Posts tagged: release

MERLYN’S RAVEN: My first novel is HERE!

 

Today’s the day!

So, how did this happen? I’m not sure I know myself.

I fell in love with Arthurian legend in high school. My English teacher, Mr. Geier, introduced it to us junior year. We read Mary Stewart’s The Crystal Cave and T.H. White’s The Once and Future King. Those stories were enough to hook me into a universe where knights and ladies and magic permeated every page and kept me engaged from cover to cover. I continued reading Arthurian legend in college and even considered pursuing a master’s degree in English with a concentration in Arthurian literature.

Once I began to study metaphysics, my interest in Celtic mythology, legend, and magic (spelled with a “k,” to define it as the purposeful manipulation of energy) only deepened. I read a great deal of Celtic history and submerged myself in works by John and Caitlin Matthews, who shed light into the very early roots of Arthurian legend and helped me to better understand the underlying esoteric mysteries of the stories. My love for King Arthur, Queen Guinevere, Lancelot, and especially Merlin the Magician grew by leaps and bounds as I began to not only enjoy them as characters but understood their intrinsic archetypal energies and how these might be useful insights in my own life and on my spiritual path.

Many of you who regularly read my blog or who have read my metaphysical nonfiction books know that I am a Spiritualist medium, and I work very closely with my spirit guides and teachers. One of them is called Merlin, and he is my master guide, a being who is very interested in helping me along my spiritual path. Is it a coincidence that I have a Merlin who is very prominent and important in my spiritual life, and I have a character in a novel based on that figure from legend? I don’t personally believe in coincidence, but I do believe in energy parallels. It’s not surprising to me that my love of Arthurian literature and my deep connection to these legends became a theme in my first fiction book. I didn’t necessarily plan it that way, but Spirit has a way of leading us to events in our lives that are important and essential to our continued growth. I know that this novel is a reflection of that progress forward in some way, even if I don’t know exactly how.

The Merlin I communicate with on a regular basis is very different from the Merlyn in MERLYN’S RAVEN. In fact, my Merlin thinks it’s quite funny that the Merlyn in the book is the romantic hero, something that is very different from his own reality. But it is still my interest in my Merlin and the many Merlin legends that coaxed this novel into being. The Vita Merlini, written by Geoffrey of Monmouth in 1150, is a lyrical poem describing the life of Merlin. In it, Geoffrey draws on other old legends to tell the tale of Arthur’s Merlin, including in it a wife named Guendoloena. When I read this, I was stunned. Nowhere else in Arthurian legend had I seen Merlin in love, let alone married! This revelation started my creative juices flowing. Who was this woman? What was she like? Why would Merlin fall in love with her? And what would it be like for her to be married to the greatest wizard/magician/necromancer/prophet (pick your poison) that the world has ever known?

Thus, my heroine, Gwendydd, was born. (I didn’t like the name Guendoloena, so I chose a Welsh name similar to it.) And I decided to spell Merlyn with a “y,” just to be difficult. 🙂

So yes, Merlyn’s Raven is a love story. But it’s also an adventure, as is all Arthurian legend. For people who enjoy Arthurian stories, there are references to other aspects of Merlyn’s life that may seem familiar. Hopefully, no matter if you are a fan of the Arthurian universe or are brand new to these tales, you will find a story centering around two young people who fall in love and try to change a kingdom for the better. Along the way, they encounter terrible obstacles, including evil kings, dragons, invaders, magical swords, spells, and family secrets that threaten to destroy their union. Can Gwendydd and Merlyn find a way to be together and fulfill their destinies?

You’ll have to read the book to find out. I hope you will. And if you need another incentive to do so, here is the beautiful book trailer that my twins sons put together to support Merlyn’s Raven. Enjoy.

Merlyn’s Raven

You can download an e-copy of the book at Soul Mate Publishing today. By the end of this week, it should also be available for download at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

And to celebrate today’s release, I am offering a special prize. If  you leave a message here on the blog, I will put your name in a drawing to win a 3-month forecast Tarot reading, performed via email by me! The winner of this prize will be announced on Friday, April 20. And if you feel compelled to share this announcement with your friends, please do! I’d love to welcome them here on the blog.

Thanks and love to you all!

 

“See Ya In Another Life, Brother”

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By now, most people who care about it have seen the series finale of the television show Lost. If the buzz I’ve heard around the Internet is any indication, people feel two ways about the ending: they either loved it, or they hated it. I unabashedly fall into the camp of those who loved it, and I’ll tell you exactly why if you indulge me and keep reading.

