TrueHeartWork | death
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death Tag

Breathe In Breathe Out

images5AQUIGD8“I am not afraid of death I just don’t want to be around when it comes,” Woody Allen once famously quipped.

Each one of us has been or will be touched by Death. The death of someone close to us. The death of someone we may  identify with, someone we admire from afar. Eventually, the finality of our own dying.

When someone famous dies, death enters our lives in a way that seems to resonate through the Collective consciousness.  I received the news of the death of Robin Williams and felt a wave of sadness. This gifted actor  who wore the mask of the magician in the roles he played in his movies, inviting us all to collude in the mystery and magic of play.  I didn’t “love” him. I certainly didn’t “know him”. I am aware that the characters he embodied were cartes blanches for my projections.

Amidst the plethora of eulogies and anecdotes for this man I never knew, I wonder if  it is the dying of someone we relate to that is unsettling, or is it our own death that we fear when a  star that shines so brightly is extinguished. When a god becomes a mere mortal.

There has not been the same public outpouring over the death of 89 year old Lauren Bacall. Men, women and children die every day, pawns on the chest board of war, the thread of their lives cut by accident, disease, or brutal murder.

Donald Clarke writing for the Irish Times, says  “millions of strangers found themselves “devastated” and “bereft” at the news. A random sampling of Twitter drags up a surprising number of users who “can’t stop crying” the advent of social media only increased the metaphorical rending of garments. Everybody wants to be seen to care. Expressing implausible grief is a way of communicating your great sensitivity…What on earth is going on? The manufactured sorrow at the death of figures such as Princess Diana or Robin Williams is, to some extent, connected with a need to celebrate one’s own life. Your dad may have taken you to see Aladdin. You may remember sitting exams when the princess’s wedding was taking place (as I did). A little part of your life has just moved away…”

Vladimir Nabokov wrote that   “Life is a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness …” and perhaps when an icon or a “star” dies we are reminded of the brevity of our own existence and that Death walks with us from the moment of our birth.

Do you recall these words spoken by Robin Williams in  What Dreams May Come… the story of a man who dies and seeks his wife’s soul in the afterlife to rescue her from hell as she has committed suicide … It’s about not giving up. And yet in our death-denying society there will come a time when the light dims and the glare from the sunshine becomes too harsh, perhaps it is time to surrender and give up. To acknowledge that death is part of the cycle of life.images1UQ3E4EY

The Romans kept Death in mind at all times, especially at Life’s peak when we may lose our remembrance of the necessary part of the cycle. So when a military hero triumphantly entered Rome, hailed as a  god, standing tall in his chariot, a man wearing the costume and mask of Death stood at his shoulder, saying, “Man, remember you shall die.”

In our hubris, our fear of ageing, our terror of death, we perhaps must remember that our lives are cyclical, like the seasons, the orbits of the planets… and with each in-breathe, each out-breathe, we are moving irrevocably closer to our dying. The ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus (341–270 BC) taught his disciples that in all our human suffering and misery was the omnipresent fear of death. Epicurus advocated a belief that our human death anxiety is not conscious but with us all the time, and it may come thinly disguised by restlessness, accumulation of wealth and power, or excessive religiosity. He embraced the mortality of the soul. With death comes the end of body and soul and mind. In death we dissolve into the blissful tranquility of oblivion, merge  into an eternal and boundary-less universe. Socrates who lived a decade before him, believed that after death we pass on to a better life, freed from the shackles of the body. A belief which has become entrenched in the Christian view of something better that awaits us (if we are good) beyond the Pearly Gates. In living we must prepare for  death. Perhaps this is the gift in the grieving of the death of a public figure like Robin Williams.

 

beautiful_photographs_of_rain_01In safety and aliveness dwell loss and isolation, confusion and unspeakable sorrow. Nothing is static or linear. So whether we believe in an impersonal universe and the sweet oblivion of death, or an afterlife amidst loved ones or hierarchies of angels, death is our life-long companion. Death is our Dark Angel bearing gifts under His wings. Death “itches all the time” says existential psychologist Dr Irvin Yalom. And Lillian Hellman wrote that “it’s a sad day when you find out that it’s not accident or time or fortune but just yourself that kept things from you.”

