topics

simplicity, Catholic homeschooling, Old World inspiration, Oriental dance, style & beauty

Monday, December 30, 2013

Winter 2014 Belly Dance



BACK TO BASICS TRIBAL BELLY DANCE CLASS WITH RITA HELENA!





Start 2014 off right with some groovy new moves.  Rita Helena's Moonfire Tribal Style is a group improvisational format based on traditional Middle Eastern and North African dance, but with a vintage-modern flair and presentation. This multi-level class is perfect for beginners as well as more advanced dancers wishing to learn a new style or refine their skills.

Classes will be held at the Community Center in Bryan, Ohio, upstairs. Please wear fitted (not baggy), comfortable clothing and a scarf tied at the hips. You may dance barefoot or in socks or ballet slippers. All classes will include a full body warm up and yoga cool down. Yoga mats and props are welcome.

The first session will begin on Sunday, January 12 and will run for 5 consecutive weeks, from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. Please call Cindy at 419-633-6030 to register. Early registration and pre-payment is highly recommended to reserve your space and to confirm that there are enough students to hold the class.

Must be at least 15 years of age to participate, and the cost is $40.00.

This is the perfect opportunity to get into shape, strengthen your core, and stretch your muscles, all while enhancing grace, rhythm and beauty. More than just an aerobic exercise, belly dance is a timeless art form unlike any other. Come and discover the dancer in you!!

My Joie de Vivre Christmas and Birthday Gifts!

Since becoming Catholic, I have found the Christmas season to be so much more fun and meaningful than ever before. First of all, there are actually 12 days of Christmas (like the song goes!), but they do not lead up to Christmas, as most people think. December 25 is actually the first day of Christmas, which means that today is the 6th. We are only half way through!

At church Saturday evening, we sang several traditional Christmas hymns. Christmas the Catholic way is a more relaxing experience, beginning with the season of Advent, a month-long time of contemplation and preparation leading up to Christmas Eve. Yes, Christmas Day is the apex of the season, but everything doesn't ride on this one day. I am not feeling the "let down" typical of the days following Christmas Day. In fact, my birthday, which was yesterday, is on the 5th day of Christmas (five golden rings...), and well as being the Feast of the Holy Family! How's that for the supposedly bummer of a birthday that falls close to Christmas?

Anyway, I was positively showered with love, attention, and awesome gifts for both Christmas and my birthday. With a new year just around the corner, I have plenty of new wardrobe, personal care, and home products to add to my joie de vivre lifestyle. I promised pictures before but did not deliver. So I hereby make a New Year's resolution to give you visual images and a lot of great ideas to make our lives even more simple, joyful, and elegant, every single day.

Let me begin with one of my favorite presents, a new pair of pajamas from my sister. This was especially wonderful, because she didn't even know that pajamas were on my wish list, and my husband had no luck finding 100% cotton ones where we live. Here they are:



Gillian & O'Malley flannel toile pajamas, available at target.com


These PJs are superbly comfortable and warm without being too heavy. They are a classic style and would surely get Jennifer L. Scott's stamp of approval for "presentable pajamas" (see her blog, The Daily Connoisseur). You should have sleepwear that you can't wait to crawl into. I had these back on my body by 7:00 last night!

I hope you all are having a very merry Christmas. Have fun and stay safe for the New Year! Oh, and don't forget that the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God is a Holy Day of Obligation, so Catholics make sure you get to Church! It just keeps getting better, doesn't it?

Monday, December 16, 2013

New Age Deception: "Christ" in the New Age

http://notunlikelee.wordpress.com/2011/05/09/christ-in-the-new-age/


While I am taking a break from recounting my experience in the New Age religion, I strongly encourage you to read the article linked above, "Christ" in the New Age, at the Crosswise website. This is very long, so perhaps read it in small phases, and read it carefully. Craig, the author, has painstakingly articulated the "New Spirituality" which is being marketed as a form of Christianity, with a made-over Jesus Christ.

As you read my narrative, keep in mind some of the key words and phrases used by the New Age, which often bear a striking resemblance to Christianity, but in a twisted form, including: Inner Christ; the Christ Within; Ascended Masters; Master Jesus; As Above, So Below; Christ Consciousness; overshadowing; initiation; born again; Kingdom of God; and Cosmic Christ.

