The Guardianship

The Guardianship

Do not be ready before your time. There’s no knowing what symmetry is marshalling itself below this confusion. First the long attentiveness of listening must be paid. Don’t brave your way out of this husk while it serves to protect your impressionability. Let yourself be kept a while longer in these origins where you are mine alone and I am only yours. Let something sweet be made of our secret. Put not your offering into the world too soon. Let it ripen in the guardianship of your trepidation. Let this fallow time be stretched For it is in this unreadiness that beauty takes its form. Live a season longer in this holy refuge. Because soon what nectar is made of our union will be for all the world to drink, or not drink. And you will need to remember what grace was allowed only by your long staying hidden.   “The Guardianship” © Toko-pa Turner – To read more, sign up for Toko-pa’s free newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/jtRaL...
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Sacred Restlessness

Sacred Restlessness

It starts as a hairline crack, a seemingly harmless dissonance in the surface of our well-being, but over time the crack gains momentum into a sudden network of irritation and restlessness. Restlessness has a mission and it must run its course. It is the expression of our discomfort with the ways in which we’ve become habituated. It seeks to undermine those places where we might be striving, mimicking, or falling into obligation. At its deepest core, restlessness is a sacred question which asks, ‘Whom does the grail serve?’ Like the mythical grail, we all want to open ourselves to purpose, to create a capacity through which the mystery may gladly express itself. Yet, for even those of us who may follow the call of vocation, the perpetual allure of the external world is powerful and, if left unchecked, can cause a gradual but critical shift in the emphasis of our service – away from the holy, towards growth for growth’s sake. For a long time, I thought the practice of ’emptiness’ went against my philosophy of yesness for life. I believed it was something detached and even cold – which pushed life away instead of embracing it. It...
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On Being Cooked

On Being Cooked

Our cultural emphasis on the triumphant part of the story, where one powers through adversity to rise heroically in short course does us all a great disservice. It misses the long and painful part of the story where we’re being cooked by the flames – and while the things we love are being burned down to ashes, we are all the way left behind by the world. In the old way, you’d be expected to listen to your elders telling of such epic odysseys that you’d never get anywhere fast and your food would always go cold for the long prayers that are owed to your ancestors’ endurance. And eventually you’d come to know the stories by heart because they’d wiggle down into your bones and take life in the landscape; in the fire and the lakes, and the mountains your people have named because they’ve earned the right by crossing them. And when your time comes, as it does for all of us – to be cooked – you’d know that you aren’t the first to be chosen by the fire and it will hurt for as long as it takes, and the only way through is with your heroics humbled.
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The Secret Heart

The Secret Heart

There is nothing more beautiful than the numinous dream that is given to someone who has wrestled triumphantly with their shadows. These dreams sparkle with tenderness, speaking in a new and unusual tongue, which is also heavy with ancient wisdom. More like encounters with the soul itself these dreams say, Here, I finally belong. And we know instantly that the secret heart only ever wanted to be seen. For all the energy we spend hiding that which we consider unbearable, the moment one lets one’s grief and shame be exposed to the kindness of a good listener, the dreaming changes its course. Only by following these faint flickers of light in the blackness of night, can the inner narrative find its way out of a recurring loop. Astoundingly, the architecture of Belonging spins itself out from the center of the Self in our dreams. How it then calls us forward, step by tentative step, along these gossamer threads, into an increasingly intimate conversation. How we then, one day, suddenly find ourselves anchored in a meaningful life.
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Making Anger your Ally

Making Anger your Ally

Anger is one of those emotions that’s been long-stricken from the social palette of acceptability. Especially for women, who are taught that being angry makes you unlikeable, and being unlikeable is a kind of rejection from Femininity itself. So many set about a lifetime of unspoken penance to becoming ‘a nice person.’ You turn down your volume, soften your step, retract your talons and acquiesce. But a terrible thing is lost in the suppression of anger – your relationship with one of your greatest allies: Instinct. Anger arises when your heart has been offended, your values have been wronged, your beloveds are threatened, or somewhere, justice has been denied. Anger is the catalyst to the impotence you may feel in these situations. It sets your heart racing, elevates your blood pressure and quickens your breath. Adrenaline surges through your veins and poises you for action. This profound physical transformation can make you feel out of control, but that may mostly be because the incisiveness of power has become a stranger to us. When we suppress our anger, it often results in one of two ways: It turns inward and takes the form of Depression and/or...
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A Prayer by Nina Simons

