How we encourage empathy…and not just in women

An interesting article on Medium got me thinking about something I had noticed but had as yet to bring into clear focus. As per its title, Justin Lee asserts that “In The Age Of #MeToo, Men Must Read More Literary Fiction” in order to bring them into line with women when it comes to empathising with others. He questions, is their education left lacking because they are turned-off from reading fiction at a very young age, quickly coming to equate it with a “feminine” activity due to their schooling and our societal ideals? Reading fiction is, as Lee points out (and I would concur) like a moral training ground; a place where we learn how to understand and even empathise with the thoughts and emotions of others, even when their lives are quite different to ours. Yet while the women are gobbling up all the fiction, men are really not so avid.

He quotes a study carried out by Kate Summers which not only found that women, resoundingly, prefer fiction to non-fiction whereas men are split evenly, but also that:

males indicated a strong preference for male protagonists. Of the 29 male participants, 24…preferred books with male protagonists, while 5…had no preference. No male participants [preferred] books featuring female protagonists. In contrast, the majority of female participants (19) indicated no preference for the gender of a book’s protagonist, while 6 [preferred] male protagonists and 4 [preferred] female protagonists.

Obviously, choosing characters that are mostly “like themselves” is not going to stretch a person’s moral character or teach them anything about what it feels to be in another situation or, indeed, gender.

Another worrying trend he flags up; could we be in danger of turning the publishing industry into a female stronghold, thus at the risk of alienating the very men that might be the kind of writers to appeal to other men? I had a gut-feeling it had gone this way in the publishing industry (everyone I know that went into that career, which was quite a few, was female…) but wasn’t absolutely sure it was so until Lee shared a startling piece of information. He calculates

Of the top 100 editors for debut fiction, 77 are women and 23 are men. And of the top 100 agents placing debut fiction, 79 are women and 21 are men.

In other words, “most editorial meetings tend to be dominated by women”. If this is so, any male author  (including those debuting, which is a precarious situation to be in) is going to have his work presented to a resoundingly female dominated panel; thus there are likely to be few male opinions of their work to be had, to ensure they are given equal consideration. If boys are already being turned off from fiction, what future does this offer for the role of reading as their moral training ground (not as something prescriptive but as a means to trying on different points of view)? Clearly, we need more fiction that will appeal to them; and more incentive for males to become fiction writers.

ramin-mirz-yev-1255081-unsplashLee’s article has given me a lot to think about and, by point of comparison, encouraged me to look to my own world of reading. In my family’s case, my mother was an avid reader of fiction but my father only picked this up, to read war-fiction, after he retired and my mother coerced him to do so, to keep himself occupied. True to gender type, I gobbled-up fiction from a very early age and went on to do a Literature degree. Yes, I can credit this with the development of the very foundations of my broader (outside of family values) emotional intelligence, my early sense of there being an extremely diverse world out there, beyond the bounds of my actual experience, plus my ability to use and understand words in a broad range of contexts. In the last decade, I have tilted towards non-fiction but this is largely owing to an obsession with research, combined with a lack of hours in the day, plus a lack of fresh fiction on topics that genuinely interest me.

My sister is much the same when it comes to a life-long habit of gobbling books and, in fact, semi-professionally reviews pre-launch fiction, going through mountains of it at an astonishing rate. Our daughters, being of the generation that had internet distractions, came to it later but both have a steady interest in fiction now they are adult. Whereas, for comparison, our sons read things like Harry Potter and Tolkien when they were boys…and then gave it all up as a childish pastime; my step-son chokes as though having swallowed a fur ball at the mere mention of “literature”. Another interesting observation from my own life is that my first husband, who was severely lacking in emotional intelligence or empathy, never so much as looked at a fiction book in all our years together. My second husband, who is as mindful as they come, reads fiction and non-fiction ever single day and in equal proportion; having followed a long-running practice of alternating books of each genre to keep things varied and in balance. Perhaps I should caution my daughter to choose a man according to his reading habits…

Another thought of my own; perhaps in an age more adverse to the written word than it is to more “visual” material, YouTube has the scope to be the new diversity training ground for boys requiring empathy opportunities outside the scope of their own lives. Now hear me out, before you groan; I don’t mean the kind of videos that make your brain feel as thought it just atrophied. There’s a newish genre, the lifestyle vlog, that seems to be attracting the men-folk, and I count my husband amongst them but didn’t realise it was “a thing” until we sat down to dinner with new friends on holiday. When I ribbed him for the lifestyle vlogers he thinks of as friends, the male half of the couple we were with piped up that he also follows those same YouTubers, which ignited a passionate discussion between them. Ribbing aside, I see how, by means of immersing deeply in the niche lifestyle, trials and tribulations of other people (usually mixed gender couples or groups) following diverse, often very challenging life paths, my husband is electing to engage deeply and realistically with these folk (as if he knows them…), thus empathising with their broad range of challenges, moral dilemmas and social strains. I can only imagine that if other young men are, likewise, attracted to this material, this could be offering them the diversity and breadth of perspective that they might once have gained from reading novels; just a thought.

In fact, this is all food for thought and I heartily recommend that you read the whole of Lee’s article as it discusses this fascinating topic in a lot of depth; all the more interesting for being a male point of view.

 


Related:

 

Are women naturally more empathic than men? A study from Pisa University has concluded that psychopaths don’t yawn when other people yawn because they lack empathy; and that women are twice as likely to yawn, when someone else does, as men are. Contagious yawning, says the lead researcher Elisabetta Palagi, is a sign of empathy and is more likely to lead to “pro social behaviour”.

