TrueHeartWork | Marion Woodman
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Marion Woodman Tag

Try

eva“You can’t do sweatpants. Ladies, number one cause of divorce in America, sweatpants, no!” This statement apparently “went viral”, or so the friend who tossed this scanty frivolity across cyberspace into my inbox explained. And the purveyor of this relationship advice? Celebrity Eva Mendes. Unmarried. And presumably wearing sweatpants.

My friend was intrigued. Did this mean women who wear sweatpants “let themselves go? And if so, do women who wear sweatpants deserve to lose their husbands?”

It was this conundrum to wear or not to wear sweatpants that got me thinking today. Not about how the media and social networking sites send our serotonin plummeting. Not about the millions of women on this planet who either cannot afford to buy sweatpants or those who are forbidden to wear them. I thought about how we spend our whole lives in search of our uniqueness and yet as little girls we begin to lop off, dislocate, hide away those parts of ourselves that are different. I thought about how we hard we try to conform.

We talk so glibly about being “goddesses”. The pretty ones with long blonde hair. Not those with ravaged faces and hair as tangled as a mango pip.woman driving We talk so glibly about women empowering other women. Yet around boardroom tables, in our schools and universities, in the shaded streets of suburbia and amidst the ceaseless chatter of social networking sites we criticise, complain, control and compare.

We’re hardwired to compare. In western culture this primitive survival default has evolved into competitive comparison. We are initiated in our families of origin by the voices of others who say we are too loud or too big or too greedy. We are told that we must try harder to be more, do more. We endure what Tara Brach calls the “hell realms” of schooling. We learn how to look, how to succeed in certain prescribed ways in order to “fit in”.

As adults we enter the portals of “hell realms” that require us to have certain credentials, to behave in ways that conform to group or company culture. We imbibe injunctions from the world around us and move through our lives in what Tara Brach calls this “Trance of Unworthiness”.

Poet Adrienne Rich once wrote, “Until we know the assumptions in which we are drenched, we cannot know ourselves.”

 

bookOur quest for self-improvement leaves us with an insatiable thirst. We criticise, second-guess, don’t dare to question, to ask ourselves, is this True – for me?

Control. It’s something we are taught early. Our bladders, our anger, our hunger, our fear, our desires… we wrestle with the animal instincts of our bodies, we tame our appetites, we harden the soft roundness of our bellies, flatten ourselves against the struggle of life. We want to belong, so they like us. We try hard, so very hard. And we give it all away.

Author and philosopher, Sam Keen warns, “think of these signs as similar to the warning label on a cigarette package. Caution: these practices may be hazardous to your spiritual heath.”

swan maiden

Most forms of psychotherapy suggest that change is slow and often painful. That it may take us years of silent struggle to untangle the twisted roots of shame and self-loathing that reach through the bleached bones of our ancestors. That we are enslaved by our genetic inheritance.

And yet neuroscience suggests we are growing new neural pathways, re-wiring our brains, continually. We have the ability to visualise outcomes. Change limiting beliefs (and remember that no-one has forced us to believe what hamstrings our joyous movement through life) and chose new beliefs, new stories about our past, our present. Our imaginations are universes of infinite possibility. Metaphysics suggests that change can occur quickly if we revel and delight in the changing circumstances of our lives and befriend our beliefs with kindness and gentleness. If we act “out of character” and embrace our impulses, act as if our beliefs were true in the here and now. Any mantra or affirmation that makes us feel calm and at peace, any thought that feels like an opportunity to learn or experience something new. So, as we journey down this river of life, we dip our school-shaped, society-sculpted oars into the ambiguity of our humanness… perhaps we will see our own reflection and gasp at our own unique magnificence – in sweatpants.

 

 

With thanks to Nedra Fetterman for sending me the link to Colbie Caillat’s – Try

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Ash and Clay

images7DLRNA8RIt emerges like the first shy blush of the dawn. It sparkles, pinned to the luminous breast of the new moon. It arrives quite suddenly and unannounced, concealed in a swirl of dry wind that scatters a shroud of ash over our life as we knew it. It blinds us in the glare of a nuclear sky.

