Reflections on (my) new year

As I look back on the past cycle – September to September – on this, my personal New Year, it is with a wearier – and warier – eye than I once had. It has been a year of movement. So much movement! There have been times when I could barely catch my breath for the activity. It was a year of possibilities and planting seeds. Projects, books, gardens. All things in process… But all that commotion fades to the small deaths that – I pray – make the soil more fertile.

Foolishly, perhaps, I prayed to learn unconditional love. And so my prayer was answered with a pain that left my heart bruised but more whole. I was answered by the poisoned darts of my words twisted into something unrecognizable and as far from their original utterance as words could ever fall. Yet always I heard the whisper: “You know who you are… hold Me as I hold you. Know your essence. I have you, daughter.” And so I learn (process, always in process) unconditional love. Through the gift of this war-not-of-my-choosing I came closer to my Essence and a portion of my naivety burned in one fiery night. “Trial by fire, kiddo.” And so, today, I mourn that loss with the understanding that I cannot keep my eyes closed. There is beauty in all things.

With that strange loss I also gained.  I gained a deeper trust with those around me based on eyes that well up naturally, tears that flow freely, the tremendous joys of shared discovery, cooperation rather than competition, and Soulful bonds forged not out of need but out of Service and possibility.  And so I forgive my younger self for SO many things in gratitude (and humility) for what is.

This year I found my thoughts on healing shifting rapidly. Studies in homeopathy refine my ways with oils, herbs, and massage. I’m learning to listen for the voice of the vital essence of each guest, translate the best I’m able, and refine my techniques to encourage its expression rather than “correct” or suppress its symptoms. And so I shift more and more to myofascial unwinding, orthobionomy, energy work that encourages the natural flow of Breath, movement techniques, and herbalism and aromatherapy to support rather than fix. I find myself wandering further from my allopathic (however holistic) training in all disciplines.

Ancestral healing has also moved in surprising ways. I feel the bloodlines of both my parents moving through me in more balanced and whole ways. I honor myself as both my (and The) mother’s and father’s daughter. Sky above opens with a fiery wind and Earth below supports and holds me close.

This year I dreamed things beautiful and terrible. I dreamed our Mother calling Her children to wake as Her voice gets louder. I dreamed the faces of those trusted with power disintegrating as fearsome darkness works their voices. I dreamed an unleashing of the destroyers. I dreamed the essence of a Star. I dreamed the birthing of a world. I dreamed our Father sweeping me into the Sky so that I may know his Love. Dream after dream after dream.

I am learning to allow the love between myself and another to transform as it transforms us. And so we become more whole as individuals within our nest. And while we lost one member of that nest, our beautiful Black Cat, we welcomed another. Lady Thorne of Argyle-Bargle reminds us to stop and purr while Aury and Elan hold space with their feline dignity and variable states of grace.

While researching my not-so-far-removed Amish heritage I creep closer to the position of conscientious objector. The futility of war threatens to break this world as it has broken so many of its people. I do not have the answers but the absurdity of violence to heal violence strikes hard. Why do we fight? Do we fight to defend ourselves against the darkness in others or in ourselves? I wonder if it is all projection. If I project my demons onto someone else (anyone else!) than I do not have to face them in myself. We can rain bombs on the face of our Mother for centuries (and have!) without bringing peace. Clearly the only war that will end all war is the one that ends us all. So how do we defend those who cannot defend themselves (or ourselves) without destroying them (or ourselves)? We are facing the collective Shadow of humanity. All I have now are questions and a journey.

Be Love and your heart heals
Be Joy and your Light sings
Be Peace and you will See

And so, this year, my prayer is for Peace. Peace in the lives of those close and far. Peace in the heart of humanity. Peace in the war-torn bodies and Souls of all children of the Creators. Father & Mother of the All, bless us, guide us, protect us, and may we hear your voices.

Be Peace,

H.

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The Devil of the Tarot

The Devil (tarot card 15) is the Shadow. When we fragment; separate off the parts of us we don’t think are good enough, worthy enough, or “of the Light enough,” we essentially disown them. They then become our shadows. These shadows can take on a life of their own as emotional outbursts, negative fantasies, fears, obsessions, compulsions, addictions, and so on. Eventually they may become thought forms that take on their own lives that become “demons.” These are the beings that often oppress and sometimes possess us.

