Archives for posts with tag: Lehigh Valley

All Things Mystical & Magickal, in Allentown is quite a feast for the eyes of the spiritually hungry: rows of herbs, books about all kinds of magick and mystery, along with Buddhist and Hindu figurines. Cindy, who I met behind the counter, very kindly agreed to be interviewed. Although her spiritual path – ascensionism – was not one I’d heard of before, Cindy was humble, humorous, and inspiring. Here’s a snippet of our talk together.

How would you define your spirituality?

I’m an ascentionist.

What does that mean?

Ascescion means that you see a vibration. Every aspect of anything on the earth, everything has a consciousness – in its own way, not like God. Everything has a consciousness, and our ultimate goal is to raise our vibrations and return back to the creator. Everything that we learn here – all the love we cultivate, all the experiences that we take with us.

How does that affect the way that you live your life?

Everything that I do, I appreciate. You’ll find some ascentionists where you’ll see – they’re funny, they have a list, if I do this, I’m going to raise my vibration this much. Vibration packets. I don’t believe in any of that. I think if you live your life, you try to do the best you can. You don’t have to live a spiritual path. But I choose to. So because I’ve made that decision, there are obstacles and goals that are put in front of me by my guide. And they’re for me to learn from.

You have a guide?

I have a spiritual guide, yes. I believe that you have a higher self, same sex as you. And that that person is on the ethereric side and they maintain all the past lives that you have, because you just couldn’t live on this life with that kind of knowledge. I think when you ascend the earth, because your vibrations are higher than the earth, you meld with your higher self. Her and you join together. So now I’m working with my sage. And that’s my sacred self.

Is that an ascension happen as an everyday experience, or is it something that you work toward?…

I don’t believe in working toward it, I just believe if you live your life naturally and you do everything that you know you’re supposed to do, and the time is right, then it comes to you. So I’m working with Lasoon, my sacred self. I’ve already integrated the feminine qualities in to my life, and now I’m working on will, purpose, and strength.

Sorry, I babble. (laugh)

No, this is great! How were you introduced to ascensionism?

Someone gave me a Shirley Maclaine book, Out on a Limb, it was 1986. And everything she said made sense. I was in my thirties, I had been struggling my whole life. I wasn’t happy, and I didn’t understand why. And all of a sudden, everything she said made sense. You can have a religion – I was raised orthodox Baptist, and you can have a spirituality. They might butt heads sometimes, but you have to decide which one is going to lead your life. Spirituality leads mine.

Is this your store?

No I volunteer here. A couple of us volunteer, and that way we can teach classes.

And what are your classes like?

I teach meditation classes: a basic, intermediary, and an advanced. The advanced is where I want you to become a participant in your meditation, not an observer. And that’s very difficult to do, but if you reach a certain stage, you can do it. So I’m not an observer of my meditations anymore, I just partake in them. And I teach about the 14 rays that we all live under. Also a 2012 class, levels of initiation, so different things like that.

What would you say is a spiritual place for you in the Lehigh Valley? This shop?

It’s so funny, this shop. When you step into the shop, anything that’s going on in your life, the… everybody has crap, everybody has the mundane – it disappears in here.

But I would say my most favorite place is my home, my family. I love my house – it’s just a little tiny house, three bedroom, one bath and that I would say is my spiritual place.

Because it has that sense of home.

It’s where my family is, it’s what I’ve created, I’ve grounded my home to the earth. You tether your home to the earth, and you tether your home to the rays that surround the earth, and create the sacred space for you.

What would be your advice to someone – whether an ascentionist or some other path – who wants to deepen their spirituality?

