TrueHeartWork | Love
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Love Tag

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This Love Again

macaroons

We talk glibly of Love as if it can be bought like a bag of pastel-coloured macaroons. Or conjured up by a psychic who says, deftly spreading a well-worn deck of cards: “now let’s look at the love-life!”

We talk flippantly of Love as if Love can be compartmentalised into shine ona neat life.  As if Love is a play-thing, to put aside when we tire of it, or it becomes too big and boisterous. We window-shop for Love on dating sites. Foolishly mistake Love for Sex.  Balk at provocative choices. Terrified we may expose our soft-bellied vulnerability, we manacle ourselves with the cold steel fear of rejection, memories of past betrayals, disappointments. We play it safe, never daring to throw the dice lest we score too high for comfort.

Then one new day, we awake to find our fervent prayers have been answered by a benevolent god. How we tremble and shake in unspeakable terror as we stand on the precipice; afraid to take that giant leap, to tumble weightlessly into Love. Afraid to do what it takes to be with the one we cannot be without.

Love, like old age, and death, is not for the squeamish. To fall into Love requires valour. To stay in Love demands tenacity.

Science attempts to measure the power of love by assigning our light-headed wholehearted omnipotence and euphoria to dopamine and oxytocin. Those delectable mood-altering chemicals that flood our brains, bathe our cells in Ecstasy. Our right (emotionally intuitive) brain, lights up like a Christmas tree, our left ( logic and language) brain is all shook up. Astrology is a language that describes the synastry, the poetics of a relationship. It offers a map for the choices we will be offered as we embrace Love’s Mystery. Science can measure the how. But why we fall into love’s hallowed portal, blouse unbuttoned, hair unloosened in the face of our fears, remains a Mystery. “Nothing is Mysterious. No human relation. Except Love,” writes Susan Sontag.

The poetry of the skies in September reflects the moist soulfulness of our human hearts. The Sun, Mars and Venus are in Virgo this month, highlighting that part the zodiac and our own birth chart, where we must be mindful, wholehearted, discerning of those we invite into our lives. Virgo is the Sacred Harlot. She reminds us  to choose carefully from the smorgasbord of life those lovers, friends, soul companions who hold us gently through life’s storms.

Embrace Virgo’s true meaning by moving into yourself today, stay grounded in your soft animal body. Listen to her whispers.
Love yourself into Aliveness.

You do not have to be good.8c17d2639c4ffd324a00a126b0a88824
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—Mary Oliver

James Blunt—This Love Again

 

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By your Side

By Your Side

 

By your Side 2Plato said that Love is a kind of madness. I imagine he was describing the heated arc of light that wraps its comet’s tail around our heart when we tumble into Love. That ferocious Love that ambushes us, unbuttons and unbolts us, throws us on the floor. It’s in a Love like this that we drink from the elixir of youth. It’s in a Love like this that we are re-birthed in the font of forgetfulness, swaddled in the white robes of Hope. It’s in a Love like this we become adolescents, young and energetic again, despite our age. It’s in Plato’s kind of Love, that we’re radiant, filled with the sweet green sap of confidence. Utterly mad.

In our fast food culture, we expect instant gratification. Yet, like the weather, the outcome of our quest for Love is hard to predict or even to define with any certainty. Qualities like devotion, allegiance, dedication and loyalty, are often shadowed by a sense of what’s in it for me? And we find, to our disappointment, that it’s hard to give and receive Love that lasts.

Our definition of relationship has shape shifted in the twentieth century.  We can love, but never live together. We can uncouple, and still remain good friends, co-parent our children across continents.  We can enter into a spiritual partnership with the intention to use our relationship as an incubator for our own spiritual growth and self-awareness. We can fall in love with the same person over and over again as our relationship cycles through the Life-death-rebirth spiral.

By your Side 4Our Love relationships may require periods of spaciousness, solitude, emotional or physical distance. They may demand acceptance of the aberrations, a baring of warts and all kinds of foul-smelling bits. Our relationship may end in literal form and yet continue in our dreams, in the fragments of memory that float like dust motes across the lyrics of a song.

Relationships are supposed to deliver love and happiness…aren’t they? Yet over the years, the Love that settles into the sofa near the fireplace, the Love that parents children, moves to a new home, euthanizes the family dog, visits the bedside of a dying parent, is a Love that is so often is tinged with sadness or disappointment. It’s a Love that lies forgotten, rusted, tarnished by years of neglect. “Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new,” writes Ursula K. Le Guin.

By your Side 23There’s a nobility in loving despite fortune and circumstance. It takes courage to reclaim disowned feelings, modify behaviours that wound and flay. It takes courage to revision our own life and take back the projections so easily screened onto someone else’s life—“she has too many issues”, “he cannot do emotions”, or the classic cop out—I’m not “in love with him anymore”. Love is a paradox, a labyrinth where we may meet the Beast in the centre.

There’s nothing glamourous about resurrecting Love. There’s nothing glamourous about starting over, fixing the cracks, battling the urge to run. There’s nothing easy about reassembling those parts of yourself that you have hidden away for so many years. There is nothing as painful than repairing a heart that has been broken. The pathologies of love are portals into a rich landscape of vibrant colour where the soul can spread wings of splendorous colour. Re-pair, healing, forgiveness so often take time.  But perhaps we can leave behind the notion of work and repair. Perhaps we can replace our Puritan work ethic, our stoic fortitude, with a stillness that comes from some immensely powerful immutable loyalty to the sacred space in-between our relationship.

