Gaye Mack’s Blog

POMEGRANATES AND BLESSINGS

Posted on by Gaye Mack in Balance, Writer's Work Leave a comment

Slightly different from what I typically write about, for this post I welcome my good friend, Judy Tsafrir, MD as my guest.  Judy is a holistic psychiatrist with a busy practice in Boston. I highly recommend following her blog, as she’s incredibly multifaceted as a mind/body/spirit oriented physician, evolutionary astrologer, Tarot practitioner and expert in nutrition.  Her recent post discussing reflections and blessings in our lives is something we all can well be reminded of as the fall equinox approaches and we prepare to go within for more self-discovery in the months ahead.

It is September, a season of new beginnings, the initiation of a fresh cycle. We just celebrated Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. The children went back to school, the summer is waning and it’s getting dark earlier. Autumn is at the door. September is a time linked in my mind with the ancient mythic pomegranate, a cross-cultural symbol of fertility and sweetness. It is traditional to eat pomegranates with its many seeds on Rosh Hashana, as a symbol of fruitfulness.

As a child in the 50′s in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, we called pomegranates “Indian Apples”. I have always loved them, though they were a challenge to eat. I would extract the juicy crimson seeds individually, staining my fingers, until I learned a brilliant Israeli technique.

This is really amazing: Take a knife and slice the pomegranate in half. Take a heavy spoon, and holding half the pomegranate sliced side down over a large bowl, whack it repeatedly, and all of the gorgeous scarlet seeds will tumble out. Then you just need to remove the few pieces of creamy rind that were dislodged as well, and you have a luscious pile of pomegranate seeds.

The pomegranate is a symbol to me of all of the blessings in my own life. I was very inspired by the sermon that my rabbi,  Wes Gardenswartz, gave on Rosh Hashanah. It is linked in my mind with appreciation and pomegranates. This is my reconstruction of what he said:

The British psychoanalyst Adam Phillips proposed that each of us has the actual life that we live, which is the result of all of the choices we have made and all the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Simultaneously, each of us has a parallel unlived life, one that shadows us with what might have been; the regrets, the opportunities not embraced, the roads not taken. He spoke of the wonderful novelist Richard Russo, who wrote a memoir of his relationship with his mother entitled , “Elsewhere”. Russo’s mother never was happy where she was; she was always longing to be somewhere else.

The rabbi reframed the tasks of daily living that can at times feel onerous, like doing the laundry, as something that he GETS to do, rather than something that he HAS to do. In order to do laundry he has to be able to see to sort the colors, have functioning legs which carry him up and down the stairs, and arms that have the strength to hold the basket. The capacity to do laundry presupposes a great deal of able-bodiedness. I know for myself, I can sometimes feel burdened by having to weed the garden, or having to figure out what to make for dinner for the children, or being obliged to seriously restrict my carbs if I don’t want to gain weight and feel tired. But OMG, what a blessing to still have children under my roof to make dinner for, to have a garden to care for, or to be in such a privileged position that I can choose what to eat.

The rabbi addressed the importance of simultaneously being aware of those aspects of our lives that are still unlived, and striving to manifest those dreams and potentials, while experiencing gratitude for the reality of our lives as they are. Not to be like Richard Russo’s mother who was focused on what was missing. The rabbi noted that none of our lives are perfect; there are those who have wealth but poor health, a meaningful career but trouble with our kids, a good marriage but constant money worries; and yet for all of us, there are so many blessings that we often just take for granted.

Warm wishes to all my readers for a sweet, fruitful and healthy New Year, filled with consciousness of the blessings in our lives, as the numerous as the seeds of the pomegranate.

 

 

equinox

 

             Fall Equinox, Chicago-September 22, 2013 3:44 p.m. CST

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DOES THE PISCES FULL MOON REFLECT THE 13THC CATHARS’ VISION ?

Posted on by Gaye Mack in Karmic and Self-Discovery Astrology, Uncategorized, Writer's Work Leave a comment

If you’ve been following me on Facebook, you’ll have guessed that I’m back from my adventure to the L’Occitaine region in the French Pyrenees, land of the 13thc heretical sect known as the Cathars. While I’ve posted from time to time about this fascinating community, the opportunity to learn more of their extremely complex history in the midst of incredibly difficult landscape, far outstrips reading about them.  Amazingly they survived for years against Rome’s continuous and brutal assault until their final end by fiery execution at Montsegur in 1244.   When climbing very difficult steep and rocky ground up to a ruin that’s 3,400 ft above a parking lot as is the castle at Montsegur, questions tick over in the mind; how did they manage, how did they get provisions up there, how did they survive the winters? Simple answers to such things are beyond comprehension.

To quickly review:  the Cathar movement which regarded the hierarchy of the Catholic church with all of its trappings, as a greedy, self-serving entity, grew out of the Balkans.  It spread to various regions in Europe starting in the late 12th century but nowhere did it spread like wildfire as it did in the Languedoc of modern-day France, aided and protected by some of the region’s most powerful nobility, particularly Raymond VI, Count of Toulouse.  When on January 1208 Brother Peter of Castelnau, the papal legate was assassinated by one of Raymond’s officers, Pope Innocent III found his excuse to declare holy war upon Raymond’s vast territories which had been a ‘nest of heresy’ for years.  The Papal floodgates were then open that resulted in years of unspeakable brutality against this gentle, peace-loving community.  So what was it in their basic belief system that made the Cathars such enemies of Rome?  