After years of “quiet desperation” we encounter the One who makes us feel alive, young again. A new love, bright with promise. We laugh and we dream again. In the eyes of our Lover, in the sweet swoon of his kiss we relax and gratefully fall into the unknown.  And in the delicious freedom of our free falling, we swing the wrecking ball through the shiny veneer of our marriage and watch as it swings in slow motion across the boxed up hopes and black bags of  disappointment.

“Finding ourselves” may leave a trail of destruction as sharp and black as obsidian.  Many of us will confront a terrifying Goliath who darkens the sky, throws his head back and laughs at our puny efforts. Standing small in his giant shadow we begin to wonder and doubt. Will we even like this Self we seek? Will be brave and strong enough to slough off the old ways, leave it all behind?  Who are we, anyway? A chimera? An ever-changing evolving experiencing of change and flux, decay and re-birth?

Most of us will meet the ambiguity and paradox within ourselves as it is mirrored back at us in our relationships. Most of us will wander through a labyrinth of contradictions where nothing stays the same and the relationship to ourselves, to our world, is constantly recreated.dancing_feet_by_lucidcarbon-d303tqs

Experimental philosopher Joshua Knobe asks us to  imagine what things are going to be like in 30 years. In 30 years, there’s going to be a person around who you might normally think of as you — but that person is actually going to be really, really different from you in a lot of ways. Chances are, a lot of the values you have, a lot of the emotions, a lot of the beliefs, a lot of the goals are not going to be shared by that person. So, in some sense you might think that person is you, but is that person really you?”

Neale Donald Walsch cautions that we “avoid the tendency to catastrophize.” That we stop worrying about all that could occur tomorrow, things that may never happen. And yet as we stand on the precipice of a life-changing choice and our hands are shaking and our hearts flutter and beat against the cage of our lives like the wings of a trapped bird, we do worry. It is part of our humanness to fret and to worry. We are hardwired to ask,  “what if ?” The impulse to “find ourselves” to “become” more than we are is the antithesis to “being in the now.” It strains against the shackles of obligation. It chaffs and frets as it paces round the constricting circles of daily routine.

images3ROV0UJNThe Complexity Theory proposes that our lives will eventually erupt into chaos before they settle back into a state of equilibrium.  And the longer we have chosen to stay in the gridlock of statis, the more violent and powerful the volcanic eruption may be.  Often we cling to the flimsy remnants of what was. We may leave an abusive and painful relationship and yet grieve its loss, even yearn to go back to the way things once were. We may leave a job, move to another city, end a friendship, and in our dreams and in the heavy ache in our heart, we always go back. In our grieving we are flung into turmoil, we feel we may drown in ocean of tears. We behave strangely; we try to delay our evolution through bargaining. We repress our grief or anxiety with medication, distractions and substitutes. We find comfort in the immobilised state that embalms us in the numbing ointment of our unhappiness.  And the longer we resist the longer we spin in every decreasing circles into the vortex of our re-birthing.

!cid_E11569390AA840BFB034316893AAE6D5@bells3PCLeaving Home is an archetypal experience. In myth and fairy tale, the hero who leaves his father’s house to journey through the wild woods must slay dragons, endure physical and spiritual deprivation, must wear the shirt of arrows in his struggle to fulfil his Fated quest.  As we separate from the matrix of our society, or  our  family, or uncouple from a relationship that no longer nourishes our spirit, we will discover those parts of ourselves we have buried long ago: our feelings, our gifts. what it is that we truly value. Like our original separation from our mother’s womb we must all face loss of innocence as we gain new experience in this earthly life. We  will bask in the warmth of love and suffer in the wasteland of betrayal. We will experience conflict and we will struggle as we taste the forbidden fruit and swoon in its sweetness.

