Please, join in where ever you are. Awake or asleep. Read this and reflect, and meditate. Wednesday, September 24th 2014 at 8pm EST.
Three months ago, we began a journey towards wholeness by diving deep into our psyches. Through calm reflection and/or meditation, we have explored the foolish “devil’s bargains” that we have made in our past, and what we have given up or what has been taken away from us. We have discovered and continue to discover the things and people which no longer serve us and have learned to healthily cut and break free from them. We have begun to learn to wander with instinct and eat that which feeds our minds, bodies, and souls, and now we delve into what the Sufies call “The Longing, in the wilderness of loneliness” or the pain of the soul.
(I shared and wrote a brief article yesterday on the subject of The Longing: http://completehealthcircle.com/2014/09/17/the-longing/)
At a fundamental level we all crave Mystical Union along our path as the Beloved.
In the light of our awakening, we begin to sense both the Universe and ourselves as “Beloved.” Love for this remote, glorious, and supreme level of Being draws on this arduous journey. Love is the energy that fuels the mystical journey, and without love the seeker cannot sustain the demands and hardships of the journey. Which is why in the previous meditation we focused so much on Self-Love and finding it Within. Sometimes however, our journey towards Wholeness and Unity, or towards this higher level of consciousness, we feel it is at times unattainable. That it is too far from and away from our immediate grasp. In this mindset we deeply feel “the Longing.” And of course we should. It is only human. We crave instant gratification, but we all know that the mystical path is a life-long journey; one in which we must foster incredible patience with ourselves and guides.
Abu Nasr al-Sarraj, a tenth-century Sufi author, whose The topic of Scintillating Lights (Kitab al-luma’) is one of the earliest compilations of Sufi lore, cites the following dicta: “Longing is the state of the worshipper for whom, due to his yearning to meet his beloved, existence has become loathsome. One of the Sufis was asked: what is longing? He said: the agitation of the heart when it remembers its beloved. Another Sufi said: Longing is a fire that God ignites within the hearts of His friends in order that it burn up in them all thought, all desire, all obstruction and all neediness.”
Many have been named “martyrs of love,” a title that highlights the uncompromising nature of their longing. To describe the intensity of such longing, al-Hallaj tells the story of the moth who, in its desire to experience the essence of fire at first hand, throws itself into it until completely consumed: “The moth hovers round the lamp. The light of the lamp is the knowledge of truth, its warmth is the truth of truth, arriving at it is the truth of all truths. The moth is not contented with the light and warmth of the lamp. It throws its whole being into it. Its fellow-kind moths wait for the moth to return, for they want it to convey to them the knowledge it had gained from first sight; but the moth has become a no-thing, it has dispersed in all directions, it now exists formless, bodiless, nameless, featureless—in what sense, then, or in what mode can it return to its fellow kind?” (Husain 1994)
As alluded to in the Parable of the Moth, the ultimate goal of the Sufi lover’s journey is annihilation in God/Creation/The Source. This mystical state seldom signifies physical death but rather the death of the ego—the lower-self (nafs)— and the merging of the heart, which has become devoid of all desires and wants, with the divine Beloved. Longing, therefore, is one of the mystical states on the Sufi path that herald the unio mystica, the mystical union with God.
“An aspect of longing is the surfacing to memory of a primordial event experienced, according to the Sufi tradition, by the human soul in the proximity of God before it came into being in the physical world” when we were still mere atoms. In this covenant a relationship based on two principles was established between Source and humankind: The universal the witnessing of God’s innate nearness to the human soul. It is this state of primordial nearness that the awakened hearts of men and women desire to relive and for which, vis-a-vis their isolated and desolate existence in this world, they long.
This Sufi myth echoes the notion, prevalent in many ancient systems—as in Platonism, Gnosticism, and Neoplatonism—of the soul’s exile from its heavenly abode and its descent into this lower world. Consequently, it echoes also the desire of a few awakened souls to take the upward journey back and to ascend, via states and stages (like we are doing here with these meditations), to the primordial home in the vicinity of God/Goddess/Source/The Universe/Unity/Wholeness.
WE HAVE COME THIS FAR.
Now, we strive to experience something a bit more, something a bit more deep and personal. A new layer to our psyches and consciousness.
We have learned and continue to learn incredible things about our selves, as we take the steps on this 7-Part Healing Meditation practice based on Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ work in her soul-opening book Women Who Run With the Wolves, and the story of the Handless Maiden.
