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Rumi Tag

dance 21

Basic Instinct

Jupiter in Scorpio—October 10, 2017 to November 8, 2018

butterfly_ashevilleJupiter crosses into Scorpio on October 10, 2017, and swims through Scorpio’s dark waters until November 8, 2018.

Words like optimism, abundance, “good luck”, generosity and excess cling to Jupiter’s corpulent mass. In Scorpio’s frozen waters, quick-fixes and cheery New Age platitudes just won’t stick. Jupiter in Scorpio amplifies our preoccupation with those things that prefer the cover of darkness: Sex, the use and the misuse of power, the criminal underworld, in-depth psychology and death.

In Scorpio we confront our sex drive, rampant or dormant, and genital brute force—rape, violent pornography, fetishes that go way beyond kinky experimentation, and adultery. In Scorpio we confront issues of trust and betrayal. This month, as Jupiter crosses the line, sex therapist Esther Perel releases her new book on sexual transgression—The State of Affairs. Drs. John and Julie Gottman use their Trust Revival Method to champion couples after the rupture of adultery.

The word, Adultery comes from Latin meaning “to pollute, or corrupt.” With Jupiter in Scorpio we must ask ourselves penetrating questions—what is polluted? Trust? Ownership? A vow or a covenant?

“There is some kiss we want with our whole lives,” wrote Rumi. It may take the sweet kiss of just one person to awaken us from our slumber. It may take the catalyst of an affair to expose the cracks in the chalice of our marriage. The tender memory of the lover’s embrace may bruise our skin for years to come, long after the albatross of the affair has been killed and thrown into the ocean depths. Poet Mary Oliver wrote about the affair her life partner, Molly Malone Cook, had just before they met— “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.”

78d7c9801a2c0b64d5b70dd87814e6f4Sexual intimacy reveals our deepest vulnerabilities and ardent longings. Sex is more than an exchange of body fluids with Jupiter in Scorpio’s realm.

Jupiter expands our wanting and our longing. What have we  been settling for?  In committed partnerships it may be missing passion, mediocre sex. The energy of Scorpio requires uncompromising depth and true intimacy that can only be achieved with wisdom.

As we arrive at the crossroads of choice, do we risk all for passion, adventure, the unknown, when the rugged terrain of a long relationship has been charted, cohabited? Jupiter’s 13-month passage through Scorpio offers us a deadly serious choice: Do we risk it all to leap like a salmon over the rocks, tumble up waterfalls following our instincts as a new impetus of growth calls us to swim as if our life depends on it. And it often does.

If we’re the one that leaves, our parting of ways will involve a dismemberment of the life we knew. An annihilation of our old self. There will be dark nights when we wake with fear gnawing through our belly. Jupiter in Scorpio will bring the flotsam and jetsam of our lives to the shore of consciousness; are we willing to sift with reverence along the tidal zone ?

ff16e95348c6e06bbb4bb7392ea22a37Self-growth is seldom as simple as leaving the husk of a desiccated relationship, changing jobs, walking the Camino, or falling in love with someone new. It’s an arduous task, which requires endurance… and courage. Unless we’re willing to look honestly at ourselves, merely switching partners will bring us back to the same issues we tried to escape from with our previous partner, often leaving us marooned, stripped of our innocence. But if we are conscious and serious about the tugging at our hearts, there are rich lessons in each new relationship, as we retrieve the long-buried parts of ourselves.

Jupiter intensifies and distills our urgent wanting. We desire quality, not wasteful quantity. Clarissa Pinkola Estés writes, “One of the most important discriminations we can make in this matter is the difference between things that beckon to us and things that call from our souls. Nowhere can this be seen more clearly than in the choice of mates and lovers. A lover cannot be chosen a la smorgasbord. A lover has to be chosen from soul-craving. To choose just because something mouth-watering stands before you will never satisfy the hunger of the soul-self. And that is what the intuition is for; it is the direct messenger of the soul.”

dance 10When, at last, we come to trust our own instincts, hear and respect our own voices, feel valuable enough to touch that fertile, erotic, vulnerable part of our self, buried beneath the sediments of cultural conditioning, we dare to risk bursting into blossom.

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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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Guardian

twin pencilsWe say we want peace on earth. We want wars and genocide to end. We say we want forests to grow and rivers to run with sweet water. We say we want to watch our children play. A Course In Miracles says, just like a sunbeam can’t separate itself from the sun, and a wave can’t separate itself from the ocean, we can’t separate ourselves from one another. We are all part of a vast sea of love, one indivisible Divine Mind.”