When we cross the narrow isthmus of fear that links the life we live now with the life we would love to live, the acceptance of our own death “can save us”. When we acknowledge death as our companion, perhaps we can live more authentically, discover how to be alive, how to be fully present, deeply grateful for what we have right here, right now.

Matt Kearney’s Breathe In Breathe OutRobin-Williams.-006

 

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Just show me how to love you

Sex is so often the first casualty on the battlefield of a committed relationship. Celibate couples live side by side, enslaved by their fear, their anger, and their hurt. Some slight, a rejection, a misunderstanding, a mistake in the past sentences them both to a marriage that is contains the pain of their disconnection devoid of touch, of carnal pleasure. Marriage is an initiation into the trials and tribulations of true intimacy. Alchemy within a marriage may require a period of mortification – those dark times, those catastrophic experiences that leave us stumbling through a nuclear wasteland, soul naked. Mortification means “making dead” and it may require a ritual slaying of some aspect of our personality where we cling white knuckled to our fears, our need to control, prescribe, to be “right” and oh-so-perfect. Many psychological models focus on the trauma and pain of being human. We talk of our “childhood wounding” and our “fear of abandonment”, seldom the triumph and the resilience of the human spirit, the ability to change, to grow new synapses in the brain. We focus on what is wrong with our relationships, our sex lives, seldom celebrating what is so damn deliciously good. We go round in circles. Blaming, shaming, subduing our soul’s urge to stretch and grow through the gridlock. And when the pain of being relentlessly honest with oneself gets too great, our knee jerk response is to separate, divorce. To tear our lives, our families asunder.
Like our inevitable death and the certainty of taxes, sex is a perennial part of this human experience. Collectively we are still removed from the deeper mysteries of alchemy to fully comprehend the subtle Mystery of human sexuality. We die many times in one lifetime. Relationships end, children move far away from home. A health crisis brings the curtain down on life as we know it. With every death there is a rebirth, as one form dies, and our hearts break open, our wounds are cleansed and  purified by salty tears. Death, like sexual intimacy demands an exchange – a coin to pay Kharon to ferry us across the river into the Underworld.  Most of us can only comprehend what we can literally see and touch. The subtle dissolution of death and la petite morte of orgasm are still distant frontiers, explored by very few who can contain these enormous energies within the slow vibration of our dense corporal form.

With Saturn’s ingress into Scorpio from October 6th until December 2014, we may experience, collectively and personally, the profoundly destructive, healing, regenerative energy of The Serpent. This is a time of initiation into an often painful stretching of the heart and the imagination. This is a time of re-visioning our relationship with life, death and intimacy in our sexual experiences, and in the psychic space that lies in between us in all our relationships. We must recognise that out of each apparent accident, crisis, obstacle, there is something deeper to be explored.

Saturn’s placement in our birth chart symbolises the areas in our life where we feel thwarted, inadequate, fearful, crippled. Where we must endure painful circumstances. Where we must push against obstacles and grow through self-awareness into our completeness. Saturn’s sojourn in the sign of Scorpio may excavate our buried loneliness, our fear of intimacy, our guilt, our terror of death, our obstinate resistance to change the thoughts that create our external “reality”. In Scorpio, we re-enter the cave where Hekate dwells. It is within the hallowed temple of intimate relationship that we must confront our self-deception and dredge the murky swamp of our own unconscious fears, our dark longings. Here we must push against the barriers of our self-isolation, must renounce our unhappy martyrdom. We must go down into the obsidian darkness of the labyrinth and engage fully with the silent inner experience. The old excuses just will not work any longer; the glib lies, the seductive stories we tell ourselves to sedate the Wise Woman and Man within us all.