So, welcome again friends to this 7-Part Series of Deep Psyche Digging & Surgery.
Now begins Part-5, the Fifth Stage of Endurance –
The Harrowing of the Soul. (The Longing Pain of the Soul.)
If you havn’t already done so, or would like to refresh your memory, please read the full short story HERE: http://completehealthcircle.com/2014/07/21/new-moon-blessings-of-the-first-stage-of-endurance/
And if this is your first time with us, please take the time to look over the previous Stages:
- Part-1, the First Stage of Endurance – The Bargain Without Knowing
- Part-2, the Second Stage of Endurance – The Dismemberment
- Part-3, the Third Stage of Endurance – The Wandering
- Part-4, the Fourth Stage of Endurance – Finding Love in the Underworld http://completehealthcircle.com/2014/09/03/full-moon-blessings-of-the-fourth-stage-of-endurance-finding-love-within/
IN THE STORY
After the Handless Maiden and King marry, the King goes off to war in a faraway kingdom, asking his mother to care for his young queen and requests that a message be sent to him if she should have a child. And so the story goes that she does indeed, and a joyful message is sent for the king. However, deep psyche struggles will soon begin.
The messenger falls asleep at a river, and the Devil steps out and changes the message to say “The queen has given birth to a child who is half-dog.” The king is horrified, yet sends a reply stating to love the queen and care for her in this horrible time. The messenger again falls asleep at the river, and the Devil changes the message to say “Kill the queen and her child.” The king’s old mother who is charged with her safety sends a message to confirm and back and forth the messages continue, getting worse and worse, until the wise and compassionate mother helps the young queen and her child escape.
“Like Bluebeard, Jason of the golden fleece fame, the hidalgo in “La Llorona,” and other fairytale mythological husbands/lovers, the king marries and is then called away.
Why are these mytho-husbands always trotting off so soon after the wedding night?
The reason is different in each tale, but the essential psychic fact remains:
the kingly energy of the psyche falls back and recedes (for now) so that the next step in the process can occur, as well as the testing of our newly found psychic stance. In the story, the king has not completely abandoned her, for his mother watches over her in his absence.
THE NEXT STEP is the formation of the our relationship to the old Wild Mother and to birthing. The testing is of the love bonds between maiden and king, and the maiden and the old mother. One has to do with love between opposites, the other has to do with love of the deep female Self.
The departure of the king is a universal leitmotif in fairy tales. When we feel, not a withdrawal of support but a lessening of the nearness of the support, we can be sure that a testing period is about to begin, when we will be required to nourish ourselves on soul memory alone until the loved one returns. Then our night dreams, particularly the most striking, penetrating ones, are the only love we shall have for a time.”
PREPARE YOURSELF FOR DREAMS
“Dreams are experiences of the wild feminine nature.” (Regardless of whether you are male or female. This energy is termed “feminine” by our modern society and limited view/understanding of duality.)
Begin a dream-journal if you have not already begun one.The more you journal even if you only remember feelings, the more you will remember details and the more and more insights into them you will glean.
“Emotionally, and often physically profound, they are feeling states that are like a food cache. We can draw from them when spiritual sustenance is spare. As the king trots off on some adventure, his psychic contribution to the descent is held in place by love and memory. The maiden understands that the kingly principle of the underworld is committed to her and will not forsake her, as he promised before they married. Often at this time a person is “full of her/himSelf.” We are pregnant, meaning filled with a nascent idea about what our life can become if we will only pursue our work. It is a magical and frustrating time, as we shall see, for this is a cycle of descents, so there is another around the bend.”
“It is because of the burst of new life that our life may seem again to stumble too near the edge, and jump right into the abyss again. But this time, the love of the inner masculine and the old Wild Self will sustain us as never before.”
“The union of the energy between the king and queen of the underworld produces a child. A child made in the underworld is a magic child who has all the potential associated with the underworld, such as acute hearing and innate sensing, but here it is in its anlage, or “that which shall become,” stage. It is at this time that we on the journey have startling ideas, some might call them grandiose, that are the result of having new and youthful eyes and expectations. This may be as finding new interests and new friends. For it can mean an entire tragicomedic epiphany of divorce, reconstitution, and a customized happily-ever-after.”
The spirit-baby sets sedentary men and women off climbing the Alps at age forty-five.
(Think “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”)
The spirit-baby causes us to throw over our life of floor wax fixation and sign up for university instead. It is the spirit-babe that causes us who are diddling around doing the safe thing to take to the open road bent under their tinker’s pack.
