Nourishing life

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This modern world of convenience has made it easy to fill our lives up with junk food, junk entertainment and junk activities – so easy to be busy and yet so hard to find time to listen to deep intuition, to be present with loved ones and with ourselves, and to deeply nourish ourselves in all areas of life.

This, right now, is an opportunity for you to reflect on what nourishes you, and to break the patterns of things that do not.

How would it feel to have a nourishing career? Has anyone ever asked you that before? I’m sure no one has asked me. What would a nourishing career look like?

You’ve no doubt heard of nourishing food, and thought about what is healthy or unhealthy, but very few people manage to stick to ‘healthy’ diets, we often vacillate between feeling somehow more morally good from eating salad, to beating ourselves up over naughty choices. This is an opportunity to move away from a moralistic food paradigm and think of food in terms of the nourishment it brings: nutritional, comfort, pleasure, social… listen to your body, is this food somehow nourishing? Does it make you feel emotionally good? What are you fueling your life with? What are you really – deeply – craving… and why?

Is the material life you lead nourishing for you? Do you surround yourself with things, places, objects, clothing, etc that brings you joy? Perhaps scarcity stands in the way, but the survival instinct of scarcity/fear can also urge us to spend what we have on frivolous or vacuous things – things we want because other people have them – things other people think we should have. What kinds of purchasing decisions would you make if you only asked this question first: “Will this nourish my life?” ?

What does a nourishing relationship with money look like? It is likely a different dynamic from the one many of us were brought up with, where money was a power struggle, where scarcity stood in the way of what we really wanted, or thought we wanted in life. how would we feel about money if we re-emagined it as a nourishing flow from the social ecosystem into our lives? Would that change the way we spend and save? Would it make our relationship with money more positive and healthy?

What does a nourishing home feel like? How can our living spaces become more nourishing and nurturing? How can we nourish our living spaces so that they may better nourish us?

What about a nourishing emotional life? Which people make us feel nourished and nurtured? Which activities feed our souls? Many of us spend too much time on social media, cluttering up our minds with junk information and activities. Perhaps it’s time for a breather – a break – a deep breath and for more attention to now be paid to what feeds us deeply – what gives back to us when we put energy in, in a way that enhances our lives for the better?

What does a nourishing society look like? It is one in which we all have what we need and can support each other to flourish. How can we nourish society in order to make it more nourishing?

How can we change our narrative – the story we tell about our lives and the world inside our heads – into one that is more nourishing, inside and out?

This dark Moon in Gemini and Saturday’s new Moon in Cancer is an opportunity for you to reflect on what nourishes you, and to break the patterns of things that do not.

Shadow work: Saturn, Neptune, and pulling back the blanket

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Ghostly – by Stephanie Wild

When you have been stumbling in the dark for a long time, in terror of what you don’t quite know, it can be a startling surprise to have the blanket pulled from over your head – to realise that it was there this whole time, keeping you bling to your own patterns.

This is what it can feel like when you come to a ‘big reveal’ in shadow work.

Under the blanket, in the dark, it’s safe and warm. We hide under the blanket, as children because it keeps us safe from monsters. In this way, the darkness of our shadow – of our ignorance and innocence – is a safety zone. If we can’t see what is terrifying us, we can pretend it doesn’t exist. Ironically, that very safety zone and the lack of ability to see is what keeps us paralysed in fear as well, in fact – pull back the blanket or turn on the light and the monsters vanish into thin air.

Do you ever wonder what patterns might have you in blind-folds?

Maybe it is a complex you have been struggling under for some time, a personality patterning, a strong natal aspect that kept you feeling powerless – a prisoner in your own life. Maybe it was too easy to project your powerlessness out onto those putting you in this situation, victimising you, making you feel terrible  – and maybe you have good reason to fear, hate or resent people who do and say horrible things! There is no need for a false dichotomy. Both can be true at the same time: we can be in a pattern of being victimised – our own pattern – and also be actually victimised at the same time (as is often the case). Strangely, the people making us feel like powerless victims often feel similarly powerless and victimised… our realities may be so incompatible that one person must surely be crazy. Either way, we are all usually stumbling in the dark, bumping into each other and getting mad, upset, hurt, scared or otherwise unhappy about it.

