Two New Spiritual Self-Help Books

I have recently completed two books, which I am giving away for free: Practical Tarot for the 21st Century and A Spiritual Guide to Planetary Transformation. You can download both books at my website or here:

Practical Tarot:   pdf  ●   html  ●   epub  ●   mobi 
A Spiritual Guidepdf  ●  html  ●   epub  ●   mobi 

HTML copies of both books are also available on the pages tabs of this blog.

Practical Tarot for the 21st Century
 is a training manual in developing psychic skills through the use of tarot cards. Have you ever wished you could pick up on what are usually non-perceptible energies? Or find a way to tell if someone is lying to you? Or stop using guesswork when you make decisions about raising children, running a business, preserving your equity, or maintaining a successful relationship? This book will help you do all this and more. There is a free and universal cure-all called Divine energy which anyone can utilize, and when you start working with it, it is guaranteed to transform your existence in ways you never thought possible. A Spiritual Guide to Planetary Transformation focuses on the political, social, medical, and spiritual changes which are coming to our planet and which will transform everything about our lives. This book offers suggestions about how you can bring these new and positive energies into your life. Topics include:

–Why all the current theories about personal or political betterment do not work.
–A new way for each one of us to receive individually accessible Divine guidance and assistance.
–How you can help to create miracles in your life and establish your own utopia.
–An easy and natural cure for PTSD, plus new exercises which can help free you from addiction and obesity.
–New alternatives to current social paradigms, including governments, organized religions, mechanized medical care, oppressive megacorporations, and artificial chemicals.
–What a truly globalized planet will be like.

These alternatives will make for a completely new kind of planetary reality. The sooner you start to take advantage of these energies, the more quickly your life will improve. The book also gives suggestions about how you can help to create the beneficial social changes which are coming for the entire planet.

Paperback copies of these books will soon be available for sale at Lulu Press.

Quote of the Day

From The Three-Cornered World (1906) by Soseki Natsume

If pressed for an explanation, I would say that my soul was moving with the spring. Imagine all the colours, breezes, elements and voices of spring solidified, ground to powder and blended together to form an elixir of life, which had then been dissolved in dew gathered from the slopes of Olympus, and evaporated in the sun of fairyland. I felt now as though the vapour rising from just such a precious liquid had seeped through the pores of my skin and, without my being conscious of it, saturated my soul.

Quote of the Day

From Painting in the Far East (1908) by Laurence Binyon.

Flowers, Moon, Snow; these three beauties of earth and air have a peculiar glory and consecration in the art of the Far East. A Japanese friend of mine told me that when he was in Paris he woke one morning to find that snow had fallen in the night. As a matter of course, he took his way to the Bois de Boulogne to admire the beauty of the snow upon the trees. What was his astonishment when, with his friend, another Japanese, he arrived in the Bois, to find it totally solitary and deserted! The two companions paid their vows to beauty in the whiteness and the stillness, and at last beheld in the distance two other figures approaching. They were comforted. “We are not quite alone,” they said to themselves. There were at least two other “just men” in that city of the indifferent and the blind. The figures drew nearer. They also were Japanese! We in Europe are not blind to the beauty of the snow “And the radiant shapes of frost,” but certainly we are far from having that kind of religious feeling which prompts the Japanese to go out and contemplate its freshly fallen splendour. We do not regard it as visible manifestation of beauty, the apparition of a power from the unseen, at whose coming it behoves them to be present. I am not sure that we are not more conscious of the inconveniences of a snowfall than of its loveliness.

Quote of the Day

From The Vision of Asia (1933) by L. Cranmer-Byng:

The gift of the Chinese nation at its zenith to the future was the gift of vitality through art. Its interpreters were interpreters of life and not of theory about life. They were citizens of this world, and as administrators, magistrates and even soldiers they played the part of men in public affairs. But the life from which they drew their power of evoking life, of calling the dreaming forces of Nature from their enchanted sleep, remains hidden from the eyes of the world. It is not for Art to reveal its Whence; the secret of its magic belongs to religion. Yet those who care to go deeper into the sources of human inspiration may find something to guide them in the following passage taken from an ancient Taoist text: ‘The essence of the perfect Tao is solitude and silence; the highest point of the perfect Tao, its further pole, is secrecy and silence; there, where is neither sight nor sound, where the spirit is centered in absolute peace; where, sans effort from within or movement from without, calm complete and perfect purity are Kings; where the spiritual essence dies not and dims not; where thought irradiates to its fullest splendour and the hidden life puts forth its flowers; where I—the strength within, close-shrined from all externals, all apprehensive, compact of wisdom and intimate power—know how to guard the self of self and secure the harmony of all my being.’