To give birth is the psychic equivalent of becoming oneself, one self, meaning an undivided psyche.
Before this birth of new life in the underworld, are likely to think all parts and personalities within us are rather like a hodgepodge of vagrants who wander in and out of our life. In the underworld birth, we learn that anything that brushes by us is a part of us. Sometimes this differentiation of all the aspects of psyche is hard to do, especially with the tendencies and urges we find repulsive.
The challenge of loving unappealing aspects of ourselves is as much of an endeavor as any hero/heroine has ever tried.
Beloveds, sometimes we are afraid that to “identify more than one self within the psyche might mean that we are psychotic. While it is true that people with a psychotic disorder also experience many selves, identifying with or against them quite vividly, a person with no psychotic disorder holds all the inner selves in an orderly and rational manner. They are put to good use; the person grows and thrives. For the majority of men and women, mothering, and raising the internal selves is a creative work, a way of knowledge, not a reason for becoming unnerved.”
So, we as the handless maiden the young queen of the underworld, are waiting to have a child, a new little wild self. The body of pregnancy does what it wants to do. The new life latches on, divides, and swells. A person at this stage of the psychic process may enter another encantiodromia, the psychic state in which all that was once held valuable is now not so valuable anymore, and further, may be replaced by new and extreme cravings for odd and unusual sights, experiences, endeavors.
For instance, for some people, to be married was once the end-all and be-all. But in an encantiodromia, they want to be cut loose: marriage is bad, marriage is blah, marriage is unecstatic scheisse, shit.
Exchange the word marriage for the words, lover, job, body, art, life, and choices and you see the exact mind-set of this time.
AND THEN THERE ARE THE CRAVINGS. OH, LA!
You may crave to be near water, or be belly down, face in the earth, smelling that wild smell. You might have to drive into the wind. You may have to plant something, weed something, pull things out of the ground or put them into the ground. You may have to knead and bake, rapt in dough up to your elbows.
You may have to trek into the hills, leaping from rock to rock trying out your voice against the mountain. You may need hours of starry nights where the stars are like face powder spilt on a black marble floor. You may feel you will die if you don’t dance naked in a thunderstorm, sit in perfect silence, return home ink-stained, paint-stained, tear-stained, moon-stained.
A NEW SELF IS ON THE WAY. (Along with this New Moon)
Our inner lives, as we have known them, are about to change. While this does not mean we should throw away the decent and especially the supportive aspects of our lives in some kind of demented housecleaning, it does mean that in the descent the topside world and ideals pale, and for a time we shall be restless and unsatisfied, for the satisfaction, the fulfillment, is in the process of being born in the inner reality.
Beloveds, what it is we are hungering for can never be fulfilled by a mate, a job, money, a new this or that. What we hunger for is of the other world, (of the Universe, of the Unity-That-Is), the world that truly sustains our lives. And this childSelf we are awaiting is brought forth by just that means – by waiting. As time passes in our life and our work in the underworld, the child develops and will be born. In most cases, nightdreams will presage the birth; and you may literally dream of a new baby, a new home, a new life.
But with this new life comes indeed more challenges and tests to overcome and more lessons to learn.
In the Greek mythos, in the underworld there is a river called Lethe, and if you drink from it you will forget all things said and done.
This means all of the previous challenges meant and conquered. This means every lesson thus far you have learned from tears and sweat and blood. Would you now forget all the previous experience and wisdom? NO! You should and shall not.
You will not fall asleep to your actual life. In the story though, the runner does fall asleep at the river. The messenger of our psyches represents this connection and communication between our innerSelves. But here we see that he cannot yet hold his own against the destructive/seductive force of the ego, our nafs, of the psyche. The communicating function falls asleep and forgets. And who in the psyche is always on the out and about waiting to take advantage of our tiredness and exasperation? Why, the old tracker of maidens, the hungry Devil.
This is the pattern we see time and time again. We have a history of terrible chores behind us. We have seen Death’s steamy breath. We have braved the clutching forests, the marching trees, the roots that trip, the fog that blinds. We are psychic heroes and heras, with a valise full of medals. And who can blame us now? We want to rest.