Besides their disdain for the obvious excesses of the Church, the Cathars believed in Dualism.  For them, the physical world and everything in it was a creation of Satan(including the body and procreation) while purity of spirit was gained through a direct connection to God or the Divine.  In their view, a belief system that supported a corrupt  hierarchy and homage to a Pope was the very embodiment of Satan.  Nevertheless, they were known for their compassion as healers, providers for the poor, sources of spiritual guidance, herbalists and yes, astrologers, which brings me to the forthcoming Pisces Full Moon on Thursday, September 19th.

 With the Moon in this cosmic  and compassionate sign of the zodiac, represented by its glyph of two conjoined fish swimming in opposite directions, we’re reminded of the transcendence of duality…’we can be of the world but not in it’; each of us is uniquely part of a much bigger picture, indivisible from the vast oceanic Universe.  Is it any wonder that some references on the Cathars note the Perfects or Parfaits (those who had taken vows of devotion) wore belts displaying the Piscean glyph as part of their simple habits?

In Evolutionary Astrology, our goal is always to look and work toward who we were meant to be, not who we think we are compared to others.  As this week’s forthcoming Piscean Full Moon waxes, perhaps its light will remind us of this intention as no doubt it may have done 800 years ago for the Cathars.

 

 the view of cathar country

View from Termes Castle~site of the longest siege during the  Albigensian Crusade against the Cathars

The 1550 ft steep climb up to the castle ruins ends on a hilltop surrounded on three sides by a ravine formed by the river Sou. 

Photography ©Gaye F. Mack, Inc.

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Keys to What’s Holding You Back-Evolutionary Astrology and Dr. Bach’s Flower Remedies-

Posted on by Gaye Mack in Balance, Karmic and Self-Discovery Astrology, Writer's Work Leave a comment

August 20th arrives with a Full Moon in Aquarius.  Ruled by the planet Uranus, individually and globally we’re being pushed to embrace innovation, individuation and collaboration…a mouthful. This said, illuminating this Aquarian moon is the Sun in heart-centered Leo, reminding us that we must not forget to be true to our Soul’s intent for us to evolve as spirit in body.

As I’ve discussed in previous posts, the science of Evolutionary Astrology is about transformation.  In the evolutionary analysis of the birth chart, we’re presented with a powerful tool that metaphorically offers a map and compass which reveals our Soul’s unique agenda and pathway for this lifetime. In addition, this process presents us with the opportunity to confront psychological karmic energy from a distant past that haunts us at an unconscious level; in essence this elusive energy holds us back.  Certainly the prospect of stepping up to this challenge is a daunting one that requires courage and faith to leap into the unknown in order to break the ties that bind.‘ 

Once we become aware of what we need to leave behind and in what ways we need to move forward on this journey of self-discovery, we can call upon several of Dr. Bach’s powerful flower remedies for support.   His remedy Walnut immediately comes to mind, for Walnut expressly helps us to cut binding ties and at the same time ‘stay the course’ toward our ‘next right step.’  

Additionally, there’s another remedy for this situation in Dr. Bach’s famous ’38’—Honeysuckle.  The dynamics of Honeysuckle specifically relate to those emotional states of mind wherein the individual cannot let go of the past.  Often this memory state manifests as unrealistic longings to return to a nebulous history that’s wrapped up in fantasy or it can be recall within the present lifetime that nevertheless, is also conjured up in fantasy.  Such desires can be attached to grief and loss or simply a wanting to escape.   In either state of emotional psychology, it’s the avoidance of the present which prevents movement into the future.  

So, as we enter the energy of the forthcoming Aquarian Full Moon, we have tools to help us move forward on our journey of growth…an analysis of our astrological birth chart through the evolutionary lens, Dr. Bach’s Honeysuckle, or both!

walnut-300x215

 Dr. Edward Bach’s Walnut

 Honeysuckle

 Dr. Edward Bach’s Honeysuckle

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AVOID REGRETS AT END OF LIFE- A CASE FOR EVOLUTIONARY ASTROLOGY

Posted on by Gaye Mack in Balance, Karmic and Self-Discovery Astrology, Worth the Read, Writer's Work Leave a comment

A deviation from my usual blog topics, I happened to come across the following posting from Huffington about Bronnie Ware, an Australian palliative nurse who turned her journal notating the most common regrets of her dying patients into a book- The Top Five Regrets of The Dying.  What I found ‘interesting’ in reading the following excerpt is that I saw this minutes after being informed that the last of my living uncles had passed away yesterday evening at the ripe age of 98.  