The only person we can change is ourselves. We are responsible for our own sexuality, our own pleasure, our own joy as we open our hearts to love. Porn exults sex with our genitals. Intimate relationships require sex with our hearts, connection with our minds and the wet succulence of our bodies. Saturn in Scorpio’s wisdom is that in authentic union with the other we will experience the intense transformation and the renewal we crave if we excavate the deep knowledge from the gold mine of the unconscious. We are our own Magician. We already have the unction for our own healing.

Says sex therapist David Schnarch: “people have difficulty with intimacy because they’re supposed to. It’s not something to be solved and avoided. Problems with sex and intimacy are important to go through because this process changes us. These are the drive wheels and grind stones of intimate relationships. The solution isn’t going back to the passion of early relationships because that’s sex between strangers; it’s about going forward to new passion and intimacy as adults.”

Proust once said, “the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”

So today, let us with new eyes gaze with gratitude and acceptance at what we have manifested for our lives. Let us open our hearts and celebrate what is right in our relationships. Let us give thanks for the enormous courage of that special soul who has chosen us for his or her soul mate. Then just show him how to love you.

Art by Gerda Wegener – Lovers.
Sarah Brightman and Jose Cura Just Show Me How To Love You.

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Cannon Ball

Sometimes it is a slight tremor that cleaves a reservoir of ancient sorrow.

A rebuff by a friend or family member. An email, a text, you thought you had deleted, that besieges you, ravaging your heart. Sometimes it takes a cannon ball to crash through the structures of our carefully constructed lives: a trauma in the shape of death, divorce, or terminal illness…

This week, grief came to call, throwing a dark shroud over the landscape of my life. The death of my beloved, chocolate-coloured Burmese released a deluge of sorrow, plaintive echoes of an unbounded lamentation.

Each one of us has a unique journey. A timeline marked by graves of grief, some neglected, some still tended daily or on certain occasions. For some, letting go, moving on, comes easily. Others flee from the ravenous jaws of grief, buffered by a smokescreen of a smiling face, or the distraction of a full schedule.

Times of sorrow are not events, but transitional processes that unfold slowly.  These are sacred times in our life journeys. We are obliged to review, to reminisce. To embrace the lacerating pain, and make up a story that makes sense of it all, for us. It is at times of mourning that we must forgo the busyness, the anti-depressants, the avoidance and embrace the weight of silence that descends in the wake of loss. It is at these times we must fully experience the darkness, contemplate the nothingness, without trying to replace or substitute. Our inner children require nurture (not a spa-day of pampering), our bodies require rest, nourishment, a withdrawal of the senses. Our souls require silence, so that grieving can become sacred, rituals relevant.

Grief can be deeply unsettling, disturbing, and uncomfortable for others to witness. So often, I find myself stumbling over words, mumbling platitudes, sending my “deepest sympathies”. Shakespeare knew that grief requires framing: “Give sorrow words. The grief that does not speak, whispers the o’er-fraught heart, and bides it break.” And physician and pathologist, Sir Henry Maudsley wrote at the dawn of the twentieth century “sorrows which find no vent in tears may soon make other organs weep.”

Kahlil Gibran observed “Tears and laughter are inseparable. The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain…. Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy. Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced…

We cry when we are joyful, and when we are overwhelmed by grief. Emotional tears differ from the slicing-of-onions tears. They contain hormones and endorphins which are a moist balm to the searing pain. Tears herald the depth of feelings, reveal relics of unresolved emotions. But only words can identify what lies buried in the heart.

