The places that scare you

When we protect ourselves so we won’t feel pain, that protection becomes like armour, like armour that imprisons the softness of the heart. Pema Chodron

I wake early and sit on the verandah of my little Balinese bungalow. The ocean roars below. Dawn is breaking. A pair of small bats flap around and through the rafters of the row of huts. They pelt past me, ducking and weaving through wooden pillars and trees. I watch in awe.

Blind as a bat, that’s how the saying goes and yet they navigate with apparent ease. I’m pulled between feelings of admiration and a mild fear that one will come crashing into my head.

This torque between awe and fear captures my experience in Bali. Quite possibly it epitomises my reaction to life in general.

There is a contradiction in wanting to be perfectly secure in a universe whose very nature is momentariness and fluidity. Alan Watts

This place is beautiful but a little unsafe. No, not really unsafe. Unfamiliar. There are imagined disasters at every turn. Can I leave my son in the bungalow for an hour to go to yoga? What if something happens to him? What if I get hit by a scooter? What if we get sick? What if I lose all our money? What if there’s a tsunami? A volcanic ash cloud? What if we get stuck here and I run out of money? What if I chose the wrong place to stay? What if we are too isolated here? What if…?

These thoughts have plagued the early hours of the morning. Waking me from a blissful tropical sleep into heart-pounding anxiety. It is said that the body doesn’t differentiate between a real or an imagined experience. And here I lie in paradise traumatising myself with imagined disaster scenarios.

The human ego prefers anything, just about anything, to falling, or changing, or dying. The ego is that part of you that loves the status quo – even when it’s not working. It attaches to past and present and fears the future. Richard Rohr

This same torque exists within me, a strong need for security coupled with an adventurous and inquisitive spirit. There is absolutely no way to quell these needs simultaneously, there are always choices that serve one but not the other. And I feel ever pulled in different directions. 

Anxiety is a strange beast. It’s been with me forever and yet I am only just starting to see its pervasiveness. I think in the past I had a host of coping mechanisms – not good ones it has to be said, but temporarily effective. 

These strategies seemed to mask and divert my anxiety into manageable, material things. I felt anxious but I had a solution, I just needed a drink, a drug, a man, a family sized tub of Haagen Dazs…

The desire for security and the feeling of insecurity are the same thing. To hold your breath is to lose your breath. A society based on the quest for security is nothing but a breath-retention contest in which everyone is as taut as a drum and as purple as a beet. Alan Watts

Then there is the strategy of control and micromanaging. It goes like this, if I keep my life small, contained and manageable, if I stick to the list of things I can’t do because they scare me, then I keep anxiety at bay. Well, that’s the theory.

Except I discovered none of these things actually works in the long term. Like a hyper-resistant virus, anxiety soon finds a way through all my defences. “Ha ha it says. You can’t beat me!” It’s like the ever confident poker player always willing to raise me one more until I fold.

So what to do then?

Nothing goes away until it teaches you what you need to know. Pema Chodron

So what does my anxiety have to teach me? Paradoxically I think it teaches me to be brave. I know that sounds crazy but bear with me here.

When every day, all day, every little decision, every action scares you, it means you are constantly overcoming fear. Unlike someone who lives in the illusion of security, an anxious person is only too aware of the unstable nature of life, inherent is suffering, misfortune and ultimately death. 

The trick is to be at peace with this awareness. It is how we react to the anxiety that makes the difference, not trying to get rid of the anxiety itself.

What lies beneath this anxiety about seemingly trivial things is the fear of no control, and ultimately the fear of suffering and death. Anxiety is borne of a lie that if things were a certain way, then I’d be okay. But in reality things are in constant flux and mostly out of my control.

The places that really scare us are within and not outside of ourselves. That’s the ruse. Anxiety makes us feel that the threat is out there, that there is safety and security to be found if only we manage well. 

Coming to Bali, leaving my son to go to yoga, all involves acting in face of these fears. The fear turns out to be an illusion. This acting in spite of my fear strengthens me for the next bout of fear. It teaches me to be present in the fear and act with integrity and courage anyway. It teaches me that although I have no control, I do have choice. 

The more we witness our emotional reactions and understand how they work, the easier it is to refrain. Pema Chodron 

Here I have none of my defences. I wear little clothes, no make-up. I have no job, no profession, no role. There is no schedule, no timelines. I am without my armoury. Without my anchors of familiarity and routine. In this free flowing unfolding of life my anxiety runs around like a headless chicken. “What if… What if… What if…”

After centering myself, reminding myself gently that I came to Bali to revisit my spirit of adventure, I say “Wouldn’t it be lovely to walk to yoga in my favourite studio in the whole world, knowing my son is completely safe and so am I.”

And that’s exactly how it goes.

Now I’m not saying bad things don’t happen. That’s not the point. The point is worrying and anxiety are not going to stop bad things from happening. And mostly those things are the ones we never see coming anyway. Like the coconut that fell from a tree missing my head by inches as my son and I walked to the pool. Didn’t see that coming! I didn’t wake at 5am worrying about having my skull caved in by a falling coconut…

The point is not to let fear poison and dominate my life’s experiences and choices. To as Pema Chodron says go to the places that scare you. Be present there, and live heart-fully in spite of fear. To accept my vulnerability in a world where quite possibly anything could happen. To be invigorated rather than petrified by this.

When we resist change, it’s called suffering. But when we can completely let go and not struggle against it, when we can embrace the groundlessness of our situation, and relax into its dynamic quality, that’s called enlightenment. Pema Chodron 

All this has emerged as I feel the shift into my heart chakra. This year I have been allowing myself to flow through my chakras very slowly and intuitively. Last month I was enjoying the fiery energy of Manipura. And even as I finished writing my last post I could feel the shift into the heart centre.

The alchemy of surrender is a term used by astrologer Sarah Varcas. She uses it to describe the power that comes from embracing the state of unknowing. She talks about the shift that happens when we stop trying to think our way through uncertainty and begin to feel into it.

Over the past ten days I have remained present through my varying states from mild panic to complete calm and peace. Having just been attuned to reiki, I practiced this on myself and tuned into where the nervous energy was stuck in my body.

Anxiety is awareness without presence, just as fear is excitement without breathing. Russ Hudson

Anxiety is just energy. When you think about it, there’s very little difference between anxiety and excitement except the story the mind tells itself.

In yoga class, the teacher led us through pranayama breathing exercises. He reminded us that without proper breathing the energy cannot flow. Yoga asanas, or any energy raising practice for that matter, without breathing will raise energy but not move it, creating blocks and imbalances.

Anxiety is an energetic charge created by our mental perception. Breathing into the anxiety. Focusing on where it is being trapped in the body – both subtle and physical – allowing a compassionate observation of our thoughts and sensations, creating space for them, is a powerful way to transform anxiety into a mindfulness practice.

This is not something we do once or twice. Interrupting our destructive habits and awakening the heart is the work of a lifetime. Pema Chodron

Anxiety and fear is a call to arms. Without it would I have pursued a spiritual solution? I doubt it. If not driven by my discomfort, what motivation would there have been for me to investigate meditation, yoga, Chakradance? That’s not to say that anxiety is all that motivates me, I have a connection to the spirit world that is precious and wonderful to me, but it was desperation that got me started.

For those of you who haven’t experienced anxiety it begins with a feeling of something running on a mouse-wheel in your chest. There’s a feeling of panic even if there’s no real sense of what the panic is about. It’s like feeling scared. 

People – the ones who don’t experience anxiety – will say it’s all in your head. Yes. Like real fear. That’s in your head too. And your body doesn’t distinguish between the two. For someone in the midst of an anxiety attack, they may as well be tied to the train tracks with the 4:32 fast approaching.

Anxiety certainly gets your attention. It’s hard to ignore that freight train rocking through your chest, the dry mouth, the pounding head, the urge to run. Maybe that’s the point. Anxiety wants me to pay attention. Like a parent who has asked politely twenty times for their child to come to dinner, anxiety ramps it up a notch just to get their attention.

We’re all very familiar with the experience of fear escalating, or the experience of running away from fear. But have we even taken the time to truly touch our fear, to be present with it and experience it fully? Do we know what it might mean to smile at fear? Pema Chodron

Meditation helps. It helps because it is a practice which disciplines us to let thoughts go, to not attach or overly identify with them. It helps because it brings awareness on to the breath, and breathing can become shallow when anxious, and breath moves energy through our subtle body. 

And it helps because it teaches us to just observe whatever state we may be in with loving compassion and a little detachment. In meditation I am present, aware, but not a slave to my thinking.

Someone once told me that the problem it not how we feel, it’s how we feel about how we feel. So when I’m anxious I have the choice to feel anxious about my anxiety – can you see the snowball effect of that line of thinking? 

Or I can choose to accept that I’m anxious, without reacting to it. This was a strategy I first encountered in Russ Harris’ book The Happiness Trap, but essentially it is the basis of many religious and contemplative practices. Begin in the now, with what is, accept it, breathe, refrain from judgement or reaction. Be an impassive observer of your own inner workings. Create a space between the feeling and the observing of the feeling.

Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy. Pema Chodron

I know it sounds so simple, but it’s also really hard to unlearn years of habitual thinking. So I have found I need to be very gentle and compassionate with myself. Sometimes I react to my anxiety, that snowball starts rolling and I’m out of control.  And that’s okay. It always comes to a head and then I regroup. I meditate, I dance, I run, I do yoga. I sit on a stationary bike and pedal until all the nervous energy has burned out of me. I begin again.

I am sure much of my anxiety comes from a defensive self-protection. I want to be open to life, to explore, to love, to experience. 

Yet part of me feels that in the past when I have opened to life, to love, it has been a Trojan horse, which seemed at first, like a wondrous gift, but once within my walls, once it had me vulnerable, it attacked. After charming itself into my world it let me down in the most spectacular way. My heart hurts from this disappointment and betrayal. 

As much as I wish to be rendered new, these scars linger. But what if that’s the point? What could be more brave than keeping my heart open knowing that pain is inevitable?

