valentine’s dedication

Dedicate yourself today to love for all.

Without an ability to extend your compassion and love to those outside your own circle, romance is merely act of possession.

In contrast, within a greater love for the community of humanity and, indeed, Grandmother Earth and all her children (plants, minerals, animals, and humans) romantic love for one individual becomes a sacred act of devotion.

Loving another increases your overall sense of well-being. Why wouldn’t you want to broaden that love to the greatest number possible?


buck moon

Today is the new Buck Moon. July is normally the month when the new antlers of buck deer push out of their foreheads in coatings of velvety fur.  Every winter each buck, no matter how old, drops its antlers. Every summer they grow back longer, with more points, more impressive than the year before. The rack signals to the doe the buck’s strength. A good thirty-point rack is the ultimate bragging right.

I stalk the teachings that every animal offers concerning how to live in balance and harmony. Since I learned as a boy that it is egotistic to show off, the approaching new moon challenged me to examine my judgments about self-expression.

While I was mulling this over, I read a timely article (1) describing the unrealistic pressure men face to be everything for their partner; the magnificent lover, the sensitive partner, the millionaire, the plumber and electrician and auto mechanic, the navigator, the body builder, the chef, the humorist, the muscle, …and, of course, to have no needs of our own. The advice the author, a woman, gave us men?

stop giving a damn and be whoever you are

I think again about that buck. The number of points on his rack isn’t something he tries to be, it is what he is at that time. One thing a buck knows how to do is show off his rack, no matter how many points it has.

But humans, you know, we’re big storytellers. We often don’t accept what attributes we have but worry instead about others we lack. Someone once cannily observed of me, for instance, “Steve, you’re not very handy, are you?” It felt like a life sentence.

In that lovely serendipitous way that Great Spirit brings us the teachers we need at the time we can best appreciate them, a wise and caring friend this week helped me resolve my conundrum by asking a question; had I forgiven myself for what I was not?

It is a simple thing, to forgive oneself. It requires only awareness and compassion. But to lack the attention and fail to do so leaves one weight after another hanging around our necks, dragging us to the ground.

So I chose to forgive myself for not knowing how to repair a pipe or pour concrete for a fence post. If I am to show off my rack, it struck me, I must first let that go. I didn’t stop there. I forgave myself for taking life too seriously at times, for loves lost, friendships fractured, and opportunities overlooked, for embarrassing gaffes, for being less than perfect, for not being 6’, for not being a proficient dancer, and for snoring (apparently). I went on, revisiting every miscue, each perceived weakness and negative comparison that prospective and past friends and lovers might have passed me up for. I remembered and forgave myself for the mistakes I was criticized for even as a child.

And I finally felt empty of sin. No longer was my head forced down filled with doubt.

then I asked myself, what are my ‘points’?

I have some very close and generous friends that mirror to me my courage and generosity with them. Good, what else?

I have learned how to be a powerful therapist; I have helped hundreds, …actually more than a thousand men open their hearts, acknowledge their vulnerability, end addictions, recognize and stop controlling and sometimes violent patterns, saving many a relationship.   Mm, hmm, and…?

Slowly the wheel began to turn back toward me. I went on to reflect upon my beauty and strengths; my social activism and volunteerism, my artistry, leadership, and intelligence, my courage to take chances and put myself ideas out, my acts of self-responsibility toward my profession, a willingness to challenge and be challenged, and on.  I felt my centre return.

Real self-esteem simply means that I can recognize my contribution. I can shine and in doing so be attractive to what is needed for my own continued self-growth and sacred dream. To dampen my fire, in contrast, is to withdraw from participating in this co-created beauty, to deny my light from this children’s planet.

The buck is an important teacher to me. He has shown me that humility does not require nor even suggest deference.  We are not meant to minimize our beauty, we are meant to offer it without attachment to how it is received.

show the world all your beautiful points

So I invite you this month to forgive yourself your shortcomings if you haven’t done so already, then step out into the beautiful summer day and show the world all your beautiful points. Whether man or woman, young or old, apprenticing or accomplished, honour your give-away to your community by sharing it this month.

I look forward to celebrating all you do.

for all my relations,
Stephen Moon Coyote


strawberry moon

In the tradition of the northeast woodlands people, this June 1st new moon is known as the Strawberry Moon for the short period of time in the month of June when strawberries can be harvested.

when Great Spirit answers our prayers, will we recognize it or hesitate and allow the fruit to spoil?

To everything there is a season; autumn is for determination, winter is to reflect, the spring, a time of inspiration, and the summer requires action. After a long hiatus of conservation, planning, hope and vision, our earliest fruits have appeared.