As comprehensive as this article is, it is only the tip of the iceberg. Craig alludes to connections between the New Age and Eastern religion, as well as what he refers to as "hyper-charismatic" Christianity. This infiltration of the New Age is so everywhere that I can't emphasize enough the spiritual danger and its proximity to all corners of the Christian Church. It has unknowingly touched the lives of both Catholics and "Bible" Protestants that I personally know. I want you to see as many of the connections as I can present to you before I drop what was, for me, a shocking bomb when I discovered it.

So just read Craig's article and continue to follow the breadcrumbs which inevitably lead to the candy-encrusted house of the wicked witch...


Hansel and Gretel

Sunday, December 15, 2013

New Age Deception: Jungian Psychology & The Goddess Within



At some point in the 1990s I read The Goddess Within by Jennifer and Roger Woolger. Both authors are Gestalt and Jungian psychologists. Carl Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist who founded analytical psychology. He gave us the concepts of introversion and extroversion; archetypes; and the collective unconscious. His theories have been influential in the study of religion, philosophy, archeology, anthropology, literature, and related fields.

The Goddess Within is a treatise on feminine archetypes based on six goddesses of the Greek pantheon: Aphrodite, Demeter, Artemis, Athena, Persephone, and Hera. Contained within is a multiple choice quiz which helps you to pinpoint the most prominent archetype in your personality. As with other personality type tests, each person is a combination of types, but you will usually score highest in one particular area.

My last quarter in college, I took a personality test to help point me in the direction of compatible career options. It was most likely the Meyers-Briggs test. Of the six types, I scored highest on the "social", followed by the "creative" and the "entrepreneur" categories. Your top 3, in that particular order, head a list of jobs for which you will be well-suited. My category had the shortest list, and absolutely none of the careers sounded interesting to me!

Before I got married, my husband and I were counseled by the minister who married us. We took personality tests together, so that we would have a better understanding of one another in our marriage. I was "sanguine", followed by "melancholic". According to the minister, my personality type did not exist--one could not be both happy and sad, he insisted. Of course, that was oversimplifying the types, but I was secretly proud to have an "impossible" personality!

My goddess type, you are wondering? Keep in mind that I was single at the time. Aphrodite, followed by Persephone and Artemis. The social, sanguine goddess of love, the melancholic, creative goddess of the underworld, and the independent huntress (which I think would correlate with the entrepreneur). So yes, these tests can be quite accurate. But aren't people, and maybe especially women, more complicated than what shows up on a multiple choice test? I think my impossible personality quite proves the point. And really, there are only 6 basic personality types?

I just remembered that personality can also be influenced by birth order (according to another psychology book). But what if you are not an oldest, middle, only, or youngest child? What if you are 3rd to the last in a family of 15 children? And how does all of this relate to New Age religion, anyway? Let's get back to the archetypes. In Jungian psychology, an archetype is "an inherited pattern of thought or symbolic imagery derived from the past collective experience and present in the individual consciousness" (dictionary.search.yahoo.com).

In other words, I don't have the literal goddess, Aphrodite, living inside of me, but I am a certain type of woman who has the Aphrodite qualities foremost in my personality, if you believe the theory. There is a collective unconscious memory (and some archeological evidence) of worship of the Great Goddess from which the lesser Greek and Roman goddesses derived. The Great Goddess was fractured by patriarchal invaders who worshiped a male "sky" god. The wisdom of women and their close connection to the Earth was trampled under the feet of the conquerors. Gone was an egalitarian, peaceful society of men and women who were equals. In came male dominance and the plundering of the planet. Or so one possible version of history goes, and likely there is at least some truth to be found in it. And as we are seeing, a little truth mixed into a carefully woven web of lies can be exceedingly effective.

Women, according to this Jungian interpretation, represent these fractured goddess figures, and men also contain them in the "feminine" aspect of their personalities. The pantheon of deities is given as a way of uncovering the dignity of our divine nature. From what I recall, The Goddess Within doesn't make a blatant statement that human beings are by nature divine. Yet the title might be making this implication, don't you think?

