Friday, 31 October 2014

What is Halloween?

October 31st is celebrated in many countries as "Halloween".  But why?  What is the meaning of Halloween?

There are two parallel "meanings", both of which have some validity.  Firstly there is the Christian festival of All Hallows in which those who have passed on, and especially Saints, are honoured.  Secondly there is the Gaelic festival of Samhain (pronounced "sow-in"), which celebrates the end of summer and start of winter, and during which fairies and / or the spirits of the dead find it easier to cross over into this world and create mischief.

Most of the trappings of a modern Halloween celebration can be traced back to one or both of these festivals.

In the Gaelic festival, turnips were carved, often with faces meant to represent evil spirits, and candles placed inside so they could be used as lanterns.  They were called "jack-o'-lanterns" after the name given to the weird lights that can sometimes be seen flickering over peat bogs.  Immigrants to the US replaced the turnips with pumpkins as the inside of a pumpkin is much softer than a turnip, making it much easier to carve.

Jack-o'-lanterns were hung outside houses to light the way for the dead souls who wished to return one last time before they passed on to the next world and who chose to come on this one night when the veil between the two worlds was so much thinner.  There is a similar festival honouring the dead to this day in Japan, the festival of Obon in mid August, where a trail of candles may be lit leading the returning spirits to their home.

The jack-o'-lanterns were also used to light the path of "soulers" (mainly children or poor people) who travelled from house to house asking for "soul cakes" in return for saying prayers for the dead.  This tradition survives more or less intact today in the Portuguese "Pão-por-Deus", or "Bread in the name of God", where children up to around 10 years old knock on doors and ask for bread in the name of God, receiving not only bread but also sweets and even money.  And of course it survives in the practice of "trick or treat", where children ask for sweets, and may play a trick on the householder if they don't get anything.

While "trick or treating", children usually dress up in various costumes.  Also, many Halloween parties are fancy dress parties.  The origin of this is the ancient belief that All Hallows Eve is the last chance the dead have of coming back to earth and taking vengeance on people who they believe have done them harm in some way.  In order to avoid this ghostly vengeance, people would dress in disguise in the hope the ghosts would not recognize them.

Most of what you are likely to do at Halloween, if you celebrate it at all, will probably be simply for fun.  There is nothing wrong with this - it is good to have fun.  But perhaps you should also remember some of the deeper meanings of this festival.  Remember those who have passed on, thinking of the good they have done in this world and vowing to do at least as much good yourself.  Think of those worse off than yourself (as in the "soulers") and do what you can to help them.  And perhaps also remember that the boundary between this world and other more ethereal worlds may not be as solid as you might believe and that, as the Bard himself once said, "there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy".

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Think and Grow Rich

Have you read "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill?  You really should!  It is probably one of the most important books great achievers featured in "The Secret" studied and used to achieve their success.  But do not be deceived by the title.  Yes, it focuses on getting rich, and you can most certainly use the techniques in this book to become very rich indeed, but the concept is not limited to acquiring material wealth.  It can be applied to achieve anything you truly desire.

Just to give you a taste of things to come when you read this marvellous work, here is a story Napoleon Hill tells at the beginning of the first chapter.  The story of the man who "thought" his way into partnership with Thomas A Edison.

TRULY, "thoughts are things," and powerful things at that, when they are mixed with definiteness of purpose, persistence, and a BURNING DESIRE for their translation into riches, or other material objects. 

A little more than thirty years ago, Edwin C. Barnes discovered how true it is that men really do THINK AND GROW RICH. His discovery did not come about at one sitting. It came little by little, beginning with a BURNING DESIRE to become a business associate of the great Edison. 

One of the chief characteristics of Barnes' Desire was that it was definite. He wanted to work with Edison, not for him. Observe, carefully, the description of how he went about translating his DESIRE into reality, and you will have a better understanding of the thirteen principles which lead to riches. When this DESIRE, or impulse of thought, first flashed into his mind he was in no position to act upon it. Two difficulties stood in his way. He did not know Mr. Edison, and he did not have enough money to pay his railroad fare to Orange, New Jersey. These difficulties were sufficient to have discouraged the majority of men from making any attempt to carry out the desire. 

