea of Schneir adding his story to Merlin Stone Remembered.

I would never take issue with Schneir having a say here merely because he is male. But I suspect that you, like me, might find yourself hurrying through the lengthy, at times self-indulgent narrative about his journey before and with Stone--and, definitely, you will want to move past the poems. Greater care should have been taken with the overall structure and balance of this book.

Schneir's participation is not the book's only flaw, merely one out of many. Throwing together excerpts from Stone's interviews, bits of her published and (perhaps, justifiably) unpublished work, and repetitive essays like David B. Axelrod's "reflection on the poetic genius of Merlin Stone" and another by Schneir with Axelrod, entitled "The Importance of Merlin Stone" argues that this is a case of opportunities not only missed but willfully refused.

Instead of illuminating substance, we get filler: Stone's honorary doctorate certificate from The California Institute of Integral Studies, her birth certificate, pages of photos not selected to add anything to our understanding of the woman. One section reproduces numerous examples of fan mail from her readers, but I doubt that, even in the Internet Age, this author needs Yelp-style testimonials. What follows these letters? Another essay: this time, "The Legacy of Merlin Stone."

Here's how I want to remember Stone: as the woman who, in a talk with Michael Toms, subtly noted a difference between "planetary consciousness" and "planetary conscience." As a white woman troubled by racism, an observer of psyches and societies who saw fear at the root of repression. As a writer, sometimes pedagogic in tone but broadminded in her vision of feminism and of spirituality. A writer whose informed, complex, inspiring work was everything this book is not.

Eva Yaa Asantewaahummingwitch
originally posted to InfiniteBody

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Samhain!

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Happy Samhain, dear ones. The veil is thin. Use that opportunity well. And have a magickal New Year!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Once more through Tarot's portal!

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from The Wild Unknown Tarot
by Kim Krans
(photo: Eva Yaa Asantewaa)

Image & Psyche: Through the Portal 
(location: Brooklyn, NY)

Saturday, November 8
1:30-4pm

Guided by Eva in safe community space, take a shamanic journey into the realm of Tarot and other oracular symbols to discover your own wellspring of creativity, wisdom, healing and transformation. Open to participants at all levels of experience with Tarot--from newbies to experts. Listen to an audio preview here.

Fee: $30 ($20 for repeating students)

To inquire about registration, use Eva's Contact form on this site or here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

On the craft of magick in social activism

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Christopher Penczak
Christopher Penczak, author and
co-founder of New Hampshire-based Temple of Witchcraft
I have learned so much this morning from these leaders in the neopagan movement--including Christopher Penczak, whose work I've long admired, and Gwion Raven, a West Coast witch and priestess who is new to me. So many smart, talented, committed people are speaking out in this way, thinking globally, locally and, most of all, forward about magick as an awareness, orientation and philosophy that can and must infuse social justice action.

Please visit the link below at Intersections. Read, enjoy and work with the questions posed and wisdom offered.

Bright blessings,
Eva
                                                                                                                                                                  
Twelve Healing Stars, Part 1: Pagans Speak Out on Magick and Social Justice
by Tim, Intersections, October 12, 2014

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Eva's teaching soon in NYC and PA!

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Upcoming Workshops 
with Eva Yaa Asantewaa

Ace of Cups from World Spirit Tarot
by Lauren O'Leary and Jessica Sczuka Godino
Llewellyn Publications, 2001

Saturday, October 4 (1:30-4pm)

  • Image & Psyche: Through the Portal (Brooklyn, NY) 

Guided by Eva in safe community space, take a shamanic journey into the realm of Tarot and other oracular symbols to discover your own wellspring of creativity, wisdom, healing and transformation. Open to participants at all levels of experience with Tarot--from newbies to experts.

Listen to an audio preview here.

To inquire about registration, use Eva's Contact form on this site or here.