One Perfect Day

There are times in my life when I wish I could live a more bohemian existence in a large city, where I would have access to museums, cultural events, and Whole Foods. But on a day like today, when I have a view like this outside my back door, I always want to stay right where I am:

God’s World, by Edna St. Vincent Millay

O WORLD, I cannot hold thee close enough!
Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
Thy mists, that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour! That gaunt crag
To crush! To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!

Long have I known a glory in it all,
But never knew I this;
Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart,–Lord, I do fear
Thou’st made the world too beautiful this year;
My soul is all but out of me,–let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.

Petits Poèmes d’Automne by Stuart Merrill

Every autumn I reread one of my favorite volumes of poetry, Stuart Merrill’s Petits Poèmes d’Automne (1895). This short volume has been available in PDF at Gallica for several years now, but it has not been available as an online text. But now, in celebration of the current season, I have transcribed it into text and sent it to Project Gutenberg, where it is available here.

Merrill was an American who spent many years in France and wrote in French. He was influenced by the Symbolist movement and was a friend of Stéphane Mallarmé and Paul Verlaine (whose stimulus on his work is evident). Merrill’s poetry was praised on both sides of the Atlantic and was widely read in its day, but today he is mostly forgotten. Which is a pity, since he had an unusual gift for French rhythms, and his insights into dream and memory can be fascinating.

The Petits Poèmes give us a world filled with a strange and shadowy beauty, where the hurly burly of the modern simply does not exist. Merrill seems to inhabit some kind of medieval or Catholic universe, but even this world is portrayed as indistinct and blurred. Its once mighty deeds of glory and legend have become meaningless. Nevertheless, this a world filled with strange wonders, where you can find enchantment at every step. Merrill is especially skillful in describing remote and forgotten landscapes, where you seem to float along empty pathways, and where the only light is that of twilight or the silver glow of the moon. His faded gardens are filled only those kind of flowers which bring oblivion or quickly fade away: water lilies, poppies, roses. And the only creature he ever seems to notice is the chimera, that fantastic creature which can carry you out of this world.

All of this is conventionally melancholic, of course, but to my mind hardly depressing. Merrill seemed to have possessed the kind of “white melancholy”, which doesn’t lead into depression, but to an elusive aesthetic appreciation. There is beauty everywhere in these short poems, both in the rich sounds of the verse and in their evocative images. Merrill was a man who possessed a rich interior life, which he brilliantly communicates. This is a perfect volume of verse for an enchanted September twilight, when the trees are softly whispering and the stars are coming alive in the sky.

Moon Festival

My favorite holiday is that of the Oriental Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, which is occurring in a few days on September 15. The Moon Festival has been celebrated in Asian countries for at least 3,000 years.  In September of each year the moon comes closest to the earth, which makes it the brightest and most beautiful lunar spectacle of the year.  If you’re the sort of person who is always trying to find ways to bring beauty into your life, you need to make some time in your life to commune with the moon.

I always celebrate my lunar festival with a nice pot of tea (Lapsang Souchong for me this year), and some treats.  Traditionally at their Moon Festivals the Chinese would consume mooncakes made with sugar, egg yolks and lard, which sound about as delectable as boiled suet pudding.  Here in the 21st century we could do with something a little less stolid.  This year I’m planning on frozen peach yogurt (homemade of course), along with the tea.  All of which will be a perfect accompaniment to the anticipated lunar enchantment.  And the enchantment is what matters.  You can never get enough of the moon.  If you are the sort of person who never bothers to notice the moon, or meditate with the moon, or absorb the moon’s energies into your being, you have my sympathy.  You don’t know what you’re missing.  Contemplation of the moon’s enchanted glow can give us one of the most sublime sensations we can experience in our lives.

But is that supposed to matter?  What the heck are you supposed to get out of this, anyway?  Some kind of stupendous mystical revelation from all that moonlight getting shoved into your eyes?  Well, British poet Gerard Manley Hopkins believed that if you look at something with enough careful attention, you will sense that it is gazing back.  Said he:  “What you look hard at seems to look hard at you.”  Good mystical visionary that Hopkins was, he would have been able to tell is whether or not something non-human was actually gazing back at him.

All of which means that if you actually do make some time in your life to
gaze at the moon with care and attention, then …

The Mental Season

Today the sun goes into the constellation Virgo. I always try to notice energy or weather shifts whenever the sun enters a new astrological sign, and I can frequently feel a subtle transformation in the world around me when astral energies change. Virgo is an earth sign with connotations of order, fastidiousness, and mental analysis, which perfectly describes the energies of late August and early September.

I always consider the arrival of Virgo to be the beginning of the fall season, which is my favorite time of year. I have never been a fan of summer heat and always look forward to the cooler temperatures and mellow light which come in the fall. At this time of year, it seems as though the whole world comes alive with preternatural clarity and vividness, which you can experience with a quite delightful intensity.