A dark night of the soul is some of the most transformative times that we go through in our lives. They are sacred initiations. Marianne Williamson

Marianne Williamson talks of the modern tendency of pathologising of normal human suffering. Pain and suffering are part of life, we are built for it. As well as a physical immune system we have a psychic immune system. After a physical injury or illness we allow time for the bruises and scars to heal. The same goes for our psychic scars, after loss or sadness or disappointment there is a time when we feel bruised, and are healing. Time and self-compassion and acceptance is the way through this process. 

The thymus gland relates to the immune system in the body and is the gland that is located in the area of the heart chakra. Is it possible that this psychic immune system is also located in the heart centre? 

Just as our physical immunity strengthens from exposure to allergens and bacteria, perhaps our psychical immune system strengthens through these times of fear, pain and grief that so test our hearts.

Marianne Williamson maintains that much of what is diagnosed and medicated as anxiety and depressive disorders is actually the very sane reactions we have to the world we live in. Bombarded daily with images of violence, poverty, disease, only the hardest of hearts could not feel pain. 

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, they must be felt with the heart. Helen Keller

Spiritual malady is often called the ‘dark night of the soul.’ As Buddha and Christ demonstrated suffering is at the core of the spiritual experience. Indeed the need to be happy – that we are so bombarded with – is a set-up for disappointment and despair.

When what we really need is to develop acceptance and resilience to pain, compassion for ourself and others, by understanding and accepting its intrinsic role in our human experience.

The energy of the heart is simple. It is love. It wants to love. To radiate its light. To bring warmth and healing to others. To open to the radiance of life. 

In Sanskrit, Anahata means unhurt or unstruck. 

The heart is always unhurt and unstruck. That sacred centre cannot be scarred. The scars are energetic memories of past suffering. They are not bad, just products of the mistaken belief that closing, hiding and shielding the heart will prevent pain when of course the opposite is true.

Jung described the heart chakra as the beginning of individuation. The place where we begin to experience something beyond our ego-self, something we might call spirit.

When we begin to heal the heart chakra, we create a softening of the heart. This softening stirs the energy of love and compassion and through awareness we can begin to dissolve the hurt we so often bury in our hearts. As our heart awakens to its own loving potential we begin to experience genuine connection with others, and our relationships grow healthy and radiate love. Natalie Southgate 

The heart Chakradance is a dance of integration, of uniting the masculine and feminine energies, the energies of the more dense chakras below, with the more etheric above. As we dance we honour Father Sky and Mother Earth, day and night, light and dark, yang and yin. We experience that beautiful space where all is united and integrated, where all apparent opposites move together in harmonious dance of love.

I remember the last time I led the Heart Chakradance, it was close in time to an experience that had hurt my heart. I was more than a little afraid to be going there, especially leading a class. ‘What if I break down?’ I worried, knowing the pain was just beneath the surface.

Yet in the dance I didn’t experience my pain, I held the space for the dancers, and what I found was the essence of the heart energy, endless, unfathomable, bottomless waves of love and compassion. The room was bathed in emerald green light, as I shifted the energies that people released, yes, there was sadness and grief and disappointment, but it paled in the face of this infinite supply of love. 

When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it’s bottomless, that it doesn’t have any resolution, that this heart is huge, vast and limitless. You begin to discover how much warmth and gentleness is there, as well as how much space. Pema Chodron 

The recent years have marked a shift for me into setting my sights high and acting with self-belief. And while the fear and anxiety are often there, they no longer dictate my actions. Often I see anxiety as an indicator that have stepped outside of my comfort zone, into new territory and I remind myself this is a good thing.

After returning from Bali I met with the leader of my Druid grove and she guided my through walking the wheel. The Druid wheel is both a calendar for the eight seasonal ceremonies of the year and like the Native American medicine wheel, a sacred symbolic and archetypal map for the stages of development and the energies we are working through at a given time in our life. 

As part of a grove or Druid community, it also suggests the ceremonial role that we should hold for that year. While we work through the energies of an aspect of the wheel, we can also hold and represent those energies for the group during ceremony. For me the wheel guided me to stop just North of West, at the position of the knight. 

Don’t move the way fear makes you move. Move the way love makes you move. Move the way joy makes you move. Osho

It a curious position, archetypally the Knight is a young male, still adolescent, who embarks on a spiritual quest, the search for the Holy Grail, if you will. He represents the spiritual warrior. While it seemed strange for a woman at my stage of life, somewhere in the mother/queen realm to be guided to this energy, it also makes perfect sense.

This year I have been guided to make my spiritual journey a physical one, with my pilgrimages to Bali and India, and next year to Ireland. I have very much been called to get on my horse and physically seek. I have also been guided to do so alone. For the first time in my life I am not looking for a partner, if anything I feel I have no space for one right now. I’m the knight on his holy mission and it’s a path I must travel alone.

And how interesting that at a time when anxiety over my life choices has reared up, this warrior energy has emerged for me. It feels like a beautiful integration of the solar plexus warrior energy into the heart. Where my will and passion is channeled through my heart centre. 

It’s exciting for me to see spirit guide me in this way, it’s validating. As I march into the unknown, I have unseen guides alongside me. 

And like the turning of the wheel, my time as the knight won’t be forever, only until I have worked with these energies, gained their wisdom and I am ready to integrate this and move on.

The most courageous thing we will ever do is bear humbly the mystery of our own reality. Richard Rohr


Bless!

The sweet spot

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She stood in the storm, and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails. Elizabeth Edwards

This week marks both the four month anniversary of my break-up with the one I thought was ‘the One’ and the six year anniversary of my marriage ending. My second marriage, that is.

It would be easy to just fall in a heap of ‘woe is me’ weeping. Truth to told my heart is heavy and raw, but I feel that the time has come to just launch myself forward and embrace life as best I can.

The time has come to shake off the doldrums, and what better way than the Sacral Chakradance. The moon is new, the celestial energy is ripe for a rebirth of fresh, vital energy.

The sacral chakra, based in the lower belly, is the colour of a vibrant orange sunset, the centre of femininity, sensuality and feeling, the dance expresses itself through the traditional belly dances of the East.

It’s element is water, so the imagery of the dance is of flowing rivers, and the ocean, and the full moon. It is the chakra of emotions, of feeling, of the senses.

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As I have written previously, I feel that igniting the belly chakras is a great way to move through difficult emotions and replenish the lust for life, that can become depleted after prolonged illness or times of grief and sadness.

Last week I cancelled a hot date becuase I was feeling so down and disillusioned. I am hoping that moving through this sad energy and revitalising my belly chakras will shift me into reclaiming my inner goddess energy. Into feeling alive with the energy of the senses, feeling the flow of sacral energy through my belly.

In her amazing book, Vagina, Naomi Wolf describes the connection between female sexuality and creativity, she calls this the Goddess energy.

Calling to mind writers and artists like Anais Nin and Georgia O’Keefe, whose creativity skyrocketed during their passionate love affairs, Wolf uses both anedoctal evidence and medical science to support the theory that an orgasmic women is a women in full force of her energy.

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The tantric tradition supports this notion absolutely, for both men and women, a healthy and satisfying sexual and creative life is a integral part of their vitality. Fortunately for many of us, tantric breath work and practices can be done alone as well as with a partner, so being single doesn’t preclude anyone from accessing this aspect of their spiritual vitality.

Let the beauty of what you love be what you do. There are many ways to kneel and kiss the ground. Rumi

The sacral chakra is connected to our creativity, our flow. That there exists this connection between emotion, sensuality, and creativity, makes perfect sense to me. The grief of the past few months has had a dulling effect on my vitality. Making a conscious intention to revitalise my sensuality has created a shift, and as a result I am smiling more, singing, feeling lighter. Feeling in the flow of my energy.

The sacral chakra – or Svadhisthana in sankrit – means “sweetness” or “one’s own place”. I like to call it “the sweet spot.” This alludes to the sensual bliss of an awakened sacral chakra, but more broadly to the awakening to a place in our own lives where we can embrace bliss in every area of our life.

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What makes you smile? What makes you happy? What makes your heart sing? What are you passionate about? Is there any reason not to follow your bliss? For many of us the secret to success in life lies in following our heart and doing what we love, living in alignment with our natural gifts and talents.

There is in all things an inexhaustible sweetness and purity, a silence that is a fountain of action and joy. It rises up in wordless gentleness and flows out to me from the unseen roots of all created being. Thomas Merton

The sacral chakra resonates to the colour orange – the colour of positive emotions, pleasure and success. The colour of flame that represents your true nature, and refers to the true and pure essence of the real you.

Svadhisthana is the seat of sexual desire, pleasure and nurturing. The sacred art of tantra uses divine energy, including this sensual, sacral energy, to propel Kundalini energy up the spine, inspiring bliss and enlightenment.

The Svadhisthana allows you to find pleasure in self-expression. Whatever that may mean for you, it may be writing, painting, dancing, singing, gardening, parenting, being of service to others – we all have our innate gifts to share with the world.

The self-respect that comes from doing the things we love and feel gifted at, flows from our sacral chakra – if you’re enthusiastic, sociable, energetic and self-assured, your sacral chakra is strong.

Here a little video to show you how to balance your sacral chakra:

After discovering Sally Kempton’s wonderful book, Awakening Shakti: The transformative power of the Goddesses of Yoga, when I was attracted to the energy of Kali, I have continued to read about the hindu goddesses in their myriad forms.

Yesterday feeling depleted and lacklustre, heading out on a date when I had absolutely zero confidence in my appeal to anyone except the dog (you know they love us unconditionally), I picked up this book and began reading about Lakshmi. I kid you not, after about ten minutes I felt my mojo begin to return. Rejection hadn’t made me undesirable, it had just made me feel that way.

