We can make our lives beautiful

by choosing where we place our attention

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We can create lives of freedom and peace

when we open our minds and senses to all the good around us

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We can choose the best for ourselves

when we know what we value most highly

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The Mind Behind the Haunted Carnival

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BOY0073800What is it about Tim Burton’s creative vision that resonates with so many of us? In a time when fairy tales have been cleansed of anything scary, violent or even hinting at death, Burton revives the darkness that has been removed, but for the delight of grown-ups, and without removing the magic.

Look back to the original versions of fairy tales—at the least the earliest written ones we can find recorded, such as Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and you’ll see that they were indeed grim. There was violence and horror mingled with the enchantment. Endings weren’t always happy, but they served a social function…several, actually. Beyond scaring kids into behaving, they also fulfilled the purposes of mythology: to offer a metaphorical guide through the journey of life (which, let’s face it, can be messy). It’s a path we all travel, though at different times—from infancy to independence, puberty to procreation, adulthood to aging and finally, death.

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Steampunk and Clockwork Couture


If it weren’t for the brightly shining sun on the leafy green trees and modern cars out the window, you might think you were in Victorian England – where the fog would obscure the cobblestone streets and gas lamps, so you could only hear the hoof beats of horse-drawn carriages and the hoot of the steam train in the distance.   But this lovely little room is in the sunny Southern California suburb of Burbank! 

Clockwork Couture has more than Victoriana, it offers the opportunity to become a Steampunk!  To be a steampunk, you need to imagine that you’re living at the turn of the last century, when science is making huge strides and the British Empire stretches across the globe. The Queen’s subjects bring tales of steamship adventures and souvenirs from exotic lands. America lures many with the promise of freedom and danger in the wild West, and grand Colonial plantations in the South are creating Civil War, while on the East Coast, a new-world version of Victorian refinement can be found.

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Art and Fashion Enchant an English Palace

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Enchanted_palace_kensington Before embarking upon my recent trip to London with one of my best girlfriends, she told me she really wanted to visit a palace. Though Buckingham Palace does offer tours, it’s only during certain months, and it wasn’t available to us during our 3 days there, so I checked out what Kensington Palace had to offer.  I was so excited with what I found!

Not only do they offer tours through the State Apartments, but a theatre group called Wildworks  has been brought in to bring the rooms to life, not as it was, but an enchante d version that lets you get a *feel* for the lives of the seven princesses that once lived there. The Enchanted Palace is what Kensington Palace has become, through the fashion and art installation that tells their stories. 

(Image from http://ireallylikedaisies.blogspot.com/2010/10/enchanted-palace-seven-princesses-in.html)



We started our visit with afternoon tea on the terrace of The Orangery, an 18th century building commissioned by Queen Anne (reign: 1702-14)  with French floor to ceiling windows overlooking a manicured garden.  “The building was supposed to serve as greenhouse for over-wintering exotic plant and citrus trees that ornamented the gardens in summer. Its accomplished interior decoration reflects the Orangery’s other uses as a ‘summer supper house’ and a place for entertainment.” 

The only hints toward the Enchanted Nature of what awaited were: 1) the design printed atop a chocolate tea cake and 2) the whimsical archway at the garden entrance.

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The Luminara Philosophy

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The LUMINARA philosophy is to live a luminous life by focusing your self-image on your inner light, while also lightening up about everything else! Opening your life to let the light in.  One’s aura is both a person’s unique glow and the essence of who they are.  While Hollywood glamour gives us the vision of a brightly shining star, we believe that everyone can shine just as brightly in their own corner of the sky. 

LUMINARA is about lighting up your spirit, mind, body and environment, just by being fully the best of who you already are.  Let’s break it down:

Spirit – Our spirits are the lights that shine through our eyes, and glow from our skin—our auras—because we are spiritual beings having the adventure of being human.

Mind – When we think enlightened thoughts about ourselves and the world around us, we use our most powerful tool to create our experience and make it something bright and shiny.  We also can make the choice to lighten up and have a sense of humor about the stuff that needs a bit of polishing.

Body – Our experience of life is shaped by our bodies – our five senses, our brains, our anatomy, and our life cycles. Our body is the vehicle that allows us to really enjoy life on the planet to the fullest allowing us to swim and dance and climb and feel the wind and the sun, among other things.

Environment – We are part of the environment in which we live.  That means both the natural environment and our cultural environment. 

Naturally, when we align ourselves as much as possible with nature, our bodies are in harmony, and we live in sustainable harmony with the planet.  Eating light takes on a whole new meaning if we add the word “sun” in there.  It points us toward natural foods that have been touched by the sunlight.  Eating light helps us to feel light! 

Culturally, we let our light shine when we share our talents with those around us.  We get out and play and dance and share our art, contributing to society each in our own way, making the world a better place!

Come joins us as we explore the light and give you a chance to shine out the message: LOVE MY AURA!

Written by Malayna Dawn for her LUMINARA blog.  Also check out her Symbolic Themes blog for deeper meaning in everyday things!

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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 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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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 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?)


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.

Carried in my Heart – Not Heavy at All

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Feb 20, 2011

Recently, I tried to comfort one of my god-daughters after the loss of a family pet by posting this to her Facebook page:

“When they're in your heart, they're always with you. I know because I carry a whole menagerie around with me in my heart…and some humans too. They're not heavy at all.”

I come from a pet-friendly family, well known for rescuing all kinds of animals, and as much as it hurts to lose them, it never stops us from investing our love into another animal friend.  As one little ditty goes, “Love is something if you give it away, you end up having more.” Loving and being loved, even from a pet, is so good for us. It expands our light; and our hearts will expand to accommodate it all.

See the image? That's the landscape of my heart — plenty of room!

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My Valentine Cleverness

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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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