By your Side 3Robert Frost wrote in his glorious poem “the best way out is always through…”  And, as we prepare to engage our energies for the long haul, as we clear away the thorny brambles that obstruct our path, our hands will bleed and we may thirst for something sweeter, cooler, easier. Our impatience will be tested. We will become discouraged and disheartened. And yet, when we stop looking for the epiphany, we may feel that with each new day, with each new awakening, with each new stumble, we are moving a little closer.

Freud believed that Love involved a transference of our early childhood and family relationships to the preset relationship. That our parents and our siblings influence the way we love, and that when we love, we stir memories and images of an older love.

8bc293e23a0ea66c67e149e4111f7fefWhen we fall into Love, we fall into the imagination. Modern psychology echoes this belief and scientific research now “proves” that our nervous systems are not self-contained.

Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini and Richard Lannon write in their collaborative A General Theory of Love“from earliest childhood, our brains actually link with those of the people close to us, in a silent rhythm that alters the very structure of our brains, establishes life-long emotional patterns, and makes us, in large part, who we are.”

We can reduce Love to synapse connections and scientific observation, and yet Love, in all its permutations remains a Mystery, a Many Splendoured Thing.

In the 13th Century Rumi knew that “both light and shadow are the dance of Love. Love has no cause, it is the astrolabe of God’s secrets” …

We are relational beings. The plethora of new apps on the market are driven by our need to connect with one another. To talk, to tell our stories, to listen and to be heard. In our so often over-whelmed, over-committed lives, apps and social networking sites offer a substitute for the soft eyes and tender touch of a lover. Touch sensors in paired devices allow wearers to “feel” one another wherever they are in the world. Androids and operating systems simulate “reality”, yet may still lead us through Love’s labyrinth, where we must take the final turn in the pathway and find that it is our Self we meet bare-faced, soul naked without the artifice of appeasing smiles, without the heavy jacket of excuses we have worn for so many long years. In the kind of Love that’s made and re-made, we embrace all our human foibles. And we celebrate our very human longing to be seen and accepted, just the way we are. By your Side 100

Sade—By Your Side

Upcoming: Bonded by Blood. The Astrology of Siblings. Cape Town, July 22nd 2017. 

Please email: ingrid@trueheartwork.com for more details.

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dancing-girls

Can’t Pretend

pretend-6As this year draws to an end, there are many of us who feel as powerless as a serfs in a feudal kingdom. Mother Earth is ravaged and bleeding. Her climate is changing. Democracy is hollow talk and the strutting Emperor wears no clothes. We can believe that we are helpless, hopeless, hand all our power to forces and systems outside ourselves, or we can harness our courage, step out of the box.    We can send love not hate to those in the brazen Towers of power.

Real presence is what’s needed at this time in our collective evolution. The Jupiter/Pluto square accentuates those areas in our lives were we  still cling to fixed and dogmatic beliefs, where our righteous “truths” merely mimic the righteous “truths” of someone else (November 2016, April and July 2017) . We may have to to be counter-intuitive: the “little boxes made of ticky tacky that all look just the same” may not be comfortable any longer.  In her superbly moving tribute to Leonard Cohen, Maria Popova quotes him saying, “Most of us from the middle-class, we have a kind of old, 19th-century idea of what democracy is, which is, more or less, to over-simplify it, that the masses are going to love Shakespeare and Beethoven. That’s more or less our idea of what democracy is. But that ain’t it. It’s going to come up in unexpected ways from the stuff that we think [is] junk: the people we think are junk, the ideas we think are junk, the television we think is junk.”

pretend-7

Western culture celebrates the individual, the original. Yet the tribal mind craves conformity. Now as we face a regressive pull into the undertow of polarisation and fascism we must dare to think out of the box.  Venus in pragmatic Capricorn sparkles against the blushing breast of the western skyline this month. Her consort, Mars moves through Aquarius, a sign associated with detachment, logic, ideals and fairness. What these two planets symbolise are our inner values and our drive to be real in the most private, deeply personal places in our lives. Being real might mean leaving a relationship, a guru, or a work situation that tames or amputates our joy. For some it might mean questioning the value of submitting to a spiritual tradition that breaks the ego of the body. For some it’s reconnecting to that deep well of our creative life, surrendering to our authentic selves with a sense of ease and belonging. For us all it means remembering that for all our apparent differences, our human hearts look just the same.57a0eebb2a00002e004f7e56

Stepping out of our little boxes, becoming real, takes a life time and it certainly requires valour. May Sarton writes, in her beautiful poem, Now I Become Myself, “it’s taken time, many years and places; I have been dissolved and shaken, worn other people’s faces…”

In Margery Williams’ beautiful story, The Velveteen Rabbit, Skin Horse describes the long and often painful process of becoming Real:

 “Real isn’t how you are made. It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY Loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?”  asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,”  said the Skin Horse,  for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”pretend-3

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit? ”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,”  said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

Most of us define our identity, our authentic selves by the beliefs and opinions of others. Until we can’t pretend any longer. Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote the book that inspired us all to Eat, Pray, Love, writes, “Death — or the prospect of death — has a way of clearing away everything that is not real. In that space of stark and utter realness, I was faced with this truth: I do not merely love Rayya; I am in love with Rayya. And I have no more time for denying that truth.”

f84ef897-eaa4-4933-a0dc-8f3cb8c80eacThe spirit of our times is the spirit of our collective thoughts and intentions. Our private thoughts mingle with the private thoughts of myriad human beings and affect the unwavering advance of world events. The immeasurable power of our blessings and prayers directed towards a situation or an outcome can transform people and circumstances if animated with Love.