Lakshmi throws the spell of the intoxicating sweetness of the divine; to be close to her is a profound happiness and to feel her within the heart is to make existence a rapture and a marvel; grace and charm and tenderness flow out from her like light from the sun and wherever she fixes her wonderful gaze or lets fall the loveliness of her smile, the soul is seized and made captive and plunged into the depths of an unfathomable bliss. Shri Aurobindo

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Prayer to Lakshmi:

O mother

Deeply embedded

Is my fear, my insecurity

Have mercy, O mother, on my wretched state.

Uproot it

With the joy that arises from your sweet and compassionate glance

Plant in us the seed of auspiciousness

As we make our way in the world.

Of her many names, one means lotus, the sacred flower that blossoms in the waters and roots itself in soil. The lotus represent the manifest world, so Lakshmi’s power can be seen as the manifestation of this flow, the energy of the waters and the fertile soil into life.

Lakshmi is beauty and life. When Lord Shiva inadvertently disrespects her, she withdraws from the three realms, and all the flowers wilt and the crops fail. She doesn’t create mass destruction like Kali, she simply withdraws her luscious, life-giving energy from the world. And the world is a drier, colourless place for her absence.

Lakshmi represents the fine balance between giving and receiving. The cycle of the natural world. As we enter into the Chinese New year of the Yin Wood Sheep, a very feminine, receptive, and nurturing time. After the strong yang energy of last year, this year is a time for nurturing, for reflection, for reestablishing our flow.

The energy of Lakshmi is the perfect meditation to restore balance and harmony to our depleted bellies. Here’s to finding your sweet spot!

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Sacral chakra affirmation by HealingJourneysEnergy.com

As I focus on this orange light that radiates from my sacral centre, I feel radiant, alive and strong.

I am able to feel all the positive emotions, I embrace them as they allow me to stand in power.

I am able to feel all the negative emotions, feelings of fear, anxiousness, doubt and I truly understand what causes them, I accept them as they bring about feelings of joy, dignity and peace as they teach me lessons of growth and truth.

I am at peace and I lovingly release any negatives feelings that cause me any discomfort and pain.

(A deep breath in) I lovingly acknowledge, accept and appreciate.

Bless!

Images:

Tantra Goddess

Khajuraho

Lakshmi

Tantra healing

Tantra Art

Further Reading:

http://www.originmagazine.com/2012/10/23/free-your-sacred-belly-by-shiva-rea/

https://sensualblissvoyager.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/imbalance-in-the-sacral-or-sex-chakra/

http://www.chakrahealing.com/blog/sacral-chakra-healing/

What is love anyway?

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How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight For the ends of being and ideal grace. I love thee to the level of every day’s Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light. Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Finding myself bemused by my New Year intentions, that one repeated word intrigues me. Love. What does that even mean?

These are my intentions, by the way. I can’t even remember them, so I certainly don’t expect you to!

Love myself, Love the natural world, Love animals, Love people, Love my work, Love my space, Love my spirit

I don’t know if it’s the Valentine’s Day hangover, but that amount of love is making me feel a little nauseous.

Love is a word so overloaded with meaning, both societal and personal. Poems and songs are written about its lofty heights. It’s the word used to describe both our most precious relationships and how we feel about a good cup of coffee or a new dress.

What did I really mean when I wrote these intentions to love so widely and completely?

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you, so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate that when I fall asleep your eyes close. Pablo Neruda

To love myself or love nature, is that the same kind of love? Does it need to be? Could these intentions be an exercise in stretching my ‘love muscles’ – and you can get your mind out of the gutter, right now. There’s more than one kind of love, y’know.

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There are so many different kinds of love. Love can mean like, adore, adulate, care for, worship, cherish, yearn for, hold dear, pine for, enjoy, like, delight in, savour, fancy, admire… you get the idea. Other languages and cultures are much more nuanced in their expression of love – with words for which you need a whole sentence in English.

Saudade (Pronunciation: saw•’day•djee – Portugese) n., a strong feeling of missing someone you love.

In his wonderful article on the subject, philosopher Roman Krznaric, writes that the Greek language distinguishes at least six different ways as to how the word love is used.

The ancient Greeks were just as sophisticated in the way they talked about love, recognizing six different varieties. They would have been shocked by our crudeness in using a single word both to whisper “l love you” over a candlelit meal and to casually sign an email “lots of love.” Roman Krznaric

The first kind of love was eros, named after the Greek god of fertility, and it represented the idea of sexual passion and desire. Something the Greeks saw as a frightening loss of control, not the desirable state of constant arousal our modern society views it as.

Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. Neil Gaiman

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The second variety of love was philia or friendship, which was valued more highly by the Greeks than the sexuality of eros. Philia describes the deep friendship that developed between men who had fought side by side on the battlefield – it epitomised loyalty, sacrifice and the sharing of deeply affecting experiences.

We’d never know how high we are ’till we are called to rise; and then, if we are true to plan, our statures touch the sky. Emily Dickinson

Ludis was the Greeks’ idea of playful love, such as the affection between children or young lovers. Think of flirting, teasing, bantering and light-hearted fun.

The fourth love was agape or selfless love. This was a love that you extended to all people – compassion, charity and an empathy for all people (and all living things).

Pragma was the deep understanding between long-married couples, who demonstrate compromise, patience and tolerance.

It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages. Friedrich Nietzsche

The Greek’s sixth variety of love was philautia or self-love, of which there were two kinds. One was a narcissistic self-love, where you became self-obsessed and focused on selfish ends. The second type was the idea that if you have a healthy self-love, you will have plenty of love to give others.

Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them. Leo Tolstoy

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Krznaric suggests there is a correlation between the lack of attention given to these non-sexual, non-romantic forms of love and the modern obsession with romantic love, and with finding ‘the one’. The Greeks clearly articulated that expecting one person to fulfil all our love needs was completely unrealistic.

So it makes sense that there are different kinds of love, and perhaps we are designed to experience them all. Like getting all our nutrients, perhaps this longing for the ‘one’ is a manifestation of unfulfilled love in other parts of our life. Too much focus on the meat and not enough vegetables. (Okay, that pun was intended.)

On a recent shamanic journey, I was shown another aspect of love, receiving. One of my regular animal guides, the wolf, took me on a journey that showed me how resistant I am to the love and support all around me.

Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love. Rainer Maria Rilke

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As the western world celebrates – or commiserates – Valentine’s Day, I wondered why we laud the romantic love above all else?

Feeling triggered by the ebbs and flows of my own heartbreak, I found the constant emphasis on that kind of love demoralising. A guy from an online dating site asked me ‘what had reduced such a beautiful, intelligent woman to this?’ I found that strange. I didn’t feel reduced. I wanted to meet single men, it seemed like the place to do it, was I missing something?

Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are. Arthur Golden

And then, after some last minute cancellations, I found myself waiting for the last remaining Chakradance attendee who was a no show. Abandoned on Valentine’s Day. Uh oh.

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Then tears came. I wish they didn’t. I wish I could write that I’m all strong and warrior-like, but I’m not.

As I sat in my beautiful studio, feeling alone and abandoned. Opening my eyes a sliver of light from the red candle flame was kaleidoscoped by my tears. So unexpectedly beautiful – the outlines of angels and holographic tribal images. I began to play with my tear-filled eyes. It’s a fine line between pleasure and pain…

Love is so short, forgetting is so long. Pablo Neruda

Unable to reconcile the Valentine red hearts, roses, and chocolate idea of love; the light and sparkly new age all-embracing love; and the love that has left me so bereft,  it occurred to me that love is so much deeper than the use of word suggests. The love of mother at her child’s sick bed. Of a husband as he holds his dying wife’s hand…

Love is a risk. The risk of the loss of that which we love. Love walks the razor’s edge between unconditional love and devastating, debilitating attachment.

What is to give light must endure burning. Viktor Frankl

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Love is an act of courage. The courage to remain open after the heaviness and shards of hurt rain down on us. In the birth/death/rebirth cycle, grief is an inevitable part of love.

Grief reunites you with what you’ve lost. It’s a merging; you go with the loved thing or person that’s going away. You follow it a far as you can go. But finally, the grief goes away and you phase back into the world. Without him. Philip K Dick

Martin Prechtel is the author of Secrets of the Talking Jaguar, an autobiographical account of his initiation as a Mayan Shaman. His lecture series on Grief and Praise is a simple yet profound insight into the false distinction between love and loss, positive and negative emotions.

It is an interesting reflection on our modern desire to both suppress grief, whilst simultaneously expressing it in unhealthy and unhealing ways, on Jerry Springer, Facebook, from a bar stool. Most of us lack the real community which would hold us as we safely grieve.

It’s so curious: one can resist tears and ‘behave’ very well in the hardest hours of grief. But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer… and everything collapses. Colette

Prechtel talks about grief and praise as part of the same continuum, as a yin/yang process where one always contains the other – it must or it is devoid of any real depth. Love and praise are only of substance if there is a connection involved where the loss would be felt deeply.

I love my cup of coffee but if I spill it, I’ll be upset for a moment and annoyed, but there’ll be no real grief. My dog on the other hand… The same goes for grief. We only grieve that which we have deeply loved. If there is no grief, there was no real love.

The darker the night, the brighter the stars,
The deeper the grief, the closer is God! Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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Perhaps this kind of community, Pretchel speaks of, where people can bear witness to our pain and our joys is something we have to create in the modern world, we don’t live in extended families and tribes, and if we break down in the street we are more likely to be carted off to the psych ward than given a cup of tea and a friendly shoulder to cry on.

Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break. William Shakespeare

In a society where it is not safe to grieve, we abandon ourselves before anyone can abandon us, and withhold emotions because we fear it is unsafe. This repression and denial of grief manifests as all kinds of psychosis and physical symptoms, passed down as psychic wounds from generation to generation. These tribal and ancestral wounds are energetically lodged in our base chakra and can make us feel unsafe and insecure.

You won’t find these wounds on an x-ray or ultrasound, yet they will emerge from within when it is safe, if the timing is right, and you have the tools to process and honour them, if you give them the words they need to take flight, you can finally grieve them.

Each of us has his own rhythm of suffering. Roland Barthes

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I was fifteen the first time tried to take my own life. That wasn’t the last time. That medicine cabinet still stands in my mother’s bathroom. Whenever I see it, I can still feel the ache of that girl.