Neptune can blind-fold us. Engulfing us like a spell. Never letting us know that we do not know what we do not know. Neptune governs hidden things. Neptune is a great, delusional, drizzly spell and in the 7th house, especially opposite the Ascendant, there is a tendency for captivating and immersive projection. Saturn is just now conjuncting my Neptune in the 7th, opposite my Ascendant. Saturn brings cold, hard clarity and smashes the pretty baubles of Neptune’s delusions, revealing what lies beneath the blanket: my subconscious patterns.

For a long time I have felt I was in a kind of hostage situation – My natal Mars in Scorpio squares my Leo Sun. “Did you grow up with a bad relationship with your father?” an astrologer once asked me, in relation to this aspect. Well, yes. I grew up feeling continuously under threat because my Step Father was the kind of parent who threatened violence in order to gain power – all the time. I was always negotiating my freedom, pleading with my mother for intervention. Desperate and fearful.

Childhood patterning runs deep.

To this day, I feel like I’m held hostage by people in my life I cannot escape. I have been struggling with this intense terror and powerlessness acutely in bursts over the past few years – always projecting outward onto a bizarre and surreal external situation, this pattern that was mine.

I am only just beginning to realise – as the shadow blanket slips away, revealing harsh, bright light, that the ‘other’ has no power over me, other than that old fear. I do not need to live in terror. Not anymore.

 

 

 

 

 

Listening to deep intuition

The waves of chattering thought crash noisily at the edges of the mind. The constant chatter is surface level, never still, always seeking something more. To say that something is surface level does not mean it it not important – the surface of the water is no less important than the depth, just as the skin is no less important an organ in the body as the others. Everything has a place, and yet this constant mind chatter draws much attention, it crowds out the murmurs of deeper waters.

Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estés, the iconic Jungian analyst and story teller, talks of listening to intuition as a sacred process. Life is presented to us often as like a smorgasbord, a catalog of what other people have and what we are taught to want. We can spend so much time focussed outward – seeking to fill ourselves with everything that is on offer, spread out before us, rather than listening to our deep intuition: to what we really want and need.

It is a difficult journey, into one’s subconscious, because no one else can show you the way through the labyrinth. You must feel your way along the walls, inch by inch. Similarly, no one can tell you what you intuitively need or want, or even exactly how to listen. However, between the waves of breaking thought, between the breaths, when there is nothing else to fill the void, the layers of consciousness may shift and your attention may be drawn, deeper and deeper, through them: closer and closer to deep intuition.

When you hear the calls of the deep self, like whalesong, they will feel familiar. They will resonate. They will be deafeningly obvious and clearly true. Yes. This was the message all along. This is how to nourish self. This is how to care for the world. The inner and outer work. The lessons. The journey. The reasons. The purpose. Here ebb and flow the currents that pull us in the directions we may have never realised we were always destined for.

What do I really need right now?

Show me

Sometimes healing sucks: Chiron rising, the problem with progress, and Inanna in the underworld

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Collage by Stephanie Wild

The problem with the idea of healing is that the narrative of progress does not always fit well with reality. Life is both a process of growth and of entropy, and many many other things. I find myself, amidst this life, focusing always on getting better – on progress, healing, renewal.

Chiron, the asteroid symbolising the wounded healer, was rising at the time of my birth. It sits in my 12th house, in Gemini. Chiron conjuncts my North Node, linking it closely with my learning in this life. I still have a lot of unpacking to do around understanding these prominent aspects of my chart but I can tell you what it resonates with so far in my life.

