Title Image

Self Growth

Landslide

 

Change is a word, like the outworn “transformation”, that paradoxically stops us in our tracks. We may like the idea of changing. But when it comes to significant changes in our lives, most of us recoil from the bracing air that blasts from the open doorway. We retreat to the familiarity of our routines, familiar landscapes, in a world where the speed of change seems faster than the human psyche can contain. Sometimes our souls cannot catch up with the rush of lives lived to the incessant pulse of noise, busyness. Though, there are times when the flame of our courage burns brighter, illuminating the way out of the familiar, into the unknown.  Market research shows that at those threshold times of transition in our lives –  the end of a relationship, the springtime of a new love affair, loss of a job, move to a new country, or a  pregnancy, are fertile beds to grow new habits – and shopping behaviours! If we are to seize these fleeting moments, make lasting changes, set off on new adventures, we require more than courage. We need a sense of meaning.

Many of us suffer from a sense of something missing. It’s not our relationships, our friendships, or our work. A vague loss of meaning, purpose, enshrouds us like a thick fog. Despite a plethora of self-help books, YouTube offerings, workshops, support groups that offer a better way to love, to live. Despite having the tools, holding the key to The Secret, we still cannot find a way to turn our lives around in an irrevocably changing world.

We may feel we are going through the motions, even living a lie. We may experience a delectable plume of joy, a rush of enthusiasm as a holiday, a new project, a new passion, displaces the sense of emptiness –  for a while. The intense peacefulness after a meditation retreat, the peak experience of falling in love, or a spiritual awakening, stirs up the murky mud from the depths of our psyche, bringing the darkness into clearer view. We awaken the demons from the dark folds of our unconscious and find ourselves raging, or  hollow and sorrowful, after a delicious interlude of light and love. So often, we may feel we are moving backwards rather than forward in our spiritual growth, as we enter that dank valley that St. John of the Cross called “the dark night of the soul”.

Every beginning marks the end of something.  Says Marianne Williamson, “It’s when we face the darkness squarely in the eye – in ourselves and in the world – that we begin at last to see the light. And that is the alchemy of personal transformation. In the midst of the deepest, darkest night, when we feel most humbled by life, the faint shadow of our wings begins to appear. Only when we have faced the limits of what we can do, does it begin to dawn on us the limitlessness of what God can do.”

Many of us enter our spiritual and psychological growth as consumers, shopping around for therapists, healers, gurus, to get us “fixed” more quickly. Some of us compare ourselves to other, “more spiritually evolved”  people than ourselves, only to judge ourselves as lacking. The competitive, consumer model will not work if we want authentic lives. There are many astrological significators for the various stages of our growth. These celestial cycles are often painful and necessarily slow. “The caterpillar is luckier than we are. It goes through its transformation in the relative peace and security of a cocoon. We, however, may be in the middle of a profound shift in our unfoldment and growth and yet, more often than not, are expected to go on with our daily life as if nothing is happening,” says Dr. Roberto Assagioli, founder of psychosynthesis. These messy crises are a natural part of the cycle of growth. We plummet from the peaks dishevelled and disheartened by what seems to be the enormity of the forces that obstruct our movement to where we long to be.  When we hear, “you were much better before you started meditating/ going to therapy/yoga…” know our mettle is being tested. When we flatline into despair, go a little further. Anatole France says, “All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.” It is in the landslides of change, as we are covered with the muddy debris of our choices, that we discover our alignment with the seasons of our lives, our belonging to this beautiful Earth. It is when we courageously climb down from the mountain, do we discover a new landscape, a new season in our lives…. Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide. This is for you, Bev …

 

I took my love and I took it down
I climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills
‘Til the landslide brought me down

Oh, mirror in the sky
What is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail thru the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?

Mmm Mmm… I don’t know… Mmm Mmm… Mmm Mmm…

Well, I’ve been afraid of changing
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Children get older
I’m getting older too

 

 

 

4

If not now?

Behind the proscenium arch of the Greek stage, a tragedy of calamitous human suffering is enacted as government officials quaff cognac and puff at phallic cigars. In this modern day drama, the chorus are ordinary men and women. For many, suicide is the catharsis to loss of livelihood, shelter… and hope, as bloated politicians overstep legal boundaries, and machismo businessmen arrogantly avoid tax payments. This is not really a play about inflated subsidies and debt bingeing of the last decade. Behind the curtains of the euphemistically-named “austerity measures” which darkly ripple across the landscape of so many lives is a far more sombre enactment of a terrible crime.