The one thing I’ve found in here is, people are very rigid. If they’re Wicca, they have to study just Wicca. I’m an ascentionist, but I believe in a lot of the practices that Wicca does. I believe in the energy, that North South East and West are representative of the energies that are around us, and we have to learn to use them in ways that are appropriate to our own life, and I really do believe that. I started out as a Buddhist – my aunt was a Buddhist, I didn’t know how to meditate, she tried to teach me – she had me on my knees for an hour, all I could think about was the pain! (laughs) So I like to meditate sitting up on a chair. So I mean, everybody has different aspect, but to me we all have the same spoke, we’re all heading to the same place – the center, which is the creator. So it doesn’t matter which spoke you take, it has to fit us. And if your spirituality doesn’t fit you, it’s not going to work.

It was wonderful to meet Cindy. I don’t know what I would have made of ascensionism reading it in a book – but meeting a practitioner, and one with so much clarity of thought, really gave me a good impression. I invite you to please wish blessings and good energy for Cindy on her spiritual path, and stop in All Things Mystickal & Magickal, on 1727 Liberty Street, Allentown, and check it out. Blessed be!

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Route 22, Route 22,
What did I ever
do to you?

Route 22, Route 22,
Red brake lights turn glad hearts blue.

The circles of Hell, I’m told,
await the unrepentant sinner,
but why this spot on the fiery line
when all we all want is to be home
for dinner?

Deep, huh. Tune in for spirit biography this Friday!

I’d been waiting a long time to go on the Delaware River train ride. My toddler’s into trains with a passion – he can even make the “choo choo” noise and everything. And every time he played with his train toys, I kept in my imagination the thought of going on an actual, full size, steam train with him. But it never seemed like the right week-end, and then we tried to go around Easter time but the tickets were sold out.  Not getting to go on it only increased my determination.

So when I saw that Delaware River Excursions offered a Great Pumpkin Train, and the experience came with a free pumpkin, that was all the incentive I needed. Even though we already had a pumpkin. I saw a pile of pumpkins when I was doing a shopping trip at Giant, and the sign said they were grown locally, so I said to myself, “why not.” This pumpkin sits on our porch, proclaiming our allegiance to the great American cult of Halloween. Of course, the skeleton and the pirate flag might give observers some idea of this, as well.

So as far as the train went the pumpkin was a bit of an afterthought, but together, a pumpkin and a train are more than enough to entice us. So there we were, at the headquarters of the New York Susquehanna & Western Technical & Historical Society, watching the train pull into the station. It’s a thoroughly magnificent experience. Before you see it, you hear that whistle blowin’, and all the kids are turning around at their parents with that look of amazement on their faces. Then the roar of the engine gets louder, until finally, covered in steam, a gorgeous black locomotive emerges from the tunnel. The great religious writer Henri Nouwen writes, “when we wait in expectation our whole beings are open to be surprised by joy.” Exactly.

 

Then we got on the train, and it moved! A fact of great delight for all the little kids on board. Not only did it move, it shook and jolted, and made all kinds of noise as it bustled along the track. We could see the mighty Delaware to our right, and forests and abandoned stockyards on the port side. We passed houses and clusters of houses, and people waved at us, and we waved back. I am a foolish child at heart, and when people try to convince me of the innate depravity of the universe, the simple truth of people waving has always served as counter-proof enough to me.

But anyway, my wife and son and I were surrounded by beauty in a restored railroad car; it was happiness. I would love to tell you that my child sat entranced in wonder and awe for the entire ride, but some of you have children, so you would instantly know that I am lying. No, of course, my child sat entranced and in awe for ten blissful minutes, after which he started to get fidgety and bored. He said “off”, meaning he wanted to disembark. I told him we couldn’t get off until the train stopped, which he no doubt took as the boring advice of his old fogey Dad. He wanted to get off and see the train! The problem of being inside the train is you don’t get a view of the best bit. I told him to hang in there, there was a pumpkin in his future.

The little guy was mollified a bit by a PBJ sandwich, and then re-entranced by the appearance of the Trainman. The Trainman wears a hat that says Trainman, and a uniform, and carries a flashlight and a ticket puncher. In toddler terms, this means he is very, very cool.