Chiron rising conjunct my North Node for me coincides with a life focusses around healing and teaching. As a young child I felt a deep hopelessness at my atheist upbringing. I developed a paralysing phobia of death due to phychological abuse from about age six. Around that age I also had a kind of spiritual epiphany – a vision of connectivity – of people holding hands over the world – a sudden deep understanding of empathy. These are all very 12th house themes. My childhood trauma seems to coicide with early Pluto transits – adding to the death themes. Around the age of 12 I developed depression which I spent many years working through – with counselling, shamanic work and various kinds of paganism (in my teens), and then meditation, copious affirmations, hypnotherapy, energy healing, more counselling and writing (in my 20s). I have done so much healing: food/nutrition based healing, yoga, journalling… basically every kind of healing I came across that resonated in order to try to deal with chronic illness and chronic fatigue. A huge thread through my life story has been healing in one form of another.

By now, in my early 30s, I would expect to be really good at it. I have a couple of decades of actively seeking out, learning and participating in healing processes – and teaching them as well. But life is full of challenges – difficult transits like Chiron squaring my natal Neptune and also (simultaneously) Neptune squaring my natal Chiron. Going through journeys of losing faith and re-growing it, the pain of psychological dying giving way to the pain of psychological rebirth. So much healing.

Healing for me has taken on a very different process, in recent years. It is no longer about crystals and guided visualisations as it was in my teens, or about re-programming my mind with beneficial thoughts and tracing back my past life lessons as it often was in my 20s. Post Saturn return, my healing process is mostly about journalling and paying attention – cultivating my ability to listen to deep intuition, and also every form of self-care that makes sense to me. Astrology, a language I began to learn in my early 20s, has been very useful to me in understanding the learning that I am currently going through – every transit is surprisingly relevant to my life, and the knowledge of the transit’s lessons, challenges and opportunity helps me to get the most out of the difficulties.

Sometimes healing sucks. Probably, most of the time. It is hard. it is painful. It often requires trying multiple things that don’t work before, hopefully, we find something that does. I like to use metaphors for the psyche based on biology and ecological systems: some wounds require intervention in order to heal – we must clean out the pus and muck, untangle and separate ourselves from the things we are caught up in, remove psychic splinters. Other wounds need to be rested in order to heal – too often we think of ourselves as we think of doctors – as active agents of healing, however the real healing is not an active process, just as doctors themselves do not heal. In order to heal, we must remove all obstacles to the healing process which is a natural process.

When I am going through painful healing processes my main coping strategies for this kind of thing are going for walks and journaling. Also – doing all the things I know that help me to take care of myself – which are not always the things that are easy and comfortable. When I am going through a difficult time I want to stay in bed and eat junk food but that leads to feeling worse! The problem with knowing all about healing is that you have high expectations for yourself and want to feel like you are progressing. The processes of healing often don’t feel like that. It can feel hopeless and hard – a big struggle with no clear light at the end of the tunnel.

Sometimes healing sucks because it doesn’t feel like we are making progress at all – and we feel like we should already know how to deal with this shit by now! Sometime the fixation I have with progress – with always getting better – just makes me feel worse. Awareness of this allows me the opportunity to release my grasp on the fixation with progress. I do not need to be always getting better. Life is a process that will always lead to death – ageing and entropy are inevitable if we life long enough. There is still so much to accept here. These topics can be terrifying psychological terrain to tread. When we do stumble upon them the dread sets in, we have stepped towards the shadow, across the boundaries of light and into the underworld.

In Sumerian mythology, Inanna’s descent into the underworld provides a wonderful metaphor for the suffering and pain of such a journey. The goddess Inanna is often archetypal linked to Venus, the divine feminine aspect, the goddess self. Inanna journeys into the underworld to meet her sister Ereshkigal. To prepare for the journey she dresses elaborately, with lapiz lazuli, her garments represent her power, but along the journey, each of the seven gates she passes through force her to remove her garments and jewelery,  piece by piece stripping her of her power. These are the snags along the dark path we tread into our own shadows. When she reaches Ereshkigal, the dark feminine archetype, Inanna is naked. Ereskigal and the seven judges shout at Inanna and murder her. She is hung on a hook. Three days and three nights pass before the god Enki helps to resurrect Inanna. She is reborn, just as we may be when we emerge from deep painful healing, cutting away the deadwood of our lives, clearing space to make way for new life to grow.

