The Abnormal Is Not Courage…

jack gilbert monolithos poem

I love this poem, for so many reasons, but mainly because it fortifies the heart and strengthens resolve.

The Abnormal Is Not Courage…

poem by Jack Gilbert, Monolithos

The Poles rode out from Warsaw against the German
Tanks on horses. Rode knowing, in sunlight, with sabers,
A magnitude of beauty that allows me no peace.
And yet this poem would lessen that day. Question
The bravery. Say it’s not courage. Call it a passion.
Would say courage isn’t that. Not at its best.
It was impossib1e, and with form. They rode in sunlight,
Were mangled. But I say courage is not the abnormal.
Not the marvelous act. Not Macbeth with fine speeches.
The worthless can manage in public, or for the moment.
It is too near the whore’s heart: the bounty of impulse,
And the failure to sustain even small kindness.
Not the marvelous act, but the evident conclusion of being.
Not strangeness, but a leap forward of the same quality.
Accomplishment. The even loyalty. But fresh.
Not the Prodigal Son, nor Faustus. But Penelope.
The thing steady and clear. Then the crescendo.
The real form. The culmination. And the exceeding.
Not the surprise. The amazed understanding. The marriage,
Not the month’s rapture. Not the exception. The beauty
That is of many days. Steady and clear.
It is the normal excellence, of long accomplishment.

Alethea; a grounding poem

The poem Alethea, by Mark Hannan in 1993, was written as an invocation creating sacred space and is meant to be accompanied by the beat of a doumbek or celtic frame drum.

Alethea; a grounding poem for sacred space
Dionysiac procession. British Museum. about 100 CE. Rome, Roman Empire. Photo by Yair Haklai, 2009.


The need

to go

on the N Judah train

to Ocean Beach

to stand alone

facing out

dig long toes in

sand and water


Take hold, feet

root here

and roll angles round


dig in

With each toe

touch past salt chill


beyond down

through layers

of body

into belly

deep attention –

Now enter

enter the darkest point

with longing

faith will bring light

Take root

reach past

crabs burrowed there


of cormorants, sea otters & whales

push through

crusty skeletons

lost ships

& sallow dead men clutching

their loot push down

through lead tin copper

& iron step

into that ore laden vein rush of it

blood saturate each bone


with heat

churning gut reach


your body in

hot coals

that do not burn

& rest there

at the center of the earth

let go

and rise –

bring back that fire

through layers of rock wet memories


loss & chagrin

Bring up


through rich soil alive


tendrils winding up

ankle shin calf knee & thigh

to the fleshy thick

of your furry sex

sphincter anus

into belly

liver kidney & spleen



further your luminous heart

out all along your arms

from gracefully held shoulders

to elbow sinewy arm wrist fingertip

& back

to touch

supple neck

& throat open song


further fire light up

into jaw ah smile bright brow

blazing broadly

crowned with joy

in release




from After Many Years Absent & Other Poems – M. Hannan © 1993

tree, a story

devon tree


The Tree is an ancient symbol in many cultures. The Tree of Knowledge, the Family Tree, and the Tree Of Life are three powerful examples.

“Every atom belonging to you belongs to me.”  

~ Walt Whitman

Picture if you will, a Tree. An old Tree that stands in the middle of a small town. It has always been there, further back than the oldest citizen can recall. An engraved plaque rests in the ground nearby. If you ever visit this town you will want to see what is written on the plaque, and why this Tree is such a special Tree.

This Tree is known as …well …legends about this particular Tree abound; treasure buried underneath, magickal workings, shape shifting gnomes and faeries inside, that sort of thing. Perhaps I should tell you one of those legends first?

No. Let me tell you of a more recent occurrence in the life of this Tree.

It so happens, mostly for reasons of greed, prank, or science, there is periodic digging around this Tree, both officially and unofficially, skillfully and unskillfully. In fact, the last time there was digging, the Tree almost died. Quick attention to its welfare barely saved it. The fact is the Tree is in danger again, in danger of being split into pieces and hauled away and perhaps shipped to carpenters and craftsman for homes or furniture.

You see, there are those who want to dig this Tree up once and for all to make way for something else, something better, something more profitable for the New Age. They say that in a few years people won’t remember the old Tree anyway, they’ll be so happy with what has replaced it. And, if there is a treasure beneath it? Well, if they find a fortune in the process, all the better.

There has been no end of discussion in the meeting chambers of City Hall. Strong voices, ardent longing, fist pounding even, each of them sure that they have the best idea.

Some, especially the older ones, are outraged by all this. Others see themselves as progressive and modern, and still others, perhaps most, are indifferent.