Another consideration; are we, as some studies and observations seem to be suggesting, all becoming less empathic than ever? This article by Chrisina Patterson in the Guardian, especially the anecdote about the woman lying in the road, makes shocking reading. As someone who is a life-long empath and a mirror touch synesthete to boot (I frequently feel other people’s emotions and pain, as if it is my own), I find this astonishing. Perhaps all of our kids need to read more books and watch alternative lifestyle, culture and gender-perspective videos as part of a curriculum, and far more pressingly than they need to be taught (more) IT skills and business economics in their schools…

Posted in Consciousness & evolution, Culture, Entertainment, Health & wellbeing, Life choices, Lifestyle, Literature, Menu, Personal Development | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

If you could pick just one word…

A lot of people now follow the practice of choosing a word to focus on for the year ahead, rather than making up a list of new year’s resolution they will very likely break. It’s a great idea and perhaps one I would have adopted sooner, had I ever had a particular word pressing itself upon me at the start of January.

Well, this year I do and it came to me from several sources all at once, as things tend to when they are clearly meant to get your attention, including a song in my head (“emancipate yourself from mental slavery; none but ourselves can free our minds…”), a meaningful piece of jewellery and, above all, a distinct feeling that matches the word. Yes, I do feel more at liberty somehow, and long to experience more of this on the outside; to encourage the blooming of something that already feels like its ready to surpass the edges of all my previous experiences, if I let it…because my word of the year is FREEDOM.

And there’s nothing like a l-o-n-g Christmas, one that felt a bit like slowly suffocating beneath the patched-together remnants of an old life, to make you chomp at the bit of all the freedom waiting at its end. Oh, to be free from tradition for traditions sake; its deathly (but that’s another story). Reclaiming the space and the solitude to do what I really want to be doing is so liberating, I hardly know where to start. And the fact this word came to find me…I didn’t have to go looking for it…speaks volumes.

To add personal context, freedom is something that has felt like it is taunting me through a closed window for some time now; not just because of domestic circumstances, finances, all the usual reasons. For over a decade, I have had a whole bundle of what they label autoimmune conditions (I don’t!) which, for all my very determined efforts to figure them out and recover my health, still assert their sway over many aspects of my life. Chronic, sometimes extreme, pain and intense sensitivities to environmental factors still swoop in to affect me, as do bouts of the kind of chronic fatigue that wipe the floor with me; not very liberating…yet I still feel the essence of this word calling out to me at the start of this new year.

Importantly, if I’m going to make freedom feel real in my life, I know this will involve challenging some of those factors in my life that still feel so very limiting…but not in the way you might expect. Because, I’ve already learned the hard way, this won’t work if it means making those circumstances, such as ongoing health issues, “wrong” or entering into some kind of death-struggle with my own life, demanding that my challenges cease; this only leads to more frustration and bigger-seeming problems. Rather, I’ve come to realise over many years of such struggle that the ultimate freedom is the kind we achieve even when circumstance would like to dictate that we are anything but at liberty; experiencing the freedom to choose joy and wellbeing, in spite of those circumstances…as an inside job. You could say, the freedom of all freedoms is the freedom from having to do anything in particular — no need to travel or study, create the perfect life, pursue accolades or even heal from a limiting condition…because it allows that whatever and wherever we already are today is quite enough to be free. I know it as the freedom to cease comparing my circumstances with others or judging my, in many ways, amazing life to be any less than theirs because of so-called shortcomings.

Yes, as I bite back the disappointment of not feeling well enough to walk as far as I would have liked today, in the dazzling January sunshine, its freedom from making unreasonable demands of myself anymore and to be alright with whatever presents to me.

rawpixel-589079-unsplashThese mindsets are all pivotal, because they gain for us the ultimate freedom…to exist in that freedom without conditions or compromise; the freedom to be included amongst the free without requiring a particular pass card to get in. So how do I get to experience this kind of freedom…so that I am aware that I am experiencing it, in every moment, and not just doing it lip service? I suspect that will be the journey my year takes me on but here’s some thoughts…

Just to add, the word “freedom” encompasses so many themes that I am already working on across all the layers of life, thus finding my word is a continuation, the next most natural progression; giving those themes a focal point to dance around. It feels relevant to me and it feels equally relevant and on-topic for everything that is going on in the world so, as ever, I am able to play with it across all the different scales of the picture, from personal to collective, as I am always wont to do. Maybe some of these versions of freedom feel on-point for you too.

They include the very obvious freedoms that we usually think of, to live as we want, explore new things, travel to new places and have enough resources to make free choices. Its even the freedom to express what we want and to support certain points of view that we have; yes, I reserve the freedom to speak out loud about those things that I feel need to be said, which I frequently do as someone passionate about animals, ecology and so on.

Yet, for me, it also includes the liberty to free the mind and heart from the kind of preoccupations that torture and overwhelm. As a highly sensitive person with health issues that respond all-too closely to all the diverse things I encounter in the world, I know I must exert the freedom of choice not to get myself caught up in the kind of negative thinking and traumatic information exposure that unravels me in hopeless pain and frustration, as so many people do in the name of relentlessly pursuing a cause.

Thus, for us all, it’s the freedom to carefully choose the appropriate amount, and source, of whatever “news” comes into our feed each day; and to switch off whatever makes us feel nothing but defeated and hopelessly locked outside of our ability to make a real difference. It’s the freedom to claim the right to sleep without a leaden or traumatised heart and mind every night, so we can wake up with all the necessary love of life to face another day. It’s freedom to create a version of life that suits us and our own particular needs, and to love that life dearly, without guilt; even when we know there are others living in hellish conditions. It’s the freedom to allow that we can only do what we can do to help others…and I hope that we will…but that we must, first of all, love and show compassion to ourselves in order to be of any use to another.

In other words, its claiming back that most basic human liberty of being at peace with ourselves, and what we are capable of, when all is said and done.

