Sunday, 21 December 2014

The Dark Night of The Soul.

Greetings everyone, winter solstice is here. Long dark nights and short, dusky days. Biting cold and damp chills pervade. This….this is the shortest day and the longest night and here is where Persephone, deep in her Underworld home, takes with her the fruits and seeds of a fertile season as we have moved into dormant stasis. However, nothing is ever truly dormant, for there is life even in stillness.

As a Goddess, Persephone's personal journey can be seen as the epitome of balance between night and day, dark and light. Kidnapped by Hades and taken into the Underworld, it was said that she grieved so deeply for her previous life that she did not eat from the moment of her abduction. Moreover her mother Demeter, Goddess of earthly fertility, refused to allow anything to flourish above ground whilst her daughter was captive in her underworld prison. Zeus, king of the Gods, seeing the earth moving deeper into famine and barrenness, relented to spare further hardship and allowed Persephone to return to her mother and her upper world home. Perspehone, like Eve before her, Pandora, and a thousand other curious women, had eaten of the fruits of her dark home (pomegranate seeds) thus binding her to 'suffering,' and tying her to her underworld life for at least half of the year.

I love the symbolism in this mythology; I grew up on it. As a child, my mother read Greek mythology to me at bedtime; it became the essence of my childhood, a dreamlike mystical place where dark demons battled gods of light and women and men danced with lust, greed, envy, fear, and pleasure, love, honour, allegiance, and more.

At winter solstice, one of my favourite times of year and one that for me, holds so much more spirit and soul than Christmas, we are called to really enter the darkness and accept it. When we reject our darkness and our shadows, they have control over us. Similarly when we dive in and forget how to swim through it, we risk becoming stuck in it, reaffirming our pain, over and over and over. But what purpose is there to this life we live if not to find ultimate peace and harmony in being here? Why wait until we shuffle off this mortal coil to realise we've blown it by forgetting how simple it can be? Surely being human is about the remembrance that light must always follow darkness and thus darkness must inevitably follow light. Just as the sun rises and sets, as the dawn breaks and dusk brings night, so we too must hold faith that in our darkest moments, light WILL return as we mirror the patterns in nature and in the evolution of life.

It can be hard to hold that faith when in our darkest hours; we become attached to our suffering and fear takes hold, the ego gets busy, the monkey mind starts to convince us that we are alone in our pain, that no-one else understands. The danger is that in becoming over identified with it, we create more of the same and become locked in an endless Sisyphusian cycle of repetition. We become gracious hosts to our very own self fulfilling prophecies; a sad table to feast at for sure, and so it is here at this pauper's seat when we must call upon our inner Kali, our Baba Yaga, our wildest, most primal selves, or risk becoming lost in that sea of suffering, lost in an endless Samsara of pain and repeating patterns.

At this pivotal point of the year, as light returns, so we must understand our own cycles and stories. Our personal mythology must become alchemically transformed into gold, or it will surely consume us as winter and summer merge to become one endless torment, the contrast of light and dark becomes meaningless. Every one of us has some kind of cross to bear, each of us knows separation, each of us has known elation, for the human condition is a universal one.

This morning I awoke in the middle of a strong dream. In my dream I saw a man, a south American or Mexican man, standing over me pulling energetic cords out of my throat. He was cutting these ties and explaining to me what needed to be cleared, he was also teaching me the importance of resting and clearing the energy field when working this way. In other words, we can get help when needed and we are also responsible for taking care of our own needs. Community and self sufficiency; paradox in perfect harmony!

My invitation for the Solstice is that we all remember to return to the still point in the centre, the heart of our experience of a human lifetime, right here, right now. We choose in every moment how we respond to things. For me, I'm starting to look at the energy of resistance and what it creates to engage with this. Choosing instead, to call upon 'flow' and to move like water around a perceived obstacle or source of conflict, to respond instead with compassion, kindness and love whilst coming over and over into breath, self knowledge and timeless awareness.

There is an island…I'll meet you there xx

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Be Your Own Shaman!

"The core of the earth is made out of the stuff of black magic." Rudolf Steiner (paraphrased in the book 'Breaking Open The Head' by Daniel Pinchbeck).

Reading this out loud this morning as I lounged about on a rare day off, here began a small exploration of the nature of 'self', of gender and of the dualistic notion of separation. I've been working with this quite intensively for the last few months, with it all coming to a head about two weeks ago in sacred dharmakaya ceremony.

Steiner, it turns out (I never knew much beyond his great schooling principles; my son went to a Steiner nursery when he was little and it was a blessed relief after mainstream schooling but that's another post), was an occultist, freemason and student of self mastery. I'm not going to say much more on this here as I don't know enough yet, so my words would be ill informed, save to say that I enjoy meandering down unexpected paths and it has indeed been the process of much of my life.