The devil is the person that acts as the Shadow to us. All the things we repress, fear, and find loathsome (although oftentimes seductive) take form in the Devil.

The Devil always shows up at the crossroads of our lives to offer a bargain. I’ll give you this once of you’ll give me this twice. His bargains are always tricky and they always point out what we fundamentally fear (and thereby what we fundamentally value). And so when we dance with the devil at the crossroads we always end up a different person somehow.

Now remember we cannot be bright without being dark and so the Devil offers us the opportunity to look at our darkness, swallow it, and transform ourselves into more holy beings for it. Jesus walked with the devil in the desert and returned to his ministry powerful and resolved. The devil guides us through the dark night of the Soul and by morning our fears no longer have the hold they once did. Once we dance with the devil it is possible to reclaim the power we’ve breathed into him. 

Astrology of the Shadow – House placement (part 3)

Also very important is where the shadow falls over your chart, the house placement, as it will illuminate where the shadow is most alive in you. There is too much subtlety involved in a full analysis of the shadows in each house since the individual house rulers will be different for each chart but a brief sketch of the houses and their shadow focus follows:

First house – If your shadow falls in your first house (sun is in the seventh house) you must be wary of narcissism. The shadow in the first may present an “all about me” attitude with disinterest in anything outside your influence.

Second house – If your shadow falls in the second house (sun is in the eighth house) you must be wary of getting caught in the sensualities of life. Consumption, hoarding, avarice, and greed are dangerous pitfalls. When the surface seduces the second house shadow deceit and manipulation may follow.

Third house – If your shadow falls in the third house (sun is in the ninth house) you must be wary of using your intellect to create traps for yourself and others. Mental gymnastics and subtle manipulations are dangers. Disregard for the emotions of others and self-serving mental machinery is disruptive.

Fourth house – If your shadow falls in the fourth house (sun is in the tenth house) be wary of retreating into an inner world that never takes the chance to create anything of lasting value. Beware the victim mentality that sees everyone as “out to get” you and the world as a terrifying place.

Fifth house – If your shadow falls in the fifth house (sun is in the eleventh house) be wary of unbridled ambition masking deep seated insecurity. Keeping only “yes people” around and bullying with an impulse towards tyranny and an “its my way or the highway” attitude creates an unbalanced and non reflective life.

Sixth house – If your shadow falls in the sixth house (sun is in the twelfth house) be wary of self-indulgence and disregard for the physical body. Imbalances in daily living, poor health, and an underlying death wish may show up in this shadow. Physical health will point out when and how the shadow is feeding poison into the system.

Seventh house – If your shadow falls in the seventh house (sun is in the first house) be wary of losing yourself in relationships with others and defining the self based others’ expectations. Relationship issues will be paramount in showing where you need development.

Eighth house – If your shadow falls in the eighth house (sun is in the second house) be wary of falling into behaviors of obsession and control. There may be an extreme “need” to control others and everything within one’s space. Sexual control games, micromanagement, and manipulation are dangerous traps for this placement.

Ninth house – If your shadow falls in the ninth house (sun is in the third house) be wary of pursuing experiences for their own sake rather than for the soul’s journey. Disregard for consequences, unreliability, and preachiness to others without taking self-inventory are unfortunate possibilities.

Tenth house – If your shadow falls in the tenth house (sun is in the fourth house) be wary of building just to build and consuming just to consume. Unbridled ambition without an impulse to serve the greater good is dangerous. Looking to make a buck on the back of others and the CEO disease are warning signs.

Eleventh house – If your shadow falls in the eleventh house (sun is in the fifth house) be wary of demanding more from others than you would be willing to give yourself. Using and abusing connections of those who care will create an unhappy life.

Twelfth house – If your shadow falls isn the twelfth house (sun is in the sixth house) sbe wary of losing yourself in imagination, delusion, and addiction. Falling into patterns of paranoia, isolation, and waking nightmares (also known as worry).

