Her Magic in the Stone Circle by Glenys Livingstone

My ancestors built great circles of stones that represented their perception of real time and space, and enabled them to tell time: the stone circles were cosmic calendars. They went to great lengths and detail to get it right. It was obviously very important to them to have the stones of a particular kind, in the right positions according to position of the Sun at different times of the year, and then to celebrate ceremony within it.

I have for decades had a much smaller circle of stones assembled, representing the ‘Wheel of the Year’, as the annual cycle of Earth around Sun is commonly named in Pagan traditions. I have regarded this small circle of stones as a medicine wheel. It is a portable collection, that I can spread out in my living space, or let sit in a small circle on an altar, with a candle/candles in the middle. Each stone (or objects, as some are) represents a particular Seasonal Moment, and is placed in the corresponding direction. I have found this assembled circle to have been an important presence. It makes the year, my everyday sacred journey of Earth around Sun, tangible and visible as a circle, and has been a method of changing my mind, as I am placed in real space and time. My stone wheel has been a method of bringing me home to my indigenous sense of being.  Continue reading “Her Magic in the Stone Circle by Glenys Livingstone”

The Company We Keep by Mary Sharratt

Mary shares an uplifting moment with a dear friend’s gorgeous cat. Photo by Kris Waldherr.


As a New Year rolls in, many of us make New Year’s resolutions, often based on the received perception that we are not good enough as we are. We look for ways to improve ourselves in terms of  fitness, weight loss, and other measurable habits. And while these goals may be very worthy ones, in 2020 I’m turning my attention to something more subtle and fundamental to my basic well being–the company I keep.

Women have been socialized to be far too tolerant of people who diminish and undermine us. Whatever happens or however badly the other person behaves, we want to be seen as “nice” and not make a fuss.

We don’t always get to choose our relationships. If we work at a company, we will inevitably encounter conflict on some level with people whom we can’t so easily avoid. The same is true in co-housing situations and kinship groups.

But in our leisure time, we DO get to choose who we hang out with. And we need to pick our friends and companions with care.

A friend of mine who is a realtor gives the following advice to people who are moving to a new area and wanting to make friends and integrate in the local community: “Don’t hang out in the pub with the losers and the people who are always complaining. Join some group focused around positive activity like hiking or tennis or yoga. These are the positive people looking to do something good.”

I’ve noticed similar effects in groups I’ve belonged to in my local community. My writers group is a powerhouse of inspiration and support and always lifts me higher. The same is true for my yoga and meditation classes with Blair Read. These are completely uplifting and filled with positive people who sincerely want to be in harmony with others. People who have set their course on both physical health and spiritual liberation.

The biggest culprit for mean and negative behavior these days seems to be social media. For this reason, I have given up Facebook and Twitter to a large extent and only use it for book promotion and networking with other writers. However, I can still receive personal messages from Facebook “friends.” An acquaintance from the stable yard where I used to keep my horse sent me–apropos nothing–a nasty text message on New Year’s Day! At this time I was on vacation in Portugal, enjoying the time of my life, not even on the same landmass as this negative person. Talk about a wake up call to be more mindful of the company I keep.

So what’s up with negative people? Is the damage they cause all in our heads?

Author and life coach Lisa Romano says that when we are around negative, backbiting people, we must use the following mantra, “Hold on to your Self. Hold on to your Self.” Meaning our higher Self that can never be dragged down.

Narcissists and other negative people make up stories in their heads, then accuse you of that made up story. Then you feel, “Oh no, I must prove to her that’s not true!” No, you do not, according to Romano. We must not entertain their accusatory invented stories.

To have healthy relationships with people who support us, we must learn to detach from negative people, set boundaries, and love ourselves. If you feel like you’re being manipulated by someone, you probably are. Accept what you feel, feel what you feel, and decide what you want to do about it.

If you need to seek validation from others, then you tend to attract narcissists. Likewise, if you are an empath, you will attract them, because they lack empathy and want yours. They enjoy upsetting us because they need to feel they have power over us.

If someone keeps trying to undermine you until you have to struggle to trust your own perceptions, you are experiencing narcissistic abuse and need to distance yourself from this person. You absolutely need to listen to your perceptions and intuition to keep yourself safe. Your pain and disappointment are valid. Your anger is valid.

