Monthly Archives: December 2012

A Blog of a Different Color

Check Out the New Blog!

Parallel UniversePublic Domain

Parallel Universe
Public Domain

Because I am a journalist, sometimes I just have to comment, review or just report on issues that move or intrigue me. And since I want to keep Reluctant Medium at Large about my book, fun—and of course, explore the metaphysical—I decided a second blog was necessary.

Although it’s still under construction, please feel free to check it out at:

https://paralleluniverseatlarge.wordpress.com/

I’ll be covering a variety of subjects as they come up. Thanks for reading.

Candle Lighting: A Spiritual Exercise

Lighting Candles for Yourself and Others

by G G Collins (Copyright 2013)

Our earliest experience with candles is usually one placed on top of our first birthday cake. Can’t remember? Me either. But candles come to symbolize many things as we make our journeys through life.

Candles at St Francis Cathedral, Santa Fe, NMCopyright G G Collins

Candles at St Francis Cathedral, Santa Fe, NM
Copyright G G Collins

Candles have been used in religious ceremonies for centuries. Catholic Churches frequently have tiers of candles. If I’m traveling and learn that a friend is ill or suffered a tragedy, I will find the nearest church and light one for that person. On acatholiclife.blogspot.com, Matthew posted that Catholics light candles for several reasons, but the original purpose was to remember the words: “I am the Light of the World.” Vigil candles are lit to “wait” with someone who may need us and can be accompanied by prayers.

On Friday evening, 18 minutes before sunset, Jewish women light at least two candles for Shabbat. After lighting the candles—for harmony at home—the woman covers her eyes, moves her hands around the candles several times and says the blessing: “Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has sanctified us with commandments, and commanded us to light Shabbat candles.”

Couple Lighting Unity Candle, Wikipedia Commons

Couple Lighting Unity Candle, Wikipedia Commons

But candles are used in many religious ceremonies around the world, from customary services to baptismal and memorial services. At some weddings, family members light two candles for the bride and groom. Once the official vows have been declared, the couple take the lighted candles and together they bring the flame to the Unity candle, symbolizing the union they have just formed.

For me, I like to light candles for people I know who are going through illness or misfortune or traveling. Whenever possible, I’ll add a sage bundle or a stone to my grouping. The ritual helps me focus on this person and send them good thoughts.  I may meditate for a few minutes watching the flame. I’ve collected a number of photos and drawings of candles which I send to my friends letting them know I’m thinking of them. If I know their favorite color, I’ll send a candle of the same.

Always place candles in a safe location and never leave them burning if you are going to sleep. A friend uses battery operated candles to rule out the possibility of a fire. The bonus, you can drop off to sleep watching it. I’ve also moved on from wax to soy, which burns cleaner.

Candles for FriendsCopyright G G Collins

Candles for Friends
Copyright G G Collins

Lighting candles is a comforting thing to do when there is nothing else you can do. My dear friend Tawna got me started. She said when I was about to leave on a long trip: “I’m going to light a candle for you every day until you return.” That was followed by a big hug. It was so thoughtful and honestly, I kept the picture of her candle in my mind throughout the trip. I’ve followed her lead ever since. Thanks Tawna, you’re a true and loving friend.

If you would like to light a candle, but don’t want to use a real one, here’s a Web site where you can light one virtually:

http://www.gratefulness.org/candles/enter.cfm?l=eng

— G G Collins

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Happy New Year!

Christmas Eve Farolito Walk on Canyon Road in Santa Fe

Christmas Eve in Santa Fe

By G G Collins (Copyright 2013)

Farolitos Line the Roof of La Fonda copyright G G Collins

Farolitos Line the
Roof of La Fonda
copyright G G Collins

It’s Christmas Eve and you’re in Santa Fe. Sunset is fast approaching and the air is frosty. There’s only one thing to do: wrap up warmly and go to the Canyon Road Christmas Eve Farolito Walk.

Forget trying to park. Stay at a nearby hotel or B & B. Otherwise prepare for frustration trying to park. There will be street closures and partial street closures. Last year Santa Fe Trails offered shuttles from the South Capitol Station for $2 round-trip. Check with them for service this year.