Writes Elizabeth Gilbert, “at such times, I can always steady my life once more by returning to my soul. I ask it, “And what is it that you want, dear one?”little-girl-on-beach

The answer is always the same: “More wonder, please.” 

Tom Odell – Can’t Pretend

Little Boxes words and music by Malvina Reynolds 1962

 

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Into My Arms

red roseRed roses, cuddly toys, red velvet boxes containing invitations to dark sweetness. We may shudder at the bright shiny commercialism that festoons holidays that mark the wheel of the year. Those cards festooned with red hearts may remind us of  losses, painful rejections. Yet the sheer romance of it all may herald hope, sweep us off our feet of clay, give us wings to fly. February 14th, dedicated to a Christian martyr, marks a much older holy day in honour of  Juno (Februata) faithful wife of the womanising Jupiter and the mother of Mars. To the Greeks she was known as Hera, and February 14th was celebrated in honour of commitment and enduring love.

cosmic dance 2In astrology we look to the cosmic dance of Venus and Mars as significators of love and war, connection and separation, leaning in or walking away from love and desire. As they orbit across the zodiac, they mark new beginnings and inevitable endings. The dance of Venus heralds pregnancy, marriage, and reflects societal change. We all have Venus in our birth charts and it’s only through our hearts that we can meet each other in all our complexity and in the soft tenderness of our human vulnerability. Jung said that Mars was knowing what you want and doing what you have to do to get it. Mars is owning our desires, taking action to be the change we want to see in our lives.

Mars is Venus and Mars were in conjunction in November 2015 and their dance assumes the tension of a square in March this year and an opposition early in June as they perform a stylised tango across the heavens. Venus and Mars symbolise love and desire in all their many guises.

Perhaps as Venus moves into the sign of Aquarius on February 17th we can remind ourselves that the Greeks and Romans had many names for Love. And that Love is a Many Splendour’d Thing. Mars is in the sign of Scorpio now so both the love planets will be in fixed signs as they move across the dome of the sky. Perhaps this could be a time to strenghten our resolve. Practice Being more and Doing less, so that new awareness, new behaviours can graft and begin to grow new green shoots. Venus was a voluptuous goddess of sensuality and fertility, remember. Mars, her lover,  was honoured as a god of spring by the Romans.

language of lovePatience, like Walkmans and Kodak Cameras, has become obsolete in a culture where the promise of satisfaction is just a click away. We give up too easily.  We have little tolerance for frustration, setbacks and delay. So often in love we must commit to staying the course even though the road is rocky and there is a flatness in the landscape of love. If we could dedicate each new dew-drop of a day to practicing acts of loving kindness, search for things that are right in our lives, feel the gratitude coursing through our hearts, allow ourselves to be brave enough to peep around the walls of old beliefs that keep us imprisoned in shackles of right and wrong, we might  glimpse the golden orb of Venus just before the dawn.

Our relationships are spiritual pathways and our soul mates, our wound mates, teach us forgiveness, discernment and invite us to summon the courage to love more bravely again.teddies Judith Blackstone, author of The Intimate Life, writes “Love is the response of our heart to the world around us. To love life, and in particular, to love other human beings, is one of the central ideals of every spiritual tradition. It is also one of life’s greatest challenges. It requires the ability for true contact. And contact requires us to be authentic and deeply in touch with ourselves.”

Neuropsychologist, Dr Mario Martinez, author of The Mind Body Code, suggests that relationships based on the concept of bio-cognition and self-esteem are related to our immune system and our immune system responds to our transcendental beliefs. “We come with one of three wounds into relationships –  sometimes all three. These,” he writes, “are not victimhood wounds. These are soul contract challenges. Abandonment, shame, betrayal. We need a covenant of safely when we commit to become the guardian of each other’s hearts in a healthy relationship. Our soul mates are the guardians of the heart.”

How Long Will I Love YOU 2Martinez says that he believes we challenge our partner to abandon us – unconsciously. “We ask our partner to do abandonment behaviour to prove to us that we are right. The healing of abandonment is commitment. So we ask, what can I do for you right now to give you my commitment… when you are ready, I am here to give you my commitment. The wound of shame requires honour. Betrayal requires loyalty,” says Martinez.

Says sex therapist, Esther Perel “ You may feel that unless your relationship is thriving and you are on cloud nine, you don’t deserve to partake in the celebration of love. As if those in crisis or state of struggle cannot acknowledge any positive feelings because it would feel fraudulent. In fact, when you’re in a rough place, this is exactly the time your relationship could use a good dose of TLC. Making time is a ritual, and rituals aren’t negotiated — they are performed.”

 

Into My Arms Nick Cave

 

Francois_Boucher_Heracles_and_OmphaleApril 2nd 2016 Holding Aphrodite’s Mirror, Love, Lust, Loss and Longing

Join me for the second inspiring day at Ubuntu as we explore the powerful archetypes of Venus and Mars in how we love, how we desire in a digital age.

You’ll be working on your own horoscope so please have your data to hand when booking – your date, place and time of birth. Your own chart will be drawn up in advance. We will dedicate the day to a gentle connection to the sacred Feminine and the sacred Masculine.

Date: Saturday April 2nd 2016, 10am to 5pm

Where: Ubuntu Wellness Centre 99 Kloof St, Gardens, Cape Town.

Please email me: Ingrid@trueheartwork.com  for more  about this day dedicated to you.

 

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Another Love

spring dayAnyone who has ever loved will know that there is nothing  linear or certain about Love. Love can’t be contained or explained. Love has its own circadian rhythm: a sweet scented breeze that shape shifts like clouds on a warm summer’s day then fades like a rainbow. It waxes and wanes like the Moon. Love can erupt as a formidable Force rupturing the structures of our lives, rendering them irrevocably changed. Love burns us in the fire, renders us shining, resplendent and forged a-new. Love is a Many Splendoured Thing.

