What Do You Want – and How Badly?

January 9, 2016 at 12:34 pm (Interesting stories, Magical Places) (, , , )

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This is a fascinating article by author Mark Manson, which is definitely worth a read…

If I ask you, “What do you want out of life?” and you say something like, “I want to be happy and have a great family and a job I like,” it’s so ubiquitous that it doesn’t even mean anything.

A more interesting question, a question that perhaps you’ve never considered before, is what pain do you want in your life? What are you willing to struggle for? Because that seems to be a greater determinant of how our lives turn out.

Read the full article here.

It’s so true… I often get told I’m lucky that I’m motivated enough to write a book, or work out every day, or travel, or whatever… But it’s not luck. It’s just wanting it enough to sacrifice other things in order to achieve it.

Writing a book involves endless hours/days/months of hard work – and sacrificing time with friends, giving up reading for pleasure, limiting time spent chilling out watching Arrow with Juz, definitely sacrificing sleep – but to me it’s worth it…

Working out every day definitely requires sleep sacrifice too, and it’s hard, and it hurts, and it involves a lot of effort and stubbornness and dedication and commitment, but it’s worth it to me to feel stronger (mentally as well as physically), to be fitter and healthier and (hopefully) avoid some illnesses…

Even travelling requires sacrifice – buying fewer clothes, going out less, taking your lunch to work etc, to save up. A friend was jealous I was going travelling for three months – but spent all her money on very expensive shoes and equally expensive wine. She didn’t want it enough to give those things up. Which is fine. It’s your choice, so own that choice.

You just have to decide what matters to you. Because it doesn’t matter if you don’t want to write a book or get fit or go travelling or be a rock star or whatever it is you think you want. Realising that a dream is not actually a dream is very liberating – you can stop struggling and stressing and beating yourself up about not doing it, and enjoy your life.

So, what do you want? And more importantly, is it worth struggling for? If it is, DO IT! Live your dream. Work hard at it. Sacrifice something for it. Make it happen… xx

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The Heart of Brazil

December 9, 2015 at 4:40 pm (Interesting stories, Magical Places, Sacred Sites, Serene's articles) (, , , , )

inspirit_articleThis is an article I wrote for InSpirit Magazine, which appeared in their January 2015 issue. Someone was asking me about it the other day, so here it is…

I believe the earth is sacred and nature is healing, and I’ve learned a little about myself, and gained some kind of healing, from every place I’ve travelled to. From plant medicine ceremonies in the jungles of the Amazon and pagan rituals in the English countryside to meditations inside Egypt’s Great Pyramid and spiritual pilgrimages along the leylines of Spain, I’ve long appreciated the magic of the earth itself to heal us.

The South American country of Brazil is no different. It’s a place of powerful crystals, ancient magic, exotic spirituality, lush rainforests, dramatic waterfalls, potent energy and intense vibrations. My journey began in the hot, dry north, a place of sun-soaked, primal energy. Salvador is the centre of Afro-Brasilian culture and of Candomble, a spiritual tradition developed from the rituals introduced by African slaves, the Catholicism they hid their practices within, and the animistic beliefs of the Amerindian people native to this land. I was so grateful to be able to attend a Candomble ritual in the home of a priestess, which was fascinating, with its primitive drum beats, trance dancing and channeling of messages from their deities.

inSpirit-Healing-Cover-231x300I felt more at home in the south though, at Iguazu Falls, the sacred meeting point of air, land and water (and three separate countries – Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay), and a place of rainbows and wild nature. The thermal resort of Caxambu was also deeply healing, and I felt refreshed and renewed as I soaked in the heated mineral waters of one spring and drank from a cooler source. The twelve different springs all have a different mineral composition (and a different taste!), and are recommended for the treatment of various different ailments, from kidney stones to eye problems, high blood pressure and infertility.

Spiritual travellers also flock to the village of Sao Thome das Letras, which is located on a bed of quartz rock in the mountains and is famous for the number of UFO sightings that have taken place there, as well as for the entrance to a tunnel claimed to burrow all the way to Machu Picchu in Peru, which is kind of spooky to climb down into. Some claim it is one of the seven energy points of the planet, and the vibration of the area is palpable.

paintingBut my most profound healing experience took place in the centre of Brazil, the heart of the country, where the energy is nurturing and gentle. Joao Teixeira de Faria, known as John of God, has been healing people for decades in the tiny village of Abadiania. He was guided to build his healing centre, the Casa de Dom Inacio (the House of Saint Ignatius), here because it’s located on one of the largest quartz crystal deposits in the world, and quartz amplifies healing vibrations. You can certainly feel the energy of the land here. The gardens surrounding the buildings are a place of immense peace and power, and it’s wonderful to just relax under the trees, meditating on the wooden benches, talking to other pilgrims and soaking up the sunshine and the leylines of the earth.

Nearby is a sacred waterfall, and a visit is often prescribed as part of people’s treatment. An underground stream flows through the crystal beds beneath the Casa and is purified and charged with energy before splashing down into the waterfall. It’s wonderful to submerge yourself in its (refreshingly cold and) healing waters, gazing up at the sky through the green canopy overhead, absorbing the ancient power of nature, and of the crystals and the earth itself. Some people have visions there; others feel physically, emotionally or spiritually cleansed, and it’s considered a sacred place for direct communication with Spirit.