Therefore, in my case, while I own up to the inbuilt sense of responsibility, to serve the collective, that is such a big part of me, I also know I have a responsibility to myself…to make sure I know what peace feels like, every day…in order to be truly free. As such, an equal priority must be to ensure that I am free from the kind of heart-wrenching pain and despair that comes from repeatedly throwing myself against an immoveable, or very slowly crumbling, wall of circumstances; allowing myself to step back and, frequently, remind myself that the most subtle methods of effecting change are often the most powerful (and faithfully employing those methods, however ephemeral they may seem). It’s the freedom to know I contribute significantly…just by being me; especially when I live according to the divine guidance that is joy…and to stand by that knowing. It’s the freedom to consult my highest self, through intuition and quiet moments; to notice subtleties and be the one who sees and records things that others may miss. It’s freedom from too much stimulation, all those noisy distractions going on in the world, to be able to hear my own subtle senses when they speak. It’s daring to know that those quiet gifts are, perhaps, my highest gifts to offer in this messed up reality and that I am not letting anybody down by being true to my nature.

And then a quote popped up in my FB feed as I flipped back on to edit this post… “The basis of your life is Freedom, the purpose of your life is Joy…” (Esther Hicks).

We forget or over-ride this all the time, don’t we? Most of us act like we are reaching for too many cookies from the jar when we even think about believing in this statement…yet, I know in my heart of hearts, that it’s true in a way that sustains beyond anything else going on.

Therefore, I claim the freedom to be far more selective about my self-imposed, and other, imperatives; in fact, to challenge anything that asserts that it “has to” be done and, like a child, claim the freedom to repeatedly pose the question “why?” Like that child, it’s the freedom to live inventively, playfully…like most of us cease doing when we become adults; claiming also my freedom from guilt or embarrassment at doing so. Likewise, I reserve the freedom to bring more structures into my life whenever they feel truly supportive and wanted; since the kind of freedom that means having to give up everything, even useful resources, in the name of no attachment to anything is no freedom at all (a case of baby thrown out with bath water).

I encourage others who are sensitive types, who offer quieter gifts, who feel more than other people and who are prone to taking on more than their fair share of the worry burdens of life, to claim back the simple freedom of feeling lighthearted, uncluttered and at peace; allowing simple pleasures to shine through, as we did when we were children and our play-zone was the whole world. It can be somewhat like that again, if we claim that freedom back, at least a good portion of the time…and this tends to make us considerably stronger, in all the other times, than if we wear ourselves down to a post with all our concerns. It’s the freedom to own up to the fact that imagination is just as crucial to our wellbeing as it was back then; as is the freedom to choose our own balance of “hard fact” with something softer and more fluid. That word in there is key; true freedom comes from balance, not extremes.

Allowing freedom to occur, in our own experience, is perhaps the most crucial piece of it all; because, how many of us stop it in its tracks, as though it is a guilty pleasure in a world full of limitations. Well, perhaps if we claim it for ourselves, the rest will follow…as though we each helped to model how it was even possible. After all, to achieve freedom, we need to exercise those freedoms we have (not take them for granted); and, like any other form of exercise, the more we work out, the stronger its muscle becomes…collectively.

I am sure many more layers of interpretation will come to me over the coming year; after all, its only the first week of January. This flow of thoughts feels like a powerful starting point and I can tell I am on track as I feel the excitement around it…which is how you will know when you have found your word. Once you have found it, placing gentle reminders around your space and person can be a powerful enhancement; perhaps starting a journal reserved for any ponderings, also so you can look back and appreciate the journey they have taken you on. As a mindfulness practice, this feels far more in-sync to me than all those tedious resolution lists ever were, not least because it is not a closed-system or at all prescriptive but, rather, allows for gradual growth and evolution as the word reveals more and more of itself, leaving you free (!) to do nothing more than remain patient and receptive to whatever it has to show you.

Endnote

One of the ways that this word asserted to me was through music; first of all Bob Marley’s classic, as above, which has been dancing in and out of my head for a few days over the new year period. But then, at the weekend, a far stranger playlist of songs came into my head, made up of songs I had all-but forgotten and all from a particular era. Made curious by this, I checked out the dates, only to discover they all came from the music chart of a particular January, almost forty years ago…a time that I equate with, guess, what, enhanced freedom. Music and other sensory cues are often a way that our superconsciousness uses to communicate with us so this synchronicity was truly interesting and got my attention.

When I took time to feel into the memories associated with that time, finding those music tracks and creating a playlist of them, I got to a feeling which unravelled these themes.

It was a point in my schooling when I turned a massive corner in my life, shifting out of a feeling of oppression at my old school, where I was bullied and felt compromised thus, quite often, ungrounded and detached from school life and my peers. That January marked a massive turning point, into a completely different era where I felt, at last, settled into my new school and much more comfortable with life in general…I made like-natured friends who seemed to “get” me and was now able to use my academic and artistic gifts without fear of repercussions, so I became more relaxed and playful, thus able to be truly myself at last. So, no longer living in a constant state of high-alert, I was able to become more grounded in my human life and began to thrive over the next few years; which is exactly what my life is calling for right now.

There are many themes here in common with where I am at this point in my life; so I wanted to demonstrate just how useful this kind of cruise through whatever your superconscious throws up can be. By going softly into whatever comes to you, yet pursuing any trails of feeling or association, you can be led straight into a deep layer of insight that you left for yourself, like a breadcrumb trail across lifetimes.

Posted in Consciousness & evolution, Life choices, Menu, Personal Development, Spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

We each drink from our own cup

I have a very dear American friend who came over to these isles last summer to undertake a pilgrimage of sorts; what turned out to be quite the epic journey through England, Scotland, Ireland and beyond, on a trail of self-discovery through ancient landscapes. Her writing (which I heartily recommend) about this trip has just been published  and I find myself in awe of the synchronistic experiences she had and all she has gleaned from them.