Autumn is also a period of serenity and contemplation, the perfect moment to take stock of your existence. Several weeks ago I came across the phrase “saison mentale” in reference to autumn, which struck me as a ideal way to describe my favorite season. After some searching I discovered that the phrase comes from poem Signe in Alcools (1920) by Guillaume Apollinaire:

Je suis soumis au Chef du Signe de l’Automne
Partant j’aime les fruits je déteste les fleurs
Je regrette chacun des baisers que je donne
Tel un noyer gaulé dit au vent ses douleurs

Mon Automne éternelle ô ma saison mentale
Les mains des amantes d’antan jonchent ton sol
Une épouse me suit c’est mon ombre fatale
Les colombes ce soir prennent leur dernier vol

which can be ineptly translated as:

I am placed under the leader of the Sign of the Fall
As I leave I love the fruits I hate the flowers
I regret each kiss that I give
Such a stolen walnut spoke his grief to the wind

My eternal Autumn O my mental season
The hands of the lovers of old are strewn over your ground
A spouse follows me it is my fatal shadow
The doves this evening take their last flight

Apollonaire shows us in a few concrete images both the bewitchment of the season and its connotations of thought and eternity. I cannot think of a better way to start my favorite season than taking time to ponder a flawless little poem like this.

Sky Watching with J.R.R. Tolkien

This time of the year, when the trees are in their full leafy glory, I always find myself rereading J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. However, I must admit that I have always had mixed feeling about this hugely popular saga. LOTR is an adventure story which seems to be aimed at very juvenile minds. And as such, it has never seemed like something for a grown-up to bother with. All those endless battle descriptions, all those deeds of derring-do, and all of them taking place in a very masculine universe where anything female is pretty much out of sight… well, this isn’t my idea of great literature.

Yet Middle Earth is a wondrously enchanted world which is described with unparalleled vividness. Tolkien possessed astounding imaginative powers. The various types of beings who inhabit his world are so lifelike that they practically jump off the pages. His plot is exciting and compelling. The landscape, vegetation and topography seems even more real that what you can find in, well, reality. And his themes about the evils of power (in LOTR) and the evils of possession (in the Silmarillion) continue to resonate, perhaps even more so today than when the novel was published half a century ago.

Tolkien was also a master at describing the beauties of the natural world. If you read LOTR carefully, you will find yourself frequently stopping to ponder the power of the lyrical descriptions which he gives us. Tolkien could condense a momentary experience of nature’s enchantment into words filled with such energy and meaning that they literally take your breath away. But there is more than just descriptions of nature in these pages—you can also get a sense that something very profound is being revealed about the physical world. All of which means, in my opinion, that Tolkien was a mystical visionary in the best tradition of the great British seers, up to and including Thomas Traherne, William Blake, and Gerard Manley Hopkins. There seems to be something about the British Isles that produces, in generation after generation, men and women who merely have to step outdoors and who can immediately understand the secrets of the physical universe which surround them, secrets which are completely invisible to the rest of us.

Tolkien was up there with the best of them. He lived an ordinary middle class life in an ordinary middle class town, where he would have experienced all the nuisances of modern living, up to and including the eternal sound of the internal combustion engine. But he was as open and as responsive to the wonders of the natural world as any human being who has ever lived. When he turned his eyes to nature, he found beauty, enchantment, and revelation, and he was able to convey his impressions in some of the most evocative prose ever written. Example:

The hobbits sat in shadow by the wayside. Before long the Elves came down the lane towards the valley. They passed slowly, and the hobbits could see the starlight glimmering on their hair and in their eyes. They bore no lights, yet as they walked a shimmer, like the light of the moon above the rim of the hills before it rises, seemed to fall about their feet.


He watched the pale, cool sun rise above the far mountains and shine down. Slanting through the thin silver mist, the dew upon the yellow leaves was glimmering, and the woven nets of gossamer twinkled on every bush.

Try closing your eyes and imagine these kind of scenes, with their shimmering light and wondrous beings. If you’re like me, you don’t just want to read about the enchantment of Middle Earth, you want to crawl right into the sentences and actually live it. Indeed, countless fans of Tolkien have always felt that Middle Earth is a real place, much more real than the ordinary world which surrounds us. Some have even go into convulsions trying to prove that it actually existed in historical time and space. Why do we have to be stuck in drab ordinary 21st century reality? Why can’t we all move to Middle Earth and revel in its enchanted beauty, its melodies, and its shining colors of gold and silver, every day of our lives?

Well, as far as I’m concerned, if Tolkien could find his way into this world, we can, too. All it takes is one little secret. You simply need to go outdoors, lift your chin, and look up. Look up at the sky, mind you, not at the billboards or utility wires or the satellite receivers which surround you. Looking up at the sky is something Tolkien must have done every single day of his life. If you read his books carefully, you see that his descriptions of the natural world almost always involve some kind of light from the sky, and his biographers tell us that he was fascinated with astronomy. If you want to experience the bewitchment of Middle Earth, you simply have to start watching the sky as much as he must have done.