I came to Lost much later than most fans of the show. I’d heard a lot about it over the years, but I didn’t want to invest in another television show. I’m the kind of person who gets attached to T.V. shows pretty easily if I like the characters, but watching a weekly program is a huge time commitment, not to mention the level of emotional investment I usually tend to make. When Lost started, I wasn’t prepared to do that, and as the show continued on in subsequent seasons, I knew I’d have to start back at the beginning if I wanted to make heads or tails out of the island mythology. But I had a lot of friends who watched the program and would chat about it, and I started to feel a bit left out. Was I really missing something spectacular? It sure sounded like I was. So, last summer, at the beginning of June, I rented season one of Lost from Netflix. I knew that the upcoming season six would be its last on network television, and I wanted to get caught up on the show before it began airing its final episodes in January, 2010. My intention was to watch the show by myself–but when I saw the pilot episode, that quickly changed.

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I was so visually and emotionally impressed with the first episode of Lost that I said to my husband and twin teenaged sons, “I think you guys would really like this show. Do you want to watch it with me?” Thus began a family odyssey last summer, where we watched the whole mystery of the plane crash, the island, and its inhabitants unfold over five seasons. We viewed all five years of the show by the end of 2009, and we were all definitely ready to invest in the final season when it began in January.

I know there are plenty of people out there who think that the mysteries of the island were not explained in a plausible, satisfactory way. I am not one of those people. Quite frankly, I never really cared much about why Oceanic Flight 815 crashed on the island. Although the smoke monster and the polar bear were kind of interesting and frightening, I never really cared why they were strange anomalies on the island. Although the Others and the fights between the different factions of people made for intriguing story lines (sometimes, and sometimes for tedious ones), it never really mattered to me why or how those Others got to the island. All I cared about was the fate of the passengers who crashed, the ones I was introduced to in that pilot episode, the ones who made indelible imprints on my heart.

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Yes, some of the characters bugged me (Shannon), and some of their story lines didn’t make any sense (what was all that about Walt being psychic or something?) And yes, I am in the camp of “Why were some of those characters in the finale and some weren’t?” (Michael and Walt were noticeably absent, but Penny, who’d never even been on the island, was there.) Be that as it may, I can look past that, because the finale was so, so good in so many ways. Mostly, to me, a Spiritualist and a medium, it was incredibly emotionally and spiritually fulfilling, which is why I loved it so much.

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The beauty of the Lost finale lies in the relationships between the main characters. One by one, in their alternate reality off the island, the characters “wake up” to the reality of their lives on the island and the importance of the people that shared those experiences. The emotional intensity of the scenes between Jin and Sun, Charlie and Claire, and especially Sawyer and Juliet were some of the best moments of television I’ve ever witnessed.

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Sure, the flashbacks helped, but what mattered were the connections re-made by the ones experiencing them. And as far as I’m concerned, Terry O’Quinn deserves another Emmy award for his portrayal of John Locke. His post-surgery scene with Jack was breathtaking.

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And wasn’t that always what Lost came down to in the end? The struggle between faith, represented in earlier seasons by John Locke, and science, represented by Dr. Jack Shepherd? I think this is a huge part of the importance of Lost, but to me, the show’s message can be summed up even more simply. It’s a show about love. We see that in the finale as we watch all of the characters come together in a better understanding of themselves and each other while in the alternate reality. And we see that in Jack’s heroic actions on the island itself as he attempts to destroy the Man in Black (now walking around in Locke’s body) and to restore The Light that the island keeps on behalf of the whole universe.

Much has been made of the alternate reality timeline that has been running since the beginning of season six and plays such an important part in the final moments of the show. It’s obvious to me that the alternate reality is a level of the afterlife where, as Christian Shepherd tells his son Jack, there is “no time.” He explains it’s a place that the survivors of the plane crash made after they died so that they could all remember, let go, and move on, together. Did they all die in the plane crash, as some people seem to think, deeming the whole six seasons of Lost a kind of purgatory (or, as Richard called it, “hell”)? No. As we’ve been told many times on Lost, what happened, happened. Everyone died. They just did it at different times: some on the island (like Boone and Shannon and Libby, and, in the heart-breaking way it played out, Jack), some off the island after they’d made their final escape at a time in the future we don’t see (Kate, Sawyer, and presumably Desmond, since Hurley and Ben decided their first order of business as the new island caretakers was to get him back to Penny and their son). For me, this was a beautiful and inspiring idea on the part of the writers, an idea that highlighted once again the importance of our relationships. No matter what our actions in life (Jack’s heroics, Locke’s spiritual growth, Ben’s despicable actions and his subsequent turn-around), what carries the most weight are our connections to the people in our lives. These are the members of our soul group, the ones with whom we learn our most important and valuable life lessons. The survivors of Oceanic 815 and many of the other folks who interacted with them are members of a soul group, and they needed each other for their spiritual evolvement and growth to take place. What a beautiful message!