She invited many of us to share any “hits” or reactions we had to the information she shares and this was one of mine, which felt worth sharing here since it feels, in many ways, like something I was overdue to write more about, having touched upon it a handful of other times, so I thank her for the prompt. That thing which gained a distinct reaction from me, in her second installment – and I hope she doesn’t mind me using this as the springboard for my own thought noodles – is that she makes this bold statement: “I have no doubt that the actual home of the “once and future king” known as Arthur, the Grail Knights, and the true isle of Avalon, are in Scotland. It is clear that those wielding oppressive and mighty powers, imposing Christianity by force on this ancient and wild homeland of the pagans and Druids ~ those who ultimately ruled the land that would become England ~ had rewritten history and claimed the Arthurian legends as their own”.

When I read this, I felt a rise in myself and not because I am English but because it did not lie well with what I feel I know; which is that he was neither Scottish nor English, that he hailed neither from Wales nor Brittany (all these theories litter the internet, along with the more vague, if diplomatic, contention that he was a Romano-British warrior charged with defending the Britons against the Anglo-Saxons). Rather I sense that, in essence, he was “of” all of these places and more thus, in a sense, none of them; not so much as a flesh and blood man but, carried on the wings of a long-running oral tradition, a representative used to keep alive an ideal through what were extremely challenging times.

I feel this not only because the way people moved, and how what we think of as distinct locations and cultures intermingled back then, defies our modern understanding; so we really have little grasp of how closely, say, the isle of Iona linked to Ireland, Cornwall, France and beyond…but because I feel it as a “given”, deep in my soul. How do I know this? I just know with my deepest intuition that “Arthur” and “Camelot” are without one particular geographical placement…but I didn’t realise I knew this so strongly until I read my friend’s post. I share this not in the spirit of contradicting her but that of using our respective experiences to expand and develop our thinking even further than we are able to take it, going solo; and I even know that, at some other level, she agrees with me since she likes to play with the fluid as much as I do. Over many years, this has been the beauty of how we “work” together, bouncing ideas around in what feels like such an alchemical partnership, whipping each other up to higher and higher points of self-understanding through the synchronicity and, no less, the dichotomy of some of our individual experiences. Her journey took me with her along all these way points and then it hit this one stumbling block, which ignited something strong in me that was, until that point, indistinct and unclaimed so I thank her for that rise. Suddenly, I had all of the following to share on this universal topic; really, it wrote itself and, yes, these really are universal themes since these legends speak to our most fundamental human state and the precarious balance between our spiritual and physical aspects.

Like the story of Elen of the Ways which, in many ways, is “my” special passion, as the story of Arthur is to my friend, this story belongs everywhere and nowhere, hence its elusive mystique. Similarly, Elen (“the antered goddess” alluded to in my recent post), in essence, belongs to no single place and to all of them at once. She can be found anywhere that the feminine aspect is, which is in all places, deeply hidden or suppressed though she may seem to be at times (which is the story within the story, since Elen’s legend is also about “hidden gold”). In her book “Finding Elen”, Caroline Wise gathers together essays that demonstrate how traces of Elen can be “found” in the long-running stories, place names, ancient markings and cultural clues of numerous places, from Scandinavia to France, Greece, all around the British isles, Hungary, Russia and even further than those. I myself have found traces and hints of her from Wales (where her legend is strong) to Norfolk, Yorkshire, London and far away from these shores; most of all, I have found her in me.

Elen, for those who aren’t already familiar with her, is at once a goddess, a mother/feminine deity and a way-shower who lived in the forest, surrounded by animals and birds. In many versions, she lives with her far-more worldly male consort, who had first met her in a dream, sending representatives far and wide to find her, then travelling a very long way to be by her side, sacrificing his worldly trappings in return for experiencing harmonious marital bliss in her natural domain. That wedded state is closely linked with the prosperity and health of the land…taking care of Mother Earth; their role, in equal partnership, being to serve as respectful custodians of the natural environment whilst living in it, being provided for by it and allowing it to be all that it, most organically, is without undue interference. Inherent in all of this is the view that when you take ownership of something (even of a concept, such as “Arthur was Scottish”), you limit that thing, clipping off all the other ways that it might have manifested.

0b55c4fa4b4d8eb9bdddb310c3eaff5dSo, she granted her new consort sovereignty (something she had never before been prepared to grant to another, preferring to be on her own rather than to grant powers that would be abused), which made him her equal counterpart. He, in return, undertook to be the guardian of the lands, and of her, as a respectful carer and protector, not as their owner or controller. He could not hope to be her, as in, seek to usurp her, since she possessed quite different qualities to him and he respected that; but then she benefitted from his unique gifts and, together, they became more whole. You could say, he was the grail that served as cup to her essence; holding her, and all she represents, tenderly so that she could continue doing what she did best. Together, these two were in raptures; when separate, his world turned to destitution and she remained incomplete; this story is as universal as they come.

Many such references…as Elen…Elena…Elyn…Endelyn (linked to cows rather than deer)…Helen…Helena…Ilona…Nehellenia (common root meanings for these words are “Mother of Life” and “deer/elk” – please refer to my reindeer post for more on this ancient deer-goddess connection) can be found across different cultures, always associated with the ancient pathways of the deer and thus strong hints towards a more nomadic life (the counterpoise to the “fixed” way of life associated with the masculine). This way of life has movement built into it; and yet it has nurture, stability, good husbandry, prosperity and all other good qualities associated with living in close partnership with nature; not in ownership or abuse of it. Those pathways with which Elen is assoicated are said to be pathways of gold; a sort of yellow brick road you might say, and she their eternal guardian…