But his was no ordinary desire! He was so determined to find a way to carry out his desire that he finally decided to travel by "blind baggage," rather than be defeated. (To the uninitiated, this means that he went to East Orange on a freight train). He presented himself at Mr. Edison's laboratory, and announced he had come to go into business with the inventor. In speaking of the first meeting between Barnes and Edison, years later, Mr. Edison said, "He stood there before me, looking like an ordinary tramp, but there was something in the expression of his face which conveyed the impression that he was determined to get what he had come after. I had learned, from years of experience with men, that when a man really DESIRES a thing so deeply that he is willing to stake his entire future on a single turn of the wheel in order to get it, he is sure to win. I gave him the opportunity he asked for, because I saw he had made up his mind to stand by until he succeeded. Subsequent events proved that no mistake was made." 

Just what young Barnes said to Mr. Edison on that occasion was far less important than that which he thought. Edison, himself, said so! It could not have been the young man's appearance which got him his start in the Edison office, for that was definitely against him. It was what he THOUGHT that counted. If the significance of this statement could be conveyed to every person who reads it, there would be no need for the remainder of this book. 

Barnes did not get his partnership with Edison on his first interview. He did get a chance to work in the Edison offices, at a very nominal wage, doing work that was unimportant to Edison, but most important to Barnes, because it gave him an opportunity to display his "merchandise" where his intended "partner" could see it. Months went by. Apparently nothing happened to bring the coveted goal which Barnes had set up in his mind as his DEFINITE MAJOR PURPOSE. But something important was happening in Barnes' mind. He was constantly intensifying his DESIRE to become the business associate of Edison. 

Psychologists have correctly said that "when one is truly ready for a thing, it puts in its appearance." Barnes was ready for a business association with Edison, moreover, he was DETERMINED TO REMAIN READY UNTIL HE GOT THAT WHICH HE WAS SEEKING. 

He did not say to himself, "Ah well, what's the use? I guess I'll change my mind and try for a salesman's job." But, he did say, "I came here to go into business with Edison, and I'll accomplish this end if it takes the remainder of my life." He meant it! What a different story men would have to tell if only they would adopt a DEFINITE PURPOSE, and stand by that purpose until it had time to become an all-consuming obsession! 

Maybe young Barnes did not know it at the time, but his bulldog determination, his persistence in standing back of a single DESIRE, was destined to mow down all opposition, and bring him the opportunity he was seeking. 

When the opportunity came, it appeared in a different form, and from a different direction than Barnes had expected. That is one of the tricks of opportunity. It has a sly habit of slipping in by the back door, and often it comes disguised in the form of misfortune, or temporary defeat. Perhaps this is why so many fail to recognize opportunity. Mr. Edison had just perfected a new office device, known at that time, as the Edison Dictating Machine (now the Ediphone). His salesmen were not enthusiastic over the machine. They did not believe it could be sold without great effort. Barnes saw his opportunity. It had crawled in quietly, hidden in a queer looking machine which interested no one but Barnes and the inventor. 

Barnes knew he could sell the Edison Dictating Machine. He suggested this to Edison, and promptly got his chance. He did sell the machine. In fact, he sold it so successfully that Edison gave him a contract to distribute and market it all over the nation. Out of that business association grew the slogan, "Made by Edison and installed by Barnes." 

The business alliance has been in operation for more than thirty years. Out of it Barnes has made himself rich in money, but he has done something infinitely greater, he has proved that one really may "Think and Grow Rich." 

How much actual cash that original DESIRE of Barnes' has been worth to him, I have no way of knowing. Perhaps it has brought him two or three million dollars, but the amount, whatever it is, becomes insignificant when compared with the greater asset he acquired in the form of definite knowledge that an intangible impulse of thought can be transmuted into its physical counterpart by the application of known principles. 

Barnes literally thought himself into a partnership with the great Edison! He thought himself into a fortune. He had nothing to start with, except the capacity to KNOW WHAT HE WANTED, AND THE DETERMINATION TO STAND BY THAT DESIRE UNTIL HE REALIZED IT. He had no money to begin with. He had but little education. He had no influence. But he did have initiative, faith, and the will to win. With these intangible forces he made himself number one man with the greatest inventor who ever lived. 

