The Heat Is On!


Yes, it’s summer. Yes, it’s hot. And hotter than usual, whether you blame global warming or not. Although I’m always telling people to get outside to spend time in nature, which is a wonderful way both to get grounded and to expand your consciousness, there are certain precautions to take at this time of year.

Extreme heat is dangerous, like any “extreme” is. When the temperature rises to the high nineties and low hundreds, your body goes into overdrive, trying to cool off through perspiration and evaporation. Obviously, if you stay indoors and the electricity is working so your air conditioner works, you’re okay. This is about when you are outside.

The very young and the very old are at risk in the heat, as are people with mental illness or chronic diseases or those who are obese. But even those who are young and healthy can be in trouble if they are doing anything physically strenuous outside. And for those who live in cities, the stagnant air traps pollutants that can trigger respiratory problems.

When the heat is up and humidity is low, the most common problem is dehydration. If you’re in direct sun on days when the temperature is higher than 90 degrees, you can lose as much as half a gallon of water every ten minutes, which seriously mucks up your internal thermostat and can lead to heat exhaustion, which can lead to heat stroke, which can be deadly. Drink lots and lots of water!

That warmth you longed for all winter is now the hot air you’re trying to escape. Clearly, an excess of anything creates problems. When the elements go to extremes, we get hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, flooding, forest fires, and earthquakes. When alcohol or drug use or gambling or sex becomes excessive, you have addiction. When emotions go to extremes, they can lead to mental disturbances, illnesses, panic attacks, and negative behaviors, even murder.

It’s important to avoid excesses in life, or try to get back into balance as soon as possible. Excess makes the senses weak and inhibits will power. It’s hard to get anything done, either on the outside or within your own mind. To avoid excess, think about simplifying your life. The less “stuff” you have to deal with, the easier it is to stay in balance. Think of the yogis, the true renunciates, who can control their inner heat; they can create enough heat in their bodies to melt snow and ice, or they can stay cool in the parching heat on the plains of India.

So kick back in these dog days of summer. Stay out of the midday sun. Wear sun screen and protective clothing when you have to go out. Consume lots of water and non-alcoholic beverages (alcohol adds to dehydration). Get to the pool or the beach early in the day or in the late afternoon/early evening. Visualize cooling images: sitting in an igloo, plunging into icy waters, floating on an ice floe, whatever works for you . . . Make sure to clean/change the filter in your air conditioning unit.

And while you’re sitting outside in the shade of a swaying tree, looking at the stretch of sky and sand and water before you, feeling the cool breeze as you sip another iced tea, take some time to review the excesses you are prone to. What would bring you into better balance? Less chocolate? Less worry? Less money spent on clothes? Less time on Facebook? Less workaholism? What do you have to add? More exercise? More veggies? More time for friends and family?

There is a simple exercise called the see-saw that can help you find your balance point. Visualize a see-saw. At one end, put your favorite excess. Put its opposite on the other end. Now focus on the fulcrum, the center point. What would that look like for you? What would bring the see-saw into perfect balance?

The heat may be on, but you don’t have to burn. Stay cool!


Mary Magdalene and the Essence of the Divine Feminine

July 22nd is the Feast of Mary Magdalene and a good time to celebrate the archetype of the Divine Feminine. Actually, you could call the Magdalene the first feminist as well as the first and foremost of the disciples. Mary Magdalene is one of my spiritual guides, and a powerful presence!

Forget the story you heard of her being a prostitute. Even the Vatican has recanted on that one, although it took them until the 1960s to admit her image as a prostitute was not supported by the text of the Bible. An early pope, Pope Gregory the Great, mixed up Mary Magdalene with another New Testament woman who was a reformed prostitute, thus prompting the legend.

Serious researchers have been busy with various early Christian Gnostic texts, called “codices” that date to the second century. One fragment from a surviving codex is from the Gospel of Mary, where she tells the disciples about a vision she had of Jesus. Peter questions that Jesus would “speak privately with a woman and not openly to us?” Levi tells Peter to cool his hot temper and stop railing against Mary like an adversary—“If the Savior made her worthy, who are you indeed to reject her?”

