Last week I asked my newsletter readers and my blog readers to answer a few questions about the content for the “right livelihood” e-course I’m currently creating.
One question I asked had to do with the term “right livelihood.” I was interested in how people responded to it as a possible name for the course.
I found it quite interesting that a number of people didn’t seem to realize that the term is a Buddhist one. It’s part of the “Noble Eightfold Path” — eight precepts that all begin with the word “Right.”
never assume . . .
I assumed that most people who are spiritually-minded would recognize the term, but I was wrong — and we all know what they say about assuming!
A number of people objected to the term as they felt it implied that there is a “wrong” way to earn one’s living. And actually, according to Buddhism, they’re right. (I’m not a practicing Buddhist, so please correct me if I’m wrong here.) The Eight-Fold Path directive is to earn your living in an ethical manner, that does no harm. Specifically, there are injunctions against: trading in weapons; trading in people (slavery or prostitution); trading in meat (including breeding animals for slaughter); trading in alcohol or addictive drugs; trading in any poisonous or toxic product.
All of those would constitute a “wrong” livelihood. We could make our own list of injunctions which, in this day and age, might include things like trading in products that require a huge carbon footprint.
earn your living with great joy and be of service to the world
The connotation of “right livelihood” today, especially to those of us who came of age in the 60's, is about more than finding an ethical way to do business (as important as that is). It has more to do with earning your living while being of service to the world. And, for me, it assumes that the thing that gives you the most joy is the way you can best be of service to the world. In fact, if something does give you great joy, that’s a significant clue that it is the unique gift you have to offer the world. And the world is waiting for what you have to offer.
“Vocation is the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need,” wrote Presbyterian minister Frederick Buechner.
What does “right livelihood” mean to you?
I know I'm not the only person out there who wants to make an abundant living doing the work they love. Most of you know that my life changed pretty dramatically this past year, as I made the change from doing my "heart & soul work" part-time to doing it full-time. I have a fabulous coach in Elizabeth Genco Purvis, and I've studied marketing and business techniques from other teachers as well.
I believe that each of us has a unique gift to share with the world. I know from first-hand experience how frustrating it can be to not have enough time or energy to put into your soul work because you're too busy making a living at a "real" job. (Of course there's many of us who love our "real" jobs. I'm just talking to the folks who'd like to try their hand at being a "spirit-rich entrepreneur," as Elizabeth says.)
So I'm in the midst of creating an e-course on "Right Livelihood" for those of you who either have a dream about pursuing your soul-work as a business, or who are already doing it part-time and want to take it full-time.
If this is something you're interested in, I'd love it if you could help me create the curriculum for this course by answering a few questions in the comments section.
Thank you! I appreciate your help so much.
When I was 18 my boyfriend died, and the place I went for solace was the sea.
Every day after classes ended I drove to my favorite beach, a rocky marine preserve in a small cove that was not well-known and therefore never crowded. I would sit there for hours facing west, watching the waves flow in and recede, listening to the sounds of shells and rocks tumbling onto the shore. It was there I first learned the mysteries of life and death and renewal, in my body and in my soul: there is no death, only change and transformation, the ebb and the flow. Love does not end with death, for he was dead and yet I still loved him.
That was thirty years ago and I am no longer a maiden seeking to discover why people die. I am approaching my crone years, and I have long since made my peace with Lady Death. Yet I still go to the sea for solace, for refreshment and for renewal.
At 18, I didn’t know much about the mythic resonances of the sea. I didn’t know that liminal places, where land meets water, are known as places where one can slip in through the cracks between the worlds. I didn’t know that, for eons, people have thought of the sea as the Great Mother, and that the West was often envisioned as the Otherworld, the place we return to when we die. I didn’t know that, in the myths of many cultures, a sea voyage often enacts the passing into that other world, the testing of the soul, and the passage beyond death. And yet these are the mythic themes that I experienced, sitting there by the sea watching the tide roll in and back out again.
In later years I came to know the many faces of the Goddess, and found myself fascinated by sea goddesses and mermaids, along with many of my sisters.
Today in my jaunt around the blogosphere, I'm loving these posts:
From Hecate on restarting a daily practice: "Even Though You Have Broken Your Vows a Thousand Times."
That is so me! I have started and stopped and restarted my daily practice hundreds, if not a thousand, times.
From Mark Silver guestposting on Copyblogger: "Is Spiritual Business a Contradiction in Terms?"
Oh yeah. Lots of food for thought there (I so agree with Mark) and lots of controversial comments. (Why do so many people seem to want "spiritual" people to be poor? Talkin' 'bout some of the commenters here.)
From Cari Ferraro, calligrapher extraordinaire, on her weeklong Calligraphy Master Class:
I love this post not only because I adore peeking into the art studios and processes of other artists, but also because of the archetype of the juicy crone in Cari's mentor, Sheila.
Yes, my interests are diverse! Yet there's a common theme of Presence, methinks . . .
You may have noticed that I have not been consistent with my blogging for some time now. There’s a few reasons for that. I feel like I am in a third-quarter-moon phase of blogging; that’s the time when the old ways of doing things no longer fit, but the new way of doing things is not yet clear. I have been ruminating for months about changing things up; changing the name of the blog and its design, moving it over to Wordpress, keeping to a regular schedule, brainstorming ideas for posts.