To the ancient Greeks, Hubris was the greatest crime of all. The outcome, when mere mortals challenged the gods and their laws, overstepping the boundaries, was never without repudiation. There was no escaping the fated denouement. The ancient Greeks had two phrases that encapsulated Greek thinking, and are still relevant today: Know thyself. Nothing in excess.

The glare of the spotlight illuminates the Greek stage, yet in countries, boardrooms, factories, schools, and homes all over the world, misuse of power is a fatally flawed fractal design.

Today, the word Hubris is imbued with a sense of over-confident pride. Only with quiet contemplation and vigilant self examination can we acknowledge where we overstep the boundaries in our ignorance or self-righteousness. Only with scrupulous honesty can we hollow out behaviours that arrogantly assume our entitlement to friendship, or love, or money, or recognition, when it may be we who did not fulfil our side of the bargain. Can we truthfully claim we are owed something when it is so often we who were not present, diligent, honest, or loving?  Can we slouch flaccidly in the hammock of our own self-absorption, meting out judgements and criticisms that make others wrong, ourselves right?

All cultures have a code of ethics for thoughts, words and deeds that do not violate ourselves or other living things. In Sanskrit, for instance, Ahimsa means kindness and non-violence towards all living things. In Latin, Primum non nocere means first, do no harm.  Some codes take time to crack, and the best we can do is to cultivate the humble awareness of our connection to all living things and to do no harm. “An authentically empowered person is humble. This does not mean the false humility of one who stoops to be with those who are below him or her. It is the inclusiveness of one who responds to the beauty of each soul… It is the harmlessness of one who treasures, honours and reveres life in all its forms”- Gary Zukav.

Since late 2008, when Pluto entered Capricorn, financial and business structures have splintered. We have not yet seen the full trajectory of the Global Recession nor the full implications of misuse of power in government and big business. Recovery will be excruciatingly slow and desperately jobless. The irrevocable sweep of trans-formation (changing form, which always implies a dying) will impact the lives of each one of us in some way. Sombre Saturn, slowly retracing its orbit until October in ethical, judicious Libra, is a stern celestial marker pointing our attention to the necessity for responsibility, realism, and reason, and maturity in our personal lives, in our communities. Austere times require the wisdom of new governance, new law. If not now, then Uranus (until May 2018), dancing a gypsy dance through the sign of Aries (the incendiary energy of rebellion, uprisings, or self-immolation), will shake the flimsy foundations of “civilisation” as we have manifested it.

The fatal flaw in our society is our inherent arrogance. Our collective hubris that has brought Homo sapiens and the plant and animal species on our home planet to the chasm of annihilation.

Bullies and tyrants hold a convenient hook for all that is unacceptable and shadowy, too appalling to own in our personal lives and collectively. Be vigilant for the convenient human tendency to seek a Sacrificial Scapegoat… heavy-handed autocrats, the captains of sunken ships, the boss, ex-husband or wife, the querulous neighbour.  It falls upon each one of us to commit to acts of kindness that expand our capacity for love and generosity that open our awareness to our interconnectedness as living creatures on our beautiful  home planet. If not now, then when?

Tracy Chapman,If not now, then when?

1

Show Me Heaven

How do we become exiled from the inner sanctuary of our own essence?  How do we stay too long in situations, in relationships that bruise and scar.  For so many of us, life becomes a bleak winter of lacklustre, habitual behaviour, where we respond like laboratory rats to cues that trigger the reward centres in our brains, numb to the call of our bodies, the weeping of our souls. Pinned on strips of green felt, like jewel-winged butterflies, frozen in long-forgotten flight.

In her exquisite poem, Wild Geese, Mary Oliver extols:

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

In our guilt-steeped Judaic Christian culture, we dishonour our instincts, cage the soft animal of our body. Inhabit only our heads, blindfold our eyes, oblivious to our own specialness.  From early childhood, we anesthetize our feelings; grow up, crippled by unworthiness, stunted by shame.  As adults we live captive lives. Senses dulled by the drone of the hive mentality, the tainted taboos ancient repressions. Too often we deny the jalapeño desire that heats our bellies, sets our hearts aflame.

Here is a poignant story, told by Antoinette Liechti Maccarone,  of an old Mexican woman whose husband lay dying.  Her granddaughter had come to assist her beloved grandmother with the rituals of bathing and preparation for the finality of his death. The old woman was terribly distressed at seeing her husband’s frail naked body. And her granddaughter asked, “What troubles you so, Grandmother?” Her grandmother replied, “My beautiful child, from our wedding night we kept our bodies covered from one another, always wearing our long cotton night clothes. I feel very sad now. He is such a handsome man even in his dying. I wish I had seen him fresh.”

