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Shakespeare Tag

Carried in the Deep 7c

Sun in Pisces—Rolling in the Deep—Mystic, Mélusine, Misfit

a239a69d3960d9823ccff550b08dfbb5The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do itJ.M Barrie, Peter Pan

Bruised clouds hang in bunches over the parched land, delivering thunder and lightning and a meagre measure of rain. Yet as river beds turn to dust in the wind, jasmine bursts, a froth of fragrant creamy white, from tight-coiled cerise buds. Eight months before spring.

Faith and Hope hold us airborne. There’s a life-force that spirals from struggle.  Writer and civil rights activist, James Bladwin, says of Shakespeare’s life in Elizabethan England, It is said that his time was easier than ours, but I doubt it—no time can be easy if one is living through it.”

Throughout human history, times of drought, plague, famine, flood, and myriad human atrocities have crushed civilizations. Yet from the shards of broken lives rise  mystical visions and Marian apparitions. New perceptions perfume the air. From the confines of her monastery in the politically hazardous 11th Century, Christian Mystic, Hildegard of Bingen wrote, I am the fiery life of the essence of God; I am the flame above the beauty in the fields; I shine in the waters; I burn in the sun, the moon, and the stars. And with the airy wind, I quicken all things vitally by an unseen, all-sustaining life. And as the Black Death scythed 50 million souls or more, in the 14th century, came this reassurance from Julian of Norwich: “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” As we spiral through our ordinary life’s seasons amidst a maelstrom of political and climate change, magical thinking, practiced by shamans and visionaries for centuries, offers sustenance in our own difficult times.

There’s a sublime sensitivity, an innocent faith in the celestial sky-story this month. The Sun moved into the sign of Pisces on February 19th,  joining Mercury, Venus, Neptune, and Chiron in the unbounded depths of the sky. The Sun and the Moon consummate their union with the new Pisces Moon on March 17th.23494e332063871e31b4fcc990a16b4f

The Sun’s passage through Pisces awakens our yearnings, diffuses our dreams with dappled remembrances. It stirs our faith in the ineffable, the non-ordinary realms, bringing magic and wonderment to lives so often infused with a tincture of loss and longing. Pisces is associated with The Hanged Man in the Tarot, directing us as initiates to suspend our worldly concerns to turn our gaze inwards, shifting our perspective.

Planets that wear iridescent Piscean clothing offer strange tinctures of genius and madness.  In the watery-logged realm of this archetype is a marshy Never Never Land surrounded by an ocean of dreams. Here Lost Boys and Lost Girls skip the light fandango, turn cartwheels ‘cross a sea floor scattered with the bones of those who lingered and languished in the deeps.

Faith and Belief are strung like precious pieces of coral around the Fishes’ tails. Jupiter, the traditional ruler of Pisces, is associated with “luck”. The kind of abundance we evoke by using affirmations as talismans to ward off  the spectres of lack and loneliness that haunt us. “Buildings fall; even the earth perishes. What was yesterday a cornfield is to-day a bungalow,” wrote Virginia Woolf. Jupiter’s Wheel of Fortune spins for each one of us, oblivious to status and wealth, to prayers and affirmations or the amount of exercise we do.

Jupiter crossed the border into Scorpio in October 2017 and will turn retrograde on March 9th at 23 degrees Scorpio.  Jupiter in the sign of Scorpio stirs up  dark sediment: the outing of sexual predators, the massacre of seventeen students on Valentine’s Day. Mars, the planet of war, and Jupiter, the planet of excess and amplification, are now in mutual reception before Mars changes sign on March 17th.  With Jupiter, be careful what we wish for.

 

43ff4608b3d5a7ce2c4ff73558b1e8c9Neptune is the more elusive modern ruler of this amorphous sign. Neptune’s associations are born of the sea, carried in the deep roll of the waves by the Muse that inspires music and art, ecstatic intoxication, and slow wasting diseases that are impossible to define or to cure. Lodged in this archetype is our debt to eons of human history. A soulful yearning for redemption and transcendence. With Neptune comes necessary sacrifice, carried for us all by the gory image of a crucified Christ and a dismembered Dionysus.

Neptune, turns a ghostly face to our human need to hold onto those things we love, to keep things just as they are.  We learn that everything is transient. That what we hold on to too tightly, fades into nothingness. Writes mystic and poet, John O’ Donohue, “transience makes a ghost out of each experience. There was never a dawn that did not drop down into noon, never a noon which did not fade into evening, and never an evening that did not get buried in the graveyard of the night…”  Still we search, like children on a pebbled beach, for miracles and wonder. We discover “synchronicities” that shape our sense of reality. We hold the flame of faith that things will be better as we welcome new presidents, new Father-Redeemers to lead us to the Promised Land.