Astrology of the Shadow (part 2)

Now, after reviewing the sun sign positive aspects we look to their shadows, which are opposite the bright signs of native birth. We cannot look to the brightness of our opposition signs but to their dark, hidden sides (of which each one has plenty!).

Aries – The shadow of Aries (the shadow of Libra) is unbridled rage, who rails at the injustices of their world and of their lives without effecting positive change. Childishness, unbridled egotism, and selfishness run free in the shadow of Aries.

Taurus – The shadow of Taurus (which lives in Scorpio) is sensuality for its own sake and without sacred context. Using and abusing for one’s own purpose shadows Taurus’ value on the body and its pleasures. The shadow Taurus accumulates pleasures and wealth for its acquisitive purposes without regard for the ethics surrounding gain. Greed and jealousy reign.

Gemini – The shadow of Gemini (which lives in Sagittarius) is avoiding responsibility while always searching out the next greatest experience. Without care or commitment for those it touches the shadow of Gemini is fickle, insensitive, and purely whimsical in love and life. Refusing to commit, love em and leave em, the shadow never learns to feel enough to care.

Cancer – The shadow of Cancer, which lives in Capricorn, cares more for security and safety than it does for anything else. Greedy, filled with avarice, secrets, and controlling, this shadow side refuses to budge unless it feels innate gain for itself. It derives security from getting its own way and controlling those within its influence.

Leo – The shadow of Leo lives in Aquarius. It exalts itself in its isolation, discrimination, and self-reliance. It refuses to connect and so keeps itself in a state of egoic being in which no one can truly touch it because it finds itself so superior to others as to not even speak the same language. Such a being truly would enjoy its own company more than the love of others.

Virgo – The shadow of Virgo lives in Pisces. This shadow is the co-dependent, addict, and delusional person who divides so far into others that she can no longer find herself. She loses track of her own individualizing characteristics and drowns in a madness of her own making. She cannot offer herself as healer-priest to others because she has not found the instruments of her own healing.

Libra – The shadow is Libra is Aries. This shadow is insecure and frightened of anyone’s initiative but his own. His creative power is spilled into his own hand rather than into the possibilities of a shared space. Childish and egoic he is prone to tantrums, self-serving dramas, and bruised egos. He is punishing to those who “wrong” him and demanding of attention.

Scorpio – The shadow of Scorpio is in Taurus.  This shadow is stubborn and refuses to bend no matter what its intractability is doing to those around it.  It allows its obsessions to filter its experiences of everything and simply will not let go.  It feels misunderstood and that the world is against it and so it can fall into a pit of rage, despair, and torment.

Sagittarius – The shadow of Sagittarius is Gemini. Fickle and quick moving he refuses to commit to anyone. He spreads himself so thin he has nothing left for those who love him. He moves faster than light but becomes an excuse for never completing anything and for fear-ridden behavior. He jumps at the shadows he creates in his own mind.

Capricorn – The shadow of Capricorn is Cancer. This shadow finds a hole into which he falls in order to feel safe. He secures his borders, builds a fall out shelter, and buries himself deep within. He allows nothing into his space that has not been poison-tested, purified, and Good Housekeeping approved. If he cannot control it, it does not exist. And so becomes trapped in his own safety.

Aquarius – The shadow of Aquarius is Leo. Rather than connecting to the All and holding the greater good as primary she sinks into pure egotism. If she is not the best than she refuses to play, taking her toys and running home. She is insufferably arrogant, refusing to see her own flaws in any way. She is the homecoming queen gone wrong.

Pisces – The shadow of Pisces lives in Virgo. Extremely judgmental, analytical, and simply bitchy she thinks she knows what is right for everyone without actually looking within to her own foibles. He is arrogant, frustrating, and small minded. The world is only as large as he and his own have experienced and everything else is suspect and wrong.

As sun sign natives we must be wary of falling into the negative aspects of our sign but they will present themselves in fairly obvious ways through our lives. The shadow is more subtle. We are less inclined to look at the negative aspects of another sign for our own traits. Really delving deep into the shadow of our opposites will illuminate secrets we have readily kept for ourselves. Interestingly you may well notice some of the shadow traits are things you have secretly feared about yourself. Doing an honest assessment of where you allow the shadow part power will also allow you to feel the power of healing.

