You are Mine...I Love You...

This is a story about Synchronicity.  About Embracing the Shadow.  About Healing.  And indirectly, about Dreams.

A few years ago, as I was cruising through Facebook, I came upon a post from Brother Jim, a monk at the Pecos Benedictine Monastery in Pecos, NM, that caught my attention.  One of my Teachers, Sister (Sr.) Miriam, was nearing the end of her life.

Sr. Miriam, the Benedictine nun.  Sr. Miriam, the Dreamworker.

Sr. Miriam, a Harbinger of Compassion, a Spiritual Director, a Reconciler of the Soul.  

Way before I knew the "parts work" of Internal Family Systems, this Wise Woman guided me, with direction and example, of the power of embracing ALL of my self, even those aspects that I wanted to reject, deny, or somehow relegate to the dungeon of unacceptability.  She showed me how to reach these pockets of energy as they appeared in my dreams.

It "just so happened" that I was at the start of a class on Jungian Principles at the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin.  And was in the middle of a synchronicity, involving that class, that lead me to deepen my understanding of my own inner journey of re-connecting with the Feminine, and the ways that society, and particularly the Church, has become disconnected from Her.  Read that story here.

Having been trained in Jungian Depth Psychology and DreamWork, Sr. Miriam was a much sought after Spiritual Director and Retreat Guidess.  She sent me, and many others, off to Love the areas of personality that are hard to Love.

The anger.  The shame.  The entitled.  The parts that could hurt others.

A wash of emotion came over me when I learned that she was dying, even though I had not seen her in many years, and even though I had only sat with her for a handful of hours.  Nevertheless, she had left her mark on my heart, and in my work. 

I had consistently been acknowledging her as part of the lineage of Teachings that I offered on working with dreams, on inner work, and on working with the Shadow.  Her Presence had been with me often throughout the years!

Not only that,  I had just visited the monastery, not 2 months prior, and had some affectionate time with her cat, Mineu, who repeatedly came to nap on the extra bed in my room, or on my suitcase!  The first of this degree of intimacy this tiger-like cat had ever offered me in the 15 years I had been visiting the monastery!

I'll share an example of Sr. Miriam Wisdom...After she had guided me to a part of myself that was disconnected, that had been rejected by my "good" parts, she would instruct me to have an energy toward that part that was welcoming and embracing.  She would move her arms in a gathering motion, as if bringing a person toward her for an embrace.  The way we motion for someone to come close so we can hug them. 

She modeled compassion and acceptance, saying, (as if to the disconnected part), "I see you.  You are mine.  I love you."  

Powerful Stuff!  To be Recognized.  To be Claimed.  To be Welcomed.  To be Accepted.  To be Loved.

The woman who stayed with Sr. Miriam during those last weeks of her life, graciously read my letter to her, and I kept in touch through Facebook, to know how she was doing, and when she was finally able to cross over into the next life.  I felt such a strong re-connection with her.  I was very touched that, when arrangements had been made for her memorial service, this woman sent me that information.

A Huge Synchronicity continued to unfold!  I noticed that the celebration of Sr. Miriam's life was to be held in Natick,  MA.  Even though I met her in New Mexico, I knew she was from Boston.  But I didn't expect to see Natick!  You see, I had been traveling there (from Texas)  for almost 20 years to visit my brother and my niece and nephew.  I called my brother to ask if he would be willing to attend the service on my behalf, which he readily agreed to do.  When he saw the announcement, he noticed that Sr Miriam had been living out these last days of her life in a nursing care facility where his wife (then girlfriend) worked.  As it turned out, my sister-in-law actually helped to care for Sr. Miriam!

This just blew me away! As you can imagine!  With the synchronicity that synchronistically was taking place simultaneously (redundancy intended!!) in the Jungian Dream class, I knew it was for me to pay attention!.  During some of those days, the ground under my feet eluded me, caught up as I was in the spirit that transcends time and space.

I felt like a mantle was being passed, energetically.  From a woman steeped in the traditions of the Catholic Church from early in the 20th century, yet able to be open to the Feminine energy of deep inner work.  A woman who taught by guidance, and by example, that it is Compassion that Heals.  And that Nothing is beyond welcoming, healing, loving.

As you may know, doing DreamWork is one of my favorite things!  It is for that reason that I included a session for it, close to my birthday, within A Year of Spiritual Practices - A feminine Lens, a series of Sacred Circles.  (It's next Tuesday, May 21, from 7-9pmCST.)

DreamWork is definitely a spiritual practice, as well as a regular way to open the doors to our hearts, minds, and souls.  As I often express to my clients, dreams can help guide the whole process of healing and transformation, if you are able to listen to them in a deep way.  

Are synchronicities lining up in your life?  Have you had a big dream lately, or a series of them that won't let you go?  Are you on the cusp of a shift or change, a time of expansion, and want to be intentional about moving into the new, listening to your dreams and your parts for guidance?  I would love to accompany you on that journey, if what you read here resonates with you!  Email me so we can chat a bit more!

I send a strong wave of gratitude to Sr. Miriam - that she was willing to follow her own inner guidance, that she taught with such humility, humor, and compassion, and that she opened up the power of DreamWork for me!

Walk with Your Whole Foot Upon the Earth

I participated in a retreat this past weekend in Bell County, TX with the St Hildegard’s Community in Austin. It’s a place where I received a powerful message about being Treasured and Called in 2013. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect during this visit with an entirely different group, at a completely different place in my life.

I was not to be disappointed!

The place is called Cedarbrake, and, true to it’s name, the grounds are home to lots of cedar trees. You might be familiar with this central Texas terrain. Cedar trees form more like groves, than forests, since they aren’t very tall. Alongside the wood-chip delineated trails, the earth gives way to slabs of rock. At Cedarbrake, as in other places, those slabs form a ridge that extends over a 30+ ft canyon. One of those ridges was the first stop on my hike, during the 18 hour silent time we entered.

As I heard the water from the small river below, and the birds singing to each other, I felt a pull to lay belly-down on the rock overlooking the canyon. I imagined the indigenous peoples of this land, known to be Comanche land, walking along the river silently, without disrupting the other creatures inhabiting the area. I imagined that the birds wouldn’t be sending out warning cries for them - there would be no need since they walked as if One with the Earth.

Guantanamo.

The word came to me as I imagined the scene from centuries ago. It had come to me in a dream some weeks ago, and just recently I realized that “Guantanamo” must be the name of one of my Spirit Guides. Or Wise Man archetype, if that feels better to you.

I asked for Guantanamo to make his appearance to me during this silent walking meditation experience. Though I was skeptical about whether I would recognize his presence, I set off from my rocky perch with cautious expectation.

I returned to the path, and continued walking. I passed another retreatant, sat on another ledge, pulled out the rock I had been carrying in my pocket, and watched the vultures hover overhead. After a bit, I headed back.

My feet started hurting me. “Damn these new shoes of mine!” I thought. But then I clearly heard the instruction, “you need to take off your shoes and walk barefoot.”

“Okay,” I thought. I’ve learned to follow these intuitions and instructions, even when they don’t make total sense. So I took off my shoes and socks, and began to walk barefoot on the path.

It’s February and I haven’t been walking barefoot very much…my feet are a little tender and soft. I walked gingerly on the sides and the balls of my feet.

Until I heard, “Walk with your whole foot on the earth. You people have gotten used to concrete, and use only parts of your feet to walk with. The earth requires that you walk with your whole foot upon Her.”

I recognized that I was being instructed in a big way, and I adjusted my step.

Every once in a while I stepped on a rock, or something a little sharp, and my foot would flinch, causing me to hobble - walking on only a small area of the sole of my foot.

Keep your foot relaxed, even when you experience pain. You people tense up when pain comes. The Earth way is to relax and allow. This helps us move through the pain, the pain move through us. You people learn to avoid the pain, as if that would benefit you more. You flinch instead of leaning into it. When you allow, and lean in, pain is then your ally, your guide and teacher.”

And then, “Allow your pain to pass through your feet into the Earth. And not only your pains, but your tensions, your frustrations, your angers and betrayals. Mother Earth receives all of these with joy! They are Her nourishment and sustenance, just as the dead branches and leaves feed Her. Allow Her to heal you this way, as you heal her by these offerings. “

I’m not sure at what point I recognized Guantanamo, my Spirit Guide, as the One doing the instrusting. He had, indeed, responded to my request to reveal himself more clearly. Just like before, a powerful message came through at Cedarbrake. This time through a generous Indigenous Teacher.

The physical aspect of this teaching resonates strongly. What with high heels, pointy toes, and concrete to walk upon, it is rare that our whole foot has contact with the Earth. Things hurt our bodies less when we don’t tense up.

The emotional and spiritual understanding of the teaching will continue to unfold, I’m sure. For now, the lesson of leaning into and allowing the pains of life without resistance, rings so true. The times I experience emotional pain, are doorways into the depths of my being, and into the vast reserves of Courage and Strength that are there waiting to be expressed in my living.

As a woman who wants to participate in the Healing of the Earth, the idea that me placing my entire sole on the path that I walk, and releasing my tensions and troubles into the ground beneath me, is part of the Circle of Life with the Earth - well, it just brings home that it’s a real relationship She and I have. One that I want to attend to and nurture.

What do these Guantanamo messages speak to you? What tensions and frustrations, pains and betrayals are ready to be released into the Mother? What resistances could relax so that your pain can become your ally and guide? Are you being called to explore your own depths and heal? And in the process discover what power lies in your reserve? I would love to accompany you on that journey!