 

Psychology is only now acknowledging what the astrologers have known for eons: in our struggle to bring back the lost pieces of ourselves are lives are often fragmented into chaos. We are propelled into a maelstrom of grief which shocks, terrifies and awakens us, so that we may sail to new world. Our hero’s journey towards individualisation may take many forms and come at different  astrological cycles in our lives. Loss and patient repair work are the warp and weft of the rich tapestry of life.“Through failures, symptoms, problems, we are prodded to renounce attachments, redundant now. With the breakdown of what has gone before, the possibility of rebirth comes,”  writes Marilyn Woodman.

Our inner call to renounce old ways, old attachments, carries with it no guarantee. We will walk through the vale of tears  and perhaps never find our Belonging.  Yet as Socrates said unequivocally, “the unexamined life is not worth living.”  Our our soul’s purpose is to experience. And there are no Rights or Wrongs.  So often it is when we are sinking that we discover Who we truly are. When we can lift ourselves above the mortal realm and see our journey as a soul contract or an archetypal voyage of self – discovery we will be prepared for our journey. The sea will be dangerous. Clouds the colour of burnt bone will crush out the light of the sun. The  dark undertow will suck and pull at our little boat. And in the whirlwind and in the lashing rain we will meet our Divinity.

Australian poet andcartoonist, Michael Leunig, offers us the blessing of this poignant prayer:images2GSHA9GS

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 …
Milk Carton Kids – Ash and Clay

 

 

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Skyfall

This is the end. Hold your breath and count to ten … This portentous year of 2012 has been a shamanic journey of self-growth and spiritual home-coming for many on this planet. For some this has been a sky fall year where things “happened out of the blue.” Our bodies once robust and infallible began to falter. Our relationships demanded more honesty, more compassion. Our work brought us gifts of humility and gratitude, or a firm conviction that we must remove ourselves from a toxic environment. For millions on this planet, 2012 offered no choice. No time for self-reflection. No peace or contentment. As we approach the solstice many of us may feel, as Marion Woodman says, “dragged towards wholeness”.

We speak lightly, foolishly, of change and “transformation” as if it was a Gok Wan make-over. Trans-formation is a radical changing of form.  A literal or metaphorical process of dying. And transformation involves the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  “Most of us can only let so much go at a time,” says Woodman.

This is the end. The mid-summer or mid-winter Solstice 2012 marks a zero point as the sun ingresses into the sign of Capricorn 11:15:25 AM in Greenwich, England and at other times in other places all over the world. Collectively we stand at the door of the sweat lodge where we must sit in the heat of global warming, the discomfort of overpopulation. Collectively we must heed the final drum beat of a way of life that will and must change irrevocably.  There is a sense of “Fatedness” about the GMT chart for this solstice. Jupiter (signifying Faith, Hope, Belief, and a sense of  Expansion), Saturn in Scorpio and Pluto in Capricorn (herculean systemic breakdown, a kind of cosmic colonic irrigation) form a YOD which is also called “The Finger of Fate” or “The Finger of God”. Jupiter is at the focal point of this YOD. It is the signal for inevitable change and transformation to occur in the outworn structures of our civilization.

The sun will rise on December 22nd 2012.   The sky will not fall down chicken-licken. Our computers will not crash. There will be no cataclysmic ending. Just another turn in the great wheel of the year.

The Maya apparently called this day “Creation Day’. Author of the Gaia Hypothesis, Peter Russell writes,”rather than a precise date on which major changes happen, I see 2012 as the temporal epicentre of a cultural earthquake.”

 The skyscript fortells of profound and inevitable change, which will be fiercely resisted by many who cling like bloated ticks to power, gorging on greed. Pluto will be uncompromising and relentless in breaking down what is no longer necessary to our personal and collective evolution.  By December 2014, Saturn will bring to the surface all that is darkly hidden in our lives personally and globally. The square between the Sun and Uranus in this chart heralds radical change, upheaval and liberation from the old ways. The Moon makes a separating square from Pluto. We are living at the end of an epoch. The dark hyperbole of the apocalyptic prophecies terrify.  They cut close to the bone. We are entering an age of breakdown of hoary old structures, outmoded beliefs.