Romano believes that when we are around narcissists, they try to drag us down to their level of being and behaving. The core of the suffering we experience in these relationships is that we’ve been dragged down to a negative state of being that is not natural for us. We can’t change their behavior or raise their frequency. Being with a narcissistic person can bring us far away from who we really are. To survive in an environment ruled by negative people, we have to be in a state of perpetual anger, defensiveness, and (self)hatred that is ultimately soul-destroying.

This kind of environment damages our neural pathways. To heal ourselves, we need to break away from these people and see them for who they are. We need to surround ourselves by positive people.

Quarantine yourself from toxic people. Grow your own wings and soar with the true friends who lift you higher.

Cal Newport, author of the life-changing book, Digital Minimalism, offers a strategy for an “Analog January” to boost our real world connections with positive people.


Mary Sharratt is on a mission to write women back into history. Her most recent novel Ecstasy is about the composer Alma Schindler Mahler. If you enjoyed this article, sign up for Mary’s newsletter or visit her website.


“Oh For a Pair of Clean Dry Warm Socks” by Carol P. Christ

Stories about refugees in the island of Lesbos (where I live) are no longer front page news. Yet according the United Nations Refugee Agency, 12, 742 refugees arrived here in 2017. This number is equivalent to 15% of the year-around population of the island. Though this number is huge, it does not compare to the estimated 91,506 arrivals in Lesbos in 2016. In January 2018, 7572 refugees are estimated to be stranded in the island waiting for their applications for asylum to be processed. The government-controlled reception center has a capacity of 2000, but up to three times that number are being housed there at any one time, in conditions that must be described as inhumane. It is suspected that “someone” in Greece or the European Union is slowing the asylum process in order to discourage refugees from attempting to enter the EU via Lesbos.

Recently I have begun to work with the Starfish Foundation, a local non-profit helping refugees on the island, using my skills as a writer to help with outreach. Today I share with the FAR community a blog I wrote to contextualize the desperation of the situation the refugees find themselves in.

Think about it. Before you go out walking in town or countryside, you put on a pair of clean socks and then a pair of athletic shoes or boots. Your socks, which you take for granted—except when they get wet—protect your feet from blisters, callouses, and foot infections. Now imagine yourself as a refugee or migrant who has come across the wine dark sea, fleeing war. Your socks and shoes are soaking wet when you arrive. If you are lucky you will be given new shoes and socks, but then what happens?

You are taken to a refugee camp to wait for your asylum papers to be processed. While you are waiting, and it could be months or even a year, what happens to your socks? For sure they will get dirty, for you often have to walk on muddy and even sewerage infected paths in the camp. The toilets are filthy and when you have to use them, you try not to step in the muck, but sometimes you do.

You keep on wearing your socks, because you do not have a second pair. One day you decide to wash them and on that day blisters appear on your feet and become infected. You have always been a clean person, washing socks and underwear and all sorts of clothing for yourself and your family every day. But now you are facing the unknown, without even a clean pair of socks to put on your feet.  You bind up your wounds and pray that your one pair of socks will not be stolen from the wire fence where you hung them out to dry.

There is an urgent need for socks in the refugee camps of Lesvos where thousands of refugees wait to learn if they will be granted asylum.  It is hard for us who take our socks for granted to understand the difference a pair of clean dry socks could make in the life of a refugee.  A pair of clean dry socks could make all the difference in the world.

A plea for 300 pairs of socks for men and women from Euro Relief was one of the first postings on Starfish Foundation’s web page Needs Hub,  established  to connect organizations helping refugees on the island of Lesvos with donors. The request for 300 pairs of socks may soon be answered, but the need for socks in the refugee camps is on-going and immense. And socks are only one of the many things—from baby strollers and wheelchairs to shampoo and toothpaste–that the refugees need. Your gift, whether large or small, really could make all the difference in the world to a vulnerable person who needs your help.

Starfish Foundation is a Greek non-profit organization. Founded at the height of the refugee migration to the Aegean islands, which was called the greatest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War, Starfish Foundation works in co-operation with other organizations dedicated to helping refugees and migrants in the island of Lesbos. Please visit Stafish’s web page Needs Hub to learn what you can do. Donate to Starfish Foundation here.


Carol P. Christ is an internationally known writer and educator living in Molivos, Lesbos, who volunteers with Starfish Foundation to assist with writing and outreach. Carol’s new book written with Judith Plaskow, is  Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology. FAR Press recently released A Serpentine Path: Mysteries of the Goddess. Join Carol  on the life-transforming Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete. Carol’s photo by Michael Honegger

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