TrueHeartWork | change
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change Tag

Delicate

images5UEHG1HCAnd  so it all ended with a whimper. An event “so scary that I’m giving classes on it,” said one astrologer with a keen nose for fear-based hype. The heralded Cardinal Grand Cross of 2014 did not bring the fireworks or big bangs predicted by many astrologers who warned clients to lie low, not to make any decisions. There were the usual political smoke and mirrors. The usual human  dramas. The ominous rumble of anarchy in the Ukraine. The ghastly spectre of yet another self-serving dictator in Russia standing on the bodies of those he has trampled as Putin struts and pouts. But for most of us mere mortals the astrology has spotlighted the need for some kind of internal shift. Tension, crisis, chaos, pain, is how we humans have evolved over the millennia, and many of us may choose (unconsciously) to “hit rock bottom” in our lives – illness, relationship break-ups, or the euphemistically-named “down-sizing”, all of which is change coming at us from the outside. Change thrust upon us through illness, divorce or retrenchment so often leaves us truly down-sized as we clear our desks and carry out our possessions in a small brown box.

FullMoonThe eclipse season began with a much publicised lunar eclipse on April 15th, and ended when she met by her consort, the Sun with a solar eclipse on April 29th, all celestial markers for new cycles of change in our lives if we are willing to do what it takes and stick with the programme.

We say we want to change. And there are times we truly mean it.  We begin new eating regimes, new jobs and new relationships. We find a new hairdresser. We have a make-over.

Change is a word that slips silently through the cracks of our over-committed, overwhelmed lives. We know the world around us is changing in a way that leaves us breathless. The delicate ecology of our Blue Planet is in a process of mass extinction. Forests are felled for the cancerous spread of housing estates, shopping malls, and factories that make more stuff for us to buy and throw away. Bees are dying; coral reefs now pale spectres of their incandescent beauty. Robotics are replacing humans. Without work we cannot feed our families. Yet, like laboratory rats in a frenzy of heated oestrus, we continue to breed more and more children. We want to change; we know our collective survival depends upon it. But we don’t.

For many of us “change” has no more power than a low-wattage light bulb to shine light into the dark corners of our personal lives.  Change means to make different, to alter, to modify, to transform. And yet, deeply rooted in the meaning is also a sense of barter – an exchange of energy or substance. Change, like love is also a verb. When we change something in our life, whether it is a habitual pattern of thinking or behaving, a job or a way of relating, we need to let go of something. Even if this means walking away from a relationship that has ignited our Victim, Addict or Rescuer Archetype or literally endangered our health or wellbeing. Change means no more excuses.  To change is to choose.

Most of us (unless we live in tribal communities or cower in silent submission in the shadow of repressive political or religious tyranny), choose the cereal we want to eat in the morning, the material we read on the internet, the lovers we invite into our beds. Most of us know, or think we know, that all evolution requires continual change and that life on this earth is a cycle of birthing and growing and dying. And yet when the Angel of Opportunity comes and taps us on the shoulder, we ignore her. We walk on by tenaciously clutching the bony hand of old behaviours and beliefs about the world. Every moment of every day we make choices – mostly driven by ghosts from the past that move silently through the chambers of faded memory. Thought patterns and behaviours with long dark cords that connect them still to the Tribal Mind are woven into synapses. We fret and chafe against the stifling cords that bind us to our pain. We stand, trussed up in our fears, our excuses, our hot-headed reactivity, our slippery avoidance, at the threshold of change which we say we want – but only on our terms at our own pace – and in a way that will not shatter the casing of our lives.

changingAs we cross the threshold into this new astrological Age of Aquarius and terms like “The Law of Attraction” or “The Field” become part of the common lexicon, we know that change can happen in a nanosecond. So our choices mirror our experiences, draw in our lovers, our friends. Our choices bring us those who prick our delicate skins with betrayal, acts of violence, greed or callousness. We can choose to forgive – not condone the behaviour of those who have wounded our hearts with carefully calculated actions that puncture but leave no exit wound.

Our spiritual teachers have been saying over and over again: Every thought creates form. Every choice has a consequence. Every thought, every emotion is an act of creation – there is no such thing as any activity of our mind or heart that is not an act of creation.  Our choices are enormously powerful. We can choose to accept things the way they are. We can choose to take action to change those things which can be changed. And we can pray for wisdom to know the one from the other.imagesBFG5DNXH

Damien Rice.  Delicate

 

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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

 

 

 

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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. 

 

 

 

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And I love her

After spending three weeks in Mountjoy women’s prison Teresa Treacy, of Clonmore, is home. Her crime, her refusal to comply with High Court orders to allow power lines on her property which would, and did, ruin the beauty of the landscape, destroying tall trees. This act of courage and defiance has made this 65 year old woman a cause celebre in Ireland.