Is this collective unconscious real? Do individuals really have the collective memories of our species somehow stored inside of us? I don't know the answers to many of these questions. What I do know is that it isn't a far leap from "the goddess within" to "the Christ within", or from the "collective unconscious" to "Christ consciousness". If you have been following this topic of the New Age deception, perhaps you are beginning to see why I didn't want to tackle such a major project.

This whole personality typing thing is not much different from astrology and reading one's horoscope. It is merely more "scientific" in its presentation.  Perhaps it would be more useful if we were all encouraged to understand ourselves first and foremost as beloved children of the one, true Creator God, who is our Abba, and as brothers and sisters of Christ Jesus, with Mary as our spiritual Mother. If we were to see ourselves in the communion of saints rather than in a mythological pantheon. Wouldn't such a worldview have vast potential for helping us to discover our vocation in life and for healing our wounds? Ah, but that is the very last worldview that the New Age wants us to see.

I'm going to take a hiatus now, until after Christmas. So keep doing your own research. And most of all, have a happy, joyous holiday season with your family. Let auld acquaintance be forgot, and have a Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

New Age Deception: Self-Help & Spirituality




Concurrent with the popularity of New Age religion in the '90s was the explosion of the self-help literary genre. My favorite self-help book was Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach. Published in 1995, I consider this book a classic. Walk into any used book store today, and you will likely find a copy on the shelves. This is one of those books that seemed to serendipitously come into my life when I needed it. I can still remember turning around in the Barnes & Noble in Columbus and seeing a sea of these pinkish books on display. It was calling to me.

Simple Abundance contains a series of daily meditations revolving around the tenets of gratitude, simplicity, order, harmony, beauty and joy. It's the perfect example of combining the psychology of self-help with a personal, spiritual journey. A book written by a woman specifically for women. Full of practical advice on such matters as finding your personal style and clearing clutter, it is scattered with quotes from famous poets, actresses, writers, spiritual teachers and sages, from Colette to Bette Davis, from E.E. Cummings to Louisa May Alcott. The ultimate goal is to fuse style with Spirit and to unearth your "authentic self."

In Ban Breathnach's book, The authentic self is the Soul made visible. The pearls of wisdom contained in this book hit a chord with women everywhere, as the New York Times best seller list can attest. Her message, that you already have everything you really need, and the encouragement to pare down material possessions and discover true abundance in life through her six principles, was by and large a good and positive message. I recently discovered that poor financial choices (and marrying the wrong man) lead to Sarah losing everything. This woman who had earned millions with her message of simplicity had squandered her fortune and ended up sleeping on her sister's couch.

The problem with a book and plan like Sarah's is that it reflects the trend of the times toward a rejection of traditional religion and the embracing of "spirituality." People in the '90s were fond of saying, "I'm not religious, but I'm spiritual." (And they still are.) Everyone was obsessed with trying to figure out who they authentically were, but this quest was typically set upon without the centrality of Christ and without seeking God's will for your life. "Spirit" was not the Holy Spirit, but was similar to the idea of the "Universe", and you could place an order with the Universe or Spirit and manifest the life you desired. This idea has increasingly become more popular.

There was an innocence in this, and by and far the intentions of these self-help authors and the people who followed their ideas were good. The truth is the truth wherever it is found, and the Catholic Church teaches that Christians can learn from the good in other faiths. Yet after taking the path of Simple Abundance, Sarah herself wasn't satisfied, and so she wrote a sequel, Something More. I agreed with her that there was still something missing that needed to be found, but this 2nd book didn't have the appeal for me that the first one did, and the question of what that "something more" was never got answered. That is, until one day when someone very special invited me to the Catholic Church. But that's later on in the story...

Simple Abundance, in my opinion, isn't expressly New Age. But it contains that quality of sounding Christian but not quite. It's this not quite Christian, "universal spirituality" that has lead to dangerously leading souls astray.

