Rivers of energy

Helene Vaillant asks “What do you see?”   https://helenevaillant.com/2019/03/19/what-do-you-see-march-19-2019/
wall  Pixabay

I see
The universe spinning
energy flowing like a river

– standing off to the side
watching
observing
detached –
thinking that somehow
watching makes you part of it

The currents are moving fast now
flowing in all directions.

Some are clear
uplifting
noble and brave

Some are depraved
Some are fearful
Some are hate filled
Some are ugly

Others are just plain mediocre.

Standing off to one side
watching,
observing,
detached –
thinking that somehow
watching makes you part of it.

It’s time to jump in the river
it’s time to stand for something

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Native American Prophecy

There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly. Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water.

And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate. At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally, least of all ourselves. For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey come to a halt.

The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves! Banish the word ’struggle’ from your attitude and your vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.

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The Green Man

I made another spirit doll this week.   It felt incomplete until I saw Sue Vincent’s  prompt  – https://scvincent.com/2019/03/14/thursday-photo-prompt-sign-writephoto/

Of course!   What my doll needed was a hat.  I made him one from green leather then put him in the fork of a tree to take his photo.

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While I was making this doll I was thinking about the mythical figure of the Green Man.  It is perhaps a sign of our times that the Green Man is coming back into our awareness.  The archetype has particular relevance to men as an alternative to toxic masculinity.

I found a really good explanation of what the Green Man represents for men on https://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/meet-green-man-archetype-wild-soul-dg/
“he models a different kind of manhood and strength, one that is based on relationship, caring, and true husbandry or stewardship. He gives us a powerful metaphor and depiction of the Sacred Masculine.”

Writing of the relevance of this model of masculine for our times the author describes the Green Man archetype as “a strong and compassionate masculine who respects the hidden laws of nature and interconnected relationship. In a modern incarnation, he stands for environmental awareness and action; he symbolizes cooperation with nature rather than dominion over it for resources, wealth, and power. In a sense, he is the original eco-warrior.”

I really like these ideas but feel the Green Man has a relevance for us all regardless of gender.   We all embody both masculine and feminine qualities to some degree.  On the website https://www.tlc-uu.org/awakening-the-sacred-masculine-introducing-the-green-man/ I read:
“As the Goddess makes her return, we must also resurrect the Green Man so that both feminine and masculine are united in a healthy balance of head and heart, intellect and imagination, intuition and reason, force and flow. Cultivating a healthy sense both of our masculine and feminine sides of ourselves is the only way we will ever be able to usher in an era of new balance so desperately needed in our world today. When a healthy masculinity is established both men and women will rejoice. And so too will animals, plants and future generations. The stakes for establishing a Sacred Marriage of the Divine Feminine and Sacred Masculine have never been higher. Our survival hangs in the balance.”

Inside a tree

 

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As I sat beneath the spreading branches of the ash tree in my yard I wondered what it would be like to go inside – to find a little door hidden in the shadows and slip in.   Of course I’d have to be like Alice and have shrunk but details aside, what would it be like?

Would I slide down into the roots and plunge deep into the Earth or would I rise with the sap and sigh and sway with the leaves in the wind?

It was then I felt myself sinking.   Not into the tree but into deep reverie. My feet planted on the grounds seemed to be growing roots.  Earthed I was, grounded in my physicality, my body.

The wind in the tree top grew louder and I raised my eyes up to the branches.   I saw the ragged scar of an ancient wound where a large branch must have sheared off in a storm long ago.  I looked higher still and saw that the crown of the tree had once been pruned out.  Thick branches now terminated abruptly.   Just below them thinner branches had sprouted and now reached skyward.   Some were so spindly they hung from the tree in tangled curves of dying wood.   Others were strong and healthy and flung themselves out away from the trunk into the clear blue of sky above.

In that moment my mind merged with the beingness of the tree and I felt myself both planted in the ground and soaring upwards – transcendental yet of the Earth.   Solid yet ethereal.   Enduring despite the scars, the sometimes brutal experiences and the dreams of growth that had not survived.   Going on anyway – finding new ways to be and ways to grow despite setbacks.

I felt then the presence in the heart of the ash – strong, benevolent yet detached.  So old now and having seen so much – a grandmother of a tree – a wisdom keeper.