Saturday, October 25 

  • When Bad Dreams Happen to Good People (Fort Washington, PA)

Join Eva at Diane Brandt Wilkes's Northeastern Tarot Conclave 2014 for a demonstration of the use of Tarot symbols in harnessing and directing the power of the nightmare. Other workshop facilitators include Rachel Pollack ("Mirroring the Dream") and Paula Chaffee Scardamalia (From Dreams to Tarot and Back Again").

Get complete program, schedule and registration information here.


Saturday, November 8

  • Image & Psyche: Through the Portal (Brooklyn, NY)


Guided by Eva in safe community space, take a shamanic journey into the realm of Tarot and other oracular symbols to discover your own wellspring of creativity, wisdom, healing and transformation. Open to participants at all levels of experience with Tarot--from newbies to experts.

Listen to an audio preview here.

To inquire about registration, use Eva's Contact form on this site or here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Happy Autumnal Equinox!

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Photos (c)2010, Eva Yaa Asantewaa
May you dance divinely
on the balancing point 
of the equinox!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Big news: More chances to take my Through the Portal workshop! [ADDED DATES]

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UPDATE: 

Now you can download a short audio announcement about my Image and Psyche: Through the Portal workshop here

And, wonderful news! We'll be holding a repeat of Through the Portal on Saturday, October 4 (1:30-4pm) and November 8 (1:30-4pm), both in great Brooklyn locations. Please feel free to pass this along to your friends and give them the link to my Contact form here.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Journey through Tarot's portals with Eva Yaa Asantewaa [NEW DATES ADDED!]

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I'm teaching a new Image and Psyche workshop, Through the Portal, on Saturday, September 20 (1:30-4pm), hosted again in convenient downtown Brooklyn.

Archetypal symbols in Tarot and other imagery oracles are not just beautiful pictures. They are portals to spaces for creativity, wisdom and healing. Where do they lead YOU

Journey with me and find out at my next Image and Psyche workshop!

Admission fee: $30 
(pre-registration required by Saturday, 9/13)

Space is limited, and I don't want you to miss out. If you're interested, scroll down to my Contact Form here, and get in touch soon. I will reply with new registration details.

I look forward to journeying with you on September 20!

******

UPDATE: Now you can download a short audio announcement about my Through the Portal workshop here. And, wonderful news! We'll be holding a repeat of Through the Portal on Saturday, October 4 and November 8, both 1:30-4pm and both in great Brooklyn locations. Please feel free to pass this along to your friends and give them the link to my Contact Form here.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Book Review: "Clairvoyance for Beginners" by Alexandra Chauran

Clairvoyance for Beginners


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Clairvoyance for Beginners
Easy Techniques to Enhance Your Psychic Visions
by Alexandra Chauran (Llewellyn Publications, 2014; 216 pages)
ISBN9780738739151

reviewed by Eva Yaa Asantewaahummingwitch

Alexandra Chauran's book comes along at a good moment for me as, in the course of trying to analyse how my work with cards and imagery produces results, I'm looking at my experience with clairvoyance as the Super Glue that keeps it all together.

Card divination can be considered a form of clairvoyance projected into material form, a way in which perception can grapple with elusive, symbolic imagery and extract meaning from it. Also, for me, reading oracles like Tarot, Lenormand, LoterĂ­a and regular playing cards stimulates and opens up space for other imagery to sprout in the mind and contribute to a reading's information and counsel.

No matter how fabulous they are, oracle cards are like training wheels for something even more amazing. Simply stated, concentrated study of visual imagery can bring out the clairvoyant in you.

A lot of card readers probably avoid using terms like "clairvoyant" and "psychic" because of how these terms have been overused in popular culture, exploited by scam artists and ridiculed by the mainstream media. But we should reclaim these identities and functions if they ring true to who we are and what we do. Chauran's well-written guide provides an easy-to-follow and comprehensive program for initiating or enhancing your skills in this area.

Chauran, a doctoral candidate living in Washington State, describes clairvoyance as "the ability to see literal or symbolic truth, either with one's eyes or the mind's eye. The word means 'clear seeing,' thereby defining the perception as being both precise and accurate." In an age where many of us walk around with our eyes locked onto electronic screens, we could benefit from being more observant of what's around us (and within us) at any given moment.

