Category: Casual Anthropology

My First Featured Article on Beliefnet!

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I'm so Excited!  My article is featured!

  Screenshot

This is truly a first for me, and I was so excited, I had to share with everyone! 

I've been writing for a website called Beliefnet.com for the past few months — a milestone in itself because I've been wanting to write for them for years! 

Why? They feature ALL beliefs from the all major religions, and then some. 

But today is the first time I've been featured on their front page!  The very first of their 4 rotating banners, and with my name just there beneath it!  (Until Monday, July 21st anyway…) 

As someone who's been a ghostwriter for many years, I feel like I've finally stepped out into the sun.  Aaaaaah!  I am fairly certain it has something to do with my lovely friend, Trish Kusal Wilson, who allowed me to use her photographs.  The glory is all the sweeter when it's shared!

It's also a subject that I've never felt quite brave enough to write about, since it's such a touchy one for so many people: prayer — but I've attempted to translate it into something that intellectuals, naturalists and realists might be able to relate to.  See if you can, and let me know.  If nothing else, click to see Trish's glorious photos

I partly began writing for Beliefnet because I thought it would be a good way to connect with an audience that could understand and appreciate the podcast I co-host on Unity Online Radio, called "Pop Conscious: Where Pop Culture & Spirituality Unite!"  It is exactly my ministry style, actually, as I study to one day become a fully ordained Unity minister — rejecting no one and nothing in the world, just using it all to be more understanding, more positive and creative and help make the world a happier place.

Here are links to check it all out, if you wanna!  And if you know anyone who'd make a good radio guest or interview subject while talking about entertainment and enlightenment, please get in touch!

LINKS:

Learn more or contact me at MalaynaDawn.com!

 

Three Steps to being a Conscious Consumer of Pop Culture

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Published on Unity.org on February 10, 2014           

By Malayna Dawn

       

   

Three Steps to Being a Conscious Consumer of Pop Culture

If you are familiar with the Law of Mind Action and the Law of Attraction, you know that what we think about, we experience. Being a conscious consumer of pop culture (or one who is “Pop Conscious”) means examining our choices of entertainment and mass media for how they enrich our lives … or not.

We can do so with these three basic steps: Observe, Discern, and Choose.

1. Observe

While enjoying your favorite TV shows, films, music, or other entertainment, assume the role of an observer and pay attention to what you’re watching, listening to, and reading. You might think about it in terms of how someone else would see you, based on your choices. 

A good tool is to examine your presets or favorites on your television, stereo, or any entertainment system. What apps dominate your phone or tablet computer? What’s the music on your playlists? Don’t forget your guilty pleasures! Look for patterns and themes. Awareness is the first step!

2. Discern

Discernment is one of our 12 spiritual powers as taught by Charles Fillmore, so why not use it? We can ask ourselves, “How do these shows, songs, books, make me feel?” “Does this make me think? Do I feel smarter afterward?”

If they’re guilty pleasures, why do you feel guilty? Remember, in Unity, we know guilt is not a constructive emotion … unless we can learn from it. It’s okay to “take your hour of rest” and not think for a while. Even God rested on the seventh day! What about these “guilty pleasures” appeals to you? Look for the underlying value.

For example, one summer Stacy felt guilty because she kept playing Yahtzee on her phone instead of taking the time to meditate. She mentioned this to our minister, Rev. Molly Rockey, who replied, “Oh! That’s your Yahtzee meditation!” Giving herself permission to enjoy the break allowed Stacy to get what she needed from the experience. When she was ready, she renewed her meditation practice.

I found that I spent a fair amount of time not just watching murder mystery TV shows, like Castle and Bones, but also being concerned about the characters for days afterward. Good storytelling can account for some of it, but I found I liked solving puzzles and studying psychology. The sense of justice at the end was satisfying too.

3. Choose, Consciously

Ask yourself these questions: What will feed my dreams? What might inspire me to be my best self? What might educate and inform, and also be entertaining? If I’m staring at the TV just to zone out and relax, what will make me feel better later? Are there other shows that might better serve the underlying values I’m looking for? What are other like-minded people watching or listening to? Check with your Facebook friends or even the real ones that you meet in person!

