My yoga teacher shared this poem this morning during shavasana—final relaxation. Right on the heels of the Song of Solomon, which I was unaccountably compelled to revisit immediately upon awaking – and that after my venture into Jeanne de Salszmann last night. Somewhere, in the inner universe I know as “Me,” threads and ribbons are intertwining, braiding together…. Derek is right: logging the voyage can make the way ahead clearer. The Hermit’s lantern, lighting past and present steps, inevitably casts a precious few rays on the one to come.
The Necessity of Darkness
The next time you are feeling spiritually dark, remember that our hearts started beating in the womb, seeds germinate in the darkness of the earth, and the earth rests in the darkness of winter so that spring can return. We all need fallow time – darkness is a gift – it’s a great open space in which anything can happen. Surrender to it and the light will return.
Anonymous (shared by Jamie Robinson, yoga teacher)
“Upon my bed by night / I sought him whom my soul loves; / I sought him, but found him not; /I called him, but he gave no answer. / ‘I will rise now and go about the city, / in the streets and in the squares; / I will seek him whom my soul loves.’ / I sought him, but found him not.”
Song of Solomon 3:1-2
There are two movements in me: a movement of energy from above which, if I am free enough to listen to it, penetrates and acts through me; and another movement, dispersed and without order, which animates my body, my thought and my feeling. The two are very different, and I cannot bring them into accord.
Jeanne de Salzmann, The Reality of Being (p. 203)
Posting in this “ship’s log” is akin to standing up and speaking in Quaker Meeting: difficult, sometimes excruciatingly so, to discern whether the impulse to speak (or write) comes from the Ego or the Spirit. With good reason did the original Quakers physically shake, “quake,” before they unloosed the voice during silent Meeting.
The act of discernment is a difficult one: Is it the ego, and its wish for attention, approval, wanting—needing–to get one’s “two cents in” that feels the urge, as a mosquito bite one simply must scratch? Or is it truly the Spirit, the spark in us that lives in the Light, that prompts the leading? Every week, every Meeting, is an opportunity to practice the alchemical operation of Separation.
The young woman (in the dream) was rejoicing with me that she was over the roughest part of psychological growing up now. But at the same time she seemed to be trying to let me know that her life from here on in might not take the conventional paths of love-marriage-children and so forth. I could only hug her and in turn reassure her that it didn’t matter what forms the outer life took as long as individuation took place.
Of course I was embracing myself. Would that the dream was, in fact, indicating that the workings of Dissolution and Separation with even, perhaps, the beginning of Conjunction have begun….
So what comes after the incendiary experience of Calcination?
I need to memorize the alchemical stages of the soul’s transformation: Calcination, Dissolution, Separation, Conjunction, Fermentation, Distillation, Coagulation. Coloring and painting my version of the Azoth (the meditative emblem signifying Mercury, or the One Thing, the “A to Z” of all matter—my alchemist in the center being female) should help to cement the process in mind and body.
Thank you, Dennis William Hauck, for your “alchemy made easy” book, The Emerald Tablet. The Tablet is now much more accessible and a much-needed complement to my other heretical studies.
(I thank Fate and Fortune I wasn’t born in the 14-17th centuries. Calcination would have taken place literally then—at the stake—had anyone learned of such interests.)
Finally figured out that this practice Gurdjieff called self-remembering is virtually the same as the practice of staying with the “Watcher” in Vipassana, insight meditation. For the moments I (the inner mind-self) can stay in observation mode (of one’s actions, thoughts, feelings) and not get “caught up” in them (self-forgetting), I am in self-remembering mode.
Too bad I don’t have a dollar for every time I go into another room and forget what I was going there for. Must keep up meditation practice — best way to practice identifying with the “watcher,” with minimum stimuli or action to distract.
I am hit with the combined force of all the physical functions at once and at full blast—”horse,” “carriage,” “servant-driver”, feelings, body-instincts, intellect. An alchemist would probably diagnose the condition as the soul being CALCINATED, the excess (desire) being burned to ash for the eventual release of essential Self.
I turn to alchemy for prognosis. DISSOLUTION is next, it seems. Can’t say as I’m looking forward to it. The good news is, I have the feeling it’s already begun, in the form of letting-go, letting “things” go, not “efforting” as much (as the current lingo would put it), giving up (some) of the tendency to name, analyze, label for the sake of simply feeling (experiencing).
An email from the Gurdjieff Foundation today informs me that this is the anniversary of the death of Lord John Pentland, long-revered president of the Gurdjieff Foundation in New York.
Fitting he should leave the planet on Valentine’s Day. For what is arising into new consciousness but another form of falling in love? And who’s to say that it isn’t the ultimate experience of being in love?
Like other equivalent experiences in my life, this one is as painful as it is life-giving. Maybe more so. I am barely a novice at this—the teachings, “the Work”—yet I burn, in the full sense of St. Paul’s usage. Something big is happening to me that only alchemy, Kabbalah, and now perhaps, the Work can help me through.
Son Derek just left, after 4 lovely days here working on my web site, enjoying each other’s company, good meals. Can’t believe his parting words: “Now take care of yourself, don’t starve yourself, and keep up that good body work (painting, dancing). Don’t forget, there’s a little tumor built into all our brains that tries to keep us from the stuff we really need to be doing.”
Found myself exclaiming, “Gurdjieff says just that—he even has a name for it, the ‘Kundabuffer!'”
Couldn’t believe it. The connections that happen when we’re on course….
The image that comes to mind is the Tarot Trump of “The Hermit,” the solitary pilgrim stepping onto the rocky unknown ahead of him. The lantern he carries casts more light for those who may be following behind him than it does for his own next, possibly treacherous, steps.
Traditional Tarot trump placement of The Hermit on the Kabbalistic Tree of Life places The Hermit on the path above Tiphareth (Beauty) heading toward Chesed (Mercy). Personal experience supports Colin Low’s feeling (in his digital book, “A Depth of Beginning”) that this solitary hike through the spiritual bewilderness of the emotions occurs much sooner than the lofty achievement of Tiphareth—”Christ-consciousness” in Jung’s system. Low’s placement of the stalwart pilgrim well below Tiphareth, on the path between Yesod, the astral or spiritual plane behind apparent material “reality”, and Netzach, the force-field of love, sex and emotion, strikes me as good a position as any to depict this rocky road.
Let this journal be my lantern, then, lighting the steps I taken on the Way, perhaps in the process even illuminating some signposts and footholds for others. But experience and knowledge tells me it will be of little use in lighting next steps for myself. At best, its reflected light may occasionally reveal the next stepping stone ahead of me, but if I rely on it I shall handicap my third eye in being open to the wisdom of the non-rational. I shall have to learn to depend on God and the Unconscious to show me the way forward and trust that Fate or Fortune will not intervene too drastically.
WHAT DO I BELIEVE? Derek asks. I presume to give me a base for understanding how much and what kind of motivation I have for even taking the time each week (each day?!) to maintain this journal of afterthoughts. And so I wrote down:
“I believe in showing others that it’s possible to…wake up to the divine in oneself, recover our original Self, and unite with the divine while still in this life and body.”
Well, I guess that’s some motivation.