Friday, September 30, 2011

Home: This Must Be the Place

"Home is where I want to be
Pick me up and turn me round
I feel numb - born with a weak heart
I guess I must be having fun
The less we say about it the better
Make it up as we go along
Feet on the ground
Head in the sky
It's ok I know nothing's wrong . . nothing

Hi yo I got plenty of time
Hi yo you got light in your eyes
And you're standing here beside me
I love the passing of time
Never for money
Always for love
Cover up and say goodnight . . . say goodnight

Home - is where I want to be
But I guess I'm already there
I come home - she lifted up her wings
Guess that this must be the place
I can't tell one from another
Did I find you, or you find me?
There was a time Before we were born
If someone asks, this is where I'll be . . . where I'll be.   ..."
-  David Byrne and the Talking Heads, 1984

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Medicine Ball Exercises

Qigong, Tai Chi Chuan and physical culture enthusiasts can benefit from using a medicine ball when doing exercises.  There are many routines developed by Taijiquan and Qigong masters using a medicine ball, e.g., Yang Jwing Ming, Chen Qing Zhou, and Jiang Jian-ye.  

Medicine Ball Training and Exercises: Bibliography, Links, Resources
.  Prepared by Mike Garofalo.  A general introduction to the use of medicine balls in exercise programs. 

I developed my own medicine ball routine called:
Magic Pearl Qigong.

Magic Pearl Qigong, Part I, Movements 1-8
.   Instructions, Bibliography, Links, Handouts, Resources, Mythological Associations, Lore.  Prepared by Mike Garofalo. 

Magic Pearl Qigong, Part II, Movements 9-16
.   Instructions, Bibliography, Links, Handouts, Resources, Mythological Associations, Lore.  Prepared by Mike Garofalo. 

The Magic Pearl Qigong can be a very vigorous physical culture routine if you increase the weight of the ball and the number of repetitions of each movement.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tao Te Ching, Chapter 17

"In the highest antiquity, the people did not know that there were rulers.
In the next age they loved them and praised them.
In the next they feared them. 
In the next they despised them.
Thus it was that when faith in the Dao was deficient in the rulers a want of faith in them ensued.
How irresolute did those earliest rulers appear, showing by their reticence the importance which they set upon their words!
Their work was done and their undertakings were successful, while the people all said, 'We are as we are, of ourselves!' " 
-   Translated by James Legge, 1891, Chapter 17    

"When great men rule, subjects know little of their existence.
Rulers who are less great win the affection and praise of their subjects.
A common ruler is feared by his subjects, and an unworthy ruler is despised.
When a ruler lacks faith, you may seek in vain for it among his subjects.
How carefully a wise ruler chooses his words.
He performs deeds, and accumulates merit!
Under such a ruler the people think they are ruling themselves."
-  Translated by Dwight Goddard, 1919, Chapter 17 

"The greatest rulers are the ones whose existence the people do not notice at all,
The rulers who are inferior to them are the ones whom the people honor and praise,
And inferior to those are the ones of whom they are afraid,
And inferior to those are the ones whom they despise.
When there is a lack of faith in the ruler,
No one believes in his rule.
Now, learn how much importance must be attributed to words."
-   Translated by Chou Wing Chohan, Chapter 17 

"Of great rulers the subjects do not notice the existence.
To lesser ones people are attached; they praise them.
Still lesser ones people fear, and the meanest ones people despise.
For it is said: 'If your faith be insufficient, verily, you will receive no faith.' 
How reluctantly the great rulers considered their words!
Merit they accomplished; deeds they performed; and the hundred families thought: 'We are independent.' "  
-   Translated by D. T. Suzuki and Paul Carus, 1913, Chapter 17     

"The wise leader does not intervene unnecessarily. The leader's presence is felt, but often the group runs itself.
Lesser leaders do a lot, say a lot, have followers, and form cults.
Even worse ones use fear to energize groups to overcome resistance.
Only the most dreadful leaders have bad reputations.
Remember that you are facilitating another person's process. It is not your process. Do not intrude. Do not control. Do not force your own needs and insights into the foreground.
If you do not trust a person's process, that person will not trust you.
Imagine that you are a midwife; you are assisting at someone else's birth. Do good without show or fuss. Facilitate what is happening rather than what you think ought to be happening. If you must take the lead, lead so that the mother is helped, yet still free and in charge.
When the baby is born, the mother will rightly say: "We did it ourselves!""
-  Translated by John Heider, 1985, Chapter 17 

"Of the best rulers
The people (only) know that they exist;
The next best the love and praise;
The next they fear;
And the next they revile.

When they do not command the people's faith,
Some will lose faith in them,
And then they resort to oaths!
But (of the best) when their task is accomplished,
their work done,
The people all remark, "We have done it ourselves.""
-  Translated by Lin Yutang, 1955, Chapter 17

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Chakras - Color Associations

You might find the following mnemonic device useful in helping to remember the order and colors associated with the chakras in the esoteric human body. 

Remember the following name:   Roy G. Biv

Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.  

