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Author: Ingrid Hoffman

Moon River

 

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls” urges Joseph Campbell.  Following our bliss has become something of a cliché, a well worn, gung ho, onwards and upwards kind of thing we toss out. For most of us it signifies nothing.

What is your Bliss?  What makes you truly Happy? How do you know what your bliss is, really?  And when you awaken, carpe diem, how do you consecrate your Holy Longing?

The Hero archetype is much misunderstood. Psychologists say it is the immature adolescent that blocks men and women from full maturity. In its purest form it is the impetus that squeezes us from the too-tight bud of our yearning and gives us the courage to dare to take the risk to open. Myths and fairy tales describe the Heroes’ journey – the journey from innocence to experience: our heroes and heroines follow trails of bread crumbs through dark forests. They slay fire-breathing dragons. They discover who they truly are when they leave the quacking ducks and find the slender-necked swans.  

When we set off on a journey, either literally, or metaphorically, we dismantle the brittle structures of a life outgrown. We discard the coarse dullness of our timid perceptions. We quicken with a molten life force. We set sail in the open seas, take the road less travelled.  Johann Von Goethe writes of this spark of courage that rekindles the heart, illuminates our lives, brings the Magic. “Distance does not make you falter. Now, arriving in magic, flying, and finally, insane for the light, you are the butterfly and you are gone. And so long as you haven’t experienced this: to die and so to grow, you are only a troubled guest on the dark earth.”

This is the adventure of being fully “alive”. The daemon–the driving spirit that invites us to experience passion, fantasy, emotions and our imagination–is as vast and as mysterious as the night sky. We may feel this aliveness when we are kissed awake by Love or when we break through our imprisoning walls of self doubt–the shoulds, the musts. When we finally turn towards initiative, creativity, and embrace Hope and Faith.

So my heart bloomed, when, I  read a blog entitled When a Frenchwoman meets an American man … excerpts from the adventures of Elise and Scott as they explore the world by sailboat. Elise and Scott’s response to this ancient impetus reflects the new zeitgeist of Pluto in Capricorn times, in that they have taken the heated rush of the Hero and transmuted it into the Warrior Archetype. They aren’t rushing off unprepared into the high seas. They are doing this with the slow hand energy of the Mature Masculine and Mature Feminine.

It is a timeless Love story that presents the luscious full-flavoured ingesting of Life.  Like all good stories, it describes a fated meeting, and begins, Once Upon A Time…. So I share with you the beginning of the story of Elise and Scott this new day.

 Elise: “Once upon a time, a French Woman who had been living and working in Paris for many years and who was fed up with the daily grind and both the gloominess and selfishness of Parisians decided in October 2010 to go to a place she has always dreamt to go to… TAHITI, in FRENCH POLYNESIA…”

Scott: “I went to Polynesia alone to rediscover myself and as a sort of ceremonial re-launch of my new life.  Elise and I ran into each other on Huahine a few days before the end of my Polynesian adventure.  Since then, we’ve spent about 3,000 hours together…  The only way I can describe it to you is the word “harmony.”   We found that we both shared the same ever-deferred-dream: to explore the world by sailboat.”

My soul stirs as I celebrate this impetus to embrace happiness, to answer the call to adventure. This daring to write the poetry of Big Love, to rearrange their lives so that their hearts sing and their souls may soar. I honour their courage to set sail at the anointed hour. To de-stigmatise the norms, conventions, rules that tether them to the lives that have grown too small for their soul song.

“Doesn’t everything die too fast and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” asks Mary Oliver.

Scott responds: “We spent our first evening together in Huahine on the beach staring at a full moon and a million stars, above and on the water.  It was a magical, mystical conversation about life and self and others… And, we both felt inspired- – by each other, life, whatever.  So, the moon has become a bit of a symbol for us.  Anyway, we chose the name Mystic Muse for our boat in remembrance of the moon’s inspirational power.”

I dedicate this to you, Elise and Scott, and to your dreamboat, Mystic Muse, as you discover new depths of Love, and a new perspective on Life.

Carpe Diem!

Scott and Elsie, this is for you:

Moon River, wider than a mile,
I’m crossing you in style some day.
Oh, dream maker, you heart breaker;
wherever you’re going I’m going your way.
Two drifters off to see the world.
There’s such a lot of world to see.
We’re after the same rainbow’s end–
waiting ’round the bend,
my huckleberry friend,
Moon River and me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOByH_iOn88&feature=related

 

 

6

Stand by me

“Everyone wants to be in a relationship,” declares my vivacious friend, Julie, as we supped on smoky noodles at Saigon. Does everyone yearn to be an us? Cosily coupled, snugly secure in a twosome, I wonder?