And so we wait, we harness, we restrain our lusty natures until it is too late.  Freud believed that the Id lived in dark, inaccessible realm of our subconscious. It was Id that drove our archaic impulses, our unchained desires.  Rumi knew this voluptuous, dewiness of appetite, as he wrote, breathless, “There is some kiss we want with our whole lives, the touch of spirit on the body. Seawater begs the pearl to break its shell. And the lily, how passionately it needs some wild darling!”

Many cultures have “inversion rituals” that overthrow the social norm. These manifest in the form of bawdy carnivals, gay pride parades. And so to unleash our desire, to touch the warm wetness of our own animal softness, we may need our own inversion ritual. A little transgression to encourage the seed of fecund desire to grow in the garden of our delicious delight. This may be as risqué as wearing no underwear beneath a silky dress, dancing naked bathed in moonlight, making love under the stars on the beach, licking melted chocolate from the soft hollows of the one you love…or staying in bed all day, decadently dining on strawberries and cream … Perhaps today might be  the right time, the  perfect moment,  to break free from  the trusses that tie us all to beliefs and customs that cover our smiles, hush our laughter.

What little transgressions can you conjure up to bring novelty and magic to your erotic nature…. what sublimely sensual pleasure, what wanton playfulness to nurture the red rose of your uniqueness and joy this new day?  Allow the lantern of  the imaginal realm to light the landscape of your unchartered desire.  Gorge greedily from the banquet of life, with shining eyes and hungry heart. Climb out of the window, and feel the moonlight caress your skin. Says Rumi,At night, I open the window and ask the moon to come and press its face against mine. Breathe into me. Close the language door and open the love window. The moon won’t use the door, only the window.”

This is dedicated to Sophie: May you step onto the path of your own incredible beauty. May you press your brave heart upon the loveliness that is you. Maria McKee sings Show Me Heaven

 

3

Set Fire to the Rain

There comes a time when we know for sure that we cannot go back to where we were. We pass the point of no return. Make a choice to watch the wild fire burn away all that is  irrelevant in our lives.

And with that first unsupported step across the threshold into the charred landscape,  the unthinkable becomes thinkable.  What we believed was true detonates in the heat haze of our new resolution. We finally realise that the one we adored was not the god or goddess we thought they were. That the job we strove for does not feel as exciting or expansive as we’d imagined. That we have to face the finality of a relationship that is over, a friendship that will never be the same again.

There comes a time when we stand soul-naked in the first light of the morning and watch as our dream  dissolves on the gossamer shawl of the dew-spangled new day. The mirror on our wall finally reveals who we really are. There comes a time when we  surrender, battle-weary, to take ownership of those parts of ourselves that are encased in fear.  We witness  the distrust that writhes like a worm on the cruel hook of our unworthiness and shame. We observe the ways we place trip wires across the landscape of our relationships, setting ourselves up for the inevitable fall… It takes an act of great courage to stand soul-naked in what we feel is our truth.  To uproot  the mandrake of blame that grows from our belief that it is our crazy mother, absent father, our belligerent teenager, the buffoons in government, or the lover who did not choose us, fight for us, beg us to stay…

In the landscape of self-responsibility we grow up fast. No soft blue blankets, no bottles filled with sweet creamy milk.  No one to clean up the mess of our lives as we rant and wail. Our pain becomes our choice. To choose to stop the pain, to wearily dismount from the Ferris wheel of our own suffering, we need to do excruciatingly laborious work on the lies we tell ourselves. We must change our need to be right, to be in control, to dominate, or to play the Victim trump card. We  must to stand on our own two feet. Straighten our spines. Not fold like a soufflé when we don’t get the approval we crave. Not petulantly push away the gentle hand of friendship when we know it is the only hand there is to help us across the crocodile-infested river of our self-undoing. Not sigh as the world around us burns, when it is we that participate in and perpetuate violence by proxy in our very own homes with our flaming arrows of spite and sulphurous silences.

It is excruciatingly difficult to abandon the ship of self-righteousness. To forgo the familiar thrill of pleasing others so they will love us, need us, never let us go. We grow comfortable in our rusty armour of judgement that pinches and chafes. We feel familiar in its painful tug of constraint. Only when we make the choice to see with clarity and compassion the violent parts of ourselves, the parts that judge, and condemn, the parts that execute others with sharp-shooting precision, can we nurture those parts that stretch our capacity for endurance, forgiveness, generosity in Love, bravery in Loss.