A Prayer by Nina Simons

May we rediscover the power of circles, of sitting in council to listen and learn; the power of trusting the wisdom that emerges from the voices that are quietest, least valued or that we least expect to learn from. May we recall the power of listening patiently for the intelligence of the whole to emerge, without rushing toward conclusions. May we risk that first step of standing on behalf of what we most love and value— knowing that the first step is the hardest, and trusting that once we take it we will be met tenfold. May we practice growing ourselves, cultivating our capacities to connect and curbing our habituated tendencies toward comparison, hierarchy and isolation. May we be willing to feel the depths of our despair so that we may dream ourselves into the possibility of soaring together. May we be informed by our wounds but not defined by them. May we remember the power of empathy and practice seeing the world through others’ eyes. In this great interdependent web may we remind ourselves that whatever befalls others happens to us. May art remind us that it can reveal and awaken new possibilities as we look to our artists to reveal pathways forward. May we recall,...
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On Pain, by David Whyte

On Pain, by David Whyte

“Pain is the doorway to the here and now. Physical or emotional pain is the ultimate form of ground, saying, to each of us, in effect, there is no other place than this place, no other body than this body, no other limb or joint or pang or sharpness but this searing presence. Pain asks us to heal by focusing on the very center of the actual torment and the very way the pain is felt. Pain is an introduction and then an apprenticeship to alertness and particularity. Through the radical undoing and debilitation of repeated pain we are reacquainted with the essentialities of place and time and existence itself. In deep pain we have energy only for what we can do wholeheartedly and then, only within a narrow range of motion, metaphorically or physically, from tying our shoe-lace to holding the essential core conversations that are reciprocal and reinforcing within the close-in circle of those we love. Pain teaches us a fine economy, in movement, in what we choose to do, in the heart’s affections, in what we ask of our selves and eventually in what we ask of others. Pain’s beautiful humiliations followed fully make us naturally and sincerely humble and force us to put aside the...
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Outing the Unspoken

Outing the Unspoken

It’s never comfortable to be the lone voice which speaks contrarily to the group, especially the group to which one feels belonging. The hope is that in speaking truthfully, one might still be loved and accepted – even respected for the courage it takes to say the thing that others dare not. But often you travel these lengths alone, even from your most beloved companions, and it rarely feels courageous while you do so. But if you can stand the terrible loneliness and doubt, there might slowly emerge the young tendrils of understanding in the hearts of others. Then, and only then, will you see that you’ve been tremendously brave. Instinctively you know that it isn’t enough to stay within bounds. The soul thrives on novelty. It comes alive in the dynamism of change and works at the edges of our perceived boundaries. It doesn’t ask for permission, because it obeys a higher authority. It takes its cues from the rhythm of nature herself, which is always crumbling into chaos, breaking down into the rich humus that fosters creativity. The artist is vigilant for those places of stagnancy where traditions have been left unquestioned for too long; where...
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Soul Retrieval: A Service to the Whole

Soul Retrieval: A Service to the Whole

The unconscious is not some repository for psychic junk, but has an unfathomable intelligence which inclines it to growth, not for growth’s sake, but for the long view of harmony and wholeness. The parts of us that are lost, ignored or rejected are felt as missing to the unconscious, so it works urgently to retrieve them by producing dreams. Remembering our dreams, and responding to them accordingly with our life choices, is a process Carl Jung called Individuation – or what the shamans before him saw as ‘soul retrieval.’ In many shamanic traditions when a person undergoes initiation, they are struck with a life-threatening illness or violently dismembered in a vision state – but the Call of the Journey is the same. One must set about re-membering what has been lost and, making radical changes to the way one lives, then come back together in a new way. This takes enormous bravery because you are up against not only your own fears and limitations, but our cultural ‘groupmind’ as well. But as you undertake this slow and often treacherous work, that same awareness can fuel you forward. Like trees who share the same root system, we are but individual...
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James Hillman on the Daimon