“We’re relational creatures,” she continued, as we finished off the bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, “which is why we all keep on searching for our soul mate.” We do?

The astrological birth chart, which is the acorn of our life’s potential, the daemon of our fate, suggests otherwise.  Not everyone wants to be in a relationship. Many of us pay lip service to love, and choose to end it with the well worn “you’re too good for me” exit line when intimacy beckons. Like Pandora, we open the box and release a screeching swarm of demons that devour us with fear, turn us to pillars of stone.

Many of us hunger for Love with an appetite so voracious that we gorge on empty encounters that leave us starving and malnourished. Many of us fasten our hearts with love-proof padlocks and swear to never love again. Like the poet W.B. Yeats, who loved an Irish beauty for 30 years with a passion that was never consummated or returned, “we fed our hearts on fantasies” and ache with the memory of broken promises, still-born dreams.

Intimate relationships can be messy and convoluted, often disappointing. Relationships with friends, colleagues, a beloved cat or dog, are often far less rigorous in their demands. To form a committed bond with another, to take the necessary actions to set up home or parent children demands courage, endurance and a sense of safety as we rest in one another’s arms, for better or for worse. Real relationships require the ingredients of two willing people who love each other enough to stand strong as the cruel winds of doubt, fear and hopelessness buffet the bond of commitment.

But, if you have the soul of a gypsy, or the heart of a hermit, you may choose, consciously or unconsciously, to defy social convention and never become “an us”. As the years pass by, the thought of sharing your home with another person, of stretching wide to accommodate differences that jostle you from your routine and entrenched beliefs becomes too big a stretch. So, you stay safe, eschewing the tantrums, the misunderstandings and compromises that polish us smooth in intimate relationship. It’s easier to stay contained, to shop for one, to keep things neat and simple – uncomplicated. Many of us have loved boy-men, or girl-women who fell asleep when we beckoned them to enter the fragrant Garden of Love. They did not – could not – love us enough to make space in their orderly lives for fierce love, for the chaos of the Feminine or the pointed vision of the Masculine.  They turned their heads away and walked towards another destiny.

It is when we nurture, trust, encourage, and truly value ourselves, with all our complexity and contradictions, that we begin to dance deeper and deeper into Being. It is then, if we are willing to lower the red flags of fear and judgement, that we will invite The Beloved into the sanctum of our passionate heart. It is then that we discover the comfort and the joy of saying, darling, Stand By Me. And we just know that the answer will be OH YES!

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4_ghOG9JQM

When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we see
No I won’t be afraid
No I won’t be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me

John Lennon.

10

Another Day In Paradise

 For most people on this planet, 11/11/2011 will be just another day of routine chores. The commute to work, the myriad modest tasks that call for our attention. We will  hasten about the minutiae of our daily lives, not pausing to gaze skywards at the glittering stars or to marvel at the moon tonight, as she spreads her numinous milky shawl, bringing magic and mystery to the landscape.

For most people on this planet, this new day will involve finding sufficient food, water, a safe shelter before nightfall. As a world financial crisis looms, this day many people will face bedrock fear about physical survival.

11/11/11 has been heralded in blogs and movies as a day of foreboding, as we indulge our perverse addiction to drama and the horror of death and oblivion.  

For others, today is a day to meditate, to pray, to acknowledge that this day has special significance for our planet.

Many of us live divided lives. Longing for fulfilment in our work, more passion in our relationships, more depth in our friendships, more money, love, and eternal youth. We strain against what IS. We neglect our own natures and yearn for some ideal of perfection, somewhere over the rainbow….Modern psychology and allopathic medicine attempt to redeem us from the messiness of our lives, to fix, cut out, remove those things that cause us pain. Those unhealthy compulsions, painful choices that make us fully human, in all our complexity and in all our suffering. So maybe today we can be fully where we are. Working at our daily tasks no matter how mundane and humble they may be, entering our Fate and honouring the ebb and flow of our emotions, so that we can fully savour our brief lives, in the dappled light and the terrifying shadows.