For me, Teresa symbolises the uncompromising Crone energy we must draw from our bellies if we are to live authentic lives in challenging times. I believe that in order to cross the threshold into the realm of the Crone, we as women, (and those men who have integrated the Feminine energy,) must experience a rite of passage, so that we may enter the sacred centre of the web of our lives, to learn what real Love is. Illness, divorce, death of a child or a partner, retrenchment, prison – tsunami times of intense physical or emotional suffering when the loss of our old identity becomes a psychic death. Times when we feel like utterly alone, floating in a fathomless ocean… no direction home.

How does it feel ?
Aw, how does it feel ?
To be on your own ?
With no direction home ?
Like a complete unknown ?
Like a rolling stone ? sang Dylan.

I saw an interview with 74 year old activist and feminist Jane Fonda. Breasts like Barbie’s, face taut, impossibly white, perfect teeth. She seemed brittle, very fragile, unmothered. Still hungry, unable to embrace the energy and quiet assurance of the mature feminine or the fierce wisdom of The Crone. The initiation into the wise woman archetype or Crone (which means “corona” meaning “crown”,)   lacks ritual and celebration in a world where we worship at the altar of  youth. Change is never easy. Most of us lack the support of community, or the mentorship of mature women to guide us over the crossroads through the dark forests and dangerous pathways. Mature Women to shake us firmly from our torpor, when we prick our fingers on the spindles and fall “asleep”. Our conversations are a timorous lament of our loss of youth. We sprinkle conversations with self-depreciating remarks – saggy breasts, stretch marks, flabby arms. We self-harm in our desperate attempts to stay sweet sixteen foolishly falling for the folly of Botox, HRT, face lifts.

Hollow-eyed beggars, starving for the crumbs of love. We’ve been fighting our bodies all our lives.  Marion Woodman describes the Crone cycle as a time of Crossroad, where we come eventually, to a place of deep surrender. “After a lifetime of trying to improve herself in order to become a “perfect” daughter, wife and mother, a woman’s “surrender” to herself just as she is, becomes like bathing in the refreshing water in the pool of her soul. Grounded in her connection with her inner wisdom, she now lives from her own authority.”

And so, through illness, loss, the inevitability of our own death, we stumble or are pulled with ferocity into the liminal landscape of the Crone. She is uncompromising. The giver and taker of life. She demands as payment for crossing the threshold, precious gifts hidden in the challenges that crucify. These are times when we may also glimpse the white butterfly of new possibility. As we integrate our aloneness and despair into new learning, we plant it back into a world that looks the same outwardly, though we have changed irrevocably. Says Marion Woodman, “periods of renunciation are the initiations in life when we realise God is not running a day care centre.”

Goddess is a word that has lost its currency. This powerful archetype has been prostituted to sell perfume, bath oil, and deodorant. It’s bandied about as a term of endearment.  Goddess, like Woman, has been made infantile, pretty-in-pink, static, always smiling, naively youthful.  But, there is not only one goddess. She has, for eons, appeared in three: Maiden, Mother, and Crone; and she takes many forms. In a civilization as flatlined as ours, she lives still as the Fairy Godmother, the Woman of the Mist, Baba Yaga, the Cailleach. She is the dark moon, the cruel winter, the fierce, wise Mother of All. The Crone courageously embraces her values, her truth, and her beauty. She caresses the silver riverbeds that lattice her belly and her thighs, sees the eyes that stare back at her in the mirror, and says, yes!  She works through those who have not pricked their fingers on the spindle and fallen asleep.

There is an old story, told by Lame Deer, a Lakota Elder. It speaks of the importance of injury. When we die, we meet an old hag in the Underworld. She will eat our scars, and then allow us to continue on our journey. If you have none, she will eat your eyes instead. This suggests to me, the value of inner sight, as we die in various ways on our journeys. It is in our scars, the fractures in our hearts, our wrinkles, our stretch marks, as Leonard Cohen says, There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

So there will come a time when we must stand in the fire, like Teresa Treacy of Clonmore. We must speak our truth quietly, with assurance. We must persistently mine the metaphors in our lives. Dig deep, chew the cud of our dreams and savour the delicious sweetness. Stir the cauldron of our darkest emotions. And when we have prepared, and are ready, the Crone will appear. She will take our hand, and lead us back to the Garden.

Well, then can I roam beside you? I have come to lose the smog.
And I feel myself a cog in something turning.
And maybe it’s the time of year, yes, said maybe it’s the time of man.
And I don’t know who I am but life is for learning.
We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion year old carbon,
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.
Joni Mitchell, Woodstock.

Love the Crone, and listen to the original sounds of the Beatles:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaJIQmIei14  And I love her, the Beatles http://www.offalyexpress.ie/news/local/teresa_treacy_to_meet_with_esb_1_3143058

 

 

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