The Sorcerer – art by Michel Pleau

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The Sorcerer
art by Michel Pleau

The story about this art piece titled, “The Sorcerer” by Michel Pleau is very interesting.  Michel was approached by Nancy who commissioned the piece in honor of  her father who used to tell Nancy stories as a child.  She tells the story of how since she can remember, her dad would tell her stories at bedtime.  These stories weren’t from a book or bought from a store, but rather he told her an ongoing story of a young girl named Mathilda and the harsh but magical lands in which she lived.  The stories chronicled the adventures of Mathilda as she grew and navigated this realm.  It was a time were everything about life seemed to be in an unstable and in transitional upheaval.  Even the earth itself was undecided about its destiny and it was a time were all beings were in this state of flux and there was a great need for direction and leadership.  Nancy tells how her father would describe how Mathilda would connect with nature as a way to become grounded and to see the clear truth of the world and herself.  Mathilda would then show others this truth and provide leadership by example for others.  Nancy spoke at length about how these stories made such an amazing impact on her life as she grew up.  They helped Nancy see how she could make a positive impact on the world around her and how to have many deep and fulfilling relationships.  Nancy tells of how Mathilda didn’t see herself as anyone special, but rather as an ambassador of life’s truth.  This truth she saw as her greatest power and this power eventually enabled her to become a very wise and gracious sorcerer.  As Nancy spoke about her father’s stories I could sense the deep impact they had on her.  She commissioned this piece in honor of her father, but it was being given to her own daughter as a gift.  You see, Nancy continues her dad’s stories with her own daughter and these stories really are a guide of the truth and self empowerment for her as well.  I have been so very blessed to have a second edition of this piece of art and I will always think of Mathilda, “The Sorcerer of Truth”.

Dwight Raatz

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The Reality of Fog

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Fog is like the illusion of reality.  There are things that exist but are just out of site.

As I was driving in fog recently, I was suddenly struck with the feeling of isolation as I could only see about 100 feet in any direction around my car.  Every so often I would meet a car going the opposite way, that didn’t exist a few seconds earlier.  This was even more prevalent with drivers who chose not to turn on their lights whose vehicle’s would seemingly pop out of nowhere.

This observation started me thinking about the nature of perception and our reality and it reminded me of a recent trip I took to Peru with my friend Andrew.  We were standing in one of the airport corridors trying to determine which direction we needed to go to find our gate “D6”.  As we both looked down the hall toward some signage, I saw the sign hanging from the ceiling that stated gates D11 – D15 were down that particular direction and when I said to my friend that we needed to go the other direction, he gave me a quizzical look and said, no we need to go the direction of the sign that had our gate number on it.  It turned out that even though we were standing only a foot apart, from my perspective I saw one sign, but not the one he was seeing.  Nor did he see the sign I was seeing (even though they were in the same direction of the same hallway).  It was all a matter of perspective because of where we were standing and the difference in our heights.  We both saw the “truth”, but we just saw different aspects of the truth.

This observation can be related to so many aspects of life ranging from the economy, to the state of the world, to relationships, to religion, to war, etc.  Each of us has a historical life-time of experiences and influences from our environment that we use as a comparison for constructing our everyday realities.  These “perspectives on the truth” are at the very core of everything you know.  We become so convinced that our perspectives are the only obvious truth and that everyone should know or see this truth the same way as you do.  We are so entrenched in our truths that we are willing to kill for it or to even die for it.

The real truth is that there isn’t any one superior or all encompassing truth and we need to keep reminding ourselves of this each time we think we know what we are saying, seeing or doing.  Especially when it doesn’t agree with or match up with what someone else is saying, seeing or doing.  Like my friend and me, we needed to take a moment and say to each other, wait a minute, can you show me what you are seeing, because I’m not seeing what you are seeing.  I didn’t take much for me to move over and stoop down to see a completely different view of the same hallway and the sign to our gate.  Seeing the other perspective doesn’t mean that either of us were wrong, we just saw different versions of the same truth.

Like driving in a fog when you see your whole world around you, just wait a moment or move just a little bit and you may see it completely different than before.