The astrological chart for 11:11am in Cape Town on November 11th 2011 places the Lord of Karma, stern Saturn, ruler of the Ascendant conjunct the Midheaven. This represents a pinnacle, a time of responsibility and duty, a culmination of what has come before.  In other places, the event chart will reflect a different sky story. In the microcosm of our personal lives, this might suggest that 11/11/11 is a day to reflect on our life direction and the choices we make from moment to moment. The Full Moon in the sign of earthy Taurus yesterday, trail-blazed a solid grounded, realistic energy that echoes my feeling that today we need to honour the simple things in our lives. Come down to earth in some symbolic way. Perhaps we might see the beauty in the smallest things that make this world a paradise of delights if we choose to perceive it in this way. So you may wish to take some time today to marvel at a jewel dewdrop on a blade of grass, or breathe in the fragrance of a flower. And “to see a world in a grain of sand, and a heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour,” as mystic and poet, William Blake inspires us to do.

Our ancestors were star gazers, who observed the cycles of the planets and the Sun and Moon. Astrologers use these celestial time markers to track the unfolding of our lives and world events. Pope Gregory XIII is credited for the reformation of the Julian calendar back in 1582. We use the Gregorian calendar in most parts of the world today, a system that marks time, in a linear manner. So 11/11/11 is just a number in a man-made system of ordering the passage of time. We can choose to give it meaning, or not. “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” Freud is purported to have said. So, for some,  11/11/2011 will be just another day in the wheel of the year, in the saga of an individual life, in the colourful  tapestry of human history, as  “we come spinning out of nothingness, scattering stars like dust” (Rumi).

If we choose to be in this moment, in this precious day, today will be like a birthday, an anniversary, a holy day, to celebrate in the knowing that long after our bones have disintegrated and we are without form, there will be an unceasing pulse of life in this vast universe, in a timeless space without beginning and without end.  “The clouds preceded us… there was a muddy centre before we breathed. There was a myth before the myth began, venerable and articulate and complete,” writes the poet Wallace Stevens.

Rumi said that “only from the heart can you touch the sky”, so in gathering together to pray or meditate, or to light a candle as a ritual to set a heart-felt intention, there will be, as Noetic scientist, John Hagelin, describes a profound shift in a field of pure, unlimited, creative potential. This will ripple through the quantum field and influence our individual lives and our planet in powerfully positive ways. So today, I will honour the brevity of life here on earth, the miraculous joy of a synchronistic meeting of a kindred spirit, and the comfort of knowing we are never alone.

Gone “viral” on the internet – watch and be inspired! Murmuration: http://vimeo.com/31158841

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_f7WyUnf_A8  Phil Collins sings Another Day In Paradise.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sghNjGaDbJ0 Johnny Clegg, It’s a Cruel, Crazy, Beautiful World.

 

 

4

Astrology 101, Part 6: Signs and Elements

There are a number of ways to group the signs of the Zodiac, and in this post, we’ll look at them by element, which brings signs of similar energies together.  There are four elements – Fire, Earth, Air and Water – and you can get a good idea of the meaning of the elements simply by thinking about the characteristics of the physical elements of the same name.

There are three signs in each element and each sign carries much of the energy of its element.  When we see a planet in a sign, we know that it will somehow be influenced by this energy.

Fire Signs

Fire expresses energy, light and vitality.  It is the driving force from which newness arises.  This novelty may be in the form of material goods, ideas or emotions; but only with fire can anything new begin.  Fire is positive, exuberant, enthusiastic.  But, beware, if it gets out of control, it can consume all around it.

The fire signs are Aries, Leo and Sagittarius.

Earth Signs

Earth is stable, steady, dependable.  You place your feet on it and feel grounded.  Earth is the element from which we grow our bodies and create material goods.  It is sensuous and fertile.  In earth we connect to every molecule of the physical, living universe.  It is calm and peaceful.  But, it can also feel slow, heavy and stubborn.

The earth signs are Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn.

Air Signs

Air is in constant motion, ever changeable, abstract.  Impossible to grab hold of, air stands for thoughts and concepts, words and images; an unseen, yet vital, component of the human consciousness.  It allows us to dream and to plan, to plot and envision.  But, in and of itself, it is ephemeral; it can create nothing physical.

The air signs are Gemini, Libra and Aquarius.

Water Signs

Water is fluid, inconstant and physically powerful.  It seeps into the depths of our emotional core, finding its own path from wellspring to ocean.  It is the music of our souls, sometimes peaceful, other times furious.  Water expresses the principles of our feelings, our past and the emotional depths we strive to plumb.  But, dive too deep, and we may drown.

