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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Welcome to the Snow Lilies!

The first signs of spring are upon us, and peeking out of the ground is solid proof. They're a little late coming up this year, but I say better late than never. Usually, by the middle of January, those sweet and lovely little snow lilies (or snow drops) poke up through the snow. This year, they cheerfully announced themselves the first week of February. Have a look.

Seeing these delightful little flowers absolutely warms my heart. They are such a welcome sight. I planted them along the entire length of the west side of the house.

Readers must know that it has been one of the worst winters ever, since arriving in Vancouver, B.C. in 2003. We were deluged with about two feet of snow at one point, and right now there is about a foot of the white stuff remaining. Yes, I realize that prairie folk laugh at us, but you must remember that you live on flat land and we live on mountainous terrain. I know what it's like to drive in the prairies: You drive on the snow there. Here, it freezes and thaws and freezes again, creating ice — so we must drive with caution on ice — not snow. Additionally, many people here don't know how to drive in the ice or snow. Another thing: many people here don't use snow tires in the winter. One last thing: some people with four-wheel drive vehicles think their vehicle knows what to do in the snow. Unfortunately, some of those folks learn the hard way that their vehicles don't really have their own intelligence. Oops, I digress.

Thankfully, the temperatures have warmed and the snow is currently melting. On the days that it rains, the rate of melting nearly doubles, it seems. These little flowers are planted right beside our home, on the side of the house with no snow, so they have a lovely and warm location. They also get some of the most welcome afternoon sun.

I love how prolific snow lilies are. They appear to double in number each year. The other thing I love about them is once they are finished growing and blooming for the year, they sleep till the next spring while other bulbs pop up all around them. In this same flower bed I grow crocus, daffodils, and tulips.  Then, when the bulbs are finished, up pop the white alyssums and the pink snap dragons, which bloom happily till freeze-up. I wonder if the flowers know how much they are appreciated. I wonder if they know how much joy and pleasure they bring to my life each year. I suspect they do!

Throughout the winter, I have been making a point of getting outside every day and going for a walk around the neighborhood. Some days, we take a drive to Central Park or Deer Lake Park and stroll there. We enjoy watching the geese, the loons, and other wild life. Once we were gifted with a preening Great Blue Heron! If the sun is out, the walk is especially enjoyable because the sun is such a welcome sight. I also take daily drops of Vitamin D with K2, on my Naturopathic Doctor's advice. He says these are important for continued bone health.

I'm looking forward to the summer. Last year I planted a group of another kind of lily that I dearly love: the Lily of the Valley. They bloom later in the season, but I'm eager to see them thrive this year. I used to have those little lovelies once upon a time when I lived in Lethbridge.

I still want to make room somewhere in my yard for Purple Lilacs. Those are among my many favorite flowers.

Back to the appearance of the snow lilies. When I see their lovely little faces, I know I have safely survived another winter. Yes, I find winters kind of challenging.

Visit website "Phoenix of Faith" the memoir. Follow on Twitter: _Phoenixoffaith Copyright © 2017. Permission is granted to copy and re-distribute this transmission on the condition that it is distributed freely.

Friday, February 10, 2017

What is Vital Well-Being?

I view the theme of a blog much the same as an intention. Obviously, as I grow along my journey, my intention inevitably must change correspondingly. The purpose of the blog — the description — has changed a few times already since I began blogging in 2010. The most recent intention was: "After walking away from an antiquated patriarchal belief system, "Phoenix of Faith" author has her ups and downs. Some days go really well — and other days — well, she slides into a dark hole. Yet at a soul level, she has not given up on her right to live. Instead, she crawls out of her despair to seek the root source of the split belief within herself, in order to bring herself into balance."

But then, as time passed, I found myself outgrowing that old intention. For example, I don't slide into so many rabbit holes. And, when I do, they aren't quite so deep. And I don't land nearly so hard.

It turns out that I've been way too hard on myself, believing myself to be out of balance, believing I have split beliefs, believing I'm somehow "broken" and need an awful lot of fixing. It turns out that my inner being doesn't agree with any of that. It turns out there is an aspect of me that is not  at odds with itself. That part of my nature which expresses harmoniously all the facets of what I am doesn’t want anything from me. It sees no need to fix me. It sees no need to correct anything in me. It doesn’t need me to manage, it doesn’t need me to track, there is nothing for me to do, other than simply receive the invitation to simply “be" — how good is that!