 

couple dancingWe can’t measure Love the way we measure ourselves:  our attractiveness, our worthiness, our “success”. Love lies in the soft folds of the skin that shelter our elbows. Love lies in the lattice of maturity on our faces. It cannot be smoothed away in the way we smooth lines of anger or worry or happiness with sharp little pricks of Botox. It cannot be cut off or pulled tight in mask-like caricatures of a youth long gone. Love nestles in the warm chambers of our hearts. Love, like Faith and Trust is a Force as indefinable and immeasurable as the Intelligence that throbs and shimmers through the uni-verse.

Popular books with titles like “Getting the Love You Want”, or “Mastery of Love,” mirror a fast-food culture where Love is a commodity that can be ordered, gotten, or kept. love 6 Gary Chapman’s The Five Languages of Love hints at the paucity of language to describe this thing called Love.

In all the Western languages, English may be the most lacking when it comes to descriptive feeling words. Sanskrit has 96 words for Love, there were 30 in ancient Greece and 80 in ancient Persia.

We use the word, Love, to describe a host of experiences that delight, enthrall, satiate, soothe and stimulate our senses“Our superior function has given us science and the highest standard of living the world has ever known … but at the cost of impoverishing the feeling function,” writes Robert A. Johnson in The Fisher King & The Handless Maiden.

starlings murmurationBut does Love feel the same for us all whether we live in London, in Papua New Guinea, on the frozen arctic plains?  Kristen Lindquist at the University of North Carolina and her colleagues have discovered that  our ability to understand the meaning of words has  a measurable effect on whether we can recognise those emotions in others. The way we speak about feelings might influence how we feel them. Researcher, Tiffany Watt Smith writes in The Book of Human Emotions , “most of us have on some occasion felt the urge to crumple into the arms of a loved one to be coddled and comforted. It’s important and reviving, this sensation of temporary surrender in perfect safety. The concept is not easily captured in English, but Japanese people know it as amae, the feeling of being able to depend on another’s love and help with no obligation to be grateful in return. It helps relationships to flourish and is an emblem of the deepest trust. In the 1970s, Western anthropologists became very excited about amae, claiming that it was evidence that even our most intimate emotions are shaped by the societies in which we live. They argued that Japan’s traditional collectivist culture had allowed amae to flourish.dad and baby girl

So one wonders why those of us who grew up speaking English often fumble when trying to articulate a similar experience. Perhaps this lacuna in English speaks volumes about how hard it can be to accept other people’s support.”

Even though we can’t find the right words to describe what we feel, this thing called Love is what opens our hearts and connects us to our own Divinity. We are changed when we allow ourselves to love deeply and to be loved in return.

To love means risking loss or rejection. To love with our whole heart is to know the hollow emptiness of the ending. Love is not a victory march. It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah… When Love changes form, we may dare to love again, but it will be another kind of love… “She had … an affair that struck deeply; I believe she loved totally and was loved totally. I know about it, and I am glad… This love, and the ensuing emptiness of its ending, changed her. Of such events we are always changed — not necessarily badly, but changed. Who doesn’t know this doesn’t know much” wrote Mary Oliver about Molly Malone Cook her inseparable partner for more than four decades.

 

older couple together on benchIt takes enormous courage to Love. To fold yourself into the different rhythm of The Other, day after day. To sleep night after night tangled in one another’s dreams. It takes courage to forgive the transgressions, the betrayals, the words that tumble thoughtlessly and pierce straight through our hearts. It takes tenacity to move like patient oxen yoked together, through fields of sorrow and fields of joy.

Anyone who has ever loved will know that Romantic Love, falling in-to love, is not the same thing as staying in love. Writer Mandy Len Catron knew Love after asking 36 questions.

Love didn’t happen to us. We are in love because we each made the choice and chose again and again… and I continue to make that choice without knowing whether my partner will continue to choose me…we want the happy ending… we want someone to love us back. It is terrifying but that’s the deal with love.

Anyone who has ever loved will know that Love is the most profound mystery of our human experience. We choose to Love, again and again and again, even though we have no certainty. We hope for, but know deep down inside there may not be a happy ending.  And yet the warmth, the glory of Love fills us like radiant sunlight. And again and again we turn our innocent faces towards the life-giving warmth that ennobles our humanness.

 

so in love
Relationship Astrology workshops London

nun and rabbi

Lust, Love, Loss and Longingnun and rabbi

Saturday 31 October & Sunday 1 November
The Astrological Lodge of London, 50 Gloucester Place W1U 8EA
10am-5pm

£85.00 per day, or £150.00 for both

Join us for an exciting weekend of relationship astrology in London, designed to be suitable for all. Join us for an exciting weekend of relationship astrology in London, designed to be suitable for all levels. The two days are completely different but are designed to complement one another, so you can choose to do either day, or both. Bookings – ingrid@trueheartwork.com or  email joannaw@otenet.gr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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By Your Side

beautiful_photographs_of_rain_53Plato said that Love is a kind of madness. I imagine he was describing the heated arc of light that wraps its comet’s tail around our lives. The kind of Love that ambushes us, unbuttons and unbolts us, throws us on the floor. It is in Love like this that we drink from the elixir of youth. It is in Love like this that we are re-birthed in the font of forgetfulness, swaddled in the white robes of Hope. In Love like this we become adolescents, young and energetic again, despite our age. In Love like this we are self-absorbed, radiant, filled with the sweet green sap of confidence.