When I first heard the quote at the top earlier today, I immediately began to think of it in terms of gender; the dark, moist, cavernous centre of the beast, the belly and womb of the planet, referred to as the container for all 'dark magic' - the up above perhaps being perceived as masculine, outward, light? In this context however, it seemingly referred to the place where we 'bury' our rage, fear, shame, anger and other shady stuff, both consciously and unconsciously. To bring it therefore to light, we need to be able to first identify it, secondly, to challenge it, and thirdly, to transform it.

As a society we have become conditioned into shunning the intuitive (feminine), and the instinctive (neutral), and fearing the mystical - pastures of the insane or accessible only those with direct links via for example, religion. Instead, we have come to favour the rational (masculine), logical (masculine) and scientific (atheist or perhaps agnostic) explanations for things. We began to split, not only in terms of gender, but in terms of our core inner being; we became dualistic.

In becoming dualistic in our thinking we lost great parts of ourselves, and began to hide those parts that did not seem to fit with the acceptable mainstream view of how we are supposed to be, feel and think. What becomes even more confusing is that with social and political evolution, we aren't even sure any more what those dual roles are meant to be, and so we become even more and more dispossessed of our intuitive understanding, even further away from the idea of oneness and unity, and even more alienated from both ourselves and from others. 

"Because we deny our intuition, because we don't believe in spirits or listen to our dreams, because we have banished our potential shamans to mental institutions and homeless shelters, because we have imprisoned ourselves within virtual shells of technology, it may be pathetically easy for ambiguous, super sensible entities (-) to continually operate on our minds, filling the vacuum we have created with sludge, anaesthetising us to deeper levels of wisdom." (From Breaking Open The Head). I find this sentence to be quite profound. What's worse is that we have become our own prison guards. We have successfully imprisoned ourselves by limiting all that we can be through fear, doubt and mindless projection! The great news is, we can transform that. We can turn our suffering into gold, our stories into healing and our separation into unity. 

Pinchbeck goes on to assert that we live between 'egocentric materialism and spiritual nihilism', and for many this is true. However, there is a rising tide of evolution in my view and it is growing fast. There is a new paradigm birthing and people are waking up! In switching off the television, the Revolution will indeed not be televised! 

But how can we cultivate and maintain a feeling of non-duality within ourselves? Are we going to sit and wait for "shamans powerful enough to suck the spiritual poison from our social body and vomit it out for us? Wizards who can tame these demons? Visionaries who can paint the way forward?"(Pinchbeck) 

Here I'm inclined to agree with Pinchbeck in his summary, for he asserts that we must all become our own shamans, wizards and seers, and if "as spiritual warriors, we must take responsibility for the plight of our species" then we must indeed begin to understand the nature of this separation; it's what I would refer to as the 'original sin'. It's not that we were cast out from the Garden of Eden for having curiosity, but that we lost sight of the beauty for believing in the separation as a result. Evolution or God's Creation…it doesn't matter as long as the separation is banished.

Steiner's Rosicrucian philosophies were founded on the principle of self mastery. In this self mastery there are two forms: firstly mastery of the lower self in the form of everyday mirroring and awareness of our day-to-day self - how it functions, what it believes, and how this limits us. Secondly the higher form of self knowledge born of self renunciation; not so easy I hear you cry!

To discover self renunciation, we must first overcome ego. Of course we all have them, they cannot really be escaped but they can most certainly be tamed. A powerful driving force, each of us has the tendency/habit to believe that our own personal version of life is the best, is the 'right' one and to disown, move away from, or become extremely uncomfortable when that version is challenged too hard. Yet for me, my greatest knowing is coming from beginning to move away from this idea of right and wrong, and to move back into balance, into harmony with life, with the 'other' and with myself. When we balance our characteristics, we start to understand from the perspective of 'otherness', from contrast, from true equality. In this point of stillness, there cannot exist conflict, only flow and acceptance of the 'is-ness' of life. And in this lies freedom. In this lies the true heart of LOVE, and who indeed would not want to return to that place? 

To get there, to return to love, we must look for guides, look for mentors, look for teachers and trust ourselves and our own discernment. We also need to recognise the mirrors, and then, we must call ourselves out! I find humour a fantastic tool for taking myself down when my ego is over inflated. Before we can truly laugh at our own shortcomings and misconceptions though, we first need to find them. Dig deep, dream hard and love well, and with those intentions we will surely all start to find our way 'home'. 

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Protect Me From What I Want: Porn Just Got Dirty!

So, porn in the UK just got seriously dirty and we need your attention here people!