We know this in the deep stillness at the Centre of our Beingness. And then we fall asleep once more to waken to the savagery and tragedy in the offices of satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo and brutal scapegoating of Raif Badawi.

We’re crucified by polarity, still living in the tribal mind that acts out of scarcity and survival. Still demands an eye for an eye, a precious life for a precious life that must be weighed in the bloodied scales of blind belief or castrated custom. The ponderous form of Pluto’s slow transit through Capricorn will bring the darkness of our personal and Collective Shadow into form: Stasi States, the Cyclops eye of Big Brother, the silent trawling through great lakes of data by Google and Facebook, the porous walls of private chat rooms.don't speak

Religious oppression, where human dignity, creativity, uniqueness and freedom of expression cower in the shadows. Where whistle-blowers like Edward Snowden and Julian Paul Assange are silenced. Where Raif Badawi faces, what astrologer and blogger, Joanna Watters calls “barbaric consequences” for his thoughts and words which challenge the tribal mind and threaten the status quo.

Bruce Lipton writes in his book, The Honeymoon Effect,  “There is a fundamental biological imperative that propels you and every organism on this planet to be in a community, to be in relationship with other organisms. Whether you’re thinking about it consciously or not, your biology is pushing you to bond. In fact, the coming together of individuals in community (starting with two) is a principle force that drives biological evolution.”

And yet how are we bonding? Are we seeing without sight, hearing without ears when we grip so tightly to our need to be right?

We all see the world differently. Or we like to think that we do. It depends on which lenses we choose to wear. And it depends on how we wear the lenses that are chosen for us.

“Some toxic co-authors live in our world, and others live in our minds,” writes clinical neuropsychologist Mario Martinez in his book, The MindBody Code.Discarding toxic co-authors involves both literal and figurative action.”

 imagesCA3M04XGNelson Mandela said, “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” Tolstoy believed that if only we managed to see through our superficial differences and our fear of the other’s otherness, we’d recognize instantly the universe’s basic “law of love”. It is something to which we are born and attuned, only to forget as we enter adulthood; until we choose, consciously to question, to let go of our learned bias and to see in the other their differentness, even as they brush against our tender places.

Where and how will we be the Guardians of each other’s hearts? How do we demonstrate by our words our actions, Tolstoy’s “law of love”? How can we be the Presence, the Peace, the Generosity we want to see in this world, if not by daily remembrances, daily demonstrations of Grace, of compassion for ourselves and all other sentient beings?

How do we guard ourselves from slipping into the stagnant mire of old thinking without sitting back and saying, it’s just human nature, or more eloquently, the real problem is in the heart of man? Where do we draw the line, erect the wall, raise the drawbridge in this permeable, digital world, stripped bare of mystery, bleached of nuance, devoid of dappled delights, empty spaces, pauses in the bustle of busyness? How do we become Guardians of boundaries when our primitive impulse is to become ensnared in hot-blooded, self-righteous outrage at a world where insanity postures as politics and madness dons the cloak of religion?

irish landscapePerhaps we can be vigilant of our own energy leaks, the thoughts that fly like stealth missiles towards nations or leaders who provide a convenient hook for our own Shadow, our own primitive survival impulses which feed on fear and superstition, good and bad, them and us.

For me, it is the poets, the artists, the musicians who live among us who dust our dull minds and open our blackened hearts with the shimmering sparkle of their Divine Vision. 13th-century Islamic scholar, poet and visionary,Rumi writes in this exquisite verse from Wetness and Water:

How does a part of the world leave the world?
How can wetness leave water?

Do not try to put out a fire
by throwing on more fire.
Do not wash a wound with blood.

No matter how fast you run,
your shadow more than keeps up.
Sometimes it’s in front.

Only full, overhead sun
diminishes your shadow.