We deserve to rest for we have been through a lot. And so we lie down. Next to a lovely stream. The sacred process is not forgotten, just…just…just…well, we would like to take a break, just for a while you know, just going to close out eyes for a minute…
And before you know it, the Devil hops in on all four feet and changes the message meant to convey love and celebration into one of disgust. The Devil represents the psychic aggravation that bedevils us as it sneers, “Have you gone back to your old ways of innocence and naivete now that you are loved? Now that you gave birth? Do you think it is all over, you foolish foolish person?” And because we are near Lethe, we snore on.
This is the error all people make- not once, but many times. We forget to remember the Devil. The message is changed from a triumph to a slur.
Here, the Handless Maiden tale reveals to us how the predator has the ability to twist human perceptions and the vital comprehensions we need to develop moral dignity, visionary scope, and responsive action in our lives and in the world. The Devil here allows life to happen, but attempts to prevent our reconnection with the deep knowledge of the Wild Woman, that instinctual nature that contains an automatic rightness of perception and action.
While it is true that the predator has a taste for prey that is in some way soul-hungry, soul-lonely, or in some other way disempowered, fairy tales show us that the predator is also drawn to consciousness, reform, release, and new freedom. As soon as it becomes aware of such, it is on the spot. The devices used are denigration of the protagonist’s purpose, disparaging language used to describe the prey, blind judgements, proscriptions, and unwarranted punishments. These are the means by which the predator changes the life-giving messages between soul and spirit into death-dealing messages that cut our hearts, cause shame, and eve more importantly inhibit us from taking further and rightful action.
Here we then must and have to USE CUNNING INSIGHT, read between the lines, hold our place, so as not to be swept away by the outrageous but exciting claims of the predator (much like the king’s mother.)
She risks retribution to follow what she knows to be the wisest course. She outsmarts the predator instead of colluding. She doesn’t give in. The Wild Woman knows what is integral, knows what will help a person thrive, knows a predator when she sees one, and knows what to do about it. Even when pressured by the most distorted cultural or psychic messages, even with a predator loose int eh culture or in the personal psyche, we can ALL still hear her original wild instructions, and FOLLOW them.
This is how we learn to dig down to the wild and instinctive nature, when we do the work of deep initiation and development of consciousness.
We take it on in a massive enabling through the development of wild sight, hearing, being, and doing. We learn to look for the predator instead of trying to shoo it away, ignore it, or be nice to it. We learn the tricks, disguises, and the ways the predator thinks. We learn to read between the lines in messages, injunctions, expectations, or customs that have been perverted from the truthful into the manipulative. Then, whether the predator is emanating from within one’s own psychic milieu or from the culture outside of oneself, or even both, we will be shrewd and able to meet it head-on and do what needs to be done.
When we create something beautiful, something else and ugly is also, even if only momentary, jealous, lacking understanding, or showing disdain.
This in Jungian terms this destructive force is called a complex, or an organized set of feelings and ideas in the psyche that is unconscious to the ego and therefore more or less can have its way with us. But the antidote is consciousness of one’s foibles and gifts, so that the complex is unable to act on its own. In Freudian terms, this destructive force is said to emanate from the id, a dark, indefinite, but infinite psychic land where, scattered like wreckage and made blind from lack of light, live all forgotten, repressed, and revulsive ideas, urges, wishes, and actions. Resolution is brought about by remembering base thoughts and urges, bringing them to consciousness, describing, naming, and cataloging them, in order to leach their potency.
This demon complex, uses the voice of the ego to attack our creativity and progress.
It is a psychic ambush meant to loosen our faith not only in ourselves but in the very careful and delicate work we are doing in the unconscious. It takes goodly amounts of faith to continue at this time, but we must, and we do. Our inner kings, queens, king mothers, and all other elements of our psyche are pulling in one single direction: in our direction, and so must we persevere with them. This is the homestretch. It would be so wasteful and even more painful to abandon and give up now.
This is only a test of our inner certainty.
If you feel you have lost your mission, your oomph, if you feel confused, slightly off, then look for the Devil, the ambusher of the soul within your own psyche. If you cannot see, hear, catch it in the act, assume it is at work, and above all stay away- no matter how tired you become, no matter how sleepy, no matter how much you want to shut your eyes to your true work. Because this destructive force in our psyche is hoping we will kill ourselves off and reject this path.
If you are brave enough, and I know you are Beloved, now you know where to go. You know what to do. You continue. You go, to flee from the predators of the pscyhe and your community. You see sanctuary in another area, away from this force. You set out on another initiation, another rite of passage: into the woods. In some cases and rites it was in a cave, under a mountain, but in the underworld, where tree symbolism abounds, it is most often a forest.