The water signs are Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces.

 

You may now be wondering how the three signs in each element differ from one another.  That relates to another characteristic called “mode”, which is the topic of the next post in this series.

0

I Wonder

 “I know he still loves me,” my friend with the luminous green eyes declares, deftly lifting her sashimi with ebony-varnished chopsticks.

We can never know what is going on inside someone’s head. We can wonder. We can make up stories, soothe, or torment ourselves with assumptions and lies. The best we can do is to visit their world, invite them to share their thoughts and perceptions with us. Listen with our hearts; even though we may not agree with what they are saying, we can imagine what it must be like, living in their world. We can savour the fragrant dishes of their experiences, vicariously visit the library of their memories, and embrace the wonder of our uniqueness as human beings. Rupert Sheldrake, Lynne McTaggart, Bruce Lipton, Greg Braden, and other prophets of new consciousness talk of a new science of Life. Sheldrake talks of Morphic Resonance, Gregg Braden refers to a  “Divine Matrix” that surrounds us all. A  matrix of energy without beginning or end, no cause or effect.  On some level we all sense that field of energy when we enter a home, walk into an office or visit a sacred site. You may feel it between the couple you invite to share a meal with you. A field of energy that lies between them – warm and connected, or heavy with unshed tears, or seething with anger and the bitterness of betrayal.

So, if we come from a lineage of ancestors who lived in dire poverty in a war ravaged valley, we have a blueprint, a template, that life is hard and dangerous. Our sponsoring thought, as Neale Donald Walsch calls it, may be that money is scarce, strangers are not to be trusted, and we are unworthy of being loved in our totality. If we are unwilling to consciously shift this consciousness, we will keep doing what we’re doing, and keep getting what we’re getting. The story my friend tells herself (unconsciously) is that she is not worthy of Love. She seeks out the married man, the boy-man with Will Never Commit invisibly tattooed on his forehead.

I do not believe in the old model of Nature/ Nurture any longer. Too simplistic, as we cross the threshold into this new paradigm, this new awareness of our unlimited potential to change our perception of what we see around us. The Field where we meet each other on our journey through this life time is the Universal hammock where we writhe or lie, enraptured by the magnificence and Divine potential of each human being to Greatness. Says Neale Donald Walsch, “It’s time, in fact, to re-create ourselves anew – in the next grandest version of the greatest vision we ever held about who we are.” The astrological birth chart depicts The Field, and the transits and progressions, our evolving consciousness, if we choose to meet each other there, to truly listen, and take action.

As science converges with the wisdom of the shamans and sages, we now know that what we think is “true” is seen through a glass, darkly.

If we believe that all our relationships are simply our perceptions, that the stories we tell ourselves about the Other, and the thoughts that torment, or soothe, are our own imaginings, and that “life is but a dream”, then we can exhale. What we think about the other person may not be their truth at all.  

The Trompe-l’œil of relationships, the subtle ambiguities, the mystery of the human heart, continues to intrigue me.  What is real? It depends upon our perception. Did those doomed men and women of the Americas really not see the tall death ships of the Conquistadors as they sailed close to shore? Or were they great butterflies, harbingers of a new Messiah? We can wonder.  And we will never know what they were thinking, and like all of his-story, we can make up the stories that suit our perceptions, as well as those of the place and time we’re living in.

My beautiful friend knows he still loves her. I wonder, don’t you?

Sixto RodriguezI Wonder

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMHdq4jm0oQ

0

No More I Love Yous

Love never dies when soul meets soul. Our souls never stop loving the significant people who appear as actors in the various scenes in the play of our lives. Because once we ignite the flame of love, no matter how briefly, or how fiercely, devastatingly, that flame burns and chars, Love endures, long after we part, long after we die.

I met my former husband for lunch yesterday. He appeared taller, younger, and happier than I have seen him in  years. “She’s the One,” he said, eyes sparkling. “I’m going to ask her to marry me.” Still sprinkled with the glitter of his happiness, I left this man I had lived with for 26 years, my heart a – bloom with flowers of joy for him, for her. There are never No More I Love Yous. The container of marriage may fracture and break under the avalanche of an affair, a cot death, an intrusive in-law. Love affairs are extinguished not with a bang but a whimper, realtionships stagnate as the current of passion dwindles to a trickle. Even in the No More I love Yous, are small seeds of renewal.  There are really no “lessons” to be learnt so we do not make the same “mistake “again.  Our marriages are the holy sanctums for the in-breath and out-breath, the cycles, and twists, of our soul. From the moment we say our wedding vows, through all the in the years we may spend grinding off each others’ rough edges, even in the heartbreak and despair of the endings, are our soul’s rites of passage; our circling Home.