Very cool to me, too. All the people at the Historical Society, save for the train maintenance man, are volunteers. They give of their time so that people can enjoy the authentic historic railway experience. All they get in return is to get to be around trains all day. They seem a very happy bunch. (Grounded too – I hope to interview one of them for my Spiritual Focus series.)

After a fantastic voyage, we finally arrived at the stop with the pumpkins. I had told my son all along, whenever he wanted to run around, that if he waited until the end, there would be pumpkins in his future.  And here they were – a small field that had been filled with toddler-sized pumpkins. He practically jumped off the train to go run around, say hi to the train, and trip over pumpkins.

Now, here I have to highlight an important spiritual distinction between adults and toddlers. We adults – who are, generally speaking, very clever but spiritual nincompoops – we would tend to think of a pumpkin as something that you get, as an item thrown in for free with a train ticket. But toddlers, who are daft as a plank and spiritual geniuses, understand innately that a pumpkin is something that you experience. That you get a pumpkin is immaterial. The critical thing is that you run around and pick them up, roll on the floor with them, hold them and throw them around, rejoice in their presence. For such is happiness: you can’t stick it on a shelf somewhere and store it up, you’ve just gotta live with it. As Charles Schultz himself might have said, happiness is a field full of pumpkins.

We did take a pumpkin home, as it happens, and it’s now sitting on our front porch, next to the pumpkin I purchased at Giant. It’s a little reminder of happiness. I’m not sure my son makes the connection anymore between the pumpkin and the train, but he remembers the “chugga-choo-choo” fondly and his eyes his perk every time he hears the train whistle, which you can hear each morning where I live if you listen closely. And the pumpkin, like all cherished objects in this world, is readily available for experiences of joy.

Monday Meditation: What the cartoonist Charles Schultz actually said is, “happiness is anyone and anything at all that’s loved by you.” Where is your happiness?

One of my favorite things about Lehigh Valley in the summer – other then the Fests and the Fairs – is our front porch culture. The Lehigh Valley is one of those places where people not only hang out on their front porch, they talk to each other as they’re strolling by. Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton all have neighborhoods where you can find somebody in a rocking chair to say hello to.

I grew up in New England, where “how are you doing?” is considered an overly personal question. So it took me a while to adjust to the Lehigh Valley and the way perfect strangers will talk to you, simply because you’re both human beings. Add to this fact that I’m also an introvert. So if I ever won the lottery, the idea of building a giant house in the country, where I could avoid ever having to interact with anyone, would have a certain appeal to me.

But I couldn’t do it. I love our front porch culture just too much. Someone saying “hi” to me, and saying “hi” back, is an even better pick-me-up than really good coffee. It’s an affirmation of our mutual humanness, a spark of what Jewish mystic Martin Buber called the “I-You” relationship. The universe, he declared, is fundamentally relational. Nowadays, chaos theory is confirming this to be true.

It’s lovely having neighbors. I wasn’t a big Mr. Rogers fan as a kid, but as an adult I definitely am. Not everyone knows that Fred Rogers, who came from Western Pennsylvania and died in 2003, was an ordained Presbyterian minister. So when he sings:

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won’t you be my neighbor?

He’s not just thinking it’s a cute song kids will like. No, Mr. Rogers is trying to get across to kids how important it is that we see each other as fundamentally related beings, who share this amazing thing called a neighborhood.

Anyway, enough writing. I got a few more beautiful days out there, I’m going to sit in  my rocking chair and see who comes by. Soon, it’ll be too cold – and time to get the porch ready for Halloween. Won’t you be my neighbor?

I invite you to consider where your “front porch space” is – the place where you can interact with others whil feeling at home. If not a porch, could it be a coffeeshop, at the water cooler, or on Facebook? Or is front porch space a state of mind? And if so, how are you called from the inner chambers of your soul, so to speak, to your front porch space?