Dwight Raatz

Journey to the Island of Creation

Recently I experienced a shamanic journey that I will share with you here. A group of friends and I got together to do some energy work and we started out the evening with one of my friends doing a one card tarot reading for each of us. I don’t recall the card I drew, but I do remember him telling me that part of the card’s meaning was being able to step outside my ego and looking at those aspects of myself in a way that is giving me control over the ego. This resonated with me because this is exactly what I’ve been experiencing over the past few months and it hit home how far I have come.

We then continued the night with my friend asking about how we wanted to journey; did we want to sit in silence, use a drum or a signing bowl. I was immediately drawn to the drum and spoke my wish. It was agreed to have the drum be the “regulator” of our journey. My friend has the ability to not only drum, but also to journey at the same time. Quite impressive I thought!

All was silent and we prepared ourselves. The drum call began with slow regular beats vibrating our beings and setting the tone. There was a shift and the drumming gathered speed and strength. Immediately I found myself flying above the ground, speeding toward some unknown location. The ground below me was a blur and I could see the curve of the earth as I moved faster and higher. I sensed a presence with me so I looked around to see that behind me flew several small “beings”. I thought it was interesting, but did not pay too much attention.

Ahead in the distance I could see a large object floating above the earth. It had irregular features and as I grew closer, I could see that it appeared to be an island. The island had mountain tops with streams flowing down, trees with many varieties and a dense growth, a large beach with water surrounding it.

I landed on the beach next to a large pyre of wood that was set aflame. The journey drum beat became strong in me and I began to dance around the fire. I looked behind me to see seven little beings dancing behind me – interesting. I looked at my body to see myself dressed in native American ceremonial garb – feathers on my headdress, along my arms – intricate beads sewn in in colorful and dazzling patterns on my leather garment. The drum’s rhythm urged me on to feel and let go of my human connection and to be part of the earth. I danced with love and creation flowing.

As I danced, I could see the skin from my body shedding off like dirt and becoming part of the ground. I could see the sweat running down my sides and flowing toward the streams. I could see my breath extending out and creating breeze. I could see the energy of my dance act as a fuel for the fire and I could feel it expanding. I saw all of these elements expanding and falling to the earth to replenish and renew. With all of this, I saw that I was the creator – that I Am. I saw that I was bringing life and am master of my own.

My curiosity became aroused with regard to the little beings following behind. I turned to look behind only to see that they no longer followed. I looked around to find them on the outer ring beyond where I danced with no connection to my creation process. They did not struggle, but rather appeared to be waiting and holding space for my work. What were these beings I asked. Immediately the answer came to me explaining that these were what made me human and were outside my Truth, Love and Creation. Then I knew they represented the ego in what could be referred to as the “seven deadly sins” (Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy & Pride) – all of which are born of fear. They cannot exist where love creates and all was right and I danced with Joy and Abundance!

My journey ended here as the drumbeat changed and called me back. I returned to my reality in the midst of friends and we shared our stories. I felt very blessed to be there and humbled to know my connection to All That Is.


Dwight Raatz

Intentions, Perceptions & Truth

There has been a recurring theme that shows itself more and more in my life and it’s all related to how people communicate their intentions, the perceptions of the “receiver” of the communication and the ultimate truth of what is conveyed. It has become incredibly obvious how inefficient words are for truly conveying our intended message. Also, it is equally obvious how someone can wordsmith a message to affect people in different ways depending on their emotional state, level of education, economic status, maturity, etc. The same message can be interpreted by ten people in ten different ways.

I’m going to be giving a few different examples of how this concept has shown itself recently. I’m hoping that by the end of this article you will take some time to reflect on how you communicate to others and how you are perceiving what they are communicating to you. Don’t be so sure you understand their intended message unless you take the time to validate it with them directly. I believe it was Steven Covey who first said, “Seek First to Understand, Then to BeUnderstood“.

Recently my son had injured his back while changing the diaper on his 7 week old son (I know, it does sound kinda funny, but that’s how it happened) and I received a call telling me what had happened and that he tried going to work, but had to return home due to the pain. A few hours later I received a call from his fiance telling me that things hadn’t improved and that they had gone to the emergency room where he had received some more medication. She said, “I just wanted you to know that you are welcome to come over here if you like”. So, upon reaching town, I immediately went over to their house only to find that no one was there. Now, what I heard in my head was a combination of the information I received before, “… tried going to work, but had to return home…”, “… had received some more medication…” and “…you are welcome to come over here…”. These bits of information made me think that he was still at home. But really he was at the emergency room and since I was talking with her via cell phones, “here” is a subjective pronoun. Where is “here” when you are mobile?

The point here is that the intended message from my son’s fiance was to inform me of his situation and invite me to be there with them. My perception was that I was supposed to be with them at their house. But the truth was he was at the ER. To have made this conversation more effective, I should have clarified what she was telling me to ask where “here” was, but I didn’t even consider this. This is just a harmless example of how an intended message was mostly transferred intact between two people but there was a critical piece of information left to assumption.

Another story that was recently sent to me told of a man driving his new car along a residential street to suddenly to have a brick thrown at his car door. He stopped and in a rage grabbed the small boy who had thrown the brick and yelled at him for ruining his new car. The boy was finally able to explain that he threw the brick to get help as no one was stopping to help his older brother who had fallen out of his wheel chair and this boy couldn’t get him up. The man quickly apologized, helped them both and never fixed the dented car door so it would remind him of how he acted and how he needed to not make assumptions. The intention of the boy throwing the brick was to get help, the perception of the man was that they boy was a trouble maker. Each of them had their own perceived reality of the situation and saw it as the truth and both were right for at least part of the time. It wasn’t until one of them had to give more information and the other was willing to understand it that the real truth emerged for both and their realities merged for that moment.

The last example of and intended message having a different meaning for multiple people is children’s cartoons. Anyone who has taken their child to see the Lion King or watched a Saturday morning cartoon can attest that there are innuendo, concepts and meanings behind the dialog as well as the images that are lost to most children. The intention is to entertain both the child and the adult, the perception by both is to enjoy the story at each level of perception and the truth is that they both get something from the story and can enjoy it together.

I am more and more astounded at how easily and intended message can be completely misunderstood by myself and others. I’ve been shown so many examples of how each person’s perspective forms the reality of their perception. This perspective changes continually (moment to moment) since it is made up of (among other things) personal experience, current emotional and physical state, as well as the person’s outlook to the future. This has lead me to think of how it’s possible to ever truly be understood?

One of the struggles of being a parent is the transition of your child to being an adult. You struggle between how to help them succeed and avoid the same mistakes you made and letting them learn things for themselves. I know for my own children this has been a huge issue as of late. I love my children so very much and want to help them in any way that I can. Yet, the “help” that I am giving has been perceived to be interference or even mistrust. Yet, my intentions were centered in love and protection as it has been for their whole lives. I have also experienced other parents sharing with me about their children and some of the struggles they have had. My perception was that they wanted input, advice or even feedback only to find out that they perceived what I said as a judgment on them or their kids.

At times I wonder if I should say anything at all to anyone about my opinions or feelings, even if they ask for them. How can I ever know what I am communicating to someone in words (written or spoken) are ever taken exactly as I intended? How can I grow as an individual unless I share my thoughts? How can we grow as a society unless we find out more effective ways to communicate clearly – and be willing to clarify perceptions before becoming offended?

Below are some things to consider when it comes to communication with others. Take a moment to consider each of these and see how they match up with some of the misunderstandings that have occurred in your relationships. What do you think is important?

  • Good Intentions: You have good intentions on giving advice or doing something for another person. Look at the real reason for what you are doing? Can you see any ego involved with how you are going about this intention? Do you feel you “know better” than them and are righteous in your reasoning? Are you doing this as a true reflection of love, compassion and empathy?
  • Feelings or Opinions of Right and Wrong: What really defines something as right or wrong? Do you know all the reasons why someone else did what they did? Could you see why their actions were “right” to them? Think about the “brick” story above, is the small child who threw the brick wrong?
  • State of Mind and Perceived Reality of the Sender and Receiver: So your allergies are running rampant and you are tired from lack of sleep and you feel no one cares. Now a close friend tells you they are moving from the area to accept a new job. Would you react or feel different about this news if you were healthy? Whatever the current state of mind for the person will alter or shape their perception of reality for everything they experience.
  • Utilize Listening Tools: When someone is sharing a story or idea, clarify the information by saying something like, “So what I hear you saying is…” and then you repeat back to them what you think you heard; and then you ask if that is correct. Remember, “Seek first to understand…”.
  • Look Outside Yourself: Is your intended information given as a way to support another person with compassion, empathy and love or is it ego based?
  • Emotionally Charged Issues: If you are presented with a situation that is significant emotionally charged attributes, do whatever you can to communicate in person verbally rather than responding with a written message. So many emotional issues have exploded when there is an attempt to address them with a written response. You have no idea the state of mind of someone else when it comes to emotions and feelings. Talking in person gives you the added benefit of being able to read their body language and tone of voice.

Now you know that communication is more than just typing some words and pushing send or spewing out your opinions to others. Communication involves both the sender and the receiver and you must realize that what you “send” may not necessarily be what is “received”. Take the time to validate the message you send or receive. If you are sending – ask the person if they fully understand your message (especially if it’s emotionally charged). Taking this extra time and perspective will most certainly help avoid misunderstandings. But there is no guarantee so be prepared to understand the response.

Dwight Raatz

Who Are You Really?

Throughout my spiritual journey as a seeker of truth and enlightenment, I have often been told that I am not showing my true self to the world. I’ve been told that I am hiding “Who I Really Am” because of my fears of letting out this truth. While I do not argue with this assessment, my challenge and struggle has been to know who I really am so I can let “him” out. I understand that I have many fears in life, but what am I afraid of letting out? It seems to me that the first step in solving any problem is to understand the problem to its fullest extent. I need to know who I am before I can understand my fears of “letting him out”. Then I will have something to hold onto, a direction to go in, a goal to achieve.

As I consider this challenge of discovery I have come across a few tidbits of truth and consistencies. I have found that the answers to my questions have revealed themselves in the quiet moments in life. The quiet moments are those moments when time seems to stand still for you. You “accidentally” intersect with the exact combination of events that lead you to a moment of perfection. You know what I’m talking about. You might think that its never happened, but I know it has for you too. For example: you are busy walking from your car to a client meeting and it just so happens that it’s a beautiful warm and calm summer day. As you are walking you just happen to hear a bird singing joyfully on a tree branch hear by. You stop for a moment and look up at the bird, you feel peaceful, you feel the warm sun on your face, the thoughts of your meeting are on pause for a moment, you feel connected to yourself and the earth around you. In that moment of perfection you are just “being”, even if it was for only a few seconds. It’s important that after those moments of perfection, you store that feeling of peace inside your heart. It’s like recharging your battery.

As I consider these moments of perfection I have had throughout my life, I know that these have been the sneak previews of who I really am. The times when thoughts and story just seem to run out of my fingers through the pen onto paper or keyboard and screen. The times when I am speaking to a friend about life and from out of nowhere these words come to mind that are just perfect for them at that moment. Or, even the times when I hold my grandson in my arms and know the unconditional love I have for him and he has for me. These moments of perfection show me the peace that is possible in my life.

As I wrote in my previous posting (Noticing), I am becoming more aware of the “bold print” of my life. I am noticing more and more moments of perfection and learning who I really am. I am Compassion – I am a Divine Messenger – I am a Teacher – I am a Healer – I am Love. I look at these aspects of myself and wonder how I can Be this at all times. How can I share this Being with the world and have it understand me? How can I Be these things and still function “normally” in today’s world? This is my next hurdle.

So, Who Are You… Really?

Dwight Raatz

A Slow Moving Storm – Part II

Below is part II of my previous post. These are some of the views and beliefs that I found to be inherently true from my innate “knowing” of the divine. While some of my viewpoints have refined since I first wrote this on February 2, 2008; I still think they are valid. What do you think?

God, Logic and the Universe
Can God be logical? The universe appears to follow natural laws, why are we so adamant to say that God doesn’t follow logical rules as well?

Opposing Truths – Which is it?
God has given humans free will. God has a plan for everyone and it is perfect. These two statements are often spoken of regarding our relationship with God, but they are really diametrically opposing statements. I believe in free will.

God is Perfect Love
God is perfect love, so what about the Old Testament? Vengeful God… God was re-invented… a kinder gentler God… now we have the New Testament and given a “savior”. Now we don’t have to worry about passing any tests, just believe and you will be saved. Why? Why do we need to be saved? God is perfect love, how can he punish how can he subject his creation to eternal torment? Is Jesus a marketing plan? Was Jesus sent to us because we were unable to understand the forgiveness of God? Are humans too simple to believe that no matter what, God will take us back unto him? There needed to be a way to convince us that it was going to happen and it was easy… just believe and “Thou shalt be saved!”

I Believe
I believe that religion as we need it has to be rethought. I believe that Christianity as it started was setup such that we couldn’t understand any other way. We were in fact to “stupid” to understand any other way of explaining how things were.

I heard once that in the beginning God was all there was and it was perfect. God wanted to know himself, but to do this, he need a point of reference, he need to see himself from outside himself. He created humans and put a piece of himself in us, then made us “forget”. This “forgetting” would enable God to experience himself by not knowing himself… it gave him a point of reference, us. I believe this.

I believe that hell is simply the absence of God. I believe I have been in hell in large portions of my life. I believe that this “forgetting” of God within us is hell. The feeling of loneliness and being lost is my hell.

I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe he came to earth to teach us the truth of God. I think this had to happen because the Profits that God spoke through left too much to interpretation as they are only human and did the best they could. I believe Jesus came to set the record straight. What I question about Jesus is that he had to really die for us; that the only way to God is through Jesus. The reason I question this, is because there are probably millions of people on the planet that have never heard of Jesus. That these people have been created by God as well and if the above is true, they will never go to heaven. This doesn’t make sense for a God who is Love and Perfect. Why would he exclude the innocent?

I believe that hell is on earth now. As I said before, hell is the absence of God. I believe that if we choose (free will) to exclude God and His truth from our lives, this is hell. Going against the truth is going against nature itself. This resistance of the truth causes all sorts of ramifications in ones life. It will affect your health, your mind, and everything brought into your life.

I believe that the soul is an innocent victim of free will. I believe the soul IS God. It is God with amnesia. Once the body is done and gone, the soul returns to God.

I am comparing a human with a computer and what makes up the whole of a computer. You have the computer hardware (your body). You have the computer software that comes with the body (your soul). You have the data you create using the computer and software (your conscience). I have thought that upon death, the body returns to the earth. The soul returns to God, and the conscience can either go to God or not. Hell keeps the conscience that refused the truth of God. God keeps the conscience that accepted the truth. I believe that this is true no matter what decisions and actions you made during your life.

Faith and Action Not Church or Religion
I believe that religion is of man not of God. Religion and the Church were created to control man, to teach him a flavor or version of God’s truth. This was done to not only control, but also to benefit those who believe that their version of the truth is right and what they believe in is paramount.

The Church is a very comfortable place for those that want to be spoon fed the truth and not take direct personal action for what God / Jesus teaches us. Church offers man a convenient way to believe what they are doing is “God’s Will”; that a building called “Church” is the only place that someone can follow God’s truth and take action on that truth. Jesus taught out among to people. He didn’t make them come to him in a building.

Why do we need to build multi-million dollar buildings to follow God’s truth? Why not act as a group, as a body of God to take action on his teachings? Take those millions that would be spent on material things and put it into the hands of those who need it. Do it directly and locally. I believe that if a new congregation is forming because they are searching for a better way to know the truth, they should focus on the teachings of Jesus, go to those who need it and take action directly. Don’t build an actual church building; take what money is necessary to facilitate helping others – maybe 10% (e.g. postage, office type supplies, business materials, etc), but leave the 90% for what truly matters. I think that if this tact was followed, there would be no deficit for the Church. You could help what you can for the economy of the area, and that would be it. No supporting of the “mother church”; No bureaucratic structure; No politics; just the truth in action.

Let’s utilize the facilities and structures we already have. Utilize homes, civic centers, schools, etc to take on those larger projects, to meet and have fellowship. There is no real need for a separate church facility.

If you want to make a difference on your own, then take up a cause that follows the truth of God and do that. Support something that makes a difference directly.

Take up personal responsibility of God’s truth and put that truth in action by what you do directly. This personal action will build on itself; it will connect you to your community; it will connect you to God.

Dwight Raatz