 So, come with me, where dreams are born, and time is never planned. Just think of happy things, and your heart will fly on wings, forever, in Never Never Land!―J.M BarrieCarried in the Deep 3

For workshops and private consultations, please email: ingrid@trueheartwork.com 

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My Oh My

20150115_portraitWe may not be who we think we are. Our mistaken identity lies at the core of our searching. It is the denizen of collective and personal beliefs and eons of conditioning. It’s a theme that’s stitched into the warp and weft of myth, fairy tale and literature,  superbly depicted in movies like Maleficent.

“We are caught in a trance, a belief that “something is wrong with me” that can be fixed or controlled by growth hormones, mood sensors, happiness meters or surgery, smoothed away by Botox, cured by finding a new therapist, improved with a new lover.

We all have a longing to be seen, to be understood (mindful seeing) and to be loved for what is seen. The wound of unlove is heart-breakingly evoked by Debra Nystrom in her sublime poetry. When we feel unlove we feel we do not belong, we are invisible, cast aside, uncared for. The wound of unlove festers, becomes a necrosis. Our inherent sense of our unworthiness sleeps lightly and wakes each new day when our inner world meets the outer world. For most of our adult lives we learn to re-parent ourselves, to weave together new narratives, new ways of being accepting of who we are. Yet for most of us the voice within keeps asking, “how am I doing? Or am I enough?”

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South African poet, Arthur Nortje wrote of his own exile from his country, his people and from himself. He was exiled in the darkness of depression, his life force dissipated by drugs. He wrote, “The isolation of exile is a gutted warehouse at the back of pleasure streets,” and died at twenty-eight years old, never having known his true face, his spiritual heart, his pleasure street.

There are many paths to awakening.

For some of us it is a descent into the Underworld where we are dismembered by depression, an illness that ravages our body, a loss that dissolves the life we once knew, exiles us from ourselves. We cannot see past ourselves until the time comes when we are ready. “when the veil of the trance lifts, the pleasures and pain, the hopes and fears of our small space-suit self still come and go, but they no longer define us,” writes Tara Brach in her book, True Refuge.  

The characters in the 16th Century Commedia dell’ Arte were stock characters. The actors had no lines to memorise though they did need to understand and embody their roles –they improvised, fleshing out the plot, making up the dialogue as they went along. Shakespeare knew that “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players,” and as we go through the scenes in our lives we make up the dialogue and the action, the conflicts, the dramas. And yet, writes Byron Katie,“reality is always kinder than the stories we tell about it.”  In her work she brings fear-based beliefs and the wound of unlove into the light of awareness where they dissolve with questions that deepen our attention, invite us to pause, to inquire whether the assumptions about our “reality” are really true.

Sometimes we may pause long enough, breathe deeply enough, to recognise a purposeful pattern, a deep Intelligent Design at work. We may feel a connection to the Greater Whole, or be reminded of the gossamer veil between life and death.

ruby red slippersRam Dass in Polishing the Mirror: How to Live from Your Spiritual Heart says that like Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers what we have been looking for has been here all along. And yet, “spiritual practices can themselves become hindrances and obstacles.” Our lives can become performances requiring perfect delivery, problems seeking a solution, reminders of the rigid roles we play that mask our  True Self. Tim Leberecht writes in his excellent piece, Un-Quantify, we “focus on measuring multiple aspects of ourselves to achieve an unreachable nirvana of human optimization.”

Nikos Kazantzakis, Greek philosopher and celebrated author of Zorba the Greek, said pragmatically, “you think too much, that is your trouble. Clever people and grocers, they weigh everything.”

“Only the examined life is worth living,” another wise Greek philosopher famously remarked.

innovation“But it is important to remember that we can examine it without quantifying it. In business and beyond, we can manage what we can’t measure, and in fact we do it every day,” says Tim Leberecht.

To claim a life worth living, he recommends “unplugging from your tools and your carefully cultivated matrix of data. Instead of tracking how many calories you torched during a workout, concentrate on the movements you make, what burns, and what doesn’t—are you able to get out of your head and let go of earlier stresses? To be truly open and present for moments that will bring you what tools can’t track—joy, laughter, happiness, wonder, and love—it is necessary to be attuned to the world around you. What will make you feel more satisfied? Six-months of sleep data, or a belly laugh with a co-worker? You will maximize and optimize but lose the romance of getting to know.”

