Creating Spaciousness With Wonder

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My affirmation for wonder: I embrace my truth and respect myself as a tidal creature who knows that my dedication to feeling deeply, with wonder and curiosity, is a key to liberation. When I witness and experience myself as love, awakening beyond all shadows, I feel that love as boundless, and I am free. 

 

 

We hear a lot about hope, but is hoping helpful? What if there is nothing safe about being alive, at least in how we have come to understand “being safe.” In what ways do we keep ourselves entrained in patterns of belief and behavior that dim our light, out of alignment with our truth, because disappointing others or failing to “get it right” feels like too much of a risk? Like Terence Mckenna said, what if the real magic is “hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering it’s a feather bed.” What if feeling safe is more about feeling held, a sensation we can nourish within ourselves, which then nurtures our receptivity to others, and to life. Those moments of constriction, where we feel stuck, where we wish it could be different, are opportunities to choose wonder and curiosity as ways to create (luscious!) spaciousness in our experience.

What would it feel like to become swept away in wonder, rather than pulled under by fear? How much more deeply could we explore the roots of our motivations, if we took a step back to slowly respond rather than quickly react? What if we courageously embraced all of ourselves, and each other, not just the lovely bits? What if we really listened to our bodies, to our hearts, when they communicated with us? What if we could be ok with finding balance and then losing it- returning again and again to that sweet, strange ebb and flow? What if we respected our pain as a teacher? What if we honored difficult relationships and situations as our teachers? What would happen if we could just be there for it. Breathe. Lean into it. Play around with it. Forget everything we think we know, feel into it, and connect with the inherent wisdom within. To be embodied is to be in awe, of the brokenness as much as the beauty, to nestle into the underbelly, a dynamic sort of surrendering—a dance—eye to eye with the movements of the unknowable, wholeheartedly present, creating a gorgeous openness that is unchained from mere hopefulness, anchored in truth.

Maybe our higher selves know something about the broader picture that isn’t initially clear to the monkey mind, but if we keep our fingers on the pulse long enough, we become it- the hawk’s eye view of life’s tidal surges and withdrawals, the frenzy and the stillness, the ever-flowing energy that moves through all. Slowing down to witness this current as it courses through us cultivates a deeper understanding of the rhythmic nature of the universe. We know that the muck will always come to the surface, and instead of frantically trying to pretend its not there, or despairing that things aren’t clear in the moment, we can just observe, without “hoping” that it could be any different than what it is. Ironically, that is where a shift can actually happen! We are fully capable of being with ourselves, feeling where the anger grips the stomach, or where the sadness consumes the chest. If we can understand just one thing, we must understand that it is ok to be exactly where we are; where we find ourselves is where we start from, and it is valuable because it is our experience. When these waves rise up, we can simply become curious about them. Curiosity with a dash of loving compassion quells judgment, both of self and others, opening us to the wonder and possibility in our sticky, sparkling humanness. Pema Chodron’s incredible work has taught me this, and reminded me of the wisdom we always carry within. Her books “The Places That Scare You” and “When Things Fall Apart” are essential reading, in my opinion, and have helped me through some very dark times. Tara Brach’s “Radical Acceptance” is also a goldmine for the tender soul.

If you forget everything else, remember this: You are your own source. It has always been enough. You deserve to know that love you long for, the one you’ve searched everywhere for, except maybe in the shadows of your furthest corners, where those fragments “that can’t possibly be loved” live under white sheets like abandoned ghosts gathering dust. Reveal to yourself what you have hidden. Hold every aching piece who believed staying in darkness could shield them from rejection. Offer yourself to the honey dripping, blossoming, luminous, true blue love, the kind that survives every season, moving through the mess of decay and the promise of tiny greens who push up earnestly through the dark, growing towards the myth of the sun whose warmth is now becoming real. It is safe to wake up from the dream that somebody’s coming to save you, to bust out of the illusion that there’s something to be saved from, or some elusive love, approval, or validation “out there” that’s going to fill the holes that can only be nurtured from the inside. Don’t trip on the untied shoelaces. Untangle yourself. Peel off the roles that have fit you like an old dirty sweater, hanging on by the thread of your agreement to remain attached to an identity that you now know is as mutable as water. Make the choice that is true for you now, not the choice you wish was true, or the one expected of you, but the one you have to make because damn that old sweater and tangled laces have really had their run, haven’t they? Your power thrives in your choice to release what’s been worn, and move forward, however slowly, in the direction of what feels true now. Its ok to be scared, but you can open the curtains and let the light in, it’s been waiting for you to believe in it.