As she emptied the pills in her hand. Her tears as she swallowed them, really thinking it was the end. Of what she thought she would find there. Relief, escape from the burden of an open heart.

Instead of a white cadillac to the clouds, I vomited until I bled, and there were tearful confessions, remonstrations, and resolutions.

It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure. Joseph Campbell

I don’t know what makes someone that thin-skinned. I don’t know why things never bounced off my skin the way the did off other people’s. Why the stings and arrows all got wedged in my heart.

This has been my journey. Being born with an over-full, ever-open heart. Experiencing shame at a too young age. Learning that people would stop loving me if I wasn’t good enough.

Someday you’re gonna look back on this moment of your life as such a sweet time of grieving. You’ll see that you were in mourning and your heart was broken, but your life was changing. Elizabeth Gilbert

Open heart. Broken ever wider. Yet when I journey there I see a beautiful garden growing in the ruins.

Maybe it’s okay to be alone in my garden. It’s beautiful. It lives. I am grateful.

So it’s true, when all is said and done, grief is the price we pay for love. E.A. Bucchianeri

I am grateful for my body
I am grateful for my heart
I am grateful for my spirit

Bless!

Images: http://www.jamesreads.com/

Embracing the dark

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How can I be substantial if I do not cast a shadow? I must have a dark side also If I am to be whole. C.G. Jung

Sometimes I wish my brain had a flip-top and I could lift the lid and just pour in all the wisdom of the ages. That, or a plug-in upload, Matrix-style.

I know, I know my brain would explode, my mind would be fried…

It’s just, sometimes, let’s face it, most of the time, when I go to write a blog post, I feel so fired up about the subject, and yet so awed and humbled by all that I don’t know. It’s almost enough to stop me from writing. Almost, but not quite.

My time is limited, as a working mum, running a small business, writing blogs, and studying online courses, my research is dillentantish at best. I know, I know, I could just do less and research one thing and not get fascinated by new aspects of my journey every week, but, pfffft… Have you met me?

This is the pile of books I’m trying to absorb by osmosis as I write…

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As such, I find myself madly trying to absorb information and write and meditate on my subjects. I’m sure in time I’ll reflect back on this mess and chaos in bemusement, I hope I’ll be kind to myself for attempting all that I am, and remember that from chaos all things are born.

In fact, many of the dark mother goddesses, Sekhmet, Lilith, Hecate, and Kali were ‘born’ from variations of the concept/deity/state of Chaos. It is a force present at the conception of most ancient creation stories. Chaos is the great void, the un-manifest. All potential but no form. (Much like this post.)

So please accept my mental meanderings, they are definitely not the results of years of scholarly research and practice. They are the musings of a woman on fire.

A woman who has glimpsed her true nature and power. A woman who intends to waste no more time being small and meek and silent. A woman who is not afraid to get things wrong and make mistakes and ask obvious questions, or even write ill-conceived blog posts, if it opens a sacred door inside her and others. (Okay, well maybe she is sometimes afraid, but she’s doing it anyway.)

the way to create art is to burn and destroy ordinary concepts and to substitute them with new truths that run down from the top of the head and out of the heart. Charles Bukowski

So in my quest to understand the dark mother archetype, I plead to the goddesses for mercy, I mean no offence, my heart is pure. I want to know you better.

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Chthonic “in, under, or beneath the earth”, from “earth,” The literal translation is ‘subterranean’. The translation of meaning discusses deities or spirits of the underworld, especially in Greek religion. The Greek word khthon is one of several for “earth”; it typically refers to the interior of the soil, rather than the living surface of the land (as Gaia or Ge does) or the land as territory (as khora (χώρα) does). It evokes at once abundance and the grave. Wikipedia

Chthonic. One of my most favourite words. That conglomerate of consonants sounds so dense and seductive. Like the earth herself. The wisdom that comes from deep, within the earth. We all come from the earth, from the raw materials that make all of life.

We are all mothers, creators. Even if we don’t reproduce actual humans, even if we don’t consciously create, every thought, breath and action is co-creating, contributing to the world.

And we are destroyers too. We bring death and destruction with our every breath, as our body shifts and transforms, cells die and are jettisoned to make way for new life.

Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction. Pablo Picasso

Why then do so many of us deny this aspect of humanity? And what effect is this denial having in the world?

The distinctions between the ideal attributes of the mother, and the attributes of the dark goddess seem, to me, to be a by-product of civilisation, of taming the natural cycles of life into nice, neat pigeon-holes. This delineation is certainly exaggerated in modern western culture, to the point where we whitewash, malign, or deny the dark mother archetype entirely.

Whatever is rejected from the self, appears in the world as an event. Carl Jung

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Yes. It’s a repeat of the first picture, I know. Just to save you have to scroll to look at it again…

Look at Kali Ma, isn’t she sexy? Can you imagine thinking the Virgin Mary was sexy? How many hail Marys and eternal damnations would that invoke?

Many religions have completely separated the ideal of the ‘good’ mother from the real woman, who actually has sex, who must balance light and dark, who may be loving and nurturing but also ready to destroy and battle at the drop of a hat. The mother who has a libido, who is lusty, luscious, and lascivious, whose sexual energy pours forth from her innermost being.

And when I say mother, I think of her in the sense of the maiden-mother-crone archetype. She is indicative of a phase of the feminine psyche, not the direct result of bearing children as such, although those attributes may also come into it.

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Kali is the goddess of empowerment, or shakti. It is said that after drinking the blood of Raktaveeja, Kali was so aroused by the battle that she could not stop her dance of destruction. The only way Shiva could stop her from destroying the whole universe was by lying down in her path.

In one version, as Kali stepped on his chest, he was in her way after all, she managed to arouse him enough to receive his seed and bring about his rebirth. In other versions he appears as a baby to arouse her maternal instincts and placate her.

Some say Shiva here represents the manifest, the stable. Kali comes along to destroy the status quo allowing change, transformation, regeneration. Kali is the creator of life, the destroyer of that which has served its purpose, and the re-creator of new life from the seeds of the old. Like a bushfire burning out old growth and triggering dormant seeds to grow.

Other interpretations read the scene as Kali and Shiva – the masculine and feminine energies – needing each other for balance. Gopi Krishna proposed that Kali standing on the dead Shiva symbolised the helplessness of a person undergoing the changing process (psychologically and physiologically) in the body when the Kundalini Shakti energy is awakened.

The urge to destroy is also a creative urge. Pablo Picasso

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Mother and destroyer. Nurturer, life-giver, and the taker of life. How do we reconcile these extremes of the dark goddess?

Perhaps they are only extreme to the modern reader.

In ancient times the great mother birthed us, we took refuge in her womb-like caves, and then returned to her earth when we died. Life and death were not seen as distinct and separate things, life to be sought after and death to be avoided, they were part of the natural cycle.

The human body is not a thing or substance, given, but a continuous creation. The human body is an energy system which is never a complete structure; never static; is in perpetual inner self-construction and self-destruction; we destroy in order to make it new. Norman O. Brown

Many of these ancient goddesses were conceptualised as triple-goddesses, manifestations of the various aspects of the feminine life-cycle and attributes, usually in the form of the maiden-mother-crone archetypes.

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I’ve been afraid of the dark. I have been raised to associated dark with evil. But that’s a dirty, rotten lie. We came from the dark of the womb and we return to the dark of the earth when we die.

And as I get older I am more fascinated with the dark goddess. Not satisfied at a soul level by just being a ‘good’ wife, mother, daughter. I feel compelled to investigate the full depth and breadth of my being. And I need to find a way to integrate and honour all aspects of being in a spirit of wholeness.

Life is fury, he’d thought. Fury — sexual, Oedipal, political, magical, brutal — drives us to our finest heights and coarsest depths. Out of furia comes creation, inspiration, originality, passion, but also violence, pain, pure unafraid destruction, the giving and receiving of blows from which we never recover. The Furies pursue us; Shiva dances his furious dance to create and also to destroy… This is what we are, what we civilize ourselves to disguise — the terrifying human animal in us, the exalted, transcendent, self-destructive, untramelled lord of creation. Salman Rushdie

Darkness can be beautiful, whilst excessive light can bleach out all nuance, shadows play with light to create the otherworld. It is only in the dark that we can see the spirit world, in the light there are too many distractions. In the dark our inner eye, our third eye, or ‘strong eye’ as the Australian aboriginals call it, can see with clarity.

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As someone who has been conditioned to believe in the light, in goodness, it has been a challenge for me to acknowledge, let alone accept, my shadow aspects.

Yet as I spend time in a darkened room journeying by candlelight, dancing the dance of the base chakra, following the roots of trees into the moist, dark earth, dancing with spirit animals in caves, and sitting in quiet meditation in the dark, I have been pleasantly surprised to find deep solace and respite there.

Think of the taoist concept of yin and yang. The nature of change, constant interaction, balanced in an infinite manner due to its relative nature.

I know, I know, I’m drawing on a hotch-potch of cultural influences here. But my point is that all traditional cultures recognised the natural way of balancing the energies of dark and light. There is not judgement about what is ‘better’ merely the recognition that balance is essential to the flow of life.

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When people see things as beautiful,
ugliness is created.
When people see things as good,
evil is created.
Being and non-being produce each other.
Difficult and easy complement each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low oppose each other.
Fore and aft follow each other. Tao Te Ching

And as I research this blog, as I tried to find meditations and affirmations of embracing the darkness, I was not surprised to find a dearth of such things. There’s plenty of stuff about turning darkness and shadows into light, but what of embracing the dark and the shadows, of seeing what it has to teach us. Not so much of that…

If it can be destroyed by the truth, it deserves to be destroyed by the truth. Carl Sagan

I have been drawn to the images and stories of the dark goddesses; Sekmet, Kali, Morrígan, goddesses who revelled in blood and battle, and the fiery transformation of death.