Astrology of the Shadow – The Sun Sign (part 1)

Shadows are cast in the opposite direction of the light. And so when we shine a light the shadow falls behind it. In the natal chart the Sun is the light source and the shadow falls opposite the sun sign. In Western astrology the sun sign has assumed extraordinary importance. When someone says: “what’s your sign?” this is generally what they’re asking. What sign was the sun in the moment you were born? While I see it only as one of many important aspects of the chart it does show us where are shadows lay and allows us to unpack them. Also important is the house in which our shadow exists (also opposite the sun sign).

The Sun sign is our inner star and central power source. It fuels, energizes, and shows us where and how we shine. It is the paternal inheritance, which speaks to the ancestral imprint of our father’s line. As such it is a gateway to our power and how it is expressed through our lives. Most people have a cursory understanding of the sun sign significance. To find the shadow of the sun look to the sign in opposition of your sun. For example my sun sign is Virgo in the 12th house. Therefore my opposing sign is Pisces in the 6th house.

Aries is opposite Libra

Taurus is opposite Scorpio

Gemini is opposite Sagittarius

Cancer is opposite Capricorn

Leo is opposite Aquarius

Virgo is opposite Pisces

 

Below are Sun sign descriptions, just for fun, before we look at the shadows!

Aries – Aries, ruled by Mars, is the first sign of the zodiac and the fiery initiator. A cardinal sign, it is fire in gaseous form. Amazingly authentic, when Aries appears something (anything!) is about to begin. Aries, mythologically the god of war, is the classic archetype of the hero and warrior. Aries is filled with energy, extremely active, spontaneous, and temperamental. Anger burns hot and fast and is occasionally explosive. So does passion. Aries will fight for a cause to the death and is protective of those he loves and of the things that matter.

Taurus– Taurus, ruled by Venus, earths the Arian energy into solid earth. Taurus is slow and steady, will not rush, and solidly holds space until the proverbial meteorite strikes. The Venusian sensuality lives deep in Taurus along with an appreciation of things earthy. Taurus is the earth mother with an impulse towards the joys of incarnation and the finer things of life. Taurus values security, stability, and is tenacious in achieving these qualities in herself.

Gemini – Gemini, ruled by the messenger god Mercury, is liquid air, quicksilver and transformative. Gemini processes quickly, almost magically, and shifts from face to face with a blink of the eye. Gemini are the twins and as such holds all possibility within its whole. Both male and female, dark and bright, Gemini is undifferentiated possibility. Because of this innate wholeness Gemini can process all options quickly and move before the more methodical signs have even begun.

Cancer – Cancer, ruled by the feminine Moon, is cardinal water. She is the tides and the ruler of tides. Cancer is the mystical mother who holds sacred spaces within her, carrying her home on her back. She is the collective unconscious and keeper of memory. She is empathic and dreamy yet protects her soft underbelly with a hard protective shell. She ebbs and flows on the waves and makes her home among the creatures of the sea. Cancer is supremely vulnerable yet holds her space with the fierceness of a queen.

Leo – Leo, the lion, is ruled by the Sun. He is fixed fire, burning bright and steady as the star after which he is named. Leo is the inner star, vibrant and confident. He shines unapologetically thus allowing everyone else around him to bask in his generous light. He is so supremely confident that he is humble in himself and lives to give. He is the energy giving battery of the zodiac, fueling the fires of all those around him and radiating with the warmth of ego elevated.

Virgo – Virgo is the healer priestess, ruled by wounded healer Chiron. She is mutable earth, liquid stability. She is refinement, compassion, and precision. Virgo’s domain is the diagnostic terrain of maps, whether they be geographical, theoretical, or philosophical. She sees the trees of the forest and loves each one for their uniqueness and listens for the individual voice of everyone she meets. She sees through the clutter, clears the spaces around her, and offers wisdom born from generous observation.

