The Rejection of Fear

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”  —Frank Herbert, Dune

FearisALiarFear is the mind-killer, the thing that keeps us from total self-realization. It is the thing that creates nightmare worlds and holds its inhabitants hostage. The good news and the bad news are the same; It’s self-inflicted. I inflict a lot of fear into myself. I’ve been afraid of what others thought or me in my youth. I’ve been afraid of what others could do to me now in my middle age. I’ve been afraid of not making enough money, of not having healthcare, and of not being able to take proper care of my family. I’m fighting the fear of what lies ahead if I live my truth now. I’ve lost a lot of time because of the fear I hold. But fear is self-inflicted and because of this reality, I can stop it. I hold the power to end my own suffering if I choose it.

Fear_Itself_intertitleEasier said than done. But once I said it, something interesting happened. The fear slowly started to lose its grip over me. It didn’t happen instantly, but over several days and weeks of meditation and setting an intention to lift my fears. Just last night as I was meditating on the Principle of Polarity (which I will write about at length later), I became aware that certain fears that had their talons sunk deep into me, didn’t seem to have such a strong hold any longer. Fears that could bring me to tears in a matter of a few seconds… didn’t! They simply do not feel as important as they did to me only a few days ago.

Like most people, I want a little certainty and stability in my life. I want the peace of mind that comes with it. But if I am being honest with myself, certainty and stability are illusions. These things can be stripped away at any time with the rise and fall of social customs, political agendas, and environmental catastrophes. Sacrificing my own truth One-Earth-Peace-Lovefor the illusion of certainty seems a particularly bad bet to make. In Hindu and Buddhist philosophy, they use the term maya* to describe the illusions in life that deceive us and keep us off our true paths. Deeper than that, maya is the illusion that this physical world is all that is, when a much greater Ultimate Reality exists far beyond this physical manifestation.  Hermetic philosophy teaches that we can come to know that Ultimate Reality through the exploration and mastery of our own mind. Our minds are made in the likeness of the Divine Mind and expressed in the axiom – As above, so below, as below so above.

I felt a strange and wonderful release of built up negative energy this morning. The fears that kept me off my spiritual path are letting go of my mind and freeing it to move about with a sense of wonder, curiosity, and anticipation of discovery. I also feel so much discoverywondergratitude for being alive right now and fortunate enough to live through this experience. Despite all the hardship and ugliness in this world, there is also wonder and beauty.

And here is the most important thing I’ve come to understand; suffering and pain are not to be avoided in this life. No one likes to go through it. It hurts like hell and sometimes it feels like it will never end. For some, it may even be too much. But if we survive it, there’s gold to be found.

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*Not to be confused with Maya, a manifestation of the Hindu Goddess Lakshmi.

The Call of Dreams

“Dreams are postcards from our subconscious, inner self to outer self, right brain trying to cross that moat to the left. Too often they come back unread: return to sender, addressee unknown. That’s a shame because it’s a whole other world out there–or in here depending on your point of view.”

―Chris in the Morning, from Northern Exposure, ep. Roots, 1991

End-of-Life-Dreams-and-Visions-479718794-750x485I had a dream last night that I went to visit my parents in Ohio. While I was there, I decided to buy my ticket back to Colorado. There was no explanation as to why I didn’t just buy a round-trip ticket to begin with, I assume this was a matter of dream logic. So, I went online to buy my return ticket, but I ended up getting a round-trip ticket to Ohio and back to Colorado. After I bought the tickets, it occurred to me that I didn’t need the ticket to Ohio since I was already there. I was very annoyed about this, but I wasn’t able to get a refund. My mind was so preoccupied that I had bought a ticket that I didn’t need, that I couldn’t enjoy the rest of the trip with my family. I kept shaking my head and thinking, why did I waste money on something I already have?!

