Calling Forth Soteria

Some Thoughts About Archetypes In The Midst Of A Pandemic

If some incredibly enthused person – friend, family or otherwise – should approach me with eyes-wide excitement about this New Thing!! that I simply Must Try!!, my immediate inner response is usually …. “aaand I’m out”.

Maybe it’s my aversion to anything that feels like an order; I’m way too Leo for that nonsense. More likely it’s a wee bit of wisdom gained from growing up in a culture where practically anyone has the freedom to offer (or sell) The Truth – about life, money, relationships, finding happiness – you name it, we got it. Having engaged myself with a few of these trends (New Age, anyone?) and watched many more fall into fad, or worse, I’m now quite happy to watch from the sidelines for a bit before participating. To quote the brilliant film, The Big Short, “We live in an era of fraud in America. Not just in banking, but in government, education, religion, food, even baseball.” Truer words….

As the COVID-19 pandemic began to unfold, individuals and agencies of all sorts offered the public their version of the truth about the virus and how to respond. Predictably, in these days of attention-seeking, click-baiting extremes, we had some options to choose from: “it’s a serious illness!”, “it’s no worse than the flu!”, “stay home!”, “it’s all a hoax!”. For a short time, there was enough noise in the signal that some became disoriented and susceptible to external pressures to be fearful and to act fearfully. Soon, headlines about panicked buying, price gouging, hoarding and the like began springing up everywhere, as news and social media quickly passed around the most eye-catching examples.

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It’s Happening!

‘Embodying The Change” Continues At Speed

First, I feel I must apologize to those who noted my recent silence; I look for updates at least weekly on the blogs I follow and that’s the minimum schedule I intend to keep. Then I decided to buy a house so, you know….. been busy.

A tiny house, to be precise. A 398 square foot living space that’s all about letting go. My partner and I had agreed that the time for down-sizing had arrived and now, a few months later, plans are underway for a September estate sale and a new tiny house is awaiting a new address. If I’m speaking candidly, I’m not sure this is entirely what I had in mind when I wrote earlier about using my second post-awakened year to embody what I learned in the first. But despite the upheavals this kind of change brings on all fronts, the momentum and direction feel good and true.

As there’s a growing wave of interest in tiny home living, I’ve decided to share updates on this little diversion (this is actually a means to an end but if I start blogging about furnishings and decorating tips there won’t be any stopping me). All the updates will be added to this post so look for an aside when new stories / pics are available – this whole thing has got to be good for a least a few interesting tales.

Posts with more books, teachers, videos and the like will continue throughout as I suspect this will be how I’ll keep my finger on the pulse of sanity and reason in the months ahead. But for the rest of today? … Spreadsheets! Yesssss!

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“…Walk Through The Light…”

I just took a short road trip and as happens now that my blog is up and running, the outing brought me into contact with people who – surprise! – have questions about what it was like to experience an awakening. Though I enjoy sharing my experiences, I’m equally fascinated by what it is that’s bringing each person to the point of asking such questions, especially those who can’t quite put their finger on what it is that’s calling to them. I also enjoy how these conversations re-ignite the spark of wonder permanently embedded into my psyche by what the awakening revealed.

On the way home I got to hang out for a few hours in the Seattle airport and between people watching and scrolling through the daily headlines, I was reminded that billions of fellow humans are very much caught up in the ‘separate self’ part of their story. Some portion of me relishes living during a time when a noticeable wave of change appears to be moving through our collective awareness, watching with a delicious sense of anticipation as other minds begin to pick up the same questions I’ve just made my way through for I know how much mind-blowing astonishment lies just around the corner for them. (As Ram Dass would say, “yummy, yummy, yummy!”) But on the days when I get jazzed about what I’ve already experienced, I also feel a deep sense of eagerness to get on with the awakening already! It just so happened that as these thoughts resurfaced again a few days ago, I was chilling to Vocal from Madrugada and realized the lyrics were reflecting my frame of mind perfectly. Clearly, the collective consciousness speaks through many voices.

click to listen


You better run, you better run
You better not wait too long
You better run, you better run
You better run for you have a heart
So let’s start, so let’s start
So let’s start, tear it all apart
You better run, you better run
You better run for you have a heart