I imagine that I’ve opened my palm to find a sweet yellow bird laying there, wet and worried and wondering.  I look down, unaware that it had been there the whole time, and through my resistance to feeling “what is,” my tight grip had cracked its protective barrier. With kindness and compassion, I open my hand, relaxing my muscles with my breath, giving room for blood to flow, for energy to circulate, allowing this tiny being to wiggle around and ruffle its feathers. When I release my hold, I allow space for flight, or rest, or just being- tension soothed by gentleness, love, presence, honesty and some good humor about it all. Maybe hope looks more like that—knowing our ability to shift how we respond to our experience, as an integral part of the tides, moving out and in, with a willingness to allow space, to accept the call into the unknown. Nothing will ever be what we expect it to be, and that just may be the relief we have hoped for. Lightness of being that comes from being fucking real. Yeah, that feels more like freedom. And freedom loves when we do what hasn’t been done. I trust myself the most when I surrender to now and fly heart first into the feeling, however uncomfortable, because that is real, real like a river who is always in flux, who just keeps moving, because it is compelled to, because knows it will somehow reach the sea.

Major Arcana XV: The Devil

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The Devil from The Enchanted Tarot deck by Amy Zerner and Monte Farber

 

 

“Freedom means the power to act by soul guidance, not by the compulsions of desires and habits. Obeying the ego leads to bondage; obeying the soul brings liberation.” Paramahansa Yogananda

 

 

In my journey with the Tarot, I feel that The Devil speaks to us about liberation & connecting in to our personal power. My first instinct lately, when I look at the classic Rider Waite version of this card, is to ignore the chains and flames depicted, and focus on the aspect of this card that symbolizes the intoxication of moonlit attraction, playing in the garden of earthly delights, taking pleasure in indulging the intensity of carnal desire…but the shadow side of these physical attachments is becoming shackled to the unquenchable desires we search to satisfy in other people’s wells, in toxic substances, unhealthy relationship dynamics, obsessive thinking & worrying, or the numbing of pain & fear with any kind of escapism, just pick your poison, there’s plenty to choose from. There is also the element of this card that represents people who blatantly abuse their power at the expense of others as a means of control or manipulation. We seek freedom & transcendence but become entangled, confusing temporary escape with liberation. The Devil asks us to reclaim our intrinsic power.

The Devil card depicts The Lovers in bondage, they are standing together, but not in union; there is an imbalance in each individual regarding the in-drawing of the feminine energy and the out-pouring of the masculine; where the Lovers represents empowered union & the sharing of love, The Devil points to an imbalance of power, as in the dynamic of the codependent and the narcissist, where the codependent individual denies his or her own needs to obsessively meet those of a narcissist. The narcissist thus gains their supply of external power, and the codependent individual gains their supply of external power by feeling “needed,” & “valued” by the narcissist, both cut off from their internal well of strength, and essentially their spiritual and emotional freedom…this comparison between the Lovers & the Devil to me reads: Bond vs. Bondage. This aspect of The Devil card can also be exemplified in the psychological manipulation that occurs in religious cults to keep people bound to fear, which ultimately guides them to give their power up entirely & lose any sense of individual identity. When there is a lack of acknowledgment of the inherent connection to source/the all/god/divine/wholeness/the essential self within, there is a perceived separation that fosters the belief that we need to fill ourselves with something, anything, outside of ourselves to satisfy our inherent longing. Longing is the human condition, and it arises from our biological need to belong—to belong to ourselves, and to the collective. Belonging means survival at the most basic level, but there is also the spiritual component–we expand & grow through interpersonal connection. However, when this need for belonging overrides the individual’s own true path, trouble can arise. Vital lessons come to the surface when we are cut off from the “supply” we have come to depend on so we can satisfy some elusive longing. Crisis is usually what it takes to wake us up to our true selves, when we realize that power can only be cultivated from within, & any other method is playing with some destructive forces.

When we are in balance and connected to the essential self, aligned with our true hearts, and replenishing from within rather than grasping outward, we are empowered to bring light to the shackles, so that we may release that which keeps us in patterns of tension and holding. This “holding” is reflected as stagnation in our physical, emotional, & spiritual bodies, affecting the ways we operate in relationship to self & other. “Lucifer” essentially translates to bringer of the light after all, so when we pull The Devil, here lies a rich opportunity to use that light in service of the higher self, or to refuse and thus remain enmeshed with chains of distraction. I believe that this refusal to illuminate the shadow is the undercurrent of all power struggles. When we hold hands with our shadow, we rise into the understanding that this imprisonment is ultimately a matter which can be released with consciousness; it is a balance of relinquising control and acknowledging reality, “what is,” while at the same time taking the reigns of our personal experience. All that festers in the dark pool of denial directs the currents of our lives, creating the urge to blame, to point fingers—a failure to take personal responsibility for what lies within, & a disconnection from the true self.