I didn’t realize the multilayered meanings to this dream until I shared the dream with my partner over breakfast. She thought about it for a moment and said, “That’s great! It’s not often you get a dream with such clear meaning.” She was right. I had to say it out loud before I could really dig into it.

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One of my smaller bookcases still under construction

I have a lot of shit. I mean, a LOT. Clothes, books, crystals, knickknacks, tarot decks, stuffed animals, electronic gadgets, candles, jewelry, art supplies, beads, and bits and pieces of things I no longer know what they go to anymore. If I am honest with myself, I would have to say that with the exception of food and toiletries, I could go several years without buying anything new. Maybe new books. Knowledge is always a good thing, after all. But the rest? Don’t need it.

On another level, it occurred to me that I’ve wasted a lot of time and energy wanting to be something I already was. I am a spiritual person. I am a witch. I am a powerful woman. I just didn’t realize it yet. I wasn’t confident in my own skin and I allowed other people, things, and fear to define me. I worried so much about what others thought of me that there wasn’t really a me. At least not a me that I allowed to shine through. And how much of the stuff that I bought was just to make me feel more spiritual and witchy, when all of that comes from the inside.

So, no more buying things I don’t need to clutter up my home. No more wasting time and energy on wishing I was the person I wanted to be. It’s time to live it.

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Cocooning

Back in 2008 I worked as an academic advisor for an expensive proprietary school. I had been there for three years and I wasn’t happy. Rather than helping students through school and to achieve their goals, my job was to keep them there even against their own best interests. It was not what I set out to do in life, I had no intention of hurting anyone. If the situation called for it, I would advise students to take some classes at a community college until they figured out what they wanted in life. If they still wanted to go to our school, they could come back after taking their general education courses, which were probably about 20-25% of the overall bill. I kept this to myself as I couldn’t imagine that the school would smile upon this practice. Though I only did it if I felt the student really needed help and they weren’t doing well in our classes.

boringMeeting-538x218During registration time, the other advisors and department chairs would sit around a table and literally would go through every single student that hadn’t registered for class yet. The Director of Academic Affairs would preside over each minute details of those students. Did the advisor assigned to the student call them? Did they send out emails? Did they try to track the student down in class? Did they text the student? Did the department chair get involved and reach out to the student? It was some form of strange, ritualized stalking that was sanctioned by Corporate. If the student was hospitalized or homeless, we were asked what sort of resources we could provide for them. We would give them numbers and websites for food banks, hostels, and missions. We would give them information for counseling. This was not bad in and of itself, it may have even helped some. But so many of them needed healthcare or help with bills and these were things we couldn’t help them with outside of resources like a nurse hotline. But at norecession time would it ever be suggested that the student shouldn’t be in our very expensive school. Too many had dropped and we had to staunch the blood flow. The Great Recession began only a few months earlier and students simply couldn’t pay for an overinflated education that they likely wouldn’t ever be able to pay back.

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The Tower of Babel

One night I had a dream of a giant ziggurat that reached into the clouds. It housed an entire city of people. It looked like a cross between the Tower of Babel and Minas Tirith. I was flying over it and at first it looked impressive, but in the dream I understood that it wasn’t real. I can recall saying, “This is a virtual city!” The more I looked at it, I came to understand that it was a false construct and that there were faults in the structure. It was crumbling because there was no meaningful upkeep. When I flew close to it, I could tell it wasn’t built from real stone, it was plaster and had been worn by water and wind erosion. It wasn’t going to last long.

During one of those meetings, my mind drifted back to that dream. The only thing going through my mind as other advisors were talking about their students not yet registered, was that the meeting, the school, and everyone in the building were wrapped up in an illusion. The system was crumbling all around them, and no one took notice of it.

If there is a moment where I could pinpoint when I started to Wake Up to Reality, it was in that moment.  Today the school no longer exists, my intuition about it was correct. But I left long before it closed.  Once I made the realization, I had to get out. I never said anything about my thoughts to my co-workers, but I felt exposed all the same. Like I was wearing an “Imposter” sign on my back. I wasn’t of them.