This is the end of verdant girdles of rainforest. This is the end for wildlife that follow ancient migratory routes now barred by barbed wire fences and the splattered spread of concrete cities.  This is the end for the Sumatran tiger, the Vaquita porpoise, the Javan and African Rhino. This is the end for the polar bear. This is the end for the ancient amphibians. This is the beginning of the end of life as we know it. We stand on the brink as individuals. As a species. As sea levels rise, a mass extinction of as high as 90 percent of our earth’s creatures, writes Mark Lynas in Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet. Global temperatures will be hotter than they have been for the last 50 million years.  Most of southern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East will be uninhabitable. Millions of men, women and children will migrate in great masses in search of food, water and lebensraum.  Perhaps “this  is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper,” as TS Eliot wrote starkly and with chilling prophecy in The Hollow Men.

“We have passed a critical threshold”, a new report from accountancy firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers states. “Even doubling our current rate of decarbonisation would still lead to emissions consistent with 6 degrees C of warming by the end of the century.” This report urges radical transformation in the global economy. Rapid implementation of renewable energy. A halt on deforestation and industrial emissions. Now.

On December 21st 2012, many will gather together in prayer or meditation. And for millions on this planet, the solstice of 2012 will be just another day. Unless we all choose differently. We may not individually be able to halt industrial emissions or stop the slaughter of the rhino, or the melting of the polar ice caps. Our urgent task now is to Love and to Be Loved. To walk lightly on this beautiful planet. To honour all living things. We cannot afford the luxury of negativity and scepticism. We will simply have to “pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off… and start all over again.”  Living our lives more consciously.   “It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth – and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up that we will begin to live each day to the fullest as if it was the only one we had,” wrote Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. We all have a limited time on this earth, collectively and personally. Our Faith (Jupiter ) will be our only solace and ultimate salvation. 

So at this sacred portal. This turning point in the great wheel of the year let us take a moment to be still and to listen to the bird song. Let us breathe in Hope. Let us open our hearts to give and receive Love. Let us feel the heartbeat of Mother Earth and allow our own hearts to beat in unison. We are stardust. We are of the same essence as this earth, this boundless universe. We are witnessing the death of the old, the birth of the new.

This is the end. And the beginning.

The inimitable Adele’s incomparable voice soars above the haunting lyrics of Skyfall.  This is the signature song that frames the 23rd Bond movie, and a powerful anthem to herald the End Times.

 

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Whisper a prayer to the moon

Our creativity is the full expression of Who we are. It unfurls, like the rainbow-coloured tail of a kite on a windy day. It arcs through the clear blue skies of our imagination. It soars to distant galaxies. It whispers a prayer to the Moon.

Yet so many of us give up on ourselves so easily. Our inner critic curls her lips and whispers, “what a stupid idea” when we believe six impossible things before breakfast. As we hop-skip along the stanzas of a poem and turn cartwheels across the notes of a melody, we stop, suddenly, foolish.  Then she says a little more sternly, “and just who do you think you are?” Awkward. Self-conscious, we judge and condemn ourselves to a life behind the bars of our meticulously constructed prison cells. Perhaps we blame the gaoler husband. Perhaps it is the ailing parent, the needy child, the punishing work schedule that keeps us securely padlocked, safe from our spontaneity, our joy. Pablo Picasso once said that “Every child is an artist; the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.”  Jung spoke of the “Divine Child” archetype, “the child is that which brings the light into the darkness and carries the light before it.”  Emmet Fox mentioned “The Wonder Child” – the true self, the Child that lives within each one of us that beckons us to spiritual regeneration. The Wonder Child archetype represents our soul’s yearning for trans-formation.  It manifests as the sense of wonder, the awe that we feel when we look upon something greater than ourselves. The magic of believing, with unwavering certainty that miracles do happen. That everything will be alright in the end. It manifests in our delight as we follow a silvery snail trail that meanders across a dewy lawn to the fairy toadstools at the bottom of the garden; when we gaze in awe at the Milky Way. For so many of us The Wonder Child is an infant in exile, banished from our adult lives. Says Marion Woodman “As long as we are determined to move at our swift, logical pace, our child remains hidden. The soul-bird put away in a dark box in childhood needs time, needs silence to learn to trust again.”  In the clatter of our over-scheduled lives, we fear our little soul-bird’s joyful song; we shy from the exuberance of our scarlet creativity.