He was my mother’s oldest brother and the final survivor of that generation.  It’s no secret that siblings often quibble about each other’s ‘ways of being'(although being an only child I fortunately escaped this one!).  My mother and her siblings were no exception and so this excerpt of Bronnie’s gave me pause; I realized that as I read the following five common regrets, they make a wonderful case for evolutionary astrology as a valuable tool for actively facilitating our Soul’s growth while we have the time.  

Through the evolutionary astrological lens, everyone’s birth chart reveals where and how we have opportunity to make course corrections in this life from past Karma that haunts us at unconscious levels within our being.  We have time; in doing so, it’s possible to bypass some or perhaps all of the regrets Bronnie outlines from her experiences with the dying.  If you’re interested to know more about Evolutionary Astrology and its benefits, please checkout my website.  Steven Forrest, one of the most globally recognized evolutionary astrologers and my teacher, has excellent information on his site as well.  In the meantime, I’m certain you’ll find that Bronnie’s insights sound intimately familiar and that interestingly, they resonate with the core of Evolutionary Astrology!

One thing on regret before we get to the list. It’s important to remember that whatever stage we are at in life, there is no need for regret. The process of regret is one that provides nothing but suffering for ourselves as we begin to allow the past to dictate how we should feel now. Instead, we can use the past as a reference point to understand what adjustments we would like to make moving forward. The adjustments do not have to come out of pain, sorrow, regret or judgment, but simply a choice to do things in a different way. We are learning all the time, we can very quickly slow that learning process down by getting stuck in the idea of regret. When it comes to making changes, be at peace with the past and remember that each moment is a new choice.”

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

“This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.”

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

“This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

“Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.”

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

 ”This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.” 

 

astrology-image

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RELIC OF JESUS’ CRUCIFICTION CROSS FOUND OR MORE OF THE SAME?

Posted on by Gaye Mack in Ancient Legends of Great Britain, Gaye's England, Scotland & Wales, Worth the Read, Writer's Work Leave a comment

 

Admittedly, the time frame here is far earlier than the 12th or 13th centuries I’m used to exploring and writing about, but yesterday’s piece in Huffington  was just too good to pass up here for those of you who missed it on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and every other social media outlet on the planet.  This said, once again a flurry of active speculation amongst archaeological and religious academics pitted against the faithful is sure to escalate.  As I’ve commented earlier, it seems that we’ve entered an era of, to borrow Hilary Mantel’s latest book title, ‘Bringing Up the Bodies‘(and everything with them), non-stop

Recent memory zooms to the controversy over remains now concluded to be England’s diabolical(depending on your point of view) King Richard the III.  This excavation was closely followed by discovery of remains speculated to be those of England’s more venerated king, Alfred of Wessex (the jury’s still out on this one as far as I know.)  Nevertheless, the contemplation of ‘what if’ continues to intrigue us.  However, it’s important to keep in mind that discovery of and hawking of, ‘authentic relics’ which are nothing more than fakes is big business that’s older than Methuselah that continues to flourish around the globe.

Still, every time such events are splashed across the media, many of us yearn in hope beyond hope that the real deal has been discovered…it does happen. As for the current ‘discovery’ at hand, we’ll just have to wait…but who knows?  There are so many treasure ‘truths’ waiting to yet be discovered and questions answered…Excalibur, the Grail, the mystical portal protected by the Sphinx, Nazca, Atlantis, Avalon, the pyramids, Stonehenge

In the meantime we can muse on the latest news from Huffington, et al:

“Archaeologists working in Turkey believe they have found a piece of the cross that Jesus was crucified on.

While excavating the ancient Balatlar Church, a seventh-century building in Sinop, Turkey, on the shores of the Black Sea, they uncovered a stone chest that contained objects that may be directly connected with Jesus Christ.

Excavation head Professor Gülgün Köroğlu definitively stated:

We have found a holy thing in a chest. It is a piece of a cross, and we think it was [part of the cross on which Jesus was crucified]. This stone chest is very important to us. It has a history and is the most important artifact we have unearthed so far.

The stone chest has been taken to a laboratory for further testing. However, the appearance of the chest suggests that it was a repository for the relics of a holy person, according to the team, who showed reporters at the site a stone with crosses carved into it.

Many churches claim to possess relics of the so-called “true cross,” though the authenticity of the items is not fully accepted by scholars and scientists. Protestant theologian John Calvin noted that, “if all the pieces that could be found were collected together, they would make a big ship-load,” referring specifically to the cross. On the other hand, the 19th-century French archaeologist Charles Rohault de Fleury supposedly said that all of the cataloged relics would only make up less than a third of the mass of a roughly 12-foot-high cross.

But what originally happened to Jesus’ cross, and why has it turned up now? Legend says that Emperor Constantine’s mother, Helena, found the cross in Jerusalem and distributed pieces of the wood to religious leaders in Jerusalem, Rome, and Constantinople.

Balatlar Church, built in 660, has proved an especially rich dig site, as Köroğlu mentioned that in addition to the stone chest, her team has found the ruins of an ancient Roman bath and more than 1,000 human skeletons since they started working in 2009.”

 

tintagel castle

King Arthur’s domain?

Photography©Gaye F. Mack, Inc.

 

 

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