We are good at celebrating the light and success – we also need to learn to honour death, to sit with pain, understand anguish, to embrace struggle, and to accept the inevitable, when it arrives.

 

 

 

 

Projections: love and the Mirror of Erised

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In the first book of Harry Potter (Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone) Harry stumbles across a mirror late one night when exploring the Hogwarts castle. He is instantly entranced and fixated. He seeks to return, night after night, to stare longingly into the mirror.

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I have been thinking a lot about crushes, fixated infatuation and the feeling of falling wildly in love as metaphorically like the Mirror of Erised in Harry Potter: it shows people their heart’s desire but is just an illusion. Harry sees his parents. Ron sees himself winning the house cup etc.

Many people have wasted away in front of the mirror, longing, trying to get what they want out of it… Voldemort sees himself using the philosopher’s stone to become immortal. At that point what Harry wants most is to find the stone and not use it. It appears in his pocket.

We see a beautiful illusion in another person. Maybe it is the child inside ourselves teaching out for reunion with a parental saviour. Maybe it is the happily ever after Prince rescue that feels so close to a death wish with heavenly afterlife.

On some level we want to surrender to oblivion and not to have to do so much. Life is exhausting. We are weary. Everything is hard. But maybe the equivalent of finding the philosopher’s stone our my pocket is discovering a hidden nugget of truth or deeper self awareness.

Relating to other people is often a process of navigating projections.

A similar reflection of relationships is represented in Osho’s Zen cards:

7 of Water: Projections

The man and woman in this card are facing each other, yet they are not able to see each other clearly. Each is projecting an image they have constructed in their minds, covering the real face of the person they are looking at.

All of us can get caught up in projecting movies of our own making onto the situations and people surrounding us. It happens when we are not fully aware of our own expectations, desires and judgments; instead of taking responsibility for them and owning them, we try to attribute them to others. A projection can be devilish or divine, disturbing or comforting, but it is a projection nonetheless–a cloud that prevents us from seeing reality as it is. The only way out is to recognize the game. When you find a judgment arising about another, turn it around: Does what you see in others really belong to you? Is your vision clear, or clouded by what you want to see?

In a cinema hall, you look at the screen, you never look at the back–the projector is at the back. The film is not there really on the screen; it is just a projection of shadow and light. The film exists just at the back, but you never look at that. And the projector is there. Your mind is at the back of the whole thing, and the mind is the projector. But you always look at the other, because the other is the screen.
When you are in love the person seems beautiful, no comparison. When you hate, the same person seems the ugliest, and you never become aware of how the same person can be the ugliest and the same person can be the most beautiful…. So the only way to reach to truth is to learn how to be immediate in your vision, how to drop the help of the mind. This agency of the mind is the problem, because mind can create only dreams….
Through your excitement the dream starts looking like reality. If you are too excited then you are intoxicated, then you are not in your senses. Then whatsoever you see is just your projection. And there are as many worlds as there are minds, because every mind lives in his own world.

Osho Hsin Hsin Ming: The Book of Nothing, Chapter 7

Just as Osho says: look at the back, look at what’s really behind the projection.

Chiron Rising: empathy, connectedness and metamorphosis

Chiron Rising: empathy, connectedness and metamorphosis

Lately I have been feeling unsettled… actually this has been going on for quite a while. We have moved four times in the last year, living in different temporary places, without having enough information to make decisions or plan out what to do next.  A few months ago I gave away all the furniture I still owned, and most of my other possessions and packed my little car with the things my daughter and I need (mostly clothes). We drove to Wellington, stopping on the way to visit my step sister and to play in the snow on the mountain. I have been doing my best to be guided by intuition. The uncertainty has been so challenging. I’m leaning into my fear and vulnerability, and letting go… and letting go.

