May You Choose Love and Light in 2018!

Monday, June 27, 2016

My Challenges With A Double Totem

Judith Ashley is the author of The Sacred Women's Circle series, romantic fiction that honors spiritual traditions that nurture the soul.

I’ve been blogging this month about Power Animals or Personal Totems sharing about my own, a snowy owl and snake. Yes, a snake And an owl!!!

Snake Bracelet
What was fascinating when I learned that? Not that I had a double Totem but that one of them was a snake. There was a time in my life when even a picture of a snake terrified me. I couldn’t look at National Geographic magazines because one never knew what would be on the next page. Visits to the Zoo never included the Reptile Exhibit.

It wasn’t always that bad. But as a child coming upon a garter snake in my backyard or the fields behind my house did startled me.

What brought on the terror?

When I was in fourth grade, I was chased by a group of boys who had caught a couple of snakes on the school grounds. Their idea of fun was to put the snakes down the neck of my dress. (This was in the fifties and girls did not wear pants to school not that that would have made a difference).

Since they were between the school building and me, safety did not lie in that direction.
I ran---
Down the sidewalk away from the school‑‑‑
Determined, they followed me‑‑‑
I was tiring and they were gaining‑‑‑

What to do?

I dashed inside the first doorway I came to‑‑‑the Mausoleum.

Empty. No people, no sounds, no safety.

Where to hide? I saw the sign for the stairs. Yanking open the door, I started down. When I reached the ground floor, the very bowels of the building, I turned down one of the aisles. Collapsing in a corner, I awaited my fate. There was nowhere else to go.

Surrounded by crypts, I wrapped my arms around my knees and sobbed.

I have no memory how long I was there before an older man, who I learned was the caretaker found me.

What happened next is hazy. I know he took me upstairs (by then I was hopelessly lost). Obviously I got home but I’ve no memory if he called my parents or I finally walked the ten or so blocks home.

What I do remember is that after that experience, my fear of snakes was so strong I became hysterical if I saw them in any form.

Top shelf is dragon cup with snowy owl and wizard below
The last time was when my seven year old son brought a rubber snake home and tried to show it to me. My friend, who was there at the time, heard me screaming and rushed to the bedroom. I was wedged between the bed and wall. My young son was having a great time terrifying his mom.

That life event showed me that I had to do something. I couldn't be that vulnerable. So, when an opportunity presented itself for me to learn NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) I jumped at the opportunity to attend an introductory workshop. So desperate to alleviate my fear of snakes, I even volunteered to be the subject of the evening. With my breathing fractured, my heart racing and my palms sweaty, I went through the process using the event of being chased by the boys with the snakes. To my great relief and gratitude, I left that workshop no longer terrified of snakes.

It isn’t that I want one for a pet but my heart stays calm and my breathing regular if I see one on television or in a magazine. Since I do not like thriller or many adventure movies or programs, the prospect of coming upon a snake is reduced. But I can once again leaf through National Geographic magazines.

What I find intriguing about all of this is that other members of the reptile family have not been sources of terror.

Not that I want to come up close and personal with a crocodile or alligator or a Komodo dragon but I remember being fascinate by chameleons as a child. Did you know that if you step on their tail, it comes off and they grow a new one? Geckos are another member of the reptile family that fascinates me.

What would have happened if I had not done the work to eliminate my terror of snakes years before I learn it was one of my Power Animals? My guess is that I’d never read about them and learn that they represent wisdom and healing and are a symbol of transformation (rebirth and resurrection) in many cultures.

Transformation: A snake transformed Adam and Eve’s lives in the Garden of Eden. While I have nothing that dramatic in my own life, my life has had several transformations‑‑‑times when an abrupt turn or out-of-the blue change/shift occurred. Some I’ve sought out and others just seem to happen.
I will admit I’m more involved with my Snowy Owl totem but I do not ignore my Snake totem. I have a snake bracelet (see above) and a couple of snake fetishes. However, I embrace the dragon and they are all over my house. Check back next Monday and see why.

Do you have a favorite animal? Or a least favorite? Is there a story behind that? Please share!!!

You can learn more about The Sacred Women’s Circle series on my website.

Follow me on Twitter: @JudithAshley19

I’m also on Facebook

© 2016 Judith Ashley

Monday, June 20, 2016

Power Animal Lessons

Judith Ashley is the author of The Sacred Women's Circle series, romantic fiction that honors spiritual traditions that nurture the soul.

I’m talking about power animals this month. My main one is the snowy owl but I have other animals
Dragonflies help Ashley fight cancer
that show up in my life with lessons for me to consider.

The Great Blue Heron flies through my life several times a year. The Heron’s message is about waiting for the right time – or patience. If you wait, it will come. The Heron stands stock still in water and the fish come to it! Not that I can sit at my computer and the words magically appear. But when I write it isn’t far from that.

For my books, vivid, lucid dreams (both day and night) are the impetus for my writing. It’s not unusual for me to be surprised at the words I see on the page as I type (yes, my high school typing teacher would be very upset with me because she taught touch typing – you didn’t look at the paper (waay before computers) when you typed).