The author's words resonated with me: "When I was a child, I didn't just have an imaginary friend, I was constantly co-creating myself along with entire imaginary worlds." Indeed, this sort of thing is basic training for the future metaphysician, ritualist and psychic. Some of us learn to fear our natural abilities and shut them away for many years or forever. Happily, the young Chauran developed her skills within a family where her experiences and perceptions were welcomed.

In a series of exercises, she passes along her methods for paying attention to information coming from visual sources, discerning meaning and telling the stories encoded in visions. But it's not all about taking in the view. Chauran recommends creating it, too--through constructing vision boards for what we want to manifest, through sketching what we see, through setting the best conditions for dreaming, and through meditative visualization. It's an abundant, ongoing exchange with visual reality. She carefully guides the reader through advanced practices that beginning students can find baffling, such as trance work, psychometry and scrying.

In her section on psychometry--the psychic reading of the energy and history of an object--Chauran encourages the student reader to fully feel the telling emotions that can well up:
It's okay if you inexplicably laugh or cry. Remember, you are in charge of this meditative session and your emotions. Our culture often teaches that extreme emotions mean that we are out of control. However, the clairvoyant needs to be able to experience extreme emotions while remaining in control. As a beginner, you may need to fight against your cultural training or against your coping mechanisms, both of which are geared to repress extreme emotions when faced with life challenges.
Be assured, Chauran offers appropriate grounding practices to help readers stay clear-headed when faced with powerful visions and emotions. She also discusses important questions of ethics in the reader-querent relationship and guides the reader through a survey of the most common concerns that bring querents to the table.

The book includes a wonderful dictionary of common symbols for numbers, colors and a range of items from Alligator and Anchor to Wolf and Wood, but the meanings noted here are just for starters. Chauran wisely advises that symbols can mean different things to different people, a useful lesson for purists who insist that everyone must adhere to one or another codified system.

Indeed, in my experience--as in Chauran's--symbols speak in the moment, to the matter at hand, to the sensibilities of the specific reader and the needs of the specific querent. A guide to standard symbology helps give a beginning reader confidence but, in time, that growing confidence can breed a lovely fluidity in the way symbols are understood and communicated. Symbolic imagery will not remain stuck on a sheet of cardboard, in the pages of a book or in the folds of an arcane tradition. It's alive.

Learn more about Clairvoyance for Beginners here.

Eva Yaa Asantewaa, hummingwitch

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Join us for Northeastern Tarot Conclave 2014, October 25

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Once again, Diane Brandt Wilkes has crafted an exciting gathering for Tarot lovers of all levels of experience--the 2014 edition of Northeastern Tarot Conclave on October 25 in Fort Washington, PA. This year's focus is on dreams. I will be teaching a workshop on nightmares, and I want to share this day with you! Click below for details on Early Bird savings and our wonderful events--including workshops with the fabulous Rachel Pollock, Paula Chaffee Scarmadalia and...me! See you there!

http://www.tarotpassages.com/Conclave2014/index.html

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Dreaming the porous boundaries

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When the anthropologist Eduardo Kohn arrived in a small village deep in the Amazon, people slept largely outdoors in an open thatch house, surrounded by other people. They would wake at night to drink tea, because it was cold, or because of the calls of animals. "Thanks to these continuous disruptions," he writes, "dreams spill into wakefulness and wakefulness into dreams in a way that entangles them both."