Notice the farolitos (brown paper bags with sand and a votive candle) lining the street and sidewalks. Now, in Santa Fe these are called farolitos, but much of New Mexico refers to them as luminarias. To further confuse the issue, in Santa Fe we call bonfires luminarias. Okay, don’t sweat the details; just enjoy.

This can be a shoulder-to-shoulder event with up to 30,000 people—and their dogs—descending on Canyon Road. Santa Fe’s art centre lives right here and many of the galleries will be open late; doorways of yellow light inviting you in. I absolutely love this yearly procession. You never know what surprise waits to delight you. Most of these are provided by the parade you are a part of; people and dogs draped in Christmas lights. Canine friends may be outfitted with antlers in addition to the brightly colored lights. They don’t seem to mind. There’s always a new take on costuming for the Farolito Walk.

Farolito Walk in Santa Fe

Farolito Walk in Santa Fe (Photo credit: feverblue) Creative Commons

Impromptu carolers burst into Christmas songs and spirituals. Music erupts as drummers pound their instruments marching the length of Canyon Road. Notes float across the cold air from a harp or flute gently reminding you of the season. The galleries, shops and restaurants along the narrow thread are decked out with festive lights and bright red bows. It’s a sensory experience of light, sound and delicious scents.

But don’t leave out taste. To warm up, stop and get a coffee, hot chocolate or cider. Usually one can find cookies for munching—you’ll need energy to walk uphill. Take a few moments and warm your hands at a nearby bonfire, and keep going.

When the lights fade and the music stops, just turn around and do it all over. And when you reach the end of Canyon Road, savor the experience, because it will be another whole year before it happens again. This is Christmas Eve in Santa Fe.

— G G CollinsCopyscape Do Not Copy

Links to YouTube videos of the Christmas Eve Farolito Walk on Canyon Road:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XdVRZ2MGjlM http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEJLNPDBRkc

Whatever holiday you celebrate, may it be happy and peaceful.

ClipArt

Connecticut Shooting Tragedy

Sandy Hook’s Women of Courage

Moved to new commentary blog:

http://paralleluniverseatlarge.wordpress.com

 

Interview With Book Character

Interview with Rachel Blackstone, the “Reluctant Medium”

as told to G G Collins

Reluctant Mediumcopyright G G Collins

Reluctant Medium
copyright G G Collins

What is your author like? My author drives me nuts! By the way, her name is G G Collins and I’m her character, Rachel Blackstone. Yes, (yawn) I’m the Reluctant Medium. But back to G G, it’s not the late night writing that annoys me—I’m a night owl too—but all the outlandish stuff she has me do. You know, she thinks it up, but she doesn’t have to do it. I do. In the first book, I had to break and enter, send my car into an arroyo, tramp around Tent Rocks in the middle of the night, all the while coping with bad men and an evil spirit. Geez, and I still had to make all my deadlines. This time, I swear it’s true, she sending me traveling on the astral plane! You know, there is no map available, no app (but I don’t do cell phones anyway) and the auto club has never heard of it. That leaves me hoofing through the whole thing practically in blinders (ooh, too many equestrian references).

Tell me about the place where you live. Santa Fe, New Mexico is known as the City Different, because of its unique adobe architecture. In reality, it’s the city same, because all the buildings look similar with flat roofs and stucco facade. They’re all painted in one of the approved brown colors, although you occasionally see a white house where obviously an independent type lives. But, the high desert climate attracts artists from all over who come to paint the

The Shed, Welcoming on any DayCourtesy The Shed

The Shed, Welcoming on any Day
Courtesy The Shed

beautiful vistas that are Santa Fe. It is a place where people who don’t fit where they were born, can find acceptance being different. I love to hike and ski in the Sangre de Cristos. But mostly, I enjoy eating the spicy southwest foods with friend Chloe. We’re especially fond of The Shed and its yummy margaritas. Oh yes, the food is good too.

What is your family like? This gets complicated. Both parents are dead. My father was killed recently in a car wreck and I don’t think it was an accident. Now, the brother is the mayor, but he’s, well, shall we say unpopular. He cheats on his wife with all the lovely young clerks at city hall. I’m pretty sure he’s runs low and fast with the law, but have no proof. He thinks I’m “unbalanced” and “flaky.” I’m married, currently, but things aren’t going well. After my father died, I took a powder and split town for a few months. Anthony is a documentary producer and is feeling the pangs of those first wrinkles and what his Hollywood connections might think. He medicates with alcohol. I’m not sure it’s going to work out.