I would love to assist you to Walk with Your Whole Foot Upon the Earth!

Alisa Carr, Spiritual Director, LCSW, DreamWorker, and Contemplative/Eye of the Heart

Buds to Blossoms!

It finally rained here in Austin last week! It rained a lot. And the heat broke a little bit.

And then I noticed that all my native plants had flower buds on them! The very next day they had burst into bloom! I’ve come to look forward to my flower garden in the fall. Surprisingly, it shows itself off best at the end of September. On the Fall Equinox, it looks just like Springtime around here!

All it took was some rain!

As I prepare for a new series in Sacred Circles, A Year of Spiritual Practices from a Feminine Perspective, I couldn’t help but make the comparison to my own process of “blooming.” It is with a regular practice of tuning into myself and into the Creative Life-Giving Spirit, that I come into my fullest Self. Which is ever evolving, and growing, blooming - with the right amount of water and sunshine, just like the Texas natives.

It wasn’t always that way. There was a time when my soul was akin to being in a dark room with no water, no sun, and stale air. A time when I was completely unfamiliar with practices that could connect me with the Spirit, and with mySelf.

I have offered great compassion to that young 20's woman, who had no idea what to do with her emotions, her thoughts, her sense of disconnection.  No idea how to connect with the immense spiritual support and love always surrounding her.

I didn't know about contemplative prayer or meditation.  I didn't know about reading sacred texts with my heart opened.  I didn't know about journaling.  Even though I went to a liturgical church, I didn't feel connected to the rituals and sacrament.  

I didn't know the vast source of guidance within me, and within creation, that was always coming through in my dreams, through synchronicity, through intuitive knowing, through cycles - cycles of seasons, of the moon, even the cycles of the church year.

I didn't know how to enter the imaginal realm - with the "parts" of my personality, with my inner child, with archetypal energies, with all of the forms through which God shows God's Self.  I didn't know that God could show up in a Feminine body and form! 

I had begun to separate from a deep connection to nature through horses and camping in the woods - a separation that wouldn't reconcile for almost 20 years.

I hadn't yet touched the Southwest and the deep and mysterious spirituality of the First Nations peoples.  I didn't yet know of the magical and deep ways the Holy Spirit had moved through so many women throughout time (yes - EVEN in the Church, when the powers-that-be thought that was impossible!).

I didn't yet know of the healing power that was trapped within my own being; or of the beauty that could come forth through art - from MY hands and heart!  Of the power of vibration and sound, even though I had been playing the piano most of my life.

I am convinced that it is in opening to the Spirit that dwells in our hearts, that the creative and healing power emerges!  And that we open to that Divine energy through spiritual practices, such as the ones I have mentioned here. 

Yes, the spiritual practices enable to us to connect with the Spiritual, God, the Source of All that Is.  AND the way to that connection is through our very own hearts, through our very own pain and healing, through our very own relationship with ourselves.  

Do you want to deepen, widen, and expand your own healing, your natural creativity, your sense of connection within yourSelf and to the Creative Spirit?  Are you tired of being on your own in your spiritual journey?  Are you in that place of not quite knowing what to do and how to do it, to take that next step along the way?

This is what Sacred Circles is all about! Please connect with me to learn more, to ask any questions, or to share your own thoughts about spiritual practices and your journey!

peace and healing!

Alisa Carr, Spiritual Director and LCSW -

Eye of the Heart

Magical Wisdom from The Magdalene Retreat 2018, Part I

The Magdalene:  Wild and Wounded, Anointress, Beloved - A Retreat for Wisening Women debuted on July 20, 2018.  It was a profound and intimate experience, the seeds of which, I am quite sure, will be producing sprouts of growth, and ripened fruit for months to come for all of us who were present!  I intend for you,also, to experience some of the ripples of that magical weekend!  Let them roll over you in a refreshing and moving kind of way!

And men - please stay tuned!  An idea is gestating for a co-ed retreat - probably next Fall!  What I have to share applies to you too!

The weekend was, indeed, Magical!  With moments, and teachings, and synchronicities that spoke what mere words and even purposeful action struggle to relate.  Let me share a few lessons about Magic that I learned, and created space for.

THE MAGIC OF TRUST

You know those moments when you really have no choice but to trust?  Or any other choice will send you into a tailspin, a frenzy, or a freak-out?  I felt those moments as the retreat was drawing near.

Early in the week prior to the opening day of the retreat, my computer crashed.  It wasn't like there was anything critical to the workings of the retreat on it, but anything I may have wanted to print out, etc. - just to be organized and professional - wasn't going to happen! 

There were also those little extras that I had wanted to include - symbols of Mary Magdalene, artwork.  Details that I hadn't tended to.   I was feeling guilty about a "lackadaisacal" part of me that I thought may have taken over. 

And such a small group we had - would the participants feel like they were receiving a complete experience without more people to add their energy?

Deep within, though, I heard a Feminine voice calling me to trust Her.  I recognized that voice as Mary Magdalene.

She did not disappoint! 

There are many symbols associated with Mary Magdalene - symbols that appear over and over in the artwork, writings, and legends.  Among these are the chalice, the pomegranate, the fleur de lis, the unicorn.  One by one, throughout the weekend, the symbols began appearing, even though I had not collected them like I intended.  Pomegranate chocolate from HEB.  The fleur de lis printed on the front page of one woman's journal.  A unicorn on the angel card I drew the first night.  The "unicorn thread" that had been used for knitting a hat by one of the participants all weekend.  The use of "unicorn" as a term of endearment from another.  Upon reflection, we could all see how Mary Magdalene had been whispering to us throughout our time together.  Always guiding and supporting, always loving and encouraging.

Our group of 4 women  - a magical group to be sure!  Not to diminish how others could have or would have added beautiful energy - but it was clear that, as we are always invited to trust, the group was divinely formed.  The number 4 was perfect!  A number of bringing something into consciousness.  A number of stability and strength.  Those who participated, mature in their healing and spiritual journeys, came together, creating a nurturing and strong womb within which new life could be incubated.

For me, all of these signs and symbols, as well as witnessing how our little group came together, each one, was a little voice saying - "See - I told you.  This is all a part of a greater energy than yours.  It's all taken care of.  Just trust me."

You may not be planning a retreat, or any other event.  But chances are you have something going on in your life that needs you to take a step back, stop believing that it all relies on your energy or control, and trust.  Look around for the signs and symbols that leave no doubt that there is a greater energy supporting and guiding you.

There were at least two other themes of Magic in the weekend - I'll share those before too long - in Parts II and III of this blog post.  In the meantime, open yourself to what and how you might be invited to trust!

I mentioned that new life was/is being incubated.  Because it was immediately clear that this retreat does not stand alone - it is the beginning of something much bigger!  I can't say exactly what that "bigger" is yet, but it has to do with bringing men and women, masculine and feminine, strength and vulnerability, together.  It has to do with promoting the healing arts, as well as opening to a deep spirituality.  And it has to do with creating space to foster intimate partnership, and conscious relationship - with Mary Magdalene and Jesus as our guides.

While that idea is baking, I already have the next The Magdalene - A Retreat for Wisening Women retreat on the calendar!  I can't wait to share the experience with more amazing women who are looking to deepen their own healing and connection with the Divine - however it chooses to show up!

Alisa Carr/Eye of the Heart, Spiritual Director, DreamWorker, LCSW


 

 

My Dad and Me...And Alzheimer's

“You’re just gonna have to trust me.”

I heard the words fly out of my mouth before I could even think --- unusual for me, who analyzes everything before saying it. Especially noticeable because these particular words were addressed to my Dad.

In that moment, I saw and experienced myself in relation to my Dad in a whole new way --- as an adult. In that moment, I also knew that everything was changing between us. Now he needed me. I was the one with the answers, the solution, the literal map for the way forward.

Dad was lost. Dad, who taught me how to read a map, how to follow road signs. Dad, who I had trusted, always, to lead the way on windy mountain roads, through mountain trails, and through thickets, was lost. On a road with road signs.

About the third time he called me that November night, as he made his way from Georgia to Austin, hauling Grandpa Jim’s baby grand piano in a little trailer behind his truck, I suddenly got it.  

“Oh - I see what’s going on here!!”, I thought. My Dad has a sense of humor, and I assumed he had been teasing with his comments and questions, staying in touch with his calls to stay alert.

In that moment of clarity I realized what was actually happening.

My Dad was confused. And scared. He didn’t know where he was and he didn’t know how to find his way. Then and there, I knew that he had a “thing” going on in his brain, and that I needed to take charge.

Thus began the journey with Dad’s Alzheimer’s. The diagnosis wouldn’t come for a couple more months, and once it did, Dad referred to that trip with the piano, and my knowing that something wasn’t right with him, even though he couldn’t yet acknowledge that at the time. Once the diagnosis came, it made a lot of irritating and strange communications make much more sense.

Dad’s Alzheimer’s forced him into retirement. He had been a physician for almost 50 years. One of those doctors who works 18+ hour days, and goes to work on most of the holidays. Was he a workaholic? Maybe? But mostly, people’s lives depended on him --- he saved a lot of them. He was a Healer.

Being retired, Dad actually stayed in touch with my siblings and me much more than he had previously. We noticed a gentleness about him. He was more considerate and thoughtful. He was attentive, and loving.  