Yet, as the story goes, it was with the help and expertise of her consort that those ancient roads were paved, making them far easier to traverse; a harmonious balance of both worldly and more spiritual qualities (and, it should be noted that, as the story goes, when a turn of events led to those roads no longer being maintained, the result is a loss of soverignty and the ruin of the land). An analogy could be made between this and the way that healthy neurons allow the most instinctual, inexplicably healthful, impulses of wellbeing to be delivered to the cells of our body or how at first books, now the internet, allow pearls of timeless wisdom to be distribted to far more people than would otherwise have access to such teachings. The roads themselves are the feminine impulse to reach out, share and communicate; but their engineering and good maintence rely on the masculine urge to construct and even fortify. One without the other would not be nearly so effective; which is why we need both aspects, in collaboration, in order to thrive. In other words, Elen represents the flow that knows no limitations or boundaries across limitless space (you could say, spiritual knowledge, intuition, unconditional love), though always respecting and taking care of all those places she touches along the way, whist her partnership with the masculine makes those journeys more smooth, efficient and viable. Each have some unique quality that is contributed in equal part to the overall partnership (in a way that, to our detriment, has not been the case in our recent history); together making a sum that is far greater than their two individual parts.

02-the-holy-grail-has-hadLikewise, that golden grail of Arthur legend was never a cup to be passed around and then held on to, coveted, guarded, fought over by different people or far flung places seeking evidence that the story is most rightful “theirs”, like the way people once argued over religious relics. When we seek Arthur through the eyes and approaches of “history”, scouring for sources as “evidence” instead of feeling him out, we tip ourselves heavily towards the masculine and forget that he, too, had a consort; a female counterpart, equally a legend, her story perhaps more distorted, turned sour, even soiled by the twisting of the tale and the telling through masculine means. Rather, it was a cup which, like that which Jesus (Yeshua) passed around at the last supper, was to be held and then drank from by all the guests at the table, yes by Mary Magdalene (I hold to the opinion that she is yet another forgotten consort, conveniently tarnished and, of course, largely edited from the main part of the story, as his wife…) and yes, by Judas. Each got their turn, with no distinctions made; no one more rightfully holding it than another. It was passed around, from one to another, and was not white-knuckle gripped onto by anyone at that table; as a reminder, that we all get to hold the cup, to be the cup; surely this, in essence, was what Jesus was saying. Forget the cup, don’t obsess about the cup…you are the blasted cup!

As with Elen, those pathways of inner gold; deep gold, stored “under the foot” wheresoever you might happen to travel in your life, are really the treasure hoard stored deep within ourselves and, when we know that, we literally can’t go off track; our track could be anywhere and through any situation in life, even the most imperfect seeming “journey” or one that seems to stay anchored in one place for a very long time…and this is just so important to know. As my friend found, everywhere she went (being this tuned into her own inner gold), she found powerful synchronicities around every corner and was almost run off her feet joining dots of understanding everywhere she happened to go, because she couldn’t NOT find gold under her feet, being that switched on to it. Every place, every legend, ever remotest twist or turn in the tale or accidental placement of information was as though left there specifically for her on some sort of breadcrumb trail which became this most epic journey of personal discovery. This applies to all of us that tune into the Elen vibe, whether we are familiar with her legend or no; and bear in mind that some versions of that story depict her as being most particular about where she lived and loathe to leave it, though she still threw well-paved roads far and wide from her door in order to connect with the world. Yes, whether or not we even leave our own hearth to experience such a journey, or do all our travelling on the inside straight from our chair, this same thing applies…the path, as it were, “lights up” with gold, because we allow that it is there, within us, and thus we see it. Its like finding the buried hoard of many lifetimes and finally being handed the spade.

1729258e6063ef0f30ce94a19ca131cdIn my personal hypothesis, the story of Arthur was a gift that was left in many places, as an allegory to remind us of ourselves and the importance of seeking the overflowing cup within. No coincidence to me that the story seems to have been planted and then flourished in all the same places that people whisper about Jesus and Mary Magdalene passing through; the yin and yang sacred partnership that is, at once, external in its connotations yet really, once again, an inside job as the partnership of balance within ourselves. When we clip those two halves of the same nut kernel back together, we overflow like the ever-giving fountain of life, you could say the tree of life; that is, we overflow with all our very own life source, understanding, creativity and potential, drawn up through the roots of our connection to Mother Earth, into the heart processor at the very core of us and out through the crown, only to begin again, over and over like a torus; the cup that never runs dry. This essential “knowing” is crucial to our fullest understanding and, thus, experience of ourselves in human form (without it, we are like an empty husk leading a materially focused life); so reminders of it had to be planted in the soil of many (many) places and, yes, these stories have thrived the most where that soil is nearer to the surface…not buried under layers of urban concrete. Thus, its thrived where legends ring out as the fireside stories of folk who live close to the land; and where musical traditions have carried it on the wings of song for many generations; where farms and roads haven’t carved up so many fields, dismantling standing stones and ancient symbols that, as a result, are still in plain sight in some of these corners…So of course, it can be gleaned most clearly in the far west of England and Wales, in the remote highlands, in somewhat isolated Brittany; yet, really, the story lies more immediately accessible than that, wherever we happen to be…within our own heart.

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Image: Katherina Plotnikova

Many years ago, as a girl flying purely on instinct, I found my own local version of this ancient reminder in the legend of Maid Marion and Robin Hood, though it was years later that I came to recognise Marion as another version of Elen with her consort and, yes, as Mary Magdalene kept alive in folklaw. Again, the same messages hold true; the couple live in absolute equality, close to nature, deep within the forest, amongst birds and animals, particularly the deer, and with a small band of like-minded souls (you could equally refer to them as disciples), living according to choices that are outside the mainstream culture of the time (so, “outlaws”); taking from the rich to distribute to the poor (sharing out fishes and loaves or equally, you could say, sharing words of wisdom and encouragement, songs and stories, art, blog posts, healing sessions, love…). This is what many of us are now doing with our lives but, most of all, we are seeking that idealised state of inner harmony that we sometimes feel ourselves getting close enough to touch; and when we find that, albeit ever-so briefly amidst lives that can be just so challenging, it feels as though our cup is overflowing with liquid gold. In those moments, we become the grail we have so-long been seeking.