In life, there are those people and animals we deeply love, those we meet in body and mind, a few very precious souls who know our souls. They may be born into homes, cities, countries, so far away from our original starting points. Through our choices, and the complex interwoven chainmail of synchronistic events, our journeys converge; mingle, often for just one brief tremulous moment. Tempus fugit … time flees. With each passing milestone, an anniversary of a death, or a birth or something new, the sweet remembrance of a time tinted now with nostalgia, we become aware of the transience of this life and the Mystery of it all. Sorrow can be a gestation period, long cold waiting in the dank bunker of nothingness… The bittersweet memories, “little bit of your taste in my mouth…” the faint perfume of sadness, the remembrance of deep sense of aloneness that pervades our lives cyclically in a heap of broken images. The inconstant ebb and flow of feelings. The fallow periods of sorrow that herald the bright bud of hope. We may appear less efficient in the world of doingness, and feel as though we are falling apart. We are. Everything will be a mess, and we are required to laboriously re-build from new foundations.

Sorrow, melancholy, depression, like the clouds that scud across moonlit skies to obscure the pure luminescence of the lunar face, are ephemeral, always cyclical. Like the ocean, they ebb and flow, to flood our shores with boundless energy and inspiration, or recede like the tide, revealing shards of broken shells and glistening pebbles etched in the wet sand.

Do we really ever get over ourselves? Should we even try?

“I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano; A stage where every man must play a part, And mine is a sad one” the bard said.  Some walk lightly, some dance and sing along the way, others have a more sombre journey. A friend of mine shared that she had discovered a pair of pearl earrings in a velvet lined box. She had worn them only once. On her wedding day, a dewy-eyed bride, dressed in white. For her, these lustrous orbs from the watery deep enclose two tear drops of a frozen memory, the chronicle of a sacred day. She described how she had enfolded the cool silky smoothness in her hand, revisiting that time in her nascent life, to feel once more  the featherlike nudge of innocence, and the bittersweet lamentation of enormous loss.

Many of us may cope by framing a new narrative for the lost dreams and disappointments  that lie in wait like sharp stones on our path.  Nelson Mandela told a friend of mine who had a private luncheon with this iconic figure of the joy he experienced in his incarceration when he and the other prisoners would sing together as they worked crushing rock in the quarry, day after day in the searing sun and scalding wind. Many public figures have a narrative of their lives which fits their public persona. Often their birth charts may suggest otherwise. Nearly all of us have misty water-coloured memories of the way we were … our version of a prism of an event, faded by time, embellished by the re-telling.

When we are ready, we re-frame the story in the picture gallery of our life… or float like a cannon ball… until we understand why we are sinking… Damien Rice

THE TINY BOAT

God bless this tiny little boat
And me who travels in it
It stays afloat for years and years
And sinks within a minute.

And so the soul in which we sail
Unknown by years of thinking,
Is deeply felt and understood
The minute that it’s sinking.
Michael Leunig (1945- )

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Heaven’s Door

Sooner or later, each one of us will have to sit in the deep silence of death. In the Western world, death, like old age, is shadowed by a terrible taboo.

 I believe the veil between the living and the dead is gossamer thin. The dead are with us in invisible presence, transfigured into butterflies, free of their fleshy cocoons, close once more to the Creative Source. The work of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, the hospice movement, the mainstream acceptance of psychic mediums like John Edward and Sylvia Browne, to name only two, has brought comfort to so many. Yet in a world where contemporary thinking offers a narrative of death as an elemental process or an abrupt unravelling of a life with the promise of some far away realm in outer space, many of us live in fear or denial of the inevitable, ultimate, transformation. Sooner or later, Death darkens every life. Death is dreaded, denied, sanitised, and softened with euphemisms, like, “she passed away, or I lost my husband”… Like the hypocritical Victorians who covered the legs of the chairs in their homes, and unbuttoned their repressions with prostitutes in dark alleyways, death is demurely concealed behind a damask curtain. For those that die, it is their end of this world. For those who watch and wait, death unravels feelings of compassion, sorrow, and rage, and the deepest love. Silent stitch by silent stitch.