What happened after that was an eight-year cocooning. I taught philosophy and comparative religion courses online to pay my bills. I didn’t get out of the house often and I built walls around myself. Quite literally. While I didn’t develop into a full-blown hoarder, I could have easily. I turned into a clothes horse and I couldn’t get rid of old ratty things that were twenty years old. It was like I was building up a barrier between me and the rest of the world. I felt hurt from the experience and I did not want to go back out into the wild.clothes hoarding

During this time, I didn’t do much to build on that awakening. It’s taken me ten years to realize that it frightened me and that it was a painful experience. Awakening hurts because it puts us at odds with the rest of the world. I began to see that I really do not fit in with what most people call “normal.” I don’t even understand it. What seems obvious to me, so few others see.

During my time of cocooning, two decidedly bad things happened. I closed myself off from the world, and I began to let my ego grow. It seems paradoxical, but it’s actually quite common. I looked down on those that couldn’t see what was so obvious to me. This refusal for others to open their eyes was destroying the world through climate change, economic depression, political apathy, unethical corporate practices, economic injustice, and so forth. It’s only recently that I’ve been able to see that we’re all on our own path. We’re all doing what we need to do to get by in this life. And it’s only recently that I’ve been able to rejoin the world.

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“Be careful not to wear spiritualism as a badge to decorate your ego” –Unknown

U2FdIahI did return for a short stint to academic office life, which was a disaster for me. About eight years after I shut myself off from the world, the classes started to dry up. Student enrollment was down and I wasn’t going to meet my bills much longer. So, I took another job as an advisor for yet another proprietary school. I was desperate for a steady job.  This lasted for two and a half years, and I even received a promotion. The set up was actually worse than the previous job, and once I was promoted I felt like I entered hell. What got me through this time were the people I worked with on a daily basis. They were wonderful, caring, helpful, and family, some of whom I am still friends with now.

I feel that I was there to meet one person in particular who changed my life. His name was Art. He had an indomitable spirit and he brought life and light to everyone he encountered. He was a light worker and a spirit warrior. He was a Sun Dancer. He was half Lakota Sioux and he did a lot of work with the water protectors at Standing Rock. He was going to cleanse the new house my partner and I were about to move into when he got sick. He had an upper respiratory illness which kept getting worse. This went on for over a month. And then one day in late April 2017, he died.sundog

I was fortunate enough to be at the hospital with him on the day he died. He was surrounded by his family, his tribe, his friends, and his co-workers. There was drumming and chanting, and people speaking to him with love and light in their hearts. I witnessed the most beautiful process of a person transitioning from this life into the next.

I decided that day that I wasn’t going to waste another minute on a life that wasn’t mine. It was the dawn of my Second Great Awakening, and I set up a six-month plan to raise the money I would need to quit my job and transition to my new life. I walked out that October.

I’d like to say that it was easy and life’s been a breeze since then, but a few woes unto each of us must fall. I entered a period of cocooning again. Though this time it was a much shorter duration and I didn’t remain on autopilot. I started to research Hermeticism, meditation and paganism more. I already had a decent understanding, but I wanted to learn more. I wanted to understand it as a practitioner, not just a researcher. I dove into these ancient teaching. I starting to find the Divine in everything and everyone. I started making plans with a close friend to start a business! I went back and forth between thinking I was crazy and embracing this new life. I had several meltdowns, but I kept getting back up.

There was some back sliding, I wrote about the lost job opportunity on this blog back in July. That came from fear. Not losing the job, but rather trying to get it, as that is not my calling in life. It was another distraction.  But the other night I sat on my back porch and started to meditate. I asked myself if now, after all I’ve been through and all I know, could I go back? After my Second Great Awakening, with all the research, knowledge and understanding of the universe and Divine I have now, could I actually go back to my old life and the cycle of work, burnout and cocooning?