Monday, September 26, 2011

Chen Taijiquan Short 18 Form by Chen Zhenglei

Chen Style Taijiquan Short Hand Form, 18 Movements
Created by Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei

Bibliography, Resources, List of Movements, Resources, Links, Instructions, Comments
Webpage by Michael Garofalo
Chen Style Taijiquan
Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei's Short 18 Movements Tai Chi Hand Form
List of 18 Movements

5.     Single Whip 

7.     Walk Diagonally  

8.     Brush Knee

14.   Cloud Hands  

18.   Closing Posture of Taiji    

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Poems by Mike Garofalo

Poetry by Michael P. Garofalo

Above the Fog 

Cuttings: Haiku and Short Poems  

Concrete Poetry  





Poetry by
Michael P. Garofalo
Red Bluff, California

Yellow Patty-Pans in the Pure Sunshine

Hardly thinking, mind still,
Strolling out into the garden;
Awakening in the dawn glow,
Summer sun rising over the cloudless Cascades.
Deep green fat squash leaves,
Worry free, covering the damp clay soil.
My hands search the straw mulch for
Spaghetti squash, patty pans, crook necks,
     zucchini, pumpkins, cantaloupes, cucumbers, gourds …
All fattening on water, sun, and soil.

I touch the vines and smile, grasping colored fruits,
Worry free, pleased just to be
Me, the sum of things, I am That,
Living and dead, endless vines of beings,
A billion bees sucking a trillion flowers,
In the Valley Spirit of a million summers. 
Past and Present merge Now,
As I fill to the brim with twining thoughts,
Fattening on ideas, memories, fantasies, images, reflections,
A pumpkin mind, full of invisible mind seeds,
A growing matrix of wonderful words. 

As it should be. 
-  By Mike Garofalo

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Eight Section Brocade Qigong

Eight Section Brocade Qigong
Eight Silken Treasures Qigong
Ba Duan Jin Qigong
History, Instructions, Bibliography, Links, Resources, Quotes
Research by Michael P. Garofalo

This popular webpage at the Cloud Hands Website provides information about the history and purpose of this popular Qigong (Chi Kung) practice. Detailed descriptions are provided for each of the eight movements; including information on movement variations, health benefits, qigong meaning, and cautions. The document includes the most extensive bibliography, link guide, and comments on Ba Duan Jin Qigong resources available anywhere.  This document is updated as new information is discovered. 
This is a large document in HTML of around 352Kb and was last updated on 1/28/2011. 

This qigong set is the most popular set practiced around the world, and is also known as: Baduanjin, Pa Tuan Jin, Eight Silken Treasures, Ba Duan Jin, Pal Dan Gum, Ba Duan Gin, Pa Tin Kam, Otto Pezzi di Tesoro, Acht Delen Brokaat, Les Huit Exercices del la Soie, Eight Silken Treasures, Brocade Qigong, Wudang Brocade Qigong, Brocade soft qigong (Rou Gong), Eight Treasures inner qigong (Nei Gong), Silk Treasures Qigong, and the first eight Buddha Lohan Hands

Other Qigong exercise sets I have studied include the Five Animal Frolics, the Magic Pearl Qigong, Temple Qigong, Five Elements Qigong, Dragon Qigong, Muscle-Tendon Changing Qigong, Wudang Qigong, and Wild Goose Qigong.  Over the years, I have attended many workshops on Qigong and Yoga, and studied many books and instructional DVDs and videotapes on the subject.  There are hundreds of Qigong sets available to select from to find what works best for you.  

Friday, September 23, 2011

Autumn Equinox Celebration

The Autumn Equinox occurs today, Friday, September 23, at 2:05 am (PDT).  Today is the first day of the Fall season.  In Red Bluff, California we are expecting a low today of 63F and a high of 102F.  

Today is one of the Eight High Days for celebration or feasting by Neopagans around the world, and the day is variously named: Welsh Mabon, Late Summer Harvest Feast, Autumnal Equinox, Alban Elfed, Harvest Home, Second Harvest Festival, Cornucopia, Feast of Avalon, Festival of Dionysus, Harvest Tide, Witch's Thanksgiving, Night of the Hunter, Apple Festival, High Mysteries of Demeter and Persephone, September 21st - 23rd, September Celebrations, NeoPagan Thanksgiving, Winter Finding (Teutonic), Equinozio di Autunno (Strega), Wine Festival, Winter Nights, Zhong Qiu Jie (Moon Festival).  Check out my webpage on the subject of Mabon.  

Autumn Equinox: The Enchantment of Mabon.   By Ellen Dugan.  Woodbury, Minnesota, Llewellyn Pubs., 2005.  Bibliography, index, 208 pages.  ISBN: 0738706248.  VSCL.  A very informative book on the subject.  