Monday, December 9, 2013

New Age Deception: Conversations with God, Channeling, & Reiki

Conversations with God is a series of books by Neale Donald Walsch, the first of which was published in 1995. I want to pause here and say that New Age religion was not just a fad that exploded in the '90s and then went out of style. It existed before then, and it is alive and well today; it has merely changed its name. Now it is called, among other things, the "New Spirituality" and the "New World View" and has successfully infiltrated the Christian Church. I'm giving you my personal experience, so please bear with me. These dots will all connect.

Conversations with God was marketed as a channeled message. The author claimed that God himself spoke directly through him, and Walsch wrote down everything God had to say. It might sound surprising that anyone would take a book seriously that was advertised as delivering a channeled message from the Almighty, yet the first book stayed on the New York Times best seller list for 137 weeks. The succeeding 8 volumes appeared prominently (stats courtesy of Wikipedia). In other words, millions of copies sold, and Walsch made a lot of money. People really believed this was the voice of God.

I knew one young woman in particular, who had underlined various passages throughout the book. She had read and reread until the pages were worn. She had absorbed these teachings. When I expressed doubt, her response was a cheerful, "We need to work on you!" I don't actually remember who this woman was or how I knew her, but I think she was a friend of a friend, because I remember someone else being at her house. At any rate, I think I got a copy of the book from the library. I never finished it. The one thing that stands out in my mind is the supposed God's comment that he doesn't care who, or how many people, we have sex with.

You might think that would be enough to tip off anyone who had been raised Christian to the fact that this book was a phoney. But if you were, say, a young, unmarried, sexually active person, you might be tempted to believe this nonsense. Maybe sex outside of marriage wasn't a sin after all! What actually made me draw the conclusion that these were not God's words was the writing style. Sometimes God was using the "thees and thous" of the King James version of the Bible, and other times he was speaking in modern English. I decided that the old English was being used to sound authentic, but the author wasn't smart enough to be consistent. Being an English nerd was clearly in my favor that time. Bullet dodged.

That's not to say that these books were not authentic channelings. What do I mean by that? Simply this. When you open the door to the occult, you never know what sort of spirits you are letting in. Spiritual warfare is real. The devil is real, and demons are real. And they can and do speak through people. The great New Age achievement is to make us believe that there is no such thing as evil, no such thing as hell. Certainly no such thing as sin. There is no duality. We are all one, and there is no separation between us and God. Everything is God. This is the message of Conversations with God.

Incidentally, the young woman who hung on every word of this book also introduced me to Reiki. She held her hands closely over my body. My eyes were closed, and suddenly I could feel a strong heat coming from my chest. It didn't hurt; I just felt an intense warmth. Right as I was having this experience, the woman told me that she could feel a lot of heat coming from my heart chakra. Chakras are "energy centers" of the body. Reiki is supposed to heal you by balancing these energies. I was an immediate believer. We had both felt the same thing!

I will cover Reiki more extensively later, but since this experience is linked in my mind with Conversations with God, it makes sense to introduce the topic now. I only very recently learned that Reiki is considered by many to be part of the New Age movement. I couldn't see what could be wrong with it, because this idea of spiritual "energy" had become so entrenched in my mind that I had for years just assumed it to be true. The Reiki practioner channels (there's that word again!) universal energy (the Universe again!) to balance the body's energy centers and promote healing. But where does this power of healing really come from? Ah, dear Watson, that is the question.

New Age Deception: The Celestine Prophesy

In 1993 author James Redfield published The Celestine Prophesy. This book is a page turner, the exciting adventure of a man searching for the spiritual truths found in an ancient manuscript from Peru. I actually thought it was a true story when I read it. It turned out to be a spiritual allegory. Basically the protagonist follows a series of "signs", one coincidence after another that leads him on his destined path. The theme is that mankind is evolving toward a new spiritual awakening, the end result being that we will no longer have bodies but will be pure spirits.

This sounds hokey, yes? No one bought this premise, right? At the time that I read it, probably the year it was published or soon after, my dad told me it was New Age. Well, I didn't want to hear that. The story was so exciting, and I honestly believed that these types of books were really teaching "universal spiritual truths." When I thought of New Age, Shirley MacLaine, crystals, and reincarnation came to mind. I was never interested in crystals and didn't believe in reincarnation. I did feel uncomfortable with the whole idea that people will evolve to no longer have bodies, and I had forgotten all about that until I started retracing my New Age/occult path in my mind.