No. I can’t. There is no going back to that now. And so…

onward-human-to-glory

 

The Law of Mentalism

Sometime in late 1999, I was working at a Blockbuster in Colorado. I had just move there from New Orleans to attend graduate school at the University of Denver. The big movie that was coming out on video was The Matrix (1999). I wasn’t a huge fan of Keanu Reeves, so I hadn’t seen it. But all of the other employees insisted that once it was out on neotrinitymorpheusvideo I had to see it. They explained to me how philosophical it was and it was right up my alley. I would LOVE it! I did, in fact, love the film and I still use it today in my Philosophy of Religion course that I teach. The first time I watched it I saw it as a classic Gnostic story of the illusory world being stripped away to reveal a darker reality run by an insane God, or Architect as later revealed in The Matrix series (though I can’t recommend the sequels). Once the deception is stripped away, the protagonist has to decide how to act on this devastating new knowledge about the world.

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Cartesian “minds in a vat” as portrayed in The Matrix

The Matrix is not the only modern telling of this story, we can also see this theme less violently played out in The Truman Show (1998) and Pleasantville (1998). Both of these films are subtler in their approach. The characters don’t find themselves literally existing as Descartes’ brains-in-a-vat, as they do in The Matrix. Rather, they see their world slowly starting to change as they become more aware of reality. The Truman Show, like The Matrix, is more of a nightmare. Truman lives his entire life in a bubble. He’s the first baby to be adopted by a corporation and he’s lived his entire life, unknowingly, on a TV show. All of the people in his life are actors. But the illusion can’t realistically be sustained and the audience follows him on his painful path to discovery. Pleasantville pleasantvilletakes a more cinematically poetic touch. As the characters become more aware of reality, the black and white film begins to add color into their lives. Sometimes at a tremendous cost. But once a character start to see the varied colors in life, they can no longer go back to their old ways. The color adds pain, but it also adds beauty and nuance to their otherwise black and white bleak lives.

I’m not sure what was going on in Hollywood at the time that allowed these three films to bubble up from the collective unconscious in the late nineties, but they remain some of my favorite films from the 20th century.

Reality-ed-harris-truman-show

Just as an aside, if Morgan Freeman is Hollywood’s go-to God, then Ed Harris is its Demiurge (The Truman Show, Snowpiercer).

In the Hermetic tradition, there are seven principles that govern the Universe. The First Principle of Hermeticism is Mentalism. This is the idea that the Universe and all things in it are Mental constructs of the The All. That means, you, me, the chair I’m sitting in, peanut butter, novelty mugs, galaxies, and atoms are living in the mind of the Divine Creator. The universe is mental and unfolds in accordance to the laws inherent in its construct. That is to say, the Divine set up some rules which must be obeyed by all things in the universe. These are strictly physical laws, not laws governing morality. The three authors of the Kybalion (1912), who refer to themselves as the Three Initiates, rather testily point out that we ought not make inane arguments regarding whether or not God can create a rock so big that even God can’t lift it. The All of the Hermeitc tradition doesn’t stoop to such silly things. The Universe is ordered and The All doesn’t break the laws that hold Its Universe together.

So, what does that mean for us? In the Corpus Hermeticum, human beings were initially soulSouls or Spirit Force that are lesser beings than God, but like God in form. We began in God’s mind and we’re granted a mind of our own in which we all have the power of creating infinite worlds of our own. Like The All, our Soul is Immortal, it will never be snuffed out. Our Souls were then sent to Earth to live out temporary lives where we could grow and develop into more worthy beings. Eventually the body dies, but the Spirit continues and is reborn. We have two forms, our physical Earthly form, which changes with each incarnation, and our Spirit form which is our unchanging Soul.

The All sent us some of Its Servants to help us reach our full potential and to open the possibility for us to join the ranks of the Higher Beings. In Egyptian mythology, we know Thoththese Servants of The All as Isis, Osiris, Horace, Thoth, Nut, Ra and so forth. Thoth was our greatest champion who gave us things like writing, science, philosophy, engineering, astrology, and alchemy. If we could use it, Thoth gave it to us. It is said that Thoth wrote the Corpus Hermeticum, possibly during an incarnation as a human. The Greeks got a hold of this idea around the 3rd century C.E. and combined Thoth with their god, Hermes, HermesTrismegistushence why we attribute the Corpus Hermeticum to Hermes Trismegistus. His name is used interchangeably with Thoth as they are assumed to be one and the same.

We are then, Spiritual Beings having a human experience. We are each on a path of discovery and enlightenment. Obviously, we’re not all aware of this or life would be quite different on Earth. We suffer amnesia when we are born into this life. This is due to the lessons we’re here to learn.  It’s hard to learn anything new if we carry all the baggage of our former lives with us. This amnesia helps us to get out of our own way so that we can develop our Souls further. With each life, we pull back a little more of the Material World to reveal more of our Spiritual nature. Or at least that is the goal.

Saint_Irenaeus

St. Irenaeus – Christian Bishop and Martyr, Enemy of Gnostics

One of the ancient theodicies (a theory that explains how Evil can exist if God is all good, all powerful, and all knowing) was developed by Doctor of the Church, St. Irenaeus, in the 2nd century. Without getting too deeply into it, he believed that Evil occurred as a means for soul-making. We encounter horrors and challenges in our lives to create greater Souls who are worthy of God.

So, we encounter Evil and hardship, not as a means for punishment or even to demonstrate our Free Will to choose between Evil or Good (St. Irenaeus would disagree, he was no friend of the Gnostics or Hermetists), but rather as a means to grow, develop and improve our Souls. What we tend to classify as Evil is an illusion according to Hermetic philosophy. Good and Evil are dualistic concepts that express opposites. In Hermetic philosophy, there is no duality. All opposites are the same and differ only in degree. This is known as the Fourth Principle of Polarity in the Kybalion, which I will get into much more depth later.

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The Demiurge

In each life time, there exist the potential for humans to pull back the veil and come to understand the second half of our nature, which is Spirit. The Gnostics believed that we were purposely being deceived by an insane god known as the Demiurge. The Demiurge employed the services of Archons to help keep the deception going and keep us ignorant of our Reality. The All sent Aeons to help us break through the illusion. This is evident in the films The Matrix and The Truman Show. Both give us a Demiurge (The Architect / Ed Harris), Archons (The Agents, Cypher / actors who deceive Truman) and Aeons (Neo, Trinity, Morpheus / outsiders who try to help Truman escape).

Hermetic philosophy tells us something a little different. The deception doesn’t come from any outside force, it comes from our inability to look within and find The All/God/Divine/Creator there. This is demonstrated in the film Pleasantville. The false, pleasant but uninteresting, black and white world is peeled away when the characters make internal discoveries about themselves and their world. Nothing forces them out of the illusion except their own self-reflection.

The Principle of Mentalism tells us that to understand our Universe and to understand The All, we must look within ourselves. We are reflections of The All, who exists as Mind. We are able to know the Divine and be like the Divine by virtue of mastering our own Mind. This is why the Hermeticist says, if you wish to understand the workings of the Mind of God and the Universe, Know Thy Self.

 

 

The Lunar Eclipse & Letting Go

This month has proved to be a rocky one for me. I’ve heard it’s been pretty intense for nearly everyone. Certainly, the majority of my friends seem to be experiencing upheaval in their lives in unexpected ways. If you follow astrology, July and August are filled withLunar Ecplise NASA intense astronomical activity. Between July 12th to August 19th there are three eclipses and three major retrogrades. These are powerful psychic forces whether one views them as cosmic reality or as symbol and metaphor.

This has been a month of severe anxiety in my life. In my mental life, I’ve been forced to examine and reexamine a lot of my past and how it relates to me now. There’s been a lot of meditation, but also a lot of groping and searching on my part. Often times there’s been a lot of frustration, which is characterized for me by the process of digging in the dirt (remember that Peter Gabriel song from the 90s?). It’s messy and painful, but also necessary. It’s a part of the shadow work I mentioned in a previous post.  The digging, the clawing, the groping, the pushing and pulling, can be metaphorical – a mental exercise – but it can also be quite literal. Some people may engage in cleaning their house or digging through old photographs boxed up in their basement. Some find garden work, Rug pulled outwhere they actually are digging into the earth, to help them visualize and feel the process.  For me it’s mostly been mental. And just when I think I’ve figured things out and the light is about to dawn, I found myself falling backwards, the rug ripped out from under me. And I was the one doing the pulling on the other side!

It’s easy to just give up. I’ve done it in the past. But what I am finding is that I learn so much more if I push through it. It sometimes feels like I’ve lost control of my bike heading down a steep trail in the woods and I’m banging into every tree on the way down (I’ve actually done this in my youth). It hurts and there are cuts and bruises and new scars being born, but I rise stronger and more mentally able to meet new challenges. And there are a LOT of challenges ahead, so I better prepare myself for them.

But this month, it wasn’t just a mental struggle, it was a real-world struggle as well. I had been working on  a new job opportunity since April. I did all the things one is suppose to do when on a job hunt. I studied up on the employer, I knew all of the functions of the job and the department. I read up on all of the people I would interview with for the position. I bought a new suit, I did the hair, I matched the perfect accessories to the overall look. And I had FOUR interviews with them between April and June. After each interview, I followed up with personalized “thank-you” notes to each of the committee members. It felt like I had the job.

On July 26th, the day Mercury went retrograde, I received an email. They thanked me for my time but informed me they were going with another candidate.

Mercury-Retrograde-Dates-2018

Just FYI – Never hurts to be prepared!

Initially I felt crushed. I felt all of the things one typically feels when they put their heart and soul into something and then don’t get the payoff in the end.

So, I meditated and did some long, hard, soul searching. And what I discovered about myself, is that the type of position I was going after in my life, no longer resonated with me. In fact, even during the early days of the job search, I lamented the idea of going back to office work. It felt stifling and the very idea of it hurt. I wanted the job, not because I really love that type of work, but because I was afraid due to financial concerns and this type of work was comfortable for me. But the idea of the daily grind was painful. I couldn’t even visualize myself there.

The lunar eclipse this month is about letting go of the things that no longer serve us. It’s about letting go of what came before and embracing a new beginning and journey in life. And this eclipse seems especially brutal (at least to Aries) because we’re not being given a say in the matter. The Universe is saying, “ENOUGH!” In this respect, it’s actually a kindness. I didn’t have the will to just walk away from something that wasn’t working Let-Goout for me because I was afraid. It had to be done for me. I’m now free to move on to something I feel an affinity for in my life. I can see where stagnation kept me from higher, more important achievements. I was able to see this because of all the meditative pre-work I did for the past few months. Once the decision was made for me and I got over the initial shock of it, I was almost immediately able to let it go and move forward. I feel in my heart, things will work out for me if I stay on this path of self-discovery and transformation.

Just to illustrate how powerfully chaotic this month was for me, even my flower garden was wiped out in a freak and terrifying hail storm that came out of nowhere this week. But even that had a positive effect. I didn’t really know what I was doing when I created the first garden. I placed things next to each other that didn’t have a mutual benefit. One side of the garden thrived while the other limped along.  I cried when the garden was destroyed. It felt like God stomped on it to add insult to injury this month. But in reality, I can now replant the garden with more knowledge of what I should plant. I plan to dig up the remnants and begin anew next week with more confidence and knowledge.

It’s time to transmute that shit into something beautiful.

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