Sacred Stuff

me with monk in Cambodia

Golden Ganesh and the Monk of Ta Prohm

My Ganesh dharma began in Cambodia.

It was at the mysterious overgrown temple of Ta Prohm where I received my first Ganesh statue. I met the wizend monk who sweeps the steps to ensure the gods will have safe passage up the steep and narrow stairways. I bought a bamboo cowbell from him and he posed for a photo.

“He protects travelers and will help you find your way,” he told me as my guide translated. A sort of golden light washed over me in that moment,and then the monk was gone and I began to wonder…

why did he think I was lost?”

 

Temple Hopping

I have opened the portal to a more spiritual way of being in the world
and there’s no going back only forward.

This past year I chased meridian spots all over Taiwan. A meridian spot is a Feng Shui portal of energy that directly links to the universe. They are quite difficult to find. Only a Feng Shui master can locate such powerful energy. So, my Feng Shui teacher and mentor Joey Yap led a spiritual excursion to Taiwan so we could all experience this powerful energy and shift our Qi. It truly changed me and I had no clue it would happen.

The idea of finding your own quiet space in time in the midst of city noise and people chatter is so important. You can find it in a remote mountain village outside Taipei or you can even create it within your own home. I suggest a focal point of energy in your home with a shrine or altar. It doesn’t have to have religious or cultural, it just has to be your personal space of meaning and empowerment. Start a morning ritual of prayer and focus. I like to light incense, sit with my back to the Qi Men Dun Jia direction of the day (you can get this information from my Google Calendar I created) and do a brief meditation to set your intentions of the day. For an added boost I surround myself with highly charged sentient quartz crystals for protection. Then I seal this energy in with a finger snap and go on with my day.

After my week in Taiwan I continued temple hopping in Laos which was on my bucket list. I had gotten the hang of lighting incense (my hair smelled like sandalwood for months) and saying prayers and Laos offered some of the most magical spots although not meridian spots. One of my favorite temples was actually a large cave along the Mekong River. The sacred Pak Ou Cave (above) is home to a thousand Buddha statues and it is here where fishermen have placed all sizes of statues made from wood, metal, plaster and even plastic over many decades for good fortune. The shrine pictured above is only the small altar, the cave is amazing and a must-see if you are in Laos.

 

 

 

Everyday Spirituality

Jain Temple in India

What I have learned from trips to China, Southeast Asia and India is that they have an innate understanding that everything is connected. Life is full of spirit. Sacred objects, ritual and meditation are their daily routine. Everyone has at least one shrine or altar and possibly more. Buddha and Quan Yin greet their guests in China. Lakshmi and Ganesh remove obstacles in India. Incense is wafted everywhere. Dragons are power symbols and Lucky Cats bring good fortune to businesses. To me, it’s about living every day in a spiritual way.

Here I am above at the famous Jain Temple in India. I had been sporting a bindi dot on my forehead since I arrived and it was not easy keeping it on. I tended to forget I had it and smeared it across my face hourly as sweat dripped down my face from the extreme heat of the desert. One of my favorite rituals throughout India was getting a red string tied around my wrist that came along with a priest blessing and a red dot on my forehead that I got from anyone willing to give me one. I also bought a packet of decorative bindi dots. And a lady at lunch one day gave me her packet of glittery bindi dots, seeing as I was so into them. Some folks can pull them off. I am not sure I am one of those. But I loved them anyway.

 

 

 

 

BaZi Whispering

fortune telling in Agra, India

BaZi Chinese Astrology is not fortune telling or a psychic reading. It is an ancient practice based on a person’s birth chart. Originally it was used to personalize your Feng Shui. We still work with it like that today, only now it is also a stand-alone tool for movers and shakers throughout Asia and now in the West. BaZi Destiny Consultations are one of my specialties. Successful people have coaches, spiritual people have Cosmic Coaches.

When I was in India I just had to have my fortune told. They have different methods based on their traditions and this master above did palm reading as well as looked at my Vedic Astrology. I booked an appointment with him at my hotel in Agra, right after my sunrise visit to the Taj Mahal and before glam dinner at the Oberoi Agra. I love the magnifying glass on the table that he used to view the lines on my hand. He was lovely, but I don’t remember what he told me. I just remember it was an experience!

