Spirituality

Pets and Soul Contracts

We are all aware that people enter our lives for a reason. The saying actually goes ‘a reason, a season or a lifetime’. This might be anyone from the random at the bus stop with the unique perspective, or the twin flame or soul mate with whom you live happily ever after. Whatever the circumstance, most of us are aware that soul contracts exist between us and these people, contracts that are being completed as we interact with each other in this lifetime.

But what about animals? Do these beautiful, unconditionally loving creatures come into our lives for a particular reason? Do we have a soul contract with a pet? Do we exist in the same soul group and keep incarnating together?

Being Guided by Spirit

Before I answer these questions, I’d like to share a little synchronicity that occurred in relation to this topic.

The day I wrote the first draft for this post I was headed to a family gathering that was around 40 minutes from my house. As I often do when driving, I searched through my podcasts to find something interesting to listen to. I chose one called Soul Contracts & Soul Families by Soul Doctor, Rebecca Dettman. It was only a short reference, but in it she refers to pets as being a part of our soul circle and fulfilling Soul Contracts, so follow the link to listen to her perspective. After this podcast, I knew I was on the right path. So, for my answer, if you haven’t guessed already…

Do soul contracts exist between us and our pets?

My experience is yes. Yes, we can exist in the same soul group with the soul of an animal. Yes, they can reincarnate. And yes, they certainly can teach us lessons that might be more difficult coming from another being.

My beautiful cat, Eddie Treebird, is one such soul.

img_2351
Eddie Treebird. The second half of his name was given to him by my then 5 year old niece.

Reincarnating Furbabies

As for reincarnation, this is definitely true. My brother, whose own cat gave birth to Eddie, had said when Eddie was just a few weeks old that he reminded my brother of another cat we had had in our younger years, and that I had to adopt this kitten from him. He truly believes that Eddie is the reincarnation of Fatty, our beloved Ginger cat who had died about 10 years prior. I wasn’t sure what to make of it, until his highly intuitive daughter kept calling Fatty by Eddie’s name in a photo my brother has. She is only 4, but I know children are highly intuitive, and this one especially. Since then I have taken it more seriously.

It is true they are both very large cats, but this in and of itself wasn’t enough to convince me. Eddie certainly hunts more than Fatty ever did, so this threw me also. What is similar is the way they both actively seek out affection. Both cats are only happy when around people, receiving loving pats and scratches. Also, both cats are extremely trusting of people. So, it would seem Fatty has evolved into a more active cat in Eddie! More than all this, it is the way we look at and connect with each other. There is a certainty that we are supposed to be together. (I won’t say I own him, because anyone with cats knows you don’t own them, they own you!) I look into his eyes and I know him on a much deeper level than ‘owner’. It’s just a feeling. A strong feeling.

Fatty
Fatty, originally named Junior, got his name after breast feeding off of both his Mother and adoptive Aunty for the first 18 months of his life.

Pets as teachers

Eddie has taught me so much about giving unconditional love, as well as accepting it from another. I have had to accept him for the tart he is; he spends a lot of time with other families in the street and is often the reason why I even meet my neighbours in the first place! (Perhaps there is another lesson here?) I have had to accept him as the wild child who doesn’t like to be indoors, the independent master of his own life, and the needy affectionate being he is. He has taught me how to love another free of conditions and completely as they are. He has also taught me to slow down, face my demons and be grounded. His constant need for affection and attention has forced me to be home way more than I would have been without him. This has lead me to periods of great introspection and purging that I would have avoided had I not felt I needed to be home to spend time with him. For this I am completely grateful!

I have also had to learn that I am worthy of receiving this love in return. He is one of the most affectionate animals I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. It might seem to most people that it is his nature as a cat to see me as a slave to his every whim, but I truly believe that when I am patting him we are sharing love. Unconditionally. I often feel a sense of intimacy, of knowing the true nature of our own souls, that I don’t get with anyone else in my life.

So it would seem that animals can and do reincarnate with the same people, perhaps even as members of their soul family. That animals are here to teach us lessons, perhaps about love or kindness or compassion or caring for another soul. That they might see ‘lifetime’ in the plural and keep coming back. Perhaps they just like our souls and enjoy spending lives with us.

Or perhaps they too are on their own journey of soul evolution towards the same goal as us – whatever that is. Perhaps as they teach us about love, kindness and compassion, we are teaching them about dependence, obedience (in some cases) and unconditional love.

With the universe, anything is possible.

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Current Issues

Australia Day: Change the Date

*Warning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that the following article contains images of people who have died.

**Featured image from Ngurrbul Badhin.

In recent years, Australia Day has become quite controversial. I’ll admit that in the beginning I had no idea what was happening or why things were getting so heated. I just couldn’t understand all the hype, didn’t have a good grasp on what each argument was. Like most Australians the term ‘Invasion Day’ didn’t sit well with me.

Last year I posted on Facebook about being grateful for living in this amazing country. My exact quote was “whatever people say about the past, I’m just grateful to be living in this awesome country”.