To my mind, the intriguing question is whether different sleep cultures encourage different patterns of spiritual and supernatural experience. That half-aware, drowsy state is a time when dreams commingle with awareness. People are more likely to have experiences of the impossible then.
--from "To Dream in Different Cultures" by T. M. Luhrmann, The New York Times

Read more from Luhrmann's essay here.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Book review: "The Essential Lenormand" by Rana George

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The Essential Lenormand: Your Guide to Precise & Practical Fortunetelling
by Rana George (Llewellyn Publications, 2014; 408 pages)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7387-3662-4

reviewed by Eva Yaa Asantewaa, hummingwitch

Years from now, when I recall how I finally took a chance on Lenormand divination after long skirting around this trend, I will give all credit to The Essential Lenormand by Rana George. And just as I've pushed Mary K. Greer's Tarot for Your Self on every single one of my Tarot students over the years, I know I'll happily sing the praises of George's guide to Lenormand. Published this month by Llewellyn, her book is that good.

Born in Beirut, Rana George hails from a family noted for its lineage of psychics and mediums. In 1988, during the turmoil of Lebanon's civil war, after suffering devastating losses, George and her family fled to safety in the US. She now resides in Texas. Over a career of thirty years, she has become respected and cherished leader in an international community devoted to Tarot and other oracles of divination. But while most of us have come to Lenormand late in the day, it has always been home for her. She started her extensive practice in cartomancy as a gifted teen with these 36 iconic images named for France's famed fortuneteller, Mlle Marie Adelaide Lenormand.

Unlike the complex, sometimes esoteric Tarot, Lenormand presents simplified, straightforward images that anyone can grasp--a cross, a dog, a ship, a book, a key--associated with a handful of direct, often literal meanings. This accessibility accounts for much of the welcoming charm of Lenormand; many readers and querents find this a non-intimidating tool that cuts to the chase, especially for practical issues around money, relationships and the like.

George quips that Lenormand will help you "to find out if X is sleeping with Y and if the sex is good." That's a funny line, but what I'm learning from reading her guide and checking out Lenormand groups on Facebook, is that Lenormand's reach can be pretty far and wide--tackling everything from "Should I take that job offer?" to--yes, inevitably--"What really happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370?"

Lenormand-ers are not afraid to go there. And, yes, they go predictive. No shame in their game.

Comprehensive in scope, The Essential Lenormand will take you through a detailed, systematic exploration of each of the 36 images. Three features are, for me, the most impressive and effective of George's teaching methods.

  1. For each card, she lists specific meanings as they relate to a slate of topics such as love, health and money and questions of timing.
  2. For each card, she relates an illustrative anecdote from her history of reading with the Lenormand.
  3. In addition, she demonstrates how this specific card works within a Grand Tableau ("the big picture"), the massive layout that employs all 36 cards and offers a powerful 360° perspective on the querent's situation.
George is a past master of the Grand Tableau, and a healthy chunk of the book is given over to its presentation and analysis. For Tarot folks who relish the puzzle-like complexity, sublime flexibility and potential surprise in any Tarot reading--and I'm certainly one of those--the Grand Tableau beckons. But any eager reader will find, here, a range of manageable layouts upon which to practice--like the modest but still tasty nine-card layout.

You will learn how to select a Lenormand deck that's right for you from the many varieties and styles; develop a daily practice with the cards; work with significators; integrate Lenormand with astrological patterns or with Tarot, if that is your wish; and understand the connection between Lenormand imagery and the suits and figures of regular playing cards. Readers with classic clairvoyance training should take to Lenormand quite easily, as the images--The Heart, The Ring, The Bouquet and others--have a similar function to those conjured by the inner eye in clairvoyance. It is as if those psychic visions, which bring messages, have been captured and preserved on card stock.

As for me, I have fallen in love, and I now await delivery of a Lenormand deck of my very own--the Mystical Lenormand

Thank you, Rana George!

Learn more about The Essential Lenormand here.

Eva Yaa Asantewaa, hummingwitch

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Book review: "The Indie Spiritualist" by Chris Grosso

Indie Spiritualist Cover
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The Indie Spiritualist: a no bullshit exploration of spirituality
by Chris Grosso (Atria Books/Beyond Words, 2014; 272 pages)
ISBN-13: 978-1582704623

reviewed by Eva Yaa Asantewaa, hummingwitch

Chris Grosso says he is more than a little turned off by the lightweight, reality-skimming, and commercial nature of what passes for spirituality these days. That and anything smacking of religious dogma. A punk/heavy metal musician by trade, he'll readily tell you that an Eddie Van Halen guitar solo can transport him to samadhi (consciousness of utter oneness with the object of devotion) where yoga postures leave him wondering what all the fuss is about.

