You see it in Newsweek, CNN, and other news websites that report on spirituality and esoteric culture like Quartz and Gaia. You see it through phenomena such as Instagram’s 300k+ subscriber feed to Hoodwitch, Youtube’s explosive growth of tarot readers, and gray or shamanic witches offering online tutorials and looks into their family traditions of Celtic witchcraft, and Wiccan seasonal ceremonies. Wicca, witchcraft, and paganism have long had an important perch within Crazy Wisdom Bookstore’s book sections, and local Wiccans, witches, and pagans have long been written about in The Crazy Community Wisdom Journal, but all these related areas are experiencing exponential growth, both locally in earth-religion-friendly Ann Arbor and on the national scale.
Thirty years ago, when I founded Deep Spring Center and first began to teach meditation and to channel my discarnate teacher, Aaron, there were few places where one could meditate and enjoy organized spiritual discussions. The Zen Temple comes to mind, and Jewel Heart had just opened the previous year. At that time, “meditation” usually meant Buddhist meditation, although one organization in town taught Transcendental Meditation. There were even fewer places that offered any connection with spirit and specifically discarnate, channeled entities. Looking at the Crazy Wisdom Community Journal now, I see with delight all the opportunities for practice and discussion in many traditions.
The Science of Breath and Spirit: A Young Scientist’s Adventures in Breath at the Ann Arbor Zen Buddhist Temple
“Are you connecting with your breath?” Rev. Haju asks me, leaning forward to inspect my posture. Her eyes are hawk-sharp but loving. It’s a powerful combination. I close my eyes and let go. I am not always good at that. For someone with ambition, letting go can be quite alien. Striving, trying to force things to be a certain way, are habits I slip into as soon as I stop paying attention. But the Rev.’s watchful eyes are incentive to pay attention. To prove that I can let go. That I know how. And the act of proving reminds me what it feels like.
By Karen Greenberg
"This [Kabbalah for Children and Kabbalah Pathworking and Soul's Purpose Kabbalah] is the most valuable investment that we have ever made in our son."
— Judy Sauer, Literacy Specialist, Novi Community School District
How could a Kabbalistic approach be the most valuable investment parents have ever made in their child? And why would it be important for a child to have Kabbalah in his or her awareness?
Kabbalah is an ancient system of creation and how creation works. No one is entirely certain about where Kabbalah came from, partly because it was passed down as an oral tradition for thousands of years. Kabbalah is a Hebrew word that translates into “receiving.” We are receiving the secrets hidden in the Torah, or Old Testament, that teach us how to have a H2W2 (Happy, Healthy, Wealthy, Wise) life. The Kabbalistic system is actually the Unity energy of what is called the Tree of Life (from the Bible, as opposed to the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Duality energy: pain and pleasure, sorrow and joy, war and peace). The energetic Tree of Life is laid out on our bodies. It has ten different spheres, each representing a different quality of God (G-D).
A Kabbalistic approach is such a valuable investment in children because it helps them reside in a more empowered version of themselves, rather than in disempowered parts. Today, bullying is off the charts—nearly one-third of all children are bullying others or being bullied, according to ABC News. Suicides are the third leading cause of death among young people, with upward of half of those as a result of cyber, emotional, verbal, physical, sexual, or social bullying (as reported by the CDC). Therefore, it is crucial that children learn to take their power back, for their own happiness and health. As the children learn about the ten qualities of G-D (like love, compassion, severity, understanding, and wisdom) in the Tree of Life, make them a part of themselves, and strive to display these qualities in as many of their interactions as possible, they become more G-D-like, and therefore much more powerful in materializing what they are attempting to create. Teaching children to live in the Tree of Life reality trains them to approach life as proactive co-creators of their dreams, goals, and purpose.
In addition to bullying, another reason why today’s children may have low self-esteem is because they feel that something is inherently wrong with them. In part, this may be because they have received diagnoses that end in the word “disability” or “disorder” (Learning Disability, Reading Disability, Attention Deficit Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Executive Functioning Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Intermittent Explosive Disorder). But, what if they are not disabled, disordered, or dysfunctional? What if they are just different? What if their differences have been divinely coded to bring about a change of age that is now underway?
Clair-Ascension®’s approach to Kabbalah recognizes the Divinity in each child. Every child is created and equipped with exactly what that child needs to carry out his or her soul’s purpose. For example, if that child’s purpose includes revamping the entire educational system so that it will better meet the younger generation’s needs, then personally experiencing difficulty focusing or organizing or processing might prove to be essential to reconfiguring the entire educational system. Perhaps this is similar to someone who is born with Spina Bifida who grows up to become the chief pediatric surgeon operating from a seated position on children with Spina Bifida.
