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Pilgrimage to Scotland: Orkney’s Neolithic Ring of Brodgar and Skara Brae

IMG_0203cropDuring a meditation one morning in Palm Desert, California, I received an invitation to visit the Ring of Brodgar. I had a vision of the stones and noticed white light coming from one of them. I heard:

“You are ancient.” I responded: “I feel it.” “No, really ancient. You carry great sadness for Mother Earth and all life on her. You know that she and all of creation are alive, and you wish to help heal her. First, heal yourself. Leave in the center of the Ring all your sorrow, worries, anger, guilt and shame. We will transmute them. It is time for you to be free—to radiate all that you are—to walk in health, balance, love, compassion, equanimity and joy.”

I quickly added a week to visit the Ring of Brodgar to my plans to join a Washington National Cathedral pilgrimage to the Isle of Iona.

Orkney: An Austere Land, Shaped by Nature’s Elements

IMG_0344On April 26, I fly to Orkney with great anticipation. The sky is grey. I catch a few glimpses of the ocean below. After landing, I drive to Stenness and get my first glimpse of the Ring of Brodgar, a Neolithic circle of stones. No one knows how old it is. The current guess is 4,000 to 4,500 years old.

Even more so than in Edinburgh, the wind and rain determine my schedule out of doors. I see no trees except one grove that sits in a gully, protected from the wind. Along the horizon, hills are rounded by retreating glacial ice of 10,000 years ago. Wheat-colored fields meet green crofts. Water is everywhere, be it the sea or the lochs. Orkney is an austere land, compelling and beautiful.

The Ring of Brodgar

IMG_0329The Ring sits on a raised, broad land. As I walk up the path towards it, I see the standing stones jutting out of the earth, silhouetted against the sky. Water glimmers on two sides; brown heather fills the center. It is a wide circle, over 300 feet in diameter. Stones, varying from 7 to 15-feet tall, greet me. They have mottled surfaces of varied colors. Twenty-seven of the original 60 remain standing. The circle sits on sacred ground.

I quietly walk around the ring, talking to the stones. I touch them and ask that they enliven and realign themselves in harmony for this time in the 21st century.

These ancient standing stones capture my imagination. Who built them? How were they used? What have they witnessed?

 

Skara Brae, A 5000-Year-Old Neolithic Village

IMG_0203IMG_0312In 1850 a severe storm hit Scotland and stripped the earth from a large knoll, revealing a village whose homes were sunk into the ground. Named Skara Brae, it sits on the Bay of Skaill. There are 8 stone houses, clustered together, connected by stone paths. In each house a fireplace sits in the middle with two areas for sleeping on opposite sides. A dresser or altar stands across from the entrance, and next to it is a square area dug into the ground to hold water to keep fish and crab fresh. Archeologists believe about 50 people lived in this village over a period of 600 years from 3180 BC to 2500 BC.

I visit it twice.

I feel a connection to these people. “From where did they come,” I ask? “By water, of course.” “Who were they?” I hear: “They are we.”

 

Impact of the Ring and This Dramatic Landscape

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The night before I leave, I return to the Ring for the fourth time. I want to watch the sun set and light the stones against a glowing, orange-red sky. Such beauty! I feel alive. My soul stirs. I feel connected to this land and the ancients.

Having returned home, I carry an image of the Ring at sunset in my mind’s eye. I am more alert to nature–its power and beauty. Orkney’s gifts to me:

I am awake.

I am connected.

I am grateful.

I smile.

 

Photos © Susan Beilby Magee

© Susan Beilby Magee, 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Pilgrimage to Scotland: Nature’s Vivid Moods

 

RainbowOverIona2Rainbow Over Iona © Jonathan Hohman

Recently I spent 18 days on pilgrimage to Scotland, visiting Edinburgh, the Orkney Islands and the Isle of Iona. Nature’s elements were in my face: the howling wind, spitting rain, brilliant sun and roiling sea. Magpies and seagulls flew overhead; sheep grazed as their lambs frolicked in the grass.

The changes in the sky were constant. One moment, massive dark clouds rolled across the sky, hiding the brilliant sun; an hour later, gentle grey clouds replaced them, dropping soft raindrops. In the evening, the setting sun bathed the sky in brilliant hues of orange and gold.

The Scots seem chiseled from the volcanic rock that bursts forth like giants seeking the sun. Weathered like the land by nature’s elements, they stand tall. They are proud, powerful, deeply grounded in Mother Earth and connected to all of creation surrounding them.

I once asked an Englishman how the people of a small group of islands, known as Great Britain, ruled an empire. He replied: “Oh, the answer is easy. The Scots did it. Being comfortable in any challenging environment, they went around the world, knew what needed to be done and did it.”