Who is your best friend in the world and what is she like? That would be Chloe, who might as well be family, but sometimes friends are better. She’s a very, make that very, successful real estate mogul in a city full of them. Although she’s been married a couple times (I’m not sure how many), she kept the last name of Valdez in the divorce settlement because it seemed to help with selling houses here in the southwest. We’re not entirely opposites, but she’s high-fashion and heels and I’m comfortable in flat shoes I can run in. You never know when you might need to make a hasty exit. Chloe loves to accompany me on journalistic stakeouts, you know mixing with the rift-raft—but she caters it! I mean before she tagged along the first time, I did just fine with green chile cheese burritos and some instant tea. Chloe changed that forever. Oh yes, and I must tell you, she’s into everything that could possibly be called New Age. I mean it, everything. She really embraced this medium thing. I’m not going there, no way.

What is the thing you are most proud of? Definitely following in my father’s footsteps, the family business: reporting. He was an award-winning journalist in New Mexico at the Albuquerque Journal. I write for a magazine with serious liberal leanings. Writing is in our bloodlines, but the brother must have had a transfusion. Oh well (shakes her head), moving on. I love to interview. The most important thing is how you connect with a person to help them feel comfortable and get the best story. But I find the research side engaging too. It’s a “wow” moment when I find that infinitesimal scrap of information that ties it altogether. Pulling it all into a readable story that informs or helps the reader is the final touch. I love it all, but lately things have been a bit strange. I’m searching for normal, you know, before the spirit thing. It creeps me out!

Hot Tub at 10,000 Wavescopyright G G Collins

Hot Tub at 10,000 Waves
copyright G G Collins

If you had a day to do anything you wanted, what would you do? That’s a tough one. I’d sleep late, eat something for breakfast slathered in green chile, call Chloe and go skiing. After an afternoon on the slopes, we stop by 10,000 Waves, get a massage and soak in a hot tub. Then on to dinner and of course, I’ll buy the drinks because Chloe always beats me down the mountain. But this never happens all in one day because there is always another deadline to meet. I’d be real happy if all my interviews were on time and my computer doesn’t lock up.

What is your home like? Anthony and I have a bit of a posh place in the hills north of Santa Fe’s downtown. He makes good money, I don’t. He worries about status and since we have been known to “entertain” Hollywood types, he wanted a certain look. I guess you could call it modern southwest for want of a better term. It has clean lines and we have a lovely woman who comes and cares for it. It’s not my thing however. When I lost my mind one night and fled New Mexico, I found a small house in a once elegant neighborhood. Okay, it’s a bit of a dump, but I like it. I feel another change coming on. If there is one thing I like, it’s a fresh start.

Lamps & Flowers in the Plazacopyright G G Collins

Lamps & Flowers in the Plaza
copyright G G Collins

What is your most prized possession? That would have to be my car. I bought it on impulse the night I fled my life. It’s a big, make that BIG, navy Mercury Marquis. The Merc guzzles gas, but is “Ride Engineered” and it is smooth. But oh my, it does not fit Santa Fe’s narrow streets and tight alleys. And just try to park it! Now Chloe hates it. Doesn’t want to be seen in it, and often offers to have it detailed. I admit it is a bit messy. I don’t mean for it to happen, but somehow it fills up with notebooks, tapes (I’m old fashioned, no digital recorders), the remains of meals and whatever clothes might land in the back seat. So there you have it. It’s my declaration of independence.

How would you describe yourself? Haven’t I been describing myself? Oh, I guess that’s kind of rude. Okay, you already know I’m a reporter, with a bad marriage, and a roué for a brother. What you don’t know is that I’m not child friendly and I swear a lot. I eat an awful diet, despite Chloe’s efforts, and I never gain a pound. Now you hate me, right? I take all kinds of risks, professional and personal. That’s probably why I tried to return my father from the great beyond. Unfortunately, I lost concentration for a moment, and another soul slipped through. He’s undoubtedly evil and seems to be angry with my brother. Despite my sparkling relationship with Santa Fe’s so-so mayor, I don’t want him hurt. The disturbing part is that I’m seeing other spirits too. And there is the lone wolf. I don’t know how he fits in. I tell you, this medium stuff is exhausting. I’m sure it’s just a one-time thing. Don’t you?