I love joyfully experiencing the sensual pleasures of being embodied, and this is another aspect of the Devil. Engaging with our sexuality, tuning into our creative energy, self-expression, finding delight in all of our senses, imbibing a little now and then to fuel the fire & dance with the spark, playing around with the energy generated from the tension of temptation…and like anything, it’s all about how we move with that energy—when we use it with with presence, temperance, gratitude, & reverence, it is a healthy & fun human experience, but over indulgence, addiction, and attachment to material items and carnal satisfaction can quickly turn into a rickety carnival ride of flashing lights and hypnotic hits to the system that leave us essentially empty, always needing something more to fill the void. A good question to ask ourselves is, are we seeking immediate gratification or long term fulfillment? How does this action affect our well-being and the well-being of those around us? This engagement with the self simply requires presence with our true needs. I do not wish to tame the innate wildness, nor deny my desire for pleasure, I wanted to be on earth, in a body, and here I am! In fact, I think self judgement is one of the most profound pieces of bondage we seek to be liberated from; and we can see how our own judgment of self is reflected back to us as judgment from others.

Through a fair amount of trial and error (ahhh, ok, maybe more than a fair amount,) I have found what it feels like to anchor into my truth in the moment, to really feel what it is like to trust that I know what I need to do in order to take care of myself in all ways, even when confusion creeps in & I feel groundless. To get to that place of self trust meant breaking free from the bondage of the false belief that my own intuition, mind, body, heart, & soul were not sacred. The Devil calls to us and asks us to take responsibility for our inner life and its outward expression, be honest about our boundaries, wield the sword of discernment; radical self love and self respect require conscious detachment from people, situations, and choices that are draining to our vitality. This is not always process we can do entirely on your own, and sometimes outside help is required, though real & solid help will always be a facilitation of your own personal power, not a replacement with someone else’s beliefs & ideas. Boundaries are freeing; bondage does not serve us to that same end. Honor the way the water has moved through the riverbed, kissed smooth over a thousand years; witness the purpose of this structure, the way it holds the nebulous flow of movement within it.

 

Ideas for Journaling and Self Exploration

 

  • What fear-based beliefs and attachments restrain me from embodying the freedom of the Fool– unfettered, boundless & joyful, within the framework of awareness & integrity?

 

  • What is my relationship to pleasure? Is there guilt around it? Do I want more of it? How can I cultivate joy & pleasure?  What happens when I do not allow myself to experience that which brings me joy & pleasure? How do I feel when I allow myself a fully present and embodied experience of joy & pleasure?

 

  • How does judging myself or others for having needs keep me imprisoned? How honest can I be about my true desires? How can my desire set me free?

 

  • What does power mean to me? What would it look like to “be in my power?” What makes me feel powerful? What makes me feel powerless? How do I connect to my intrinsic power, the inner strength that is not dependent on any external validation or stimulation? 

 

  • How can I set boundaries in a way that is empowering, seeing boundaries as an act of self love? How does a lack of boundaries become disempowering and draining of my life-force?

 

  •  Practice cord cutting ritual or prayer to release fear, blame, resentment & other attachments that drain your precious energy. I call upon Archangel Michael and also the violet flame of transmutation to clear negativity or stagnant, draining vibrations. I ask Archangel Michael to clear away with fierce love anything that is draining my life force or hindering my light, past -present-future, known or unknown, throughout lifetimes, acrosss time and space. I ask that any piece of myself and my power I have given away come home;  I ask that anything less than love be dissolved, and that the clear light of divine love heal me and all involved. Calling your power back with cord cutting & clearing  are incredible tools to use, centered in love & compassion for the highest good of all.

 

  • What happens when I feel I am over-indulging in pleasure seeking activities? What habits and addictions keep me bound? What shifts in feeling, thinking and action need to happen for me to experience the freedom of true self love?

 

  • In what ways have I disconnected from my self? What is happening, either internally or externally, when I disconnect from my body, or heart? How do I reconnect with my body, how do I reconnect to my heart?