Some have suggested that the Tree be relocated. Some think that if the Tree is relocated they might as well dig all the way to the bottom of its roots to see if indeed there is any treasure there. Of course, the fiscally minded want to know how the treasure will be spent, and by whom.

There have been many of these hearings, committees, and fact finding studies. Actually, at one point it seemed a decision had been made, but now, at the last moment, the project has been halted and sent back for further review. Something about new evidence.

All the citizens of this small town received by mail a short handwritten note requesting their presence at a Town Meeting. Something about the way it was written, the way it felt in the hand as it was read, convinced the reader that attendance at this meeting was especially important to them personally.

Everyone spoke in earnest and with conviction when discussing the invitation with others at work, on the train, over coffee, or in their dimly lit bedroom as their heads lay softly on the pillow nose to nose with a loved one. All were in agreement. All were curious. And eventhough none quite knew why, all were confident that this meeting was a significant moment in the history of their town, and their lives.

When all the townspeople were gathered in the chambers at City Hall, located alongside the park where the Tree stands, a Child walked quite unabashedly into the center of the hallowed chamber. The room was silent save the echoes of muffled coughs, a sneeze, a mother’s hand swatting the bare legs and sun browned arms of her fidgety brood.

There was something familiar about this Child in their midst; a familiarity that was keenly felt by each of them. This Child was uniquely recognizable to all those present, yet none knew the Child’s name. If the truth were to be told, those present would say that this Child reminded them of themselves when they were about that age. In fact, that is the truth. Each saw this Child as a mirror image of their own Self when they were just about that age; the same nose, that crooked little mouth, the jaunty walk.

After a moment, the Child spoke.

“What does the Tree want? Has anyone asked the Tree?”

That voice! It too was immediately recognizable as their own. The effect of hearing it was like someone calling your name in a crowded place and you turn to look to see if they mean to call you. There was stunned silence now, a lot of head nodding, whispers behind hands. Some were reacting to the Mystery of the Child, some to the question; most were simply astonished.

And they had no argument or reply to the question the Child was asking. Nor did the Child hurry them to answer. Kindness and Love were at the heart of the asking and are the root of the solution.

“What does the Tree want? Has anyone asked the Tree?”

“Well, no,” they finally managed to reply in whispers and nods.

The Child smiled, looked at each one present there, and then walked out of the chambers, through heavy doors, down marble steps, across the street, and into the lush green park where the Tree stood in Sun. They all followed, silently, as if drawn forward by memories from their own past.

This Child stood by the huge trunk of the Tree and walked around it three times. Then he moved to the periphery to make another, larger circle around all of the townspeople gathered there together in a circle around the Tree. The Child spoke softly, yet each could hear the message as clearly as an eagerly awaited secret whispered in their ear. The timbre of its voice vibrated in their hearts as the Child spoke.

“This Tree that has stood here among you farther back then the oldest citizen can recall. This Tree whose roots extend far beneath the earth, whose arms extend high into the heavens, knows the answer in its heart. If you listen you will hear its Truth.”

As the Child spoke the townspeople took each others’ hand into theirs without prompting or reserve, as if a parent naturally reached down to take their dearly beloved’s hand into their safe keeping. The Child walked around the great Tree, again looked at each and every one of them with the sweetest of smiles and tenderest affection, then placed its arms around the great gnarly trunk, hugged it tightly, and dissolved into it.
At that very moment, each of those gathered there saw the Tree differently than they had ever seen it before. It was somehow recognizable, acutely familiar, a familiarity that was keenly felt by each of them. If the truth is to be told, those present would say that the Tree reminded them of themselves. In fact, this is the truth. Each saw this Tree as a mirror image of their own Self; the same knot holes, the crooked little crevices in the bark, and the jaunty way it waved its limbs.

In the hush of their amazement they heard the Child’s laughter in the leaves. They stood there peacefully gathered in a circle around this great Tree in the center of their town, looking at themselves in each other, reassured of the Hope and Love in their hearts.

Now, if you were to go to this Tree, to try to listen for its secrets, and if you were to look down at the plaque placed in the ground alongside it, you would see, in raised letters pitted from age but brightly polished, and you would hear in the leaves above as clearly as an eagerly awaited secret whispered in your ear – your very own Name.

Copyright ©2012 Mark Hannan

“Sit still! Or else!”

I wonder how much residual resistance remains from our caretakers telling us to sit still when we were kids. The directive was an imperative that had punitive consequences if not heeded.

When we try “to sit still”, is part of the restlessness rooted in this formative experience of admonishment? Remember the challenge of trying to harness all that chaotic energy flooding through you?