Cover of "Stella Dallas"

Cover of Stella Dallas

English: Publicity Still from Barbara Stanwyck...

English: Publicity Still from Barbara Stanwyck’s ‘Stella Dallas’, a 1937 film. The role earned her the nomination for an Academy Award for Best Actress. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Where do you work? I write for High Desert Country. It’s located on a one-way street in an old adobe house. It has a fish pond in the yard that we never have time to enjoy, but Julian (my boss) hides the keys to the office in the pond. Everyone in town knows where they are. Julian hired me shortly after he and Stella Dallas (her mother loved Barbara Stanwyck) launched the magazine. The cast of characters includes Shorty, who of course, isn’t, short that is. He’s our photographer and keeps the ancient photocopier working. He reads motorcycle magazines between assignments. But someone new has been added in my absence. Julian’s conservative nephew has come onboard, a product of nepotism, despite the fact that his uncle can’t stand him either. It’s interesting. Stop by anytime, the nice woman across the street bakes goodies for us on a regular basis. You can always watch TV with Stella. She’ll say “hello” when you walk in. Me? I’ll be pounding out a story two desks back.

 

“Reluctant Medium” available at Smashwords for $.99 with coupon number until December 10th. Enter the coupon code prior to completing checkout at Smashwords:  WW77S

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/248836

 

Smudging Ceremony

Basic Cleansing Ritual

by G G Collins      (Copyright 2013)

In Reluctant Medium, Rachel’s mechanic and shaman Lloyd Soretto smudged her car after it was repaired following a mishap into an arroyo while being chased in the dark. Soretto returned in Lemurian Medium to clear Rachel’s house after the man-eating Mesoamerican deity, Quetzalcoatl, made threats in her kitchen.

There are many reasons to cleanse rooms or objects. Have you ever had someone visit and when they left, it felt as if they had dumped their emotional baggage in your living room? After an illness, smudging can symbolize healing and moving on.When a person buys another house, they may wish to evict any lingering energy.

Items for Smudging CeremonyCopyright G G Collins

Items for Smudging Ceremony: sage bundle, sweetgrass, shell, cedar, charcoal & feather.
Copyright G G Collins

Several items are needed to perform a smudging ceremony. Sometimes you can find these as kits in a metaphysical store or you can buy each as you need them. Start with a white sage bundle. When burned, sage purifies negative energy and carries it away. Smoldering cedar attracts good spirits and negates harmful energy. When you wish to say a prayer or attract positive energy to a ceremony, burn sweetgrass.

An abalone shell makes a perfect vessel for incense, cedar or small amounts of sweetgrass or sage. You can also use a clay pot or flat stone as long as it’s a natural material. If you wish to use a charcoal disc for burning, you may break it in small pieces rather than using the entire tab at once.

Light the SageCopyright G G Collins

Light the Sage
Copyright G G Collins

Once you lighted the sage bundle, let it burn for a few moments. You’ll need a feather or piece of paper to fan the smoke, but please never kill a bird or pull a feather from a living bird. Many birds, such as the eagle are protected species. It’s just not good karma. Look for feathers on the ground or buy one.

Extinguish the fire by crushing the sage in the shell or blowing out the flame. Allow it to smolder. Using your feather, walk around the room in clockwise manner, wafting the smoke into all the dark corners where unwanted entities may hang out. If you’re cleansing an object, walk about the article and allow the smoke to caress it. For rooms, open a window to allow bad energy to escape.

Fanning with FeatherCopyright G G Collins

Fanning with Feather
Copyright G G Collins

If you wish, you may say a mantra such as “Ahh Om” or chant a blessing or prayer of your choosing. Ask the entities or energies to please vacate the space or item. And thank the pure presence in your life.

Smudging is a way of helping us start over, put unpleasant experiences behind us or just clear our personal space regularly. Clearing rituals have been used throughout the centuries and are as varied as the people who used them.

Sacred SageSmokeless Mist

Sacred Sage
Smokeless Mist

NOTE: Many of us are unable to tolerate smoke. If you are one, there is a product called Sacred Sage which is a smokeless mist containing white sage and cedar.

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