Grosso's book relates his personal story of drug addiction, cutting, suicide attempts and eventual spiritual healing. He aims to inspire individuality of mind and non-comformity in his readers--to thine own self be true, y'all--while, with no sign of irony, teaching the doctrine of non-duality, that unity of all beings underlies all appearances to the contrary. About that last bit, I chose to ignore his remarks about Adolf Hitler and Justin Bieber--yes, in the same breath and more than once--and simply move on. Some abstract metaphysical concepts just go over better without being fleshed out.

Grosso, with the admirable honesty of an addict working his recovery, makes frequent mention of insecurity about his abilities as a writer. Each reader will likely respond to his presentation in different and personal ways. The upside: a straightforward, conversational tone that some readers will identify with and find accessible and convincing. The book, as its subtitle warns you, is also spiced with profanity for which Grosso makes no apology. His writing reflects his milieu; younger readers, in particular, can relate to that and to his unorthodox cultural references. The downside: a lack of any distinctive style to the writing and--again, ironically--a reliance on familiar ideas and the counsel of well-known guides and gurus. The Indie Spiritualist too often reads like an earnest, extended 12 Step share with a few promising but ultimately "you-had-to-be-there" anecdotes.

The Buddhist Noah Levine's Dharma Punx, published in 2004, related a nearly identical, gritty arc of life and unconventional awakening as well as similar musical preference, piercings and tattoos. This no longer seems jarring. Levine--who contributed the foreword to The Indie Spiritualist--got there first and with flair.

After a half-century of similar Eastern-inspired teachings in the West, we surely know the drill: The spiritual journey leads through mindful, if painful, experience to compassion and kindness towards self and others. As part of this influential lineage, Grosso claims the right to have his say, and perhaps this manual will prove to be right for you or someone you know.


The Indie Spiritualist: a no bullshit exploration of spirituality goes on sale on March 4. Get more information about it here.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Announcing a new Image and Psyche workshop on Tarot! March 29

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images from The Wild Unknown Tarot by Kim Krans
www.thewildunknown.com

Announcing 

a new workshop on Tarot

Image and Psyche: 

To Spread or Not to Spread?

Saturday, March 29 (12:30-4pm)
downtown Brooklyn, NYC

facilitated by 

Eva Yaa Asantewaa

Eva Yaa Asantewaa (photo by D. Feller)
Tapping the power of Tarot layouts. Cool spreads. Hot Spreads. Simple or complex spreads. Many cards, few cards, even no cards at all!

Learn how to do effective readings with your divination deck in formal or more creative contexts.

We'll look at traditional and contemporary layouts and experiment with making new ones up as we go along.

Open to Tarot fans with at least basic familiarity with the conventional structure of a Tarot deck (Major and Minor Arcana, the elemental suits and the Court figures). Bring a deck, your note-taking gear and your curiosity.

Location: Downtown Brooklyn near many subway lines. For address, please pre-register.

Our location is wheelchair accessible.

Allergen alert: Two cats on premises

Admission: $35 by pre-registration (deadline March 19) via Chase QuickPay at https://www.chase.com/online-banking/quickpay

For further information, contact me through my Contact Form at http://www.strikingly.com/evayaaasantewaa

NOTE: This workshop will be repeated on Saturday, April 12. Same time, different location (tbd). If you're not available for March 29, please let me know if you would like to join us on April 12. Also, students who have attended on March 29 and wish to repeat the workshop for additional practice can get $10 off the registration fee for April 12.

Please feel free to pass this information along to your friends.

Thanks!

Eva Yaa Asantewaa
http://www.strikingly.com/evayaaasantewaa