Well, oh, well, oh, you know it’s only so much I can take
I buried my head in that pillow for a million days
So, oh, oh well, I’m sorry but I do not care to wait
Dare not walk through the light
Dare not walk through the light

Your vision’s traveled far today
So why don’t you run away
Your vision’s traveled far today
Like in the times when you say
I have a cry, I have a cry, and I will not be contained
I have a cry, I have a cry, and I will not be contained, no

Oh well, oh you know it is only so much I can take
Buried my head in that pillow a million days oh, oh
Oh well, I’m sorry but I do not care to wait
Oh, dare not walk through the light
Dare not walk through the light, oh

top image: Grant Ritchie

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On Gaming

Appreciating The Art & Peaceful Play Of Computer Gaming

Would you like to know the – tenth, let’s say tenth – thing I realized right after awakening? Within a few minutes, literally, I recognized that computer gaming would never again hold for me the same importance that it had until that moment. This thought brought a feeling of loss because I llluuuuv me some computer gaming, so much so that in 2016 I spent a considerable number of my pennies on a computer hardware upgrade (which I actually took pics of in true geek fashion) so I could jump onboard the VR (virtual reality) bandwagon. My super happy plan in late-2016 was to finish a project management contract and take a 3-month break from work to slip off the planet into the worlds of cyberspace. Then the awakening happened and all those plans ceased to exist.

After awakening and then spending months pushing through my outdated notions of what it means to be spiritual, I came to point where I recognized that my next challenge would be to come back to the world without getting lost in it. Though I was no longer clear on what specific work I’d be doing in the future, I was clear in my understanding that I should not withdraw from the material ‘noise’ of the world but should engage with it on a creative level. I felt called to resurrect my longstanding and long-neglected interest in artistic creation and to marry that with the skills I had acquired professionally over the years and see what happened. And if this approach seems a little cavalier, blame that on the spiritual teachers who encouraged me to indulge in such recklessness(!).

It turns out that many who awaken are left facing the challenge of finding a new purpose in life, one that feels more true to the newly revealed self. In response to those asking for help in finding this purpose, many teachers advise two things – patience and engaging in the act of creating. Patience makes the time for a practice to develop, bringing the stillness that carries insight. Acts of imagination and creation hook us into the mainline of Source consciousness, the wellspring of all inspiration. Whether through singing, painting, writing – any act of creating is recommended as a way to help quiet the egoic mind and invite inspiration and insight; I’ll share some of these teachings in the next gallery.

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On Death

Experiencing Death After An Awakening

On Sunday, March 18th, the body of my feline companion of eighteen years took its very last gasping breath and then lay still, emptied of the little spark of awareness that I had known and loved as Frodo, my little fuzz-butt goofy-girl kitty.  (What can I say, I’m not very good at guessing the gender of baby cats).

It was a death that was slow in coming; over her last year, her chronic arthritis and kidney disease started to worsen more quickly, though you wouldn’t know it to watch her launch her tiny spring-loaded body onto the top of the neighbor’s fence – or the top of the kitchen counter to loudly request food, more likely. But by mid-January, keeping her fed, comfortable and groomed required almost around-the-clock care. And it was in this setting that my next lesson about death and loss unfolded.

To be clear, this was not my first trip down this road; I’ve shared my home with feline companions for much of my life and have lost these friends to both old age and accidents. In the past, each of these deaths was filled with not just sadness but a sense of grief that I imagine marks the difference between those of us who have ‘pets’ and those of us who have ‘feline family members’. This was especially true a few years ago during the death of Sam, Frodo’s younger stepbrother (someone is a JRR Tolkien fan) who died of intestinal cancer at the age of ten. Over just a few months, I went from trying to save his life to watching him waste away and die and it was heartbreaking. I can still remember the tears streaming down my face as I sat with him and scritched his ears, already living in a time when I would never be able to see him again. And I remember the anger at a universe that had this animal suffering so.