How did you like this taster?  If you truly study it and put into practice what you learn from it, this extract alone can help you achieve your life goals.  But if you want to develop it further, then get yourself a copy of the complete book.

Here is the link for you:

Or if you are in the UK:

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Many Different Paths

Which path are you following?

You may well counter this question with "path to what?".  I could, for example, have headed my article as "Spiritual Paths".  But that would make it too narrow.  "Personal Development Paths" is another possibility, but for those who DO want to find out more about spiritual paths that might be too narrow also.

Frequently people ask me "what path should I follow?".  Without wishing to seem evasive, my reply would usually be something along the lines of "what path do you WANT to follow?" or "what path do you FEEL you should follow?".  The reality is there are very many paths, many of which are "right" and "good".  The "right" path for you may well be very different from the "right" path for someone else, even if that person is a close friend and lives right next door.

You should begin your search with that in mind.  There is no "one right path" to follow, no matter what anyone may tell you.  When you find the path you are following feels absolutely right and is giving you great results it is very tempting to become evangelical about it.  You tell everyone around you how great it is and try to convince them they should follow the same path.  Now there is nothing wrong with wanting to share your good fortune and help those around you gain similar benefits.  But it is a very small step from that to starting to tell people that the paths they are following are wrong and that they must stop following them and follow yours.  That is most definitely NOT the right thing to do.

This applies in all walks of life.

Take "spiritual path" for example.  Most people, if they follow a spiritual path at all, choose to follow the one followed by their parents, their friends, and the people around them.  There are many different spiritual paths, and the fact that your parents followed one does not necessarily make it right for you.  The fact that most people in your culture follow a particular spiritual path does not mean that is the path for you.  Do not misunderstand me, though, when I refer to "spiritual path".  I am not necessarily talking here about religion, although changing spiritual paths can sometimes mean changing religion.  But if you have a strong belief and find that belief helpful I would not want you to try changing that belief - just to find the path within that belief which seems to work best for you.  For example, if you are a Christian you may find you wish to use a mystical path.  You may follow the spiritual exercises of Ignatius Loyola.  Maybe you wish to follow a more devotional path, and for example use "The Imitation of Christ" by Thomas à Kempis as your guide.  If you are a Protestant, the fact that both the authors I have mentioned here were Catholic should not deter you, as their exercises are not really exclusive to one denomination.  Alternatively, find authors within your denomination who have outlined appropriate practices you can follow - if you look hard enough you will certainly find them.  Like me, you may find a silent or near silent Quaker meeting works best for you.  Or you may simply find regularly attending the church or chapel in which you were raised, and following the advice given in ministry or sermons is the right approach.  As a Muslim you have similar choices.  Likewise a Buddhist, Hindu, or whatever faith is the faith of your own culture.  There are meditational, mystical, devotional, and practical paths that can be followed in all the main religions.  Or you may wish to belong to no religion at all and follow a spiritual path - there are many such paths you can follow, most of which will work to make you a better and more spiritual person.

With personal development, there are again so many different paths you can follow.  As I have stated in a recent article, very many of them are good and will give you the results you need if you persevere with them.  That is the key, of course.  Persevere.  And know the difference between needing to keep going in order to get the right results and flogging a dead horse that is never going to be right for you.  Ultimately you will probably find you can combine elements from different systems and create your own unique path.  But do not be in too much of a hurry to do this.  Remember, the people who created these systems made lots of mistakes along the way and found the right way to counter those mistakes.  The danger of picking and choosing elements from different systems too early is that you will make the same mistakes yourself and not know the best way to get back on the right path - or maybe even not realize you have made the mistakes at all.