The 17th century heralded a new evolutionary blooming on the World Tree. In the West, the Age of Reason – the Age of Rationalism – ushered in a philosophy that snuffed out the belief in miracles and wonder; relegated the “unseen” and the “mysterious” to the slag heap. The “irrational” was feared, trivialised, disowned. Science became the new religion. For almost 500 years, The Wonder Child lived and played with  musicians, performers, poets, and painters. He lived in myths and fairy tales – the hero, the baby in the manager, The Little Prince. Collectively, we internalised the concept of the suffering artist. The creative person who carried the success and the failure of his or her own endeavours utterly alone. This heavy burden  crushed the creative life force from those who embody The Muse.  Keats, Byron, Plath, Jonker, Joplin, Winehouse … crumpled wings, broken bodies piled high upon the funeral pyre of creative genius.

Is this a symptom of the hubris that lifts us on feather and wax wings that melt as we fly too close to the Sun? Do we carry the Collective Wonder Child on our shoulders, stagger under the weight of our divine burden? Must we, like the wretched Eve, be condemned by a misogynistic psychopath god who proclaims spitefully, “I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy, and in pain you will give birth.” Must we perish as we give birth to our creative progeny?

Carl Rogers and a team of psychologists made a study of the dynamics of creativity. The consensus would certainly not surprise a pre-schooler: the necessary ingredients were playfulness, spontaneity, the ability to be present, to live in the now, the ability to focus, a sense of wonder and the capacity to be one’s own “locus” of evaluation – to delight in what you have made. A tough call for the fragile psyche to straddle the magical, imaginal realm and the insatiable demands of a material world where we are only as good as our last offering on the altar of creativity. We speak of creative blocks. Resting actors. We silence the baying voices in our own heads with narcotics, alcohol. We open the door of the gas oven. To be playful, spontaneous, present, focused. To delight in what we have produced. A tough call when the rent is due and we must chop wood carry water. Not always easy when our teenager stays out all night drinking, when our father is ailing. Not always easy when we move through the lunar cycles of our relationships.

The ancient Greeks had Nine Muses, each one a chthonic divinity who bestowed in-spiration upon mere mortals – poetry, art, music, astronomy, and writing. The ancient Romans called upon The Genius. Author Elizabeth Gilbert proposes that we do not have to internalise the Muse. We do not have to live anxious, tortured lives. We do not need to self-destruct as we race after our Wonder Child.  If, like the Greeks and Romans, we allow the anthropomorphic goddesses to bring us inspiration– from afar – we can remain mortals, not custodians, not neurotic wanna-be gods or goddesses. Not Wonder Children – 24-7.

To restore the Natural Order, these magical divinities must remain in their sacred groves. They must dwell at the crystal clear springs of prophecy. They must inhabit the walls of our work places. They may inspire us from afar. All we must do is show up when they call.

Says Elizabeth Gilbert, “Just do your job. Do your dance. If you glimpse some kind of wonderment just for a few moments… ‘Ole!’ to you, just for having the sheer human love and stubbornness to keep showing up.”

Art by Kay Nielson. Out flew the Moon.

Eleanor McEvoy – Whisper a Prayer to the Moon.