This morning, at 5:30 am, I lit a fire our Sacred Circle Garden.  I sipped Irish coffee (a tip of the hat to John Barleycorn's gift to us).  I meditated.  I opened the Circle and called the Quarters, made some offerings, and called on spirits for healing support.  The element of Water, Autumn, aging, intuition, Demeter, waning of the year, the Crone, feelings and emotions were the themes.  After sunrise, I read Druid and Taoist books and scriptures, and made some notes.  I did my daily Tarot reading.  I enjoyed playing Taijiquan and Qigong.  I listened to an MP3 recording from the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids during the day.  

I am a NeoPagan and borrow from modern Druid and ancient Taoist practices, legends and ideas to acknowledge and celebrate our many gifts from the Tao, Mother Earth, the Goddesses/Gods, our Ancestors, and the Nature Spirits.  I am mostly a solitary Druid/Taoist.  My temple is my home garden.  I have ample reasons for gratitude, respect, reverence, awe, and inspiration.  What I believe has more to do with mysticism, creativity, vitality, and beauty than any fixed set of religious doctrines or dogmas. 

Our Gushen Grove Sacred Circle Garden is used for outdoor fireplace activities, relaxing during the cooler hours of the day, and for meditation and rituals.  The blue pole, set in the west side of the garden, was the place for a Mabon altar.  The blue ceramic pot in front of the blue pole is filled to the brim with water.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My Recent Reading

Here are a few books that I have enjoyed reading in the last few weeks:

The Path of Druidry: Walking in the Ancient Green Way.  By Penny Billington.  Woodbury, Minnesota, Llewellyn Publications, 2011.  Index, bibliography, glossary, 331 pages.  ISBN: 9780738723464.   VSCL.  

"Practicing Druid Penny Billington offers a clear and structured course of study grounded in Celtic history and mythology, and highlights the mysteries and modern practice of this nature-based tradition. Each chapter begins with an evocative visualization and captivating Welsh mythic tales from the Mabinogion are woven throughout, introducing lessons and key concepts. A series of hands-on exercises will help you internalize these truths, develop a spiritual awareness rooted in nature, build a relationship with the multi-dimensional world, and ultimately adopt a druidic worldview to guide you in everyday life."
Those who are members of the Bardic Grade of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids will find this book very useful.   

Ecomysticism: The Profound Experience of Nature as Spiritual Guide.  By Cal Von Essen, M.D..  Rochester, Vermont, Bear and Co., 2007.  Index, bibliography, 274 pages.  ISBN:  9781591431183.  VSCL.  

The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson.  Edited by Thomas H. Johnson.  Boston, MA, Little, Brown, and Co., 1890, 1960.  Index of First Lines, Subject index, 770 pages.  VSCL.  

The Power of the Five Elements: The Chinese Medicine Path to Healthy Aging and Stress Resistance.  By Charles A. Moss, M.D..  Berkley, California, North Atlantic Books, 2010.  Index, bibliography, 298 pages.  ISBN: 9781556438745.  VSCL.  

I enjoy reading biographies.  I borrow them from the Tehama County Public Library.  This past summer, I read longer biographies about Charles Darwin, Aldo Leopold, J.R.R. Tolkien, Ansel Adams, James Joyce, Thomas Mann, Wallace Stevens, Alan Watts, John Muir, and Allen Ginsberg.   

Tintern Abbey by William Wordsworth, 1798

"For I have learned
To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes             90
The still, sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue. And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man;
A motion and a spirit, that impels                             100
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods,
And mountains; and of all that we behold
From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye, and ear,--both what they half create,
And what perceive; well pleased to recognise
In nature and the language of the sense,
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul             110
Of all my moral being."
-  William Wordsworth, Tintern Abbey 
One of the first voices of Autumn
Singing clearly in our garden is the 
"yellow yellow yellow" 
heard every time I walk nearby.  


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Rootless Tree by Chang San Feng

Does anyone know where I might be able to find an English language translation of The Rootless Tree verses in either a book, journal article, online, or in a private collection?  

無根樹  Wugen Shu  The Rootless Tree

The Rootless Tree is an Taoist alchemical text attributed to Taoist Master Zhang San Feng.  The text has 24 verses and was written between 1100-1400 CE.  The content reflects Complete Reality Taoism - a blend of Buddhism and Taoism.  

I did find one translation online:  The Rootless Tree.  Translated by Akrishi.  2009.  The seven webpages include a short introduction, then webpages with facing Chinese characters and an English language translation, and a separate English only translation.     

Please comment to this blog post, or send me an email

Thank you very much for any assistance!! 

Here are the first two verses of Akrishi's translation:

Rootless tree, the flower is shattered.
Cling to vanity who will cease? 
Wretched life, sea of sufferings.
Drifting here and there ain’t not free. 
No shore nor end, no berth to park.
All day sail around sharks and fishes. 
If you repent, there is the shore,
Not until the wind and waves break your vessel. 

Rootless tree, the flower is withering,
Renew old tree and graft green branch.
Plum on willow, mulberry with pear,
Pass to devotees as an example. 
Ancient method of transplanting immortals,
There is really a cure to aging.
Seek a guru, ask for the recipe
Proceed to practice less too late.  