The consistent reminder in it all is: never stop seeking to achieve that state, which lies within, perfectly in reach, and which will light each of us up – individually – when we get into it but which, once activated, will inevitably spill outwards, flowing freely into all our actions and deeds, touching the lives of others, to become a collective experience…and then the “land” will flourish again. Never stop walking that path of gold, which can only ever lead us where we are meant to be going and which will, ultimately, keep on leading us back to ourselves…perhaps a little wiser, more knowing of “who we really are” each time we return for a respite from all that busy “doing” and “seeking”. The irony in it all is that, when we “do” and “seek” a little less, we find we are suddenly there, with no effort whatsoever. Suddenly, in those moments, we find our fingers are wrapped around the overspilling grail of ourselves and its as though we are being blessed by a radiant force of love; what my friend so beautifully refers to as the Christo~Sophia (not masculine or feminine, but both together) embodied. I agree with her fully in this; we are here to be this fusion as ourselves now, this is what all those stories led us back to. Its been a long journey…

http---4.bp.blogspot.com--YBMOOmlE5nk-Uf1ro5IvXqI-AAAAAAAAHs8-bL37RIp01Cc-s1600-Le+Morte+d'Arthur+-+Holy+Grail+-+Rahn+-+Hitler+-+Occult+Third+Reich+-+Peter+Crawford+2013+This, in my opinion, is the reason for the long-standing fascination with Arthur and the Holy Grail (no less in my life); we could never have held such long-running interest in anything that lay outside of ourselves since fashions and cultural trends have far too much sway on what we deem to be of value “out there” in the world. Not even a legendary person that we wish to know more about could have kept us trekking so long and so hard; we are far to invested in matters of self-interest for that. The only thing we would ever have sought this tirelessly, for as long as stories have been told, is ourselves, in a desperate effort to feel more whole, more finished and complete somehow, from within this rather bizarre and mostly ill-fitting seeming combination of body and soul that we apparently are. We have sought so very hard to be more comfortable than we currently are within this apparently limiting state of flesh and blood and the grail seemed to be our answer; well, yes, it is…it reminds us we are far more than a shiny vessel and that the contents, which never run dry, far outreach the sides of the cup. Like the vessel itself, the legends themselves are an instrument; a means for carrying something which is far less tangible and which will never be proven or located to a particular spot.

That vessel helps us to experience and, thus, to know what would otherwise be so lacking in substance as to be outside of even our most subtle human senses; and this is what the masculine aspect offers to the feminine, eternally. Yet, in matters such as this, we only need to know so much with our minds…enough to gain a gentle grasp on what we, otherwise, guide into our heart space to be understood more fully, without need for words. When we seek to know too much, to probe all the nooks and crannies, to label and cross reference everything, we lose what we sought to gain…left with a dead butterfly in a jar on a shelf…and this is the pitfall many of us are striving to get beyond now. I believe these old stories and clues were left there as a hint but were not ever meant to be exposed to hard academic pursuit, which is why I stepped away from the compulsion of taking that approach; it only ever got in my way. These days, I prefer to leave such legends soft and fluid, my own expertise (at best) wooly, which leaves them entirely free to land in my experience wherever they see fit.

Thus my quest is entirely personal and without location, just as we each seek our own “grail” in a myriad different ways; each to their own version of it. In my view, these stories were left there as guidance as to how to go about this epic personal quest with the least detours and cul-de-sacs. When versions of these stories play out for ourselves, in our ordinary lives, we are really remembering what we already know…which may be some of what I have just shared and may be even more that I have, as yet, missed but then the quest for a sense of wholeness or fulfilment, whatever we each deem it to be, is a lifelong undertaking and there is no neatly tied-off ending.

The point is to be aware, first of all, that we hold our own perfect sustenance in our hands and then to be prepared to hold that overspilling vessel to our own lips and drink thirstily from it (which sounds so obvious, but so many of us seem to withhold our own gifts from ourselves, for a variety of reasons). When we drink, first and foremost, from our own cup, our cup self-replenishes, constantly…to the point it, then, overflows, spilling out to inspire and touch the lives of many others. This is all we ever needed to seek; and the journey begins and ends from the same point, being us. It is the same for the next person, and the next, until we are like a never-ending sash made up of golden chalices, loop-the-looping around our planet, shining with the light of their inner knowing (which is what alchemises us and, our experiences, into purest gold).

Places that we go to may remind us of this; may jolt us more quickly into remembrance (or may seem disappointingly empty when we hoped to be ignited by them, waiting for a spiritual epiphany to occur from the outside of us…) yet, ultimately, our focus needs not to be so distracted, any more, by thoughts of far off lands or legendary characters of old. We can afford to stop fixating on hazy stories of lives that seemed far more epic than ours, working so-very hard to connect with an ancestry that is probably only urging us, in frustrated unison, to connect more fully with ourselves wherever we happen to be in our lives right now, not labouring all our efforts to connect with who we think we once were, or mingled with, centuries ago. These can be fun and distracting pursuits to dive into, and can even activate our deepest knowing or seem to encourage in us the courage or incentive that we once lacked; yet these were only ever the chess pieces in the long-running game of remembering, for ourselves, who we already are, and what we already know, in this permeation of ourselves.

