from the Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center:
Color in Motion: A Look at Glacier’s Butterflies
by Bob Chinn
Monday, July 14, 2014
12 noon-1 PM
Glacier National Park Community Building
Over 100 species of butterflies and many more species of moths play an important role in Glacier National Park. For some they catch the eye as beautiful flowers on the move, while for others they bring special delight by landing on a finger. Through photographs and video clips, Bob Chinn will share his eBook and take guests on a virtual tour of Glacier’s Lepidoptera.
Park visitors often miss the butterflies while looking at grand vistas and hoping to see mountain goats and bears. This presentation, and Bob Chinn’s soon-to-be-available e-book show you there’s a lot of small color in the park if you know where to look.
“Quests are personal journeys, and every step is taken alone.” –Deepak Chopra, The Way of the Wizard
If there is a subtle message in my novel The Sun Singer it is this: the great words of the great masters about our life’s journeys are—at best—hints. The ideas from the rest of us are mere notions.
The words of the masters may suggest to us that there are other worlds and other levels of consciousness and other levels of awareness. And they may also suggest techniques that will help us find the doorways, paths, enlightenments, and awakenings we desire.
After that, the great words are lies insofar as our journeys are concerned. The great masters’ great words describe the great masters’ journeys. As such, they are the gospels of the great masters’ experience.
My journey is mine alone. Your journey is yours alone. Neither journey can be undertaken by following in the great masters’ footsteps or by concretizing the great masters’ thoughts into a recipe book. We alone know the terrain upon which we’re walking and when all is said and done, the great masters’ view from the mountaintop will never be ours. Attempting to see what they saw creates blindness.
I am continuously writing my story just as you alone will write the gospel of your life, and it will be based on your awareness of your own experience. Nothing else matters; nothing else exists. You and I are both the creators of our paths and the ones who walk upon them enjoying the scenery and surprising ourselves with the wonders we encounter.
When the Sun and the Moon are viewed within the arena of Western esoteric traditions, including alchemy and the Tarot, they represent opposites that approach and retreat from each other even though they are destined to be merged into one. In these traditions, the Sun represents fire, masculine, positive (polarity), rational, visible world, and the consciousness mind. The Moon represents water, feminine, negative (polarity), intuition, hidden world, and the unconscious mind.
It is said that the enlightened being, often called The Wonder Child or viewed as the Philosopher’s Stone, is born from the merging of these apparent father/mother, king/queen opposites as depicted in the old art work shown here.
One of the many ways of illustrating the steps on the path to enlightenment, the goal of the hero’s and heroine’s journeys, is through the sequence of Major Arcana (trumps) cards in a Tarot deck. The Major Arcana cards begin with “0 The Fool,” who is considered the innocent initiate at the beginning of the journey/quest and end with “21 The Universe,” which represents ascension. En route, the seeker finds “18 The Moon” and “19 The Sun.”
I like the description of the Moon and Sun cards in the ancient quests of knights for the Holy Grail. The Moon, then, is the Grail in the lake (beautiful water symbolism here) and the Sun represents the Grail lifted up into the pure light prior to completing the quest. Afterwards, the initiate/seeker reaches “20 Aeon” which is viewed as the rising of the Phoenix from the ashes prior to ascension.
Many Paths = One Destination
There are multiple layers of symbols here when we overlay the hero’s/heroine’s journey paths with all their traditional associations, including the Lesser Mysteries and Greater Mysteries, the cycles of the seasons around “the wheel of the year,” the Tree of Life, Tarot, alchemy and astrology. One need not study all of this, or even any of this, to understand seeker’s journey. The journey is who we are and what we are about. All of the paths to enlightenment are pointed toward the same end: transformation. Each of us focuses on the symbols we’re most comfortable with and attuned to.
Some experts say that we’re impacted by these symbols even if we are not consciously aware of them or understand the little we may have heard about them. I am a novice in using Tarot and understanding the cards’ many connections to the Tree of Life, spiritual alchemy and the cycles of the seasons. Generally, though, I like the symbolism of the Thoth Deck of Cards. The Moon and Sun cards shown here are from that deck and have a fair amount of symbolism.
Moon: The overall tone here is night. In the Book of Thoth, the Moon is called the “Gateway of Resurrection.” During night and Winter, the waiting Sun is diminished or absent. The landscape here is severe and the stream is mixed with blood. The sacred scarab holds the sun in its darkness while the moon occupies the mind and cosmos.