Gently, oh so softly, the tree released me and I came back into my human form.   The sound of a truck bumping and roaring along the highway pulled me back into my own time and place.   Like the wind in the tree tops I sighed.   Endure, I thought, despite all the chaos and drama of life, find new ways to be – keep on going.

Prompt:   https://helenevaillant.com/2019/01/29/view-from-here/Ff

An Imaginative Connection

I was scrolling through my WordPress Reader when I came across Sue Vincent’s latest #writephotoimage.

When I saw it I did a double take for I spent hours yesterday making this collage – 001.jpg

What a strange imaginative connection links Sue’s photo and my collage.  I have no idea what motivated Sue to post that particular image but the inspiration for my collage came from thinking about the life and work of the 11th century Christian nun, Hildegarde of Bingen.

I find Hildegarde inspirational for she was an accomplished writer, herbalist, mystic, composer, artist and environmentalist back in an age where women were too often voiceless and powerless.

The brilliant colours of her manuscript art inspired my own collage –

Image result for hildegard of bingen manuscript illumination https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scivias

Her music is hauntingly beautiful.

One of Hildegarde’s most enduring ideas is the concept of Viriditas, a Latin word which loosely translates as vitality, freshness, lushness,greening, or growth.    In Hildegarde’s philosophical writings the word is used as a metaphor for spiritual and physical health.  She celebrates the sacred energetic force that animates all life and actively sought to connect with the natural world for she saw it as a source of creative and healing power.

“O most honored Greening Force,
You who roots in the Sun;
You who lights up, in shining serenity, within a wheel
that earthly excellence fails to comprehend.
You are enfolded in the weaving of divine mysteries.
You redden like the dawn
and you burn: flame of the Sun.”

–  Hildegard von Bingen, Viriditas

Hildegarde experienced visions from an early age but it wasn’t until she was 42 that she felt compelled to share her visions with the world despite the disapproval of patriarchal church authorities.  Later on in life she undertook four preaching tours where she told her male superiors that they would fall from grace if they didn’t change their attitudes.     Huffington Post – why Hildegarde matters  Her words have relevance today as the male clergy that control many Christian churches are being held to account for their role in covering up child sexual abuses.

There is so much to learn from Hildegarde’s life and work.   What came through for me yesterday while I was working on my collage was an understanding of the energy and inspiration found in having a sense of purpose that is greater than personal self interest.

Hildegarde’s voice speaks loud and clear down through the centuries.   I hear it in the calm pure notes of her music and in her writings.  I see its imprint in her art.  “Take your time,” she says to me.  “Celebrate life.   Create with clear intention.  Discipline the will and seek to serve the greater good. Speak your truth.”

Aging as a spiritual journey – part 2

I spent yesterday finishing my art journal on aging as a spiritual journey.  I realized I could have done more blog posts on this but they would just be compilations of other people’s ideas.  Instead I copied ideas that resonated with me into the journal.   If you want to follow up on any let me know and I’ll send you a link to the source material.

Here’s the completed journal page by page.   As you can see some pages have been altered but the journal never did get any neater.   If you missed the post about how I constructed it you can find it here

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You can find my other posts in this series  here and here

Aging as a Spiritual Journey

“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you really are.”   Carl Jung

Coming to terms with physical decline and with the loss of old roles that occurs during the aging process takes conscious effort.  Carol Osborn, author and founder of Fierce with Age says “Mourn your lost youth, illnesses or other losses.  Acknowledge that it’s happening as a passage you have to go through.”

The journey through this passage can be the thing that propels us to shift our awareness into a more spiritualized view of the aging process.

The University of Maryland Medical Center defines spirituality as “a belief in a power operating in the universe that is greater than oneself; a sense of interconnectedness with all living creatures; and an awareness of the purpose and meaning of life and the development of personal, absolute values. Even the non-religious may describe themselves as spiritual.”  aging as a spiritual process

The clinical psychologist, Dr. John Robinson writes:-
“While we can hang onto past identities and achievements, these memories grow stale for they no longer represent who we really are. But this procession of losses, as the mystics tell us, constitutes the quintessential pre-requisite for enlightenment. What’s left when the ego’s filters of identity, time and story dissolve is consciousness itself, which the mystics also tell us is the consciousness of the divine.”  http://www.johnrobinson.org/

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Robinson describes the process of coming to terms with the losses of age as a descent – either a descent into distress or, if we move to the spiritual side of the matrix, a descent into ‘the arms of the divine mother.’

