The Spirit of Thanksgiving
By Brenton Bickerstaff
On November 20, 1938, Edgar Cayce was asked to give a reading for Study Group #1 to give them a greater appreciation of the true spirit of Thanksgiving. It was a challenging time, with different issues including a looming war. The world was filled with hatred, fear, and uncertainty. I’d like to paraphrase the text of Reading 3976-21. Although Thanksgiving is a holiday unique to the American spirit, the idea of giving thanks is a universal theme celebrated the world over, transcending social and cultural boundaries. My hope is that it will fill you with inspiration and a deeper appreciation of Thanksgiving.
Members of the first A Search for God group
The reading began with the importance of finding a daily appreciation of life itself, the ebb and flow, the opportunities for spiritual growth offered to us through our interaction with all those we meet. Cayce stated that the Creative Forces, often referred to as God, are in constant motion, working through us to facilitate a deeper appreciation of all things.
He reminds the group to remember and honor the lives and experiences of the special group of souls who refused to waver in their purpose and ideals of establishing a nation built upon equality and freedom. Those colonists who first shared land with the local natives were constantly reminded not to just be thankful on days of plenty, but also the importance of remaining thankful in times when in each moment they were given only what was sufficient for that day. In those trying times, it was essential that they remember to give thanks for all the joys, the sorrows, the disappointments, and the hopes for the future.
Cayce reminds us that we are the torch bearers, the chosen ones to carry on the American spirit by working together for peace. We are encouraged to give thanks for our differences, and find strength in our diversity. We are a global family with a shared ideal of unity, cooperation, and mutual respect. This idea of Thanksgiving must be in the mind and heart of each soul, as we respect all of our unique paths and embrace opportunities to support each other. It is not by judging and condemning our political leaders that we will find our answers, but rather in daily Thanksgiving for the opportunity to participate in the process that helps create and evolve an ideal-driven experiment that is the United States of America.
In this great country, we are given opportunities—ones not afforded to much of the world—to put into practice the ideals our country was initially founded upon. This is the true spirit of Thanksgiving: to give thanks for the chance to lift the spirits of those around us who have lost focus, and those who have become unappreciative of our opportunities and the basic freedoms we enjoy. Thanksgiving is a reminder that every day is an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to an ideal-driven life full of purpose and passion; a day to remind us to see the living God in all that we encounter on our path. A day when each of us may give thanks for simply being alive!
As we give thanks—in the spirit of love, truth, patience, and compassion—we will receive the gift of greater awareness and understanding. Our lives will fill with the fruits of our labor, wisdom, and depth of clarity in our purpose for being alive now. Synchronicities will provide guidance and light our path.
Cayce reminds us of the ideals established in the early days of the American colonies: “In this land you may give praise for freedom of speech, for the opportunities to raise your voice in whatever way and manner you choose…Then, as you give thanks, as you give praise to your friends for kindnesses, for gentleness, for those things that make your experience more bearable in a cruel world… Let your heart then be glad.” (From reading 3976-21)
Far too often, I find myself forgetting to appreciate the basic human rights acknowledged in our country’s constitution. I always have to take a step back and extend my heartfelt prayers to all those at home and around the globe suffering from oppression, discrimination, and inequality—as I also remember to forgive myself for any oppressive acts and remain open-minded and of service to all who are in need. I also want to give thanks to all those who selflessly step in to protect the many freedoms we enjoy in our beautiful nation; all the servicemen and women who work tirelessly to protect our basic rights. As individuals, we may label ourselves insignificant, but this could not be further from the truth. As we bring change in the hearts of individuals, we enact change on a large scale.
I strive daily to maintain an attitude of gratitude—thankful for the blessings received, but also thankful for the struggles I encounter, for these are opportunities to grow in depth of awareness. Only by applying what we have learned can we find deeper meaning in life and strengthen our purpose, opening ourselves to a life of greater love and compassion.
Let each raise his voice in Thanksgiving for all that has, that may come to pass in the experience of each soul that prays, "Your will, O God, be done in me—now. Not as I will, but as You would have me go."
Brenton Bickerstaff is the host of Reflections: The Wisdom of Edgar Cayce internet television and radio talk show. He moved to Virginia Beach from Florida to work with Edgar Cayce's A.R.E. in 2012. He has been a student of the Edgar Cayce readings as well as other metaphysical and esoteric wisdom teachings since he was a teenager, with a special interest in educating and empowering teens and young adults to find their spiritual path.