When you book a consultation with me on your BaZI be prepared to roll up your sleeves and get to work on yourself. Set goals. Focus on plans. Get real with who you are, why you are here, and what you want to accomplish. This is not airy fairy fortune telling! Namaste.

 

 

Tibetan Goddess of Compassion

tara

Our goddess tour goes to Tibet and China where we find Tara, whose name means “star” in sanskrit. The other meaning is “she who carries us across the waters.” Tara is our spiritual cruise director. She is the Hindu and Buddhist starlet who helps us travel smoothly and safely to our destination. She is complex with multiple personalities depicted by many different colors. Within Tibetan Buddhism,she has twenty-one forms. When Yellow, Blue or Red she is a temperamental diva. When White or Green, Tara is a loving lady.

How to recognize White Tara?

White Tara is gentle, peaceful, patient and nurturing. She expresses maternal compassion and offers healing to those who are hurt or wounded. She focuses on longevity and approaches problems with prayer. Easiest to recognize because she is – well – white. More difficult to recognize in statuary so you have to look for those freakish seven eyes on top of her head, palms of her hands and soles of her feet. This way she can see anyone who needs help in any direction. White Tara holds an open white lotus as a symbol of purity and is said to be as white and radiant as the moon.  She clears away harsh relationships, environments and chemicals. She also protects from loud noise, crowds and violence. She is the goddess for those with an open mind and receptive heart. White Tara spreads joy and happiness.

How to recognize Green Tara?

Green Tara is a no-nonsense gal. She is intense with a loving warrior spirit, a true diva with a reputation for being proactive and making things happen. Green Tara reminds you to delegate and ask for help. She works fast and is excellent in emergencies. She helps you understand situations and relationships. Recognized because she is – green. Green is considered the color that contains all other colors. In statues you must look more closely to see the half open lotus in her hand representing night. Sometimes there are two lotus blossoms. She does not have any extra eyes. Green Tara rescues us by empowering us to save ourselves.

Lotus Blossoms

lotusLotus Blossoms bring balance and moderation in all things. They are an important component to the Buddha statue. Buddha is either seated upon a lotus in full bloom or holding a blossom in his hand. Some images portray him with each foot resting on a separate petal. When Siddhartha declared his Enlightenment and took seven steps it is said that under each step sprang a lotus blossom.

Did you know that the lotus blossom grows in murky swamps? It’s true. With roots buried deep in the mud, the lotus flower rises to the surface. It’s not easy pushing through the muck, which is why the lotus symbolizes that beauty is born from hardship. In Sanskrit and Tibetan, the lotus is called padma and represents purity, joy and perfection. Lotus is cool and Buddha is hot – so it is said to cool Buddha’s fire.

White Lotus – spiritual perfection and total mental purity
Pink Lotus – supreme lotus reserved for the Great Buddha
Red Lotus – love, compassion and other qualities of the heart
Blue Lotus – victory of the spirit over the senses and signifies wisdom

Rub the Buddha Belly

laughing-buddhaWherever I travel throughout the world Fat Happy Buddha is an iconic image. I always thought he was just another version of Buddha, but I was wrong. He is also called Laughing Buddha and is technically a Budai or Chinese deity. Budhai means “cloth sack” and that’s because he carries his worldly possessions in a sack tossed over his shoulder. He also carries good luck beads and a money gourd aka hulu or wu lou – that brings wealth and prosperity. No wonder he is honored and adored all over Asia. But really, who is he?

History Lesson:

Laughing Buddha aka Po-tai Ho-shang was an eccentric monk who lived between the 6th and 10th century. Neighbors knew him from his fat belly, bald head, robe and prayer beads. He was considered a good man of loving character, poor yet content, discovering the Buddha within himself. He did so many good deeds during his lifetime that when he died he rose to bodhisattva status (deity who attains enlightenment but remains in human form to help others) and was renamed Budai.

How to recognize him?