But that shadow has been serving you.
What hurts you blesses you.
Darkness is your candle.
Your boundaries are your quest.”hearts_2057988a

 

 

 

Three Hearts – Benetton. Photograph by Oliviero Toscani

 

Alanis Morissette – Guardian

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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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Be Careful of my Heart

After the initial parabola of passion, affairs can be a descent into hell. A roller-coaster ride that skewers our heart. Scalds us with guilt and grief in the after-shock of transcendent bliss. In virtually every marriage code in virtually every society, adultery is unequivocally prohibited. In ancient Babylonia, punishment was death by drowning. And incredibly, in many places today, the perpetrators of this dastardly crime against the laws of man are flogged – 100 stripes, or stoned to death. For millions more, the punishment is divorce, financial ruin, loss of their children, ostracism from their families, or worst of all,  the solemn burial of their authentic feelings, and their true selves deep within a life of quiet desperation. Increasingly in these financially austere times estranged couples rattle about in the empty shell of their marriage because of the mortgage repayments. Some stick it out for the sake of the children, the elderly parents, blocking their ears to the silent scream of indifference which brutalises the soul. The tender memory of the lover’s embrace bruises the skin for years to come, long after the albatross of the affair has been killed and thrown into the ocean depths.

Adultery comes from Latin which means to pollute, or corrupt.”  What is polluted? Trust? Ownership?

“Morality is a human creation. The Universe does not judge,” says Gary Zukav.

The psychological view sounds more like a laboratory study of Planet of the Apes. Therapists, like little boys, pull the legs off butterflies, break things into smaller and smaller pieces so that they can see how they work. Marriage counsellors urge couples to “work harder” at their relationships; they come up with strategies, hormones, and formulae to fit the  broken pieces together again. In her book Adultery, Louise DeSalvo comments, “ perhaps adultery makes evolutionary sense: perhaps it is a pesky way our species guarantees its survival.” David Barash, in The Myth of Monogamy proposes, “ When it comes to human beings, there’s absolutely no question about monogamy being natural. It’s not. The male’s goal is to make sure his genes live on and therefore he sets out to fertilize as many females as possible. Women, on the other hand, spend nine months pregnant and then have to care for their children. So it’s in the interest of the woman to find one man who will stay with her, or at least help her take care of her offspring, and some might argue that the man is preferably wealthy or powerful. Females, by nature, are choosier and less opportunistic.” 

If only it were that simple. So often, in Love, the dots don’t join. Like the waxing and the waning of the moon, the human heart has phases of light when we turn to face the full magnificence of the sun; times of darkness, as we enfold the mystery of our passion close to our breast. There’s no book of rules, no etiquette to guide us through the perilous seas of Love. Do we throw everything away if Love comes knocking at the door, splintering our hearts, battering down the walls of the life we have built so carefully? Do we risk all for passion, adventure, the unknown, when the rugged terrain of a long relationship has been charted, co-habited. Do we stay, knowing there will always be more soul work, more growth work, as we grind away the sharp edges? Do we fall from the trapeze if there are no waiting hands to catch us? Do we encounter the paradox of forbidden Love, swooning as our hearts sweeten with joy while our minds crucify us between the thieves of Shame and Sorrow? If we’re the one that leaves, our parting of ways will involve a dismemberment of the life we knew. An annihilation of our old self. There will be dark nights when we wake with fear gnawing through our belly.

It is worse to stay where one does not belong at all than to wander about lost for a while and looking for the psychic and soulful kinship one requires”, says Clarissa Pinkola Estes. At some time or another, we will come to the crossroads of choice, and the awakening of consciousness. So do we hone what we have into what our heart longs for? Do we differentiate, individuate, heal our childhood hunger … if we can’t be with the one we love, do we love the one we’re with?  Or do we risk it all to leap like a salmon over the rocks, tumble over waterfalls following our instincts as a new impetus of growth calls us up to swim as if our life depends on it. And it does.

There is some kiss we want with our whole lives,” said Rumi.  Some of us may search for that kiss through our adolescence, our experimental twenties, and often turbulent thirties. We stuff the anger, the longing deep down.  Numb our longing with the busy-ness of life. Is this as good as it gets, we ask ourselves, filling the hole in our heart with longer hours at the computer, the gym, the office, or another glass of wine when we get home.

It may take the catalyst of an affair to expose the cracks in the chalice of our marriage. It may take the sweet kiss of just one person to awaken us from our slumber. And one day, we take the risk…

Re-birthing our souls is never as simple as leaving the husk of a desiccated relationship, changing jobs, walking the Camino, or falling in love with someone new. It is an arduous task, which requires endurance… and courage. Unless we’re willing to look honestly at ourselves, merely switching partners will bring the same issues we tried to escape from with our previous partner, often leaving us marooned, stripped of our innocence. But if we are conscious, and serious about the tugging at our hearts, there are rich lessons in each new relationship, as we retrieve the long-buried parts of ourselves — our passion, our sensuality, our joy — our deceitful, destructive  Shadow.