Baptism into Death and Beyond
by Dr. Pam Bro
On All Souls Day, November 2, I found myself musing about death—especially loved ones who’ve died. When I was in college, my grandmother died. My mom decided not to tell me so as not to upset my studies, but when I found out two months later what she had done, I was furious! I wanted to be able to say goodbye to my beloved piano teacher and baker and big-bosomed, great hugger, Nana—and I felt cheated. I ranted and cried but felt no relief. A few weeks later, I had a dream. In it, Nana called me on the telephone, and I was overjoyed because, though I knew she was dead, here she was talking with me. “Nana,” I cried out, “I love you so much!” And she was so happy to hear my voice that she died (again)!
I don’t possess the gift of talking to dead people, even loved ones of mine who have passed on. There are plenty of folks around this area who do, I suspect. Maybe even you, dear reader. I used to live in the world of "certainties" and PhD's, but more and more I’m choosing to live in the world of Mysteries, of the Unknown or Not-understood. I’m choosing to act on faith from what Edgar Cayce, Dr. Eben Alexander, and others tell us—that consciousness is not tied to the brain, but pre-exists our life and lives on after our death. And as the souls of our beloveds travel on to the next realm(s), they might still appreciate a word of love or encouragement from us. It can’t hurt, and maybe it even cheers them. It can certainly help us cope.
My dear friend John Alton died a year ago. He was 60 years old and succumbed to a ravaging cancer after putting up a super-human fight. When he was near the end of his journey, he wanted to come to my house to visit the bay with me one more time. He never made it. The night he died, around midnight, I jerked around in my bed sensing someone had entered my room. I suspected it was John, popping in to say farewell. Now it was my turn to say good bye.
The next day dawned, an exquisitely sunny, clear sky, fall day. As I walked out over the dunes and onto our bay beach, thinking about special times with John, I spotted fishermen desperately hauling their nets onto the sand. It seemed like they had inadvertently caught a whole school of young fish—“gilled” them, one told me. The fish were too young to eat, yet once they were hooked into the net, you couldn’t easily release them without tearing their gills and killing them. As hundreds flopped helplessly on the beach, I managed to carefully remove dozens of them, flinging them back into the life-giving salt water. Many swam back to their home in the sea, but after an hour, I was exhausted.
Reluctantly, I admitted to God, “Well, I just can’t save them all. I guess I couldn’t save John with my love, and now I have to let him go back to his home in you, don't I?”
Somehow, I felt relief as I walked back down the beach. All of a sudden, I was gripped with the notion to dive into the gentle surf, jeans and all, to baptize myself and John into our new lives. So I did it, and it was glorious! The water was warm and welcoming, the sun so bright—I felt God’s blessing all around us.
It is good to remember your life, John—our deep friendship, your death, our parting, and our baptisms—“Hey, buddy, we got to share in your final wish, after all!” Selah.
Pamela Bro MDiv, MA, PhD
Dr. Pamela Bro is a spiritual counselor for the A.R.E. Health Center & Spa, founder and pastor of Living Waters, a dynamic motivational speaker and workshop leader, and a former associate pastor at Yale University. She holds her doctorate in theology and anthropology from the Chicago Theological Seminary, her masters in divinity from Union Seminary, and her masters in theatre from Schiller College, Berlin, Germany. She has enriched her field of spiritual counseling through her work with the Lakota Indians, Mindfulness Training with Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh, and more than forty years of work with the Cayce readings. She has opened to many paths of spirituality and draws upon many spiritual traditions and practices. She is also the author of the book SoulQuest: A Trail Guide to Life (womanquest.org).
The Opposite of War and
the Secret of Creativity
By Meryl Ann Butler
» Select images to see larger version
What is the opposite of war?
If you ask 100 people what the opposite of war is, almost all will reply "peace." Then, if you ask them to describe peace, you'll get at least 99 answers explaining what peace is not.
It's not violence. It's not terrorism.
And it's definitely not war.
Even the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines peace in terms of what it is not: "freedom from war, or a stopping of war."
But these do not describe what peace is.
The inadequacies of our cultural descriptions of peace make it appear insubstantial and listless. Nevertheless, everyone seems to agree that peace would be good for us. But like Brussels sprouts or going to the dentist, it certainly doesn't seem very attractive.
D.H. Lawrence voiced our apprehensions about peace, "But then peace, peace! I am so mistrustful of it: so much afraid that it means a sort of weakness, and giving in."
And that is exactly what gives warmongers their stronghold. The exciting adventure of war seems far more thrilling than a frail and wimpy peace. And indeed, perilous experiences—such as those encountered in war—can offer many more opportunities to meet the Divine, face-to-face, than an uneventful existence. As often happens, there are jewels hidden in the dung.
Still, I think we can do better.
The first step is to move away from an anti-war consciousness in which we fight against that which is unwanted. And the next step is to move forward in crafting a strong image of what is desired.