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Walking in the Garden

I have been at home for the past seven days recovering from some recent surgery on my thigh.  I take numerous short walks in our garden during the day, and take care of the watering.  I also gently practice Qigong and Taijiquan.  I saw my physician yesterday, and he encouraged me to walk to improve my chances for recovery. 

Our "sunny" vegetable garden has been highly productive this summer.  As we come to the end of summer, a number of fruit trees are producing delicious fruits.  The Marianna prune plums, and figs, are still providing plenty of delicious fruit.  The persimmon trees are loaded with fruit that will ripen in late October - likewise for the pomegranates.  

"If you look for the truth outside yourself,
It gets farther and farther away.
Today walking alone, I meet it everywhere I step.
It is the same as me, yet I am not it.
Only if you understand it in this way
Will you merge with the way things are."
-   Tung-Shan   

"It's amazing how much time one can spend in a garden doing nothing at all.  I sometimes think, in fact, that the nicest part of gardening is walking around in a daze, idly deadheading the odd dahlia, wondering where on earth to squeeze in yet another impulse buy, debating whether to move the recalcitrant artemisia one more time, or daydreaming about where to put the pergola."
-   Jane Garmey, A Writer in the Garden  

Ways of Walking: Quotes, Poems, Sayings

"An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day."
-   Henry David Thoreau  

"Walking is a man's best medicine."
-  Hippocrates 

Walking Meditation: Quotes, Bibliography, Notes

"The sum of the whole is this: walk and be happy, walk and be healthy. "The best of all ways to lengthen our days" is not, as Mr. Thomas Moore has it, "to steal a few hours from night, my love;" but, with leave be it spoken, to walk steadily and with a purpose. The wandering man knows of certain ancients, far gone in years, who have staved off infirmities and dissolution by earnest walking,--hale fellows close upon eighty and ninety, but brisk as boys."
-  Charles Dickens  

Monday, September 19, 2011

Deliberate, Sensitive, Calm and Quiet

"Simply speaking, drushti is sensitive awareness to that which you are doing. This has two aspects that are vital to every aspect of our practice. First it means bringing your mind to bear exactly on what you are doing. Not doing one thing while thinking another. This actually means learning not even to be thinking about what you are doing. Rather, just be doing it, feeling it. In the beginning we must think before we act. Then we act. Then think again. But we must learn to separate these two processes so that we can act with precision and clarity, without the distraction of thought. Eventually we will learn to trust the intelligence of the body and will be able to dispense with the thinking process more and more. Then our practice becomes meditation in action." 

"The second aspect is to feel the effect of what we are doing. Not only at the point of the action itself, but throughout the whole structure of the body and the quality of the mind. We must feel its impact on the functioning of the body, breath and mind. We use this feedback to go deeper into the poses by making adjustments according to the four secondary techniques of asana, vinyasa, bandha and pranayama. Then through the dynamic created between our intention and our actions, a meditative awareness emerges."
- Godfrey Devereux, Dynamic Yoga, 1998, p. 24 

"Everything about Tai Chi is relaxed, deliberate and focused in the moment. The simple truth is, when you engage in Tai Chi you're temporarily disconnecting your awareness from your present life situations - be it family, work, friends etc. Think of it as a momentary retreat from life to regroup your energies. If properly learned and practiced, the resulting benefits of bringing your life energy into a balanced, harmonized and integrated state can serve to increase your vitality, reduce stress, better control your emotions, modify your habits and much, and much more!"
- Si Gung Tiru Sadasivam, Tai Chi Chuan

When moving in Taijiquan forms, remain open, alert, untensed, free, and fluid. This state of being is called Sung

"Let the Void be your cauldron.
Let Nature be your furnace.
For your primary ingredient, take stillness.
For your reagent; use quietude.
For Mercury, take your vital essence.
For Lead, use your vital energy.
For Water, use restraint.
For Fire, take meditation.

When the Mind is Stilled,
Spirit Brightens.
Great Mysteries are Illuminated."
- Chao Pi Chen

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Lady Gongsun's Sword Dance

"There lived many years ago the beautiful Lady Gongsun,
Who, dancing with her sword, drew from all four quarters
An audience like mountains lost among themselves.

Heaven and Earth moved back and forth, following her motions,
Bright as when the Archer shot the Nine Suns down from the sky
And rapid as angels before the wings of dragons.

She began like a thunderbolt, venting its anger,
And ended like the shining calm of rivers and sea.

But vanished are those red lips and those pearly sleeves;
And none but this one talented pupil bears the perfume of her fame,
This sword dancer from Lingying, the Town of the White Goddess,
Who still dances and sings in the carefree old ways.

After the dance, we chatted for awhile.
We sighed together, saddened by the changes that have come.
There were a thousand ladies in the late Emperor's court;
But Lady Gongsun's sword dance was first among them all.

Fifty years have passed, like the turning of a hand;
Wind and dust, filling the world, obscure the Imperial House.
Instead of the Pear Garden Players, gone like the fog,
Only two girl musicians remain to charm the cold Sun.

