My life has been a whirlwind lately, complete with Neptunian euphoria followed by Virgo crash-landings of exhausted obsession with detail, as I attempt to create a life for myself that is both meaningful and sustainable. These attempts seem to be working — but all of this exists in tension with this other “reality” of the world.
On the one hand, I’m blessed to be spending more time on client work, astrology and writing. A new man has entered my life with whom I can fall into bubbles of bliss at the slightest contact. In a sudden twist of fate, I’ll soon be living with a dear teacher for a month to help out while she writes a book. Magic is combining with hard work to create something my heart is singing to receive.
Yet every morning I head to a coffee shop near my office and browse The New York Times while I wait. Today — more bodies on the cover. Wrapped in shrouds this time.
The work I did during graduate school was based in depth psychology and explored the use of astrological ritual to assist us personally and collectively through apocalyptic rites of passage. Apocalyptic images, such as the mushroom cloud, were a primary component of my work as was the understanding that images take the form of visual, auditory and kinesthetic imprints that are directly linked to emotion.
What I learned as I immersed myself in images of the mushroom cloud, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, was that apocalyptic images connect us with personal experiences of grief, loss and trauma. I learned that the regenerative, healing energy that arises during apocalyptic rites of passage depends on our ability to descend into the dark and engage what we find there while remaining gentle and yet grounded, surrendering our egos to whatever change needs to arise, and then returning to the surface in order to learn how to exist sustainably in a world where so little is under our control.
I also learned that psychic numbing is real — that we can become apathetic, shut down, and generally immune to images of destruction. I learned that the energy it takes to repress the emotion underneath would be much better used in figuring out ways to move forward.
Allowing images to affect us — to constellate energetically — can be tricky business. On the one hand, basic Jungian theory says that we must make unconscious contents conscious so that we don’t project them out into the world to be experienced as fate. Working through fears is a practice that can help us to understand our triggers so that we can deal with them consciously. But I’m also aware that the process of working through unconscious fears can take on a compulsive quality. This is Scorpionic work, after all, and sometimes Scorpio uncovers too much at one time, leaving nerves exposed and raw. We need time within our lives to center and integrate as well.
This week, while listening to Planet Waves FM and reading the comments, the dissonance between my own life and the reality of the world became quite pronounced once again. How is meditation, or soul work, helpful to someone in a war zone, or someone struggling to get their survival needs met?
How does having access to these images of mass destruction desensitize us and force us back into psychic numbing? What can we do to mediate this and remain open to the transformative impulses of our times?
As usual, I figure that the answer lies somewhere in the middle. I believe that we need a diverse array of technologies of consciousness, from cognitive behavioral therapy to meditation to astrology and ritual, in order to provide individuals with tools that work for them.
I know that we have the potential to create sustainable ways of existing on Earth. Experiencing our grief and rage for what’s happening in the world seems like an integral part of getting to a point where we can work towards that sustainability. What I don’t know, however, is whether or not we will actually rise to that occasion, or if we will rise up in time. But I figure the best thing I can do with my life is to work towards creative sustainability anyway.
When asked once about the crux of my own guiding mythology, I was able to reduce it down to a belief in love as my guiding law. I’m aware that I am here on earth to anchor love, to dance, laugh and play so that during times of darkness I hold memories of that light. My life has shown me the wisdom in that belief through experience of the dark.
What I wonder is whether it is enough for just a small part of humanity to be doing work at the level of soul; whether it’s true that the inner work of one individual assists in the transformation of all. I wonder about how we keep the balance of an inward focus that resonates outward without ignoring or being consumed by injustice or fear.
And how do we hold the tension of the incredible beauty of existence with the nightmare, overwhelm and seeming impossibility that permeates the modern experience?