How many times have peace activists protested war without replacing the image of war with an equally strong depiction of the attributes of peace? In the absence of this vision, peace activists actually contribute more substance to what they are protesting. This is why Mother Teresa said, "I was once asked why I don't participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I'll be there."
This dichotomy is reflected in our own government. Revolutionary patriots, including George Washington, inventor Benjamin Banneker, and Benjamin Rush (Declaration of Independence signer and one of the bankrollers of the Revolutionary War) called for a cabinet level Secretary of Peace, but this position was never created. However, we have had a Department of War since 1789 (renamed the Department of Defense in 1949). Former Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) spearheaded several bills for a Department of Peace, including H.R. 808 in 2007, and in 2013 Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) revitalized that quest. But we have no Department of Peace yet.
Imagine the kind of world we would be living in if a Department of Peace had cabinet-level authority and a budget that equaled that of the Department of Defense! Perhaps the impetus for that reality must rise up from “we, the people.”
In order to have peace, live in peace, and thrive in peace, our collective image of a dynamic and exciting peace must be developed so that it becomes more substantial and more attractive than a vision of war. And to do that, we must identify what a thriving peaceful world looks like. As Cayce said, “Mind is the builder”!
The essence of war is destruction. Therefore, its opposite is not peace, but creativity, which offers thrilling and deeply soulful nourishment to our bodies, minds, and spirits.
Peace is simply the byproduct of a dynamically creative society. It’s not the goal. So if we’ve set our sights on peace, we’ve set them too low.
A truly peace-full civilization is characterized by a dynamic dance of both practical and artistic creativity that nourishes the soul and elevates the spirit, sending a ripple effect of wellbeing throughout humanity.
While creativity includes the obvious variety of artistic expressions, such as painting, writing, music and theater, it includes more humble activities, too.
Most everyone has experienced a connection with at least one of the arts that made the heart leap and the spirit sing, perhaps by viewing a painting, hearing a song, or attending a theater production. This is the kind of art that triggers an endorphin dance that thrills our souls and helps connect us with the best that we can be!
Edgar Cayce said that the process of creativity and psychic development are two aspects of the same thing. And it makes sense that as someone expresses or appreciates creativity, they become more attuned to the creativity of the divine. After all, what is the God of Genesis, if not a creative artist?
But creativity is not limited to the formal expression of visual or performing arts. It also includes activities that we are engaged in when there is joy in our hearts—from the selection of ingredients to mix together for soup to the planting of a garden. Many of our daily activities can be a product of inspired imagination and purposeful creativity. And getting three kids to their separate after-school activities simultaneously can require as much problem-solving creativity as painting the Mona Lisa!
Peace is the inherent result of an enthusiastic and creative society, and naturally accompanies any golden age of artistic expression and joyful creativity. Who can imagine people who are deliciously engaged in daily, blissful, creative expression, ever wanting to tear themselves away to step toward war?
Passion and exhilaration are the pumps that keep the essences of life circulating, and the human animal is engineered to gravitate toward whatever will enhance the fullness of the life experience. So as we create a consensual vision of a dynamic and fulfilling peaceful society that is more exhilarating than war, we also invent a new kind of world, a world where people will begin to salute the world’s artists and thank them for their service to society.
And the more attuned to the creative divine we become, the further we find ourselves from an attunement with war.
So, plant peonies, bake brownies, paint pictures, sing songs, and pen poetry. Make a quilt—they aren't called "comforters" for nothing! Join in the interwoven heartbeat of a community drum circle. Dance like nobody's watching. Take a class in a creative pursuit that you have dreamed of exploring—like scrapbooking, acting, or pottery. And the ripple effects of your own creative joy will surround the planet!
Or find another creator's artistic expression that brings you happiness, and have fun appreciating it at a museum, a playhouse, craft fair, or in the words of a book. Einstein noted that it was impossible to simultaneously prevent and prepare for war. And that is because we can only dance in one place on the creation/destruction continuum at any given moment.
Every single choice we make that supports creativity and the arts takes us one step further from war and destruction, and that much closer to birthing a peaceful world that bursts with creativity and joyful wellbeing!
All illustrations are the copyrighted work of the author, Meryl Ann Butler. http://www.merylannbutler.com. An earlier version of this article was published on Opednews.com as “New Years' Musings on the Opposite of War: It's Not What You Think!”
Meryl Ann Butler is an award-winning artist, author, editor, labyrinth builder, speaker, and Renaissance woman who has offered presentations at A.R.E. since 1986. Her artwork hangs in hundreds of collections around the world, including those of Caroline Myss, Dr. C. Norman Shealy, Dr. Patch Adams, and the late Nelson Mandela. She is managing editor and arts/images editor of OpEdNews.com, which is ranked in the world’s “Top 100 Blogs” by Technorati, and where her contributions have received over 900,000 views.