There are now man-sized trees by the Emperor's Golden Tomb.
I seem to hear dead grasses rustling on the windy cliffs of Qutang.
The song is done, the slow strings and quick flutes have ceased.
At the height of joy, sorrow comes with the eastern moon rising.

And I, a poor old man, not knowing where to go,
Walk away slowly into the lonely hills, tired, facing the sunset."

- Du Fu, The Sword Dance Performed by a Pupil of Lady Gongsun
"300 Chinese Poems" The poet Du Fu (712-770, 杜甫) mentioned in his poem "Witnessing Gongsun Da Niang's Disciple Sword Dance Performance" (观公孙大娘弟子舞剑器行) that there was a female sword dancer in the court of Emperor Xuan Zong (唐玄宗) who was probably the greatest in her field.

"Another aspect of the martial dance is the "sword dance," devised by master swordsmen. Ancients sought to combine the ethos of swordsmanship with the sword dance, calling it "sword vigor." The most famous sword dancer of the Tang Dynasty was legendary beauty, Lady Gongsun. As a child, the celebrated Tang poet Du Fu once watched her dance, and the specter created by her superb skill remained forever fresh in his memory. The square in Yancheng, Henan Province was a sea of people. Following a roll of drums, Lady Gongsun appeared, rapier in hand. The sword glinted with every change of posture and stance, whispering like silk on being unsheathed and flashing at each thrust. Her dancing seemed to evince a power that could hold back rivers and repulse oceans. Years later, Du Fu watched the sword dance performed by Li Shi'erniang, one of Gongsun's adherents. Her execution of it was so reminiscent of Gongsun's original performance that Du Fu, now in his 50s, was fired with new vitality, and wrote a poem, 'The Sword Dance Performed by a Girl-Pupil of Lady Gongsun.'"
- Tang Dynasty Dances

Taijiquan Sword: Bibliography, Links, Resources, Instruction, Guides, All Styles

T'ai Chi Ch'uan Sword: Poems, Sayings, Quotations, Wisdom

Tai Chi 32 Sword

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Past in the Key

"I saw Master Chang San-feng
Enter the Sidhe, Fairies by his side,
Crossing over the pond at dawn.
Astonished I was!
On the teahouse table by the pond I later found
Some of his neatly printed notes
Folded in a well worn tome 
Of the Tao Te Ching, in Chapter 14. 

He had written:
”Even for an Immortal, the Past is the Key.

The Future
Grasp at it, but you can’t get it,
Colorless as an invisible crystal web,
Unformed, thin, a conundrum of ideas,
The Grand White Cloud Temple of Possibilities,
Flimsy as a maybe, strong as our hopes,
Silent as eternal Space.
When you meet it, you can’t see its face.
You want to stand for it, but cannot find a place. 

The Present
It appears and disappears through the moving ten thousand things,
Quick as a wink, elusive as a hummingbird,
Always Now with no other choice,
Moving ground, unstable Plates,
Real as much as Real gets to Be,
This Day has finally come,
Room for something, for the moment, waits
Gone in a flash, assigned a date,
Gulp, swallowed by the future.
Unceasing, continuous, entering and leaving
The vast empty center of the Elixir Field.

The Past
Becoming obscurer, fading, falling apart,
A mess of memories in the matrix of brains;
Some of it written, fixed in ink, chiseled in stone,
Most of it long lost in graves of pure grey bones.
Following it you cannot see its back,
Only forms of the formless, stories, tales,
Images of imageless, fictions, myths.
A smattering of forever fixed facts,
Scattered about the homes of fading ghosts. 
The twists and turns of millions of tongues
Leaving us languages, our passports to the past.

The future becomes past, the present becomes past,

Every thing lives, subtracting but seconds for Nowness, in the Past. 
The Realms of the Gods, the kingdoms of men,
The Evolutionary Tree with roots a million years long
Intertwined with turtles, dragons, trees, stars and toads;
     crickets, coyotes, grasses, tigers, bears, monkeys and men.  

These profoundest Three of Time
An unraveled red Knot of Mystery,
Evading scrutiny in the darkness of days
Eluding capture in the brightness of nights,
In beginnings and endings are only One, the Tao,
Coming from Nowhere, Returning to Nothing.  

What dimension of Time
Does your mind dwell within?
Future, Present or Past
Where is your homeland?  

The Past holds the accomplishments, the created, the glories, and the Great.
The Present is but a thin coat of ice on the Pond of Fate. 
The Future is an illusion, a guess, a plethora of possible states.

Recreate the Past
By playing within the Present. 
Twisting and reeling one’s silky reality
From the Black Cocoons of the Acts
From which we create our Pasts.
Follow the Ancient Ways. 
The Past is the Key.”   
-  By Michael P. Garofalo, Meetings with Master Chang San-feng

Friday, September 16, 2011

Autumn Equinox Celebration Preparations: Mabon

We Druid/Taoists prepare for the upcoming Autumnal Equinox celebration, also called Mabon, Autumn Moon Festival, Alban Elfed, Harvest Home Festival, Apple Feast, etc.   