In my natal chart Chiron, often called the wounded-healer archetype is ‘rising’ in my twelfth house, in Gemini. My life has had a massive focus on emotional and spiritual healing, both for myself and for other people… and for society and the planet (at least in terms of intention if not effect). This call has dominated my narrative and my life, but it has changed a lot over the years.

For a long time I felt broken. I felt I needed to fix myself. But the emotional woundedness and the healing were all part of the same cycle, the same archetypal pattern, much like the victim/rescuer complex. It took me until my Saturn return to really restructure this patterning, and I am grateful, every day, for the stability I have built over this time.

The vulnerability I have been processing recently has been more to do with myself in the world. The process is also one of healing in a different way, because it it one of growing, and growing always involves healing as we push through our own boundaries. In this way I have felt a lot like a seed, sprouting. The hard shell of protection has softened and now I am trying to break through, out of the dark, into the light… perhaps up until now I was planted in the dark soil, learning these subconscious lessons. Perhaps as a child I was a delicate blossom, easily damaged, which became a fruit, which was eaten by the bird of adolescence which took me to such a dark place (to extend the metaphor out too far).

It is a similar metamorphosis to that of moths and butterflies… it is the process of fighting its way out of the chrysalis that pumps vital blood into the butterflies wings. Human beings undergo similar metamorphoses. We are phoenixing beings. We must die to the past to remain in the present. Like Inana’s descent into the under-world, in this journey of deep soul alchemy, we much let our riches be torn away. We must let go of everything… in order to gain everything. It is a painful process. I understand why many people avoid it… and it is not for everyone. We all have different meandering paths through this chaotic social wilderness.

Chiron is not just about woundedness, and not just about healing. It is about empathy. Suffering is something that unites us all, and when we can process past the self-isolation and absorption of the wound, when we can untangle these knots and allow them to heal, that scar tissue remains as a connecting point. Chiron can connect us to the whole, in much the same way Neptune can. Chiron can feel like all the sadness in the world, which is a heavy emotional burden, but Chiron can also blossom into exquisite empathy. I have been feeling this empathy well up in me, as well as a deepening sense of holistic connectedness. I have let go my old life, over and over, mourned the past, and been reborn into the present.

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Chrysalis by Stephanie Wild http://www.stephanie.me.uk/

The girl in the birdcage: fear and the victim/child/damsel archetype

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There’s a red-headed girl in a cage at the bottom of my psyche. She is the victim-fear-child. She grows and shrinks in age, and yells obscenities at me. Fear always makes her scream or flinch. I can’t fix her, can’t remove her. Her hair reddens at the sound of rain and she dissolves into poetry… face of porcelain… her dress is always white lace and she claws… and she sits with legs with legs crossed. I watch her. When I don’t watch her she reaches up into my life and wreaks havoc. With eyes on her she is confined to the cage.

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Her hair grows and shrinks. She screams at me until I turn away and draw bird cages, gold like her’s, on white canvas paper. I hold up a blank slate for her and she draws cages too. We laugh and I slide my fingers into the cage to find hers… dissolving into me.

I sit in the room and watch her. I cannot fix her of free her. Attempts only makes her violent. I visit her often and when I have extra… I feed her… peas and broth from a ceramic spoon. I reach my arms around the cage to find it dissolving, just a little, but it re-forms when I move away.

“It’s safe outside” I say, but if I remove the cage she only grows it back from the fear inside. It’s part of her. Some traumatised animals never leave the cage, even when the door is open… even when the cage is gone. The cage is inside their minds and the trauma continues in aftershocks. She knows this. She is this.

Awakened, she reaches up through the bars – a pain-body phantom. She claws at my heart and projects the pain into other people’s faces and my own personal failings. If I watch her, sit with her, she has company and sometimes she lets me scratch behind her ears. She responds to warmth… it melts the ice from the fear… melts the cage momentarily.

We watch each-other.

I can’t fix her…

but can I love her?

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