Lately, I've been working on a koan, [pronounced kōh-ahn], a noun which means a non-sensical or paradoxical question put to a student for which an answer is demanded. Apparently, the word originates with Zen Buddhist meditators from Japan. I would go deeper than the dictionary definition by adding that a koan is non-sensical only to the mind — the answer must be felt  in the body.

Yes, indeed you found me out. I have been meditating for the past fifteen years or so. It's been a rough road. Along the way, I learned that it is a good idea to examine and re-examine my intentions for meditations, as growth requires many re-evaluations and adjustments. After all, nothing stays the same. I experienced some rough times in my past efforts to meditate.

Lately however, meditation feels like a refresh, a reset, a clearing, a settling, a nourishing. Interestingly and even surprisingly, I noticed it provides me with a sense of well-being. And even better, I don't have to go searching for it. It was there all along. I just had to notice it. Ah, yes. A sense of well-being was already present. So, why not give my attention to that?

I softly place my attention on that sense of well-being. I allow my being to rest further into that. So I notice that quiet, restful well-being with a sense of emerging vital well-being. I feel a sense of peacefulness, aliveness, clarity, refreshment, ease, quietude, vitality. That all feels like well-being.

How I've been feeling lately is quite a change from the woman who wrote all those previous blogs. I feel "new" and different, knowing that my own direct experience of well-being is showing me the way, bringing to consciousness just who I am and how to express myself.

It has been said that, "what you give your attention to, will grow." I like the idea of vital well-being-ness!

My new koan is,"What is vital well-being?"

Visit website "Phoenix of Faith" the memoir. Follow on Twitter: _Phoenixoffaith Copyright © 2012. Permission is granted to copy and re-distribute this transmission on the condition that it is distributed freely.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Mind Control Tactics in Religion

The act of shunning is a mind control tactic used by some religious groups to control their entire organization, using one so-called “scripturally-based” announcement. It’s an effective tool used to instantly discredit any member who dares to disobey the strict rules which members are expected to follow. Members are forbidden to speak to or have anything to do with a disfellowshipped person. The entire religious community is required to engage in the shunning behavior. Sometimes the shunning results in an ex-member committing suicide. I write about several people I knew personally, while I was still involved in the religion. Directly or indirectly, suicide becomes the consequence of harmful religious beliefs ending badly.

Mind Control Tactics in Jehovah’s Witnesses

In a cloistered religious community such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, when people get disfellowshipped, they often believe they have failed God and become self-condemning. The act of disfellowshipping discredits the ex-members and destroys their character. Consequently, their entire network of support is ripped away, including one’s own immediate believing family members. The worst thing about the heinous act of shunning is that when ex-members in desperation become suicidal, they receive no support. Ex-members are further condemned by the belief they are not entitled to a resurrection if they succeed in self-destructive behavior. In other words, eternal damnation awaits, according to their belief system.

Disfellowshipping is a fear-based teaching which paralyzes all members into submission, lest others receive the same harsh treatment. Tremendous pressure to conform to the herd mentality is brought to bear on erring ones and members-in-good-standing, alike. Disfellowshipping is the tool used by the few to control the many in the religious arena.

I don’t believe in blaming people. People react from their belief system and some religions believe in harsh rules. No, I would never turn the consequences back on the disfellowshipped ones. Here’s why. In my case, I believe my soul led me out of the religion according to my soul’s own right timing. How do I know? When I heard the news about my disfellowshipping, the most peaceful feeling swept over me. All I can say, it was a feeling of sheer grace that I will never forget. I knew I would be okay by purging the old beliefs.

Dichotomy of Being Shunned

Anytime I feel lonely for my family members who shun me, I recall that immense feeling of peacefulness and calmness. I am immediately reminded that my soul did the job it was called to do. That incident helps me remember who I am. Perhaps I was meant to experience what it was like to be shunned, so I could be in a position to reach out to others who suffer from being shunned. Suffering only continues unabated if people attempt to stay with the beliefs that got them into their shunned state. For me, getting disfellowshipped was the key to leaving successfully.