In reading these myths and stories, it helps me to think of death, not only in the literal physical sense, but also in the sense of a dying to self. That process where we let go of old ideas, old versions of our self, to be transformed into something more vital, more alive with life-force.

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In my limited experience with these goddesses, that is the energy they bring. It’s a no holes-barred challenge, are you ready to face your fears, to grow, to let go of life’s detritus, to battle the forces of stasis and entropy?

We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come. Joseph Campbell

A few moons ago a friend asked me to assist in a ritual to The Morrígan. I was a little wary, I mean I’m a white-lighter from way back, give me Brigid or Danu any day, but The Morrígan, she scares me. The ritual was both powerful and enlightening (en-darkening?) for me. I saw that my fear came from the suppression of the very qualities The Morrighan evokes.

Morrigan

The Morrígan is a goddess of battle, strife, and sovereignty. The Irish sidhe (varieties of spirits) were shape shifters. Morrígan sometimes appears in the form of a crow, flying above warriors, and in the Ulster Cycle – one of the main stories that inform Celtic mythology – she also takes the forms of an eel, a wolf, and a cow. She is generally considered a war deity, although her association with a cow also suggests a role connected with the land.

She is often depicted as a trio of goddesses, all sisters, although the names vary, most commonly used are Badb, Macha and Nemain, or Badb, Macha and Anand.

In the Irish tradition, Miranda Green write that there is a very direct relationship between goddesses, sovereignty, and warfare, and that warfare and fertility seem closely aligned, suggesting a concept of giving and taking, birth and death and “the opening and closing of life.”

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Attending a Shaktipat ceremony last week, where we performed powerful pranayama (breathing) exercises, followed by an awakening of the kundalini energy, I found myself experiencing a powerful rising of energy from my belly, in a roomful of people who sounded as if they were having spontaneous orgasms! The energy was electrified with primal and ecstatic cries. I have never experienced anything like it, well, maybe once, but we won’t go there right now.

There is a time in my life where this would have completely freaked me out. However my chakra work allowed me to ride these waves of energy, and allow my own waves to undulate with snake-like grace through my energy body. It was truly blissful.

Since then, and with the constant preparation for the base chakra and sacral chakra dances for my Chakradance classes, I have been investigating the ‘belly’ as a primal and vital feminine energy centre.

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The belly contains our lower three chakras. The base, our instinctual and primal centre, the sacral our sensual and emotional centre and the solar plexus, our centre of will and power.

Of course, wanting to extend and expand on this experience, I have been reading about the belly, belly-dance, breath work, and tantric exercises. The belly is the birthplace of the body, but also our connection to the earth, to our sensual natures and to our powerful warrior natures.

By awakening the kundalini energy, we can experience flow through these chakras, uniting the earthy, dark, sensuality and fire of the lower chakras with the airy, light and etheric nature of the upper chakras. We can balance our dark and light energy and nature.

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Guided cave meditation – take a journey into a cave and see who you meet there…

Affirmations and reflections for embracing the dark goddess

Contemplate the Dark moon, the Great void, places of potential, of creative intention, not so much nothingness, but the space from which all creation comes.

See the darkness as a space of infinite possibilities. Visualise a force that creates, that transforms, and re-creates in a continuous cycle.

Imagine the darkness of a cave, of the womb, as a sacred space to explore hidden aspects of yourself.

Ask yourself:

What part of self am I denying?

What burdens am I carrying? 

What is weighing me down?

What can be burnt or destroyed?

What detritus is lurking in my heart?

Where am I stuck?

What is stopping me from living out loud?

Affirm:

I embrace the darkness within

I am unafraid to bear witness to my shadow self

I honour my pain, my grief, my scars

I am in the natural cycle of death and rebirth

I release all that is no longer needed to the fire of transformation

I honour my sensual, sexual, animal self

More than any other goddess, Kali has the power to free you from what keeps you stuck…. She appears fearsome to those who fear letting go of their veils, but when we’re open to her power, she is the mother, the teacher, the Lover. Sally Kempton

Bless!

Spider woman post

Read more…

The Manifestation of Kali as an Astrophysical Anomaly

Images:

Kali

Kali Breasfeeding 

Kali Dancing on Shiva

Lilith by Susan Seddon Boulet

Dark Goddess

Beauty and the Beast 

Morrigan

Moon Goddess

Crone Goddess by Susan Seddon Boulet

Diana by Susan Seddon Boulet

Oshun by Susan Seddon Boulet

Spider Woman

The spirit that lives in all things

copyright - Séverine PINEAUX

Close your eyes, let your hands and nerve-ends drop, stop breathing for 3 seconds, listen to the silence inside the illusion of the world, and you will remember the lesson you forgot, which was taught in immense milky way soft cloud innumerable worlds long ago and not even at all. It is all one vast awakened thing. I call it the golden eternity. It is perfect. We were never really born, we will never really die. It has nothing to do with the imaginary idea of a personal self, other selves, many selves everywhere: Self is only an idea, a mortal idea. That which passes into everything is one thing. It’s a dream already ended. There’s nothing to be afraid of and nothing to be glad about. I know this from staring at mountains months on end. They never show any expression, they are like empty space. Do you think the emptiness of space will ever crumble away? Mountains will crumble, but the emptiness of space, which is the one universal essence of mind, the vast awakenerhood, empty and awake, will never crumble away because it was never born. Jack Kerouac

Ah! I needed to read that. Thanks Jack.

Last post I put some serious intentions ‘out there’ for my year. And now I’m back in ‘reality’ – pfffft! Whatever that means. And I feel like I’m stuck between worlds. The world of jobs and bills and traffic and the world of nature and spirit. How on earth do I practice these intentions in a life chock-full of distractions?

Was I being a little rash? I mean those intentions popped into my head, literally seconds before I wrote them down and raced to the beach, between violent thunderstorms, to do a ritual – out with the old, in with the new. Whooosh.

It was all rather spontaneous and spur of the moment. It was my last night at the beach. A night of the full moon, all dark and stormy, and I just had this urge to harness all that wild, electric energy to make my new year’s resolutions.

Later, after re-reading my intentions I thought, hmmm… I’m not sure where all that came from. Obviously, I was on a bit of a nature love-buzz.

But you know what? I’m just going with it. Those intentions came to me for a reason and I am going to just let that unfold. Even if it turns out the reason is to teach me to put some forethought into my rituals…

To refresh your memory here are my intentions as they spilled out of my pen that fateful night… (Drum roll please)

S_verine_Pineaux_1960_French_Fantasy_painter_and_Illustrator_Tutt_Art_29_Love myself
Love the (super)natural world
Love animals
Love people
Love my work
Love my space
Love my spirit

So there’s nothing too outrageous. I didn’t commit to chasing down Johnny Depp or becoming a bestselling author or bringing about world peace or anything.

It occurred to me late last year that my intentions, and the whole theme of ‘putting it out there,’ was rather outcome focused. It was all about bringing stuff in, manifesting great things in my life. And yes, it worked, undoubtably. But it also tapped into a part of my personality that is a little, ahem, shall we say, insatiable.

As the buddhists tell us, the greatest source of pain in our lives is the state of dissatisfaction that comes from our attachment to desire.

So when I came to the end of last year, despite its many great blessings, in a state of grief and pain, I knew I had to go within and see its source.

Now I do believe that pain has its purpose. Grief breaks my heart open, promotes compassion for other’s pain, highlights thought patterns that no longer serve me, and is a release of held emotion from my body. I don’t think we can or should avoid grief. I think we can certainly learn from its expression though.

Sadness gives depth. Happiness gives height. Sadness gives roots. Happiness gives branches. Happiness is like a tree going into the sky, and sadness is like the roots going down into the womb of the earth. Both are needed, and the higher a tree goes, the deeper it goes, simultaneously. The bigger the tree, the bigger will be its roots. In fact, it is always in proportion. That’s its balance. Osho

On the night of my ritual to the ocean, I was driven by this pain to let go of my attachments, especially in relation to the ideals of romantic love and home. This was motivated by a nagging sense that somehow my intentions ‘hadn’t worked’ in these areas of my life just because I didn’t get the house or the man I wanted.

As soon as these ideas were articulated in my heart and mind, I realised the source of my pain. Being single and renting my gorgeous little place is not painful. It is the attachment to the idea that things should be different that creates pain. Of course, there was also some legitimate heart-ache and grief thrown in there too, but while those emotions will shift and move, attachments stay stuck and often become so embedded, like a veruca burrowing deep, down inside, causing more and more pain.

samhain copyright - Séverine PINEAUXSo I wrote out my list of letting go, my commitments to practice, and some new intentions.

Originally my intentions were going to be very specific. Like a shopping list of desires. “I want to go to Bali and study shamanism” “I want to go to Ireland and see the sacred sites” “I want to study celtic tradition and herb lore and sound therapy and tarot and …”

First it was becoming a long and exhausting (and rather whiney) list, second I could see I was setting myself up for disappointment again.

What if these things didn’t eventuate? Would that leave me with a sense of failure and disappointment? Would I become so fixated on these attachments that I would miss the appreciation of the gifts that did come my way? I suspected, yes.

As a student of druidry and shamanism, the consistent message that comes through these traditional practices is a reverence for the wisdom of the natural and spirit world, or what I have come to call the (super)natural world. Studying these traditions, we learn there is not a clear distinction between these worlds. Nature is inherently imbued with spirit and spirits. All things have the ‘spirit that lives in all things’ and nature is rife with the ‘hidden folk’ sprites, faeries, and other elemental spirits.

the lady copyright - Séverine PINEAUX

When I get attached to physical outcomes, I lose sight of this nuance and numinosity, that is such a gift in my life. Even in my grief and pain of the past few weeks, I was acutely aware of how the ocean held me, and the presence of spirit all around me in the rocks and sand and sea-plants and animals. As I hummed an Ani DeFranco song about heartbreak, suddenly the tune was alive with spirit and the words came – and I had my soul-song or power-song, a great gift in shamanic practice. This is a song I sing to connect with my power and spirit for the purpose of healing myself and all living things.