I’ll admit it: I cried buckets throughout the finale. I never realized how much I cared about Jack until he was mortally wounded, and he and Kate were forced to admit their true love for each other.

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The scenes between Hurley and Jack were very touching as well, as were the interactions between Ben and Hurley. Hurley always was the voice of the viewer on Lost, asking the questions we wanted to ask and voicing our frustrations and our fears. How appropriate that gentle, loving Hurley ends up the caretaker of The Light when Jack completes his final earthly mission. And how wonderful that he can forgive Ben all of his faults and ask him to help with the protection of the island, allowing Ben to finally find some measure of redemption and honor, which is all he really ever wanted in the first place.

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Of course, being human, I was a little disappointed in a couple of things about the finale. I have a hard time believing that Sayid’s relationship with Shannon was more important than the one he shared with Nadia. But perhaps I’m being narrow-minded. Maybe Sayid’s relationship with Shannon was critical to his spiritual evolution, and this was why they were reunited in the afterlife as opposed to him being reunited with Nadia. I’ll have to live with it, I suppose, but I wanted more for Sayid, one of my favorite characters on the show and one who tried so hard to shake off the restraints of his questionable past.

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I also found myself wondering about the nature of Jack’s relationship with his son, David, in the afterlife they all created. What did this mean? Was this Jack’s way of trying to work out his own issues with his father before he moved on to a higher plane of the Other Side? Was David some other member of Jack’s soul group who stayed behind (like Ben) when Jack moved forward and beyond with his friends from the island?  I don’t know that I’ll ever get an explanation for this, but that’s OK. The mysteries of the Universe sometimes remain that way.

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Naturally, I’d love to know what happened to Sawyer, Kate, Claire, Miles, Lapidus, and especially Richard in the interim between their leaving the island and the time they all actually passed on to Spirit. What must 19th century Richard think about the modern world he finds himself in? (Is that a Lost spin-off in the making?) I’d love to know how Hurley and Ben get Desmond off the island and back to Penny (again, this might make an intriguing extra episode!) But these are minor questions that don’t really need answers. It’s gratifying to know that eventually, when they’re all ready, they find their way to the people who mean the most to them.

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By far, the scene in the church between Christian and Jack at the end of the episode was incredibly rich and emotional for me. Jack’s transformation and final understanding was incredible to watch (kudos to Matthew Fox for his work in this entire episode), and Christian’s explanations to his son’s questions were especially fulfilling to this Spiritualist medium. I also truly appreciated the set decoration touch of having a stained glass window behind the two that represented many of the world’s most prominent religions. The beauty and the immense understanding offered in the afterlife are available to everyone, no matter what faith they embraced during their physical lifetimes. By the end of Lost, Jack had become a man of faith. Yet his connection to his soul group was critical to his spiritual progression, and none of them could move on without the others–thus, the wonderful scene in the church where they’re all reunited in understanding and love once more.

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Jack’s final scene in Lost brings the whole story full circle in an amazing way. Lying on his back in the bamboo field, bleeding out, he assumes the same position where we first saw him in the pilot episode. He accepts his death and his role in the fate of the island. As he does, Vincent runs in, just as he did when Jack first awoke after the plane crash. This time, though, Vincent lies next to Jack, a beautiful moment of power and compassion as Jack takes his final breaths. He sees the airplane fly over head, the one carrying Sawyer, Miles, Claire, Richard, Lapidus, and Jack’s true love, Kate, and he knows that he’s saved them. He smiles, reassured that he’s fulfilled his destiny. And, as the first episode of Lost began with a shot of Jack’s eye opening up, the last episode ends with a shot of Jack’s eye closing forever.

Well, until he reaches that point of understanding in the afterlife, which has been happening throughout the whole episode.

For me, this episode of Lost fulfilled my hopes for a powerful, provocative, and happy ending for the members of Oceanic Flight 815. What could possibly be better than reuniting with your true loves and your friends in a beautiful place after the hard toil, frustration, and challenge of this physical lifetime? To me, the castaways of the mysterious island deserve this fate. They’ve been through hell on earth, and they’ve found a little piece of heaven on the Other Side.

When we first met Desmond, he said something strange to Jack as they parted: “See ya in another life, brother.” He was certainly right, after all.

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Thank you, Lost. You’ve entertained my family and helped us grow closer by discussing you and your weird, quirky story lines. You’ve helped me to explain commitment and violence to my sons, thus making our communication with each other stronger and better.  You’ve filled my life with adventure and love, and you’ve ended by giving me hope and inspiration. And you delivered, by far, the best television finale I’ve ever seen.