A divorce can be a sacred act of renewal, if we transcend the power plays, the anger,  discard the role of Victim.  Love can be transformed into a caring friendship if we are willing to step into Gratitude for all the memories, and experiences of our past, that have made us who we are today. When we are able to look into the eyes of our former tormentor-husband, wife, lover, mother, father, friend – and feel the lotus flower of compassion blossom in our heart, then we will know our own Wholeness. The ancient Greeks knew that Love wears interchangeable costumes: Agape meant the deepest sense of true love, that sense of contentment and mellowness, the holding of another in the highest regard. Eros was understood as  passionate love, sensual desire, and intimate love, which did not have to be sexual – it could be the power of beholding something beautiful within that person. Philia was the love of friendship we feel in community and family. So what is this thing, called Love? Even after death, divorce, frozen years of separation, the sacred vows reverberate. We may find, after the atomic fallout, the love we never dared admit, even to ourselves, is there still. We find a wedding photograph, a piece of jewellery, a gift given in the innocence of that love that carries a fragrance of sweet memory. There is remains a fragment of something noble and pure in the the vows we made all those years ago.

These days when I go to weddings, what I celebrate is the Hope that comes, an invited guest, to the bridal table. The noble belief in a love that will endure as the dark storm clouds gather on the horizon. First marriages are sprinkled with Hope and Great Expectations that we believe no man will tear asunder. Second and third marriages are more sober affairs. Jean Kerry said wryly, “being divorced is like being hit by a Mack truck. If you live through it, you start looking very carefully to the right and to the left.” We are not always wise in the choices we make. We do not always listen to our inner guidance. But in our fumbling, in our folly, in our delusions, will always be the seed of great passion and enduring love.

Says Marion  Woodman,  “real love happens when soul in the body meets soul in the body. Not in that disembodied world of spirit where we want to be perfect, but in life, where we’re changing the diapers of the one we love who is dying, swabbing the lips, doing things we never thought we could do. Stripped of all pride, of everything unreal, we have no false modesty. Where soul meets soul that is Love.”

How can there ever be No More I Love Yous when Love never dies. It simply changes form.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5z7R-5Znoc

 

2

Nothing Compares

Nothing compares to the passion, pain, the alchemy of unrequited love. The obsessive love of an extraordinary relationship may quench our soul’s thirst for drama and intensity. It may be the conduit for the fantasy and the creative Muse that is lacking from the soft comfort of our daily lives. When soul meets soul across time and space, this is no aberration, no psychological projection, and no insane fantasy.

In the realm of the soul, falling in love with someone we see everyday at the office, connect with on Facebook, or meet by “chance” at the video store, is beyond the crassness of words, the literalism of psychology. It is a process of wonderous self-discovery. Each relationship that touches our soul leads us into dialogue with the Divine.  “The fiery moments of a passionate experience are moments of wholeness and totality,” Anais Nin says. We may smugly moralise about obsessive attractions, narcissistic impulses, selfish behaviour, or in psychological parlance, talk about “withdrawing projections,” as we find the qualities that draw us to adore the Beloved, are of course, within ourselves. All very white picket fence, manicured lawn.  Pleasantville.  Nothing compares to the white hot passion of erotic obsession. Nothing compares to the Phoenix Love that leads us into a deeper, more soulful life. What we feel in our hearts, in our bodies, cannot be captured by cliches, emblamed with words.

Erotic love is not to be demeaned as merely a projection for our unlived life, but  celebrated as  an Angel of Awakening to the Countenance of our boundless Imagination. Our soul hungers for the Beloved, and our imagination lures us into the fathomless ocean of desire embodied in the flesh.  The symbolism of astrological transits from the outer planets to personal ones often suggest that passionate obsessions are not aberrations to be caged or cauterised. They are the wings that carry us to a life of more connection, to an acceptance of Who we are. W.H Auden writes powerfully of the crooked heart in each one of us that we must confront when the firebird of passionate love blazes through the dark depths of our psyche: “O stand, stand at the window as the tears scald and start; you shall love your crooked neighbour with your crooked heart.”