After all, the sky’s endless and ever-changing pageant is available to every human being in every corner of the planet, every hour of the day. But how few of us ever take a moment just to pause and look at all that wonder up there, the light and the clouds and the moon and the stars? Says Frodo in The Fellowship of the Ring: “I like walking under the stars.” When I reread this sentence a few years ago, I found myself stopping in astonishment at the thought. Walking under the stars? Just walking? Not going anywhere, not striving for anything, but just being outdoors on a warm summer night and walking under the stars… Had I ever done that in my life? Had anyone? Well, of course not. Who in the world would bother about something so … pointless?

Well, I do. There are times in my life these days when I do leave the house in the middle of the night, just so I can go outdoors to sit or walk in the starlight. Or I get up an extra hour earlier at dawn so I can see the kind of golden light which shone over Lothlorien. Or I take a moment to watch the rain, or the mists rising, or the moon gleaming in an autumn sky. I frequently make time in the evening and so I can watch as the shadows and the twilight start to gather. At times like these, when the world seems to dissolve into spirit, I can easily lose myself in dreams and thoughtless sensation. In other words, I’ve found my way out of Middle West and into Middle Earth.

And all I had to do was look up.

Balsamic Moon

I learned a long time ago that if you arrange your life according to the energies of the moon, you live a much more harmonious and successful existence. I am always conscious of the cycles of the moon and try to direct my energies according to the current phase. And I always start new projects at the Balsamic Moon. This moon is the last crescent moon visible in the early morning sky at the end of the lunar cycle–it occurs about three days before the New Moon. Traditionally the Balsamic moon is the best time to plant seeds. I’ve also learned that it is the best time to focus your energies on what you hope to accomplish during the next four weeks.

One thing I do at each Balsamic moon is randomly select a dharana from the Vijnana Bhairava centering scripture, and I meditate on this scripture throughout the next moon cycle (all the dharanas are online at Spiritual Learning). If you read through these scriptures all at once, they don’t seem too impressive, but if you just take one at a time, memorize it, meditate with it, and spend time thinking about it as you go through your days, you will discover that it can work wonders in your psyche.

This morning is Balsamic Moon for July, and as luck would have it today I chose dharana #33:

Gracious one, play the universe as an empty shell wherein your mind frolics infinitely.

I know I’m going to have some difficult moments in the next moon cycle since my dog needs surgery, but I’m very glad that I picked this dharana. It is one of the most joyful I’ve yet discovered, and I know it will help to sustain me during the next few weeks.

Celestial Water

My dog has long insisted that we go for our walk as early as possible every morning, and there are no better mornings than the ones you can experience during the month of May.  We leave the house shortly after the sun comes up, when the sky is clear, the air is gentle, and the dew is starting to form on the grass.  At this time of year, it is the dew which makes our walks truly special.

The Chinese called dew “celestial water”, which is a perfect description for the liquid which mysteriously comes into being in the early morning hours.  Dew has always seemed to be a very powerful and exceptionally pure kind of water.  If there is such a thing as a quintessence of water, you can surely find it in dew.

Many people over the centuries have felt that dew has health giving qualities.  In My Water Cure (1893), naturopath Sebastian Kneipp recommends that you walk barefoot in the dew-soaked grass as often as you can.  Indeed, he was so enthusiastic about dew he almost considered it an elixir of life.  Well, I don’t go barefoot when the dog takes me for his walk, but my socks and tennis shoes always get drenched with the stuff.  If there is anything truly celestial in this water, it is getting absorbed right through my feet.  Can I feel any difference when this happens?  Not much I guess, except that I feel like I’ve been walking on clouds.

But you don’t always have to get your feet wet–the simple act of contemplating the dew can also be a wondrous experience.  In her Pillow Book (10th century) Sei Shogonon approvingly quotes a friend who fully understood the charm of dew:

Noticing that the grass in the garden outside the palace had been allowed to grow very high and thick, I told them they should have it cut. “We’ve left it like this on purpose so that we might admire the dew when it settles on the blades.” The voice was Lady Saisho’s and I found her reply delightful.

As do I–here is a lady who knew how to find beauty everywhere she looked.

French novelist Guy de Maupassant states in Une Vie (1889) that there are only three things in creation which are beautiful: light, space, and water. This idea has always stuck in my mind, since one way or another we can experience these miraculous elements every single day.  While we cannot always head off to the beach whenever we wish, we can find countless other ways to enjoy the spectacle of light and water.  There is no better time to do it than the early morning hours, when the sunlight slowly turns the earth into a diamond-studded carpet.  And if you contemplate it long enough, you will find the world around you expanding into infinite space.