This year, the Moon Festival, Zhong Qiu Jie, a very popular Chinese autumn festival, was on September 12th, when the moon was full in September.  

"Equal dark, equal light
Flow in Circle, deep insight
Blessed Be, Blessed Be
The transformation of energy!
So it flows, out it goes
Three-fold back it shall be
Blessed Be, Blessed Be
The transformation of energy!"
-   Night An'Fey, Transformation of Energy

"The last of Summer is Delight --
Deterred by Retrospect.
'Tis Ecstasy's revealed Review --
Enchantment's Syndicate.

To meet it -- nameless as it is --
Without celestial Mail --
Audacious as without a Knock
To walk within the Veil."
-   Emily Dickinson, The Last of Summer is Delight 
September: Quotes, Poems, Lore

"Great Goddess, Mistress of cats,
Lady of love, beautiful Vana-Goddess,
Fulfill my greatest needs, O glorious one.
Teach me the magic I need.
Give me a glimpse of your deep wisdom.
Teach me in dreams. Enrich my life.
O Lady, you are Golden-Tears of Asgard
Lady of love, beautiful Vana-Goddess,
You are the Shape-shifter, the Sayer,
The Independent One.
Give me the strength and the magic I need."
Prayers to Freyja   

General Preparations for Mabon 

We gather dry corn stalks and make background arrangements and corn dollys; collect, dry and display all kinds of gourds and squash; we cut long grape vines and tie into circular forms for wheel symbols; we cut fire wood for a outdoor pre-dawn campfire in our sacred circle garden; we do reading in literature relevant to the Mabon seasonal theme; we make special meals with the vegetables and fruits of the season; we make moon cakes with rice.  We tend to do pre-dawn fireplace celebrations in the summer because it is too hot in the evening. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Seeing Within Is Seeing Without

“In the same way, in the phenomenon called experience reality is not an encounter of the knower and the known.  Reality is the experience that can be termed as having two aspects, two ends, the knower and the known, although this is only a figure of speech.  In a neurological sense, everything you see is yourself.  What you are aware of is a state of your nervous system, and there is no other knowledge whatsoever.  That does not mean that your nervous system is the only existing reality, and that there is nothing beyond your nervous system, but it does mean that all knowledge is knowledge of you, and that therefore, in some mysterious way, you are not different from the external world you know.  If you see, then, that what you experience and what you are are the same thing, then take it a step further, and realize also that you are in the external world you are looking at.  Just as I am in your external world, you are in my external world, and yet I am in the same world you are.”
-  Alan Watts, Taoist Ways, 1966 

"What is seen by the eye is transformed and colored by the vision of the mind."
- Robert Wade    

Is this the tree of the Queen Mother of the West?  Please let it be.  What I see before me makes my mouth water. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ways to Lift Your Spirits

Boost Your Mood, Pick Yourself Up
Revitalize Yourself, Banish the Blues  

Be grateful for the good in your life.   
Give yourself permission to be human.
Brighten someone’s day. 
Learn something new. 
Listen to upbeat music.
Do some exercise on a regular basis.
Simplify your life, remove clutter, and clean. 
Go for a walk. 
Enjoy sex and discover romance. 
Get organized.
Do a good deed or volunteer.  
Smile and put on a happy face. 
Indulge your senses. 
Seek and cultivate beauty. 
Take time to breathe deeply. 
Look at some old photos. 
Focus on the positive. 
Forgive yourself. 
Get some fresh air. 
Eat often and eat light. 
Begin a program of meditation or contemplation.
Talk with your physician or counselor.   
Cook and prepare a lovely and tasty meal. 
Eat something nutritious like nuts or fruit. 
Pamper yourself.
Alter your routines in some way. 
Have confidence. 
Talk with your spouse. 
Fake it till you make it. 
Sign a song out loud. 
Tap into your creative side. 
Take up a mind-body practice like Taijiquan, Qigong or Yoga. 
Inhale a calming scent. 
Sit quietly, rest, or sleep. 
Brainstorm a problem for solutions. 
Avoid bad or negative companions, and find good friends. 
Watch a good non-violent movie. 
Work in the garden. 
Cool down strong emotions. 
Take some vacation time for relaxation and retreat. 
Look on the Bright Side.
Small steps of progress are better than no steps. 
Avoid watching the news for a week. 
Don’t take yourself too seriously. 
Focus on past successes, not failures. 
Create a wish list and make one wish come true.
Explore ways to boost your self-esteem. 
Focus on what you can control and what you can change.
Get some more sunlight on your body. 
Choose your attitude and how you will react to life's events. 
Spend less, avoid shopping. 
Stop all cussing, swearing, or rude language. 
Keep a journal or express yourself in writing. 
Go easy on yourself and yield.  
Count your blessings. 
Spend some time with children. 
Take a long shower or refreshing soaking bath. 
Get relevant and accurate information. 
Chat with a friendly person or neighbor.
Things change and time heals. 
Adapt, adapt, adapt. 
Agree to disagree; you don’t need to win every argument.   
Think fast.
Consider vitamin or herbal supplements that lift mood. 
Seek professional help for serious mental health problems. 
Read something inspiring. 
Avoid comparing yourself to others, and envy is a waste of time.
Try praying or chanting. 
Evaluate and revise your goals. 
Don't sweat the small stuff. 
Pet your dog or cat and care for them. 
Get a massage.
Enjoy a non-competitive sport. 
Try fasting or staying up all night. 
Donate your stuff, your skills, or your time.   
Forgive and forget. 
Dance till you are tired. 
Punch a bag or bang on a drum. 
Stop using any recreational drugs. 
Spend some time with children. 
Abandon false ideas and unrealistic aims. 
Enjoy a refreshing drink. 
Make someone laugh. 
Allow yourself to be eccentric, and enjoy some silly thoughts.
Have a bowl of soup or a cup of tea. 
Less talking and more doing. 
Get up, dress up, and show up. 
Observe nature carefully and respectfully.
Visit your public library and borrow some beautiful books. 
Be less self-centered and selfish. 
A spiritual advisor, rituals, or religious beliefs can sometimes help.
Love expands your horizons of caring and happiness. 
Accept the fact that some things are broken and can't be fixed.
Memorize and inspirational saying, prayer, poem or quote. 
Call or visit a sick person. 
Play a game. 