In our fast food culture we expect instant gratification. Yet, like the weather, the outcome of our quest for Love is hard to predict or even to define with any certainty. Qualities like devotion, allegiance, dedication and loyalty are often shadowed by a sense of what’s in it for me? We find, to our disappointment, that it is hard to give and receive Love that lasts.

Our definition of relationship has shape shifted in the twentieth century.  We can love but never live together. We can uncouple and still remain good friends. Co-parent our children across continents.  We can enter into a spiritual partnership with the intention to use our relationship as an incubator for our own spiritual growth and self-awareness. We can fall in love with the same person over and over again as our relationship cycles through the Life-death-rebirth spiral. Our Love relationships may require periods of spaciousness, solitude, emotional or physical distance.  They may demand acceptance of the aberrations, a baring of  warts and foul-smelling bits. Our relationship may end in literal form and yet continue in our dreams and in the fragments of memory that float like dust motes across the lyrics of a song.by your side

Love that settles into the sofa near the fireplace that parents children, moves to a new home, euthanizes dogs and visits the bedside of a dying parent is a Love that so often is tinged with sadness or disappointment. It lies forgotten. Rusted and tarnished with years of neglect. Relationships are supposed to deliver love and happiness…aren’t they?

There is a nobility in loving despite fortune and circumstance. It takes courage to reclaim disowned feelings, modify behaviours that wound and flay, revision our own life and take back the projections so easily screened onto someone else’s life – “she has too many issues”, “he cannot do emotions”, or the classic cop out – I’m not “in love with him anymore”. Love is a paradox, a labyrinth where we may meet the Beast in the centre.imagesAN2L7VLZ

There is nothing glamourous about resurrecting Love. There is nothing glamourous about starting over, fixing the cracks, battling the urge to run. There is nothing easy about reassembling those parts of yourself that you have hidden away for so many years. There is nothing as painful than repairing a heart that has been broken. The pathologies of love are portals into a rich landscape of vibrant colour where the soul can spread wings of splendorous colour. Re-pair, healing, forgiveness so often take time.  But perhaps we can leave behind thoughts of work and repair. Perhaps we can replace a Puritan work ethic and stoic fortitude with a stillness that comes from some immensely powerful  immutable loyalty to the space that surrounds our relationship.

imagesP9E4J809Robert Frost wrote in his glorious poem “the best way out is always through…” as we prepare to engage our energies for the long haul. As we clear away the thorny brambles that obstruct our path our hands will bleed and we will become discouraged and thirst for something sweeter, cooler, easier. Our impatience will be tested and yet when we stop looking for the epiphany, we may feel that with each new day, with each new awakening, with each time we stumble we are moving a little closer.

700-00030449erFreud believed that Love involved a transference of our early childhood and family relationships to the preset relationship. That our parents and our siblings influence the way we love and that when we love we stir memories and images of an older love. When we fall into love, we fall into the imagination. Modern psychology echoes this belief and scientific research now “proves” that our nervous systems are not self-contained. Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini and Richard Lannon write in their collaborative A General Theory of Love:“from earliest childhood, our brains actually link with those of the people close to us, in a silent rhythm that alters the very structure of our brains, establishes life-long emotional patterns, and makes us, in large part, who we are.” We can reduce Love to synapse connections and scientific observation and yet Love in all its permutations remains a Mystery, a Many Splendoured Thing. In the 13th Century Rumi knew that “both light and shadow are the dance of Love. Love has no cause, it is the astrolabe of God’s secrets”…

imagesHIM5I6DIWe are relational beings. The plethora of new apps on the market are driven by our need to connect with one another. To talk, to tell our stories, to listen and to be heard. In our so often over-whelmed, over-committed lives, apps and social networking sites offer a substitute for the soft eyes and tender touch of a lover. Touch sensors in paired devices allow wearers to “feel” one another wherever they are in the world. Androids and operating systems simulate “reality”, yet may still lead us through Love’s labyrinth, where we must take the final turn in the pathway and find that it is ourself we meet bare-faced, soul naked without the artifice of appeasing smiles, without the heavy jacket of excuses we have worn for so many long years. In Love we must embrace our human foibles and celebrate our very  human longing to Love and be Loved in return. In Love we discover Compassion.ff_robot5_large-660x713

 

Sade – By Your Side

 

 

 

 

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The Look of Love

body paintingLove is an act of the imagination. We daub our lover with our oldest longing. We paint his lips with our most noble and generous magnificence. Love photoshops her imperfections. Love ennobles his good qualities, assigns them with mythical powers.  In our lover’s vow we talk, we touch, we seal our dreams with a kiss. We know that we are beautiful. In the warm nascence of Love we touch our holy longing. In the Mystery of barely knowing him we travel the world, design our new home, merge in our anticipation of something new, something more. As the sun rises we bask in possibility.

Yet according to research on neurobiology, the potent alchemy of attraction is spiked with dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Our intense emotional and physical fusion is only possible with someone we do not yet really know.

We are as changeable as chameleons, as contrary as Mary.  In order to feel fully alive we need a sprinkling of mystery. We require a dash of  novelty. We need a splash of  change, blended with just enough safety and  continuity to ground us. Risk and Fear. Safety and Adventure. We fluctuate like clouds that shape shift across a summer sky.

When we commit to each other, marry or cohabit, our brains produce the bonding chemicals, oxytocin and vasopressin.  We want togetherness – and difference to keep things interesting.  Yet in the otherness of our partner we so often respond with judgement. Or we set the bar high for an athletic leap of great expectations which breaks the legs of spiritual growth and sprains our soul’s warm desire.