Many of us are now experiencing a sense of living on the edge of a world on the brink of great change.  Like two tectonic plates, Pluto in earthy Capricorn squares off against Uranus in fiery Aries, a crucible of heated, irrevocable change in our lives, in society, in the way we embrace the urge towards authenticity.  The emergence of the new always coincides with the breakdown of the old, so be awake to the whispers, the coincidences, the power of attraction, the wild song of Passion in whatever form it appears in your life these coming months.

I watched The Bridges of Madison County (again) and cried (again) for Francesca and Robert, these middle-aged soul mates. I cried for the choice Francesca made to shackle her desire for Robert Kincaid to duty and responsibility. Throughout history, men and women have made heart-wrenching choices to honour duty above the authentic call of their soul. So many of us have been raised in family awash with the tears of unspoken secrets. Lovers kept hidden, passion doused by fear, authenticity shamed into submission. Says John O’Donahue, “your soul alone has the map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of yourself.”

As Neptune swims into the deep waters of Pisces in February 2012, will we be willing to be still and listen to the passionate pieces of ourselves that call to us through music, poetry, the whisper of the wind? As we loosen the bonds of reason, will our souls ignite with delight in our Beloved who may be Clark Kent, Superman or Superwoman? Our  liquid light diamon that urges us to open our hearts, and sing our song.

What is your Passion, what calls you today to celebrate the Authentic You? “Passion is part of Real Life’s package – we were created by Love, for love, to love. If we’re unsure of our passions we must continue excavating until we rediscover them, for it we don’t give outward expression to our passions in little ways every day, we will eventually experience self-immolation – the spontaneous combustion of our souls,” says Sarah Ban Beathnach.

 http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2cdyy_sinead-o-connor-nothing-compares-2_music   Sinead O’ Connor

 

4

White on White

 

Fairy Tale Weddings are compelling in their sentimental perfection. The flowers, cake,  months of meticulous preparation. The dress, tiara, spray-on tan, flowers in the button holes.

In our desire for the perfect wedding we so often find the golden apple of Discord. TheTrickster appears to knock the bouquet off the altar of tradition. The fainting bride, the lecherous uncle, the little page boy who squeals just as the vows are pronounced. A flaw in the perfection of the meticulously planned occasion that brings laughter, the prelude of a profound agitation of two entwined souls. Think back to your own wedding day. Was theTrickster at play? I was a guest at a beautiful wedding ceremony recently where there was a glitch in the sound system. No music at the wedding, and a brief, tumultous marriage, with no music to bring joy and levity into their troubled relational space.

Marriage is not a ritual or an end. It is a long, intricate, intimate dance together and nothing matters more than your own sense of balance and your choice of partner,” says Amy Bloom. There is a celestial line-up in relationship orientated Libra right now. The Sun and Saturn, spotlighting the importance of mature and committed relationships.  Inviting us to clarify, define, strengthen our identity by confronting us with limitations. Challenging us to grow up, make our dreams real. Commit to  honest self-appraisal, compromise, acceptance of reality.  

For me, the compelling mystery of Marriage is that it can flay and brand, or softly kiss our soul. It is through our sentimentality, our innocence, our insistence in the “happily ever after” and the romantic dream of the marriage made in heaven, that we meet the dark challenges that a soul-ful union will always toss, like a gauntlet, before us.  It is through the difficulties, often the sojourns in hell, that we refine the prima materia, the raw stuff of life, and learn the phases of Love in all their complexity. Like actors on a stage, bride and groom, play out the old scripts of the marriages before them. In their own lives, or in the matrix of their family history. Their unconscious roles as little children,  keeping warring parents apart,  holding psychic secrets, plugging the grief that spills under doors and carpets, the dissappointments, the frustrations, the bitterness. We hold this energy in the etheric, in our limbic and nervous systems, in the fascia of our bodies, and play it out with the men and women we marry. Our mother who married “to get out of the home,” our grandmother forced into wedlock before her belly ripened, our father who married “beneath him.”

Today, we think we have free choice in the men and women we wed. We believe we marry out of our own free will. In the West, we have inherited an ancient world view based on a biblical view that marriage is sacrosanct, in juxtaposition to the view of the ancient Greek philosophers and  French rationalists, where the right of the individual to happiness is enshrined. So we have the challenge of  delineating our personal identity within the structure and boundary of  marriage – a tangled web of roots that dig deep into our personal and collective history!