The incredible healing energy of the land in this area is an important part of Joao’s work, but so are the visible operations, psychic surgeries and energy work he performs at the Casa. He has cut tumours out of bodies, got wheelchair-bound people walking, cured cancer, blindness and HIV, and facilitated spiritual and emotional healing from grief, depression and psychological disorders. Yet the seventy-three-year-old dubbed the Miracle Man can’t read or write and has no medical training. Instead he is a medium, channelling thirty-three different entities, many of them deceased Brazilian doctors and surgeons, as well as the founder of the Jesuits the Casa is named after. It is they who diagnose the thousands of people who flock to Abadiania every week, prescribe the herbal medicines and perform the surgeries. Joao doesn’t even remember what he’s done at the end of a session – he’s an “unconscious medium”, giving his body over while he channels the medical experts through. Staff at the Casa can tell which being he is incorporating by his mannerisms, voice and even eye colour, which changes depending on which entity is working through him on a particular day.

I don’t know how or why it seems to work; certainly it defies logical explanation and understanding. Joao has been studied by doctors and scientists from around the world, but no one has been able to explain what he does or prove him a fake. He has his sceptics, but it’s hard to doubt when you’ve experienced it yourself and seen it with your own eyes. I witnessed some visible surgeries – which I struggled with because I am squeamish and their gruesome vividness was confronting – and was astounded by the quick recovery and effectiveness for those who had them.

I took my mum in the hope Joao could cure her diabetes, so I was surprised, when I went before the entity on my first day, to be told I’d be having an operation that afternoon. Terrified by the prospect of an eye scraping or scissors up the nose, his most common treatment, the whole time I waited to go in I prayed for it to be an invisible surgery. Thankfully, it was. I filed in to a small room with several others and sat in meditation, then Joao came in and said a prayer in Portuguese, asking the entities to heal us. I felt a sensation below my chest – not pain exactly, but discomfort, as though something was being done there. When I went back to my room, where I was instructed to rest for 24 hours, the area was swollen and sore. If I was imagining it, it would not have been there that I pictured something being done. I also felt dazed and vague, much like the after-effects of anaesthesia. In scientific tests of Joao’s patients, x-rays have discovered incisions and internal stitches in people who’ve had invisible operations.

After resting, I spent the next day and a half in current – when visitors are not having an operation, they sit in the surrounding room, meditating in order to raise the vibration and send energy to Joao and the entities. I went back for revision the following week and sat in the current room again, spent time at the sacred waterfall, had a crystal bed session, and went before Joao with a photo of a sick friend, who was prescribed herbal medicine. I was also prescribed herbs for 55 days, along with slight dietary changes.

My migraines did improve for a while, although I was not cured. Nor, unfortunately, was my mum. But we met people who had been diagnosed with terminal illnesses and dramatically cured by Joao, including a woman who was riddled with cancer and told she would soon die – she’s since dedicated her life to helping him as a volunteer – an American man crippled with arthritis, who was slowly beginning to walk again, the woman who ran our pousada, who was cured of a brain tumour, and an Aussie healed of a near-fatal heart murmur. We also met an amazing Brazilian woman who’d travelled to the Casa in search of both emotional and physical healing. When she saw Joao he told her to start painting for him. She replied that she had no artistic talent, but he insisted she did now – and she could suddenly paint the most beautiful healing artworks, which gave her an income as well as a purpose.

Meeting fellow pilgrims is definitely a huge part of the experience, and a wonderful sense of camaraderie develops with the other people who are there hoping to be healed. Visitors swap stories, share experiences, and lend support as each person goes through their individual process. The healings here are not always what you would expect. Some are far more subtle, or address a different issue, but just being in the energy of this place, in this land, with these people, is an experience I will always treasure.

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Sacred Sites books now on Kindle and iPad!

August 10, 2011 at 2:29 am (Book reviews, News and updates, Publishing) (, , , , , )

In the continuing series of “Things a Writer Must Do That Don’t Involve Writing”… I have just transformed my Sacred Sites book series into eBooks. Sacred Sites: Glastonbury, Sacred Sites: Hawaii, Sacred Sites: Peru, Sacred Sites: The Camino, Sacred Sites: Uluru, Sacred Sites: Egypt and Sacred Sites: Stonehenge are now available from Amazon for Kindles, iPad, iPhones and most computers. The old-fashioned paperback version of these books are available individually or as a set from my website.

 I don’t have an iPad, a Kindle or an iPhone (and even my computer is incompatible with Kindle for Mac), so this has been an interesting learning curve for me. I am intrigued that so many people believe they are the way of the future, and the few people I do know with Kindles love them, so… Who knows, perhaps I will love this adventure into a new format and frontier.

Lucy and I are contemplating transforming Faery Magic and Mermaid Magic into eBooks, so feel free to leave a comment if you think this is a good (or bad) idea… And in the meantime I will see how the Sacred Sites books go, and continue exploring and learning…This new blog format is another result of my eBook research – so I can link my blog, which has existed on my own website for a few years now, to my Amazon and Kindle author page. Ah, technology… I do love you, even if occasionally I curse you 🙂

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