Surely after 20 years all of this nonsense has been forgotten, with no lasting, harmful effects? It was a silly phase of youth, and I am over it. Um, no. In fact, just a few posts back (Nov. 6, Belief.), I used the word synchronicity and asserted that "There are no coincidences." What I was talking about in this article was a "Holy Spirit moment", but I used lingo and philosophy directly from A Celestine Prophesy!

This idea of there being no coincidences, of everything and everyone being related, literally being one, is a core teaching of New Age philosophy. If you keep your eyes and ears and intuition open, you will be given signs on your journey to spiritual awakening. The right people, circumstances, and things you need will all fall into place, as if by magic. The Universe will conspire to get you exactly what you want. And truly, book after book crossed my path, each feeding my spiritual hunger. But what I was being fed was a doctrine of lies. I thought I was reading about "universal spiritual truths", those truths common to all of the world's religions. And that is precisely the goal of the New Age: one world religion.

A few years ago I danced to a song, "Gypsy" by Khan Nal, with these lyrics: We don't need your lost religion to tell us who we are. We're all...one! One people, one spirit, one earth...  And who does New Age religion say we really are? It says we are God.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

New Age Deception: A Witch Hunt Begins

http://www.womenofgrace.com/blog/?cat=6482

 
I was driving in my car a couple of weeks ago, listening to Catholic Radio, and a woman was talking about the "New Age deception".  My ears pricked, because since early in the fall I had been feeling tempted to practice magic. This is something I once did back in the 1990s. It's a long story. In fact, it's turning out to be much longer than I would have anticipated, and I really don't want to write about this.

But here's the thing I have discovered. New Age spirituality is literally everywhere.  Blatant witchcraft is not even the most dangerous threat, because it is what it claims to be. That's not to minimize the spiritual dangers of casting spells. But the biggest threats are the wolves in sheep's clothing, and they have infiltrated the entire culture, right down to the churches. That's your church and mine. Catholic, mainline Protestant, evangelical, nondenominational--New Age/New Thought religion is the Old Religion in disguise. Like the song goes, "It's witchcraft."  Worst of all, it's being advertised as Christianity, as the "New Reformation."

This is going to be a long conversation. I'm not looking forward to it. Many of you will not believe me. What I want you to do is just begin by clicking on the link at the top and start reading. Anywhere. You will be fascinated, trust me. It's the EWTN Women of Grace blog, the New Age section. (If the link doesn't work, just google "EWTN Women of Grace blog"). There is an alphabetical index, and you can start with anything that catches your interest. The more you dig, the deeper it goes. Join me on a witch hunt. No pitchfork necessary; just pick up your brooms and clean house! Here is clue #1:






Saturday, December 7, 2013

Make a List!

It is easy to get overwhelmed during the holiday season. You can end up feeling like you have so much to do that nothing gets done. So let me share a tip I learned when I was a Mary Kay Beauty Consultant. Make a list of the six most important things that you need to accomplish each day. Why 6? I don't really know! But I think it's because it isn't so long that it is never-ending, but it is long enough to determine your priorities and make significant inroads to your tasks.

Yesterday I was wiped out from my "monthly visitor", but I had made myself a list the night before. Without realizing it, I had written down exactly six items. Despite my fatigue, I did five of those things. I had my list, so I didn't have to stop and think about what I had intended to do. You think you will remember, but if you're like me, you won't. I put homeschooling on the list, even though it was an obvious thing to do. You could make an additional list of the 6 most important learning activities you want to do each day as well.

The item I didn't get done was to make a gift list. My husband and I always write down who we are shopping for at Christmastime, and we note what we have gotten for them as we go along. It works pretty well, though the list is his idea, and I dread making it for some reason. Put any unfinished tasks on a fresh list for the next day, rather than just crossing out and adding to the current list. You need a fresh start each day.

Make sure before you venture out that you have eaten a good breakfast. Take some coffee with you if you drink it. Pack some healthy snacks, and bring water in the car for the children. Happy shopping, and as Mary Kay was fond of saying, "You can do it!"