Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Touching Empty Ground

Through the lives we lived, I learned the harshest gift-lesson to accept, and the most powerful I know - that is, knowledge, an absolute certainty that life repeats itself, renews itself, no matter how many times it is stabbed, stripped to the bone, hurled to the ground, hurt, ridiculed, ignored, scorned, looked down upon, tortured, or made helpless.

I learned from my dear people as much about the grave, about facing the demons, and about rebirth as I have learned in all my psychoanalytic training and all my twenty-five years of clinical practice. I know that those who are in some ways and for some time shorn of belief in life itself - that they ultimately are the ones who will come to know best that Eden lies underneath the empty field, that the new seed goes first to the empty and open places - even when the open place is a grieving heart, a tortured mind, or a devastated spirit.

What is this faithful process of spirit and seed that touches empty ground and makes it rich again? Its greater workings I cannot claim to understand. But I know this: Whatever we set our days to might be the least of what we do, if we do not also understand that something is waiting for us to make ground for it, something that lingers near us, something that loves, something that waits for the right ground to be made so it can make its full presence known.

I am certain that as we stand in the care of this faithful force, that what has seemed dead is dead no longer, what has seemed lost is no longer lost, that which some have claimed impossible is made clearly possible, and what ground is fallow is only resting - resting and waiting for the blessed seed to arrive on the wind with all Godspeed.

Excerpt from The Faithful Gardener ( 1995, Harper Collins) by Clarissa Pinkola Estés

photo: India Flint, Botanical Alchemist

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Psyche and Zephyr

Wind from the west,
with your invitation to fly away with you:
but to what?
Where will you carry me?
High above the world, yes:
but my dreams have already carried me there.

I have seen already
the wonders of the clouds,
I have felt already
the touch of the moon’s dusty face 
as she sails these seas of early summer.
I know well enough
how the world looks from your realm,
the drowsy shepherds of Arcadia,
lovers, lost to all but themselves,
the way the sails of ships
seem like wind-borne feathers
on the sea’s swell and fall far below:
I have seen them all in dreams
and know how small they are
from these celestial heights.

What more can you show me?
You have promised me all and everything
and you continue to make your promises
even as we both rise.
But do you not realise
how thin the air now grows?
And how fierce the heat of the approaching sun?
Still you continue to make your promises
even as we both rise.

But do you not understand
that in the thin air of these heights
I now can hardly hear you?
And if you carry me higher
into this sky-borne silence
I will not hear your promises at all?

Detail of Night and Sleep by Evelyn de Morgan

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Spring - The Tipping Point from Darkness to Light

"I plant a little seed in the cold, cold ground. 
Out comes the yellow sun, big and round. 
Down come the raindrops soft and slow 
Up comes the flower, grow, grow, grow!"

 ~ A Kindergarten Song ~

How full of wonder is this childhood Spring experience! All seems to go without effort. But when we grow older, this inner blossoming, this tipping point from darkness to light, tends to come with some struggle.

In a renewed encounter with the outside world I see how the seemingly-dead wood of the trees and bushes are showered with a filigree patchwork of light green leaves, and I am amazed. I watch how every new little leaf struggles out of the bud. To grow, also as an inner growth, is not without effort, and at times that inner growth journeys along a path of tears. Inner resistance must be overcome in order to make it possible for a true freedom of life to awaken. Can we, like nature, open ourselves to this freeing light?

In many ancient cultures, and in our present culture, it is the egg which is a symbol of new life. In the cosmology of all lands on earth the egg was and still is considered to be a sacred symbol, and revered for its form as well as for its inner mystery. The egg represents the visible manifestation of a world or a being in the state of becoming. It hints at the origin and the secret of existence. The imperceptible seed develops within its enclosed space. It grows without any intervening power from outside, bringing, out of a slumbering nothing, an active something forth, and all that is needed is warmth. And after developed into a living being, it breaks out of its shell to come into the world.

If, as the mystics tell us, our Earth is a living being, then all which is upon it must also in some form be alive, and have this potential for growth. We might imagine that there is a clear difference between what is ‘alive’ and what is ‘non-living’, but the line between the two can be far less defined than we think. We break open a geode, and there inside a magical little world of crystals is growing in a silent beauty which otherwise would pass unseen. Are the crystals alive? They are certainly growing – and growth is a quality that we tend to attribute to life. Perhaps this is why in mystic thought the crystals are said to have their own consciousness: a primitive mineral consciousness which is on a level of awareness below the organic world.

We know that we are alive. But what defines this essence? We grow and develop from a tiny seed of life – but the very atoms and molecules which make up our entire bodies, and which contribute to this process of growth, are themselves non-living! So it seems that this threshold between living and non-living is more vague than we might imagine. What is certainly not imaginary is this shared potential for growth – not just physical growth, but growth of consciousness.

All natural growth and life processes begin with some form of consciousness. It is a rhythmic, self-perpetuating cycle. When these powers which serve the natural growth and nurturing of life are released, then our inner life has access to them, and they become a vital subsoil. This is the realm where the life powers feel at home. It is also the place from where love and compassion well forth. It radiates warmth, as in nature the sun gives warmth. On this level there exists a continuous dying and living again, as in the realm of plants. 

On the tipping point of bud towards leave, from darkness to light, rises - behind the sensory world - the sun of springtime, and fresh green leaves come into being. These revitalizing signs in nature give us trust and joy. Unconsciously we know that they represent a human ideal:  to grow towards the light.