We go and with much blessing. We rise up from the underworld birthing chair where we have given birth to new ideas, a new life view. We are veiled by the king’s mother, and we take our child with us. The old Wild Mother binds the infant to the maiden’s breast so the childSelf can be nourished no matter what happens next. Then, in the tradition of the old Goddess rites, she wraps the maiden in veils as she travels on sacred pilgrimage so we are not diverted from our intention.
This symbol of veiling marks the difference between hiding and disguising. This is about keeping private, keeping to oneself, not giving one’s mysterious nature away. it is about preserving the eros and mysterium of the wild nature. Sometimes we have difficulty keeping our new life energy in the transformative pot long enough for something to accrue to us. We must keep it to ourselves without giving this energy all away to whomever asks, or to whichever stealthy inspiration suddenly happens upon us, telling us it would be good to tip the pot and empty our finest soulfulness out into eh mouths of others or onto the ground.
Putting a veil over something increases its action or feeling. And so we must too. We must increase our action and feeling. This doesn’t mean we should start wearing a veil, but I think you get my meaning.
We are beginning a powerful fermenting of the soul.
After all of the invasiveness of the Devil, we are once again protected. When you reach the veiled state (or you perhaps are already there) you are sensible to know better than to allow others to invade your psychic space. You have now learned boundaries. You have now developed the sense enough to keep your wholeSelf protected from all sorts of things.
We are protected here by some superior wisening, some sumptuous and nourishing solitude that originated in our relationship with the old Wild Mother. We are on the road again, but safeguarded. By wearing the veil, we are designated as one who belongs to Wild Woman. We are hers, and though not unreachable, in some ways we are held away from total immersion in mundane life.
The amusements of the upper world do not dazzle us. We are wandering in order to find the place, the homeland in the unconscious. As fruit trees in blossom are referred to as wearing beautiful veils, we and the maiden are now flowering apple trees on the move, loosing for the forest to which we belong.
This is a period when we are charged to remember.
To persist in spiritual nourishment even though we are separated from those forces that have sustained us in the past. We cannot stay in the ecstasy of perfect union forever. For most of us, it is not out path to do so. Our work is rather to be weaned at some point from these most exciting forces, yet remain in conscious connection to them and go on to the next task.
It is a fact that we can become fixated on a particularly lovely aspect of psychic union and stay there forever, sucking at the sacred tit. This does not mean nurture is destructive. Quite the contrary, nurture is absolutely essential to the journey, and in substantial amounts. In fact, if it is not present in adequate amounts, the seeker will lose energy, fall into depression, and fade to a whisper. But if we stay at a favourite place in the psyche, such as only in beauty, only in rapture, individuation slows to a slog. the naked truth is that those sacred forces we find within our own psyches someday must be left, at least temporarily, so that the nest stage of the process can occur.
As in the tale, where the two women tearfully bid each other good-bye, we must say good-bye to precious internal forces that have helped immeasurably. Then, with our new childSelf held to our heart and breast, we step onto the road. The maiden is on her way again, wandering toward a great woods in all great faith that something will come from that great hall of trees, something soul-making.
So now, let’s consider our centering thought, “There is connection and Unity within.”
Now, let’s prepare to meditate. Make yourself comfortable and close your eyes. Become aware of your breath and breathe slowly and deeply. With each breath, allow yourself to become more relaxed. You may wish to use a mantra with this meditation like “I remember.”
Repeat it silently to yourself. “I. Remember.”
With each repetition, feel your body, mind and spirit open and receive just a little bit more of this nurturing and innate ability that is within you. With each repetition, imagine yourself walking along the path towards your soul’s home.
Connect with it. Allow the stars to pull it out from your depths, and OWN it! Allow your longing to guide you to the Source of All-That-Is.
Continue to meditate for as long as you can or until you feel like you have grasped something.
- What sensations did you experience?
- What do you remember?
- Did you get glimpses of a past life?
- An answer to a question you have been asking?
- A renewed connection to your path?
- What is it your soul is craving for?
- Are you being tested?
- What can you do about this test?
- What have you learned thus far?
Be sure to journal your impressions in your journal, and pay especial attention to your dreams.
Feel free to comment below your experience.
Join us, where ever you are. Awake or asleep. Read this and reflect. Wednesday, September 24th 2014 at 8pm EST.
- Photography courtesy of John Fowler, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center,
- Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes pp. 429-444