Indeed, the rock upon which the Church was built, Peter, and the men who changed the Gospels and the New Testament to suit their own purposes all rejected women. But it’s starting to be clear that Mary Magdalene was an important figure among the disciples, that she may have been a wealthy woman whose funds supported the ministry of Jesus in Galilee, and that she played a pivotal role as the first witness to the Resurrection. It also seems to be true that she went to live in France after the crucifixion and died there after many decades spent as a hermit in a cave.


Of course, the big question raised by Dan Brown’s bestseller The Da Vinci Code, remains unanswerable—whether or not she was the wife of Jesus and bore him a child, making her the Holy Grail, the depository of the blood of Christ. There are those who believe the Wedding at Cana was their wedding, and that Jesus supplied the wine, as was customary for the groom.


As time goes on, we will have more information from codices like the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Philip, and the Acts of Peter. Mary plays an important role in all three, and is often seen as the only one of the disciples to ask intelligent questions instead of being confused. It’s said over and over that Jesus loves her more than any of the others because of her spiritual understanding.

Rather than being the sinner who was redeemed by the love of Jesus, Mary comes off as one of the leaders of the early Gnostic Christians. But the Church is still reluctant to grant her too much of an uplifted status. If indeed Mary was such a potent female among the disciples, the traditional argument for an all-male priesthood gets shot down, and it becomes clearer that the role of women like Mary was eliminated as much as possible from the Bible.

One fascinating study mentions that the Hebrew word the Essenes used for their priestesses was Kedushah, which literally means feminine holiness, or holy woman. Unlike the Essenes, mainstream Judaism did not permit women to be priests. In mainstream Judaism, the term Kedushah is a slur against women who would enter the priesthood, conveying the idea that such a woman is a harlot. So the word means both a holy female devotee and harlot. We see where the confusion about Mary Magdalene could have come in.

My hope is that Mary will continue to be resurrected as a holy woman, the essence of feminine holiness, the one who never deserted Jesus as he went through his trials. And some day, perhaps, women in general will get the respect they deserve as the true holy grails of feminine wisdom and spirituality.


Mirror, mirror

You’re sitting outside on a beautiful summer day, sipping your iced green tea and reading the latest celebrity gossip when some lunkhead trips and spills his double espresso all over your white skirt. You jump up and start screaming at him at the top of your lungs.

Wow! Sure the guy was a clumsy jerk, but where did the depth of your rage come from?

If you really want to know what you’re feeling, look at how you react to someone or some circumstance outside yourself. We project our emotions onto those around us—both in our intimate relationships and with total strangers.

Think about it. How nice are you when a telemarketer calls at dinnertime, or when someone with a thick accent answers your call for technical help with your computer? What’s your automatic reaction when someone cuts you off on the freeway? Do you make nasty comments to the girl behind the counter at the dry cleaner when your favorite silk shirt comes back with stains, as if it were her fault?

Of course, in our daily life, it’s the people we are closest to that act as a mirror to our emotions. We tend to surround ourselves with those people who mirror the problems that we haven’t yet resolved inside ourselves. By seeing ourselves reflected in that mirror, we will eventually see what it is we have to work on. How do you feel when the kids at school bully your child? What do you do when you have a sneaking suspicion your husband is having an affair? How do you feel about caring for your parent with Alzheimer’s?

Basically, we incarnate in order to have relationships, although we may not figure that out till we’re much older. We think we are here to conquer the world, or to save the planet, or to have kids, or to grow pretty flowers in our garden, but it is relationships that are the essential ingredient for our growth and the evolution of our consciousness.


When we choose an intimate partner, in particular, we unconsciously look for somebody who is going to mirror back to us our own unresolved issues—the ones we brought with us from childhood or from previous lifetimes. For example, maybe your father left the family when you were four, or maybe you felt abandoned by your father even though he stayed because he paid zero attention to you; chances are you will pick a partner who brings out that very issue by abandoning you either emotionally or walking out on you physically. You have recreated a situation that mirrors your earlier situation so you can have the chance to heal that wound.


We choose to take on the problems inherent in relationships because, on a soul level, we realize that our interaction with others is the fastest way to become the very highest version of ourselves that we can be. There is nothing like struggling with an aging parent, a rebellious child, a straying spouse, or a demanding boss to bring up all your own issues. And it is that interaction that will move you along on the road to enlightenment.