How 12 months can change you.

In addition to teaching Rights and Freedoms for many years as part of the history syllabus, I had the privilege of teaching high school Aboriginal Studies last year. This experience has taught me a lot about Aboriginal culture and made more obvious the continuing hardship faced by Australian Aboriginal peoples. It has also opened my eyes.

Don’t get me wrong, I am still grateful to live in this amazingly, beautiful country, I also see how history is still affecting the people who lived here before white man came.

Why we should Change the Date

Simply put: to celebrate a nation on the day it invaded another lacks empathy and compassion. It trivialises over two centuries of oppression, violence, dispossession and forced assimilation of a people. It supports genocide; cultural and literal.

There is a lot about Australia’s history people don’t want to admit to, and this last point is one of them. When we say ‘Genocide’ we think of Hitler and the Aryan race. The reality is that the term wasn’t even around before or immediately after Hitler and it was created to define his actions, not as a title for them.

The dictionary definition of Genocide: the deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group. What happened in Australia was genocide. How could you intentionally give native people small pox laced blankets and not call it genocide? How can you massacre a people because they were in your way and not call it genocide? How can you force a people to assimilate to your culture in an attempt to ‘breed it out’ and not call it genocide?

3-generations
The caption under the original image states “Half-caste – along with terms such as caste, quarter-caste, “mix-breed” and others, as shown in the image – were widely used by the British invaders in their attempt to devalue, brand and classify First Nations people”

 

As a result of Captain Cook’s landing, the Aboriginal people experienced trauma that, up until the 1990s, was largely ignored in the History books.

During the 20th Century, children were stolen from their families or manipulated into giving them up. These children and the families suffered (and continue to suffer) significant emotional trauma, many spending the rest of their lives being unable to relocate their families. While in the missions, many children experienced physical and sexual abuse.

These children would grow up to be labourers or housemaids for rich, white families. They would not have direct access to their income, having to ask the Protection Board for permission to access their money, and they would be given much less than their white counterparts (if anything at all). Many of the women working as housemaids were raped by their employer and then kicked out once it was discovered she was pregnant. Later, this child would be taken from her as it represented the best opportunity for assimilation – the white blood was stronger than the black.

Aboriginal people were forced from their fertile land where they had lived for tens of thousands of years and onto barren reserves, unable to access traditional food sources. When they went into ‘town’, they were often ignored or avoided, but many experienced verbal insults and physical violence just because of their skin colour. They were often not served in the shops if there was a white person present and were asked to leave many establishments.

And this is just a few examples, merely touching the surface of the situation. I haven’t spoken of the massacres or frontier wars, events that lead to cultural distrust for doctors, police and other authority figures, the impacts of foreign diseases, the effects of the introduction of alcohol and other substances.

How can we choose to celebrate Australia on a date that has such a far reaching and perpetual impact upon the world’s oldest existing culture?

What date could we use?

The fact is, there are 354 other dates of the year we could look at. Captain Cook’s landing does not signify when Australia became a country or anything even remotely connected to who we are as a nation today. With this in mind, here are some I have thought of:

  1. 1 January: This is the day Australia actually became a country in 1901. Before this, Australia was a half dozen or so colonies with little to do with each other. This day marks Australia’s federation and, perhaps other than New Zealand (those guys do all the cool things first!), is the first country in the world to do so without bloodshed.
  2. 13 February: in honour of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s Sorry Speech. This may be less popular, as many Australians still believe we ‘have nothing to say sorry for’, but it marks the first step to practical reconciliation for Australia.
  3.  27 May: On this day in 1967 over 90% of Australians voted yes to including Aboriginal people in our constitution. This marks the first initial recognition of Aboriginal peoples as citizens, in essence giving them access to the same rights as the rest of Australia.
  4. 3 June: The date the high court of Australia ruled to overturn Terra Nullius and establish Native Title. This was one of the precursors to actual recognition of what had happened over the last 200 years, especially since Australian History in schools started at 1770… We now know the Aboriginal People were living here for much longer than that – longer than any other known civilization. The Mabo Case that lead to this decision was the first step in recognizing the existence and continuation of Aboriginal culture in Australia.
  5. 10 Dec: In honour of the UNDHR that Australia had a major hand in and has since been working towards fully implementing in policy. This would probably be my last choice, because while key Australian politicians were creating the charter in the 1950s, others back home were making policy in defiance of it or completely ignoring it in relation to Aboriginal people. Still, it recognises the prevailing and widespread existence of racism and discrimination on all levels.
  6. 1956 or 2000 Olympic Games opening ceremonies. Since sport is a major part of both cultures, this might be seen as a way of finding the common thread to bring us back together as a whole. These events showcased Australian culture, Indigenous and non-Indigenous (specifically the 2000 Olympic Games), to the world. The 2000 Olypmic Games and was one of the first times all sections of society worked together and were recognised as equal.
cathy freeman
Cathy Freeman lighting the cauldron at the 2000 Olympic Games. Trying to find a primary source for this image was so very hard – this one comes from an article written 15 years later, and not about her missing suit!