Yes, I concede, our humanness sometimes needs these epic yarns; the trick being not to take them too seriously. By superimposing ourselves into them, they help us to visualise who we are, to then step more fully into our own hero/heroines journey. Reading about my friend’s epic journey has clearly done this for her and for me too, as her words vividly bring to life places where I have had my own powerful experiences, plus many that I have as yet to travel to. As much as the next person, I too love to dive down theoretical rabbit holes, yet I know the universe is sure to throw synchronicities my way whichever way I turn when I’m that lit up, since I’m on “the golden path” for as long as I am in my bliss…This is the paradox, there is no “ultimate” answer, no right or wrong, everything that happens is for me and will reaffirm my spin on things, as it does for all seekers. Perhaps this is the last laugh of the Arthur legend; it is like a hologram that meets the expectations of whoever seeks it out, appearing through the mists like Camelot on the horizon. I discover I have a whole pile of old books on this Arthur theme, when I look for them on my shelves, yet I find myself (this time) not wanting to go there, lest I confuse myself…was Camelot in London (“London’s Camelot and the Secrets of the Grail” – Christopher Street) or did Arthur live out his final years in Brittany with his nephew descendent of the Welsh version of Elen and her consort Magnus Maximus, as told in the Welsh triads (“Journey to Avalon: The Final Discovery of King Arthur” – Chris Barber & David Pykitt). Each and these and many more besides are convinced they have “cracked it”; which is, at once, such an endearing yet hazzardous trait of the human being…we have to have all the answers. Tongue in cheek, I find myself wondering if, perhaps, Camelot was some sort of roving mystery school sent out on tour into different locations, like the circus of its day; meant to embed these prototype thinkings into a whole generation, like scattering seeds. If I’ve got to such thoughts, its definitely time to switch off my brain; such compelling hypotheses can take you on such a dance…

In conclusion, my feeling is that legends such as Arthur and Camelot and, yes, Elen of the Ways, defy geographical placement; quite by design, and there seems to be a self-sabotaging tripwire involved when you try to get your brain involved in order to prove a location, which gets quite close to demanding “ownership”. When we do this, in my experience, its like the portculis clamps shut and you are left outside in the cold of your own deeper experience for having pushed so hard out of a desire to nail something in “fact”. The trick is to enjoy the experience…whatever the enlightening experience is…without having to own or label it.

However we choose go off on such trips of experience, even those more commonplace versions, we always come back home to our own fireside, eventually; where, now quite alone and with nothing to prove to anyone, yet newly in possession of a little more of what we always knew (though possibly obscured, or denied) about ourselves, we commit to the true alchemy of self-discovery…and so it is that we uncover the real, priceless treasure of ourselves and what we have remembered, and set reminders for, across many lifetimes. Perhaps the Arthur story is some sort of continuity device, a favourite yarn, that links all our many incarnations; hence the tug of such familiarity when we encounter it. Whatever it is that attracts us to it with such vehemence and recognition, I suspect it will keep us pondering at its elusiveness for all time and I say “good” as a world in which such legends were solved and put to bed would be a very dull world indeed!

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It doesn’t matter

Try, if you will, closing your eyes and doing your best to let your thoughts float for half an hour or so, perhaps when you first wake up in the morning but any time will do. Notice what comes up when you really allow your mind to wander. Then, whatever those preoccupations, tell yourself this about that thing before it forms into much more of a thought: “It doesn’t matter”.

Do it again and again, whatever comes up, be it a piece of family anecdote from years ago, or something you know you have to get done soon, that disagreement or worry to do with your offspring, the fact Christmas wasn’t as ideal as you perpetually imagine, that story you often run around a particular friendship or money or your work or whats on the news…whatever it is. Notice how some of those older thoughts are the same ones that always pop up, no matter how long ago they first happened in the past; allow a small ironic smile at how repetitious you are. Realise how its the thought that turns those things into “matter”, like solid bits of ugly furniture you never seem to get past but have to learn to live with, stuck there in the middle of your room. Allow that you can, indeed, let them go now…then dissolve them with that phrase again: “It doesn’t matter”.

Trivial-sounding yet incredibly powerful, for many of us this is the process we think we already know about and even kid ourselves we do…yet, most of the time, we don’t follow though diligently; but now feels like the time to get serious. We make substance with our thoughts, endlessly, and this narrows the range of our experience all the time; leaving us locked into a kind of experiential cell, like that small bit of room that is left over when all the unwanted furniture in our minds is piled up around the room. When we realise that’s all it is – thoughts – we get to dissolve that matter into molecules and sweep it all away; simple as that. When we do it diligently, repeatedly, each time those thoughts arise (not just some of the time), we create a whole new landscape for ourselves in remarkably swift time. In just a few weeks, we are standing there looking at a vista so expansive and unlimited that we are quite amazed that we didn’t do this sooner. So yes, we are, for a moment, completely amazed…yet entirely forgiving of ourselves (since there is nothing to forgive…) and are, by necessity, quick to move on, because we don’t want that to be the next thought we fixate upon. See what I mean; it’s this flow in the process that keeps it going.

At first, when you do this, you may feel some resistance, like you are trivialising things that are important or letting somebody, maybe even yourself, down by not preserving this piece of thought-baggage from a life gone by. Yet when you realise that who you are now…which is the ONLY thing that really matters…is the direct result of all that past “water under the bridge”, you can let go of all other matter and allow it all to be just that; water, flow…something soft and fluid, even necessary at the time, that got you to where you now are and that is all. Made more substance of than the feather-light matter of appreciation and respect for what has been, matter becomes like boulders in the stream; it then forces us to flow that particular way, around the obstacle, over and over and over again, repeating history with dizzying weariness. All you really need from the past is that sense of movement, of progression, a journey…as all your life has been to date; not to keep repeating that very same journey over and over again; which is where we get stuck. Yes those boulders of things we fixate upon get eroded slowly over time as we diligently, with great effort, tweak at this and that; but how much more effective, even effortless, is it just to dissolve them instantly with the assertion: “It doesn’t matter”.