My darling, my darling

So crazy, so charming

It’s just that it happened too soon

But I send you my wishes

My hugs and my kisses

And whisper a prayer to the moon

 

 

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The Unforgiven Ones

“I’ve just had a shouting match with my ex-husband!” laments a dear friend. “Completely lost my cool. Regressed into a screaming three-year old!” As we stand in the light, we cast a long shadow. For so many of us who strive to live consciously, it comes as a shock when an event, a “chance meeting” with a former partner, a blow-up with a family member, exposes those orphaned parts of ourselves: the arrogance, irresponsibility, the greed, and the violence we disown in ourselves. Our shadow resides in the aching back, the stiff knees, the gnawing rat in our stomach. It lurks in what we idealise, or what repels us, in others. Our shadow holds a vast ocean of energy, which crashes through the containment of the harbour walls. We practice random acts of kindness, yet cannot bear to be in the same room as the one who hurt us so badly all those years ago. Gandhi said that forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. And time after time, we find we are not strong at all. We can hardly bear the weight of our own weakness. Catherine Ponder, author and minister, writes, “when you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.”

We cannot bridle this dark energy, curb it’s wildness with whip and spurs. We must approach carefully, with respect. If we lock it away in a stable, it will kick down the door when we least expect it. And yet, ride it we must. How can we ever be intimate with another if we do not ride on the same black steed as Mephostopheles?

Taking our “power back” has become the catch-phrase of the self-absorbed 21st Century. What is this “power” we are urged to take back? The Latin word for power or force is vis. The vis, the living force, we now call energy, is also the urgent thrust of our life force – All that we are. Our Light. Our Shadow. We cannot eradicate, repress the vis of the soul. It will find its way up to the light. And our ostracised collective repressions materialise as missiles, gunmen, wars. Then, something, someone, pushes our lethally destructive “button”. Detonates the bomb of unforgiveness we have secreted in the dim-lit arsenal of our very own psyche.

Many therapists urge their patients to express their anger. In astrology, our libido, life force, anger, is the province of the god of war, Mars. We all have Mars in our birth charts. For so many of us with Mars in fixed signs or a challenged Mars,  the act of forgiveness may be harder, take longer. We may never be ready to release it in this lifetime, and there is no right or wrong in this decision to hold on if we cannot bear the freedom of letting go. It is when we overlook, dishonour our Mars that we consciously or unconsciously embark on a painful struggle. Like Love, Forgiveness is a conscious, choice. “The act of forgiveness takes place in our own mind. It really has nothing to do with the other person,” says Louise Hay.  Ultimately, it is up to each one of us to set ourselves free from our own painful hold on the one who has wronged us.

Therapy, forgiveness workshops, rituals can all be helpful. Setting boundaries, a time limit each day initially for our grief and anger. Not allowing it to spill over and pollute our lives, blacken the future. One antidote against the poison of our dark thoughts is the simplicity of gratitude. Committing to writing a daily dozen opens the bud of a new consciousness. The practice of  ho’oponopono, is a practical way to forgive and cleanse clinging thoughts that make us literally or metaphorically ill. Only we can choose to see our enemy with compassionate eyes. This does not mean condoning or agreeing with their behaviour. This does mean acknowledging that there are no mistakes and that there is always a new birth in the chaos of destruction.

If we trust the healing process, dedicate time to be aware of our thoughts, our actions to witness the metaphors in our dreams, our lives will flow into new experiences, new learning, new ways of being, beyond our imagining. Says Marion Woodman: “The Self pushes the neglected forward for recognition. Do not disregard it. It holds energy of highest value. It is the gold in the dung. Do not disregard the dung.” It is very difficult to be judgemental of anything outside ourselves once we recognise that what we loathe in the other resides within ourselves. Only we can use the dung in our lives to fertilise a spring garden where fragrant blossoms of forgiveness bloom.

Crash Test Dummies – The Unforgiven Ones

 

 

 

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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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