Sun: The overall tone here is light, with the twelve major rays standing for the signs of the zodiac. The light emanates from a rose-like sun, standing for the flowering of the solar influence. The children above the green and fertile earth are forever young and innocent. They represent the seeker’s and/or humankind’s next stage.
The Writer’s Raw Materials
As a writer, I love the relationship of symbols and story ideas. They can strongly impact plots, themes and characters. There are many ways to characterize a journey. For example, readers of my hero’s journey novel The Sun Singer will find numerous references to light and the other aspects of the so-called solar journey. For more information, see the Journey Page on my website and explore the information on the Joseph Campbell Foundation site. The book’s Glacier Park setting reminds park visitors and fans of “Going to the Sun Road” and the expanse of light one sees from high mountain trails.
Likewise, readers of my heroine’s journey novel Sarabande will find numerous references to water and the other aspects of the so-called lunar journey. The Heroine’s Page and the Sarabande Page on my website have more details. While the book’s story begins in the mountain high country, the plot (which is oriented around the moon’s phases) becomes more focused on rivers, dreams and the so-called “Underworld.”
For more information about Tarot cards in general, you might enjoy exploring one of my favorite sites: Raven’s Tarot Site. Here you’ll learn more about the Major Arcana (trumps), Minor Arcana (suits), and their correspondences with the Tree of Life, the classic elements, and astrology.
My first intention in both of these books is telling an exciting story. Both stories have many associations with myths and symbols. Those who know the myths and symbols will, perhaps, smile when they see the references. Those who do not consciously know the myths and symbols will still be subject to their spells.
As Rumi said, “What you seek, seeks you.” So, perhaps when you’ve finished reading the stories, you’ll be drawn into the “inner stories” behind the actions of Robert Adams (The Sun Singer) and Sarabande (Sarabande). When that happens, you’ll find that what you are looking for will begin to appear more often in your life in the form of books, websites and links, things you see on the way to work or on a hike, people who are interested in these subjects, and your dreams.
Meanwhile, as you read the novels, I hope you’ll enjoy the action while you are dancing with the Sun and the Moon—as they dance with each other.
Call me cynical, but the sugary tweets on Twitter (WHO CAN I HELP TODAY) and (LEARN TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER) just don’t help. I applaud the person who approaches each day with a WHO CAN I HELP ATTITUDE. But when a person says that, alarm bells go off.
I wonder, why are they saying that on Twitter? It’s marketing, I think, for clearly getting their help will cost me a lot of money. Maybe I would trust them more if they would just say something that helps me without flaunting the fact that they want to do it.
In contrast to this, I attended a book signing at Hall Book Exchange in Gainesville, Georgia yesterday afternoon for hypnotherapist Melissa Watts. She didn’t sit down and say WHO CAN I HELP TODAY or read a string of tweet-length platitudes off a prepared script. She sat there and was genuinely and infectiously herself: positive, giving, sharing.
Her words changed the tone of my weekend and inspired me anew to look within, to listen, to set aside doubts and to remember that what I see in the mirror is, using her words, like an overcoat, and that I am more than that and so is each of us who sat with her for two hours and shared our beliefs about past lives, energy, vibrations, and the big picture.
I may not know exactly why I drove 22 miles to sit in that room with Melissa Watts and five other people, but I know I was led there. I’m led everywhere I end up. The why of yesterday afternoon is probably summed up in answers I already know subconsciously. Short term, I walked in feeling blue and dark and I walked out with a sunny mood.
One positive person per day is all I need to keep my life and my emotions on track. I’m always looking for that person, hoping that through “chance” and “circumstance” I will be led to that person and that they will say what I need to hear and that, just maybe, I will say what they need to hear.
“Robert, Maistó (Raven) has reminded me that you must not confuse him with common crows. They are greedy, self-serving birds that eat too fast. According to Maistó, the ‘caw’ sound we associate with crows is more of a belch than a call.” — David Ward in “The Sun Singer”
“I have fled in the shape of a raven of prophetic speech.” — Taliesin
“They slept until the black raven, the blithe hearted proclaimed the joy of heaven.” –Beowulf
When you fly with Raven and/or imagine flying with Raven you must have a sense of humor. Prepare to be mocked, mimicked and satirized in every possible way. Accept this, for it shifts your consciousness rather like getting hit in the face with a feather pillow and refocuses your attention on your inner journey. When you pretend to be flying with Raven, you are flying with Raven.
Synchronize your flight with Raven’s flight and you will go within, dying to the exterior world so that dreams and magic are paramount. Alchemists call this stage of the great work “blackening” and often represent it in a variety of morbid death’s head and graveyard drawings. While flying with tricksters, you will in time see the humor in this.