We are filled with enthusiasm and courage. Young men and women take bold chances courting one another. In the world of commerce there is a noticeable peak in housing sales. Sometimes the window of opportunity is short – don’t hesitate! (To my own joy, I took possession of my new VW Golf this very day!)

The strawberry harvest teaches us that we need not only to imagine but also to act if we wish to realize our sweetest dream.

Regret is a great teacher. When I entered adolescence I recall spending a good many days (and nights) agonizing about whether I should express my attraction to one girl or another at school. For the most part I was overcome by insecurity and my first potential teenage loves quickly withered without discovery. Perhaps I am a slow learner, and life a patient teacher, but I have finally learned to speak from my heart – even when it risks a little disappointment. The bigger hurt would be the regret I would feel at the end of my days for fruit not plucked, opportunities not risked, decisions avoided, love not courted.

For movement brings change and with that change many things are possible that cannot be viewed from the place I am now.

So do not worry if your choice reveals itself to have flaws. All paths do, for we are human aspiring to be sacred. It is our action that allows us to find the flaws and remedy them, continually acting and assessing to improve the outcome, learning and growing along the way.

Enjoy the fruits that are appearing in your life in these early summer days ahead.

E sagh ta hah (you will be filled).

For all my relations,
Moon Coyote

crow moon

This is the new Crow Moon. At this time of year the crows cawing signals the end of winter.

it is a good time to reflect upon what is thawing in our own life.

Autumn leaves have been reduced by snow and ice to the rich nutrients that will now feed life’s cycle of rebirth. Remnants of last year’s greatest accomplishments as well as unfulfilled hopes now lay decomposing across the ground before us. Essences of lessons learned, gifts received, and abilities gained. Just imagine what will grow in such a rich bed as this!

We have spent long nights in reflection, like the elk in mid-winter, alone in our deepest inner thoughts. Surely we know ourselves better now.

Time will come soon to plant our new year’s vision, but not quite yet. Notice first the fertile soil, see the space made, feel the potential, the pause between the inhalation and the exhalation.

And in the quiet of it all, before we busy ourselves with our little intentions, notice the hand of Great Spirit.

sometimes i go about pitying myself, and all along my soul is being blown by great winds across the sky.
– ojibway saying.

Within my heart resides the great disappointment of a relationship ended last year as well as the deep, satisfying joy of friendships I have built and strengthened through the brick and mortar of conflict and honesty. I recall the discouragement of my effort to create a new psychotherapy group crumble like dried earth between my fingers; my failure of leadership indicted. I also held firm to my desire to expand my improvisational skills in theatre and was rewarded with a freedom of expression greater than I ever imagined possible.

I have at times stepped confidently into my magical character and at others felt humbled at my profound lack of self-insight. Somehow, for brief moments like reflections caught in the water, I see something greater than what I knew.

For all my relations,

moon coyote


On Monday (Valentine’s Day) there will be as many seeking  love or letting go of its disappointment as there will be celebrating it. There will also be those who contentedly choose their own company or perhaps commit to a love even greater than their own personal attraction.

I was reflecting upon these different perspectives on relationship last weekend, following a performance of the Dave St-Pierre Company award winning performance – Un peu de tendresse bordel de merde! at the Fleck Dance Theatre in Toronto. This was a riveting study of the need for tenderness and the painful yet undeniable desire we have for love, while we buttress ourselves against its injury. The narrator, who dialogued directly with the audience about our love obsession and challenged us on the vulnerability within us she abhorred, eventually succumbed to the loneliness she herself felt behind her wall of superiority. While putting the pieces back together again, she witnessed many forms of love available. In the end, after her judgment, avoidance, and collapse, she returned to embrace the happiness and self-love her single life afforded her, but with a warm certainty that one finds only having openly considered and explored all the possibilities.

It would seem a good occasion during this annual festival of love we refer to as Valentine’s Day to fully honour all the many meaningful paths our heart takes us in search of the deeply rewarding experience of love.

why love?

Physically, tender physical touch calms us and helps us cope with stress, moderating our heart rate and improving our immune response. Biologically, the euphoria we feel when we fall in love is mother nature’s  gift; the release of dopamine in the brain encourages us to pick and remain with one mate, thus improving the likelihood of survival of our offspring. Psychologically, the sense of a shared future and close companionship is rewarding and fills us with optimism. Spiritually, the illusion of separateness dissolves when we allow ourselves to experience love, we are able to transcend our ego to realize a devotion to something greater than our individual concerns.

what are the many ways we can experience love?

The wheel of life appears in the teaching of many indigenous peoples around this world. It would seem a good place for us to look if we wish to find a model for all possible ways love can be experienced.