When, at last, we come to trust our own instincts, hear and respect our own voices, feel valuable enough to touch that fertile, erotic, vulnerable part of our self, buried beneath the sediments of cultural conditioning and wipe the sleep from our own eyes, we dare to risk bursting into blossom.

Our choices in love are sacred. Authentic love feels like a reunion, recognition, and if our ways must part, the love we once shared remains, all-ways.

Painting by Frida Kahlo

Tracy Chapman

You and your sweet smile
You and all your tantalizing ways
You and your honey lips
You and all the sweet things that they say
You and your wild wild ways
One day you just up and walked away

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The Wind of Change

We cannot ignore the wind of change that is blowing across the world right now.  We are living at a tipping point of turbulence and transformation that will test our spiritual mettle. Pluto and Uranus, harbingers of metamorphosis, square one another once more – as they did in the 1930s when our world was darkened by the impending devastation of a second world war. The counter culture and awakening of the 60s, set against the template of a conjunction of Pluto and Uranus in Virgo, is fermenting. We cannot ignore the wind of change that demands that we all  commit to own roles as supporting actors on the stage of this collective drama. As the tempest rends the veil of illusion from our eyes and shakes us from our self-absorbed, self-serving Western mantra of ME, we will hear the fierce rattle at the windows of economies and governments. We will witness the annihilation of the tenuous structures in our own lives. These winds that shake the barley may blast us from the echo chamber of our minds, unstop our ears, open our hearts. As Einstein said, “no problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”  Now more than ever we require a new dimension to our consciousness, a new way of Being in a world where nothing is certain.

Most of us know that the external props in our lives are as flimsy as straws when the wild wind blows. The real battle is not outside ourselves, but within our own soul, and Guidance is there during times of trauma and times of calm, if only we will be still and listen. The Fear that blocks our path may in reality cloak our greed, our vanity, our laziness, our resistance to grow.  We may come to a point in our lives when we hunger for more than external insignia of  status or a flimsy sense of our own power. The savage grace of a devastating illness, a crisis of loss may be the hallowed moment of our own personal Truth. In the 1200s, an Islamic scholar, Jalal ad-Din Rumi spoke for an inner jihad, not a war against the infidel, but a struggle against the ego. Nothing and everything has changed.

To live authentically in this new world, we  will require grit and integrity and the spiritual strength to hold the tension of opposites. Acknowledging, not disowning, or allowing someone else to carry for us our neurosis, our vulnerability, our pettiness, our greatness. Holding the paradox that is our humanness, within a new framework. We cannot reach the soul through the intellect. Our quest is to dismantle the “I”. To enter, as the Spanish mystic, Teresa of Avila, who lived in the burning times of The Inquisition (1500s) said:  “let us remember that within us there is a palace of immense magnificence”. The soul is in us, it surrounds us.  Yet, one of the disadvantages in living in this modern age of “reason” is that intellect functions with logic, bottom-line analysis, research, spread sheets, strategy, right and wrongs. The intellect seeks solutions, wants results that are measurable.  And the soul’s subtle song cannot be heard in the babble of the mind – it speaks to us in parables, metaphor, dreams and fleeting impressions, that float  far from the constraints of cause and effect – beyond the borders of  “hard work”, outcome based goal setting. The soul does not dwell in the house of Fairness or Reason. It resides in the Mansion of Mystery. We are living in Mysterious times.  Jung said that the anima was the face of the soul. She was the Feminine, the vessel of Mystery, the antithesis of logic.  Many mysteries are beyond the limit of Reason. They cannot withstand the scrutiny of the curiosity or dissection.

So when we empty ourselves of who we are not, release the need to hide behind a bogus self, the Light pours in to the hollow chambers and infuses us with feminine creativity. When we dwell in the realm of soul ful ness, we are in our dharma, the natural order of things. We are being who we truly are, with no masks, no artifice. As we open our hearts, calm our minds, become more grounded,  more sensitive and sure of Who we are… we will dance like dervishes in the vortex of the wild wind. Celebrate as it howls at the doors and rattles the windows of our lives.