Libra – Libra, the scales, is ruled by Venus. Libra seeks balance, beauty, and refinement in all things. The diplomatic, artistic, and supremely fair Libra must create harmony in his spaces. He is aware of his place in the world and seeks to make it one of importance and balance. He will not abide imbalance and seeks to hold the teeter totter still. He holds an elegant space between Virgo’s keen observation and Scorpio’s deep exploration.

Scorpio – Scorpio, the dragon, is ruled by the King Pluto, guardian of the underworld. Scorpio is the darkness. She is the queen of the Underworld and Mistress Death. She holds the hand of those who dare to look into the shadows and face the dark in themselves. Scorpio is untimely and challenging and forces us to look at death in our own faces. She rules the kind of sex that scorches the soul (rather than Taurus’ physical sensuality), the power wealth brings, and the transformative that comes from dying while still alive.

Sagittarius – After emerging from Scorpio’s depths Sagittarius looks up into the sky and shoots for the stars. He points his arrows up to all the places he will some day travel and charts a map to the heavens. He navigates the heavens in his brilliant mind and follows the pathways of philosophy, thought, and explores them through every kind of travel he can imagine. He pushes the edges of understanding, charting new territory, and pushing the edges of possibility.

Capricorn – Capricorn, ruled by taskmaster Saturn, pulls the Centaur’s possibilities back into the cardinal Earth’s probabilities. Capricorn says: “Yes, interesting idea! Now how do we make it work!” Capricorn creates in the concrete, the practical, the manifestation of dreams. She is the builder, the maker, the craftsperson who turns everything she touches into gold. Mistress of manifestation, she builds not for the moment but for posterity.

Aquarius – The mysterious Uranus ruled Aquarian is the weaver of the webs of the group mind. Aquarius takes the craft of Capricorn and weaves it towards the higher good of the All. Aquarius is the prophet, visionary, internet developer, astrologer, and visionary. To Aquarius nothing is good until it profits humanity as a whole. No one exists in isolation and the Aquarian mind is intricately aware of the highways and byways of shared space.

Pisces – Pisces, the fish, lives in Neptune’s deep water seas. Pisces is the mystic, the dreamer, the madwoman, who only lives when she dies in the Oneness. She knows that death is an illusion and that dreams are closer to reality than the daily life so many others find themselves grinding through. She is the psychic, the sacrifice, and the communion blood seeping into the ocean’s accepting waters. She is suffering and joy in the same grail.

 

Loving the Shadow – What is the Dark?

What is the dark? And why does it exist? In our polarized thinking we have the Light (good) and the Dark (bad). “Come to the Dark side,” says Darth Vader. There is a sinister dread of the darkness. Consider the connotations of darkness or blackness in our language and cultural myths. The hero rides a white horse while the villain wears black. Black is worn to funerals and in mourning while white is worn to weddings and baptisms. Witches wear black hats. We say: “she is pure as driven snow” or “he has a black heart.” The face of fear is hidden in shadows while goodness is illuminated by the Sun (Son).

We are polarized to think in terms of good and evil. It’s true the darkness holds secrets. Things happen under the cover of darkness that the Sun’s unblinking eye may never see. It is no surprise that the lady of secrets is the Moon herself. She sees all that happens in the night yet reflects it back purified in the silvery light of non-judgment.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) yin is the feminine principle and is represented by those things most deep and by the darkness. The deeper and darker one goes the more feminine the principle. Yang is the masculine principle, which are those things most surface and bright. And so when we polarize our world into light=good and dark=bad we implicitly demonize the feminine principle. The fact that the feminine lunar principle is the mistress of night in most cultures reinforces this sexism. The traditional reading of the Moon tarot card warns of illusion, delusion, and mistruths. Lilith, the Hebrew mother of demons who was created as Adam’s first wife, is said to rule the night. She is a succubus who rapes men in their sleep and bears their demonic children. The word sinister itself means “left handed,” which ceremonially is the feminine side of the body. The “left hand path” is the path of darkness while the “right hand path” is the path of light.