James Hillman on the Daimon

“Each life is formed by its unique image, an image that is the essence of that life and calls it to a destiny. As the force of fate, this image acts as a personal daimon, an accompanying guide who remembers your calling. The daimon motivates. It protects. It invents and persists with stubborn fidelity. It resists compromising reasonableness and often forces deviance and oddity upon its keeper, especially when neglected or opposed. It offers comfort and can pull you into its shell, but it cannot abide innocence. It can make the body ill. It is out of step with time, finding all sorts of faults, gaps, and knots in the flow of life – and it prefers them. It has affinities with myth, since it is itself a mythical being and thinks in mythical patterns. It has much to do with feelings of uniqueness, of grandeur and with the restlessness of the heart, its impatience, its dissatisfaction, its yearning. It needs its share of beauty. It wants to be seen, witnessed, accorded recognition, particularly by the person who is its caretaker. Metaphoric images are its first unlearned language, which provides the poetic basis of mind, making possible communication between all people and all...
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Belonging: Be the Longing

Belonging: Be the Longing

The ache to belong in friendship and community can be so pervasive that it colours everything we do. We, the many who have been orphaned from our ancestors’ soil and the teachings of their stewarding ways, have but this meagre scratch to start with. Distant now from the generations of escaping and forgetting, this yearning to belong blinks in and out of our quiet moments like a faint, but constant signal muffled by the fog of modernity. We have hundreds of virtual friends but know nothing of what they grieve, how they suffer or what arouses their love. Author & Soul Activist Francis Weller says there is a part of us that expected, when we emerged from our mother’s womb, to find 40 pairs of eyes anticipating our arrival. Indeed, we are missing those 40 pairs of eyes throughout our lives. It isn’t so much that something important is missing from us, but that we are missing from something important. This deep longing for community may drive us to join established groups, but so often this means blunting our true and growing size in order to fit in. We soon come to realise that to live in a diminished state is no better than being adrift. So what can we feed...
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The Seed Planted in Loss

The Seed Planted in Loss

It is the paradoxical nature of grief to lead us to love. There is a seed planted in loss, an evolution made in breaking, a genius found in separation that is rarely apparent in the heart of crisis. But often what looks like deviation is really proliferation, like satellite initiatives born from a group’s dissolution. Leadership is forged in the hearts of those who know exclusion. To them, is given the gift of tenderness which can mentor another through their own isolation.                
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The Elixirs of our Discomforts

The Elixirs of our Discomforts

Developing your feeling takes time, especially if it has been systematically discouraged in you. There may be an initial layer of numbness or anger you have to move through and, beyond that, a backlog of grief. But as you make the seemingly bottomless descent, it helps to remember that grief is the downpour your soul has been thirsting for. Like rain, the more excellently and prodigiously you grieve, the more growth and fertility you can expect. There is a future beyond the spiritual aridity and meaninglessness of our time, teeming with life. If each of us has the tenacity to retrieve the elixirs of our discomforts, our combined medicine will heal the collective wound.          ...
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Embodiment

Embodiment

This is the true meaning of Embodiment: To show up with wholehearted presence for this moving encounter with life. Instead of clambering towards ever-furthering horizons or withdrawing into distractions and addictions, showing up for those absences in our lives. Welcoming our fears and discomforts as necessary conditions to creativity. Loving the gestation as much as the harvest, even while remembering the barren season that must follow.                ...
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Dreamspeak: Eating Your Shadow