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Embodying The Change

Year Two: Learning to Live as Awakened Awareness

“Don’t tell me how awakened you are, how free you are from ego. I want to know you beneath the words. I want to know what you’re like when troubles befall you. If you can fully allow your pain and not pretend to be invulnerable. If you can feel your anger yet not step into violence. If you can grant safe passage to your sorrow yet not be its slave.”   — Jeff Foster, spiritual teacher; excerpt from the poem Who Are You Without Your Spiritual Story?  (originally posted on SAND)

As January 1st approached and I started considering the year ahead, thoughts about the year just finishing kept coming to mind; it’s been a doozy. Against the backdrop of eyebrow-raising political headlines and other far-reaching news, my year was largely spent first learning about consciousness and then blogging about consciousness, which is not at all what I thought I would be doing at this point in my life. And after a year spent living the unexpected, I questioned the wisdom of setting a goal for the new year, as I usually do; seems like I would just be teeing up another one of life’s little lessons. (Still think you are in charge? Ha!)

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What is The Body?

If I Am Not This Body Then … ?

When I first encountered the swirling and chaotic psilocybin-fueled visuals and thoughts of my awakening, I tried to reorient myself by holding specific questions and concepts in my mind. (I should mention, for those unfamiliar with ‘tripping’ on mushrooms, that psilocybin doesn’t remove the ability to think about or be aware of what you’re doing.) One of the images I repeatedly visualized was of the duality of ‘the light’ and ‘the dark’, in all its manifestations; good and evil, right and wrong, love and fear. I would hold this image in my mind and wonder, ‘Why is there both light and dark? Must there always be both? What is the purpose of the dark?‘ I was under the influence of a pretty heavy post-election malaise and was hoping these questions would prompt the mushrooms to deliver some insight about a future that felt heavy with bad news.

Each time I held these ‘light/dark’ thoughts in my mind, into my mind’s eye (I had my eyes closed) would come an image like the one above – light ‘bleeding’ into dark. Only the picture was always moving, as if the light had an energy that was searching, reaching into the dark. When later sketching the image into my journal, I was reminded of similar images from high school biology films that showed, in real time, white blood cells moving through the body’s tissues, constantly reaching out, probing, touching, exploring, looking; I was riveted by the images (I’m still sure those films weighed heavily in my decision to study microbiology in college).

Now, you’ll notice that nowhere in this image, animated or not, are there actual answers to any of the actual questions I was focusing on during the trip. It was more like … specific question, non-specific image … different specific question, same non-specific image. At one point I even got a bit frustrated at just seeing the same image over and over without gaining any understanding (or so I thought) and very purposefully thought, ‘Fine! I was done asking that question anyway!’ And yet, even after experiencing all the incredible visions and perceptions that followed, this light/dark image remained vivid in my mind and was one of the first things I wrote down afterwards, largely just to get it out of my head. And over the following months, a passing comment by some teacher or other would briefly bring the image to mind but the memory never brought insight – until now.

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“You Said You Wanted To See”

Facing The Transformation Of An Awakening

Once you get to psychedelics …  you have now the power to transform yourself. If the search was for power, you’ve found it … You have found the answer. Seeking’s over …  but what you have to do now is a much more demanding and grown-up thing. You have to face the answer. And you have to take the measure of yourself against the answer. You said you wanted to ascend into the dragon realms. You said you wanted these spiritual realities to become vivid for you. But now there is nothing between you and ‘It’ except the decision to make it happen. And where do you come down on that? — Terence McKenna

As I come to the one-year anniversary of my awakening, I find myself simultaneously surprised – and not – at the state of affairs in this story called ‘My Life’. On the one hand, it’s surprising to see the numerous ways in which I’ve stepped away, and without much hesitation, from the professional and financial security I spent decades creating. On the other hand, I’m not at all surprised that my entire worldview has shifted; how could it not in the face of experiencing something on the scale of an awakening? What else are you to do when the veil is ripped aside and you come face to face with the answer to the question ‘who am I?’. Afterwards, I felt I had to keep exploring the new path now revealed.

Transformation. It’s a word I heard used a lot during the last year as I listened to numerous stories from people who have experienced this profound shift in awareness called an awakening. When first looking back at the ground I’d covered after one year on the non-dual path, I experienced a moment of surprised when realizing I’ve now joined the ranks of the transformed. I’m now one of those people who has experienced a spiritual event and am now tearing around (in cyberspace) and shouting (to no one in particular) about The Good News! And that feels weird – at least to my egoic self – because whatever I thought I would be doing at this point of my life, this ain’t it. But such is the power of the awakening; it transforms.