Implicit racism also underlays fear of that which is dark. Africa is referred to as the “dark continent:” home of voodoo, so-called demonic beings, and magics. Unfortunately humans have grown an innate fear of the “Other” and that tends to show in bigoted ways of being. The devil is often called the “prince of darkness.” He is known as the “black man” with his “black book” with followers who practice “black magic.”

So why are we so fearful of the dark? In the dark there are things our conscious mind cannot control. From a practical point of view humans do not see well in the dark. And so wild predator attacks, run-ins with other humans with ill-intent, and even innocent accidents can occur in the dark. We cannot easily see what may be in the shadows so the mind busily invents the boogeyman that goes bump in the night. The conscious egoic self does not innately have a sense of control over the dark. Our equilibrium is thrown and the visual senses on which humans so often rely are limited. The dark effectively blinds us.

It is in the night that our bodies naturally shut down and we sleep. This is an extension of the egoic self’s lack of control. When we sleep the conscious closes shop and the subconscious takes over our dreamspaces. We step into our dreams, which show us our deepest desires, fears, and connect us to the realms of Light. The conscious relinquishes control and we are submerged in another less controllable way of being.

The dark is the night. It is the space of the Moon. It is when we rest our weary hearts and heads and allow ourselves to breathe in dreams. Yes, it holds secrets and protects our eyes from seeing that which is too frightening for our conscious selves to accept. But as we become friends with the dark our vision slowly adjusts and we can begin to see in the shadows. Our eyes may take on the luminescent glow of an animal who observes with clarity in both day and night. But first we must open those eyes with the understanding that maybe we will see things we wished we didn’t know about ourselves or others. We may experience frightening faces, voices, and mysterious shadows against the walls. But as we look closer we see these goblins of our fears are the same beings we meet during the day.

As bright as the day is as dark as the night. As bright as we are is as dark as we are. All things are in balance. When we open our eyes in the night we learn to see in the dark. The dark is the unknown, the feminine, the “Other.” The dark is the Underworld, keeper of secrets, dreams, and healing. The dark holds our shadow selves in her keeping until we are ready to see.

Loving the Shadow – Projection (part 2)

A ritual to tease out projection on others is to find a mirroring surface (such as a pool of water, a reflective copper metal, or a dimly lit mirror). Then we must be brave and ask to see what we are projecting onto another person. For example, if I experience another person as condescending I will go to the mirror and ask: “what face am I hiding?” and unflinchingly stare into that mirror to see the face of my own condescension. This may be frightening at first but it is how you will call your own power forward. It is important not to step back out of fear of what you will see. You may see your face from previous lifetimes, you may see your face from the past or the future. It may seem like faces superimposed upon yours but it is absolutely a reflection of your own self. As demonic as it may look at points it is still you. As you see the face of your shadow flash before you welcome it home. As you do so it will step back into you, no longer a fragment but as a more healed, whole, you.

A wonderful way to keep the shadow home, so to speak, rather than out and about casting blame and creating needless suffering is to adopt a strict policy of non-judgment. When we are judging (either the self or others) we are giving the shadow free range. We will occasionally step into that place. But when we do we must snap our fingers, do our immediate shadow work, and bring that shadow home. It has no business judging. When we are judging we are not listening to the voice of our Soul.

Shadow work breaks down the walls of our mental and emotional constructs to distill the secrets we hold beneath the carefully crafted structures of the mind. But why do we do this? Of course it is to love ourselves more by seeing the places we have been unkind and neglectful of our own selves. But this is just the first step. From there we must learn compassion for the Other, which leads us to non-judgement (because the moment judgement enters we are lost in soul abuse). So where do we go from non-judgement? Shadow work is not to make passive floor mats of us but to draw healthy, appropriate boundaries from a place of “love and learn” rather than “divide and conquer.” Once we have gone within to talk to the shadows, entered a space non-judgement, we then learn discernment and how to say what is okay (for me only, I have no right to define your terms) and what is not. This allows us to embrace the All without being wrapped up in the parts that don’t best serve it.

So shadow work starts with facing one’s demons, evolves to non-judgement, and then becomes discernment.

May we embrace All parts of us with the ever-watchful (and kind) eye of the Soul directing. So today don’t judge and if you find yourself judging, don’t judge yourself for it. 😉