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I like the idea that the descent is a mystic journey back to the divine mother for that is where my own meditations take me.

Through some alchemical process I don’t know the words for, this journey into the mystical depths can lead to an intuitive awareness of the interconnection of all life.  The sense of purpose that grows from this awareness is greater than purely personal concerns yet it infuses the personal life with meaning and a sense of joy.  It is here where the path into aging opens up into a greater awareness of the wonder of life.

It is here too where the interior landscape becomes archetypal and the spiritual journey is shown to be a journey that anyone can take at any time.   Age is not a pre-requisite.

I will leave my quest across the landscape of aging here.   My quest to find new stories continues.  I might blog about that in 2019 but I’m not sure.

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 HAPPY NEW YEAR

This is the 3rd post in my series ‘Aging as a spiritual journey’
Part 1 of this journey can be found here
Part 2 of this journey can be found  here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Defining the Journey

More on the quest to age well –

Although I wrote the words “Aging as a Spiritual Journey” into my journal I had only the vaguest idea of what I meant by them.  Googling them I discovered many people have written books and articles on the subject.

Most of these articles begin with acknowledging the fact that aging is inevitable. Although western culture tends to deny the aging process and to glorify youth we are completely unable to stop the process altogether.   It’s a fact of life – we all grow older and we all eventually die.

The psychologist Robert Peck defined three psychological phases of aging.

1. The first phase happens around retirement.    This is when we begin to wonder “Who am I now?”   The more our identity has been tied up in our career, the more difficult this stage can be.  Around this time we are also beginning to show the physical signs of aging.  Many people feel they have become invisible.

The spiritual teacher Ram Dass sums this phase up well:-

“I can remember when I became irrelevant.  I mean, you can walk down certain streets in any city and you’re either a potential, a competitor, or irrelevant. I became a walking lamp post after awhile. It was incredible because people look right through you, they don’t even see you. At first I got all uptight about it and I’d wear my hair spread all over my head and do all these things. Get tighter suits and diet and everything so I’d be somebody, but then it’s a new moment, and you realize that’s the way it is.”  https://www.ramdass.org/important-come-terms-aging/

At some point we come to terms with this invisibility and discover freedom within it.  It doesn’t matter so much what others think of us for, chances are they are probably barely noticing us.

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Peck’s second phase of aging begins when we realise the body is changing with age.            We are slowing down and don’t have the agility we once had.   It can take longer to recover from illness.  This stage is particularly difficult if you have identified with being physically fit.

The third psychological phase of aging is about the preparation for death.   This phase is often foreshadowed many years beforehand as we consider just what we are leaving behind for future generations.

For me this third phase is like a tune playing in the background.    I think about it from time to time but my main pre-occupations are more immediate. What do I do in the interim between having a busy, active life in the world and my eventual demise? Keeping busy and distracting myself with hobbies, shopping excursions and reading the novels I never got around to reading when I was younger gets boring.   Traveling isn’t always an option – the finances don’t always stretch that far and beside, my physical stamina is sometimes just not enough.

As the old roles and identities I have inhabited fall away I am left wondering ‘what next?’  It seems to me that I now face a choice.   I can either despair or I can figure out ways to age with integrity.

Somewhere in all my reading about the aging process I came across the idea that although the physical body declines the potential for spiritual development increases.

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In her book, “The Measure of My Days”  the Jungian analyst, Florida Scott-Maxwell wrote of this approach to aging –

“The purpose of life may be to clarify our essence, and everything else is the rich, dull, hard, absorbing chaos that allows the central transmutation.”

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I will develop these ideas in my next post.  You can find my first post in this series here

(as you can see the journal is continuing to develop as I read more about aging well.    It’s become a place to work out what I’m thinking and feeling about everything I’m reading.  I’ve had to leave my inclination to tidy it up and make it neat for the spontaneity gets lost when I try to do that).