Tuesday, May 30, 2023

A wild grace

There are times when even our most precious realizations will fall apart and dissolve in front of our eyes. What was so clear only days ago is no longer available, valid, or able to contain and nourish us.

It could be the falling away of a relationship, a shift in our work, the loss of a friend or our health, or the crumbling away of purpose and meaning.

This is a vital time in alchemical work, a psychic rotting of the leaves, where things are yellowed away by the alchemical putrefactio, reorganizing me and my life and the way I was so sure it was supposed to turn out.

“But it wasn’t supposed to happen like that… this person leaving, the loss of my work, my art. I wasn’t supposed to experience anxiety, depression, meaninglessness, and purposelessness. That’s just not me.”

It’s the embodied confrontation and tending to this cycle – and the grief spirals that dance in the core - that plants the seeds of a future reimagining of who we are and what we’re doing here.

It’s not easy to see this reorganization as an ally of wholeness, and we can’t pretend this is the case. Sometimes we just fall to the ground. But it is the invitation of this path, of the emerging lineage of the wounded healer.

It’s tempting in these moments to conclude that something has gone wrong, some great cosmic mistake has occurred, something is wrong with us, we’ve failed, or been forgotten or forsaken.

The soul is always communicating to us. The great Friend is always looking for us, in the hope of drawing us nearer, but often in ways that are bewildering to the part of us that believes it’s in control, that we’re truly steering the ship.

In order to get our attention, the soul must at times upset and dissolve the status quo, turning inside out the dreams and fantasies of me and the life I thought I was living.

Over time, we might start to see this activity of psychic restructuring as the expression of a certain kind of grace. Not the sweet, flowy, expansive grace that is our favorite kind, but one that is fierce and disassembling.

It’s wild and untamed – and can ache and burn – but it is grace nonetheless. The grace of a roaring lioness.

Sculpture by Krista Marleena

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

The weeping of the wound

Healing can’t just be conceptual. It’s not a matter of thinking differently, more “positively,” or even more “spiritually” – orbiting around the wound with our favorite metaphysical beliefs, ideas, and fantasies.

It’s not clear thinking, insight, or even “awareness” that can reach into the wound and reorganize it. These can all supportive, of course, but in the end, healing is experiential, somatic, and embodied.

While the wound is open, while it’s activated and online, there’s a way in that moment that it’s weeping.

That weeping, those tears that emerge from inside the wound, these are emanations of a vital process in alchemy called the solutio. There’s a dissolving that must occur in order for transmutation to unfold.

In that moment of open weeping, the wound presents itself to be reorganized, to receive something which has been missing, something the wound has been longing for.

Not just the wound in some abstract way, but the longing is of the little one, the lost orphan of psyche and soma who has been carrying that burden of trauma, of aloneness, of unbearable emotional pain on our behalf for so long.

That longing, that yearning in the heart is to receive what has been unavailable up until now, and what was missing at the time the trauma became embedded. What that is, is love.

What in the psychoanalytic traditions we call an “emotionally corrective experience.” Or, we could call it a neural reparative experience, or the embodied, felt experience of the missing Friend, the ally, the Beloved.

In this, there’s the discovery - and this is part of the living reality of the wounded healer, an aspect of that archetypal landscape - that we can’t heal a wound that is closed.

Only an open wound can be healed. Otherwise it’s just not tactile enough, sensual enough, and cellular enough for the alchemical tincture, the healing medicine to enter into the wound, to meet and hold those tears and allow them to weep, to grieve, and to purify the heart.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Relationship as path

In any close relationship (where we take the risk of allowing another to matter) we open ourselves to the two primordial archetypal energies of abandonment and fusion. Sensing the potential for shattering reorganization, it makes sense that there is some hesitancy in stepping all the way in.

We come into relationship with a living template of past relational experiences: will I be safe? Can I be as I am? What about all of my sensitivities, vulnerabilities, and weeping wounds? Will I need to be someone different in order to be seen and held? Will I lose myself? Is this all going to be worth it?

Inevitably, ruptures will occur within the relational field, in that tender intersection between ourselves and another. But these ruptures are natural and quantum, and reveal themselves to be hidden portals to wholeness.

A healthy relationship is not one where there is never any conflict, but where rupture is repaired, where repair is path, and where we honor our connectedness as well as our autonomy. The invitation is into the unresolvable waters of separation and union, not unconscious merging into some homogenized leaky middle.

Each of us arrives into the emerging we-space with biographical, cultural, and archetypal patterning. These intertwine to form the interactional field, along with the companionship, play, and reorganizing nature of the mysterious Other, the third who also appears.

Through co-regulation and making sense together, the templates reveal their transparency and become ripe for revisioning. In the core of that ripening it is achy and sensitive, and will ask everything of us, dissolving the dream of the way we thought it was all going to turn out.

In this way, the role of the Beloved is to take us to dust. But it is within the particles of that dust that the alchemical gold is scattered and longing for us to be a vessel for it to make it into this world.

This is why close personal relationships can be so achingly painful, on the one hand, while simultaneously being the most majestic and transmutative temple on the other.

Monday, May 8, 2023

Into the sacred world

It’s essential to take time each day to slow down, rest our nervous systems, feel our hearts, listen to our bodies, and allow the unconscious a chance to speak to us.

Otherwise, the density of the shadow – ancestral, familiar, cultural, and collective – has a way of pressing down upon us, and can deplete us of vital life energy. It can be like a soul-level sort of exhaustion, as the lost orphans of psyche and soma call out in their longing to be held.

Emotional experience which remains unintegrated - which means it isn’t felt, articulated, and made sense of, will leak out in less-than-conscious ways. We’ll find it being evoked in others, enacted in our relationships, or somatized in the body-vessel.

This is not some sign of error or mistake, that we’re unevolved, unspiritual, or that we’ve failed. It is an organic process where psyche longs to know itself. It will never give up in its attempt to reach us, which is the activity of love.

Making the time and space in our lives to imagine and to feel, to rest a nervous system which is shaken by collective trance, is a devotional act. It allows us to tend to the non-rational parts of the soul, which contain vital data and information essential to a life of richness, meaning, and creativity.

This tending is what parts the veil and takes us inside the Beloved and its world.

The alchemists modeled this to us by way of the love-affair they had with the materials in the vessel. They loved the metals, the minerals, and the mystery of what was happening at the intersection of spirit and matter.

To step out of the matrix for just a moment, into inner and outer nature, into the wisdom of the body and the imagination, into the holiness of emerging, right-brain flow… and to listen, to feel, to sense, as the sacred world begins to reveal itself.

Photo: entering the mandala, Rocky Mountain National Park