Gary Zukav tells the story about the man, blind from birth whose only experience of this world was darkness. Well, new technology offered him a chance of sight, a miracle beyond his imagining. He asked his family, his friends, and his surgeon what it would be like to see, and of course, nobody could really explain to him what it was to see the turquoise sea, the tangerine colours of the sun set, the silvery moon and the diamond stars, the colour of his own blue eyes. The more he talked to his friends, the more fearful he became. He called his doctor and asked, “Doctor, will I still be able to use my cane to see? I don’t want to see if I can’t use my cane.”

In the terror of losing the comfort of our white canes, we clutch what we know, even though it limits our movement forward and darkens the light of our souls: the terror of being vulnerable, of being used, of being loved, of loving and losing, of having more than our parents, of being ridiculed, humiliated, of asking for what we want, of being “needy”, of losing our identity, of being judged… so  we stay small and quiet, stuck in the darkness of our blindness and our fear, afraid to set fire to the rain, afraid to turn towards a future, without  the cane, and say, I AM.

Set fire to the rain today… and celebrate Love and Life in all it’s wonder.

Adele … Set Fire to the Rain.

4

Don’t You Remember?

When a lover,  close friend, or  family member refuses to discuss their unilateral decision to break off  a treasured relationship, the sting of rejection can reverberate for years, plummeting us into the abyss of depression. Our agonising why spins soundlessly like spokes on a rusty wheel.

When  the One we love is not willing to speak to us – she distances emotionally, he blocks our calls or leaves our empassioned emails suspended in cyberspace – the answers we long for, the amends we pray for, hang like dust motes in the cold silence of separation that strains over the history we’ve shared. To be silenced, shut out, triggers a primal wound of rejection that may bleed for years.

We all need a story to comfort us in the cold bunker of our loss. Our narratives become a soft blue blanket to wrap our lacerations as we weave some meaning that resonates with our core values and beliefs about the world.

For some, the tale of the despicable Villain assuages the pain for a while. This is a tale full of sound and fury that keeps us tied to the railway track, the hapless Victim, powerless and immobilised. We remain in rigor mortis, clutching the self-righteous umbilical cord to the person who silenced us, trampled brutally on our trust. We may not really want the other person to understand how we are feeling, or to excavate the reasons why they behaved so patronisingly or so sadistically. The subtext may be that we want them to suffer the way we still suffer. The people who have wronged us may never realise or even care to understand how much they’ve hurt us. Nothing we can do or say can make someone love us the way we want them to. Stay when they want to go. Nothing we can say can make them understand our hurt and sincerely apologise. Their own feelings may make them unavailable for an authentic exchange, so we will never hear the words we long to hear – and if we do, will we really be willing to drop the black rose of blame? So they remain a corrosive presence in our lives – lovers, friends, relatives – blocking out the light, crushing the bud of joy, a deadly rot that blights our courage to love again.

Rebecca and Johan had a long distance relationship that had bridged three years. When she received an email from Johan saying he loved her but was not “in love with her”, was sorry for hurting her, but did not want to discuss it further, she felt as though she had been disembowelled. Rebecca pleaded and implored, and Johan stalled, blocking all her requests for an explanation. So the messages on his answering machine remained unanswered, the heart-felt emails floated like confetti in cyberspace… the silence stretched into weeks, months. “I just need to understand why he left me so suddenly. Why he broke it off by email, why he would not give our relationship a chance to grow?” she said tearfully a year later, still weighted with the burden of her loss. “My friends are losing patience with me. They say it’s time to “move on”, “let it go,” “what goes around comes around,” but I just cannot stop myself obsessing, trying to understand what went wrong, why he did what he did.” Negative emotions pickle our attachments; preserving our sense of togetherness with those we once loved so intensely, those who meant so much in our lives. Anger is the glue that keeps us stuck in the obsessive, self-harming thoughts and traumatic events of the past. Nailed to the impotent “whys”.

Neale Donald Walsch advises, “stop looking all over the place for “the answers” – whatever they are – and start looking for the questions – the inquiries which are most important in your life, and give them answers. You do not live each day to discover what it holds for you, but to create it.

There must come a time when we ask ourselves what we gain by giving  the villains of our story so much power over us. Why our energy circuits are still attached to an event which happened so long ago, allowing the vampire of the past to sink its fangs into our life blood, leaving us to float, ghostly spectres between worlds? Why is a useless question. It disempowers, keeps us in stalemate. What I am going to do about my thoughts, my feelings, my own life, has a impetus that is far-reaching and empowering. It implies choice, and control. Our challenge is to retrieve our energy and plug it into the wall socket of present time. To invest in a future where we can courageously love again.