Dreamspeak: Eating Your Shadow

The single most healing practice for those who fear that “Evil” exists outside of oneself -in the form of malevolent spirits & other entities, like Satan – is the integration of one’s own shadow. Or what I call Shadow Eating. Most of us have been raised to be moral, good & agreeable, but we have also been putting all of our “unacceptable” qualities in what Robert Bly calls The Long Black Bag we drag behind us, what Jung termed the personal Shadow. The Shadow is the place where everything we have forgotten, denied, rejected or not yet discovered goes to live. The greater the denial of one’s darkness, taboo, or ‘negative emotions,’ the more fertile the breeding ground for fear, shame, depression, violence and anxiety. Now if you add public power to that equation, you are in for real trouble. Anywhere you see the attitude of the “evil-doer,” the corrupt “Other,” you can be sure the shadow has been denied in the self and now projected onto the outside world. In those places where extreme self-righteousness is proselytized, the more rampant the shadow becomes. For instance, in the Christian...
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Madness & Creativity

Madness & Creativity

While creativity is understood as the production of something new and valuable, madness is associated with self-destructive, deviant behavior.  Despite their contrary definitions, the two possess remarkably similar characteristics. Albert Rothenberg, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard, has been investigating the relationship between creativity and psychosis for the last twenty-five years.  In his research, he identifies a fascinating trait that the two share, a cognitive process called translogical thinking. Translogical thinking is the ability to combine paradoxical or antagonistic objects into a single entity.  That is to say, it withstands ambiguity until a third thing emerges from the opposites. As any writer will attest, this bringing together of discrete images or ideas is the essence of good metaphor.  And metaphor, the fabric that makes up our dreams, acts as a kind of bridge between disconnected parts.  It has a restorative effect not only on the individual, but on the collective as well.  It is as if an enormous amount of energy is spent keeping things apart, and it becomes liberated through the creative act. To read more about the link between Creativity and...
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All We Have is Art

All We Have is Art

We now know enough to know that we will never know everything. This is why we need art: it teaches us how to live with mystery. Only the artist can explore the ineffable without offering us an answer, for sometimes there is no answer. John Keats called this romantic impulse ‘negative capability.’ He said that certain poets, like Shakespeare, had ‘the ability to remain in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.’ Keats realized that just because something can’t be solved, or reduced into the laws of physics, doesn’t mean it isn’t real. When we venture beyond the edge of our knowledge, all we have is art. – Jonah Lehrer, Proust Was a Neuroscientist
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Love in a Muddy Puddle

Love in a Muddy Puddle

Beloved, You are this love I found in a puddle. And you are the muddy puddle. You are long stretches of sun and languishing. You are clear skies and allright. Then you scatter nervous birds with your sudden darkening. You are a fog which hangs around my temples, a hurricane without warning, through which I must walk. Startling me from a restless sleep, you are then gratitude! You rush through me like a glacier melt of ideas. You are a fat snake at the base of my spine and you are stirring. You are a thousand mundane tasks strung together to squeeze out a day. You are on and on, my protracted amnesia, you are my abbreviation. You are the full moon in Australia, which leaves my own sky black. But then you are a sharp pinprick of hope which goes all the way through. You are the mighty perfection of unsplitoff design. You are twisty and you make no sense to anyone, with your million tiny bridges in a giant, baroque web. And I, like a fly, exhausted by my own struggle, surrender. Yours,...
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Dreamspeak: Owning Your Destroy

Dreamspeak: Owning Your Destroy

For as long as I can remember, New Age gurus have been telling us to “stay in the light.” They tell us to meditate, generate and emanate positivity, warning us that we create our own reality and negative thinking begets negative results. But if you’ve ever found yourself cringing before all that Spiritual Correctness and wondered what was wrong with you, I am here to tell you that you aren’t broken and you don’t need fixing. As an Ambassadress of the Darkness, it is my duty to sing the praises of wrath, rebellion, grief and destruction. I am here to champion the wild, unapologetic  power of nature. I am here to urge us all to drop our composure like sandbags and get stirred up into the real storm of living. While the New Age movement has awakened many to the power of creative intention, it has simultaneously pathologised the negative emotions, striking them from our social palette of acceptability and is driving us all into repression. First of all, what if those negative emotions aren’t wrong, but totally right? What if the real problem is the misguided attitude that we need fixing in the first place? When we try to live up to impossible images of spiritually enlightened,...
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