“The future’s in the air
I can feel it everywhere
Blowing with the wind of change…”

Scorpions  – Wind Of Change

Artwork by Keith Burnett

 

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Wishin and Hopin

So often our approach to Love reflects the narcissism of our attention deficit times. We yearn to meet our soul mate, “The One” who will instantly ease our ache for intimacy, breathe hotly on the dim embers of our libido. We search for our soul mate who will share our interests, hear us, hold us, make us feel alive, young, bright  and beautiful again. We encounter our soul mates in the first rush and blissful fusion of romantic love. That feeling that we have met before, that we are meant for each other. We return, innocent again, to The Garden of Unlimited Possibilty. A soul mate is defined as a person for whom one has a deep affinity, especially a lover, wife, husband – The World English Dictionary. This deep affinity awakens us from our slumber when we  fall in love. When the shaken-not-stirred heady cocktail of chemicals bursts like champagne bubbles in our brains as we delight in the beauty of The Other; recognise the Divinity in ourselves. We  float weightlessly, deliciously, in the amniotic warmth of our Return.

As a foundation for a lasting relationship, the drunken intoxication of meeting a soul mate is a Grace-filled initiation into the art of Love. And yet those of us who have endured times of travail on the long and often rough road of a committed relationship, or been shipwrecked on the inhospitable shores of loss after a brief ill-fated love affair, may wonder how this bliss of affinity  is possible? In even the most compatible of couplings, there surely will be moments when a cloud of discord darkens domestic bliss?  Barbie and Ken struggled to get through the brambles in their on-off romantic relationship –  Mattel announcing in a news release that they had split up. Barbie’s broken heart healed once more when she become “friendly” with the Australian surfer, Blaine – never trust a woman with torpedo boobs and 3m femurs!  The search for our soul mate is so often a fruitless quest for some ideal, some  fantastic object of transcendence. A Big Ask, when most of us are little children in adult bodies.

If the relationship is to emerge from the chrysalis, there will be drops of blood. We will be required to strain and struggle from the warm, creative cocoon of romance in order to stretch and grow our wings, or they will remain forever crumpled. And when we fly free, as we must,  we will collide with situations and behaviours that test our tenacity, bring us face to face with disowned parts of ourselves – and our lover.

The Imago model evangelises the concept that our soul mates are our wound mates. Says the high priest of this school of thought, Harville Hendrix, “We always marry someone for the purpose of finishing our childhood.”  So when we are ready for adult commitment, more often than not, our unconscious mind selects someone who has positive and negative traits similar to those of our parents in order to have another chance to heal ourselves. All too often, though, we end up reliving the patterns that hurt us in the first place and stay stuck in a furrow of frustration, expressing our pain through criticism and angry words. Relationship guru, John Gottman believes that it is not conflict itself that lies at the root of relationship problems, but how it is handled. “Venting anger constructively can actually do wonders to clear the air and get a relationship back in balance,” he admonishes. But when what Gottman calls the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” – criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling – come crashing through our bedroom door and remain there, this is when the real work of repair and behaviour change begins.  Or we  can choose to descend into the sulphurous hell of an invisible divorce, where we live disconnected, like marionettes, going through the motions of marriage, “for the sake of the children”. And  some of us hurt so badly, we dismember our love in the gruesome carnage of divorce.

Energy follows attention. “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them,” Albert Einstein said, yet we stay in the battle zone, guns blazing. When our needs aren’t met, we cry, sulk, have tantrums, withdraw – or walk away in the darkness of the Nigredo before the alchemy has worked its magic. Every time you “invest” in the negative, you are honing your ability to detect faults. Your energy amplifies the annoying and the fragile, and you create the conditions that allow your problems to grow like weeds in an unkempt field. Our spiritual work is in the templum of our relationships. “Only in Relationship can you know yourself, not in abstraction and certainly not in isolation. The movement of behaviour is the sure guide to yourself. It’s the mirror of your consciousness; this mirror will reveal its content, the images, the attachments, the fears, the loneliness, the joy and sorrow. Poverty lies in running away from this, either in its sublimations or its identities,” says Krishnamurti.

And still we wish and hope. We cast wide our net online. We sign up for soul mate encounter groups. We think we have found The One, and embark on the perilous journey of commitment with meagre provisions, believing that with minimal effort, no change in our rigid behaviours, things will organically grow and we will live happily ever after. Relationships are like gardens. They require tending and frequent pruning to encourage new growth and fragrant flowers.  Often it is in conflict and despair that the real growth happens.  Rumi says, “When the grapes turn to wine, they long for the ability to change. When stars wheel around the North Pole, they are longing for our growing consciousness.”

Elizabeth Gilbert says “People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that’s holding you back, the person who brings you to your attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then they leave.”  This may be Ms Gilbert’s painful experience, but for some, a soul mate is the person who stays long enough to allow us to feel safe. Stays long enough to heal our hearts so that they can blossom and breathe intimacy.  It is with the soul mate that holds our hand as we journey over the rocks, knowing not all roads are smoothly paved, that we come to know what Love is.