As opposed to Buddha statues which tend to be thin figured, Laughing Buddha has a fat tummy, bald head and happy grin. Sometimes he carries a bag of wealth. Sometimes he carries your bag of troubles, which he has collected for you. When he was a monk traveling from village to village handing out candy to poor children, he asked only for a penny in return. That is why when you find a Buddha with children climbing all over him, this is very auspicious and means abundance of good fortune coming from heaven. Happy Laughing Buddha is a lovely statue to display when wanting to attract abundance in life. Go ahead and rub the Buddha belly!

Laughing Buddha reminds us of our capacity to achieve happiness and enjoy the good life.

 

Foo Dogs

Foo Dogs - protection
Foo Dogs – protection

Sometimes you need a little protection and that’s where Foo Dogs come in handy. Scaring off evil spirits and negativity aimed at thresholds and entrances, they are protectors of truth and defenders against evil. The name comes from the Chinese word “Fu” meaning luck or prosperity.

Foo Dogs gather near temples, palaces, tombs, government buildings, banks, offices and estates. Are they lions or dogs? They have manes, large paws and sharp teeth. At the time they first appeared in China (208 BC to about 221 AD) by way of the Silk Trade Route, Buddhist artisans had never seen a lion. They had only heard of their reputation so they stylized their faces more friendly than fierce.

What you need to know about Foo Dogs is that they hate to be alone. To be effective they work in pairs. One is male, the other female. The “boy” has a ball under one paw. The “girl” has a pup under hers.

If their mouths are closed, they will keep good spirits in the house. Open mouths scare off demons. They are displayed looking away from each other so they don’t get distracted. As you face the doorway, the male sits on the left while the female sits on the right.

Foo Dog Bulletin:

  • Place outside to guard entrances
  • Mouth closed keeps in good spirits
  • Mouth open scares off demons
  • Should face away from each other
  • Facing door; male on left, female on right
  • They attract good fortune
  • Known as Celestial Dog or Dog of Happiness

Learn more about Foo Dogs in my new book Practical Magical and Household Luck in the Good Karma Shop.

 

Magical Incense

incense copy

Did you know that incense sends your prayers to heaven?

SPIRIT begins with prayer and what better way to speed up that communication than by lighting incense. SMOKE is the vehicle that dispatches your wishes and dreams to the universe. Incense is a powerful tool dating back 6000 to 8500 years. The trend took off spreading to Greece and Rome when Babylonians wafted incense sticks during prayer. What you need to know is that true pratitioners of magic use only powdered incense for magic – other types just smell good.

Here’s my guide:

  • Sandalwood – Real Indian sandalwood is pure magic. It vibrates with Ganesh to remove obstacles, bless new beginnings, and attract prosperity.
  • Dragon’s Blood – Dragon’s aren’t real, silly. This plant resin is a powerful remover of negative energy.
  • Francinsense – Another plant resin used in churches to create a sacred space.
  • Sage – American Indian tool to protect against evil. Use with caution because it clears the energetic slate but then you have to add positive energy back with other incense.
  • Nag Champa – A masala incense that makes your home smell hippie dippie.
  • Vanilla – The sex bean of a plant that stimulates sensual energy

What’s your favorite type of incense?

Money Toad of Man Mo Temple

 

Money Toad at Man Mo Temple

Money Toads are those lumpy bumpy creatures with three legs. Sort of creepy, super powerful. The key to the Money Toad is the coin he holds in his mouth, an amulet that wards off evil spirits and attracts wealth. I first discovered the Money Toad at the tiny crumbling Man Mo Temple in Hong Kong. Built in 1847 on Hollywood Road it is famous for being located across from Ladder Street where scenes from the 1950s movie “The World of Suzi Wong” were filmed. Totally atmospheric, the ceiling is covered with enormous hanging incense coils. You better duck or ashes will hit you on the head and ruin a perfectly good hair day. The temple gift shop is where I purchased my first brass Money Toad. The sales lady told me to place him by my front door for good luck. She went on to explain I should turn him facing out when I leave home for protection. When I return home turn him inward to bring good luck from outside. Every time I visit Hong Kong I go back to Man Mo Temple to pick up a new Money Toad because I completely believe in them.

Do you have a Money Toad and how did you first discover him?