People with Alzheimer’s commonly experience a great deal of emotions in the beginning stages. Dad was a pretty emotional kind of guy anyway, so this wasn’t completely new. In the years just prior to his diagnosis, it seemed that every time we were together there were many tears flowing. It was kind of like a purging.

Dad had begun to express his pain, his sadness, his remorse and regret, for the way his actions during my childhood had impacted my siblings and me, and my mom. It was emotional for me too, because all of the things he had such sorrow and pain about, I had also experienced sorrow and pain from.

I am incredibly appreciative of those conversations ---that Dad was willing to talk about such tender subjects; that he was willing to sit with my pain and his own.

I am a therapist. A Spiritual Director. A DreamWorker. A Contemplative. I had been doing inner work for over 20 years by the time these conversations started taking place. It always amazes me --- and often frustrates me --- that an issue, or a period in life, that I have already spent so much time acknowledging, processing, and doing healing work on, keeps coming back up.  

With the compassionate and gentle approach of my own Spiritual Director, I came to just accept this as part of the journey. She would tell me that “healing is not linear --- healing is like a spiral.”

Even when we are becoming more conscious and intending to resolve our relationship with the past, or with people, we keep coming back around to the same issue, or the same painful memory. But that spiral is open - expanding or drilling down --- so we are constantly moving through, although it often feels like going round and round in circles.

My relationship with my Dad, and the relationship I had with my teenage self, who had experienced the pain of divorce and the impact of my particular family dynamics, had already spiraled around numerous times. I had been doing my work.

It’s not like I was intending to be prepared for my Dad to lose himself, the parts of him that I knew and felt connected and attached to. But that’s what happened. In the moment when I saw clearly, I had already tended to my inner vulnerabilities in such a way that no thinking was required to respond.

To say, “You’re just going to have to trust me, Dad.”

I had created space within so that the deepest parts of my Being ---my inner wisdom and strength---could just flow through.

At least that’s how I’ve come to view it. I was emotionally and mentally prepared to take the reins and go find my Dad --- who was lost.  

I can hear the words, “nothing can prepare you for the decline of your parents,” especially the way that Alzheimer’s hijacks a person’s senses and personality. I think that’s probably true. But I will also tell you that I think there is something that can soften the blow.

And that is to have worked through the "Daddy issues" before the crisis point. To have grown up on the inside. To have listened to the areas of loss and pain and hurt. To have acknowledged how my protectiveness from those vulnerabilities had impacted my life and decisions and relationships.

Dad is now toward the end-stages of Alzheimer’s, requiring him to live in a facility. He can’t communicate very much, and if the hallways were made of grass (I so wish they were!),  he would have worn a path with how much he walks them.

I miss the Dad that he used to be, but I also love the Dad that I find each time I go to visit.

It’s emotional, for sure, initially, not being able to connect in the way that feels natural and comfortable. But I have come to look forward to simply Being with him. Sharing the same space, breathing the same air, knowing that soul and spirit connect in ways that are far beyond words, or reason, or logic.

It only requires my presence and attention; and then, every once in a while, he looks up and holds my eyes with his bright blue gaze. Yes, I am contemplative by nature. I also know that my years of inner work, contemplative prayer, and ability to be in Stillness have prepared me for this.  

I am so grateful.

Alisa



 

Mary Magdalene - Divine Feminine

(written on April 18, 2018)

The next chapter in the story of my journey with Mary Magdalene.  Looking back, I now see that she was leading me into some unknown, and at times a little scary, territory!

I'm not sure I even knew it was a Thing, this new territory.

I'm speaking of the Divine Feminine!  There are stories within stories that brought me to Her.  I see now that Mary Magdalene was the catalyst!  As I write this I realize that the timing coincides with the ways I was connecting so intimately with her in my prayer with the scriptures - the stories I have already been telling.  Wow!!  2006.

Remember The Davinci Code?  I read that book with a fervor, discussing it with a friend who turned me on to it.  I wanted to see the movie when it came out, so I hurried to read the book first.

Although I couldn't really imagine there being a physical bloodline of Jesus, the idea that there were secrets and truths hidden from the public seemed totally believable to me!  I had no idea the extent to which this was true!

Some years later, I found myself reading a clandestine copy of Mary Magdalene, Bride in Exile, by Margaret Starbird, which I stumbled upon on one of my regular visits to Half Price Books.  I was living with a quite conservative woman at the time, and I remember feeling almost like I needed to hide the title of the book, so as not to arouse suspicion! (Can you say "projection"??  My own suspicious part rising up!)

It was the first scholarly writing I had encountered that dug deeper into the mysteries of Mary Magdalene.  I was amazed at the possibility that what I was so intrigued with in The DaVinci Code, might actually have some merit!

I was in transition.  I felt a call to more - but I didn't yet know what that MORE was.   I had to learn to listen to my own inner Desire, versus thinking that I needed to line myself up with some specific Divine Will that might NOT want me to do what I REALLY wanted.  When I did that, with the support and guidance of a Spiritual Director, I felt the MORE was to be in Austin!  

As my face turned toward Austin (from Bell County, Texas), I magically connected with someone who opened my eyes to a whole new way of honoring the Divine.  My path crossed with that of Heather Elizabeth Neary in ways that can only be explained by Divine Intervention.  I will tell you that complete story one day, but, for now, suffice it to say that it was so profound, I knew that it was from "God."  

The faith, the trust, that the Spirit was at work in what I was being exposed to, even though I had a part that was afraid I was somehow betraying my religion, helped me open up to the Divine Feminine that Heather and her teachers and mentors held space for so beautifully.  And who did I run into there, but Mary Magdalene! (As well as Mother Mary/Our Lady of Guadalupe)

Christianity, in the way that it has been revealed these last hundreds of years, doesn't have ownership of these powerful Feminine Beings.  There are all kinds of legends, stories, and spiritual traditions that were unknown to me.  This Mary Magdalene was even depicted as being pregnant with the seed of Jesus.  It would be some more time before I really explored these other traditions associated with Mary Magdalene.  But finding a familiar figurine, no matter what the story associated with her was, invited me to take a serious look at, and engage deeply with this Divine Feminine aspect of God.  

Shortly after this, I happened on the work by Cynthia Bourgeault that has been so transformative for me - The Meaning of Mary Magdalene.  

What's the takeaway here?  Mary Magdalene, and the path she has been leading me on, uncovers for me the Divine Feminine aspect of the Creator.  I see how it has been hidden and buried, demised and slandered - just like Mary Magdalene herself.  My next blog post, which is a continuation of the Sacred Circles series, also ties in...I'm right now amazed at the way in which this played out!  A synchronicity with my dreams and my Jungian class!  Be sure to catch it in a few days!

What is the Divine Feminine?  Let's save that exploration for the next part of the story...But, in the meantime, keep your eyes, ears, and heart open to see how She might be making her Presence known to you - maybe for the first time, and maybe in an even more expanded way.

I had no idea where this writing project was going to take me - I've known the highlights, but the details start presenting themselves to me as I write them!  So, thank you so much for reading these stories, and letting them walk around in your head and heart.  I am having a blast sharing them with you!

I hope you are considering the retreat this summer - The Magdalene: Wild and Wounded, Anointress,  Beloved - A Retreat for Wisening Women, or sharing it with someone you know who would resonate with it.  You will get to draw from her depth and breadth, and bring the energy of Mary Magdalene into your own story!

with gratitude!

Alisa Carr/Eye of the Heart

Called By Name

(written on April 6, 2018)

We are 6 days into the season of Easter.  The season of New Life, New Beginnings, Resurrection.  What are you noticing along your journey?  What is beginning to show itself?  What is emerging...out of the cocoon, so to speak?  What transformation is trying to burst through??  How are you being called forth?

In the archetypal story of Jesus living, even after death, Mary Magdalene is, once again, a central figurine.  She is the one to whom he comes first, asking her to deliver the message of his return to the rest of the disciples.  

In this, she has often been called the "Apostle to the Apostles."  

I love the intimacy of the story.  Mary Magdalene has gone to the last place that she knew Jesus to be.  She wants to anoint his body one last time, but she finds him missing from his tomb.  In the Gospel of John, she stays close by, weeping.  She cannot bear to leave, and she doesn't know what to do with herself as she stays.

She is so wracked with grief, that when she sees Jesus, she thinks that it's the gardener!  It is in Jesus calling her by name, that her eyes are opened to who it is who is with her in this sacred moment.  

It feels like a profound message, a Truth.  To be called by name, and experience being known in that moment - and that you know the one who is doing the calling. 

This doesn't occur each time our name is called.  Like taking roll, or being called into a Dr's office.

But it does occur when the calling comes from someone close.  What's that particular tone that your mom or dad uses when they say your name?  Or your child?  How does it feel when your lover or partner calls you by name?  Whether it comes from a parent, a child, a lover, or your best friend, the sound of your name with the voice of someone who loves you touches a place, deep in the heart.

I've heard so many stories of people who hear their name being called even by a loved one who has passed on!  

Or maybe, when there is isolation and aloneness, you feel the absence of someone calling your name.  You want your name to be called in that close and intimate way.  You want to be known.

I love this story so much, because, once again, Mary Magdalene and Jesus show us an experience of deep love and connection.  One that we, as human beings, cherish and long for.  The story has opened me to hearing my own name being called.

By the Spirit.  And by others.  

When I respond by moving closer to the sound of that voice, it results in me being known more and more deeply.  By the Spirit.  And by others.

And then I am lead out.  To share myself and my gifts.  To listen and respond to the parts of myself that are opened up as a result of the connections.  To grow in ways I never imagined were even possible!