You’d sit on your hands, or hold your breath. Whatever you could do to stay out of the corner. Facing the blank wall in silence. Sound familiar? There is a Zen practice of sitting facing the wall for meditation. How much of our resistance comes from this fight againt “time out”?

Be here now. It isn’t Mom telling you to sit still, to calm down, or you are going to your room. It isn’t the teacher telling you to settle down or go to time out. Now it’s your spirit inviting you to come home and sit for a spell.

I’d be curious to hear if you have come across this in your practice.

Thank you.



The Importance of Dreams in the Mystical Process

The Importance of Dreams in the Mystical Process
Morpheus and Iris
Pierre-Narcisse Guerin, 1811
There is basically no difference between the waking state and that of dream, except that one seems more stable than the other. Only after there is awakening in the form of enlightenment is it realized that the waking world itself is indeed nothing but a long dream resulting from mental dis­position – a movement in Consciousness in which what seems a solid body and its sufferings are really an illusion.

Dreams are tools of transformation. Moreover, at a certain level of inner work, dreams stop being dreams and instead become spiritual levels of consciousness. But, in the meantime, dreams open invisible doors to subtler levels of spiritual growth, awakening in seekers of truth and wisdom, our permanent witness or soul within our conscious selves.Dreams help us look deeper within our own psyche, to discover the Mystery of Man. But unless we devote ourselves and allocate time to work with the energies and meaning of dreams, they will always remain unsolicited and strange phenomena. That is why our psyche needs to dream, since dreams are a source of knowledge helping us in the process of releasing unwanted garbage. Dreams are given to us to rescue us from lethargy and unconsciousness.

What is reflected in dreams are the thoughts and emotions of our good and bad intentions and experiences. It is in the mirror of our psyche that real purification and understanding take place, since we must become conscious of what appears on the surface of our psyche. The conscious impressions coming from a dream have an important role to play in the awakening process as a whole, and each dream, each symbol enriches this process, since spiritual dream work takes into account the subtle purification process of the whole man. Dreams about purification are given to those of us who want to awaken our permanent and spiritual witnesses. To do that, we must unite them in our “ordinary” level of self-consciousness. Therefore, we must become aware of our unconscious traits that need transformation. Without this, our ego cannot continue on this journey.

This kind of spiritual work in itself exposes the psyche to the influences and intuitions pouring in from the permanent witness. This is the first important means of access, the “key” opening the door of Poseidon’s mysterious palace in which are gathered all the past and present experiences, all the fears and stresses imprisoned since time immemorial. Those unconscious doubts and worries linger hopelessly in the depth of darkness awaiting the right moment for the thunderbolt of consciousness to penetrate them and bring them to the light of understanding. As a consequence of these delicate operations, the retrieved or “fished out” blocked energies float on the surface of dreams captured by our self-conscious ego. To help us understand their meaning, they take, in dreams, the shape of potent personal and universal symbols and archetypes. The ego must process these with subtlety, intuition and sensitivity, so that their meaning becomes clear and illuminating.

At first, these types of dreams are usually experienced as nightmares since our consciousness has to reorganize and focus its attention on the inner dynamics of dream work. With phantasmagoric, incomprehensible, and senseless dreams, we must try to focus our attention and use our intuition to grasp the irrational within ourselves. So, we should not ignore dream sequences that might have nothing in common with each other or appear nonsensical. It really doesn’t matter if the beginning of a dream doesn’t match what follows it. Analogous to a jigsaw puzzle, we should use our intuition to retrieve the “seed idea” and meaning of each part of our dreams. The expansion of the “seed ideas” and “meaning” is important, and it doesn’t matter if our intuition reveals different symbols or meanings to the dream. What counts is the effort exerted by our psyche to unravel a new dimension. Our ego must turn its attention to within itself, in the silent space within Being, where the impelling magnetic presence of the intelligence of the heart reigns.

Thus, if dreams first appear confusing, it is because these types of dreams release the pressure and stressed energies blocked in our psyche. To release stress in dreams, the symbols are magnified so as to make an impact and emphasize certain aspects of a problem. Another reason for disturbing dreams is to help us become conscious of the nature of our stress or anxiety. We should use our intuition to look at the incongruous symbols in our dreams, trying to “respect” their meaning. Intuition assists us in “reading” what goes on in our psyche, since like a mirror, it reflects what goes on within us. This is how, from our permanent witness, we receive some practical solutions and interpretations. However, the exchange of intuitive ideas and feelings between our psyche and ego occurs only if our ego is open to change. If we are willing to work with the symbols, then a special flow of energy streams from our permanent witness, allowing us to understand what we must do to remove the problem, and transform what needs to change.