Says Melody Beattie, “Accept each part of the journey as it comes. Let each stretch of your path be what it needs to be … slow down a bit if you need to, but don’t stop.”

Wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and prayin’
Plannin’ and dreamin’ each night of his charms
That won’t get you into his arms…
Dusty Springfield 1964

Barbie and Ken

Artwork: Waiting, by Donato Giancola

 

 

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Falling Slowly

Growing into wholeness can take many years, or it can happen in an instant. That Grace-filled moment when we can be alone with ourselves and truly like who we are. Often it is the spectre of fear that blocks the threshold to the brilliant blaze of full aliveness. We flounder as we grasp the elusive memory of wholeness, the melted butter richness of contentment, often so difficult to sustain in the context of our relationships, our working conditions, our financial worries. Reality congeals around us, enveloping the spark of hope; we are becalmed, stagnant, stuck.  We lose our way in the dark woods; confront the black wolf of our own shadow. Phantom-like we float through the motions of marginal living, unable to feel even our joy, as we sit, silent, inconsolable. Yet through the symptoms in our tired bodies, our souls scream out from the abyss of our own isolation. We know what we don’t want.  But do we have the clarity, in our sleep-deprived, crowded lives to glimpse the spark of  passion that gives meaning to our existence?  Do we know what we really love?

The lives we create with the thoughts we think, moment by moment, day by day, may obliterate that spark.  Like the little Match Girl in the Hans Christian Anderson adaptation of the fairy tale, we wander the icy streets, staring into windows at abundant tables, Christmas trees bedecked with baubles and gingerbread sticks, the cosy log fires of other peoples’ living rooms. We sit in the nook of our days, striking match after creative match, depleting our life force, snuffing out our passion… settling for the falling star of the job, the relationship. We believe the slippery lies that freeze us to death. Perhaps our biggest fear may be that if we free our minds of the thoughts that petrify us, open our hearts, we will make those big life changes that will crash through the flimsy structures of our lives. Our marriages will be torn asunder, we will resign from our jobs, alienate our friends.  Often that is exactly what does happen. And yet, if we stay with padlocked heart in the dark dungeon of routine chores or cup cake fixes – a new hair style, a pair of expensive shoes, a holiday, or interior design project to distract us – the price we pay for living in the safety zone will exhaust our spiritual bank account. We will project our dis-ease upon others in our homes and offices, we suffocate our souls with addictions, and we numb our bodies with medication. Eventually we must pay a price for a life unlived. “What is not brought to consciousness comes to us as Fate, ”  said Jung.

The way of the heart is the way of the “sacred warrior” said Chogyam Trungpa.  There is a danger in feeling our hunger, dismantling our defences. But what also happens is that when we free-fall and smash through our fear, the angels send us white feathers to guide us on our path. We may need to crash and burn. To rise, like the phoenix from the ashes of our lives, burnt black, transformed irrecoverably.

Changing base metal into gold is not done with bells and whistles, but in the darkness of the night. In our dreams, our daytime reveries, the sudden surge of recognition that feels strong and authentic in our bellies. Like goddess-saint Brigit of Kildare’s ever-burning flame, our light will not be extinguished unless we douse it ourselves. No man, woman, god out there can extinguish our own Divinity. It is there all the time if only we will turn towards the Light and warm ourselves at the fire. The spark we need might be a fragment of a conversation we overhear in the supermarket, the lyrics for a song; encouragement of a friend, a skilful therapist, to coax the green shoots of new growth. Sometimes we are required to dismantle the fortress of our hostility and our fear, granite stone by granite stone. To fall slowly into the ocean of our tears and swim to shore. We will always be required to work honestly, consistently to see through the smoke and mirrors that distort our truth. We will always be required to silence for ever the competing voices in our heads – our parents, our society, our siblings or friends – and recognise the sound of our own true voice. We will always be required to have a genuine desire to change our lives. To be vigilant that our journey towards self-awareness is not simply self-absorption or narcissism.   Only then can we fall slowly into the reality of our lives. To begin to live in conscious relationship by being truthful in our communications, realistic in our great expectations. To laugh more, guilt-trip less.  Only then can we savour the blissful beatitude of being in flow in our lives; in harmony with the whole cosmos. Healed, and whole.

For Ray. “Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.” Rumi

Paula Mills. Feather art.   Glen Hansard Falling Slowly

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