Our heightened dependence on just one person makes us vulnerable. So we stack up the sandbags against the rising waters of uncertainty. We construct a prison of predictability in our relationships, and choose to stay behind narrow bars of bland neutrality.

Our script of staid of assumptions goes something like this: “I always know what you’re thinking” or “he doesn’t talk about emotions.”  It may sound like “he’s my rock” or “she would never have an affair”.  It might be the stolidly dependable “she always takes care of all our finances.”

So we dis-own our passion and vitality, clutch at things we feel we can control. We blinker our eyes and stop being curious.

Risk and Fear are the Guardians at the gate of Love. We cannot be truly intimate or sexually playful when we are vigilant or fearful. We cannot be truly intimate or sexually adventurous when we do not take a risk.

images45AR3A8POur relationships work, for a while, within a bounded space, enclosed by children and pets, in-laws, work, social responsibility. Until they don’t.  Until something happens to shatter the thin veneer of compromise. Until a raging torrent rushes through the aridity of our sexuality. Until the brittle sacrifices implode in a shower of dust. It may be a death, a health-scare, an affair, the loss of a business, our child leaving home. The comfort of fireside companionship, the tangible solidity of the things we own, and the cadence of routine now does not feed our hunger. We go online and gorge, like starving anorexics feasting on chocolate sundae. Or in the seductive gaze of our work colleague or the children’s tennis coach, we swallow the sweetness we have denied ourselves for decades. And in the rapturous delusion we  transcend the mundane and we soar above the clouds sprinkled golden with sunbeams. We become alive again.

images6YU9IO9DLove is a creative act of the Imagination. Its realm is rarefied, intangible, briefly captured like an exquisite butterfly where it flutters to the sound of music, poetry, the wind whispering through the trees.

Intimacy waits patiently for Love’s transient rapture to disperse. Intimacy requires time, repetition and the ability to choose each other, again and again. Intimacy is a practiced dance where two dancers move across the floor, present and focused, moving as one, yet firm in our own foot work.  The dance of Intimacy requires tenderness and some acceptance. It requires routine and a sense of safety. It requires trust and an ability to create an emotional connection. Yet so often as we spin our soft cocoon of companionable safety, Eros feels swaddled. He becomes a pudgy Cupid, not a virile Lover.

Sex therapist David Schnarch writes, “We’ve reduced adults to infants and infants to a frail ghost of their resilience, reduced marriage to providing safety, security, and compensation for childhood disappointments. We remove our essential drives for autonomy and freedom.”

Psychologist Esther Perel suggests that too much closeness restricts the sense of freedom and autonomy we need for sexual pleasure. “When intimacy collapses into fusion it is not lack of closeness but too much closeness that impedes desire.” She maintains that intimacy only sometimes begets sexuality and that our need for togetherness exists alongside our need for separateness. With too much distance there can be no connection and with too much fusion (the soul mate theory) there is no one to connect with.  “Increased emotional stability ironically what makes for  good intimacy, does not make for good sex.

Anais Nin wrote so poignantly, “Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we do not know how to replenish its source.” So how do we replenish Love’s source? In The Passionate Marriage – David Schnarch writes pragmatically,  love and desire are “not a matter of peeling away the layers but of developing them—growing ourselves up to be mature and resourceful adults who can solve our current problems.”

images6RA72WW7It requires an artist’s eye, a poet’s sensibility, a gourmet’s palate. The willingness to be curious, to engage in the mystery, to re-ignite the flame of Eros with the spark of our human imagination. Perhaps in the break-down of all we know is safe and sure, we discover that it is our partner who has been taking care of our marriage after all. In stretching out of our familiar roles, seeing each other with new eyes we can rebuild a relationship that has collapsed under the heavy weight of our control.

Proust wrote “the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” In the shift of perception, the releasing of our illusions, we see our partner with new eyes. Remember the Na’vi greeting in the movie Avatar? Remember those eyes that said “I see you.”

When we dare to see our partner, extend rather than contract, engage and offer rather than stay stuck in a one-dimensional sitcom, we can risk sharing ourselves more deeply, more honestly, and revel in our aliveness once more.  When we balance with skill and reverence the two basic life forces: individuality and togetherness we can look at our own reflection and ask Who do I want to be?imagesLRZ6JLZG

The Look of Love  Dusty Springfield

 

 

 

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Promises We Keep

imagesV8HRVETEMost of us are risk averse. Our caution may be an evolutionary adaptation that has developed over thousands of years and is hardwired into the ancient cells of our brains. And yet our relationships ripple with words with white wings that carry our hearts on the sweet-scented breeze of hope. In trust there is the gloriousness of feeling in harmony with others as our hopes and wishes align. When promises are broken, our trust tumbles into the lacerating wretchedness of betrayal and disappointment. Our business partner inveigles our money. Our lover leaves us for our best friend. A family member behaves abominably.

A babble of busyness oscillates noisily and drowns out the silence that nourishes discernment and considered response. Too rushed, too distracted to pause, or to consider the impact of our thoughts, or our words before sending them out via disembodied text or social networking sites. We  feel unheard, unvalued in those unguarded, entangled relationships that thread like filaments through the days of our lives.

We’re flippant and glib in our language today. “I’ll get back to you…” or the limp-wristed, “I’ll try to” … impotent projectiles that land without making a single sound. Yet they  twist and tangle thoughts and leave blue bruises on the hearts of those who wait in silence.

imagesPF52O4Y2We trust and yet the only thing we can be really certain of is the inevitability of our own death – and until we have experienced our dying, even that is an uncertainty. So we trust in past lives, or The Angels, or a place called Heaven where we will be greeted by our loved ones … we use talismans to allay our primal terror of annihilation, utter darkness of oblivion.