To synchronize your flying with Raven, resist the urge to fly like a common crow and shout “caw caw” at the people in the world below. Observe and you will see that crows soar with bent wings and that ravens fly like hawks, flapping and then soaring on horizontal wings. Keep your hands straight and, if you must say anything, shout “crrrruck crrrruck.”
Ravens are keepers of secrets and they will escort you into the void where the mysteries are contained or they will bring you messages from the spirits of darkness with knowledge to impart. Sometimes, to emphasize your re-focused attention, Ravens will change into something else and expect you to follow suit.
While your encounter with Ravens stops the world as you know, it can be confusing. In terms of mythology and animal totems, Ravens are fun loving and fast moving and it’s best to be adaptable. However, flattery will get you everywhere. Inform them that you know that even mainstream science believes Ravens have more intelligence and insight than crows or, for heaven’s sakes, magpies. Figuratively speaking, the diverse Corvidae family has its share of black sheep.
When you see Raven in your dreams, magic is afoot–or, actually, awing–and it’s best to fly wherever it takes you. Whether you are a garden-variety author, a seeker, or a shaman, an open-ended, nonjudgemental experience with Raven is the key to power and mystery from (depending on your belief system) the astral, inner, or spirit world.
Meditations and magical flights with Raven can turn into a carnival of colors and changing seasons and laughter out of which–when you fear all is lost in the great chaos of the moment–meanings begin to appear clear and cold as black ice. Smile, laugh, and go with the flow; otherwise insanity is a risk–and that’s no joking matter.
Truth be told, Ravens have done their best to drive me crazy. They see it as a benefit–part of the initiation, so to speak–and a prelude to greater mysteries. I’ve told them they are quite full of themselves and their only defense is to laugh and tell me I fly like a baboon in heat. (I really don’t know what that means and haven’t wanted to ask.)
“It would be an almost perfect love affair, wouldn’t it? that between the pilgrim and the road.” –Anne Carson in Plainwater
People ask questions to break the ice at each oasis: where are you headed? where are you from? how long have you been on the road?
I tell them enough to satisfy them, and they smile, walk their dogs, smoke cigarettes, and buy Mars Bars out of the vending machines.
There are no true answers to ice-breaker questions other than “I may never know.” I see no relevance in time and distance, much less destinations.
The only true question on my mind as the everlasting highway appears to move beneath my feet is: “Have you heard it, the song you came here to sing?”
When I was young, I thought I might find that song with an outline, a diploma, a resume, a plan, a to-do list, a bank account, an organizational chart, a diagrammed sentence, a plot, a theme, or a personal mission statement.
As I grew older, I thought I might find that song by searching through the past, remembering old friends, reading history, reading the saved Christmas letters, pondering photo albums, and telling yarns about bittersweet experiences where the answers to life’s questions and the music that went with them were sure to be hidden.
As a Boy Scout, I was taught to be prepared, to be ready for whatever might happen, to know how to answer questions like “What would you do if you had one day to live, had the winning lottery ticket, found yourself stranded on a tropical island with a movie star, woke up in bed with a dead person, became President of the United States, won the Nobel Prize? Readiness was closer to God than cleanliness, we were promised, and so I must always be ready to discover the song I came here to sing. Lest I miss it.
Sweet highway, my real lover, always there, always unfolding–in time, such as it was, I began to ignore the mileage signs, distances to towns and landmarks and goals; I began to ignore the billboards promising me fresh peaches and hookers and carnival rides and satin sheets and steak and liquor at the next exit or the one after that.
I still haven’t figured anything out.
In loving the road, I believe the next step is the only step and that every time I stumble and fall and find the strength to pick myself up and see that I am still alive, that’s when I hear the song I came to sing.
“Stand still – the trees ahead and bushes beside you are not lost.Wherever you are is called “here”… the forest knows where you are. You must let it find you.” – David Wagonner
Dreams, like the natural world, often look romantic and beautiful and easy to traverse at a distance. But sooner or later, you must make a start. As an Eagle Scout, I am a long time believer in the both the citizenship and the woodcraft preparation one receives in such programs.
Whether you’re walking alone into the wilderness or stepping into a new career or a new project, real-world preparation gives you the luxury of spontaneity. If you lose your matches, you’ll still be able to make fire; if you lose your trail, your compass and the landmarks you see will help you find where you are on the map.