The following are my impressions of love, overlaying onto the wheel what I know about love and the challenges we face with it. See if you can find yourself here, if you can recognize what you are currently learning about love in your life. There is always more to learn of the wheel of life and I encourage you to work with it.

Four directions concern relationship with oneself, stages of personal development:


We begin in the southeast, the place of self-concept. It is here that love for oneself must be born and sustained or we will endlessly be seeking that affirmation in another, ever disappointed. For some, this is of profound importance, to develop a deep and meaningful relationship with self. To truly know the pleasure of one’s own company is a great gift.

love of one’s dream

What is our relationship with our own sacred dream, the greatest vision we hold for ourselves this lifetime? That is found in the southwest. If we are seeking fulfillment from another rather than following our own heart, we will inevitably feel resentment. To love ourselves we must birth and love our own sacred dream. If you feel an emptiness weighing you down, this may be a time to explore what you are meant to do with your life.

learning the lessons of love

Love and loss of love is a mirror to us. From the outcome of every interaction with another we receive a northwest mirror or karmic lesson to help us understand ourselves better, to help us grow. Through our love of self and our commitment to our own personal growth we can examine those patterns in our life which no longer serve us and which we are ready to let go of. We can choose to maintain our highest self-image, identify what is of greatest personal value to us and ensure that all our actions have integrity to that end. This is our commitment to step into dharma.

love that trusts in the universe

The final teacher in our personal journey of self-love is chaos. How do we handle disappointment when our vision fails, our dreams seemingly dashed? It is, in fact, self-love that allows us to feel secure while letting go, trusting the universe to carry us in the flow of life to the place we need to be even when we cannot imagine what is to come. Because our vision comes from ego, it will always remain more narrow and limited than the vision Great Spirit holds for us. We must trust that and, as the Serenity Prayer suggests, have the courage to change the things we can, the serenity to accept what we cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference. Buddhism refers to this as non-attachment.

The remaining four directions concern relationship with another, in stages of deepening intimacy.

romantic love

In the south, the direction of the heart, we experience trust and innocence. This is a youthful, blissful experience of love for another. It lifts the spirit. What is required is to leap into the relationship rather than hold back in fear. Create a joyful story for yourself about this relationship.

compassionate love

Walk to the west, the direction of earth and of substance, and we will find a commitment that deepens our relationship with another. When we see the human-ness in each other, the good and the bad, we can experience a compassion that provides us with the energy and determination to remain present in difficult times, to work through the most difficult moments, to remember that our lover is human, vulnerable, and as much in need as we are.

expanding love

There is a time within every relationship when we must recognize that our lover has an equally valid perspective. Our conflict offers us the opportunity to learn. If we fail to do so, the relationship will be strained under a competition of egos. This is the relationship in the north, the direction of air, the mental realm. Our guide is the hawk, bringer of the gift of clarity and multiple viewing points. Recognize that our vision is broadened as a consequence of conflicts with our partner. The challenge is to use open questions and empathy to understand our partner rather than judge them. Learn to see the world through another’s eyes. When our mind can accommodate more than one belief system, we have matured enough to accommodate a long-term relationship.

devotional love

The east is our connection with Great Spirit. Through love we can find a connection to something that is greater than the ‘little me’ self. The challenge is to take responsibility to look after our own needs first. The universe is available to help, we can send our prayer to Great Spirit on the wings of the eagle. This frees us to connect with one another without making that person responsible for our healing. Choosing then to step into our relationship with our needs filled, the illusion of separateness dissolves; the I and the Thou become one, the I-Thou that Martin Buber named. We discover the God in each other.

so whichever direction you find yourself experiencing love today,

I encourage you to celebrate that you are an open-hearted human striving for love in all its facets, no one more meaningful than another. Recognize what type of love you are creating in your life in this moment, whether for yourself or another, and embrace it. If you are exploring self-love, take yourself out on a date. If you developing love of your dream, create a collage of what you would like to do in the year ahead, if you are the learning from love, create a journal and reflect upon how you have grown in each of your previous relationships, how they have made you a better person, and to develop a love that places its trust in the universe, create a day of relaxation, have a bath, read a good book and turn your worries over to spirit. If you are in romantic love, write a poem to your love, if you are developing compassion, give him or her a massage, if you are expanding through love, acknowledge to your partner all you have learned from them, and if you are deepening your devotion to your partner, create a quiet moment together, put the kids to bed, make sure there are no pressing needs or interruptions and simply appreciate each others presence, experiencing a moment of oneness.

In the wheel of life, there is no wrong place to be.

For all my relations,

moon coyote