Venture outside the habitual comfort zone and channel surf a bit! Try channels like Discovery and National Geographic, or OWN–Oprah Winfrey’s Network. You can even try just snippets on YouTube or your cable or satellite provider’s preview channel. Expand your horizons by stepping to the edge of what you know and embark upon adventures you can undertake from the couch—instead of being a couch potato, be a conscious armchair explorer! And don’t forget the resources available at Unity Online Radio!

Stacy and I discussed these three steps on our January 27 show, “How to Consume the Media Without Letting It Consume You,” and we talked about personal examples of how we can be “in the world but not of the world” and make everything a reflection of spiritual principle!

We covered guilty pop pleasures like my one-time Twilight obsession, which lead us to examine social evolution and inner demons. The Grammy Awards lead us to marvel at how music can bring the world and generations together. We discussed how Cirque du Soleil confirms that “with God all things are possible.” We talked about science fiction visionary Arthur C. Clarke and how in life today, science fiction from the past has become our present reality.

In media terms, what we pay attention to is measured in ratings and advertising dollars. If we are watching something that has irredeemable characters, no happy endings, or glorifies a lifestyle we find isn’t worth celebrating, we can turn our attention away—simply by changing the channel! Let’s give our support to something we’d like to see continue and gain in popularity. And in this way, our choices can affect others in a positive way.

Everything in our sphere of experience can become a tool for spiritual exploration and self-growth. Having grown up in Unity, Stacy and I have learned to look for the metaphor and metaphysical interpretations of just about everything.

 

Malayna Dawn is cohost of the Unity Online Radio program Pop Conscious: Where Pop Culture and Spirituality Unite. She and her cohost, Stacy Macris Ros, are lifelong Unity students who are both working toward their ministerial credentials. Malayna is the office manager at Unity of the Oaks in Thousand Oaks, California, and author of a spiritual adventure novel, Echoes Across Time.

 

Embrace it Like the Very Last Christmas

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Written Malayna Dawn for Unity Community Church where she poses as web-"mistress".

MayanSanta

If the Mayan calendar is right, and the world is ending on December 21 2012, (my birthday) or even transforming dramatically, this could be the last Christmas* and the last New Year.  At least, the last one we might recognize. 

Kinda a bummer, I know. But we Unitics (AKA Truth students, positive thinkers, Pollyannas) can make it work for us.

 Last year, we thought it might be the last holiday we could spend in our family home, so we did it UP!

We infused every aspect with appreciation and love, and lived it consciously and meaningfully

(P.S.–Thanks to the law of attraction and our attitude of gratitude, we didn’t lose the house!)

Let’s treat this holiday season the same way. Deck the heck out of those halls, and trim those trees to teetering!  Be good to yourself, and give to others from the heart.

If anything can stop the end of the world, it would be unfettered, unadulterated LOVE.  And if it can’t be stopped, we may as well enjoy it to the fullest, live in the moment and have no regrets.

Make the most of the Mayan prophecy and make this holiday season the best EVAH!

(And if it turns out NOT to be the end of the world, we can top ourselves next holiday season while we giggle.)

Love, Laugh, and Live it UP!

Also check out last year's Christmas cogitation: Symbolic Wishes for a Metaphysical Christmas

Mayan Santa image combines an image from the Dimension of Power blog and a Santa hat icon from Icon Archive.com.

* We'll probably get to squeeze out one more Hannukah. No Kwanzaa though. 

Goddesses of Business – Female Archetypes for Professional Roles

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By Malayna Dawn

P5270033 As women in business, we aren’t always lucky enough to have role models to follow. But if we look back to the ancient world, we can find that many mythologies included ideal feminine concepts that were not restricted to the care of home and family.

The psychologist Carl Jung (1875-1961) used familiar symbols as models for patterns of behavior or personality traits called “archetypes”. We have many archetypes at work within us, helping us to fulfill our various roles in life. There are numerous images to choose from, but for representations of ideally powerful women, goddesses are probably the best. 