To claim a life worth living, Buddhist teacher, Ajahn Buddhadasa suggests that we “don’t do anything that takes you away from your body.” Mindful awareness is one way to connect with a safe home base when we are flayed by worry, lacerated by fear. Our bodies live in the present. So when we become aware of our bodies, our inner landscape;  when we quieten our minds, connect with our own breath, we connect with the earth that is our Home.

Leonard Cohen’s voice as smooth and dark as molasses sings out for all of us who have loved and lost another or ourselves …imagesEM1MOPTM

“Held you for a little while
My, oh, my, oh my
Held you for a little while
My, oh, my, oh my…”

Yet we are not in exile. We are Home. We are here now. Doing the best we can.

My Oh My from the album Popular Problems by the inimitable Leonard Cohen

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The Chain

463px-We_Can_Do_It! January is a month of fervent resolutions and brave new intentions. A month of planting seedling new habits that require careful tending to take root.  Shakespeare wrote that “The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.”  Yet our morning rituals settle over our lives bringing a sense of comfort and continuity in an often chaotic world. Our habits frame the frayed edges of our days and wrap the weeks together seamlessly.

A habit is defined as “a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.” Most of us spend most of our lives cruising along on autopilot. Self-destructive habits keep us chained to the rock like Prometheus while the hungry Griffin picks and pecks at our liver day after day: negative thoughts cycle round and round like vultures over the carrion of the past, repetitive behaviours that harm our bodies and sabotage our relationships. Albert Einstein is quoted as saying that “insanity is continuing to do the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” So often pain, physical or emotional, is the fuel that burns away our inertia and creates a new sense of momentum in our lives. But it takes willpower and heartfelt intention to break the chains that bind us to the past.

We are not the sole creators of our reality. Would it were that simple. Millions of human beings endure cruelty and abuse, are taken hostage, imprisoned, scapegoated. But when we can see in the often fated challenges, opportunities to awaken to the fierce flame of our Higher Self, we unchain our potential to heal and realign our energies.

It takes kindness and compassion to look around our personal space and acknowledge that we have chosen the clothing we are wearing, the food in our refrigerator. On some level we do choose our partners, and our friends. We choose to love and we choose to feel happy. We do have the will to change and befriend our belief about the world we see. And it is will that ignites the fierce flame of power.  It is will that breaks the chain of “have tos and shoulds” that cloud our connection to our own volition.images2J2ZP8HQ

Psychologists who still work on a mechanical reductionist model of the world see a linear, causal curve for making and breaking of habits. New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg in his book, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business proposes that first there is a cue – a trigger for a certain routine. Then the routine – the behaviour. Then the reward. So when we can diagnose the cues, witness our routines, we may be more conscious of why we keep doing. And change the behaviour. Our willpower and self-control are like muscle strength writes psychologist Jeremy Dean in Making Habits, Breaking Habits: Why We Do Things, Why We Don’t, and How to Make Any Change Stick. Willpower varies from person to person. According to our emotional state and even our energy levels during the day our willpower muscle will tire of pushing and straining. And when it does, we will be more susceptible to gorging on chocolate or having that midweek glass of red wine, or saying something harsh to our partner, despite our best intentions.

What if  changing our habits is more about self-love than muttering mnemonics to prompt us into new ways of cruising on autopilot? What if habits hide our Light, though we wear them like the garments that conceal the bodies of nuns or priests in certain religious orders.nuns

Perhaps habits belong to the realm of the heart. Perhaps they wander like itinerants through the crowded landscape of the mind? Perhaps changing habits is more about stillness and a dignified refusal to be part of the momentum. At least until we can access what gnaws in the darkness of our gut or makes us reach for a cigarette or turn on the telly. We might ask ourselves what our habits serve. What they cover in the folds of familiarity: the feeling of loneliness, invisibility, the  pain of our submissive silence?

Many of us see power as outside ourselves – the Universe, or the gods or the angels will tell us what to do. We seek guidance from others which may cloud the voice of our own true self and exempt us from the terror of our own responsibility.

Perhaps the human heart is far more complex than lab-rat behaviour in its many-splendoured manifestation.  Perhaps habits are about congruency and a deeper sense of purpose.  Perhaps habits will flower from the tap roots of discipline. If we are willing disciples we can fix our fluctuating feelings and will ‘o the wisp whims to a desired outcome, a larger purpose. Perhaps habits are about a commitment to our heart’s desires not our pained egos that fear the radiance of living too gloriously, too fearlessly. More about staying in authentic communication with our True Selves.

Perhaps it’s our heart that will perceive the true path for our journey this New Year. And the task of our Will to honour that path and stay in  communication with our True Self.

Private Moon by artist Leonid Tishkov

Fleetwood Mac – The Chain

private moon

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Cannon Ball

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE TINY BOAT

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

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

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