By Mike Garofalo
Valley Spirit Qigong
Red Bluff, California  

Ways to Lift Your Spirits (3 pages, PDF Format)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Focused on Personal Health Issues

I was in the Mercy Hospital in Redding from Friday afternoon, 9/9, until Tuesday afternoon, 9/13.  I was on strong intravenous antibiotics (Vancomycin and Zosin) to help me fight an infection in the seroma and surrounding tissue in my upper left thigh and the spreading cellulitis in my left thigh.  Early this morning, Dr. Hatter, a vascular surgeon, did surgery on the large seroma on my upper left thigh and inserted a Wound-Vac to begin Negative Pressure Wound Therapy.  I will be recovering at home for the next two weeks.  I will receive treatment from the Mercy Hospital Wound Clinic in Redding, California, and from the St. Elizabeth's Home Health Wound Care Services.  

Hopefully, my otherwise healthy constitution for a 65 year old man will enable me to make a full recovery in a reasonable period of time. I hope to return to teaching Tai Chi Chuan and Qigong on 9/24, and teaching yoga on 11/1. 

The last two and a half months have been a very challenging recovery after the surgery to remove a large non-cancerous tumor from my upper left thigh on June 28th.  I now have had three surgeries on my thigh, two to repair the seroma that formed after the first surgery.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Magic Pearl Qigong - A Medicine Ball Routine

Qigong and physical culture enthusiasts can benefit from using a medicine ball when doing exercises.  There are many routines developed by Taijiquan and Qigong masters using a medicine ball. 

Medicine Ball Training and Exercises: Bibliography, Links, Resources.  Prepared by Mike Garofalo.  A general introduction to the use of medicine balls in exercise programs. 

I developed my own medicine ball routine called: Magic Pearl Qigong.

Magic Pearl Qigong, Part I, Movements 1-8.   Instructions, Bibliography, Links, Handouts, Resources, Mythological Associations, Lore.  Prepared by Mike Garofalo. 

Magic Pearl Qigong, Part II, Movements 9-16.   Instructions, Bibliography, Links, Handouts, Resources, Mythological Associations, Lore.  Prepared by Mike Garofalo. 

The Magic Pearl Qigong can be a very vigorous physical culture routine if you increase the weight of the ball and the number of repetitions of each movement.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Careful Weeding

"Each one has his own most real thing.  Mine is the garden."
-   Louisa Yeomans King

"People who spend a great deal of time in their gardens attest to the natural mindfulness that gardening requires.  What could be more naturally mindful than weeding?  It requires a great deal of sustained attention.  Weeds need to be taken up with care: Pull too hard, and the weed breaks in your fingers, leaving the root to grow and spread.  Different weeds need different techniques and, sometimes, tools.  When we weed our gardens, we have to pay attention to where and how we walk and bend.  Move too far in one direction or another, and we'll squash growing things."
-  Sura Lama Das, "Awakening to the Sacred"

From the looks of the picture below, we have some weeding to do this weekend.  


Are you carefully and systematically weeding out your non-productive habits?
What are you more "real things?" 

