We were borne before the wind
Also younger than the sun
Ere the bonnie boat was won
As we sailed into the mystic
Hark, now hear the sailors cry
Smell the sea and feel the sky
Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic
And when that fog horn blows I will be coming home
And when the fog horn blows I want to hear it
~From Into the Mystic by Van Morrison
*This post reflects my thoughts as I’m trying to find ways to feel hopeful and positive in a world gone dark.
So I was just planning to write ‘Into the Mystic’ which was going to be about some of the spiritual experiences I’ve had but then I really wanted to write about the beautiful altars we are creating here and too, I wanted to write about the music video, Always Stay Humble and Kind. In the midst of all these thoughts however, I realized that the The Return of the Beer Fairy, actually just the Beer Fairy was somehow a part of this too.
So maybe I can bring this all together..anyway I want to try
Into the Mystery/Mystical Experiences
Mankind’s greatest gift, also its greatest curse, is that we have free choice. We can make our choices built from love or from fear.”
― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
Probably the most influential and significant teacher I ever had was Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, pioneer in the field of death and dying and author of the international bestseller, On Death and Dying.
Elisabeth was a psychiatrist who worked with terminally ill patients and she was also a chain smoker. There was a lot of judgement about her smoking from judgemental people and she often wore a t-shirt that said “Bitching about my Smoking will be Hazardous to your Health.” She also had a t-shirt that said “Just Visiting this Planet”
I loved her for many things but partly because of these seeming contradictions….she was a rebel. She was no holier- than- thou person and when people at her emotionally intense and cathartic Life, Death and Transition workshops, screamed out their pain, their anger and hurled curses and abuses at God, she would say simply “God can take it”
My first what I would call mystical experience, happened after I came back from one of her 5 day live-in workshops.
I had felt peace, real peace at that workshop which was held at the Old Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside California. The overwhelming, ever present fear that I live with left.
When I got back to Texas though- I was living in Houston then, a strange thing happened: I had no thoughts and no awareness of time-an hour or an entire day were the same. I called my therapist who I was seeing at the time because I didn’t understand what was happening to me. I felt totally at peace as opposed to, as one therapist put it, “Always on High Alert”. I was happy just to be and feel the peace but since I had no sense of time, I was concerned that I would forget to pick my son up from school.
My therapist suggested a few things to bring me down and out of this state: I could either go visit my parents or drink a beer. I tried this and I went back to my normal state of fear and anxiety.
Several years later, the same thing happened again: I was about to watch a Shakespearean play that my son was in at the Point Outdoor Theater in Ingram Texas. The misty, foggy night reflected the spirit of the play at this theater which is on the banks of the Guadalupe River and a man dressed in a medieval costume had come with his falcon. Before the play started he would let his falcon fly over the audience to his assistant on the other side.
I remember that I wasn’t in a very good mood. I was sitting with some friends waiting for the play to start when the falcon flew directly over my head…. and I went with the falcon. It was the same experience as before: no thoughts, no worries, no sense of time..“the peace that passeth all understanding”. But I was working on a photo/oral history exhibit at the time and in my peaceful state, I had no interest in finishing it. Again I chose to come down…. from the peace.
I have had some mystical experiences since though different. Elisabeth taught me a way to be in touch with my spirit guides/guardian angels and I do this often but I have never again experienced that complete sense of peace .
The Altars and the Beer Fairy
“An altar is like an airport where spirits take off and land”
― Steven Chuks Nwaokeke
“Through Gracie’s visit with the Beer Fairy, Robbins explores the theme of the Mystery, namely the idea that the divine is present in real life and that, as the Beer Fairy puts it, adults thirst for “that alternative to the unsatisfying reality men have constructed for themselves.” According to the Beer Fairy, a foamy brew serves as the vehicle that connects people, on rare occasions, to the transcendent and the mystical.”
~from Tom Robbins Meets the Beer Fairy by Lizzie Stark
About how his art began during the years he spent in prison earlier in his life.
In prison he made woven crosses and learned the handkerchief art called Paños/Pañuelos. In the last several years, he has done wood carving, made tables and started working with clay. About a year ago he started making altars and is now taking orders for custom made and designed personal altars.: firstname.lastname@example.org
His most recent altar was commissioned for a marine in Virginia and I decided to document the process and make a slideshow.
The altars are unique and beautiful on their own but part of what makes them so is who Jody is and what he’s been through. Art has brought him out of a very dark place and given him a new life:
“I WANT TO GIVE BACK AND TO THANK THE CREATOR FOR MY ART THAT TAKES ME TO THE SECRET PLACE OF LIFE.”
THE BEER FAIRY..
I started calling myself the Beer Fairy a couple years ago. Jody really likes beer and since he doesn’t like to leave the community, it’s usually up to me to bring him beer.
But the concept of the Beer Fairy means much more than that to me..it’s like Elisabeth and her smoking…it’s like you have to experience, have to have both sides..
Some people try to be perfect–they don’t drink, they don’t smoke, they eat all the right foods. And there’s nobody there…no fire, no passion, no spirit..just milk toast and weak tea. These are the people who are very quick to judge others for habits they disapprove of…. Perfect people are very hard to relate to.
I was 9 when my mother died..my dad woke me up one morning to tell me that she had died the night before. I remember struggling to think of something nice to say about her. Finally I said “She was so good.” but that wasn’t what I felt. What I felt was that she was rigid and righteous and cold and I didn’t like her. To her family however, she was a saint: she didn’t drink, didn’t smoke etc..she was perfect which was why I could not relate to her.
So the Beer Fairy, the concept to me anyway, brings balance, brings humanity and humility.
ALWAYS STAY HUMBLE AND KIND
I heard this song several months ago and it stayed with me. Recently I thought about it again when it won Best Country Song at the 2017 Grammy Awards. I looked it up and came across this music video and I wanted to post it because of its simple message which could change the whole world.
Somewhat like the teaching of Humility from the Anishnabe People of Canada which says:
“Much of the division we see in today’s world is because people have not understood the spirit of humility: to understand the spirit of humility is to understand that no one is above another human being. No one is greater than another human being in this life; no one is lesser than another human being.
To be humble is to see us equally in the eyes of the Great Spirit through the unconditional love of the Great Spirit. His love is expressed to all of us in the same way that the sun will shine on us. The sun does not choose to shine on any one person alone or any one race of people, it shines on all.”
~Anishnabe Elder, Dave Courchene