Perhaps Johan did not have a rational explanation for breaking up the way he did. Perhaps he could not tell Rebecca what he did not know himself. Perhaps he did not allow himself to feel regret, guilt or sadness. Rebecca will never know. When she was ready to step aside from the pain, release the fantasy that Johan might one day see things the way she did; when she was willing to acknowlege that what she wanted to hear was her own truth, she vowed to take from her own experience this priceless pearl: she would never diminish or disregard another person or leave someone breathless, waiting to exhale… she would weave a new story of compassion for this soul-mate-teacher-lover who had come to bring her the gift of Truth. Says Marion Woodman, “Don’t talk about being true to yourself until you are sure to what voice you are being true.”

Adele soars as she sings Don’t You Remember

 

1

When All is Said And Done

Loss can be a seismic shock that cleaves us open to release a torrent of pain or anger. There’s an art to grieving, I believe. An art to embracing the conflicted feelings: shock,  denial, bargaining, anger, and the bleak finality of acceptance. To grieve well requires patience and enormous courage, in a culture which has few rituals to swaddle the weeping heart, to embalm the wound till we grow scar tissue to venture into our lives once again. We are not taught how to grieve. We are taught how to name, categorise, label, mostly,  not how to deeply feel in our fast-food culture of “closure” and “moving on” as if  Love and Loss were malls, or drive-thrus.   Many of us don’t do “closure” easily. We find it excruciatingly difficult to cauterise, tie a torque around seeping lamentation.  We lack the will to dam up the tears that flood the excruciating emptiness. We stand naked in the winter of our discontent.  We sit, immobilised,  in the ashes of our grief.  The salt of our  tears lubricates the keening of our aching heart.

A young woman client arrived today, bowed with grief. She raged with Tiger-fierce anger, then imploded, numb with disbelief, as she told her story of betrayal and humiliation after a unilateral break-up. Her lover’s masochistic behaviour made her realise that she was still loyally clinging to old stories she had told herself about love. Still playing the powerless Victim, still meekly turning the other cheek, afraid to ask, afraid to want.  For some of us, part of the soothing balm of healing is the realisation that we can be angry when our former lover slithers up to us at a party, arms outstretched in a pseudo hale-and-hearty-greeting, hapless trophy-girlfriend firmly in tow.  It is permissible to recognise that the plume of white hot indignation that rises means we are still triggered, and that our pain does not have a short sell-by date. We do not need to be the compliant “good girl / boy”, and force a friendship with someone who has behaved despicably, or go through the motions of “learning lessons” when our inner brat wants to scream obscenities from the abyss of our pain.  We might need to knead and roll out the resistance patiently and creatively. Self-soothe, rather than push down further the bloodied blade of “whys” and “what ifs”.

New Age psychobabble has a lot to answer for sometimes, I feel. And, as for the much extolled virtue of “turning the other cheek,” or the misguided belief that our feelings are infallible truths, or we must think only “good and positive thoughts” lest we do ourselves harm, energetically, I have found that we often muddy the healing waters and prolong our wretched agony. Seeing things from your partner’s perspective can be useful – up to a point. But all we can really change is our own perspective – with a no-nonsense, “is this true?” as we question the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves and the one who did not, could not, want to love us. Even this takes some doing, and can be just another form of self abuse if we have not allowed the anger to rush up and release.

Anthropologists guess that humans first developed language and a bulging cerebral cortex about 1.6 million years ago, taking us down a very different evolutionary path to our close cousins, the chimpanzees. We developed, according to anthropologist Helen Fisher, a sense of self, and importantly, a reflected sense of self, which shapes our choice of partner, as it is reliant on feedback from others. So, being humiliated, abandoned, or betrayed by the one we love has a devastating effect on our neurochemistry.  Emotions like anger and deep grief can hijack our positive self-talk and blaze through the libraries of books we have read on self-growth and spirituality, leaving us charred and utterly bereft if we do not have a solid sense of Self; and very few of us do. “Forgiving before you are ready is an act of violence against yourself.  And, you may never be ready” says Nicole Urdang.  Yet, once we are aware that all our long-term relationships and brief encounters are mirrors of our inner beliefs about ourselves, mere shadowy reflections of our shaky sense of Self, we can “love our neighbour – and ourselves.  No more pathological childhood trauma – wallowing in how your parents disappointed or abandoned you. The gift of grief and anger is another step in growing up. And if you honour the process, take your time to self-reflect, not self-flagellate, your tears will turn to pearls.