One of the ways I have been asked by the Divine Spirit to grow is by sharing myself in a more public way.  To that end, I created several Facebook Live Meditations during Holy Week, the week prior to Easter.  Please check them out!  

I also heard my name called to have a retreat this summer - July 20-22!  With Mary Magdalene as our Guiddess.  The Magdalene:  Wild and Wounded, Anointress, and Beloved - A Retreat for Wisening Women.  You will be hearing more about that as the time comes closer.  But please save the dates, and reserve your spot!!

Listen...your name is being called!  By the Divine Spirit.  And by others.  And by me!  Let it lead you out.  Listen to the parts of yourself that open up.  Ask it to grow you in ways you never imagined were even possible!  

Peace Be With You!!

Alisa Carr/Eye of the Heart

Anointress and Initiator

(written on March 25, 2018)

Mary Magdalene, the Anointer - let's say Anointress!

This is the layer of The Magdalene that I want to talk to you about today...and it is a potent and powerful day to be talking about her, for a couple of reasons.  I will get to those a little later...

What it took me many years to recognize is that there are different stories in the canonical scriptures about a woman anointing Jesus.  The first one, in Luke, I already talked about.  It was of a Wild and Wounded Woman, who experienced healing and transformation, pouring out her love and gratitude towards her Healer.

The stories that appear in Mark and John are not that at all.  In Mark, the unidentified woman anoints Jesus's head.  And in John she is actually named as Mary.  Both occur just before Jesus is arrested.  Here, she is the Anointress, who prepares Jesus for the final leg of his journey on the earth, in his physical body.

Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus' feet, and wiped them with her hair.  

She prepares him for what he is called to do.

She anoints him for his mission, for his purpose, for his Work.

She knows exactly what she is doing, for it is her role, as his Beloved.

This is where the Christian story and the story of The Magdalene that comes from the esoteric traditions of the Goddess, as well as Greek mythology meet. Mary Magdalene knew and practiced the healing art of anointing, some say, connected with a lineage from the Egyptian Goddess, Isis. 

The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 

The story of the King being anointed before a significant event or task is found throughout the mythologies in both Greece and Egypt.  It is the role of his Queen to do the honors.

There are two big transformational pieces here for me - and possibly for you too.

The Magdalene - Anointress

...a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head.  

One is that of Mary Magdalene as performing the ritual act of anointing prior to the biggest and most challenging experience of Jesus's life - his Initiation into the Mystery of Love being stronger that Death.  Sealing him as a symbol of her love, her wisdom, her support, and whatever else she had to offer to him as he set forth down the path he had to walk.  The Magdalene, the Anointress of Initiation.

I love ritual - for just this reason.  It places a seal and an intention in a powerful way.  As I have grown in my own journey of healing and spiritual growth, bringing life challenges into my awareness as part of my Initiatory process, helps me embrace every aspect.  (I have my Sister and Goddess friend, Heather Elizabeth to thank for a lot of this learning about what exactly is "initiation"!)  Creating or practicing rituals makes these life initiations even more sacred and meaningful.  Mary Magdalene models just this on a grand scale!!
 

...she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial...what she has done will be told in remembrance of her. 

The other piece, as I began to mention in my last blog on The Gospel of Mary, is that Mary Magdalene acts as a partner with Jesus.  It blows my mind and heart wide open to consider a human partnership in which the Most High/Creator God/dess incarnates Him/HerSelf!! 

Of course there is the obvious - that a woman could participate in that Holy Purpose is quite "thrilling," to use Cynthia Bourgeault's word. 

But what is equally as hopeful and expansive is that our intimate relationships could be such a crucible for the Divine to work through!  To know this (for I DO know it deep in my Being) makes all the hard work of relationship and communication; working through conflict, and listening to each other; honoring and loving both ourselves and the ones we connect with and commit to - it makes all that really MATTER!! 

Not just for the sake of being kind and loving our neighbor, but for the sake of birthing new life over and over again.  For the sake of Living in Love!

So what makes today, Sunday, March 25, so special to talk about Mary Magdalene?  In the Christian tradition, it is Palm Sunday today.  Traditionally we haven't included this amazing story in our liturgies (I wonder why not??!!), but the Wisdom Teacher, Cynthia Bourgeault calls us to do so, since it is such a pivotal and profound part of the path toward Easter. 

I have found a spiritual community that does!  If you are in the Austin area, and would like to experience it for yourself, please come for the service of the St Hildegard Community this afternoon, beginning at 4pm.  We meet at the Trinity Methodist Church chapel on 40th St and Speedway.  All faiths, beliefs, and traditions welcome - the only requirement is Love and Respect!

And on the Map of Synchronicity calendar - the Dreamspell calendar created out of the Mayan tradition, today is a day "guided by" the archetype of the White Mirror -  Mary Magdalene being the Divine Feminine Being connected with it!  (Please click here for Heather Elizabeth's webpage where you can learn more about this amazing synchronometer!!)

Anointress.  Healer.  Initiator.  Mary Magdalene.

Thank you for reading!

Alisa Carr/Eye of the Heart

 

To become fully human...

(written on March 17, 2018)

Have you ever started reading a book and thought to yourself, "has this person been walking around in my head, or what?" because the words on the page paint a picture of the ideas, beliefs, and concepts that have been dancing around in your own mind?  I've had this experience a few times, but maybe none so powerfully as when I began reading Cynthia Bourgeault's words in The Meaning of Mary Magdalene.

I share this with you as another layer in my relationship with Mary Magdalene.  I was introduced to this work in 2010/2011 through a book study at my church.  My Mary Magdalene pump had already been primed by the healing and emotional connection I experienced with her in the traditional scriptures, and intriguing scholarly books I had begun to explore.   

She decided to next show herself to me through the sacred text that has been named for her.

Cynthia's translation of and reflection upon the Gospel of Mary, the document found in Egypt in 1898 and included among the treasures now referred to as the "Gnostic Gospels", contained phrases like "organ of spiritual perception," "eye of the heart," "imaginal realm," "path of conscious love." What I read here reflected what I was experiencing and intending in every aspect of my life!  

The Gospel of Mary depicts Mary Magdalene as having a unique relationship with Jesus, in that she understood the deep truths he was trying to convey in a more complete way than the other disciples, that she had "become fully human."  Since she "got it," she could be open to receive even more.

The Gospel of Mary conveys that the path that Jesus was teaching was an internal path, a path of transformation, a path of shadow work and inner healing.  It portrays Mary Magdalene as having a connection and communication with Jesus during those three days between his physical death and resurrection, as a witness and even a grounding presence for Jesus as he journeys beyond his body.

As a psychotherapist who could never quite separate psychological healing from spiritual growth and opening more and more to the Spirit within, the Indwelling Christ, the Drop of the Divine, I felt like I had hit upon a jackpot of Truth!!  I was seeing the inner work I was doing with myself and with my clients as I read Cynthia's interpretations. 

I had been inviting clients into what I called "imaginal exercises" - a type of guided active imagination that was helping them heal deep wounds, and release long held fears and anxieties.  A significant portion of the Gospel of Mary appeared to take place in a similar space:  Cynthia called it the "imaginal realm."

What my heart's eye began to open to is that Mary Magdalene was a partner with Jesus in the guidance through and teaching of deep mysteries.  To consider this pretty much blew my own mind wide open - it had to catch up with what my heart already seemed to know!!  In a way, I felt like Mary Magdalene had already begun to teach me, and I just hadn't been aware that it was her!

Not only had Mary Magdalene been showing me how to have deep and intimate relationship with Jesus, she was also partnering with him to show me how to do deep and healing inner work - the calling I had received years before.  What I read in those pages of The Meaning of Mary Magdalene affirmed and confirmed that call, and the way my work had begun to unfold.  But the guidance was 2000 years old!

I write this in the early hours of the morning.  I finally turned the light on to put some of these words that were tumbling around in my head "on paper," so to speak.  But before I fired up the computer, I checked a message on my phone - a friend notifying me of the new film Mary Magdalene which came out yesterday.  It is a depiction of the Gospel of Mary!  The synchronicity is not lost on me!

Mary Magdalene is not only a Feminine Spiritual Being who guides me in how to give and receive love, she is also a Disciple and partner of the Christ, who invites me to walk alongside her so that I can do likewise.  She opens up the Feminine aspects of healing, anointing, relationship.  She show us that partnership with the Divine is not only possible, but necessary.  And she shows us that doing our inner work opens us up to being more "fully human."  

I'm in!!

Alisa Carr, Eye of the Heart

 

 


 

Sacred Space - Containing and Transforming

Let's talk about containers...cocoons, wombs, caves...Circles.  And I'll throw in a little about squares too.

Over the years, in my work and study with dreams, and learning Dreamwork, I have become quite familiar with the idea of sacred space.  That is - space that is designated for doing deep and healing inner work.  The Greek word for this concept is temenos.  That's where the square comes in.  It's why we have square churches and square courtyards, square courtrooms, and square baseball diamonds.  They contain.  (In 2013, when I was beginning the shift in my own work, I wanted to name the business "Temenos."  The name was already taken!)

A few years later, I was reminded of the concept of the Sacred Circle in a Jungian DreamWork class.  It is the same idea, but comes from a different tradition.  "It is an old Goddess ritual to bathe--purify--to don the white gown--the garb of descent to the land of the dead--and to draw a circle of magic protection--sacred thought--around oneself." (from Women Who Run with the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes).