All this became a cacophony of voices reminding me of, possibly the key principle of all spiritual practice, “practice not outcomes.” The practice itself IS the point. The gifts are in the practice itself. Intentions are the focal points for my practice, not means of searching for goodies from the universe. Although great blessings do come from this practice, that should not be the incentive. I saw I had the cart before the horse.

So I am sticking with these intentions that came to me so intuitively. This time with the focus on the means, not the end. They are a commitment to practice. I want to reconnect with my study of the subtle energy bodies, the chakras, and the chakradance journey as a practice for integrating all that I am learning in my druid and shamanic studies.

This year I intend to take a slightly different process in exploring my intentions. Last year I aligned each intention with a chakra and examined them independently. This year I intend – who knows what will actually happen, or what wonderful tangents this will take me on – to look at my seven intentions through the perspective of a different chakra each week.

titaniacopyright - Séverine PINEAUX

I intend to look at each intention through lens of the seven chakras. As well as developing my sense – which I touched upon last year – of the correlation between the chakras other energy systems, in native Australian indigenous practice and the probable Celtic energy system of the ‘cauldrons’.

The cauldron is a great analogy for this blog, as this will be the melting and magic pot where all my practices come together.

These are my intentions, but spirit will guide me so it’s a fabulous journey of discovery, let’s see where it goes!

I am rediscovering the beauty of spontaneous ritual in working with nature instead of imposing our will and structure on nature. While there needs to be a basic structure to ensure practice and intentions, and a reasonably informed approach, there is always room for interaction and spontaneity. This is where the majority of my guidance comes from. A spark of inspiration in meditation and then I follow up with research.

I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes. e. e. Cummings

So, we find ourselves back at the Base or Root chakra – Muladhara. Intricately linked to our survival, our instincts and our primal, tribal nature. This chakra holds our ancestral memory bank. Our base chakra influences feelings of grounding and being supported. Most children, by the age of seven, have decided whether the world is a safe place, and this informs our vitality in the base chakra. However, we can strengthen our sense of security through energy work and affirming living practices.

broceliande copyright - Séverine PINEAUX

The base chakra energies are earthy, dense, physical. Feelings of being grounded and supported, like the roots of a tree… How does that manifest in my intentions? What can I do this week to bring the earthy, grounded energy of the root chakra into my intentions?

It feels to me as if there is a lot of shadow work to be done in this chakra. Inherited behaviours, thought patterns, beliefs, ancestral patterns encoded in our DNA that often lurk in the darkness of the soil beneath our roots. There is also the sense of a great unearthed ancestral wisdom of both our familial lines and the ancestry of the land itself.

I am a forest, and a night of dark trees: but he who is not afraid of my darkness, will find banks full of roses under my cypresses. Friedrich Nietzsche

In Chakradance we also draw inspiration from the natural movements found in the animal kingdom. Animal dances are deeply entrenched in shamanic ritual. Shamans believe that each animal can teach us the power of their instinctual energy through dance. Dancing the base chakra you may encourage a tiger, a snake, a dragon, or a bear, to join you.

As you intuitively choose an animal and begin to move along to the Chakradance tribal beats, an incredible spontaneity of movement is unleashed. As I danced the Base chakra journeying dance, a wolf came to me. I thought “how on earth do I dance like a wolf?” Through letting go of my judging, rational mind, I simply moved to the music as I imagined wolves in the wild.

Soon I found myself laughing and moving on all fours, then dancing with wild abandon. Wildness, that was the wolf’s message to me. To tap into that wildness that gets so repressed in our society of conformity and restriction of our instinctual natures.

Dancing into my roots, another part of the Base Chakradance practice, allows me to connect with the imagery and energy of the tree. Trees are a powerful symbol of the dimensions of life used in many cultures. In celtic druidry the ogham is a communication and divination system of tree symbols, based on the nature of specific trees. I intend to learn more about traditional druidic sacred plants and trees, but to also link in with local practitioners to learn and study our native Australian power plants.

l'ancetre copyright - Séverine PINEAUX

Dancing the base chakra brings a sense of wildness and strength, but also a sense of support and groundedness. I intend to bring a sense of groundedness into my work-life – I will be mindful, stable and practical at work. I will bring a plant to work to enhance the work environment.

I will create harmony in my space through decluttering and letting go of what I no longer need, handing them on for others to use. I will declutter the space through energy cleansing rituals.

Sandra Ingerman, a shamanic practitioner and teacher suggests that rather than viewing shamanism as a set of complicated practices to achieve personal spiritual advances, it is quite simply a practice based on an authentic desire and attempt to commune with nature and the non-physical world. The ultimate end in this, is that we can become of service to the planet and all the life interwoven with it.

And the beauty is, the practice is a simple as sitting under a tree, taking a deep breath of air, drinking fresh, clean water, enjoying an open camp-fire or candle flame, swimming in a river or ocean. Bringing our selves, as nature beings, to nature without any need to get or change anything. Just being. And then the change happens. We become a little more aligned with the heartbeat of the earth. We walk a little lighter on her belly, with our feet bare and our hearts full.

the seed woman severine

Tree Meditation by Natalie Southgate:
Begin by standing with your feet in line with shoulders, close your eyes and gently straighten your spine. Take a few moments to focus on your breathing…

Imagine you are in a tropical jungle. You are standing under a canopy of lush foliage; you can smell the moist, rich earth. Sink your feet down into the wet earth. Imagine the bottoms of your feet are gently opening and beginning to grow roots like a tree. Push your feet into the ground and imagine the roots travelling down deeper and deeper, reaching for the red core of the earth. Breathe in through your body, and down through the layers of the earth. You feel secure; grounded to the earth.

After a few minutes of grounding through your roots, begin to draw the pulsing energy from the earth up through the layers of rock and soil, up through your feet and legs and into your base chakra. Fill your base chakra with the red vibrant energy from the earth. You feel secure, grounded and energised.

la sylphe copyright - Séverine PINEAUX

Affirmations by Chakra Anatomy:

I feel deeply rooted.
I am connected to my body.
I feel safe and secure.
I am grounded, stable, and standing on my own two feet.
I nurture my body with healthy food, clean water, exercise, relaxation, and connection with nature.
I am open to possibilities.
I am grateful for all the challenges that helped me to grow and transform.
I trust myself.

Bless!

Images by Severine Pineaux

A walk in an Enchanted Forest

 

fairy_forest_by_phatpuppyart-d4ptggw

The earth has music for those who listen. George Santayana

When life winds me up, oh so tense and tight, and I need to gently unfurl, this is where I go. To the prettiest place by the sea, which I have gone to forever. As a child, I loved to explore the myriad pathways through forests of ti-tree, gnarly and enchanted, to climb trees and survey the world from majestic heights, to play in the sand and sea, as a mighty warrior mer-queen.

And to be honest, as an adult, not much has changed.[prtsea enhanced

So I drove down to my special place, knowing it would be all mine, not just the house, but the whole beach. Being Wintertime most people opt to sip lattes and eat wood-fired pizza by warm open fires instead, leaving the beach deserted and wild.

I love the beach in Winter. The ocean broods: all dark greys, deep greens, and murky depths. Chiaroscuro skies shift from dark into light in an instant. And this tree, in Winter on one side and Summer on the other – as if the tree itself is between two worlds.

I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable, I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world. Walt Whitman

Indulging in long walks, reliving carefree childhood days, meandering through archways of entwined trees into grottos hidden in sea caves.

As a child I spent hours in ‘my tree’. I forget what kind of tree it was, except that it had those leaves that, folded in half and blown, could whistle really loud.

Atop that tree I had a cosy place to sit, to survey my surrounds, all the while, completely hidden from everyone by its dense foliage. Whenever I picture sanctuary, I think of how safe that tree made me feel.

Every blade of grass has its angel that bends over it and whispers “Grow, grow.” The Talmud

The Chakradance experience has led to a gentle unfolding of my psyche, featuring a powerful connection with trees. The tree concept has appeared in many of my Chakradance visions, from the tree roots sinking into the earth as a metaphor for Muladhara/root chakra, to the connection of earth and sky in Anahata/the heart and Vissudha/throat chakras. Reading up about the Celtic Ogham tradition –  which uses symbolic representations of particular trees as an intricate aspect of spiritual practice – has ignited in me a fully-fledged tree obsession. A fetish I indulged this weekend, by exploring, experiencing, and photographing hundreds of trees.

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness. John Muir

sea3It is somewhat of a self-imposed tradition for me to go swimming in the Winter sea. So I donned my togs and in I went, quite fearlessly, I thought. The water was beyond freezing – and I have no desire to get literal on this point unless you try it yourself – I only lasted a few minutes each time – and yes, there was more than one!

On the last day I dived in and submerged my whole body in water – there is something so cleansing about ice-cold seawater.

Most of the the weekend was spent barefoot in the grass, sitting against a tree, or in the sand, and sea. Or chakradancing under the trees and stars by the light of the full moon. Fully immersed in the elements I felt so vitalised and connected to the natural world.

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter. Rachel Carson

Barely speaking to another human, I had my trusty dog, and plenty of magpies, ravens, kookaburras, rosellas, pink cockatoos, chatting away to me. Walking along the beach, pausing to sit and watch the ocean, the seagulls and an old albatross do their fishing, and the thought struck me that they don’t groan about life – well, possibly the seagull does – they just make the most out of it.

Under a blue, brilliant blue, sky, with the sounds of the sea and its birds around me, I wrote about the journey into the throat chakra – or Vissudha in sanskrit, meaning purification.

Vissudha has enlivened me to sound. This enhanced sensitivity was almost painful in the noise of the city, but away in nature it is blissful. Blue is the colour associated with this chakra, so I relished the wide open sky as a metaphor for the expansive, etheric nature of this energy centre.

How is it possible that a being with such sensitive jewels as the eyes, such enchanted musical instruments as the ears, and such fabulous arabesque of nerves as the brain can experience itself anything less than a god. Alan Watts

Vissudha is where you make the transition from the elements of form into the realm of ether, where Jung claimed the celestial chorus of angels could be heard.