The younger generation is wired to reveal problems, and eventually help create solutions, not only in their school system, but in government, the judicial and political system, the economic system, organized religion, their parent’s marriage, their partner, and their siblings. In H2W2 - K4K (Kabbalah for Kids), we help the children find, then we encourage, support, and nurture, their soul’s purpose.
If the younger generation receives homework assignments that they think are irrelevant to their life, one cannot just tell them that they have to do it anyway in order to get good grades, to get into a good college, to procure a good job, to earn a decent living, and to live in a safe neighborhood. They do not care. If they consider a homework assignment a waste of their time, they refuse to do it. However, once their soul’s purpose is identified, parents and teachers do not need to motivate them at all. Their motivation is intrinsic.
Even though it is good to question, sometimes some young people can cross the line and behave inappropriately, perhaps swearing at their parents or speaking very disrespectfully to authority figures. In Kabbalah for Kids, we develop a respectful, healthy one-on-one bond with each child, modeling in class and out, respectful behavior in all their relationships.
Happy, Healthy, Wealthy, Wise - Kabbalah for Kids is also a multi-sensory approach that allows them to move, to integrate the energy of the different qualities of the Tree of Life into their bodies. We use color, quizzes, questionnaires (before and after their experience), and an ascension journey to help these children organize themselves, and their time, their papers, their room, to help them create balance in their life, to acquire healthy eating, sleeping, and exercise habits, to navigate comfortably through their low-vibrational emotions (including forgiving), to repattern their limiting beliefs, to discover their genius so that they are eager to do their work, rather than parents needing to nag. We help them with relationships and friendships, and how to have enough self-respect to set healthy boundaries and use discernment with others who may be disrespecting them, making fun of them, teasing them, and even bullying them. We assist them in connecting with the Spiritual Realm, G-D, their Higher Selves, Archangels, and Angels. We aid them in being aware that they are a spirit in a body, and as such, have a spiritual calling, a purpose, a mission, a destiny. We help them in their Divine Original Vibration Embodiment (the purity of who they were originally, before any wounding), so that they not only connect to, but embrace their authentic self, who G-D created them to be, and what G-D created them to do. We foster their living in the flow of life, at a place of inner peace, joy, and love.
Traditionally, Kabbalah was taught only to scholars of the Torah—Old Testament, and other holy books, who were married males over forty. How exciting to bring an introduction to Kabbalah geared toward fifth graders and up!
Karen Greenberg, the owner of Clair-Ascension®, offers classes and private sessions in H2W2 - K4K (Happy, Healthy, Wealthy, Wise - Kabbalah for Kids). Please visit the website clair-ascension.com or contact Karen at email@example.com with questions or for further information.
While brief bursts of inspiration can reignite our commitment to our spiritual journeys, many of us are challenged to sustain the same level of enthusiasm over time. Why is this? I recently asked about 40 people in a journaling workshop I facilitated what barriers they have encountered in using writing as a spiritual practice. Their answers, while focused on writing, were identical to the types of challenges I commonly hear people in my interspiritual coaching practice express as challenges on their spiritual journeys: 1) self-judgments, 2) not having enough time for practice, and 3) lack of clear intention.
Kristen Madrid and James McDonald have had a lifelong interest in the metaphysical and spiritual tools for healing practices, and their shared passion has blossomed into Saline’s first and only mind, body, and spirit shop: Earth Elements. At their store on Michigan Avenue in downtown Saline, you’ll find everything from crystals and gemstone jewelry to loose leaf teas and Reiki healing services. Together, they have created a one-stop-shop for self-exploration and spiritual connection. Stay for a cup of their “tea of the day”, and you will find it is also a wonderful space for relaxation and taking a much-needed break.
Many people today are attracted to the world’s indigenous cultures, sensing these ancient ways touch the enigma of the soul which is so fundamentally lacking in mainstream society. Yet there might be a blind spot in this approach to ancestral spirituality, one that became apparent to me while living alongside indigenous elders for many years. Helping to unite this gap between worlds has since become my life’s work.
I posed many similar questions to different spiritual leaders in our community in an effort to educate myself about the Ann Arbor goddess scene. They all recognized the dominant masculine energies which pervade our society and still they were hopeful, funny, erudite, and, most importantly, wise. They helped me see that I wasn’t confused, but that the grander cosmos was unaligned.