Spiritual psychology looks at the esoteric and intuitive aspect of dream work, and is based on inner guidance. However, psychology is based on the interpretation and analysis of psychologists or facilitators. These two approaches may sound and even look the same, but they are not. The first is solely based on inner revelation and the second on feedback and outside guidance. The first is used by mystics, those guided by their soul, who seek a closer relationship with their permanent witness. The second is used by those who are only interested in finding solutions to problems, new directions and meaning in times of crisis.

Both are useful and important dream work tools to purify and transform the psyche. If we want to know who we are, then we should start with the psychological approach, either alone, in a group, or with a therapist. We should also seek the guidance of the inner master, or presence within. Whichever way we choose, our first step should always be with the psychological approach before starting any other kind of spiritual work, since, this approach takes us to the depth of our psyche and is part of an alchemical process. This is our descent into the world of Poseidon where our unconscious self waits. The quest to awaken our spiritual awareness can begin only after a certain amount of purification and transformation of the psyche. Our consciousness, having taken the downward journey, is eventually drawn towards an ascending path. Then, what we receive becomes more subtle and enlightening since it comes without distortion directly from the soul.

If we are serious in our work with the spiritual level of dreams, we must also realize that dreams are like seeds containing potential whole trees. Dreams, therefore, contain the seed ideas coming from the permanent witness. Their purpose is to transform our ordinary levels of consciousness to higher spiritual ones, since some dreams are in themselves examples of spiritual planes co-existing in our psyche that are the seeds waiting in our subconscious to be recognized and awakened by our ego. In other words, they are our spiritual levels of consciousness that permeate into our everyday consciousness. This is the grounding aspect of the whole process of dreams since, if we need to fathom the Mystery of Being and experience our own harmony and unity with it, then the nature of our dreams changes. Moreover, the essence and meaning of our dreams take a more abstract and irrational quality that cannot be shared with anyone, since they come directly from our permanent witness as a language of our soul, a language that can only be understood only intuitively.

The spiritual dimension of dreams could be described, at best, as delicate and subtle experiences given directly by our permanent witness to our consciousness in order to foster a healing and purifying, leading to a new level of consciousness in us, which we must allow to unfold in our ordinary lives.

What really matters here is our wish for inner transformation, since strong desire to unfold a higher level of consciousness is an illuminating catalyst that energizes our psyche. This is an important element in dream work. The power of concentration and a strong desire to work with dreams as tools for our own transformation opens naturally and directly the inner path to the permanent witness.

Dream work is comparable to learning a new language. First we must learn the alphabet. Dreams are a new symbolic world opening up in our self-consciousness. Why do we say “self-consciousness”? Because, unless our self-consciousness awakens whilst dreaming, our dreams will have no impact and we will not remember anything of great importance. Thus we must gradually stimulate and awaken our self-consciousness during dreams so that they can be something more than mere stress release.

Later, when our ego or self-consciousness “awakens” to its true nature—the impersonal Cosmic Consciousness—then dreams and the inner process take a new direction, and we see, understand and experience them in a totally different way since, from then on, our ego or self-consciousness realizes that it is just a vehicle for Cosmic Consciousness. We then perceive all kinds of dreams and astral projections differently, since the veil separating them from Cosmic Consciousness is no more. Our ego knows that it is just a reflection of the blazing light of the presence of God or Pure Being. When the veil is torn, and ego and soul meet and merge, the true identity of the Creator and initiator of our inner process becomes even clearer. The impersonal Cosmic Consciousness within us is the sole creator of dreams, and its limited self-conscious counterpart, our ego, it is seen at the other end of the process as the receiver of dreams.

The mission of Cosmic Consciousness within man is to enlighten man’s ego. In other words, Cosmic Consciousness actively guides the process of awakening the ego to its true nature, hence it directs the inner world of dreams and astral projections during sleep. Cosmic Consciousness takes over and creates whatever is necessary for our self-consciousness to understand and experience our ego. That is why prophets, saints and disciples of all religions and philosophies have been enlightened and have received knowledge and wisdom through their dreams, visions and astral travels. The ways that our soul carries out its initiatory course of action to awaken our ego and open up the “rainbow bridge to infinity” is a source of great gratitude and awe.

A “yoga” is any path whose purpose is union with your spiritual source. Dream Yoga teaches you how to use your dreams as a spiritual path leading to oneness with the divine within. It involves daily application of the guidance that you receive from your dreams. Dream Yoga will connect you with soul wisdom that reveals your path to peace, compassion, and wisdom. For more information about Dream Yoga, visit:


Also, I highly recommend investigating and praticing Lucid Dreaming as described and taught by Stephen LaBerge. Visit: