The Long Hot Mess of Summer

I haven’t been blogging of late as July turned out to be a rather difficult month. Five planetary retrogrades, Chiron in retrograde (the Wounded Healer is strong in my natal chart), and a solar and lunar eclipse – oh my! You could say that this month was full of important lessons and growth. You could also say it was like getting hit with a meteorite traveling at the speed of light and you’d be right as well.

I wish it were this benign!

 Last year on this date, the universe gave me an important lesson. You can read about it in my first blog post. And up until a few months ago, I thought I learned it. I did actually learn it, but we don’t always follow the lessons we learn, do we? Intellectual knowledge requires life experience to truly drive home the point and transmute itself into Wisdom. Obtaining Wisdom is often done through challenges, obstacles and pain. During this eclipse/retrograde season, the Universe sent another loud message to get my head out of my ass and to stop falling for all of the shinies. All that glitters is not gold and all that.

Touché, Universe.

I am living through a financial scare right now. This summer I lost a good portion of my income temporarily as a number of my courses were canceled due to low enrollment. I started sending out application to schools all over the state. I stopped working on my new projects, the ones I love, the ones I believe will lead me to a better, more authentic life. I abandoned my pursuit of my Personal Legend, as Paulo Coelho called it in The Alchemist. I did this out of fear. I retreated back to what was old and familiar. To a place I already know no longer serves me.

Double punch!

The Universe sent me another big fat HELL NO! And then rerouted me to where I need to be again. Last year it was wrapped in a massive hail storm. This year, I was left with a much longer lingering affect which won’t be lost on me anytime soon. It’s been said that stupidity should be painful. This was physically and mentally painful. It left me sick, beat-up, worn-out and drained of energy.

This time around, however, I was able to reap the benefits of the growth I experienced over the past year. I’m not wallowing in this mistake as I would have before. I’ve been able to forgive myself. It wasn’t immediate, but it wasn’t months longs either as it would be in the past. I gave myself a few days to recover from the blow and nurse my wounds. Then I started a routine to get myself reoriented and back on track.

Here’s the gist of my lesson. Self-transformation cannot begin with giving in to old patterns, old ways of thinking, old jobs, and old thoughts about self. That will only breed more of the old. Self-transformation begins with deep self-reflection and taking steps in new directions. It’s far more than applying intellectual knowledge. In some ways, intellectual knowledge can get in the way. It’s about developing intuition and applying the lessons of lived experience. In other words, cultivating Wisdom. How often have I written in this blog, Know Thyself?

Fear, Doubt, Uncertainty, Anxiety, these negative thought patterns that ego clings too, need to be ejected. Easier said then done, right? But not impossible. Meditation helps quite a bit. It lead me to the realization that I had to realign my goals to place personal transformation at the center of everything. When I placed my income and financial prosperity as my stated outcome for my transformation — out of fear and a sense of lack in my life — what I got back was more fear and lack in my life.

I tell my students, don’t focus on the grade, focus on the learning. If you focus on the learning, the grades will follow. They resist this. I often hear, “I need to get an A in this class! How do I get an A?” I tell them to focus on learning and understanding the content. Read my feedback on your assignments. Apply that feedback. Ask questions if you don’t understand. There is no other magic pill for getting an A in the class.

What I learned was that I was doing the same thing as my students: I focused on the financial outcome rather than the personal transformation required to live an authentic life.

But this set back isn’t without it’s gains. For one, I have much more empathy with my students. I can get very frustrated with them when they don’t heed my words. What I learned is that it’s quite hard to do when there is so much at stake. Fear, Doubt, Uncertainty and Anxiety rear their hydra heads and scared the bejesus out of me! It is the same for my students when the fear a bad grade will keep them out of a certain program or that they will lose financial funding. Or they won’t meet the impossibly high goals they set for themselves. I understand that one more as well.

I also learned to trust in my instincts and the synchronicities around me. Everything within and around me told me that I was going backwards. I convinced myself otherwise. I convinced myself that it was just a temporary setback to my ultimate goal until I got back on my feet. When ego is scared, ego lies. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but an important one.

The most important lesson, was that once I released the death-grip I had on controlling my finances, opportunities started to flow towards me. Ideas that I previously found elusive started to flow from me. I feel like for the first time in my life, I know what I want to do and how to get there. What it took was a realignment of priorities. Focus on the personal transformation, let go of my attachment to results, and the results that I need in my life will manifest.

It’s been a long, hot mess of a summer. But it’s also been quite productive. I know what I need to do and I’m getting on track with how to do it. The witch has finally awakened, let the magick begin!

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Intuition

intuitionIf I had only one message to pass on to people as we enter 2019, it would be to develop your intuition and trust it. When we are young, we’re often not taught to listen to the inner voice we have that tells us if we’re going in the right direction or not. The direction could be something as simple as whether or not what we eat will disagree with our body or more complex like whether or not we choose to trust someone. We’re taught to give someone or something the benefit of the doubt. You never know, it might just turn out for the best! However, there are many times in my life where I hear that voice in the back of my head, and I wish I would have listened to it. Does something deserve attention in our lives just because it might turn out alright? If our reservation is only due to fear of the unknown, then perhaps it needs to be re-evaluated. The benefit of the doubt may be in order. But if we’re listening to our internal voice that speaks to us from a place of inner knowledge, then we ought to listen to it. It will tell us whether or not something is right or wrong for us.

einstein-intuitionIntuition, like most things worthwhile in life, takes some time to develop. It develops out of experience, the ability to read and assess the nuances of a situation quickly, a thorough knowledge and understanding of self/mind, and the ability to trust the inner voice that tells us the low down on what’s really going on in a given situation.

I think most of us develop our intuition to a certain extent, but it stops where fear steps in and takes over the reins. In many cases in my own life, I’ve often confused fear for intuition. I’ve missed out on opportunities and jumped into bad situations because of that confusion. This didn’t happen because fear and intuition are closely related and easy to confuse, rather it happened because I did not thoroughly understand myself.

pythiaoracle

Pythia of the Oracle at Delphi, by John Collier

The words Know Thyself or Gnōthi Seauton (in Greek γνῶθι σεαυτόν), were inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. Kings, statesmen, merchants, and holy men, came to Delphi to meet with the oracle, who would impart to them prophetic messages. The oracle always spoke in ambiguous language which needed to be interpreted by the person receiving the prophecy. To correctly interpret the meaning, one had to first understand their own mind. Without this self-knowledge, the prophecy was often interpreted in the favor of the receiver, what one wanted to hear, rather than more accurately how their biases and hubris would bring problems and catastrophes upon them. Just ask King Croesus of Lydia how that all worked out for him when he went to war with the Persians after visiting Delphi.

To know thyself means to be aware of everything about oneself. Even the dark, nasty things that we don’t always want to recognize in ourselves. In other blog posts I spoke of that mean, petty part of me that can lash out and cause all sorts of hardships in my own life and the lives of others. That aspect of me can even sabotage myself from moving forward and set me back further. Understanding that this aspect of me exists, means that I can put energy toward it and transmute that energy and shift it elsewhere, to a place where it is more productive and positive.

But knowing thyself is not just about recognizing the bad stuff, it also means that we can recognize a lot of the good stuff that we bury. I’ve done this quite a bit in my life. I can recall times when I was working on a project or a task, it was criticized or laughed at, and I pulled back into my shell and opted to forget I ever tried it. That’s fear. Rather than assessing the situation, I recoiled and gave up for fear of being laughed at or viewed as an idiot. In cases like this, it wasn’t intuition that was whispering in my ear, it was fear. otherside of fear

Fear is like a noxious weed if you let it into your life. It can strangle your intuition if it’s given a chance. Had I listened to my intuition, I wouldn’t have given up, I would have kept going. I would have assessed the worthiness of the criticism and made adjustments if necessary. I would have recognized the goodness in my own vision and I would have given it my love and time.

The Super Blood Wolf Moon on January 20/21 2019, ushered in a new rebirth for many of us who have been on a roller-coaster of emotional, draining energy over the past four years. July of 2018 felt like the sudden death of the old path I was on and I entered into a healing restorative period of my life for a few months. Now it’s time to rise from the ashes. To move forward, I know I must understand myself; the good, the bad and the ugly. With knowledge of myself grounded in reality, I can trust my intuition and let fear go. I can start to live authentically.

superbloodwolfmoon

Me and My Shadow

Nice Kingdom Hearts Iphone Wallpaper the shadow knows t shirt by lamontcranstonSometimes my shadow side takes over and I get angry and vindictive with those I interpret as acting against the social good. In this case, with several atheists who set out to attack anyone expressing any sort of religious thought. I am not against atheism. I see it as a perfectly reasonable position to take in this world. I counted myself as an atheist for about a decade between the ages of 25-35. My journey has taken me somewhere else, but I still find atheism a legitimate claim worthy of attention and respect.

But I don’t like bullies. (there’s always a “but,” right?) I don’t like people who set out to discredit others based solely on their beliefs, unless those beliefs are demonstrably harming others (I include animals and the environment in this). This was a case of going after anyone who was trying to discuss nuanced philosophical understandings of the divine and conflating them with fundamentalist ideologies of Christianity and Islam. The shadow side of me decided a smack down was in order in some sort of crusade against religious intolerance!

But first, some perspective is needed…

Atheism SymbolIn our history, to be a self-declared atheist could be a death sentence and often it was. Even after the Enlightenment, one could face social and financial ruin if they admitted their atheism in public. And today in America, while atheism is more accepted and mainstream, there are still consequences that go with it. One only need to look at how many vocal atheists hold public office in the executive, legislative or judicial branches of government today for evidence. There aren’t any. At least none that admit it. And it’s one thing a political opponent will dig through first; what religion are they and when did they establish ties to the church they claim they attend? Obama went through this when his opponents wanted to frame him as a Muslim in the eyes of the public. Just imagine if he was an atheist!

EvolutionAmong the academic and scientific communities in the nineteenth century, atheism rose up in the ranks and became respectable. This was largely accomplished through the publication On the Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin. Many intellectuals saw Darwin’s theory as a means to put God to bed once and for all. God wasn’t needed to explain the world anymore.

But many atheists in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, especially those who were not shielded by academia, felt isolated, ostracized and condemned for their beliefs. This still goes on in many communities in America. A number of my friends that grew up as atheists in communities that were overtly religious often felt threatened and afraid to speak their truth. In this respect, I do understand why some would take a position of attack against religion, as religion was the vehicle for attack against them at some point in their life. Was it religion or the intolerance of the community they lived in that led to the abuse and bullying? Likely both. Especially if it came from a person in religious authority.

My reflection of the history of atheism doesn’t excuse someone who had a bad experience with religion from attacking someone with religious convictions, but it does open up my ability to have more compassion for them. My need for a “smack down” says more about me than it says about them. I was ready for a fight! I wanted to show them that they were as irrational and dogmatic in their thought that they accused others of being! Basically, I just wanted them to feel stupid by showing them how little they understood religion and spirituality outside of Christianity.JungShadow

I don’t know if they were bullied by intolerant religious folk in the past or if they’re bullies themselves who like to harass people for disagreeing with them. I don’t think it matters. I wanted them to feel stupid for their actions. This is about me, not them. Could it be if I don’t make a solid defense and tear them down first, maybe my own set of beliefs won’t stand up to the scrutiny either?  Yeah, I think that’s part of it.

Psychologically, humans are messy creatures. My core beliefs are solid, but I’m still formulating what I believe for myself on this life’s journey. Not everything is on solid ground as I sort it all out. The need to lash out is strong when I feel attacked, because everything is still raw. I feel a knee-jerk reaction to protect it. When an animal has a wound, it will lash out if anything comes near it, even if it’s potential help because all the animal can feel is the pain.

In our society, I think a lot of us are feeling the pain right now. We’re trying to protect ourselves in irrational ways to make it stop. This is not productive. Lashing out only creates more tension and more lashing out. It also aggravates the wound we carry. It can’t heal this way, it only becomes more of a problem.

The main purpose of this blog is shadow work. I write to figure out what’s really going on in my head. There’s a lot of fear – when I get down to it – that needs exorcised. My answer to this is to transmute it into compassion. There is a Buddhist meditation that asks participants to rephrase what they are experiencing from their ego perspective to a universal perspective. So, for instance, instead of saying, “I have fear” or “I am suffering,” say instead, “There is fear” and “There is suffering.” This raises the person out of the individual mindset and to the understanding that all of life experiences this. We’re not alone. There is no duality; no, Us versus Them. We’re all connected. With this connection comes a greater understanding and compassion for ourselves and others.

Buddhism

Know Thyself

Move Him Socrates PaleWhenever someone asks what the most important lesson of Hermeticism is, the answer is universal: know thyself. There are, of course, many other lessons to be gleaned from Hermetic philosophy, but most of them boil down to this one thing. Knowledge of self is the knowledge of the universe. More than that, it is knowledge of the Divine. The Principle of Correspondence is found in all Heremtic texts and highlighted in the Emerald Tablet (600-800 C.E.). It states, “That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above corresponds to that which is Below…” More succinctly it’s often phrased, “As Above so Below.” I’ve heard the second phrasing often in my studies, typically in Wiccan and Neo-Pagan circles, but I must confess that I really didn’t have a firm grasp of what that meant. I thought of it more in terms of a metaphorical understanding of how the microcosm reflects the macrocosm. Until I began my study of Hermeticism, I didn’t grasp the significance of how the Divine Mind is reflected in the mind of all self-aware beings.

I also didn’t grasp how trying and grueling it is to go through the self-discovery process. I had to learn how to dig in the dirt of my past and to mentally confront what I found. I had to learn how to analyze my thoughts and to observe my analysis. I had to learn how to form many thoughts on what I found and to select those that served me and let go of the ones that didn’t. I had to learn what actually served me versus what I merely liked or found pleasing. I had to learn how to listen to my heart when it spoke truth to me and not brush it off as I have so often in the past. I had to learn that my intuition is real and it deserves my Redpillattention. I had to unlearn all that I have learned before and look at everything with a fresh pair of eyes and an open mind. It is exhausting, heartbreaking, confusing, illuminating, freeing, gut-wrenching, and ultimately the best thing I’ve ever done. But I acknowledge that it is an on-going process and there are tougher things ahead.

When one opts for the red pill, they don’t usually know what they’re really asking for in the end. We all want to believe that we’d have the courage opt for the red pill over the blue, but there is no end to the illusions that burst when one swallows the red one. I’m not sure I would have chosen it had I known what it’d really be like. What I found, is that once I really dug in and went there, I couldn’t find any refuge from the crumbling of illusions. Not the societal manufacture ones and definitely not the illusions I created for myself.  I found my own created comfort illusions were as numerous as the comfort foods I stocked up on in case of panic. I could probably match a comfort illusion with a comfort snack to coordinate the anesthetization process of my brain.

baconmaccheese

I’ll have the bacon mac and cheese quesadilla with a side of sour cream and a midlife existential crisis

Finding out the extent of my self-created illusions was more difficult for me than the societal ones. While those are bad, I’ve always had a healthy distrust for what I’ve been told by authority figures and institutions. While I wasn’t always aware of being duped, I can’t think of a time when it actually shocked me to discover that I was being duped. Angered and saddened, but not shocked. But how often I did it to myself was shocking to me. I’ve made a lot of life changes based on my discoveries in 2018. Each one has been mentally exhausting, but necessary.

as-above-so-below2How does this relate to the Principle of Correspondence? Well, when all the clutter is cleared and one learns how to think and how to process information into personal knowledge about themselves and the world, one begins to know God. We can learn to know God because we were created with minds in God’s own likeness. As Above, so Below. Within our own minds the universe exists. As God created the universe and all that is in it, so too can we create a universe in our own minds. The ability is there if we break out of all the illusions that society imposes on us, but more importantly, the illusions we impose on ourselves that keeps us from breaking through and recognizing the Divine presence that exists inside of each of us. We are not God, but we are Godly and made of Divine Godstuff. We have access to this power if we want it. But we must work for it. To say that it is difficult is to understate the case, especially in the modern world where we tend to either reject the very idea of Divinity or we think that every opinion we hold is of value and worth without the process of discernment. Mentalism

The Principle of Mentalism in Hermetic philosophy is the notion that all that exists is a product of the One Mind. Put another way, the universe and everything in it is a physical manifestation of the Thought of God (Logos). The physical universe didn’t give rise to consciousness, it’s the other way around. The universe is inherently ordered by the Mind of God and operates on physical laws. As the universe is ordered and unfolds according to these laws, so does everything in it. Our minds, then, operate as microcosms of the One Mind. When we know ourselves as we truly are, stripped of ego and accumulated illusions, we know God. Not in the afterlife, but in the here and now.

icecream

Some whipped cream would be nice

This is not the easy road. It is on-going and there are many stumbling blocks along the way. I have to tell myself to keep going up that hill when often times I want to get off and find a dark corner with a giant bowl of ice cream. The past two weeks have been this way for me. I didn’t want to write this. I haven’t wanted to study. I didn’t want to think about how I’ve been telling myself a lot of comfort lies to get through the day. But the heart of the matter is this: I can’t go back. Once illusions are stripped, they’re stripped. I don’t want more in their place. While I haven’t been writing, I’ve managed to keep reading, and more important than that, to meditate. I still need to learn to not give myself a hard time when I reach a difficult patch, but I’m still on the path. I getting there.