At the end of a silent meditation retreat at Triple Crane Monastery, we often hear that people experienced many kinds of benefits such as: increased flexibility, increased energy, a reduction in stress and anxiety, a feeling of being more connected to their own senses, more happiness, a discovery of their innate abilities, more insight, and an increase in wisdom. However, some may say these are only the superficial benefits of meditation. Are there greater benefits from a truly deep meditation?
Do you have areas of your life where you feel ‘stuck,’ even though you’ve tried many ways to make changes? What lasting upgrade would you like to make in your health, finances, or relationships? Beneath every problem are beliefs, feelings, and often-traumatic responses with which we resonate unconsciously. When we resonate with what is positive, we spiral up; we’re able to access opportunities for change in a creative and self-empowered way. We feel confident in our capacity to handle what life brings us with clear thinking and an open heart. Basically, our system is energized by these positive beliefs and feelings.
ShuNahSii Rose is the creator of In Sacred Balance. Now in its 27th year, In Sacred Balance offers a model of a “sustained inter-generational feminist spiritual community” with deep Ann Arbor roots. The magic ShuNahSii creates is palpable and necessary, a healing balm for the soul of the world. I met her for coffee and to chat about her passion for restoring relations between humanity and other inhabitants of our world.
In my daily life, I have a rhythm that goes something like this: Wake up. Eat. Do some yoga. Work. Eat again. Work a bit more. Sleep. Repeat. There are some weeks where I am on autopilot, and miss the daily miracles and surprises. If my life becomes a rhythm of hour after hour, day after day, week after week of busyness like this, with no play and no time outdoors, I begin to lose perspective.
I became interested in Amma, an Indian spiritual leader, given the tremendous buzz in the international community about her humanitarian work. She is from my husband’s state in Kerala, India, and he has met her. My friends queried why I hadn’t met her. I felt my exploration of this mystical person was long overdue, but I wanted to learn more about this hypothetical saint before I was willing to meet her. When I started reading about her, I became overwhelmed. There was so much literature about her. My experience reading it was antithetical to her teachings of peace and unity; it was an information overload. Still, I stuck with it.
I reflect on my experience with learning mindfulness cooking and eating practice during silent retreats at a Zen Buddhist Sangha in North Carolina. I examined the concept of gratitude when planting, harvesting, preparing and consuming food. Although these times were for deep contemplative study and complete silence, there was a common language spoken around the kitchen counter and table that I call reverence.
An equinoctial night in 2016. It’s raining. The injured raptor birds, often used in educational programs, sleep in little wooden houses on the hillside. Community gardens and orchards await spring, leaves poised to unfurl and earth to be turned. It is the night of the salamander survey at Black Pond Woods.
To gain insight into how Zen practice impacts daily life, we asked eight Zen Temple practitioners, each in different stages of his or her meditation practice, the following questions: 1) How long have you been practicing Zen Meditation? 2) How does your involvement or meditation practice at the Zen Temple show up in your daily life?
Reverend Haju Sunim has been at the Ann Arbor Zen Buddhist Temple since 1982. She was ordained as a Dharma teacher in l984 and as a Buddhist priest in l993. She hails from Vancouver, British Columbia, where she was born in 1944. In her early 30’s, she lived in Toronto, where she unwittingly joined the avant-garde of her generation, taking yoga classes and seeking new paths.
By Rachel Urist | Photos by Susan Ayer
Cantor Annie Rose will retire in July 2014. By then, she will have been the cantor at Temple Beth Emeth (TBE) for twenty years. She has trained countless bar and bat mitzvah students and created and conducted the Temple’s adult and youth choirs, Kol Halev (Voice of the Heart) and Shir Chadash (New Song).
By Richard Gull
Fifty years ago the human potential movement started at Esalen. That same year, 1962, The Port Huron Statement of Students for a Democratic Society appeared, a political manifesto challenging a new generation to live authentic lives in a participatory democracy. I attended both 50th anniversary celebrations in October 2012. I had taken a class on memoir writing at Esalen two years earlier, in 2010, six months after my wife, Sara, died of cancer.
By Rachel Urist | Photography by Maureen McMahon and Joni Strickfaden
Over the past seven years the Interfaith Center for Spiritual Growth has emerged on the Ann Arbor scene as a vibrant place for community events and a dynamic alternative to Sunday worship. Many have discovered the Center by attending one of their public music events, such as engagements with Kirtan singers Shantala or their Café 704 concert series featuring some of the area’s finest musicians. Others may have visited because of their calendar of speaking engagements with popular authors like Judith Coates or Rev. John Mundy.