Yesterday, a new law was passed in the UK making a list of specific acts illegal in porn in this country. Now, this list has absolutely NO bearing whatsoever on anything that could be considered even remotely helpful, healthy or healing. In fact, the opposite would appear to be true in that upon closer scrutiny, it seems to serve to further marginalise people and groups already feeling the sting of this kind of irrational legislation or their place in the existing social pecking order, in particular women, the LGBT community and the fetish world.

Now, I'm an open minded sort of a woman; I've explored my sexuality in as many aspects as I can think of throughout my life, with some exceptions of course, I mean not everything is my tasse du thé after all. It would be fair to say however, that I felt that one of the safest places for exploration I've ever experienced was in fetish clubs where my boundaries were always well and truly navigated and respected, and the breaking of those is in fact seriously frowned upon within this community.  Diversity of sexual expression is also most welcome: Leave your shame at the door please. Not every place or person respects this of course but nothing in life is really like that is it, and as far as it goes, these places always felt extremely SAFE.

From my explorations of fetish and BDSM, I can also say that 1) I throughly enjoyed them, and 2) No children or animals were hurt in the process and 3) I was kinda proud of my flogger marks and pleasantly stinging buttocks! So what gives here? Surely this is quite an innocent sentiment below...

Haven't us Brits always found the delicate 'thwack' of leather on willow a pleasure (cricket), or the whistle of air as crop hits thigh (equestrian pursuits) an unparalleled delight? Hasn't the scrum down in rugby always resulted in more than 'light' bruising? But that's ok because it's sport? And what about boxing? Cage fighting? Wrestling? Judo? I could go on - all consenting sports that often require a willing acceptance of the risk of injury. Well aren't I entitled to be the arbiter of that in my own sexual expression? It would seem not, for when we add sex into the equation, suddenly there's a flurry of outrage and censorial judgment. If it's about valour and the honour of your team or your country that's ok, but if it's about pleasure it's not? This double standard has to stop and I don't mean just in relation to sport but in relation to gender. The new law makes face sitting an illegal activity on the grounds that is "potentially life-endagering"! And female ejaculation? Please educate me as to how this can be deemed worthy of a total ban? I think I must be doing something wrong here because I am genuinely perplexed!

But I don't think it's because we are getting anything wrong actually. I think what is at play has some strange undercurrent of a regressive and perhaps ulterior motive. Is this part of a strategy of some sort? These politicians aren't stupid, so how can anyone with any intelligence whatsoever deem that it's not okay to face sit, but it is ok to aggressively face f**k (where a man thrusts his wonderful pride with some degree of brute force into the open mouth of a woman). It's okay for a man/group of men to ejaculate all over a woman but not okay for a woman to ejaculate over a man? It's not okay for me to consent to you spanking me and leaving a mark or two but it is okay for a boxer to knock an opponent into unconsciousness? The way I see it is this, if I consent to you spanking me, well I'm an intelligent woman and if I want it I will have it, if I want to watch it, I want to watch it. The key words are here: 'consenting', and 'adult'. I don't need a nanny and I don't remember employing one. Funnily enough there's a whole genre of porn based around adult babies, where one adult plays a nannying role over another, in that instance it's clearly defined role play but with these state governed censorship laws it's simply offensive! 

No, what's at play here is far more sinister. When I was a student we saw the evolution of the "Off The Shelf" campaign to remove porn from all top shelf placement in shops. Now in our technological age it's the 'ban online porn' movement, only there is no consistency, no equality, no logic or reason and plenty of hypocrisy. I don't actually like a great deal of porn. I find it seriously lacking in imagination, tenderness, and eroticism and way too loaded in control, aggression and false representations of gender and intimacy. I prefer my sex connected, present and full of integrity. Whether a one off or a relationship, whether vanilla or wild and dirty; as long as it's full of that connection, presence and honesty, and not riddled with guilt, deceit and shame, then I'm ok with the variations on the theme. 

If you care about freedom of speech, and if you think that to educate your children, rather than conceal, ban or imagine rather foolishly that human beings aren't naturally curious about sex, and from an early age too then please sign the petition. If you think that surely it's better to communicate than to ban, then please sign the petition - and let our politicians know that frankly it's us who will show zero tolerance to ignorance rather than you to your people by demonstrating no more than your petty moralistic judgements. My crop is simply buzzing for a bottom to whoop over this one and I bet I'd find that bottom in the corridors of Westminster in full enjoyment of a bit of illicit sexual frisson. Mr Cameron, you have made a grave error with this one! As usual our sex has become a class, gender, and choice loaded gun and you're pointing it in all the wrong directions. So I have only this to say….