I believe that our ancestors lived more bravely, more honestly in the rawness of death than we do today. The rigid grasp of our religions, our governments, our medical profession, our skewed clutching to the sanctity of life, hold hostage those who long for the still sleep of death. Billions of dollars are spent on weapons of insane destruction. Vital lives are doused by laws that still uphold the ancient lie “an eye for an eye”. We shoot horses, euthanize pets, execute adulterers and criminals, slaughter young men and women in the absurdity of dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.  Yet, so often, we embalm those we love with chemicals, life support systems, in our need to keep them in ensnared in a lack-lustre half-life. Death transports us to the imaginal realm, those who have experienced NDEs report. To non-ordinary states of consciousness, known to the shamans, and to pioneers like Stanislav Grof, one of the founders of the field of transpersonal psychology, as a realm that is accessible from this world.

I believe nobody dies empty, but full of radiance, ripe with the sweet fruits of a life lived, experiences garnered in a final harvest. Even those souls who come to this physical realm for a brief flicker, little buds that never unfurl, or souls that are jettisoned from their bodies in the mindless violence of war, or by murder, or fated accidents, will have a flame of inner life contained within the soul. In some traditions it is believed that the soul shelters the body and has a deeper knowing than the mind. Death empties the physical body, and it is the indestructible soul that carries our Essence beyond frontiers. All our experiences are transient, like dappled shadow and brilliant light. We carry a kaleidoscope of experiences that vanish like the smoke from a flame extinguished. Only our essence remains in the cycle of life and rebirth. Now as we approach the solstice, the dark dormancy of winter in the north, with the hope of rebirth of spring … the brilliant blaze of summer here in the south, soon tempered by the burnished bronze of autumn, we must pause, as the sun stands still, to cross the threshold into a new cycle of the year. I am comforted in the knowing that with every in breath, every emptying out breath that sustains my physical body, when the time comes for death to empty me, my soul will ferry me silently across still waters, where I will fly free as a butterfly sipping the nectar of new experiencing. And for my beautiful ya-ya sister, (I dedicate this to you) what more exquisite tribute to a life well lived, now so gracefully ending, from poet and visionary, William Wordsworth who writes, “our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting; the Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star hath had elsewhere its setting and cometh from afar; not in entire forgetfulness, and not in utter nakedness, but trailing clouds of glory do we come From God, who is our home.” 

Dylan singing Knocking on Heaven’s Door.

Mama, take this badge off of me I can’t use it anymore. It’s gettin’ dark, too dark for me to see I feel like I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door. Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door Mama, put my guns in the ground I can’t shoot them anymore. That long black cloud is comin’ down I feel like I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door. Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door.

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As Tears Go By

No life is without loss. No life is without a blackened wasteland where we wander, ghostly wraiths, haunted by the shadows of pain, anger, or bewilderment.

The lover who did not love us enough to leave his wife,  the woman who could not make space in her life for  the lucidity of a real relationship, the friend, spiritual teacher, colleague or boss, who unilaterally leaves us stranded, unheard. The child, who grows to a man, leaves our mother-love to answer his call to adventure, leaving us without identity and purpose, directionless, bereft. Like Demeter we mourn our loss, wandering aimlessly across the barren winter landscape of what is loosely, lazily labelled today as “depression.”  

I often wonder how celebrities endure the fifteen minutes of fame solicited by their relationship break-ups. The glamour of new love, the stalwart, much acclaimed “moving on” is captured by the Cyclops eye of the media. It is commended by society, eulogised by psychologists. The searing burn of the secret private death of that union, that love, must be mourned in a slower, more painful way, I imagine. Moving on is dealt with in Kübler-Ross’s Five Stages of Grief model, and loss must be honoured one tear at a time. Externally, we appear to have “moved on”, as we step out into the busyness of our lives, embracing new passions. But the vacancy of our loss remains, an empty room in our heart. 

Losing the people we love transcends age, gender, race and the accumulation of material wealth. My beloved 73-year-old aunt says, stoically: “getting older has meant losing the people I truly love.” A young client, inconsolable in her discovery that her lover has announced she is “moving on”, her passion cooled. A frozen couple, their marriage resembling a steel tramline as they live their parallel lives, strangers in the night. Their silent ache for the soft comfort of intimacy, their unspoken yearning for connection, now a distant echo of a passion once shared.