Astrologically, the transits to your own birth chart may suggest that this drama of grief and pain is happening through you, not to you. You have constellated the actors on the stage of your life, and you can access the power to change old patterns, even short-circuit family fate that has been mired in your ancestry for eons. If you can see your own collusion – not trusting your own instincts, perhaps “settling for” a lover who does not desire you enough to move from gridlock, who does not value you enough to commit to working through the power struggle.  To observe your own stonewalling, withholding, fear, criticism that has polluted the space between you, to have compassion for yourself as you revert to old default buttons, replay threadbare scripts. Only then can you begin to allow the cool tears and the hot anger to cleanse your heart, and make ready to Love again. Astrological Mars, representing anger, libido, fear, the Masculine Principle and our ability to fight off disease stationed early on Monday morning, then moves into retrograde motion on January 25th, reversing through Virgo for the next three months. This suggests that globally and personally, this is a time of turning points, of critical tipping points. A time that it might be helpful to examine how we betray ourselves, deny our intuition, stuff our anger and indignation down, tyrannize ourselves through negative self talk. A time to accept that the soul contract you had with your Lover-Betrayer was one of forgiveness and compassion.

Last word goes to Abba in that tremulously poignant song, When All is Said and Done:

“Thanks for all your generous love and thanks for all the fun
Neither you nor I’m to blame when all is said and done…”

Abba – When All is Said And Done 

1

Words

So often we talk about what we don’t want in our lives. “I don’t want a partner who lies to me.” “I don’t like my job.” The insidious, “I can’t sing, I can’t resign from my job, sell my house, live alone … ”

The ubiquitous “I’ll try to” that reflects our ambivalence and disempowerment. Or the threadbare, “I’ll see what I can do”, or the terminal, ” we’ll see”… Thickets of thorny don’ts barricade our path to change and new growth. The slippery, non-committal words that signify nothing. The “buts” that negate and nullify.  They are the fear and self-righteous judgement that bind us to the ever-spinning wheel of Ixion, tormented by our self-defeating thoughts and habitual behaviours.

Words wound and scar. With reptilian-like dispassion our forked tongues spew the putrid gossip that oozes around the office or our homes. We lacerate our partners, our children, our colleagues with words that make fragile hearts weep. Most of us have a habitual vibrational frequency, well-worn neural pathways in our brains that allow us to keep thinking those thoughts, feeling those emotions, saying the words that resonate with that frequency. Our aching bodies speak of our inner conflict, symptoms of a frequency that can make us literally ill.

Last year, the Italian clothing company, Benetton’s “Unhate” Campaign, was aimed at fostering tolerance and “global love”. It featured the provocative and superbly Photoshopped image of Pope Benedict XVI kissing a senior Egyptian imam. This image of love was too strong for the barnacled bastion of the Vatican, but it was the slogan, “Unhate”, that drew my attention. Bob Nicoll, author of Remember the Ice, uses the NLP model to reframe words and eliminate what he dubs the (K)notty words – the not’s, the don’ts. So, if we say, “don’t talk about Bill’s affair with Susan,” our confused brain will do just that! When I read “Unhate”, my energy dropped as I registered the word, “Hate”.

In the dark shadow of the cataclysmic First World War, a woman called Blanche Ebbutt, compiled two slim volumes of do’s and don’ts for a happy marriage. I would like to share these “how-tos” of 1913 with you in 2012:
The Don’ts for Wives:
Don’t be out if you can help it when your husband gets home after his day’s work.
Don’t let him have to search the house for you. Listen for his latch-key and meet him on the threshold.
Don’t omit the kiss of greeting. It cheers a man when he is tired to feel that his wife is glad to see him home.
Don’t greet him at the door with a catalogue of the dreadful crimes committed by servants during the day.
Don’t think your husband horrid if he seems a bit irritable; probably he has had a very trying day, and his nerves are overwrought.
As Bob Nicoll, points out, when faced with the don’t, this is what we are advised to do: Be out when your husband gets home. Let him have to search for you. Skip the kiss of greeting. Greet him at the door with a catalogue of dreadful crimes. Think your husband horrid if he seems a bit irritable.

I could not resist the Don’ts for Husbands, in the interest of gender balance, of course:
Don’t sulk when things go wrong. If you can’t help being vexed, say so, and get it over with.
Don’t “nag” your wife. If she has burnt the cake, or has forgotten to sew on a button, she doesn’t want to be told of it over and over again.
Don’t shout when you are angry. It isn’t necessary to let the children or the servants know all about it.
Don’t scowl or look severe. Cultivate a pleasant expression if Nature hasn’t blessed you with one.
Don’t “let off steam” on your wife or children every time anything goes wrong in the garage or the garden, or the fowl house, or the dark room.
So, if we remove the (K)notty words, the message we receive will be:
Sulk when things go wrong. “Nag” your wife. If she has burnt the cake or forgotten to sew on a button, she wants to be told over and over again. Scowl and look severe. “Let off steam” on your wife or children every time anything goes wrong. (This last one could be grounds for building a case for how potential abuse occurs…. says Nicoll.)