In my class, the professor encouraged us to create some type of circle when doing dreamwork, active imagination, or any other type of inner work that would engage the unconscious.  A message to both the conscious mind, and the vast contents of the unconscious, that "I am serious - I want to listen - I want to go deep!"  

So I began gathering my precious items - hunks of rose quartz and other crystals, rosaries, metal crosses, artwork - and forming a Circle around the space that I was doing some type of inner work, creating a program, or writing what I intended to share publicly.  I was creating a Sacred Circle in which to bring that which was coming out of the unconscious, into my conscious mind. (I used to worry that if someone were watching this behavior they would have had some serious questions about my mental stability - but I did it anyway!)

I realized I had been doing this for years!  Building and walking labyrinths.  Turning my round glass top table into an altar.  Painting the Celtic triad in my house.  And beginning to meet in Circle with other women, mostly, under the guidance of Heather Elizabeth of SHE.  

The significance of how I had been tapping into the energy of the Sacred Circle - how it had been holding me, protecting me, providing a container for growth and transformation - was brought to my awareness in such an incredibly synchronistic way! See Dreams, Synchronicity and The Handless Maiden for this story!

Maybe you are beginning to see the back story of how I have come to take this work so seriously.  There is nothing that I ask you to consider investing in - whether that be time, energy, practice, or money, that I haven't done myself.  

My journey continues - I am amazed at what keeps unfolding - and unfolding, like a never ending opening of a beautiful flower!  And I want that for you!  I suspect that you are wanting it for yourself too, or you wouldn't even be taking the time to read this blog.

How do you want to begin?  I have laid out the options for ways I can accompany you on your own journey - the treasure hunt, I like to think of it.  Just click on the link.  Everything you will find there allows you to begin to experience that sacred container, in varying degrees.  

And know this - no matter when you choose to peel back your own layers - The Sacred Circle is always there for you.  We are always and continuously held by the Divine Spirit, where there are such vast and plenteous resources for the drawing on!

with gratitude and love, peace and healing!


 

Dreams, Synchronicity, and The Myth of the Handless Maiden

 

Look for my blog posts about how I have used sacred circles to do my own inner work, and a little about where the concept comes from.  It's the idea that actually marking off physical space helps our psyche get the message that we are serious about this inner work business, that we really do want to meet what is in the underground of the unconscious.

I want to share here what I received as an amazing experience of synchronicity that helped bring the whole idea of sacred circles into my awareness in a powerful way! Here is that story...

I was very excited to have the opportunity to take a class on Jungian principles in DreamWork at the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, taught by Pittman McGehee, in the Winter/Spring of 2015.   I had already been working with my dreams for over 15 years, reading and studying with the writings of recognized teachers in the field - John Sanford, Robert Johnson, Joyce Rockwood Hudson, among others.  I had attended a dream conference at the Haden Institute, and had been offering dream retreats and groups, as well as guiding my clients in their own dreamwork.

All that to say that I was quite familiar with the principles, but enjoyed the teachings of Pittman McGehee and believed I had much to learn from him.

Following the first week of class, I received a detailed dream (CAUTION: it's a little graphic!!) in which, along with other symbols, there was an image of an intricate replica of a piano, the size of dollhouse furniture or a music box. Also in the dream, my sister's right ring finger was cut off in the process of chopping vegetables. There is much action that I am involved in to reattach the finger, which is unsuccessful, the dream ending with the detached part of the finger dried and shriveled, and the hand bleeding.

Also that same night I dreamed that my baby grand piano had been burned out (actually a recurring dream). As I sat in that next class, the discussion became centered around feminist issues, with some conflict within the class arising. Pittman spoke in a very relaxed manner, saying something like “this is the issue of how the patriarchy has cut off the feminine, what the myth of The Handless Maiden is about.”

Immediately I recalled my dream, and was curious to explore this. I knew exactly where I could find The Handless Maiden, as I had read it some years previously in The Women Who Run with the Wolves, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.  It was on my bookshelf.  Within 5 seconds, Pittman then said, “You know, that's what the movie The Piano, is about.”

My mouth dropped open - “Oh my God!” I thought. If I may have not received the message the first time around, here it was delivered to me again.  (Remember the pianos in my dreams??) There was no doubt that his comment was for me, and that my next task was to reread The Handless Maiden.

I proceeded to pull out my copy as soon as I returned home that night. In the very beginning of the story of The Handless Maiden, the young woman is inadvertently sold out to the Devil by her unawares father.  It was in reading this story and Clarissa's interpretation of it in light of the feminine journey of healing and awakening, that I came to understand the concept of a Sacred Circle in much more depth!

"The day the Devil came to fetch her she bathed and put on a white gown and stood in a circle of chalk she'd drawn around herself.  When the Devil reached out to grab her, an unseen force threw him across the yard." (p.422)

The maiden's act of drawing this circle of chalk around herself was the signal to her unconscious mind that she was ready to grow, ready to See herself, ready to take on the shadowy parts of her nature, and ready to bring forth her own inner and intuitive wisdom.

So, you see, that's what all this sacred circles and container energy is all about!  It's hard work.  It's deep work. And it's exciting work.  It takes a great deal of commitment, time, energy, and financial resources.  Probably the greatest investment you could ever make!  The individual offerings I have designed - Indigo, Turquoise, and Emerald of Becoming Your Heart's Treasure  - will guide you on that journey, just like The Handless Maiden reflects.  (In person, phone, or Zoom sessions)

Or possibly you are in a place along your path where belonging to a group that is intentional about connecting with the Divine Spirit, and connecting within, is the thing that would assist you on your spiritual and healing journey.  That's where Sacred Circles can meet you.

Re-reading The Handless Maiden, in the context of all that I had learned and in looking back over my dreams (turns out I had lots of images that were related to "handless," including one in which my own hand had been severed, and began to grow back!), and with Clarissa Pinkola Estes' brilliant commentary, I saw each step of my own journey reflected in this tale.  As all fairy tales go, it tells many truths of our psychological unfolding and growth in a symbolic way.  This is what we will begin to explore in the online group, Sacred Circles in May.

For now, I just wanted to share with you this additional layer of how it is that I came to be so passionate about doing inner work, and creating sacred space in which others can do theirs.  There is another story of synchronicity (actually 2 of them) that came out of that Jungian class.  I actually didn't learn much more content, and I was kind of disappointed in what the professor did NOT share.  But, these synchronicities and how they guided my own work was definitely worth the time and money!  I'll tell those another time!

with gratitude and love, peace and healing!  Alisa

Held in Love and Healing Energy

One of our basic human needs is to belong.  We are born into families for a reason!  We naturally are drawn to living in communities.  And we grow and heal and transform within the context of a group of people who are supportive and loving.  Who listen and share.

Would you like to be a part of a group of people with whom you can walk alongside in your journey of life?  Be open with your spiritual experiences and beliefs?  Share the raw and vulnerable times of life?  I invite you to consider Sacred Circles!!

What makes a group capable of holding these valuable, and sometimes, tender, places within us, is the kind of container that is created for it.  

In Sacred Circles, the online InterSpiritual group of Eye of the Heart, it has been my intention to establish a strong and loving container within which you are able to do the heart opening and soulful work of connecting, transforming, growing and healing. 

Although showing up for the Live Circle is definitely one of the aspects that facilitates healing and change for Sacred Circles members, it is only one aspect of the container.  (I will say, though, that it is some kind of powerful when all come for the Live Circle!)

Each member is held in the arms of the sacred container that has been created, regardless of physical presence on the day of the Circle.  There is another energy that is connecting, working, loving, and healing in between.  Yes, the recording that is available helps us transcend time and space.  But it's more and deeper and vaster than that.  You are in the Circle.

I am seeing amazing openings, revelations, and healing, that simply being a part of the Circle has contributed to.  It's like agreeing and committing to it, brings up that THING that is preventing you from really being fully YOU; from fully showing up in the world!

Whether that is the fear of being judged; the fear of expressing emotions in front of others; the fear of going into a painful place inside that you would rather avoid; or the fear of taking the time for a 2 hour group every 4 weeks, when there are so many other demands to meet!  Chances are that whatever the thing that keeps you away from a particular session, or even the whole Sacred Circles process - when really, something deep in you wants to dive in -  that is the very thing to have a relationship with, to listen to, to stretch just a little.

I've watched it happen these past 6 months.  And I've seen the transformation, the old skin sloughing off and the new peaking out from underneath the old.  It is an honor and a pleasure to witness; and to hold this space, this sacred container...that is Sacred Circles.

How is the container held?  How does it work?  Some energetics and prayer.  And some practical, physical boundaries.  First, each Circle is lovingly and prayerfully created by me, with a topic, a theme, questions for reflection, meditation practices, and often art and music.  Remember - we are InterSpiritual, and we are practicing inner work.

We begin each Circle with opening and connecting with each other, with ourselves, and with the Divine Presence in and among us.  All members are spoken by name, whether or not they are able to be Live, their energy is with us.  As I already mentioned, the recorded Circle is available for those not Live to view. 

Each Circle includes a powerful meditation experience, often including energy healing shared by me.  I intend it to be nurturing and healing for all!

Sacred Circles has a private Facebook group.  Only members are invited to participate.

I have an outdoor altar on which is a stone which represents each member of Sacred Circles, symbolizing the container of the Circle, within the broader container of Eye of the Heart.  It receives the wind and the rain, the sunshine, and the energy of the moon.