If your search is for the right occult path, there are again many from which to choose.  You may, though, wish to start with the underlying mystery teachings of either the country in which you live or the culture from which you come.  Whilst it is possible to use teachings from a mystery school not connected with either you will find it a much harder, more uphill struggle, and you may find the results are not as clear as they otherwise might be.  For those of us in the West, one of the main mystery schools is hermetic wisdom,  the combination of Tarot and Qabalah instruction which has been used in many secret societies and which is now readily and openly available if you look hard enough.  If you are in the UK, then you may also consider the practices of Wicca.  In the United States you may consider using Native Indian practices.  A little further south and you may wish to explore Toltec sorcery.  For those of you from the East, or who are more comfortable with Eastern philosophy, the Tantric Yoga system from which the chakra theory so common in "New Age" practices arose, may be most appropriate.  Those of you in Australia may consider turning to the Aboriginal culture, which is filled with wisdom which can help.  And those in New Zealand should look carefully at the wisdom teachings of the Maori culture.  Or in both cases, if you are not of Aboriginal or Maori descent yourself, look to the culture from which you are descended - perhaps coming back to the hermetic tradition or Tantric yoga.

Whatever path you are trying to follow, remember that the "truth" itself is something that cannot simply be expressed in words understood by all.  It is much deeper than anything we can express in that way.  The end result is that there are many different systems which all express the truth in different ways using different means.  Pursue your path diligently and you will be rewarded.  But never fall into the trap of believing that because your path is right for you it must be right for everyone.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

How to be successful

"Lord, I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" Mark 9:24

The other day one of my subscribers told me he had been trying to become successful but that it wasn't working, and he wanted to know what he should do about it.  Does this have a familiar ring?  This is probably something that, if we are truly honest, we have all suffered at one time or another.  So how do you ensure you can be successful?

Everything comes down, in the end, to state of mind.  Yes, circumstances can help or hinder.  Sometimes the circumstances in which we may find ourselves can be dire and it can seem impossible to succeed.  We look around and see nobody else in our circle is succeeding either.  It has to be the fault of our environment!  But although those circumstances may be placing apparently insurmountable obstacles in front of us, the real key is what is inside, not what is outside.  We see the obstacles and immediately something inside says "it's impossible - I will never succeed!"  And you know what?  As long as you allow that inner demon to go unchallenged it will be right.  This is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

That is the basic underlying principle of most success systems.  Change the voices within.  Change them properly, not just superficially.  Change them permanently, not just for a day or two while you are trying out a new system.  Focus them on achieving your goal and achieve it you will.

How can you change those voices?  How can you eliminate the defeatist, miserable voice that has been with you since early childhood telling you "it won't work", "you can't do it", "you aren't good enough"?  How can you turn it around so your inner, non-stop chatter is full of "that's great!", "you're getting there!", "you have what it takes!" instead?

The first step is to look at your resources and be realistic.  Many other Law of Attraction gurus may disagree with me here and tell you that whatever it is you want to achieve you CAN achieve it if you only focus on it, visualize your success properly, and truly believe it.

Well, yes, they are right.  It IS possible to achieve anything if you are able to do those three things:
  1. have a clear, smart goal
  2. visualize achieving it whilst basking in the positive emotions this creates
  3. believe with every grain of your being that on another plane you have already achieved it and your only task now is to bring that already successful achievement down into this plane.

Read that paragraph again, as you will find it is the master key to success.  But look again at the very last essential component.  Believe.  If you do not have that solid, unshakeable belief then all the rest is just window dressing.  If your goal is unrealistic your subconscious will know this (even though many gurus will try to tell you otherwise) and it will resist your every attempt to believe.

Paradoxically, being realistic does not mean limiting yourself to far less than you really want to achieve.  I would view realism here as a recognition of the fourth dimension that currently constrains us all - time.

The enormously successful inventor, business magnate and philanthropist, Bill Gates, once said "most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years."  So do not set yourself a short term goal that you know in your heart of hearts you are unlikely to achieve in the time you have given yourself.  By all means set that seemingly unachievable desire as your long term goal, but then focus on what you can do NOW which is one step towards it and which does not seem completely impossible.

Once you are certain you have chosen that short term goal wisely, visualize how you will feel when you have achieved it.  Let that feeling permeate your whole being.  See how wonderful that feeling is!  Know that you HAVE achieved it, and bask in the feeling that generates within you.  Start noting down the differences it makes.  You HAVE achieved it, and now your role is simply to recognize this whilst at the same time taking the steps necessary to make it a reality in this plane as well as the plane above where it is already a reality.

If you tackle your dreams and goals in this way, drawing on the immense power of belief but not at the same time putting obstacles in the way of that belief (obstacles such as being completely unrealistic!) you WILL succeed.