Some days I don’t write because the story isn’t vivid in my mind. I trust that the story will come back to me and it always does. At this point I’ve written well over 750K words on these stories and there are more to come.

There are crows that live in a tree across the street from me. I see them everywhere in the neighborhood. Seldom (and I’ve lived in my house over 40 years) do they come into my yard. Crows represent the magical world of creation. It’s larger relative, the Raven, adds mysticism to the mix. To some of my readers, the spiritual practices of my heroines is mystical, magical…a fantasy. To others, their spiritual practices call to them and they want to incorporate the prayers and practices into their own spiritual lives.

Stellar Blue Jay snubbing me
Look around you as you go through your day. If you work inside but have access to a window, what’s out there? You may see pigeons if you work in a city. What thoughts cross your mind as you observe them? Seldom do you see a lone pigeon. They are a vocal bird. There are several varieties-think carrier pigeon’s used in war time to carry messages across or through enemy lines.

Maybe it is a neighbor’s cat sunning itself on your deck (mystery/independence)? Or Robins looking for worms in your flower beds (new growth).

Ted Andrews wrote the books Animal-Speak and Animal-Wise. These books are a place to start learning more about messages from the animal world.. He also has an audio program to help people find their Spirit Animal. Medicine Cards by Jamie Sams is another resource. Ms. Sams’ deck of cards is easy to use and the accompanying book gives information about the spiritual traits of the animals.

Use a piece of paper to keep track of the animals that catch your eye. Although I’ve not tried it, if you are into Google, you might even try checking that resource to find out what message is there waiting for you to decipher it.

You can learn more about The Sacred Women’s Circle series on my website.

Follow me on Twitter: @JudithAshley19

I’m also on Facebook

© 2016 Judith Ashley

Monday, June 13, 2016

Power Animals

Judith Ashley is the author of The Sacred Women's Circle series, romantic fiction that honors spiritual traditions that nurture the soul.

Last week I talked about the snowy owl mask my circle sister, Heather, made for me. This week I’d like to talk a bit more about power animals or personal totems.

There are formal ways to ascertain what your power animal is and also informal ways. Today I’m talking about the informal process. In some ways it’s as simple as asking the question: Are you a dog person or a cat person?”

In other words what animals are you drawn to?

I see red tail hawks no one else sees. They are an anomaly in a tree’s structure. While the red tail hawk is not my primary power animal, it is one of my animal totems.

I can also spot whales spouting when other folks miss them. I have a physical or visceral reaction to seeing the sleek black back break water. My breathing fractures if I’m so lucky to see one breach.

But what brings me the most comfort is the snowy owl.

My horse drum
This owl has many of the same characteristics as all other owls but it is more diurnal than nocturnal. In the arctic tundra there aren’t a lot of trees so some actually build nests on the ground (or on ledges on cliffs). I’ve only seen snowy owls in person a couple of times. Once was in a raptor rescue center and the other was when I flew into Logan airport decades ago and all these white birds were on the grassy areas between the runways. At that time in my life, I didn’t even know what they were—only that I was smitten by them.

If you want to find someone who can help you formally figure out your power animal, here are a couple of ideas:

Check with metaphysical stores near you. They may know someone who holds classes or helps people identify their totems.

Look for shamans. Again your metaphysical store may be the best place to look.

A process called “journeying” is involved. Journeying is facilitated by drumming so check out stores that sell drums (not the drum sets musicians).

You can learn more about The Sacred Women’s Circle series on my website.

Follow me on Twitter: @JudithAshley19

I’m also on Facebook

© 2016 Judith Ashley

Monday, June 6, 2016

In Celebration of Snowy Owls

Judith Ashley is the author of The Sacred Women's Circle series, romantic fiction that honors spiritual traditions that nurture the soul.

My books are about the lives of seven women who formed a sacred women’s circle. Readers learn how these relationships and the spirituality they’ve created support each circle sister as she finds her soul mate.

In my own life, I have a sacred women’s circle. There are four of us. Over the years (I first sat in a sacred women’s circle in September 1993), we’ve had many adventures, created rituals, gone on retreats, made giveaways for participants in the Women of the 14th Moon ceremonies that we hosted and grew as individuals and as well as in our spiritual practice.

One of our adventures was to find our own personal totem animal also referred to as our power animal. Here's a picture of one of any number of snowy owls I have in my house. This one hangs from the visor in my car and reminds me to by my higher self when driving.

For 2014 Solstice, Heather gave us each a card with a note that she would be making a mask for each of us. Not just any mask but a mask of our personal totem animal.

Kris received her Bear head mask. 

Michele received her Coyote mask.

Sunday, I received my Snowy Owl mask. The ladies at the table behind me wanted to see me wearing my mask. When I turned around one of them gasped and clutched her chest. Of course in that moment I had no idea what I looked like. Kris took this picture. I will admit that my own heart skips a beat and my chest tightens just looking at this picture. It is awesome to see me with my snowy owl mask.

Heather will be making her own Badger mask.

We are all looking forward to seeing that this fall.

I’ll be writing this month about power animals so check back every Monday to learn more.

You can learn more about The Sacred Women’s Circle series on my website.

Follow me on Twitter: @JudithAshley19

I’m also on Facebook

© 2016 Judith Ashley