We will ourselves to trust.  Our trust must withstand the corrosive acid of uncertainty. The alternative is too terrifying in a world that is and perhaps always has been uncertain and precarious.  Writes Thomas Moore, “Imagine a trust in yourself, or another person, or in life itself, that doesn’t need to be proved or demonstrated, that is able to contain uncertainty. People sometimes put their trust in a spiritual leader and are terribly betrayed if that person then fails to live up to ideals. But a real trust of faith would be to decide whether to trust someone, knowing that betrayal is inevitable because life and personality are never without shadow. The vulnerability that faith demands could be matched by an equal trust in oneself, the feeling that one can survive the pain of betrayal.”

imagesUTPHBL1SSo we trust and promise and strengthen our spiritual mettle to withstand the inevitable slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Promise comes from the Latin, pro (forward) and mittere (to send) so as we guarantee, commit, pledge, honour, to send forward our desires or intentions out into the world, we promise. And when we promise we must trust. We trust the child minder to care for our toddler, we trust the mechanic to fix the strange-sounding rattle in our car and the pilot of the plane that transports us across great mountains and fathomless oceans, stitching space into hours and minutes.

Money is a symbol of  promise and trust. We place our trust in stocks and shares, we place our trust in our governments and The Reserve Bank.  In 2007 we trusted the banks to take care of our money.  “Bank notes are simply promises to pay,” says historian Professor Niall Ferguson “Money is only worth what other people will give in exchange for it… lumps of clay, silver coins, it all depends on trust, on confidence. It’s all built on Trust.”

Professor David DeSteno is the author of The Truth About Trust: How It Determines Success in Life, Love, Learning and More writes, At the most basic level, the need to trust implies one fundamental fact: you’re vulnerable. The ability to satisfy your needs or obtain the outcomes you desire is not entirely under your control. . . . Perhaps most pivotally and uncomfortably, however, trust defines our relationship with ourselves – the quality of the inward gaze and the tangle of dignity, anxiety, uncertainty, and conviction with which we hold it.” Trust and Betrayal are bedfellows. When the trust in ourselves tosses and turns on the divided fork of conscience, we sleep fitfully at night.

So when we promise, we commit to action or a new thought. And when we trust, we find our own North Star to guide us – our religious or spiritual beliefs, a world view that offers solace or a sense of meaning, perhaps. Perhaps trust is a gift that is given, never exchanged. We are all connected like precious pearls strung on a thread of trust. And when we trust we take a risk as we enter the portal of another soul-directed experience and gaze inward with the promise to accept with grace and courage, the outcome.imagesIMSTBJR8

Eleanor McEvoy – Promises We Keep

 

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The One I love

images954O6GS6This one goes out to the one I love.

As cloyingly sentimental or overtly commercial as this celebration may seem, Valentine’s Day has survived world wars and financial crashes. It has evolved from rumbustious fertility ritual origins enacted by the Romans. Emerged from the gruesome torture and execution of men we now call saints and martyrs. On February 14th in most places on this earth, millions of people will demonstrate through chocolates, music and flowers, their longing to love and be loved.

Romantic love is celebrated in song and literature. It’s a multi-million dollar Bolly-Hollywood illusion that mirrors our collective longing back to us from the silver screen. The glittering grandeur of star-spangled romance leaves us breathless, aching for more. Love lives in the imaginal realm of our soul. It emboldens and ennobles, plucks us out of our literal life into the full-throated drama of our emotion and our fantasy, flings off our inhibitions, invites us to create a-new.

We’re cautioned that Love is an illusion. I believe that like Santa and the Easter Bunny authentic love comes to only those who truly believe. “Illusion” is derived from the Latin, “in ludere,” which is translated as “in play.” And when our world-weary souls expand in joyful play, our lives are graced with “illusions” that may enfold us and protect us from “reality” which may be a mere stand-in for an authentic life.

imagesP8PZ7MQVScientific research purports that love lies in the brain, not the heart; that lust has lodged in our brains since Pleistocene era. That passion can be measured and scanned. The premise is that love shape-shifts from a coat of many colours into a knobbly old cardigan.

There are theories that suggest it is body odour that draws us to our lovers. That when we fall in love it’s more about fertility – and our collective survival.  So men are drawn to fertile women with perfect waist-to-hip ratios. Women will lust after high testosterone men with angular jaws and wide shoulders. That we fall for healthy symmetrical faces unblemished skin and pouting sexually aroused lips. What airless little boxes we would live in if this were true.

Psychoanalysts have their theories too – when we “let fall our hearts” and tumble into Love’s terrain we enter the domain of lunatics. Those in love have a similar profile to those who suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder, they tell us. Other currently favoured theories suggest we seek to find in our lover what we did not receive in our childhoods. It could be the raise of an eyebrow, his smell, the sound of her voice or the curve of her shoulder. In love we seek the familiar. We nostalgically yearn to reclaim the past … So our adult years are a ceaseless quest to recapture the love and attunement we did not receive from childhood caregivers. So we say we’ve found our soul mate, or met again from a past life. Perhaps we have. There may be a sense of recognition or a soul connection that defies the tick in the box.  Scientists say it is oxytocin, the bonding hormone, that we must honour each wedding anniversary. And this Valentine’s Day, it’s the delicious dopamine drenched cocktail that brings lovers together. So is romantic Love merely a chemical like Prozac? Do we blame dopamine and serotonin for luring us time and time like hapless moths to swoon and die in passion’s flame? It’s the caudate nucleus of the brain that lights us when we fall in love. Or can be something far more mysterious, more nuanced, more subtle? Love opens the windows to those parts of ourselves that may have lain hidden and dusty for decades. It initiates us into the complexities of being human. It anoints us with courage and jealousy. It brings us unexpected endings. It mangles and cracks open our calloused hearts.imagesP1C7LALQ

Love in all its splendid visitations is a Mystery. Can we categorize and quantify and measure Love as our bodies soften and our hearts unfurl in a thousand blossoms? Can we fear that which captivates our soul? Love’s landscape cannot be measured or quantified by the intellect. Its nuances must be imbibed through the heart. Savoured with all the senses. Love cannot be separated from the rich loam of the imagination. And each one of us will experience Love quite differently.