Marriages based on love are as fragile and fickle as the gossamer thread of love itself. Few of us thoroughly modern women need a partner to protect us physically, to provide for us financially, or to give us the social status of “married woman”. Many of us do not choose marriage to sanction the birthing of our babies, or to provide us with clan. We marry for love. Yet the cost of failed love can cleave hearts and families. Divorce is an emotional and economic apocalypse. No one walks away unscathed. There is always a great gaping hole and scar tissue in your heart, no matter how much you loathed the bastard. The dismemberment of divorce ranks next to the death of your spouse, as the most stressful event you will ever endure.

So if we marry for love, we gamble with the fragility of our hearts. As Mignon McLaughlin says, “a successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” On a metaphysical level, the ritual of Marriage is sacred. It is a rite of passage, through which we metamorphose into a deeper, more soulful self. We integrate the masculine and the feminine within; we discover that he or she is not the god/goddess we thought they were. We discover we cannot depend on our partner to make us whole, to love us forever and ever. Perhaps we could see marriage as a threshold into a mansion of self discovery. An archaeological dig into the layers of our ancestral past. A calabash that holds the milk of compassion and forgiveness for ourselves and for each other when we make mistakes, behave appallingly. Perhaps we ought not give up too soon, stand on our soap boxes pontificating about the flaws and weaknesses of the other. Perhaps we will learn to truly love one another and not make a  bond of marriage, but a circle of love that protects those who dwell within. “You were born together, and together you shall be forever more. You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.”  Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet.

Remember Danny Williams from Port Elizabeth? Today he sings for us White on White

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=edmej2DOiLM&feature=related

 

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And I love her

After spending three weeks in Mountjoy women’s prison Teresa Treacy, of Clonmore, is home. Her crime, her refusal to comply with High Court orders to allow power lines on her property which would, and did, ruin the beauty of the landscape, destroying tall trees. This act of courage and defiance has made this 65 year old woman a cause celebre in Ireland.

For me, Teresa symbolises the uncompromising Crone energy we must draw from our bellies if we are to live authentic lives in challenging times. I believe that in order to cross the threshold into the realm of the Crone, we as women, (and those men who have integrated the Feminine energy,) must experience a rite of passage, so that we may enter the sacred centre of the web of our lives, to learn what real Love is. Illness, divorce, death of a child or a partner, retrenchment, prison – tsunami times of intense physical or emotional suffering when the loss of our old identity becomes a psychic death. Times when we feel like utterly alone, floating in a fathomless ocean… no direction home.

How does it feel ?
Aw, how does it feel ?
To be on your own ?
With no direction home ?
Like a complete unknown ?
Like a rolling stone ? sang Dylan.

I saw an interview with 74 year old activist and feminist Jane Fonda. Breasts like Barbie’s, face taut, impossibly white, perfect teeth. She seemed brittle, very fragile, unmothered. Still hungry, unable to embrace the energy and quiet assurance of the mature feminine or the fierce wisdom of The Crone. The initiation into the wise woman archetype or Crone (which means “corona” meaning “crown”,)   lacks ritual and celebration in a world where we worship at the altar of  youth. Change is never easy. Most of us lack the support of community, or the mentorship of mature women to guide us over the crossroads through the dark forests and dangerous pathways. Mature Women to shake us firmly from our torpor, when we prick our fingers on the spindles and fall “asleep”. Our conversations are a timorous lament of our loss of youth. We sprinkle conversations with self-depreciating remarks – saggy breasts, stretch marks, flabby arms. We self-harm in our desperate attempts to stay sweet sixteen foolishly falling for the folly of Botox, HRT, face lifts.

Hollow-eyed beggars, starving for the crumbs of love. We’ve been fighting our bodies all our lives.  Marion Woodman describes the Crone cycle as a time of Crossroad, where we come eventually, to a place of deep surrender. “After a lifetime of trying to improve herself in order to become a “perfect” daughter, wife and mother, a woman’s “surrender” to herself just as she is, becomes like bathing in the refreshing water in the pool of her soul. Grounded in her connection with her inner wisdom, she now lives from her own authority.”

And so, through illness, loss, the inevitability of our own death, we stumble or are pulled with ferocity into the liminal landscape of the Crone. She is uncompromising. The giver and taker of life. She demands as payment for crossing the threshold, precious gifts hidden in the challenges that crucify. These are times when we may also glimpse the white butterfly of new possibility. As we integrate our aloneness and despair into new learning, we plant it back into a world that looks the same outwardly, though we have changed irrevocably. Says Marion Woodman, “periods of renunciation are the initiations in life when we realise God is not running a day care centre.”