 

The reality is, there are dozens of more appropriate dates we could be using, some more than others. Many of the above could be argued as supporting one culture over the other, but the point is that the events listed promote positive relations between what appears to be the two sides of Australian society. The date should reflect positive aspects of our culture and serve to reconcile and ‘close the gap’ between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia.

What we do need to do is find a date that is universal. In reality, it can’t be about the rights of one person or the lack of them for another. It can’t be a date that is significant for one people over another.

Perhaps we find a date when nothing of great significance happened and choose it, a ‘blank date’ and make it something great.

Veganism

Veganism: too hard as a trend, too easy for your health

I work with a lot of children. Teenagers. Easily impressionable, concerned about what others think, while at the same time wanting to stand out, to be a leader, a ‘trendsetter’, although most of them would die before using that word. They all secretly want to be that kid who started the craze or new slang term no one really knows the definition for, often they themselves.

I had a thought this morning about using this drive to persuade kids to be vegan. Just a silly romantic thought, but a bought nonetheless.

I quickly let this idea go, however. And not because I teach in a public school and shouldn’t be ‘preaching’ to the kids about anything.

I let it go because veganism as a fad or trend would be hard. Too hard. Like dieting. People adopt it for a while and then eventually revert back to their original patterns. I don’t want veganism to be a trend. Something people turn to in order to be cool. More importantly, it’s not about that on a fundamental level. It’s about something bigger.

Veganism for the right reasons is easy. It’s easy to eliminate diary from your diet when you know what happens to the cows to produce it and have an emotional reaction. It’s easy to stop eating meat when you know how bad it is for your health. It’s the easiest thing in the world. It builds commitment and perseverance to have a deeply emotional reason for doing it. It’s easier still to stay on the path when the reasons for being on it are deeply personal, when you own it.

Veganism as a fad would be hard. Veganism for health and ethics is easy.

This is why using the ‘you’d be cool! You’d start a trend!’ argument would only work so far. Sure, it’d save millions of animal’s lives while they were in the fad, but I’m afraid that, like most diets, once they went back to their old ways they’d overcompensate for missed opportunities. This would then undo all the good they did do while being vegan.

So I’ll stick to the ‘be the change’ angle and hope for the best. Hope they (and people in general) ask questions themselves that I can answer honestly, with statistics and from love. Hope that they’ll listen to the answers. Hope that one day they will all see the truth and make the choice that is best for the animals, the planet and more importantly for them, themselves.

Spiritual Awakening

Masculinity in the 21st Century

It seems my views on masculinity have changed of late. Very recently in fact.

Last week, I was holidaying in Byron Bay and it would seem that there are a lot of tanned, muscular men who don’t own shirts living there.

A couple of months ago, last week even, this would have awakened a deep desire in me that my lack of self-confidence would never have allowed me to explore.

This time though, there was none of that automatic attraction. None of that lustful desire I have always felt.

It took me a few minutes to realise why.

Over Christmas I have been listening to a podcast by a very knowledgeable and down to earth woman by the name of Rebecca Dettman, called Soul Doctor. The specific podcasts were a two-parter on the Divine Feminine and the Divine Masculine, the second of which talks about the current perception of masculinity as the warrior archetype and how it leads to Manorexia (as she puts it).

It became obvious that there is just as much push from women for men to embody this role of muscular warrior as there is from men for women to be the skinny, beautiful model. This is a sweeping generalisation, but looking at society it’s hard not to make it when that is all we see portrayed on TV, movies and in magazines.

As I looked around the crowd of people enjoying some Saturday afternoon music on the beach, it struck me that many of these men worked hard to become this type of man. Very hard. Did they do it in an attempt to meet society’s expectations? They would probably never admit it, even if they were self-aware enough to see it. Sure, for some it is the expression of their true self, but for many it is a forced lifestyle that can lead to steroids, or worse, in an effort to keep up. They too are under enormous pressure to be a certain way and it was heartbreaking.

It was a major realisation that ‘muscular’ no longer guaranteed ‘masculinity’ for me. It is no longer a healthy archetype to apply to all men, and probably never was.

For me, the question is what does the Divine Masculine look like now, if it ‘looks’ like anything at all?

I think it, like the Divine Feminine, lies in a person’s awareness of who they are as a person, an ability to be truly intimate and vulnerable, to learn and grow from life’s experiences and just BE. Just be themselves. Their true selves. With an understanding that the feminine and masculine reside in us all. It is our job to balance both and see what this means for us.

And it is time society started giving us the space in which to explore our own masculinity and femininity for ourselves. We also need to stop dictating to men and women who they should be and how they should express themselves. Stop telling boys not to cry and girls they aren’t brave enough. Stop telling boys and men they need to be physically strong and girls and women that they need to be petit.

Let each person work it out for themselves and give them the space and opportunity to do so, and when they do, the freedom to express it.

In this, we can finally learn to access and express our own divinity.