(Photo of Athena at the Vatican Museum taken by Malayna Dawn)

Listed below is a sampling of goddess archetypes we can apply to the business world.  Whether we recognize these qualities in ourselves already, or long to possess them, perhaps with these archetypes as guidance, their traits can become part of our working personas.

Athena/Minerva

Athena was the Greek goddess of wisdom, war, the arts, industry, justice and skill. Her mother was Metis, goddess of wisdom, but she emerged fully grown out of her father Zeus' head.  Her Roman counterpart was Minerva, goddess of wisdom, medicine, the arts, dyeing, science, trade, and war. She was also credited with the invention of numbers and musical instruments.

The Athena/Minerva archetype speaks to women’s ability to multi-task.  The Athena-type’s well-rounded education allows them to communicate well with men and earn their respect, which can be very useful in business.


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Being a Shaman – for self and others

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Devil-dancers-sri-lanka-435x279 
Image from Lankapura.com

The word “shaman” may bring to your mind images of medicine men in colorful outfits, dancing around a fire to the beat of tribal drums, much like the image of Sri Lankan devil mask dancers, above.  And you’d be right, though you’d be getting only part of the picture.

The REASON they do all of that is to get past our attachment to the “real” world and connect to our inner workings–to help us travel the landscape of our hearts and souls and make us whole in mind, body and spirit

Now for you and me, their performance probably would not work. This is because they’re not speaking our cultural or symbolic language.  To do that, they’d have to tap into our religious and spiritual beliefs, our cultural upbringing and the images we see in our dreams. 

Wikipedia describes shaman as “intermediaries or messengers between the human world and the spirit worlds… Shamans are said to treat illness by mending the soul…[which] restores the physical body of the individual to balance and wholeness.” They also said “Cultural anthropology approaches shamanism as an integral part of the study of culture, belief, and practice.”

So who are the shaman of our modern Western culture?  Who guides us through the realm of dreams, symbols, metaphor and stories to help us make choices in our lives?  Joseph Campbell said it’s the artists—painters, poets, singers, dancers, actors, directors, comedians, etc.  They take inspiration, which is a message from the spirit world, and communicate it in a language we understand.  And when they really get it right, it not only entertains, but touches our hearts and inspires us.  (Of course, that’s not always their goal.)

 Joseph-campbellHeroes-CmyssArchetypes

Joseph Campbell and Caroline Myss both have said that in today’s world, it is up to us to find our own way through our spiritual landscape.  We have to be responsible for the well-being of our own souls. In other words, we need to become our own shaman.

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April Foolishness and Archetypal Enlightenment

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Jester-clipart April Fool’s Day is a day to play jokes, which can (if we’re lucky) have the positive effect of shaking people out of their stupor, and hopefully making them laugh. This is great for seeing things from a new perspective and lightening up – or maybe even Enlightening Up!

“Everything that I’ve read suggests that enlightenment is lightening up,” said comedian Mike Myers in an interview. “’Ha Ha’ and ‘A-Ha’ are connected – they’re related industries.”

Caroline Myss examines the archetype of the Fool along with about 70 others, in her book Sacred Contracts. She explains that the fool is more than a simpleton, but by acting like one, he is able to communicate serious issues through humor.

In the case of a Court Jester, the fool expresses to a King what commoners or even the court members wouldn’t dare to say, much like political satirists do today. In other words, at their most positive, the Fool can “carry truth into closed circles or closed minds.”

The shadow, or negative aspect, of the Fool archetype manifests as cruel personal mockery or betrayal, specifically the breaking of confidences gained through knowledge from the inner circle.

So if you see any unenlightened pranks being played on April Fool’s Day, step in to find and share the positive in the scenario.  Tell pranksters and their victims about:

• the Sufi (mystics of Islam) figure Mullah Nasruddin, popular in Egypt, Iran, and Turkey– half saint and half fool, he acts like a ninny to teach wisdom.

• Or of King Arthur’s court jester, Sir Dagonet, who was knighted as a joke, but who also performed bravely in tournaments.

• Or the tricksters of Native American lore –  Heyoka, from the Lakota Sioux, who does things backwards to teach people not to take themselves too seriously or the animal medicine of Coyote. (Remember Wile E. Coyote from Warner Bros. cartoons?)

Coyote-tricksters

So don’t be afraid to act like a fool on April Fool’s Day. It may offer the breakthrough you’ve been looking for!

Written by Malayna Dawn for her blog, Symbolic Themes.

 

Jester image from Spiritually Starving

Coyote Medicine Card from Animal Medicine Cards by Jamie Sams, David Carson and Angele Werneke. 

Wile E. Coyote image from Digital Citizen.

My Valentine Cleverness

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Angelbabyheart

I’m feeling terribly clever at the moment, and just had to share!  I figured my blog is the perfect place for such shameless self-promotion and self-congratulation. 

As you probably already know, I write about the mind-body-spirit connection and our place in culture.  At the moment, and for some time now, that writing has been in the form of ghostwriting for websites in the U.S.—more specifically, blogging.  My current clients include a holistic addiction recovery facility, a hospital heart clinic, a wedding venue and a costume company specializing in comic and anime conventions.  I feel clever because I’ve been able to have my own little Valentine’s celebration while writing for each of these clients.

I find it the most satisfying when I can incorporate what I’m thinking about anyway into my posts.  So here’s what I did today and earlier this week:

For the heart health clinic -  I wrote about
  -foods OF love—those that are considered aphrodisiacs, and what their actual health benefits may be.  And
  -food AS love – the concept behind the use of food as a form of affection– especially with children.  This is not always good, since those who feel unloved for whatever reason may end up becoming overweight. I suggested different ways of expressing you care while also supporting the health of those you love.


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Economy and Environment Conspire to Change us for the Better

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It seems to me that the environment and the economy are conspiring to force us to change…for the better.

An ethnography professor studying the effects of You Tube on society says that people are reaching out for connection and community, but because we’ve all become such individualists, it is increasingly difficult to find.

The environment has been encouraging us to grow our own vegetables, ride our bicycles, use solar power, and recycle. And the economy may be forcing us to do this by sharing expenses and resources by moving in with family members or friends.

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Examining Our Shadows – The Symbolism of Monster Archetypes

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How about some Halloween Spirit-uality?

Before we begin examining the monster archetypes, it’s important to realize that they don’t just represent a dark, malevolent side of us, but rather the part of our being that is least familiar to our conscious mind.

They become hostile only when it is ignored or misunderstood–expressing themselves through behavior that often sabotages our wishes or image of ourselves. But they serve us by nudging us toward the light. The important thing is that if you feel some resonance these or any other symbolic roles, you should examine what they represent to YOU. 

Let’s think of our inner monsters as our as unexplored power, bringing light to what is in shadow.

Vampire Monster-Vampire

  • Vampires survive by feeding off the life-force of another. Carolyn Myss describes the vampire archetype this way: “we sometimes form attachments to others because we desire their energy, a desire that manifests through the need to have the ‘other’ take care of our survival.  What has been defined as a co-dependent relationship could easily fall under the vampire template.  You may find it hard to identify yourself as a vampire, yet it is essential to review this archetype personally.  Patterns of behavior such as chronic complaining, overdependence, holding on to a relationship either emotionally or psychically long after it has ended, and chronic power struggles are all indicators of Vampire patterns.”

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AlternaWeddings Go Global

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I have had the honor of marrying people to each other—close friends and friends of friends—in a handful of weddings that have taken place in various settings, states and countries*. But I think everyone deserves a chance to be the center of attention and the object of adoration for a day, even if they’re not getting married.

Reuters picked up a story from China about a woman who decided to throw herself a wedding. She didn’t have a groom, but she had the money to get herself a wedding dress, rent a venue, hire a wedding planner and photographer, and invite 30 friends. She even had enough for a honeymoon in Australia! Chen Wei-yih, I salute you!

 

Photo credit: Zimbio.com

Plus I love this quote: "I was just hoping that more people would love themselves."

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