Words are potent tools to change our perceptions, lift our energy to a higher vibrational level. Each one has meaning and a vibration and can change the course of our lives. By judging anything bad, or wrong, we stay stuck in the swamps of negativity and block our inner Guidance. Let’s self-censor before they slide out, razor-sharp, and cut someone today. Instead, try this on, see how it feels: “I love you, I will never leave you, and I will always take care of you. (Said to oneself.)” Elizabeth Gilbert

Bee Gees, “Words”

4

That’s Just The Way It Is

 

The first month of this much heralded calendar year, is named in honour of Janus, two-headed god of thresholds. “This year will be better…” I hear people say hopefully, perhaps as a talisman to ward off the disappointments and hardships of the year gone by.  “2012 will be exactly what we make of it,” from a pragmatic, more self-actualised perspective. As the effervescent bubbles of New Year’s Eve flatten into the sober days of January and we minister to the minutiae of our daily lives Fate may enter softly through the open door, catching us unprepared.  She brings news that your baby needs heart surgery. That your best friend has been injured in a car accident. That you no longer have a job, a home, a marriage. That your life will change irrevocably. News that sends you skidding off the smooth tarmac of your carefully scheduled New Year planner.

“God never gives us more than we can handle”, is the trite kneejerk response to desperate calamities and unspeakable suffering that so many endure. A visit to a psychiatric hospital, a war zone, the trauma unit in your local hospital, witnessing an execution on You Tube, makes me question what kind of Monster we have created as a god who would gift us with this kind of suffering. The uncomprehending stare of a young mother’s eyes when she is told her child has died, a young man paralysed from the waist after diving into an azure pool one hot summer’s day, the black dog of depression that gnaws at so many, trapped in a snare of excruciating loneliness and loss. For many of us this year, we will have to bow our heads to the necessity of getting out of bed each day and finding something to be truly grateful for.  We will yoke ourselves to the inevitability of change: children who leave home, a lover who no longer loves us, a dear friend who moves far away, a beloved parent who now needs the same vigilant caring as a toddler.

Our ancestors lived close to the cycles of the seasons, the rhythm of Life. During the unrelenting grip of famine or displacement by war, flood or fire, they walked with the primordial goddess of Necessity. She was Ananke, also called Force or Constraint, she was mother to three daughters, the Moirai, the Fates. As omniscient goddess of all circumstance, greatly respected by mortals and  gods, it was she who ruled the pattern of the life line of threads of inevitable, irrational, fated events in our lives. Ananke  determined what each soul had chosen for its lot to be necessary – not as an accident, not as something good or bad,  but as something necessary to be lived, endured, experienced. Necessity is variable, always irrational, and errant.  She has been outcast in our mechanistic material culture where we, in our hubris and our self-inflation, actually believe that are all powerful.  Like a narcissistic two year old, we believe we can fix, cut away, or buy our way out of any mess we make.  And when something in our lives breaks us out of our usual patterns, seems not to fit, this is when it would serve us well to know that our unique and very precious soul has chosen this experience and with an out-breath, accept the  imperative requirement of Necessity. The “good” or the “bad” that we make of this experience is our mind’s doing, the perpetrator of our own suffering.

Ananke is an ancient goddess, and the resonance of her name has its tap root in the ancient tongues of the Chaldean, Egyptian, the Hebrew, for “narrow,” “throat”, “strangle” and the cruel yokes that were fastened around the necks of captives. Ananke always takes us by the throat, imprisons, enslaves, and stops us in our tracks, for a while. There is no escape. She is unyielding, and it is we who must excavate from the depths of our being, our courage, tenacity, and acceptance of what is.

So this New Year, Necessity may lay her hand on a defining moment in your life. She may still the tug-o’-war of the heart’s calling, block the mind’s plan, and fasten the collar around our neck. There will be no escape, except a shift in perception, and the courage to accept that which cannot be otherwise.

We will gracefully accept the necessary ending of a love affair, a not so exciting job that pays the bills, an ageing body, a severe or chronic illness, a barren womb, in the surety that everything is in motion: the cycles of the seasons, the orbits of the planets, the rise and fall of the stock market, birthing and dying, dis-ease and healing, tears and laughter.

So this New Year, may we have the courage to bow our heads to our hearts and honour Necessity, in the knowledge that as painful, challenging, frightening, hopeless, as things seem right now, this too shall pass. A Course in Miracles says: “Seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world.”