Goddess is a word that has lost its currency. This powerful archetype has been prostituted to sell perfume, bath oil, and deodorant. It’s bandied about as a term of endearment.  Goddess, like Woman, has been made infantile, pretty-in-pink, static, always smiling, naively youthful.  But, there is not only one goddess. She has, for eons, appeared in three: Maiden, Mother, and Crone; and she takes many forms. In a civilization as flatlined as ours, she lives still as the Fairy Godmother, the Woman of the Mist, Baba Yaga, the Cailleach. She is the dark moon, the cruel winter, the fierce, wise Mother of All. The Crone courageously embraces her values, her truth, and her beauty. She caresses the silver riverbeds that lattice her belly and her thighs, sees the eyes that stare back at her in the mirror, and says, yes!  She works through those who have not pricked their fingers on the spindle and fallen asleep.

There is an old story, told by Lame Deer, a Lakota Elder. It speaks of the importance of injury. When we die, we meet an old hag in the Underworld. She will eat our scars, and then allow us to continue on our journey. If you have none, she will eat your eyes instead. This suggests to me, the value of inner sight, as we die in various ways on our journeys. It is in our scars, the fractures in our hearts, our wrinkles, our stretch marks, as Leonard Cohen says, There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

So there will come a time when we must stand in the fire, like Teresa Treacy of Clonmore. We must speak our truth quietly, with assurance. We must persistently mine the metaphors in our lives. Dig deep, chew the cud of our dreams and savour the delicious sweetness. Stir the cauldron of our darkest emotions. And when we have prepared, and are ready, the Crone will appear. She will take our hand, and lead us back to the Garden.

Well, then can I roam beside you? I have come to lose the smog.
And I feel myself a cog in something turning.
And maybe it’s the time of year, yes, said maybe it’s the time of man.
And I don’t know who I am but life is for learning.
We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion year old carbon,
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.
Joni Mitchell, Woodstock.

Love the Crone, and listen to the original sounds of the Beatles:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaJIQmIei14  And I love her, the Beatles http://www.offalyexpress.ie/news/local/teresa_treacy_to_meet_with_esb_1_3143058

 

 

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Astrology 101, Part 5: The Last Six Signs of the Zodiac

In this post, we continue with the symbolism of the signs of the ZodiacThe signs can be considered as energy filters that colour the action of every planet in the chart.  In that sense, we look at them not only in terms of identity (the Sun sign), but also for emotional reactions (Moon sign), communication approach (Mercury sign) and so on.

So, let’s take a look at thumbnail sketches of the last six signs of the Zodiac.  What images do they conjure up for us?  What are their archetypal identities?  What growthful journeys do they suggest we need to take as we mature in life?

Libra, 7th sign of the Zodiac

The Scales, impersonal and inanimate, strive for balance and harmony.  They weigh the opposing options, evaluate relationships, measure aesthetics.  Its identity is partnership; the journey is to reach equilibrium.

Scorpio, 8th sign of the Zodiac

The Scorpion, but also the ancient Eagle, is the intense, emotional power of life and death.  Its feelings so sharp, so deep, it fears to expose them.  The Scorpion’s identity is power and privacy; the journey to live every moment as if it were the last.

Sagittarius, 9th sign of the Zodiac

The Archer’s sights are set in the distance, wherever his arrow may fall.  He is the gypsy, the student, the philosopher. The Sagittarius identity is faith and journeying; his journey is unceasing quest.

Capricorn, 10th sign of the Zodiac

The Sea-Goat, an impossible combination in reality, is the symbol of ultimate, absolute power.  Ambitious, mountain-climbing, the Sea-Goat seeks worldly status.  But its identity lies in its inner integrity; its journey solitude and personal honour.

Aquarius, 11th sign of the Zodiac

The Water Bearer, despite its name, is an Air sign and a seeker of knowledge.  He seeks perfect solutions, utopias, ultimate truth.  His identity is intellectual freedom; his journey individuality perfected in the collective.

Pisces, 12th sign of the Zodiac

The Fishes swim in the vast ocean of all human emotion, the collective connection to Spirit.  They feel for everything and everyone, to the point where escape for the world seems the only option.  Their identity is compassion; their journey the return to Source.

The signs are grouped together in a number of different ways—yin/yang, element and mode—that help us further understand their characteristics.

Next up: Categories of Signs of the Zodiac

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