Mother Nature’s changing kaleidoscope is a metaphor for our lives. I am reminded that the only constant is change. She draws a vivid picture of the moods, mysterious rumblings, challenges, breakthroughs and gentleness we experience as we grow and mature. One afternoon after a gentle rain on the Isle of Iona, a full semi-circle rainbow formed across the water. We stood in wonder. Is this not a symbol of the brilliance and harmony we achieve after we have walked through dark storms and emerged into the light? As within, so without.

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Photos, clockwise from top right: Sheep Grazing, Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh Sunset and Low Tide at Skara Brae © Susan B. Magee

© Susan Beilby Magee, 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Blizzard Whispers

A blizzard will be embracing those who live on the East Coast shortly. A dear friend emailed “Blizzard Whispers” below that explains what we may do to protect our trees, plants, animals and people from being hurt. Today and each day of the storm we simply ask that the spirits of the blizzard, trees, plants, animals, bees and humans connect with each other so no harm comes to anyone or anything. Even if we are not in the middle of the storm’s path, we may send intentions from any location in the country to protect our ecosystems, animals and people.

During Hurricane Sandy, I spoke to the spirit dragon of that storm and said ever so respectfully: “I do not want to interfere with your purpose; nor do I understand what it is; but I have a home and garden in Cape May that I love with all my heart, and I ask that you not damage it in any way.”  My home was not damaged, and I learned once again about the power and magic of our intentions when working cooperatively with the world of spirit and nature.
 
For those who are interested, I got the idea that we may affect weather systems from reading The Occult Diaries of R. Ogilvie Crombie, the story of a Scotsman who quietly became a bridge of understanding between the world of people and nature spirits.
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© Susan Beilby Magee, 2016. All Rights Reserved.

One Small Act of Kindness

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We all see killing, bigotry and fear erupting in America and around the world.

What we dwell upon is amplified.

Let’s release our fears and hold a vision of peace and compassion for our families and the world.

Let’s radiate our light and remember: one small act of kindness connects with others and seeds peace in the world.

 

© Susan Beilby Magee, 2015. All Rights Reserved.

 

Michelangelo’s “David”: A Metaphor for Life

M__471F“In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.”— attributed to Michelangelo

What does the David mean to an American woman of English and Spanish descent—500 years after it was created? I first saw the David in Florence, Italy in 1989. Twenty-five years later, I returned with my granddaughter so we could see the David together. It had a far greater impact on me. It is a metaphor for my journey in life.

For the past several years, I have had a vision of Michelangelo looking at a huge block of marble, seeing David inside. All he had to do was chip the extraneous marble away to reveal him. Isn’t that what we do in life? We chip away at our anger, sorrow, grief; we expose our imperfections and uncover fears. In short, we do what Michelangelo did. We chip away and in the process reveal our own radiant selves.

davidI learned two new things about the David on this trip.

1) Knowing that the block of marble he was given contained imperfections and cracks, Michelangelo chose to to use it anyway.  Aren’t we all imperfect? Don’t we all have cracks inside? Isn’t it through our imperfections that we reveal our humanity and become vulnerable? Doesn’t that vulnerability allow us to chip more away which reveals our true selves?

2) Michelangelo sculpted the pupils of David’s eyes in the shape of a heart. Perhaps Michelangelo is suggesting that David sees with his heart, and it is through his heart that he is able to face this giant of a man called Goliath. I, too, have learned that truth and courage lie within my heart. While I love using my cognitive mind and always will, I access true power, vision and wisdom through my heart.

Bless the genius of Michelangelo for his creation of the David. It will forever be a symbol of life’s journey of transformation.

Join Susan B. Magee on September 28 and October 7,  2015  from 7 to 9pm for the Circle of Meditation and Healing at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington DC.

 

© Susan Beilby Magee, 2015. All Rights Reserved.

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Photo credits: (top) Michaelangelo, The David, from a postcard, Firenze, Galleria dell’Accademia, right: image from Wikipedia

Mother Nature is Alive and Well in Italy

unnamed-4“It was dowsily warm with dozens of bees, lazily buzzing through flowers and trees…”
—Hairy Maclary and Zachary Quack by Lynley Dodd

I have just returned from the countryside in Tuscany, Italy. How alive the land, harmonious the old stone buildings and fresh the food! There were bees everywhere, busily doing their work, reminding me of the opening sentence above in Dodd’s book.

I have never seen so many bees, and they had no interest in the people around them. The 7-foot tall hydrangea bushes, olive trees shimmering in the sunlight, upright cypress trees and clusters of grapes hanging from the vines were all alive with spirit. My granddaughter and I stayed with a dear friend, Lynn, and her niece, Michaela, in a small village called Borgo San Felice. We spent time in the herb garden, walked through the vineyards and played bocce ball. One night after dinner we were stunned by June’s “blue moon” hanging in the sky over the land, and as we turned around we watched Jupiter and Venus dance together on the horizon.