Phil Collins on Youtube sings That’s Just the Way It Is”, and moves my spirit today. 

 

 

 

8

A New Day Has Come

Hush now. See the Light in the sky.  A new day has come. The year is re-born.

The life-giving Sun stands still today, this day of the Capricorn Solstice – midwinter in the northern hemisphere, as the Sun lies low over the horizon. Here, in the south, at approximately 7:30am on December 22nd the Sun at its brilliant zenith, big blue skies, the brilliance of midsummer.

At the Solstice, the sun literally stands still. There is no movement. Our life-giving Star rests. Ancient stones placed on sacred sites now swathed in myth and mystery, still stand as silent sentinels to the pathway of the new born Sun, signifying survival in the famine months of the cruel winter. The Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year was celebrated by ancient cultures. In more recent history, the ancient Greeks made merry on Lenaia; in ancient Rome, Bacchus the god of wine was honoured and, later, the Romans overturned social conventions at the festival of Saturnalia (the feast of Saturn, god of agriculture) a time of excess and merry making.  

New beginnings… beneath the Victorian trappings and commercialism of Christmas, the glitter of lights in celebration of Diwali and Hannukah, what we are all celebrating is the re-birth of Light, of a new day, the risen christ consciousness within us all.

“Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence…” *   Many of us are efforting, pushing on beyond exhaustion, as this calendar year scurries to an end. Adrenal fatigue, crankiness, a frozen sea of aloneness amidst the frenetic agitation of the supermarkets and striving of the shopping malls. Family gatherings trigger explosive arguments as septic tensions ooze beneath the tinsel and baubles of festive cheer. The spectre of loneliness shadows the conviviality of office parties, with dinner for one on Christmas day.  And yet, the celestial symbolism of astrology brings glad tidings. Jupiter, “benefic” planet of expansion and largesse, turns direct on Christmas Day, with the Capricorn New Moon on Christmas Eve, a lunation heralding a symbolic new beginning, as she marries the New Sun.Capricorn is an earth sign, so use the energy of the element of earth to ground new seeds of hopes, dreams, and intentions for the coming year. Place Hope and Faith at the centrepiece of your festive table. Bow your head to your heart this new day. Pause. Sit quietly and allow the soul to enter in its dappled brilliance. Sup on Gratitude for the year gone by. Raise your glass to Hope, on this New Day. “With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NaGLVS5b_ZY

Celine Dion, A New Day Has Come

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann.


0

Miracles Happen

There comes a moment, and often many of them, in most relationships when one partner says to the other: “I feel no passion for you anymore; there’s no spark.”  Sometimes she adds: “And there never was!”  Often it’s said in anger, sometimes in despair.  But there’s no mistaking the soul-wrenching pain that lies beneath.  And beneath the pain…?

We tell ourselves deeply disempowering stories about passion, and falling in and out of love.  Scientists talk of neurotransmitters and pheromones, secreted and acted upon beyond our control.  Psychotherapists remind us of childhood wants and wounds that overwhelm us.  Even believers in “The Secret” hesitate, invoking the mysterious workings of the soul in this, the most vital of life’s callings.  Because, of course, very few of us indeed have never been either the pained sender or the unwilling recipient of this primal rejection.  And fewer still have been willing or able to recover a relationship when one of us has declared love dead.  Where are the miracles?

And yet, none of the mystics or visionaries has ever said “Faith can move mountains… except that one.”  Neville, for example, is quite clear: “Man’s chief delusion is his conviction that there are causes other than his own state of consciousness.”  (This was written in the late 1950s; woman was not being excluded.)  Neale Donald Walsch is equally unambiguous that thought is the sponsor of all creation.  So why do these miracles seem so seldom to happen?

Follow the pain trail.  Back to the very tip of its deepest tap root.  Can you recall that moment of tender or flaming passion when you said “I love you?”  And gently, ever so gently, can you touch the immediately following though, however fleeting?  Ah yes, there it is.  For so many of us it was “Does she love me back?”; “Does he love me less than I love him?”  And, on high alert, we find the evidence, however flimsy, to prove our case over days, months or years.  Slowly or rapidly, we count the wounds and the hurts.  Passion cannot long survive such enumeration.

And so, if you’ve lately said or heard the dreaded declaration, and you still believe in your relationship, your first task is to find the self-doubt, self-fear, self-hatred—whatever it may be—that caused you to believe you were not sufficiently loved.  For that single belief alone is powerful enough to derail any train of thought, however positive.

And then choose to believe that Miracles Happen.

The stream of passion and love
Flows both towards you and away
You alone decide which direction to look

4