Massaaaaaage

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Come on, admit it…that looks really good, doesn’t it?

Every 2-3 weeks, I go to get a full-body massage. Besides the fact that I am a licensed massage therapist in the state of Ohio and believe firmly in the overall benefits of massage, I have a chronic shoulder injury and tendonitis in my right elbow that need focused attention on a regular basis. If I don’t get a massage, my elbow reminds me, quite sharply and painfully, that it’s been neglected. Considering that I need my elbow’s cooperation in order to do my own work as a massage therapist, I comply as often as my schedule and my finances will allow. 

Today, my massage therapist, C., asked me if there were any other areas she needed to focus on. In the last week or so, as usual, my hips have become sore and have bothered me every night while I’m trying to sleep. This is a telltale sign from my body that a massage is in order, and I was happy that I had one scheduled while pulling my aching self out of bed the last several days. I mentioned this to C., and, knowing me as well as she does by now, I also knew that my hips wouldn’t know what had hit them by the time our hour and a half was up.

Massage is a pleasurable experience, to be sure, but I think it’s important to realize that the body needs this kind of attention for a number of important reasons. Massage increases circulation, helping blood to flow better, which in turn nourishes all the systems of the body. As most people know, massage helps stiff and sore muscle groups to unclench and relax, which promotes healing and reduces stress. It also boosts the immune system, making it easier for the body to fight off infections and germs.

For these reasons, I always look forward to my massage, even when it hurts. Yes, sometimes massage can be uncomfortable, especially if you’re trying to release an especially tight muscle or treat an acute injury. For me, the work C. does on my problematic right arm can induce grimaces, but it always feels better once she’s finished with it. The hip work is often painful as well because, well, let’s face it: I have a tight ass. The hip muscles are some of the largest in the body, and they cover the derriere in thick layers. I do a lot of walking and standing, and this causes these muscles to tighten. Having this area of the body worked is a lot like labor–plenty of breathing, in and out, trying to move through the pain.

So why am I talking about all of this today? I think it’s important to recognize how connected the different aspects of ourselves are. We are physical beings, true, but we also have a mind and a spirit to go along with that body. I believe that many problems that manifest in the physical body begin as issues in the mind or with the spirit. That’s not to say we don’t injure ourselves or have aches and pains simply because of physical strain and wear. I know that my ongoing arm issues are directly connected to the physical intensity of the work I do as a massage therapist. Ironically, I’ve torn up my own body trying to bring healing to others. I accept that my body will undergo these traumas, especially as I get older and healing takes longer, but I also acknowledge there are plenty of things I can do to help my body cope with these setbacks. Some pain, however, settles in the muscles due to emotional, mental, or spiritual traumas, and these can be harder to work out, harder to release. These are things we sometimes don’t want to face or even acknowledge in our lives.

They are issues I try to focus on when I receive a massage. Today, as C. worked on those stubborn and sore hip muscles, I allowed my mind to wander as I breathed, pinballing around from one thought to another. Why was I so tight? What was I holding in my hip muscles that I needed to release? Was I reluctant to move forward in my life for some reason? The hip muscles control the larger movements of the leg, including the motion needed to propel the body for walking or running. From a symbolic standpoint, this could indicate a fear of movement forward. Could I be afraid of taking steps to better my life? Was I afraid of success somehow? Was all of that insecurity manifesting in my body as sore muscles? Were those fearful thoughts settling in my hips, causing stiffness so I couldn’t move at all?

As C. worked, stripping the muscles, pushing out all of the lactic acid and congestion that caused the tenderness, I worked, too. I visualized release. I saw myself stepping out of fear and into power. I breathed in and imagined myself becoming peaceful and serene, and I exhaled anxiety and self-doubt. I tried to see myself unfolding–not just my stiff muscles becoming pliant, but my mind and spirit expanding to take in the divine insight that was offered to me. It’s offered to all of us, every day, if we can slow down enough to allow it to speak. It offers us freedom, clarity of purpose, hope, and beauty. It offers us that inner peace that seems so elusive so often.

So did I have an earth-shaking epiphany on the massage table today? No, I wouldn’t say that. But as the tension drained away and the muscles stopped hurting, my mind settled. I became more focused, more centered, more myself–the self I like to see, as opposed to the harried, screeching banshee I can become when I’m stressed out and overworked. And when my massage was over, even though my hair was a mess and my skin was shiny with oil, I liked what I saw looking back at me from C.’s bathroom mirror. I saw a beautiful, intelligent, funny woman with creases on her face from the linens–and boy, did she look happy.

May you find your inner peace and beauty, too, in whatever way you can.

(And just for the record…no, C.’s hands don’t look anything like the picture above!)

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