I came home to a land that is not as alive with the spirits of nature. Nor is our food as consistently fresh.  What have we done to our home? Upon my return I read about the controversy about a copper mine going into a river valley in Montana where my husband fished with friends in the 80s. I saw another article about the deleterious impact of Donald Trump’s cutting down 460 trees along the Potomac River to have a view for his new golf course.

Profoundly affected by the experience, I ask myself: what may I do to treat Mother Earth with more respect and invite the nature spirits to return? How may I improve my relationship with them?

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© Susan Beilby Magee, 2015. All Rights Reserved.

North Charleston, Baltimore, New York and Ferguson: How Do We Respond to Social Injustice?

When welcoming the new millennium, I remember hearing: “That which has been invisible will become visible.”

I thought of this phrase as accusations of pedophilia in the Catholic Church were being revealed. I thought of it as sex trafficking in America and around the world was beginning to be addressed. And I think of it again as I watch young African-American men gunned down or killed when detained by police in our cities…North Charleston, Baltimore, New York, Ferguson and many others.

At age 20, I studied in England at a time when race riots overtook some American cities. I remember hearing criticisms of our racist society. But I noticed two things in England that year. I would often eat in inexpensive Indian restaurants I could afford because I could still eat delicious food. All of the Indian men I met had PhD educations, but could not find good jobs because of the color of their skin. One day, I struck up a conversation with a Jamaican woman who had tried to rent a room in an apartment building, but was turned away because of the color of her skin.   I came home thinking: America is a racist society, but at least our racism is visible.

We cannot deal with what we do not see and acknowledge.

What can we do?

  1.  We may pray for the souls of those killed, their families, their communities, and pray for the police officers and city leaders.
  1.  We may examine our own fears and stereotypes to become conscious of them so we may release them. We may pray to see the light in every person and remember we are all divine children of God.
  1.  We may participate in our communities, listening deeply for shared values, honoring everyone and supporting everyone’s journey.

The contemporary filming of recent incidents makes visible what African-American communities have experienced for years.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said:  “A riot is the language of the unheard.”

May we change our culture. May we see each other as the human beings we are. May we respect and honor one another. May we be brothers and sisters.

Join Susan B. Magee on June 2  from 7 to 9pm for the Circle of Meditation and Healing at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington DC.

© Susan Beilby Magee, 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Illness is not the Enemy

Illness is not the Enemy Susan B Magee

Illness is not the Enemy…it is the Soul’s messenger. 

*Our bodies are the repository of profound wisdom.
*They remember everything that has happened to us.
*They provide access to our soul and its history.

We may choose to befriend the illness or pain. 

*Our soul is saying:  “Pay attention!  I have an important message for you!
Please change the priorities in your life.”​

To explore your soul’s message, join Susan on May 4 from 7 to 8:30pm at the Circle of Meditation and Healing at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington DC.

© Susan Beilby Magee, 2015. All Rights Reserved.

The Power of the Human Spirit to Heal: Holocaust Remembrance Day 2015

As many of you know, I spent 9 years researching and writing the book INTO THE LIGHT: The Healing Art of Kalman Aron, a story of courage, hope and transformation.  Born an artist in Riga, Latvia, Aron was caught in the Holocaust for 4 years and immigrated to America in 1949.  I met him at age six when he painted my portrait.  Fifty years later, he asked me to write his story.

Kalman Aron StoneIn 2004 I went to Latvia to see the places of his childhood in Riga, the ghetto and camps where he was imprisoned.  I also went to the Rumbula forest outside of Riga where 25,000 Jews were killed over two days within 5 months of the Germans entering Latvia in 1941.  I had a stone placed in honor of Aron’s parents.   Last November, I was asked to present Aron’s story at an international conference in Riga.  I took time to return to the Rumbula forest to see the memorial to those lost.  I share this film with you.

What happened at Rumbula was unimaginable…beyond words.  Aron lost his mother there, but he survived, and over six decades of painting, Aron worked out the evil he experienced on canvas and turned it into truth and beauty.  More intimately, his paintings in the book reveal his remarkable journey of personal alchemy as he overcame evil and reclaimed his light. His life is a testament to the power of the human spirit to heal.  On this Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah), let us remember those who were lost, celebrate those who survived and commit to living in peace with ourselves and each other.  Blessings to all.

© Susan Beilby Magee, 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

shutterstock_96007613Ask and ye shall receive. How true. On each step of my spiritual journey I have found gifted teachers and guides. They are always present if we just pray that they appear. The last one, Master Chang, taught me that we hold within our bodies the answers to every question we have. He showed me how to go into my body, listen and heal whatever I found. I have entered my interior landscape so many times now that I no longer fear anything I might find. I am grateful to be conscious of what lies within so I may choose to heal it. As Michelangelo chipped away marble to reveal the David within, so we may remove sorrows, hurts and protective layers to reveal who we truly are so we may stand in our full radiance.

We are magical beings, full of light and grace.

 

© Susan Beilby Magee, 2015. All Rights Reserved.