Part of our human experience is to experience and embrace loss as part of life.  We feel low, blue, heavy, heart-sore, weary, lacking our usual verve, frozen, numb, with the icy claw of the pain of our aloneness. We embalm our tears, make our thoughts our prisons.  Tie the tourniquet on our bleeding hearts so tightly that we close off to anything that might leave us open to the risk of loss again. We lose the wide-eyed idealism of youth as corruption in political, religious and corporate structures blights the seeds of hope for a better world.  We become infected with the virus of perfection as we scratch and claw, strive and struggle against our flaws and failures, losing our belief in our own unique potential.

We’ve read the books, cognitively know that suffering, anxiety, the unravelling of worry, the emptiness of abandonment are all smoky mirrors that keep us feeling separate from Source. We know that we are all interconnected, sacred drops in the Ocean of Divinity, God-Goddess. And yet, perversely, we choose to feel alone, to sup with sorrow, in the haunted rooms of our own memories. To ignore the soul’s knowing that lies buried beneath the fragmented surface of our fractured experiences. We may keen in our desolation; walk through the grim valley of the shadow of death, until we climb the mountain to the light above the dark clouds. Or we may choose to numb down the pain with busyness, with food, alcohol, or pills. There is no “right way” or “wrong way” and it may take a life time to learn to inhabit our loss, to endure the long silence in the wake of loss.  And yet, because each life, each birth chart,  contains an acorn of unlimited possibility, each one of us will experience loss differently and see the world through different fantasies that veil the truth.  Each one of us will have to decide to find the healing in every situation and solace in the secret shelter of our soul, before “moving on” with new strength, to transfigure our fear.

Marianne Faithfull

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHUQuD7ZzYg&feature=related

 

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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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To Begin Again

 

Endings can be unspeakably painful. Like a folding deck of cards, an ending can evoke a long-buried memory of a lacerating loss, open archives of ancient pain.

 A friendship fades, a partnership dissolves, a Lover leaves, a life partner dies. Our default response is to ferret for some kind of logical reason; to dive into a chasm of rejection and abandonment; or find a balm to soothe the seeping wound. For years, we pick at the scabs of these endings, stew in the bitterness of our own bile, our ego waiting for an admission, an explanation, an apology that never comes.

We self-righteously blame the other for committing the savage crime of rupture. For answering their soul’s call to move on. Like a little child sucking her thumb, we latch on the unforgiveable flaws and non-negotiable behaviours, crumbs of comfort. It would never have worked means “I did not have the courage, or I did not love enough to …”

So often, the astrological symbolism in a client’s birth chart suggests that unconsciously it was she or he that felt the call of her soul to break free from the putrefying corpse of a relationship long deceased.  The composite chart, which contains the soul of the relationship itself, with all its fateful twists and turns, may reflect this need to part, or to re-invent the relationship, some time before it actually happens. Relationships, like the orbits of the planets, cycles of nature, have seasons too. Some never survive the cruel frosts of winter. Others thrust new green shoots after vigorous pruning.

 We all have our own narratives about times of endings. One of the great challenges at these times is to look at the stories we tell ourselves with gentleness and compassion. To acknowledge what is, to imagine what might be.  To accept the initiation into a new soul-ful experience, which always comes through a death  in some shape or form.  Perhaps only one of us feels that the relationship has become lifeless. And the heart rending decision to leave must be carried alone. Is this being callous, selfish, or honouring of the relationship and the one we once loved? Out of the seed of Love blossoms Death, so that Love can grow a-new.

Our relationships, our lives, demand courage and endurance. Courage to Hope again. Endurance to gracefully embrace the cycles of life and death. The wisdom to breathe, and embrace a new beginning.

“After all, computers crash, people die, relationships fall apart. The best we can do is breathe and reboot.” Sex and the City

 

 

 

 

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