Certainty comes through this preparation as well as the faith in oneself that where you are is where you must be. Listening to the environment, noting the signs, learning from the trail, and attending to the voice inside your head that is only audible when you sit in relaxed silence, all provide constant beacons that will help you know where you are within yourself and within the natural world.
Crossing the threshold into the unknown quite often brings doubts, for here the poetry of the journey may seem to be falling away and leaving you wet and hungry and mired in realities that test you and frighten you and bring about despair.
These tests are proof you are going where you are supposed to go. Expect them, for they are the stepping stones to success, a path you will best be able to follow if you have faith in what you have learned in preparation and have faith in what that learning has made of you.
“All life is individual life, in which alone, the ultimate meaning is to be found.” — Carl Jung
People often look outward at their neighborhoods, cities, states and nations as though such groupings of people are entities or personalities in and of themselves.
As tempting as this view may be, it lends itself to blaming what cannot be blamed–as though the nation acted independently of the will of those who live there. So, too, does it provide an easy scapegoat to all who believe they’re not playing a role in the place where they live through silence or action or apathy.
Everything is the responsibility of us all as we tend to ourselves and share with our fellow men.
“Buddhism often compares the perfect mind state to a desert. The term sunyata, or the emptiness of emptiness, is a state in which no thoughts exist, no time exists, and the mind is empty completely in order to receive what the universe has to offer.” —Nora Caron
We endlessly chatter to ourselves inside our heads–commentaries, expectations, remembrances of things past, what we plan to do tomorrow, what we’ll do tomorrow if certain problems were to arise.
How do we ever enjoy the now of each moment?
For writers, this chattering drowns out the voice of the muse; for mystics in meditation, the voice of the universe; for the faithful in prayer, the voice of God.
May I suggest that it is hard to learn anything new when the mind is focused on the old that we already know? In fact, our expectations pre-define our reality and our understanding of it rather than allowing space for spontaneity and truly new experiences.
The answers we’re looking for are more likely to occur to us only after we firmly tell that voice inside our heads to shut up.
The excesively polarized political debate in recent years focused the consciousness of the nation on negatives, on what we purportedly lacked, on what we didn’t have, on what somebody somewhere was doing wrong. During this time, the country and our lives were not without value, yet the daily whining tended more than anything else to obscure what we could have been and should have been thankful for.
My belief system is quite unwielding on one point: What you resist, persists.
To our detriment, lack–even before the nasty political bickering of the last eight years–has long been a favorite topic of conversation, in barber shops, over the backyard fence, on street corners with strangers, beneath satin sheets with lovers, and one could almost laugh at it as the tragicomedy of the human experience if it weren’t making such a mess of our lives.
If one’s lumbago wasn’t acting up, if it weren’t too cold or too dry or too wet or too windy, if the President hadn’t just said something idiotic, if the promotion hadn’t gone to company clown, if the neighbor hadn’t just painted his house pink with green stripes, if if if if, then for goodness sakes, there was veritably nothing to talk about. Lack, for many, makes the world go around.
Like attracts like, the gurus tell us, and so it is that those who focus a fair amount of their waking thoughts–not to mention their dreams–on lack seem forever surprised on the constant deluge of additional lack into their lives. Many, as we have seen, have been quite willing to mortgage their souls as well as all of their temporal assets in a blind attempt to escape from lack.
When we focus on lack, what we already have is slid onto the back burner. We don’t think about it. We’re not grateful for it. We take it for granted. We even hide it on purpose because–should it be seen–it might diminish our argument that fate and other people have cast an unfair amount of lack into our lives.
As Thanksgiving approachs, a large part of our daily conversation remains focused on lack, on just how bad the Black Friday sales figures are likely to be or on how early we need to get up on that day after Thanksgiving to get to the store before anyone else does so we can beat them to the sales tables and get rid as much of our lack as possible at the lowest possible cost.
The cost, I think, is far too high regardless of the amount we spend, and the consequences of worshipping the daemons of lack are far too dear to leave the house with credit cards in hand.
I have an alternative proposal. It’s not my invention. Thousands have already said it and said it better. Stay home with what you have rather than going out in search of what you think you’re missing. It’s a difficult habit to break, I know, but it’s the only way to your heart’s desires.
Each day on the road to Thanksgiving, we have an opportunity to ponder that which we are likely to be grateful for if and when we give it a clear focus within the mind’s eye. What we have requires more of our attention than what we don’t have. Perhaps it’s a warm coat or a lover or a house filled with friends or a job or a perfect weekend or a full pantry or a pleasant disposition.
Gratefulness leads to more gratefulness and thanks leads to more thanks, do you think?