I periodically, in between Circles, feel a strong nudge to bring each member of Sacred Circles forward in prayer.  Sometimes this is with my singing bowls, sometimes with Oracle cards, sometimes with a chant or a particular prayer.  

And members have agreed to pay monthly for the Sacred Circles experience.  $45 is automatically withdrawn from your account every 4 weeks, unless you decide to save a little and purchase a year (13 Circles) at a time.  You can cancel the regular payment at any time.  But having the payment in place allows a certain level of commitment that contributes to the strength of the container created.  So each person assists in holding that space with me, for each other.

I am witnessing Sacred Circles be in its own state of transformation, taking on a life of its own.  Would you like to come on into the Sacred container??  Do you have some old skin that wants to shed, allowing the new to come through - the YOU that's just waiting to be seen? 

We in Sacred Circles are here waiting for you!!

with gratitude and love, peace and healing!  Alisa

She began to bathe his feet with her tears and dry them with her hair...

This is the first year that I have offered a weekend retreat, The Magdalene - Wounded Woman, Anointer, Beloved:  A Retreat for Wisening Women.  When listening in to what the theme would be, I experienced a strong call toward Mary Magdalene.  This isn't that strange, since I am all about her!!  I want to start sharing a little about Mary Magdalene and me!  She has captured my heart these last 12 years or so!!

I have come to learn that Mary Magdalene has also captured the hearts of many others, even many who don't proclaim to be "Christian," as that term has come to be understood in the past fifteen hundred years.  This was a surprise to my born and raised Episcopalian self!

I am very grateful to Mary Magdalene, and the way that she has been presented to me through the writings of Cynthia Bourgeault - The Meaning of Mary Magdalene, and Margaret Starbird - The Woman with the Alabaster Jar, for being an integral player in my second spiritual awakening, which began in 2010.  I have come to believe deep in my Being, that we, in the Christian tradition, only had part of her story, and thus, only part of Jesus' story.  With the study of the Gnostic gospels, particularly Thomas, Philip, and Mary, our view has broadened.  Not to mention the teachings from several other esoteric traditions!  But that for another time...

Before being introduced to all of that, though, my connection with her came through the canonical scriptures.  (Continue reading below this icon of Mary Magdalene)

The Magdalene is known as the woman who anointed Jesus in the Gospels.  In some of those stories, she is anointing his head, and this action precedes, and prepares him for, his capture, imprisonment, torture, and death.

In the Gospel of Luke, though, the woman is not named, except to be identified as "a sinful woman."  Luke also refers to this Mary of Magdala, as the woman out of whom Jesus cast seven demons.  There is much discussion among the scholars, as well as in the Divine Feminine camp, about why she may have been presented in this way - possibly to silence her voice beyond the resurrection, possibly so that the "master story" wouldn't be threatened. All of that makes a lot of sense to me, but, nonetheless, we have these stories of Mary Magdalene being in need of healing.

I feel her here as the "Wild and Wounded Woman."

At the time when I began to engage with these scriptures in a deep and personal way in 2006, I, too, was in need of healing.  I, too, felt like an outsider - too religious for some, not religious enough for others.  Wild and Wounded fit me perfectly. 

I resonated with the words "inappropriate," "unacceptable."  I had not yet found my voice fully.  I had not yet vanquished a great degree of shame I lived with.  I was just discovering who "Alisa" really is; just beginning to play with the idea that I needn't apologize for her.

You see, in the story in Luke's gospel, Mary Magdalene is not invited to the party.  She sneaks in and washes and anoints the feet of Jesus - with her tears and her hair and with her costly perfume - to the shock and horror of the prestigious men who hold the dinner party.  (You can read the whole story here, if you like.)

It is such an intimate expression of love.  I could imagine being that woman.  I wanted to be that bold with my love for Jesus, and for others.  I desired such unabashed intimacy.  It was out of her deep love and gratitude to Jesus for bringing her to herself, her healed and whole self, that she could pour out her own love for him.  

I found Jesus as an intimate friend, and even as a Lover, through Mary Magdalene.  I felt a door open up for a deeper connection with Holy Divine, by my connection with her.  She showed me how to receive love and healing.  And she showed me what it looks like to give love and healing.  I'm still working on opening myself up so I can let it flow as freely as she could. 

I will continue sharing stories with you about how I have come to know and love Mary Magdalene.   Let me know what, if anything, they open up in you!  Look for the stories on Facebook on my Eye of the Heart page or send me an email with your thoughts!


I am grateful that you have taken the time to share in this sacred journey.  Keep coming back here to read more of how my relationship has unfolded with Mary Magdalene!

with gratitude, and love, peace and healing!  Alisa
 

Light in the Darkness

I had an emotional and powerful conversation with a client yesterday. (She gave me permission to share this...)It began with a large dose of grief, helplessness, and outrage as yet another tragedy of violence - the shooting in FL - takes hold of our hearts. She used words like "awful, horrible, terrible, heart-breaking" to describe how she was doing with it, how her week was, and just her state of mind in general. As the conversation went on, though, I kept hearing examples of what I saw as, actually beautiful and expansive.

Her grown children reaching out to her in their pain. An intimacy with her husband that allowed her to invite him into having an open-hearted compassionate prayer for the shooter. A recognition of a yearning to give of herself to young people who would be at risk of experiencing loneliness, isolation, and rejection.

I was struck with the two stories that she was telling. One of horror and hopelessness; one of connection and compassion. Living together, side by side. The one of beauty and nurturing just almost becoming buried within the one of anger and pain.

The story of how horrible it is that these things are happening so frequently in our country and noone knows what to do about it - holding some judgment for the how much gratitude to be having these kinds of conversations with my family and to be seeing the place in me that's blossoming so much that I want to contribute with my gifts story.

This is a woman who has had way more than her share of abuse and physical illness in her life, and whose protective parts have often kept her true light hidden from others, and, more importantly, hidden from herself. To see it begin shining so brightly, in the midst of such tragedy, to see her protective parts that might have been prone to judge or condemn a perpetrator relax enough to have such compassion - it was, and is, beautiful beyond measure.

To hold light and dark together. In the midst of darkness, to still see the flicker of light. Most especially, to allow light to emerge out of the darkest dark. That's where we are, it seems. That's what we are being invited to do and Be.

We are not the first to be here. We've been taught about this phenomenon over and over. By many Teachers from many traditions. My wager is that if we can learn this lesson, we might just get to experience Peace on Earth.

gratefully,  Alisa

Alisa Carr, Eye of the Heart, Spiritual Director, LCSW, DreamWorker, and Contemplative

 

 

Untie the Strong Woman!

Today, December 12, 2017 is the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  It often slips by me without my being conscious of it, despite the devotion for her that has been growing within me over the last few years.  Not today. 

She is and has been calling to me, from the time I began making trips to the Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey, a monastery in Pecos, New Mexico, in 1999.  She was instrumental in revealing the path of the Divine Feminine to me through my friend and colleague, Heather Neary of SHE (SHINE Heather Elizabeth).  She has made the archetype of the Black Madonna come alive for me through conversations with my beautiful spiritual friend from high school, Deb Shine Valentine, my Jungian studies, and the writings of Sue Monk Kidd, and Clarissa Pinkola Estes.  

Untie the Strong Woman is the name of Estes' collection of writings about the way Guadalupe's wild love for all of humankind has been revealed in our times, especially for the heart-broken and downtrodden, and especially for those who suffer because of the way the Feminine has been bound.   (Read on past her picture!)

The Strong Woman is most definitely being Untied!! 

I don't even watch, read, or listen to much news, but I can feel the rumblings that come with the revelations of sexual assault, harassment, and abuse that seem to just keep on emerging.  It is awful and wonderful.  It is disgusting and healing.  I am so humbled and grateful for the courage of all the women - and men - who are voicing these experiences.  We can no longer hide them from ourselves.  The truth is erupting from deep down.  

With these groans and cries that are ripping the blinders off of so many, comes not only exposure and witnessing, but also pain, anger, and grief.  I have had numerous conversations in the past 2 weeks with women - and men - on a healing path, whose own experience of sexual trauma have been triggered by what has been unearthed and spoken out in the media.  And I have it on my heart to speak to this.  With the help and support of Our Lady, Guadalupe.

Make no mistake - the voices of those who are speaking out are courageous and healing.  And the experience of anxiety, rage, disgust, flashbacks, overwhelming emotions, challenging though they may be, are part of the healing process.  Once something like this suddenly breaks the surface, when it has been buried or at least locked away for so long, it hurts!  Acknowledging it is only the first part of the journey of healing.  

So, if you are one of the ones who is remembering past sexual abuse, or feeling intensely about abuse you already knew was part of your past, or in any other way are being triggered by what the world is just now hearing, know you are not alone.  If you - or someone you know- is experiencing pain related to sexual abuse, the time is ripe for approaching that experience with compassion and caring.   


Here are some common responses when past sexual abuse is triggered:

  • Remembering, reliving, or even "watching" an incident of trauma over and over again.                                                                                   

  • Questions like, "Why didn't I tell someone?  Why don't I speak up about what's happened to me?  Am I to blame for not speaking up?"  (The answer is "NO!!!" There are SO many reasons why!)

  • An overwhelm of feelings of shame, guilt, disgust, rage;  or intense anxiety, not knowing what feelings are deep within, and if they can be handled.  (They can be!)

  • Sexually intimate relationships may become challenging.   

  • Increased irritability that seems out of context, increased use of alcohol or drugs, or other numbing or distracting behaviors.