During the focus on this chakra, I found myself humming a lot – a great way to balance Vissudha –  and reciting random lines from lyrical poetry like Coleridge’s ‘Kubla Khan’ or Tennyson’s ‘Lady of Shallott’.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea. Samuel Taylor Coleridge

This chakra governs your relationship with vibrations and resonance. It is from the throat centre that you produce sound through vibration. As such it is incredibly susceptible to vibrational energy, and responsive to resonance of all kinds. Music and sound can be used extremely effectively to balance this chakra.

The throat chakra carries the energies of truth, integrity, honesty, and communication. It also governs the ability to listen, both to the words of others and your own internal dialogue within your body. Paramount to Vissudha, is the expression of self through speech and creativity.

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. Maya Angelou

Abundance is my fifth intention, married to this fifth chakra. Observing nature in action, provided me with somewhat of an epiphany about abundance.

The natural law is to only take what you need to live on a daily basis, trusting that there is an abundance of what you need for tomorrow. Indigenous societies have lived in this wisdom for millennia.

Sometimes I fall into the very Western cultural trap of thinking abundance means ‘more (and more and more) of the good stuff’ – and forget the simple practice of saying thank you for what I have.

Realising that a little doubt and negativity, a little grasping and hoarding, had crept back into my thinking – an anathema to manifesting abundance – I made the intention to eliminate negative thinking, just for three days to start with. The additional bonus, according to Pam Grout, author of E-Squared, is that blessing everything, including your food, with positive energy is the key to weight loss. Stay tuned on that one!

As an affirmation of positive thinking, I love this prayer by Chris Cade:

Thank you for the wind and rain…

Thank you for the sun.

Thank you for what I have now…

And all the good things to come.

Every morning when I wake…

Before I start my day.

I think of all the good things…

That will come my way.

Nature inspires me, and immersed in her energies, my mind and body settle into the creative flow. As such I wrote 5000 words of my novel sitting by the sea for a couple of hours. Enlivened, vibrant, invigorated, creative, and blissfully happy – what’s not to love about communing with nature, of the expansion of mind and spirit, as vast as the sky.

One touch of nature, makes the whole world kin. William Shakespeare

Nature, like the chakras, contains the colours, and corresponding energy and vibration, of the full spectrum of light. Verdant green trees, infinite blue sky, vast indigo sea. Red, orange, yellow, flowers, sand, stones, earth. The variety of sensations of the different elements: the density of earth itself, and the flowers and trees that spring from it, the way trees become lighter and less dense as they move from trunk to leaves, reaching out into the air, swaying in the wind, a bridge between earth and sky. The ethereal blue of the daytime sky, and the vastness of the night sky, interspersed with light and matter, of stars and moon, and planets.

ophelia-by-imagine-http://womboflight.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/ophelia-by-imagine-studio.jpg

The Vissudha chakradance was a place of contemplation, calm, peace, divinity, and deep reverence for me. The dance involves repeating a sound or mantra, and allowing the body to move with this harmony from within. As reciting the mantra became more and more powerful, I reached a state where the resonance from within me and the movement of the dance just flowed in effortless accord, and I was transported into the etheric state of sound vibration.

In my mind’s eye, there were angels singing celestial songs, and the tree of life reaching its branches to the blue sky. Visualising myself in white robes, near three sacred pillars: a priestess with a powerful energy for the world.

Later that day I was looking at documentaries on the Celts and I saw those exact columns! I was a little disappointed to see they were modern, but built in recognition of a Viking king in Norway from the 9th Century.

The lesson from the dance is to go within, to uncover my truth. It was a very calm, but also sacred space, which I am being told to honour. I need to communicate from my truth, not as a reaction to how others ‘make’ me feel.

The shadow archetype of the throat chakra is the Silent Child. This archetype represses its feelings and does not show hurt, pain or anger. The lesson of the Silent Child  archetype is to make herself heard and to feel that what she says has value.

The archetype of Vissudha in balance, is the Communicator. This archetype is dependant on clear and direct communication, including artistic creativity and expression. Speaking its heart and mind openly and responsibly.

I previously wrote about the throat chakra here. It was a melancholy post after a dear friend died. She loved angels too, I think she would enjoy this one.

He looked at his own Soul with a telescope. What seemed all irregular, he saw and showed to be beautiful constellations, and he added to the consciousness hidden worlds within worlds. Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Growing up with an Irish mother, my fairy tales were Irish folklore, stories of fairies, forest sprites, leprechauns, banshees and the like. As such, I still cannot look at a tree or forest without thinking there are little beings scurrying out of sight at the sound of my big human footfalls.

Piling the sheaves in furrows airy,
Beneath the moon, the reaper weary
Listening whispers, ‘ ‘Tis the fairy,
Lady of Shalott.’ Alfred Lord Tennyson

My interest in Irish folklore has rekindled and I was astonished to find the work of Dr Jenny Butler, who has a PhD in folklore, how cool is that? Her work on paganism and the fairy faith in Ireland is fascinating.

In Australia, outside of indigenous communities, talking about these kinds of beings will wind you up in the loony bin, but in Europe and in indigenous cultures the world over, there is a long tradition of belief in elemental beings.

Faeries, come take me out of this dull world,
For I would ride with you upon the wind,
Run on the top of the dishevelled tide,
And dance upon the mountains like a flame. William Butler Yeats

After four days of dancing under the moonlight and stars, and cavorting with trees, it was not surprising to me that, on the walk back from the little cove I discovered, as I took yet more photos of trees, a beautiful angelic light spread across the screen.

Check out the photo – isn’t it something? Now, I know you skeptics will talk to me of prisms of light, and that’s fine for you. I call it angelic, because to my mind, fairies are of the earth and angels are of the air. And that’s all there is to it.

Fairies are invisible and inaudible like angels. But their magic sparkles in nature. Lynn Holland

With an imagination like mine, primed since early childhood, angels not a stretch for me. I have been reading Doreen Virtue’s book Angel Therapy Handbook. This is a result of following strong intuitive guidance, even when my intellect questions my thinking.

It has became apparent to me that while I have been very open about my experiences with the chakras and my passion for chakradance, I have been very quiet on the subject of my other passion and intuitive source of inspiration, angels.

Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven,
Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The motivation for this is obvious, intellectual pride. The chakras, although not universally accepted, are kind of cool and based on a long tradition that informs many respected fields of holistic medicine.

Angels, on the other hand, sound either Christian or New Age, both of which have an image problem for me.

However, I made this blog about intentions, with the intention that I would put it ALL out there. So suppressing this aspect of my journey seems dishonest. And to be honest, if I have to choose between intellectual pride and healing, well that’s a no brainer.

I believe in everything until it’s disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it’s in your mind. Who’s to say that dreams and nightmares aren’t as real as the here and now? John Lennon

Plus, I really have reached an age where I care a lot less about how I appear and a lot more about how I am. The fact is I have loved Doreen’s writing ever since I read her book about Indigo Children when my son was diagnosed with autism.

It’s not surprising that when faced with the complete powerlessness over a condition affecting your child, you become very open-minded.

Faërie contains many things besides elves and fays, and besides dwarfs, witches, trolls, giants, or dragons; it holds the seas, the sun, the moon, the sky; and the earth, and all things that are in it: tree and bird, water and stone, wine and bread, and ourselves, mortal men, when we are enchanted. J.R.R. Tolkien

That said the experience with my son showed me he responded miraculously to various kinds of energy healings. And I spent many evenings praying to Archangel Michael to clear him of negative energy, fill him with light and love, and allow him to sleep after particularly upsetting emotional meltdowns. This certainly calmed me down, which would have helped him, but that fact that he now asks for angelic help himself, suggests to me that he feels some direct benefit from this too.

So all this is just a long-winded explanation for me coming out as a believer in angels, and faeries. Now I don’t mean I see things flying round with wings, although that would be cool, rather that I intuitively feel their energy around me.

We call them faerie. We don’t believe in them. Our loss. Charles de Lint

Jung would probably say that angels are my perception of the collective unconscious. I am happy to accept that there is a degree of archetypal wisdom at work here that I don’t fully understand.

I do know that all my life I have been called ‘angel’ by various people, or described as ‘sparkly’ and ‘ethereal’. My first perfume was ‘Angel’ by Thierry Mugler. And I loved wearing angel wings when dressing up. I have had an imaginary friend called Rosie, who I don’t see and hear as I did as a child, but I feel the presence of a warm, soothing force around me at times. If my son had been a girl the names I would have given him were Angelica or Angelina.forestfairies

These things may sound trivial, but Caroline Myss talks about listening to the things we say about ourselves, and others say about us, and to observe the patterns in our lives, as these are the way our archetypes illuminate themselves to us.

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free. Michelangelo

Reading Doreen’s book, she talked about her reticence to come out with her angelic guidance. She was a professional counselor and yet she knew she couldn’t grow in her abilities to help people if she kept it hidden.

So I made the same decision, I don’t understand this stuff, but I want to, and keeping it locked away is not the way to do that. Besides, if angelic guidance is what inspires me, I intend to listen whole-heartedly!

It takes courage to walk this path and not retreat in fear from the unknown. Courage comes from the french word ‘coeur’ meaning heart. My heart tells me I am being true to myself. That the only world that could ever hold vision and depth for me is one that allows a myriad of existence beyond that experienced by the skeptical eye.

The throat chakra ideally communicates the true message of the heart, these two chakras, as all the chakras, are intricately connected. To suppress one, is to create disorder throughout the energy system. I’m done with suppressing and repressing!

So I am putting my angelic intentions out there!

I think that people who can’t believe in fairies aren’t worth knowing. Tori Amos

Try this beautiful meditation to connect with your angelic guides:

 

And try this beautiful throat chakra sound meditation – you’ll be transported…

Affirmations for vissudha by Chakra Anatomy:

I am open, clear, and honest in my communication.
I have a right to speak my truth.
I communicate my feelings with ease.
I express myself creatively through speech, writing, or art.
I have a strong will that lets me resolve my challenges.
I nourish my spirit through creativity.
I live an authentic life.
I have integrity.
I love to share my experiences and wisdom.
I know when it is time to listen.
I express my gratitude towards life.
I listen to my body and my feelings to know what my truth is.
I take good care of my physical body.
I am at peace.

