How might your life have been different if, once as you sat in the darkness, suffering the most piercing shame for simply being yourself
…you had sensed a presence nearby, sitting quietly in the shadows attending you…a forgiving Feminine presence?
If you had felt such a flow of compassion from that ancient presence … that you could begin to accept your flaws, even your gravest faults?
And deeply comforted in the flow of that compassion, you were able, at last, to embrace your own woundedness.
How might your life be different?
Out of a woman’s acceptance of her woundedness
comes a quietness and sense of peace.
The transformation of the Masculine energy within her
from negating to supporting allows her to become herself.
She redirects her efforts from the outer to the inner realm…
finally makes the return to Archetypal Feminine ground
with her roots in the guiding principles of the deeper Self.
(I Sit Listening to the Wind Judith Duerk, LuraMedia, San Diego, California, 1993, pp. 91-92)
It is now twenty-five years since I first read these words.
They amazed me, awakening a longing in me for a loving presence for whom I had no name.
Have you also sensed a similar desire? Have you also searched, perhaps found, a mysterious presence of guidance and love, rooted in “the guiding principles of the deeper Self”?
Today you and I are like nascent butterflies emerging from the cocoon of these fourteen months of isolation, anxiety and deep questioning of so much in our former lives. We need time to pause, allow our wings to dry.
We need to become used to what we already know will be a new way of existing on the planet.
The butterfly is not a caterpillar with wings. It is a new being whose entire DNA has been altered.
Apparently the fashion /clothing industry is gearing up for an explosion of interest in new clothes. I suggest we focus first on what is within us.
What longings have been awakened in these past months in moments of aloneness or darkness or deep anxiety? What are these longings and where are they seeking to lead us?
Artist sketch of Greece by Dave Neave
To begin, may I take you with me to Greece, to Zakynthos Island on the Ionian Sea. It is May, 2014 as we gather under the shade of trees in the morning sunlight.
With a huge palm tree serving as backdrop, Jean Houston speaks to us of the Beloved, the One towards whom we long: the Great Friend. This is the One with whom we live and act in “interdependent co-arising”, the quantum partner who holds/knows more than we do about what we require for our work, our task.
Jean tells us that on the Greek Island of Samothrace, in ages past, the Rites of Pothos or Longing were celebrated.
In The Search for the Beloved (Tarcher/ Putnam, New York, 1987, 1997), Jean writes:
Pothos initially rises because I find that I am a stranger to myself and that I cannot discover myself except through finding the other. Thus I wander in search of the potential reunion.
The rites of pothos at Samothrace spoke to this reunion and addressed the truth that you are both yourself and your archetype, the extended godded self residing in the archetypal world. Thus part of us dwells in the archetypal realm that transcends time and space, and part of us dwells here in existential space and time. In the Mysteries, the initiates grew into an awareness of their double nature. They essentially learned to “dock with their angel”. Ultimately then, pothos helps us to navigate in two realms. Our yearnings and seaborne wanderings carry us into the depths….
The mystery religions, with their emphasis upon dramatic inward journeys of anguish, grief, loss, redemption, joy,and ecstasy of union with the archetypal Beloved, gave people a sense of deeper identity and belonging.
Jean invites us to consider:
Who is your double in the extended realm of the soul?
For whom are you here as the…partner, the exotype of the archetype?
Who or what is it that is yearning for you, calling to you, who is the beloved you are always trying to remember? (The Search for the Beloved, page 126)
Our longings can sometimes take shape in dreams or in imaginings. The poet, Denise Levertov, tells of an imaginal encounter with a presence whom she names, “The Goddess”. Chancing upon this poem, I find it touches an inner knowing, our longing for, a power both fierce and loving that will come to set us free from our captivity:
She in whose lipservice
I passed my time,
Whose name I knew, but not her face,
came upon me where I lay in Lie Castle !
Flung me across the room, and
room after room ( hitting the walls, re-
bounding – to the last
sticky wall- wrenching away from it
pulled hair out!)
till I lay
outside the outer walls!
There in cold air
lying still where her hand had thrown me,
I tasted the mud that splattered my lips:
the seeds of a forest were in it,
asleep and growing! I tasted
The silence was answering my silence,
a forest was pushing itself
out of sleep between my submerged fingers.
I bit on a seed and it spoke on my tongue
of day that shone already among stars
in the water-mirror of low ground,
and a wind rising ruffled the lights:
she passed near me returning from the encounter,
she who plucked me from the close rooms,
without whom nothing
flowers, fruits, sleeps in season,
without whom nothing
speaks in its own tongue, but returns
lie for lie!
(The Collected Poems of Denise Levertov, New Directions Publishing Corporation, New York, 2013)