If any of this is going on for you, reach out to someone you trust to share your feelings and experience. 

Click here to reach out to me, or contact another Healer who understands how to guide you through a process, to do the inner work of healing your experience of abuse.   My intensive healing program Becoming Your Heart's Treasure is designed just for this kind of situation.  The Independent Study/Healing program,Anxiety - Doorway Into Your Heart is not specific to sexual abuse, but can definitely support you through any emotions or anxiety that are triggered.

Call out to Our Lady of Guadalupe to guide you and be with you, either as a manifestation of the Spirit speaking to and loving you directly, or as that Divine Mother intercessor.  We all have different ways of connecting with her - consider what that might be for you.  Let her prayer wrap around you and bring you comfort:

 ...I am truly your merciful Mother, yours and all the people who live united in this land and of all the other people of different ancestries, my lovers, who love me, those who seek me, those who trust in me. Here I will hear their weeping, their complaints and heal all their sorrows, hardships and sufferings.                          Our Lady of Guadalupe

As I write this article, I am holding space and energy of love, of comfort, and of hope for the healing of all who have had an experience of sexual abuse of any kind.   I believe I can speak for Our Lady, Guadalupe, that she is also here with us, loving us, encouraging us, and supporting us.  The healing is happening, my companions and friends, it is here!  Let us participate with open and committed hearts!

gratefully - Alisa

Alisa Carr, Eye of the Heart

Spiritual Director, LCSW, DreamWorker and Contemplative

 

 

Extravagant Gifts

What a year of Extravagant Gifts this has been!  There has been such a blossoming in my life and in my work - one has influenced and enhanced the other, and then the gifts return, like a constant figure-eight of energy flowing, from my work and back to me.  I am, indeed, very grateful at this time of Thanksgiving.  

The journey has lead me to share more of myself and more of my creativity with more people.  YOU are one of those people, and your energy returns to me in just the act of your reading this letter!

I want to share a little of the story...

It all started in the dairy section at HEB in May 2016.  I received a text from my close friend and colleague, Dana.  (Yes, I am one of those people stopped in the middle of the aisle at the grocery store, texting!) 

She was telling me that she had finally decided to go "all in" and apply for an intensive training in a modality that she had been studying on her own for 4 years - Internal Family Systems.  It contained many of the elements from which I had drawn for many years. 

She was asking if she could use me for a reference for the training that would take place in the Boston area over the course of a year.  Every other month for a long weekend. 

Maybe I wanted to do it with her, she asked.  I said to myself - "Yeah, right! I can't see that happening!" 

There had been a lot going on with me personally and professionally in the previous 2 years that I won't get into here...suffice it to say that I sure didn't even consider that I could spend money or time on training and travel.  Not for a second!

Or did I??
 

When I returned home from the grocery store, I looked up the program.  There was a level of curiosity - for what Dana was doing, and for myself as well.  The first thing I noticed is that the training was to be held in Natick, outside of Boston. 

I am very familiar with Natick, since I have traveled there for 20 years to visit my brother and his family!  He no longer lives there, but my niece and nephew, both my Godchildren, still do.  Maybe I should take another look??!

Needless to say, I applied for the training, for some financial aid, and was accepted, along with my friends, Dana and Connie.  Between October 2016 and August 2017, we traveled to Natick, MA, outside of Boston, 6 times.  We waited in airport restaurants and bars, laughed, told stories, cried, read Tarot cards, and created business plans.  We stayed in AirBnB's and hotels.  We ate good food.  We had a layover in Baltimore due to a snowstorm, and so many synchronicities occurred that we had to pinch ourselves to see if it was real!  We created friendships with New England IFS people that distance will not diminish.   

And we learned.  I learned.  In order for me to learn, I had to come with "beginner's mind," which was challenging - it required letting go of my ego, and letting go of my fear of being judged.  It required acknowledging and surrendering to some "deaths" that were happening with my business and in my life. 

The ball started rolling and picked up steam in the winter months of 2017.  Out of deeply inspired conversations, witnessing one another, and amazing encouragement and support from my IFS sisters, Dana and Connie, as well as from the intense inner work that was taking place throughout the year, was conceived a resurrected Eye of the Heart - what you can now find atwww.eye4heart.com.  

I keep hearing myself say that I feel like I am in graduate school again.  Only this time, I get to pick from the wide and vast offerings, not limited by a certain school, degree plan, or physical presence even, found through friends and intuition, on the internet!

I have been participating in a coaching program, Joanna Lindenbaum's Your Sacred Business and Soulful Leadership Intensive, to teach me what I never learned in Social Work school - how to market myself.  With her tried and true, step by step guidance, I found a way to articulate what I have to share with you, and the way I want to share it.  I also learned to see the value of what I offer, and to charge that, without apology! 

All of this has enabled me to reflect on the journey that I have taken over the past 25 years with new eyes.  I recognize that I didn't have anyone to show me the way.  I had to find it myself.  What an honor it is to share the wisdom I have gained and be able to point out a pathway for others to walk on.  

The learning continues!!  I have no doubt that this time next year, I will have participated in other expansive opportunities, and will have more "tricks" to share with you, in the service of your healing, transformation, and growth!

I have received an abundance of extravagant gifts this year! I am so grateful for the invitation I received from Dana in HEB in the middle of the dairy section; grateful for the synchronicities that showed me I could say "yes" to such valuable offers, as I have done throughout the year; and grateful to you for receiving, in whatever way you choose, the invitations I have offered, and will continue to offer to you.

I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving in 2017!  Wherever you are along your path of healing and spiritual growth, I hope that my story helps you to listen and look for the invitations and opportunities that are making themselves known to you, and to imagine that you can also say "yes!"

Upcoming
Sacred Circles - Sunday December 3, 2:30CST.  Come and see how Blessed are the Meekbecomes Blessed are the Empowered.

Sacred Circles - Sunday December 31, 2:30CST.  We leave the Beatitudes for this Circle and take a sacred look at our 2017 year, considering what we desire to step into for 2018.

Look for (in the next week!) a brand new online offering for anyone who struggles with a high level of anxiety!!

peace, love and healing to you!  Alisa

Alisa Carr
Eye of the Heart
Spiritual Director, LCSW, DreamWorker, and Contemplative
www.eye4heart.com
 

Ready or not, here it comes...

It is about this time almost every year that I suddenly think to myself  "oh, crap!!  Thanksgiving is in two weeks!!  Who am I going to be with and where will I be with them??"  You would think that, by now, I would know that Thanksgiving is always the 4th Thursday of the month of November...yet it always sneaks up on me.

I can see some of my family members in this!

I can see some of my family members in this!

This is my version of holiday stress and anxiety.  Trying to figure out where I will go and what I will do.  I can get myself in a funk in a couple of different ways.  The first funk is "I don't have a significant other/partner in my life, so there's no one who just KNOWS that we are going to do holidays together no matter what. (sad face, sad face, poor, poor me...)

The second funk is this - "My family is all spread out (for years each of us in a different state)  and my parents are divorced.  Should I go to Mom's?  Should I go to Dad's?  Where will my sister and brother be?  I can't stand flying during the holidays because it's such a nightmare, blah, blah, blah..."

On top of that I'm a terrible planner, so by the time I remember that it's holiday time and plans are needed, it feels completely overwhelming to try to make the plans necessary to get out of town.  And since I'm the one without kids, remember,  I'm usually the one doing the traveling.  (I am super grateful that my sister, Suzanne, and her family came to me last Thanksgiving!!)  

This is my particular version of holiday stress and anxiety.  I know you have yours too - what is it?  Maybe you wonder how I could even complain, given that I obviously have people I COULD be with if I chose to - when you may feel alone at the holidays, without options of people to be with, with whom you share love.

Animals like to be with their packs too!

Animals like to be with their packs too!

Maybe - and I confess that this has been true for me at times - the plans to actually be with family are laden with stress and anxiety.  There you will run into the sibling who vehemently holds the exact opposite political or religious viewpoint from you.  Or the relative that loses his temper at the drop of a hat.  Or the parent that is a control freak and can't just have a relaxing time visiting.  Or the alcoholic.  Or...And...you know what tension awaits you in your particular family.

You may have had the experience of  being away from family for some time, during which you have entered into a process of awakening and healing, of growing up and discovering who you are in this world of ours, that might look much different from who your family thought you were or wanted you to be. 

You may feel a strong connection with your family, but when you return, with eyes more open, and some different perspectives and experiences, maybe even different beliefs, it feels a little strange.  Who are these people?  Who am I when I'm with them?  Where did my grown up self go?

It is not unusual to walk into the home of your parents and automatically return to the same dynamic you had with them when you were 12!  This is a huge reason why anxiety starts rising up at this time of year.

The people we want the most to feel connected to, we wind up feeling the most alone with.

Or we are alone, wanting to be with people we feel connected to.

Or we just plain want people to feel connected to, but instead, feel alone!

This against the fairy tale of a picture we have made up in our minds - or that others have made up for us - of what SHOULD be happening at the Holidays.

Are your holiday tensions, stresses, and anxieties starting to pop up too?  It might be the perfect time to take a look at the source of these.

I invite you to consider The Heart of the Matter as a mini healing program to support and guide you through what bubbles up inside you during the months of November and December.

 The Heart of the Matter is a 5 session package that could be the open door you need to walk through this 2017 holiday season.   If your tensions are high, or you are experiencing a reaction to this time of year, I can help you take a closer look at what is behind the dread, the anxiety, the guilt, the same old family pattern.  And once you can see it more clearly, I can help you shift it, and maybe even get a good start on letting it go! 