Bless!

 

Check out this site for great info on the chakras and their related archetypes

http://www.askclaudia.com/throat-chakra.htm

Check out this great blog for more information  on healing the throat chakra

http://kaymayoga.wordpress.com/2013/05/14/vissudha-the-throat/

You can find Dr Jenny Butler here and listen to an interview about Faerie research in Ireland here

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnDlZLkralU

 

Images:

Title: Forest fairies 

Ophelia by imagine studios

Fairy Forest by Phatpuppyart

Deep Forest Fairy Tale

Seven intentions for seven chakras

falags 2

After publishing my last post I was absolutely wracked with self-doubt. Where was I going with all this? I love a tangent as much as the next person but I had started a blog on intentions, not chakra healing – for crying out loud!

I have learned to allow these emotional waves – tsunamis at times – to just ebb and flow. Or in the case of the emotional tsunami, to flood the whole dang place and render me a clean slate. These waves seem to be a reaction to “putting myself out there.” Being an introvert at heart, I keep a lot of my beliefs private, so publishing them for anyone to read can be a little confronting. I also can be a prey to great self-doubt, something which has stopped me in the past from doing the things I love and believe in. So I let this reaction ride and do what I have learned to do, just be still. Allow the feelings to pass, and stay true to my intentions. What’s the alternative, a life run by self-limiting doubt and fear?

The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark —Michelangelo Buonarroti

As such, I spent a blessed and blissed day of sanctuary spent resting and reading. A practice my lovely friend calls ‘extreme self-care.’

I am learning to allow myself such days, once an impossibility with three young children, work, study, and a rather demanding (now ex-) husband. Now life has changed and I make the time and have a degree of solitude built into my life to ensure I can recharge and rejuvenate.

Speaking of recharging, I read somewhere that the chakras are like batteries for our bodies – sorry that I can’t source that quote, I read so much online on my phone while I was watching my son play cricket, I’m not sure what I read where – but I really liked the analogy. I have been doing a chakra meditation every morning and I love it so much that I go to sleep early just to get to my favourite part of the day again. This from a reformed night owl!

Here is the closing of that meditation and a completely accurate reflection of how blissed out and connected I feel at that time.

Your body is full of energy, your emotions are harmonious and warm, your thoughts are bright and clear, your heart is open and loving, you are kind compassionate and understanding, you communicate clearly and cleanly, you are able to see your inner being, and you are able to know the truth of who you really are. Simply use intention to allow the maximum flow possible. Jeddah Mali

I thought I might have been a bit whacko with my seemingly tenuous link between chakras and manifesting intentions. However in yet another lesson called ‘trust your intuition’ I discovered that the correlation between healthy chakras and manifesting is well documented. 

A quick google search on ‘chakras and manifesting’ put the idea to bed that I was alone in this kookiness. There’s a huge body of work, with super-qualified chakra expert Anodea Judith having written a book all about it called Creating on Purpose: The Spiritual Technology of Manifesting Through the Chakras – and if you go to this site and register your email you get two free audio meditation downloads. They also have some wonderful interviews with their authors. I’m a big fan of free stuff.

It seems my intuition about the importance of balancing the root chakra as a key to manifesting and flow was pretty spot on. Anodea Judith believes that is the greatest block to manifesting, as the base chakra is key in converting our energetic intentions into action in the physical world. She says it is possible to clear the blocks and misalignment in our chakras though, and that’s what her book is all about. As Thoreau (again, sigh) so eloquently puts it:

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them —Henry David Thoreau

Here’s some highlights of an interview with Anodea and co-author Lion Goodman, if you are interested the interview is available online here.

The jist of Creating on Purpose is that all creation is co-creation between energy forces which are always at work, and through awareness and energetic healing we can become a clear ‘bridge’ for these forces to flow through, and we can quite literally use our consciousness to change the world:

You are an active agent in the creation of reality. Two powerful evolutionary forces are at work simultaneously— one from the top down, and the other from the bottom up. Spirit, or the light of consciousness, is evolving downward into embodiment, infusing matter with Spirit. At the same time, matter is evolving upward into Spirit, into conscious awareness. You are a rainbow bridge that ties these two forces together. You stand between heaven and earth as both a co-creation of these two forces and a co-creator with these two forces. You are being trained to become a more capable co-creator with the Universe. You have the ability to draw down your own vision of what you want to create in your life and to manifest it here in the physical world. Your soul has a purpose for being here.

The ancient vedic texts called this upward journey mukti, or freedom; Anodea calls it the ‘current of liberation’. This current enables you to liberate yourself from limitations and attachments. It is the commonly conceptualised path of enlightenment by ascending from the lower chakras through to the crown chakra.

Less understood is the downward path, which the ancient masters called bhukti meaning “enjoyment”. The descending current of bhukti is the process by which consciousness densifies into physical form. In its simplest form this can be thought of as the process used in any body movement. When you walk your consciousness tells your brain to instruct your body to walk, this thought travels via energy signals to the nerves in your legs, where it manifests physically as you walking. 

This downward path of energy is the process of manifestation, where ideas and intentions catalyse and are transformed into physical reality. This process begins at the seventh chakra at the crown and moves down to the base or first chakra.

In Creating on Purpose, Anodea and Lion outline seven manifestation principles, which describe how the seven chakras are involved in various stages of manifestation. Lion is very clear that this is not about sitting still and manifesting abundance, this is co-creation between our energetic and physical forms which requires action.

For an intention to manifest there has to be an idea in your consciousness (7th chakra) you visualise it, including looking at all kind of related things and letting your imagination play with the idea (6th chakra), you communicate with people who can be helpful and talk about it (5th chakra), you ensure right relationships around this intention (4th chakra), you create action plans (3rd chakra), you infuse your intention with passion (2nd chakra) and you actualise the intention in the physical world (1st chakra).

The other process is dealing with resistance. Like my aforementioned reaction to putting myself out there, it is natural to experience resistance to any new intention or action. You need to identify and remove these obstacles and unblock your chakras to allow the current to flow freely.

Here’s the seven manifestation principles and some of the potential blocks you may experience in relation to each chakra/stage:

Chakra Seven: Consciousness Creates is the idea or intention which can be blocked by the limiting beliefs you have about yourself.

Chakra Six: Vision Vitalises is the process of insight and using imagination to think outside box which requires your imagination to be flowing and unblocked, and your use of visualisation. 

Chakra Five: Conversation Catalyses is the use of communication, either in your own thoughts or in conversation with others, to further your intention and can be blocked by the inner critic and self-defeating thoughts.

Chakra Four: Love Enlivens is the way you relate to other people as part of the co-creation process. Blockages occur in your old relationships patterns with people, such as being unable to ask for what you need or fear of rejection.

Chakra Three: Power Produces is harnessing your will power to create action plans, which can be blocked if you have stifled your will power in any way, or by a lack of focus in your will in the face of distractions or conflicting choices.

Chakra Two: Pleasure Pleases is about engaging your passion, pleasurable feelings, and your positive emotions in this process, and can be blocked by suppressed feelings, sense of unworthiness, and guilt.

Chakra One: Matter Matters is the final stage where intention become reality in the physical form and can be blocked by a feeling of not being grounded in your body, or not being physically present in acting out your plans, such as not honouring your appointments and commitments.

First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do —Epictetus

Whereas Anodea believes blocks in the 1st chakra are the main obstacle, her co-author Lion Goodman believes the main obstacle is our limiting beliefs, and these can affect and ultimately block all the chakras.

Where do these blocks come from? You created them! That’s right. You created them either to protect yourself from pain or as an expression of a belief you were taught. So to use the analogy of Lion Goodman, it’s time to clean out the belief closet!

Whether you think you can or you can’t, you are usually right —Henry Ford

There are some great visualisations available online for clearing blocks and drawing energy down the chakras. Like this meditation.

Even if you don’t believe in this theory of chakras affecting energy flow, one of the key factors in the reading I have done on manifesting intentions is the ability to maintain a clear, unwavering focus. When I’m feeling anxious and emotionally unbalanced, I’m unable to focus on anything, much less manifest anything. Like attracts like, so balanced and harmonious flow is more likely to attract abundance. And having experienced my energy flow, as well as the opposite, it makes sense to me that being in a state of disharmony would affect manifesting intentions into reality. I am more than willing to believe I need internal balance and harmony to manifest abundance. I also like the combination of energy work and pragmatism that Lion and Anodea recommend.

This has got me to thinking more and more about the connection between my seven intentions and the seven chakras, and the way they align is so amazing! Here’s how I see them now…

  1. Home – base
 chakra
  2. Community – sacral chakra
  3. 
Purpose – solar plexus chakra
  4. Health – heart chakra
  5. Abundance – throat chakra (relates to thoughts and communicating ‘I am’ affirmations)
  6. Joy – third eye chakra (the insight that joy is your natural state of being)
  7. Love – crown chakra (the deep wisdom that love is truth of who you really are)

So cool. Here’s seven affirmations for seven chakras, I am on a roll (actually these are from Louise Hay, bless her cotton socks!)

By the way, if you have a hard time with affirmations, thinking they are perhaps self-centred and self-indulgent as I used to, remember what the Course in Miracles says “When I am healed I am not healed alone.” When you heal yourself, you heal all of creation. So come on, once more with feeling!

I love myself therefore I provide myself a comfortable home.

I love myself therefore I take loving care of my body.

I love myself therefore I work at a job that I truly enjoy doing.

I love myself therefore I think and behave in a loving way toward all people.

I love myself therefore I forgive and release the past.

I love myself therefore I live in the now, experience each moment as good and knowing that my future is bright and joyous and secure.

I love myself therefore I trust that I am our spirit and that divine wisdom guides me.

Bless!