Once you have taken this vital first step, look around for the tools that will help you reach your goal faster.  There are many such tools out there.  Some are great, some mediocre, and some don't really work at all.  Let me help you by sifting out the mediocre and useless.  Join me, if you haven't done so already, by going to where you will get 4 e-books to help you on your way and will receive regular information from me on systems to help you achieve what you desire, many of which are completely free.

Thursday, 2 October 2014


Do you start and finish each day expressing gratitude?

If not, why not?  Do you feel you have nothing for which you should be thankful?  I can assure you that cannot be true.  For a start, you are reading this, so you must be alive!  Not only alive, but also in possession of at least one of your five bodily senses - one which Helen Keller never had, but Helen was thankful for what the Universe gave her!

Perhaps you ARE thankful but do not feel the need to express this.  That is a BIG mistake.  You need to express it not because there is a jealous God out there who will punish you if you don't give Him His due (personally I believe in God, but I do not attribute to Him petty human emotions like that).  You need to express it so that you really internalize how much you have for which you should be grateful.  The more you do this, the more positive you will become.  And the more positive you are, the better the life you will have.

This applies both to saying "thank you" to the Universe (or God, depending on your religious views) and also to the people around you who have contributed to your happiness.  By saying "thank you" to other people you will not only feel really positive yourself, but you will be spreading that positive feeling to others.  A win-win situation!

If you are really grateful, then you should also look for ways to "give back" to God, or the Universe.  There are so many ways you can do this.  Any limitations you see are just in your mind.

Stuck for ideas?  Let me give you a couple of ways I have expressed my gratitude recently.  Both happen to relate to charities, but neither involve much (or even any) digging into your pocket.  You can copy these ideas, contribute to the charities, or simply use theme as stepping stones to find unique ideas yourself.  Do whatever you wish with them - just do something.

Last Sunday I committed myself to running a half marathon in aid of a charity called the Himalayan Peoples Project - Nepal.  This charity is a small but very dedicated charity which is trying to improve the lives of poor and disabled people in Nepal.  You can find out more about it at  I have never run or walked anywhere near that far, but I was determined to complete the half marathon.  As I got within a few miles of the finish line I felt as if my legs were about to fall off.  Quite literally - I actually wondered briefly whether they were suddenly going to disclocate!  But I kept going.  Why?  Because I am grateful for my health.  I have had cancer, and still suffer some permanent after effects of the treatment, but I am far healthier than many of the people the charity wants to help.  I am grateful for that, and wanted to do something to help them.  Notice I didn't actually have to dig my hand into my pocket - my gratitude was expressed in another way.

You can see the view I had of the finish line here, just approaching Windsor Castle a few miles away in the distance.  Put yourself in my place.  How does that make you feel?

How do I feel now?  Great!  I am fitter as a result.  At the top of this article you can see me just after I got my medal that proved to me I did it!

I also feel more positive.  And I know I can send a lot of money to the charity thanks to the people who sponsored me.

How do those sponsors feel?  They feel great too, knowing the good that will now be done with their money.  Another win-win situation!

Then, a couple of days later I did something to help another very small charity.  The Chreda Foundation, which helps young people with their spiritual development, in the widest possible sense.  What did I do?  Help launch a challenge which the Foundation hopes may go viral just like the Bucket Challenge did - but one which is more environmentally friendly.  Everyone who participates in the Dragon Challenge donates a small sum (the Foundation asks for just $10, or £5) and then performs musically on the internet.  It doesn't have to be star quality - check mine out and you will realize that!  All that is important is that you give it a go.

You can see my attempt here:

Was it fun doing it?  Yes it was.  Did it help me at all?  Yes - it made me put some time into learning to play a keyboard properly, which is something I had been meaning to do but never actually got around to doing.

And again I feel more positive.  A little bit of money has gone to the charity, but if the people I have included in the challenge do it, then more will go.  And if the people they challenge do so as well, then even more will go.  Perhaps even you will give it a go, and become an honorary Dragon, after reading this and watching my attempt.

These are just a couple of examples.  Nothing really big.  But a way of giving back to the Universe (or God).

I am doing my bit, and I will stay grateful and keep finding more ways to express my gratitude.

How about you?