When that shift happens, you will actually find yourself responding differently to that challenging family member.  You will find a more centered place within, a place of empowerment, even in triggering circumstances.  You will be able to create your own experience at the holidays, even if you are not yet established in community.

Please contact me with any questions you have about The Heart of the Matter, or any other offering that might be calling to you.  

For myself, I've had to work through feelings of grief and resentment related to my parents' divorce.  I had to let go of resentment that my parents started a trend of moving away from extended family.  I had to let go of a sense of responsibility for the feelings or actions of others, and really ask myself what decision is in alignment with what will bring the most Life to me - and, by association, others - at any given time (i.e. Holiday). 

I will probably not be with my family for Thanksgiving this year.  And it will probably be 2 weeks before Christmas, the holiday of my spiritual tradition,  before I know what I will be doing then.  What I do know is that I am available to walk with you during this time, if needed.   Please reach out so that I can do just that!

What is YOUR work in the world?

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I want to talk to you today about discovering and uncovering the work that you want to do in the world.  About stepping out of whatever fear or barrier holds you back from your mission and purpose in life.  About stepping into that mission and purpose, becoming more expansive and offering the Treasure that you are to the world!

I call it Becoming Your Heart's Treasure

This new program I have created brings transformation on many levels - relationships, controlling emotions. accessing creativity and intuition.  And it also helps reveal the path to take in order to offer yourself to the world.   It is available for 2 more weeks at it's Introductory Rate!!

We can hear this phrase, Becoming Your Heart's Treasure in two ways - and they are both powerful!  The first way is this...there is treasure to be found in your heart - and there is a journey that not only leads you to it, but allows you to BE it!  Become the Treasure that is in your Heart.  That's one way to hear it. 

The other way is to fall in love with your very own heart!  And show yourself to your Heart so that it can fall in love with you!  Be your heart's precious treasure, your heart's lover, your heart's pride and joy! 

Becoming Your Heart's Treasure is available for just 2 more weeks at its Introductory Rate.  Rate ends on November 3!!

"What does this have to do with my mission and purpose?  Why would I want to fall in love with myself?  What does that have to do finding with my work in the world?" you ask...let's talk about that...

I hear over and over again from the courageous people I work with that they know there is a particular work for them in the world, a specific way to share their personalities and gifts, their passions and joys.  They know that, whatever it is, it is a way they can contribute and make a difference, make an impact.  Is this you too?

Maybe you know exactly how you want to engage the world, exactly what you want to bring to others, but fears and negative internal messages hold you back.

Or maybe you desperately want to have a "thing" to offer to the world, you want to be out there bringing something that others need, but you can't quite figure out what that something is.

What I have found through the more than 20 years that I have dedicated to transformative and healing work - with others and with myself - is that listening deeply to those fears and barriers, facing the old patterns of behavior, acknowledging and showing up for the woundedness that you have carried, this is what clears the path toward your work in the world. 

It is a little counterintuitive.  We think that we need to be searching for the right job, or wracking our brains for the right thing to do, or trying so hard to "figure it out."  We get caught up in the belief that the answer, the direction, the guidance is "out there" - somewhere.

Becoming Your Heart's Treasure is available for just 2 more weeks at its Introductory Rate!!  Rate ends on November 3!!

But it is actually in here (I place my hand on my chest), close to the heart space.  When you tend to the business of your inner life, your emotions, the inner messages that plague you, healing traumas and losses, that's what clears the path so that your heart can be reached.  When you are faithful to this work, the way just begins to emerge.  You get an idea in the shower.  You wake up inspired to call a particular person.  You run into someone who has a lead for you.  One step, and the next step, and the next...and soon you are traveling on a particular path.

Will this make it all come just easy, breezy?  No, you will run into problems and challenges.  You will have old fears rise up.  You will stumble and fall.  But this looks and feels so much differently when you have opened up to your passion and are on a road toward something.  It looks and feels differently when you have developed a friendship with yourself.  It looks differently when you have learned how to listen to yourself.

Finding your work in the world is just one of the many outcomes of participating in this transformational program, Becoming Your Heart's Treasure.  You can also expect to Speak your Voice, Find your Authenticity, Claim your Creativity, and Tap into Your Intuition.  You can expect to do deep healing work on past traumas and losses, or troubling family dynamics.  You can release the internal messages that wreak havoc with your peace of mind, and keep chaos stirred up in your life.

So - come go on a journey of mining and excavating the treasure in your heart.  Discover the joy of adorning yourself with that treasure!  Come and meet your deepest self - the Eye of your Heart - so you and your heart can fall in love with one another.  Simply click on the Becoming Your Heart's Treasure links to take a closer look at the program.  Or click on the links in this paragraph to contact me directly. 

Or, as you look around this sacred cyberspace, go to the Contact page to email me. It would be my greatest pleasure to accompany you as you discover the precious gems within your heart!!  

Becoming Your Heart's Treasure is available for just 2 more weeks at its Introductory Rate.  Rate ends on November 3!!

. With Gratitude!  Alisa Carr, Spiritual Director, LCSW, DreamWorker and Contemplative

Nature's Relationships to Guide Us

What kind of relationship do you find yourself participating in?

How do you want to be in your relationships?

One of the first things to shift when you begin to do your inner healing is your relationships!

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In a conversation with my veterinarian friend the other day, the subject of boundaries in relationships came up.  This sent him into a full-on biology teaching on the nature of destructive parasites, and the relationship that cows have with egrets!  I loved the metaphor and the chance to invite you to look a little closer at your own relationship dynamics with a little creativity!  

In nature, there are some parasitic relationships that cause biological stress on the host, and some that are downright deadly!  But the dynamic is similar - one creature lives off of the other one, to the parasite's sole benefit.  Sometimes this results in mild irritation, like the barnacles that live off of the whale, and sometimes it results in debilitating disease, as when hookworms invade an animal's digestive tract.  Either way, the host sacrifices some of its being in order for the parasite to have life.  And in some cases, the parasite literally sucks the life right out of the host!

You probably see where I'm going with this!!  

Do you have some parasitic relationships going on in your life?  Are there some destructive dynamics in your relationships?  Are others "living off" of your energy in a way that depletes you?

You know what I'm talking about!  The people in your life who, after being with them, you feel drained and heavy.  Maybe even used or overwhelmed.  The people who don't seem to be satisfied with what you have to offer, who always seem to want more than you have to give.

Do you want to change this dynamic?

We also find in nature, my friend reminded me, other types of relationships that are more mutually satisfying and beneficial.  Similar to the relationship that the cow and the bird have with each other...he referred to it as the cow-bird relationship.

You've seen them...the white birds - egrets (there are actually black ones, too - cowbirds) - who always hang with the cows...they often perch themselves on the backs of the cows.  The white birds and the cows are helping each other out.  Cows stir up grasshoppers, which the birds love to eat. The birds also feeds off the insects infested in the skin and hair of the cow that cause discomfort and disease.  The birds are satisfied with food, and the cows become more healthy in the process of feeding them!  A mutually beneficial relationship!  

It is a pleasure to participate in these cow-bird relationships!  It doesn't mean there aren't challenges in them, conflicts, even hurt feelings at times.  But overall, there is a giving and a receiving, a mutual desire to share, and to receive the gifts (of time, help, encouragement, conversation, etc...) that are offered.  Both people benefit!

Can you bring some of these types of relationships to mind?

Let's pause here for a second...

So far, I've been pointing you in the direction of your relationships, or the people who interact with you in a particular way.  Maybe you have been remembering a friend here, or a relationship there, that fit the description of a parasite,  or of a cow or a bird! These are important to consider, because you may be invited to establish more boundaries with people who are parasitic!  Learning to set boundaries, speak your voice, and find your authentic self in relationships requires self-awareness, inner work, and healing.  These are the outcomes that can't help but emerge when you enter a healing program like what I am offering in Becoming Your Heart's Treasure.

It's also really energizing to notice the cow-birdness of our mutually enhancing relationships and offer gratitude for them.  If these are the norm in your life, you are probably entering into, or already exploring a time of creativity and expanding your intuition.  I would love to walk with you as this valuable Treasure emerges from your depths into your life!

As I've been writing this, though, I've remembered many times when it was I who was the parasite!!  The times that because of my woundedness or lack of awareness, it was me who took from a relationship without being able to offer much to the other, and may have caused stress to the other.  Do you also remember those times?  Is it going on now for you?  

Finding yourself in that place is nothing to judge, criticize, or be ashamed about!!  It's only an indication of an inner unmet need.  I would be honored to help guide you in learning to listen in a deep and profound way that clears the way for healing and growth.  This work will transform the way you operate in your life and in your relationships!  

Relationships and the way we navigate them, have much to tell us about what needs attention within.  Parasites. Cows.  Birds.  These creatures and the way they do relationships just invite us to look a little closer at our own patterns.  On this road of healing and transformation, there is always something more to see, a new door to open, a pocket of energy to be tapped into.  It would be my pleasure and privilege to guide and support you on your journey through Becoming your Heart's Treasure, or one of my other offerings!  

Contact me for a conversation about how I can help guide you in your healing and expansion so that you can have more cow-bird relationships in your life!!  

with gratitude and healing!  Alisa

 

Alisa Carr, Spiritual Director, LCSW, DreamWorker, and Contemplative