Join Meryl Ann at the Annual A.R.E. New Year’s Conference, Dec. 29-31, 2014, The Creative Edge: A Hands-on Retreat for Inspiring and Unleashing Your Dynamic, Intuitive Self!, where she will be facilitating an exciting workshop entitled, “Creativity and Joyful Expressions of Spirit: Integrative Intuition.” Other expert guides in the conference include Henry Reed, Robin Wimbiscus, Judith Stevens, Kirk Nelson, Elizabeth Waitekus, and more; so ring in the New Year with like-minded friends old and new at this traditional gathering which includes a festive party with music, dancing, and refreshments and a peaceful midnight meditation.
Annual Conference in Sweden, Big Success
September 6-7, 2014, Foundation Edgar Cayce Centre in Sweden organized its 25th Conference since the start in 1994, so it was also 20 years since the Swedish foundation was established.
In the beginning of the 1990s, Ole Barry in Sweden read the book Edgar Cayce on the Dead Sea Scrolls by Glenn D. Kettler. He was fascinated and decided to introduce Edgar Cayce to the people in Scandinavia. In 1992, he started his publishing house called Reincarnation Books, and published his first translation of The Sleeping Prophet by Jess Stearn. Two years later he established Foundation Edgar Cayce Centre and organized the first conference with help from the A.R.E.
The Foundation was established in Tyringe, a small town with about 10,000 inhabitants, in the south of Sweden, where also the conferences were held for about the first 10 years. By that time it was no longer possible to be at the hotel where the conferences took place, so they were moved to a place by the sea but are now back in Tyringe.
The conference hotel is called Tyringe Kurhotell and was established in 1904, as a health resort hotel with modern therapies, fresh air, good nature, and different kinds of water and light therapies. The employed doctor, Dr. Otto Reimers, was interested in holistic health and had been to the U.S. Had he met Mr. Cayce? We’re not sure. A couple of blocks from the resort there was a spring to which the guests walked and drank water. The spring is still there, but you have to take the water from a tube that has the same water as the town—a very good and healthy water though. The health resort was active until the end of the 1950s when it became a place for conferences.
So, this year the Swedish Foundation celebrated its 20 years with a fantastic conference. We were very happy to have John Van Auken as our lecturer. Van Auken was one of the lecturers at the conference in 2011 as well, and was most appreciated. Many wanted him to come back, and we were happy that he had the opportunity to come at this special occasion. The theme of this conference was Edgar Cayce on the Life Forces within You: Unlock Your Soul’s Dimension of Life.
Almost 100 people came to our conference, most of them from Sweden but also from other European countries. About half of them had arrived already on Friday, when there was a very nice coming together in the evening. Among the delegates were the founder Ole Barry and also the second chairman of the Foundation, Gösta Montelius, who is now living in Turkey.
Saturday morning, September 6, the present chairwoman, Gun Olofsson, welcomed all the participants telling a bit about the place and the Swedish Foundation. She also gave a short biography of Edgar Cayce since some of the participants were visiting the conference for the first time.
Then it was John Van Auken’s turn to present, with the translator Eva Tragardh. Many Swedes know English, yet many want the translation so as not to miss anything.
The first lecture was Edgar Cayce’s Vision of our Ancient Existence as Celestial/Cosmic Beings, a most wonderful opening. The next talk had the title Understanding and Mastering Ego, Self-Expression, and the Ultimate Destiny and Purpose for Your Existence, a talk which gave a lot of exciting and useful information. After a fantastic lunch, the subject was Dreams, Intuition, and Higher Consciousness, a very interesting and giving talk.
The Sunday talks were titled Our Metaphysical Body and Mind and Prophecies, Cycles, and Coming Events. Both days contained meditation sessions and discussion sessions, and were most appreciated.
During the breaks a lot of people wanted to talk to John, asking questions and having books autographed, so John was fully occupied all the time—no breaks!
The participators of this year’s conference were more than satisfied. Everybody appreciated John’s amazingly interesting and informative lectures and the wonderful translator. They did a very good job together. So John is on the top of the list of coming lecturers! And we wish him “Welcome back!”
The two days passed so quickly! Being together like this is an enriching experience. Many of the participants are coming every year, meeting friends, listening to interesting lectures, being filled with energy, and also making new acquaintances. The people who are returning as well as new participants often say, “It is as meeting old friends.” And for sure we all have known each other some lifetime earlier; as Cayce’s reading 2492-2 says it: “Friendships are only the renewing of former purposes, ideals.”
Edgar Cayce’s A.R.E. blog offers opinion pieces from contributors with a wide variety of backgrounds. These opinions are valued and create points of discussion. Opinions expressed in our blog may not necessarily represent the opinion of A.R.E.