As I have related on several occasions, the only way to survive being shunned is to purge the harmful belief system and replace it with something more functional. In the metaphysical sense, when ones become affected by religious shunning, it is important to heal feelings of inadequacy, undeservability, low self-esteem, and herd mentality. It’s a long road, but my outer world appeared much friendlier when such therapy was initiated.

Related Posts

Read how I shunned my beloved mom

Read the personal account of my own disfellowshipping

Watchtower Uses Shunning to control the flock

Link to Watchtower article promoting shunning

Depression, Suicide, and Religion

Visit website "Phoenix of Faith" the memoir. Follow on Twitter: _Phoenixoffaith Copyright © 2012. Permission is granted to copy and re-distribute this transmission on the condition that it is distributed freely.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Embarassing History

1947 JWs Condemn Shunning

The Jehovah's Witnesses do flip-flops on their theology. It is an "on-and-off" system of belief when it comes to the issue of disfellowshipping members they judge as "sinners." The best example I found is located in the January 8, 1947 issue of their Awake! magazine in the article called “Are You Also Excommunicated?” which speaks to Catholics who were excommunicated:
“This is "canon law" which the Roman Catholic Hierarchy seeks to enforce on the pretext that it is God's law. The authority for excommunication, they claim is based on the teachings of Christ and the apostles, as found in the following scriptures: Matthew 18: 15-19; 1 Corinthians 5:3-5; 16:22; Galatians 1:8,9; 1 Timothy 1:20; Titus 3:10. But the Hierarchy's excommunication, as a punishment and "medicinal" remedy (Catholic Encyclopedia), finds no support in these scriptures. In fact, it is altogether foreign to Bible teachings.~Hebrews 10: 26-31.

Where, then, did this practice originate? The Encyclopaedia Britannica says that papal excommunication is not without pagan influence, "and its variations cannot be adequately explained unless account be taken of several non-Christian analogues of excommunication." The superstitious Greeks believed that when an excommunicated person died the Devil entered the body, and therefore, "in order to prevent it, the relatives of the deceased cut his body in pieces and boiled them in wine." Even the Druids had a method of expelling those who lost faith in their religious superstitions. It was therefore after Catholicism adopted its pagan practices, A.D. 325, that this new chapter in religious excommunication was written.

Thereafter, as the pretensions of the Hierarchy increased, the weapon of excommunication became the instrument by which the clergy attained a combination of ecclesiastical power and secular tyranny that finds no parallel in history.”

In 1947 Jehovah's Witnesses openly condemned the practice of excommunication. They said it was altogether foreign to Bible teachings.

Let's take a quick look at those scriptures in the JWs Bible, They call it The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (NWT). Matthew seems to indicate that it is proper to speak to someone if you think they hurt you somehow. Good if they listen, but if they don't, treat them like anybody else. But, don't mistreat them because what you loose on the earth, you also loose in heaven.~Matthew 18: 15-19

Karma will get you?

To me, the scriptures at 1 Corinthians 5:3-5; 16:22 seem to indicate that Jesus is the one who does the judging, and such a responsibility would not be left up to faulty human reasoning.

Galatians 1:8,9 warns that if some theology beyond what is written in the scriptures is promoted, the ones responsible would receive judgment.

Condemning another soul is equivalent to blaspheming. That's my take on 1 Timothy 1:20.

Hebrews 10: 30-31 sums it up nicely,
"For we know him that said, "Vengeance is mine; I will recompense" and again: "Jehovah will judge his people." It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of [the] living God."

What I find especially of interest is that excommunication was declared a pagan practice of ancient Greece and the Druids. Jehovah's Witnesses decided that the Catholics were remiss in adopting an ancient "pagan" practice. Jehovah's Witnesses affirmed they would never adopt any pagan practice of some superstitious Greeks or pagan Druid folk. I love the conclusion of that article which states unequivocally,

"as the pretensions of the Hierarchy increased, the weapon of excommunication became the instrument by which the clergy attained a combination of ecclesiastical power and secular tyranny that finds no parallel in history.”

Hmmm..."the instrument by which the clergy attained a combination of ecclesiastical power and secular tyranny that finds no parallel in history." I find that statement by the Watchtower people to be of great interest. Why?

1952 JWs Endorse Shunning

Five years passed and Jehovah's Witnesses changed their stance on excommunication. A pagan practice was suddenly a good thing if it meant they could blackmail people and hold their own members ransom. They began the shameful practice of disfellowshipping, as announced in their November 15, 1952 Watchtower pp.703-704 and discussed here.

So, since the laws of the land forbid murder, Jehovah's Witness members treat Apostates — ones who have left their religious organization — as dead. Yes, my children and several of my flesh-and-blood brothers treat me as dead because I no longer wish to be a member of the oppressive family religion. I lost an entire network of people I thought to be "friends" after one short announcement at the kingdom hall, announcing my disenfranchisement. How does one treat another as "dead"? By shunning — completely ignoring — such ones.

I speak from personal experience in saying it is embarrassing for the Jehovah's Witnesses to admit that they shun anyone. Indeed, I couldn't speak with anyone about my embarrassment. As a woman with young children, I was bullied into shunning my beloved mother because the elders judged her as wicked for leaving her abusive husband (my father). Then, years later, when I left the family religion, I was disfellowshipped and shunned. I recently found out I have two grand-children who I have never met.

Related Blog Posts

Grandma Visits Saskatoon

(This blog includes a letter from the elder who threatened me.) It is 1985. I lived in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and my Mom lived in Selkirk, Manitoba. I had been asking Mom to come and visit us ever since we moved to Saskatoon in 1978. Obviously, she was hesitant to leave her new husband, Alex at home alone because he suffered from a medical condition. Naturally, she wanted to make sure he was in good hands, if she came for a visit. Our family was very excited when Mom finally accepted our invitation to come and visit us and see our new home. She had arranged for a trustworthy family friend to look in on Alex while she was away. Read more...

Kindness of a Stranger

I was half a block away from the corner when the bus rolled up to the stop. "Oh, darn," I thought dejectedly. "There goes my bus." It was Monday morning and I was feeling sorry for myself. I looked up again and noticed the bus was still sitting at the corner. I picked up my pace, being reminded about a similar day last week when I had not yet reached the corner, yet the kindly bus driver waited for me. Smiling gently he said, "I know who my regulars are." Read more...

Shunning Ex-Members is a Religious Requirement

While browsing the internet today I stumbled across an interesting video. It is of particular interest to me because it was on the subject of religious shunning. While Jehovah's Witnesses official stance is that they do not interfere in family life, it is a personal choice to shun or not. Nevertheless, according to the video posted, I see clearly the official stance is merely propaganda for public consumption, in order to create the appearance of a benign religion … Read More…

Residues of the Bible

Without a doubt, the Bible is a most influential book, and not in a healthy way. As a child, the Bible was used by my parents to teach me obedience and subjection. It was a book that instilled fear — a book of oppression filled with harsh, punishing beliefs. My parents used the Bible to produce compliant children who were easy to control and manipulate. Read more…

Kill the Apostates!

Jehovah's Witnesses consider themselves a "moderate" religion. However, what follows is an excerpt from their Watchtower magazine, which reveals a truth about them that they might not wish to discuss when they ring your doorbell: Read more…

Outgrowing Religion

I outgrew my religion. Jehovah’s Witnesses is one of many religions full of oppressive rules which members are not allowed to question. If a member has doubts and questions, he/she is viewed as a “Doubting Thomas.” The member is then watched with suspicion, as he/she might be an “Apostate” — a heretic, an infidel, a Judas. After all, he/she might be the one bad apple that spoils the entire bushel basket. The only way to prevent “spiritual contamination” is to watch everyone. Even better, if the elders could get its members to tell on one another. And that is exactly what they do. Read more…

Tribunal of Religious Elders

(The story of my own disfellowshipping.) No sooner I climbed into bed and turned out the lights I was flooded with memories of the tribunal of elders who disfellowshipped me. The process of disfellowshipping quite literally cut me off from my family. My kids were told they could no longer have association of any kind with me. Read more…

An extensive discussion of the subject of excommunication and disfellowshipping may be found off-site at

Visit website "Phoenix of Faith" the memoir. Follow on Twitter: _Phoenixoffaith Copyright © 2012. Permission is granted to copy and re-distribute this transmission on the condition that it is distributed freely.