So  expect to be moonstruck by the primrose-coloured light of the full Leo Moon on Valentines’ Day. For those of us who have known even one Great Love this life time… Aren’t we the Lucky Ones?

Rosie Thomas sings enchantingly, the one i loveimagesO0BLJOIQ

 

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Out of Reach

_72148568_9cec5944-2377-4fa5-97ed-deb0a0ca2518Like the shimmering wing of a dragonfly, a sliver of silver juts out of an ancient sea of sand.  It’s the wing of a DC 10 that casts a long shadow across the tawny sand of the Sahara. A delicate silhouette of an aircraft encircled by dark stones and 170 broken mirrors marks the place where the white hot fire of a bomb of terror melted the bodies of 170 men, women and children on September 19th, 1989. It’s where Guillaume Denoix de Saint Marc and others have marked the place where the ones they love have died.

Guillaume was twenty-six years old when his father Jean-Henri boarded the UTA flight 772 in Brazzaville. The flight that never arrived in Paris. For Guillaume and so many others this monument etched across the shifting sands has been a quest for peace and for justice that has consumed eighteen years of his life. As the ghosts of grief haunted him, he lost his business and his marriage. But the memorial to his father and all the others that died then can be seen from Google Earth and from the aircraft that still fly over this vast sea of sand. And although the desert will irrevocably draw into its hot belly the debris of the plane and the 170 broken mirrors, his act of grieving has been given form. Though the pain of loss will be there, I suspect, for as long as he lives.

Closure has been assimilated into the common lexicon. Like the admonishment to “move on” after a devastating divorce or the loss of something we cherish like a precious pearl and keep enclosed in the chambers of our heart. Closure means to bring something to an end. A conclusion. Like lowering a coffin into a grave and shovelling lumps of soil on top. Closure is often accompanied by a gaggle of shoulds and ought-tos that suggest that closure is something we can order like a new app on our iPhone. Closure implies that grief has a time frame, a sell by date.  And that in our grieving, one size fits all.

imagesCA334DAJYet despite our best efforts and our bright smiles, we may find that we can’t fix grief or sew the frayed ends of grief together neatly. We can’t superglue the jagged cracks in our hearts. Grief seeps under the door at anniversaries. And stays over the holidays like an uninvited guest. It makes itself at home when we hear a certain melody or smell a scent that reminds us with a sudden sharp tear at the sutures of time, that our hearts are tattooed. Our loss is indelible. The one we love is out of reach, disincarnate. The only link we have is the silver cord that tugs at our heart. A reminder of what we had, what we lost. The temptation to return to the place of suffering is a siren call, for the rocks are jagged and the waves engulf us and suck us back with the undertow. So we straighten our spines stoically. Or invite Grief in like an old friend to brings us news of the one we love.

Pierre Francois Ikias’s 14-year-old brother Fleury le Prince was on that fated flight. “You wouldn’t have thought that 18 years on, the shock would have been quite so palpable – but when you see the destruction, the pieces of aeroplane scattered around, the seats, the remains of people’s luggage – the emotion grabs you by the throat. Unfortunately my brother’s body was never found, so this journey was my way of grieving. While we were there, one of the drivers of the convoy found a human skull, which we buried on site. For me it really was like saying goodbye and burying my brother.”imagesCAGAMZXV

Says psychologist Stephen Grosz in his book, The Examined Life, “I’ve long thought that Kubler Ross was wrong. The “psychological stages” of dying and grieving are wholly different. For the person who dies there is an end, but this is not so for the person who grieves. The person who mourns goes on living and for as long as he lives there is always the possibility of feeling grief.”

Perhaps part of our experience on this earth is to experience a multitude of emotions. In the turbulence of confusion and the broken shards of loss, the human heart opens into its nobility. This is the potency of the soul’s response to Love.

And yet, for some the only way to lance the boil of grief is to plot our revenge.  To shrink and harden our hating hearts. To get back at those who have harmed us, an eye for an eye. Blindly we stand in the harsh glare of our loss. In our pain we spin the wheel of war, terrorism, holocaust and suffer still.  Revenge is like drinking rat poison and expecting the rat to die, writes novelist Anne Lamott.  It’s a poison that prolongs our agony. Embalms  our grieving. There is no closure in revenge. Peace remains elusive, out of reach.

458015_386439001400355_1291352053_oSays Stephen Grosz, “We want to believe that the clairvoyant can bring our dead back in to the world of the living. Closure is just as elusive – it is the false hope that we can deaden our living grief.”

So in grieving perhaps there is no closure. No great literature, art, or music would exist if it were not for grief and suffering and the transcendent Grace of Love. As we bargain, beg, rage and rail against the brutal inevitability of endings, our wails become poetry and sweet music. The salt from our tears softens our hearts. In our grieving we build a monument to Love.

Gabrielle’s beautiful rendition of Out of Reach

Read the full story about this memorial that can be seen from space.

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