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Experiencing ‘The Now’

Re-awakening While Listening To The Grateful Dead

Judging by the public debates I’ve heard on the topic, I’ll bet one of the questions this blog will raise for some is “why continue using psychotropic plants to explore consciousness after awakening?“. Having listened to a number of opinions on methods for exploring consciousness, I’ve heard (at least) two schools of thought from those who support using psychedelics. One approach advocates putting the psychedelics aside once an awakening is experienced and continuing the journey through other means – meditation, breathing, tradition rituals, etc. The other school advocates for the continued use of psychedelics as a means to achieve inner healing and further insights. It seems groups of the first sort are most concerned with maintaining sacred intent through ritual and the second group is more comfortable with mindful personal exploration. After bouncing back and forth for a bit I have finally come to embrace my membership in this second group of private psychonauts, though it took a perceptual kick in the pants to finally overcome my cultural conditioning.

A bit of history … Outside of college, my psychotropic plant use was limited to the very intermittent smoking of cannabis flower. Though I enjoyed the effects, it might be months or even years between encounters – usually in some social setting – and I rarely had my own stash. Instead, my consciousness-altering drug of choice was a glass(es) of beer or wine, maybe a nice cocktail if I was feeling ambitious, and that was about it. The ‘joys’ of aging changed all that.

Having earlier determined I was going to let hormonal nature take its course, I braced for impact after noticing the first signs of menopause when in my late-40’s. Though I was spared some of the more disruptive symptoms women experience, when frequent hot flashes started impinging on my always-reliable sleep and vivid dreaming, I had to intervene. Daunted by the idea of sorting through the myriad of over-the-counter and prescription options, I decided to start by taking a toke of cannabis before bed and – voila! – problem solved! And of course, once I stocked up for nightly use I found myself smoking recreationally more often, preferring it to alcohol for all sorts of reason (and because – and I know everyone will agree – Yellow Submarine is the perfect movie after roasting a nice sticky bowl of indica :))

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Whooooo Arrrre Yoouuuu?


Who am I? I am awareness. I am a sliver of the Source consciousness clothed in a body of forgetfulness named “Laura’, here to live a life and learn the lessons. Shall I tell you about this person?

As is the case for each of us, the story actually begins at my birth but I don’t feel like doing that much typing and – admit it – you’re secretly relieved I’m not going to back all the way up to the day I was born. Instead, I’m going to start with late summer 2016, when I was starting my 54th year on the planet and wrapping up what is likely to be my final job in healthcare, the industry in which I’d spent 30+ years. Though school taught me I was interested in both the arts and biological sciences, I elected to pursue the latter, studying microbiology in college and going on to hold positions with healthcare payers, private and group practices, hospitals, large healthcare systems, and a vendor before spending a year as an independent contractor. My skills at organizing – information, things, people, processes – and communicating led to middle and upper management positions in data technologies and quality improvement while my interest in the underlying medicine usually kept me engaged in even the most challenging projects. In short, my professional life had been, at least from one perspective, ‘successful’.

And yet not. Those same thirty years also showed me the US healthcare system is reliably unreliable and largely inhumane, despite its impressive cost, technology and the honest, compassionate efforts made daily by thousands of smart people to make it otherwise. Recent efforts to reform the system kept it essentially beholden to for-profit vendors, greatly limiting true change. News from the presidential campaign, in full swing as this story begins, promised to bring more politically-motivated mayhem but little real improvement. And suddenly, as the summer of 2016 drew to a close, the thought of continuing to tackle all these same issues and challenges for another ten or fifteen years before retiring … the very idea left me feeling a bit unwell, literally. Immediately, that part of my mind concerned with practical matters reminded me that not finding another healthcare job now would be incompatible with my well-laid plans for continued success and a comfy retirement, which added more angst to my growing uncertainty about my future.

By happy coincidence, I had earlier decided to take a 3-month sabbatical when my project contract ended in November. I assumed this long rest, already full of plans for long virtual-reality gaming sessions and some holiday fun thrown in besides, would have me ready to dive back into the fray of healthcare improvement. Because that’s what sabbaticals are for, right? Get the wind back in those sails! Read some motivational books! Rejuvenate and get ready to return to the work-a-day world!