You see, the title “Gaian Tarot Artist’s Journal” no longer fits me or this blog. I originally started it in 2004 to document my process of creating the cards and to get feedback from readers. Along the way, I started blogging about all sorts of different things that I’m interested in. Since the Gaian Tarot cards are now done, the blog needs a new name. But what?
“There is a spirituality indigenous to every land. When you move in harmony with that spirit of place, you are practicing native (not Native) spirituality.”
— Loren Cruden, The Spirit of Place 1
“For the non-Native American to become at home on this continent, he or she must be born again in this hemisphere, on this continent, properly called Turtle Island. . . . Europe or Africa or Asia will then be seen as the place our ancestors came from, places we might want to know about and to visit, but not ‘home.’ Home — deeply, spiritually — must be here.” — Gary Snyder, Practice of the Wild 2
“But can non-indigenous people really presume to become native? . . . What kind of nativeness is possible and to what extent can we become native to the land?”
— David Landis Barrett, At Home on the Earth 3
Since enrolling in Jon Young’s Kamana Naturalist Training Course, 4 the word “native” and all that it implies is frequently on my mind. The Kamana course teaches us to “see with native eyes,” as Young puts it, and emphasizes that this ability is not for Native Americans only but is a learned skill. Once introduced to the concept of “becoming native,” I seemed to find it everywhere.
I had so much fun creating this video series,"An Introduction to the Gaian Tarot." I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I did making it. I filmed it on my studio deck, so you will hear dogs barking in the background at times, but hey! it's the first video series I ever made. I'll work on the audio a bit more next time around.
Whether or not you've purchased a copy of the Gaian Tarot, you'll enjoy this introductory series. There are five short videos and you'll receive one every two or three days over the next couple of weeks. Here's what I cover in each one:
You'll receive the first video as soon as you sign up for the series!
Last weekend my mermaid sister Nora and I traveled to Wisconsin to spend a few days with Angie Buchanan and the women of Gaia's Womb. The theme of the weekend was "Womb to Womb" and Nora did a presentation on Home Funerals and Green Burials Saturday morning. I followed up with a workshop in the afternoon on "Tarot & the Mysteries of Life, Death & Rebirth," then taught the women how to read the cards intuitively, without looking the meanings up in the book. Many ah-ha moments and epiphanies came to the women in both workshops — something all teachers hope for.
Spending time with these women felt like being welcomed home. After the first evening on Friday, all the faces looked familiar, as if I had known them all my life. It was lovely to meet Holly, Rowan and Willow, and to hear how they see themselves in my 3 of Earth card. With much giggling, they told me which of the women in the card corresponded to each one of them. I bought a gorgeous handspun, handwoven shawl from Holly in Ostara colors, just the thing to brighten a grey Northwest spring. Moonfeather, who runs PSG, was relaxed and radiant and has a beautiful singing voice. She sang a welcoming song to the babies in the wombs of two pregnant women there that brought us all to tears. Angie is a fabulous ritual priestess and hostess, and is the glue that holds this community together.
We stayed in a convent / retreat center on the shores of Lake Michigan. Nora and I shivered every time we ventured outside, while these homegirls walked outside in short sleeves and kept saying, "It's really not all that cold." Ha ha. The nuns were all elderly and so welcoming. They gave us big smiles when we passed them in the hallways and some stopped to tell us how glad they were that we were there. Some even gave us hugs and kisses. "You're so beautiful!" they would say. "You're so radiant!" Their walls were covered in artwork that would look right at home at a Goddess conference — the Sacred Feminine is alive and well in these women's hearts.
Saturday night Angie led us down into the bowels of the convent where we walked through darkened hallways singing "We all come from the Goddess." Our voices reverberated through the corridors and I imagined the sisters and other retreatants upstairs hearing ethereal strains of our song, perhaps wafting up the heating ducts. Soon we came into a large ballroom-sized space with a Chartres labyrinth laid out, surrounded by candlelight, with Jennifer Berezan's "Returning" setting the mood. It was one of the most profound labyrinth walks I've ever done.
Blessed be, women of Gaia's Womb. You are wonderful!
Lots of photos after the jump.
It turns out that the Star card was an excellent omen for this week, at least for the first two days of my business retreat. Elizabeth and I both felt as though we were “downloading” information directly from the Muse at times. I think I might have chosen a more electric, fiery card to represent the last two days though, as I am still fairly buzzing with excitement over what we planned out for 2010 and beyond.
I’m not quite ready to go into details, but I will tell you that I am going to be making a major shift in my business life. I am going to phase out my web design business and start doing a lot more teaching. Those of you who know me from this blog (which I started in 2004) may not be aware that I spent most of the 90’s making my living from teaching classes and workshops in the Northwest on Goddess spirituality and the Tarot. I’ve taught in living rooms, bookstores and conference centers. When I moved to the island in 2000, I stopped teaching partly because of logistics (the ferry/transportation issue) and partly because I was ready for new challenges, which included creating the Gaian Tarot.