Lifestyle Advice for Wise Persons

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Tao Te Ching, Chapter 14

In Praise of the Profound; It is Colorless, Silent, and Subtle; The Manifestation of the Mystery, Form of the Formless, Something Shapeless, Elusive and Evasive, Nameless,  贊玄  

"We look at Reason and do not see it; its name is Colorless.
We listen to Reason and do not hear it; its name is Soundless.
We grope for Reason and do not grasp it; its name is Bodiless. 
These three things cannot further be analyzed.
Thus they are combined and conceived as a unity which on its surface is not clear and in its depth not obscure.
Forever and aye Reason remains unnamable, and again and again it returns home to non-existence.
This is called the form of the formless, the image of the imageless.
This is called the transcendentally abstruse.
In front its beginning is not seen.
In the rear its end is not seen. 
By holding fast to the Reason of the ancients, the present is mastered and the origin of the past understood.
This is called Reason's clue." 
-   Translated by D. T. Suzuki and Paul Carus, 1913, Chapter 14 

"What you don't see when you look
is called the unobtrusive.
What you don hear when you listen
is called the rarefied.
What you don't get when you grasp
is called the subtle.
These three cannot be completely fathomed,
so they merge into one:
above is not bright, below is not dark.
Continuous, unnameable, it returns again to
This is called the stateless state,
the image of no thing;
this is called mental abstraction.
When you face it you do not see its head,
when you follow it you do not see its back.
Hold the ancient Way
so as to direct present existence:
only when you can know the ancient
can this be called the basic cycle of the Way."
-  Translated by Thomas Cleary, 1991, Chapter 14

"Look for it, you won't see It;
It is called 'fleeting.'
Listen for It, you won't hear It;
It is called 'thin.' 
Grasp at It, You can't get It;
It is called 'subtle.'
These three lines
Are about something that evades scrutiny.
Yes, in it everything blends and becomes one.
Its top is not bring
Its underside is not dim.
Always unnamable,
It runs back to nothingness. 
This is the shape of something shapeless
The form of a nothing
This is elusive and evasive. 
Encountering it, you won't see the front
Following it, you won't see its back.
Keep to the Tao of the ancients
And so manage things happening today.
The ability to know the ancient sources
This is the main thread of Tao."
-   Translated by Michael LaFargue, 1992, Chapter 14  

 "We look at it, and we do not see it, and we name it 'the Equable.'
We listen to it, and we do not hear it, and we name it 'the Inaudible.'
We try to grasp it, and do not get hold of it, and we name it 'the Subtle.'
With these three qualities, it cannot be made the subject of description;
Hence we blend them together and obtain The One.
Its upper part is not bright, and its lower part is not obscure.
Ceaseless in its action, it yet cannot be named, and then it again returns and becomes nothing.
This is called the Form of the Formless, and the Semblance of the Invisible;
This is called the Fleeting and Indeterminable.
We meet it and do not see its Front; we follow it, and do not see its Back. 
When we can lay hold of the Dao of old to direct the things of the present day,
And are able to know it as it was of old in the beginning,
This is called unwinding the clue of Dao."  
-   Translated by James Legge, 1891, Chapter 14  

"Look at it, it cannot be seen
It is called colorless
Listen to it, it cannot be heard
It is called noiseless
Reach for it, it cannot be held
It is called formless
These three cannot be completely unraveled
So they are combined into one
Above it, not bright
Below it, not dark
Continuing endlessly, cannot be named
It returns back to nothingness
Thus it is called the form of the formless
The image of the imageless
This is called enigmatic
Confront it, its front cannot be seen
Follow it, its back cannot be seen
Wield the Tao of the ancients
To Manage the existence of today
One can know the ancient beginning
It is called the Tao Axiom."
-  Translated by Derek Lin, 2006, Chapter 14

"They call it elusive, and say
That one looks
But it never appears.
They say that indeed it is rare,
Since one listens,
But never a sound.
Subtle, they call it, and say
That one grasps it
But never gets hold.
These three complaints amount
To only one, which is
Beyond all resolution.

At rising, it does not illumine;

At setting, no darkness ensues;
It stretches far back
To that nameless estate
Which existed before the creation.

Describe it as form yet unformed;

As shape that is still without shape;
Or say it is vagueness confused:
One meets it and it has no front;
One follows and there is no rear.

If you hold ever fast

To that most ancient Way,
You may govern today.
Call truly that knowledge
Of primal beginnings
The clue to the Way."
-  Translation by Raymond B. Blakney, 1955, Chapter 14


Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Tai Chi Chuan: Additional Principles

I have read three Taijiquan books by Master John Loupos.  These books are very informative, well written, and full of insights.  From his book, Inside Tai Chi, p.181, we find the following lists of "Additional Principles" of T'ai Chi Ch'uan:  

1.  Develop your ability to maintain your vertical centerline as an axis from the Bai Hui downwards through the perineum.  

2.  Develop your ability to always move fluidly from your center.  

3.  Maintain your root so that you do not bounce up.
4.  Allow  your spirit and intention to manifest within each movement.

5.  Develop your Ting Jing skill in order to listen and perceive what needs to be perceived.  

6.  Always strive to integrate the different parts of your body, as well as the different parts of your self.

7.  Always attend to stregthening the weakest part.

8.  Breath naturally.

9.  Like water, seek the most natural path.  Employ the least amount of force necessary for any given action.

10.  When issuing force forward, root down to the back and draw in the front.  When receiving for from the front, root to the front and ground down to the back.  

11.  Remember that both life and T'ai Chi are temporary gifts.  Celebrate them accordingly.

Cloud Hands - Yun Shou