Monday, June 17, 2024

Holding the figures of the unlived life


At times, the ground will fall away from underneath us and we’re unable to find the center. It’s the death of an old dream, of me and my life and how I was so sure it was supposed to turn out.

In these moments, we’re asked to place the entirety of our unlived life on an altar in front of us, and help the shattered soul-pieces to find their way into the next world.

Despite the temptation to prematurely transform, transcend, or rise above the material in the vessel, the invitation is by way of descent – into the body temple, to provide sanctuary and safe passage in which the grief can be alchemized, felt, and integrated.

This grieving unveils a process that the alchemists called the solutio, symbolized by salt and the flowing of tears – physical tears in the eyes and also tears of the subtle body, an aching, burning, and longing deep within the soul, weeping for union.

It’s so easy to conclude in these moments that something has gone wrong, that we’re not okay, and that we’ve been forsaken. This psychic groove is the legacy of familial, cultural, and intergenerational networks of trauma and wounding in attachment, held in in the somatic unconscious.

In moments when the figures of the unlived and unfelt arise within us, the neural network opens, is supple, porous, and becomes translucent and permeable, evidence of its own yearning to be re-encoded.

It is love that is the great re-encoder.

In order to break through the density of habitual consciousness and tangles in the soma, the subtle body, the soul must at times upset and dissolve the psychic status quo.

By turning inside out the dreams and fantasies of me and the life I thought I was living, we are taken into an open field where for just a moment we might be given a glimpse behind the veil, at what’s truly happening here and the intelligence which is orchestrating it.


Photo: catching the light, Southern Finland

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Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Solar and lunar cycles on the path of embodied transformation


In the cycle of death and rebirth – the archetypal basis of all healing and spiritual transformation – there are two aspects to that sequence, each being an equal portal on the journey of an embodied wholeness.

There’s the aspect of death, where a part of ourselves is no longer able to accompany us and must fall away: the putrefying of an old dream, of me and my life and how it was all supposed to turn out.

At the other pole is rebirth, renewal, and the emergence of new life.

It’s understandable that the rebirth aspect is the one we most welcome and are drawn to: healing, union, the coming back together of what which has fallen apart.

To embrace dissolution as path, as initiation, as a manifestation of the ally will feel contradictory and counter-instinctual. It will ache in the heart.

However, in many alchemical and mystical streams, dissolution and the death of the material (the known) is the very essence of the path and required for our perception (and subtle body) to be cleansed.

Rebirth is not possible without full participation in the process of death. There is no doorway in and through without embodiment to the cycles of grief. There is no union unless and until something has first been separated.

We see this experiential discovery for example in the writings of Rumi, St. John of the Cross, in Teresa of Avila’s vision of the interior castle.

This energetic movement of putrefaction, or of reorganization, is the Kali aspect of love, the body of a figure like Vajrakilaya in Tibet, or Mercurius in alchemy, the shadow side of God and the transpersonal Self.

This activity and specific manifestation of the Divine Ground plays a vital role in our individuation and awakening, but is not easy to be in relationship with. There’s no real reference point for that, including in a lot of our contemporary traditions, which remain oriented exclusively to the upward, clear, and ascending currents.

In addition are the currents of the divine descent, the illuminated black sun, the lunar cycles that unfold within the somatic unconscious as well as the soil in the deep earth, extending down into the shadowlands and underworld, with Persephone and others.



Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Into the holding environment


Many are familiar with the term “holding environment” as elucidated by Winnicott, an evocative and poetic description of relational experience rooted in embodied, empathic attunement and right-brain to right-brain resonance.

As the matrix of secure attachment, it provides the fertile, creative neural and psychic foundation from which we can explore reality, play within the imaginal world, and rest in unstructured states of being - wonder, awe, and the mysteries of Pure Being.

From within this centering, we’re able to venture out into the unknown, know experientially the full spectrum of the feeling body, and explore relationship with both inner and outer others.

Not having to hold it all together by way of our own effort, we relax into a holding which is always, already here; a holding which is so vast that it naturally contains momentary states of disintegration and “falling apart.” These states are no longer viewed as pathology, but as path.

Intimacy without fusion, closeness without engulfing, healthy attachment without impinging. This is the psychic soil from which a baby’s little brain and heart emerge into being. What a miracle. Real magic.

Holding manifests within psyche and soma, as interior pieces of soul companion one another; interpersonally through relationships where we take the risk to allow another to matter; as also transpersonally through containment by the Totality and Divine Ground.

In this way, the holding environment is wired into who and what we are. At times appearing inside, and at other times outside us, just like the Beloved itself, it will take any form – outrageous, wild, untamed – so that it may embody and incarnate itself through us as its vessel.