Once that resistance phase is done with in your reverie (the guilt trip where you feel like you are “doing something wrong” by even saying this phrase about things that really mattered to you before), you may notice sensations washing in to your awareness. Perhaps you experience a great heat rising in all of your cells, like a kundulini flame up the spine until you break a sweat. Try not to worry; this is just your body burning up all those clouds of dust mites left behind by so much unnecessary substance that had been choking up your energy field; like an incinerator mulching through the content of vast filling cabinets full of old documents that once stored what it was quite unnecessary to hoard. Your body will feel so much better for it; so give it time to adjust, which may take hours, days or even weeks but it will.

Then, you might feel oddly disoriented, like you are free-falling through space or somehow without handles to hold onto, no footing or grasp onto anything that has familiar substance. Again, allow this…its just all that spaciousness that is meant to be yours, only you have lived with your space so cluttered-up for just so very long now that the feeling of sudden liberation is bizarre, like one of those dreams where you are flying without the need for wings. In time, you will get used to the feeling; will learn how to direct your flight, how to head for exactly where you want to be heading with the merest of suggestions…practice this whenever you can. Start within the body then, as you feel comfortable, allow the “lid” of the body to open up so you can fly in unlimited space, transporting wherever you place your focus. Entertain the fresh thought, in the “now” of your experience, that this is your new normal, that you like it and that you are starting to sense its potential rather than be alarmed by it. And when those cluttered feelings come back in from time to time…and they will…simply do the exercise again: “It doesn’t matter”. It will be like when you have deeply spring cleaned your house and made it so pleasantly minimalist that you can find everything you and relax all the time, then someone leaves their cup or a pile of clutter on your coffee table; you will want to clear it away very quickly now and doing this will be so easy compared with before that there will be no effort to the tidying process or to keeping your space the way you like it. You will have become a convert to this way of being and it will start to stick in ways that will serve ou far better than those old matters of the past.

simon-matzinger-345390-unsplashDoing this is not some guilty pastime, though your ingrained thinking may initially try to tell you it is “wrong” or “irresponsible”. It is not ceasing to be real, or involved in life, or to care, is not giving up on compassion, is not to do with negating family stories or your collective history, not about letting anyone down, nor is it becoming vacant or spaced-out, self-centred, withdrawn or deluded. Its modelling a new potential that could be the saving grace of the collective if we could all but do this en masse; cutting ourselves free from all the distorted patterns of history and all the cultural grudges that currently exist as though preserved in stone, in order to move on into a new era of creativity, cooperation and love. Its not something you have to convert others into doing, since you doing the process is enough to spiral its effects out to anyone you have dealings with, though you may find yourself saying it outloud more and more when people give rise to so-called issues in your presence: “It doesn’t matter”. Organically, it will generate situations where you allow others to walk free from situations that would otherwise have anchored you both to the past as “it doesn’t matter” quickly puts an end to what would otherwise become part of the age-old blame and retribution game. It’s the ultimate self-nurturing act since it gives your nervous system the break it needs to carry on; and your spirit the space it needs to continue with its human evolution. As such, it’s probably the most responsible thing you could be doing to gain back your health and wellbeing, for yourself and everyone around you since we are all being impacted by how overwrought we have become as a collective. Its learning from the past, taking from it what is most important and useful, then moving on from that; upcycling the lessons into new potential, a different future without anchors to a past that is, otherwise, as heavy and unwieldy as a sack of rocks.

Especially if you are hypersensitive, an empath or a synesthete, or perhaps all of the above as I am, you can allow yourself to let go of all this surplus matter, knowing full well that you will have filled yourself up again in no time at all; because that’s what we do, collecting minute sensory associations that attach to each other and cross-reference in every imaginable way. This makes every sensory cue in our present experience into a potential reminder of something else that once happened, bringing it back to life as though the experience is current…which means that, much more than other folk, we become filled up to the brim with such data, until it becomes nigh on impossible to continue. We, of all people, are in danger of anchoring ourselves to those very things that “once happened” for the longest time, by replaying them through every sensory cue we experience, over and over again, until we are haggard with the weariness of it. Yet when we do this simple clearing process, we allow that data to refresh and for all the wonderful progress we are making in our present lives to become the multiplication factor instead of what is old and defunct. And I do believe there is an evolutionary advantage, a gift, to being this sensitive…but we are not yet getting even close to realising this potential while we continue to anchor ourselves to old  or repetitious “matters”; so, perhaps we are the ideal ones to learn for ourselves how to unhook from what is old and obsolete so we can show others how to unleash a vastly more fulfilling experience.

So, if you feel like an experiment, join me in this new years resolution of sorts and let the old matters go. Simply let what used to matter (and you will instinctively know the difference between that and what really matters to you in this moment...) to go soft then dissolve away; simply don’t hook your thoughts onto it when it arrises. Choose to dissolve the electrical charge around certain issues, imagine you are looking at them through the eyes of a born-again joyful person; like someone who has been told he has recovered from cancer and now loves and forgives everything and everyone, slate washed clean. This won’t make you vulnerable to repeat attacks (even without holding onto old grudges, you’ve gathered and integrated far too much understanding for that); rather, it will make you stronger, more balanced, better poised on your human “feet”. It will also make you lighter, more spacious, less exhausted and probably quite brimful of freshly creative potential; you will feel, somehow, cleansed inside and out, softly radiant in all your cells, new and excited about life. The fires of catharsis (which you still may turn up from time to time) will mostly settle down into a gentle glow of blue-violet light around the whole of your physical body that you wear like a brand new aura. Enjoy.

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Three winged tales for the year end

I’m going to share a trio of stories from my last day of the year; things that happened quite organically, though there seems to be a distinct thread of bird-magic running through them.

Dare to fly

Dare to fly – Helen White

The first relates to a new artwork I released last week; a labour of love called Dare to Fly. I had also loaded this up to my Vida shop with a view to ordering myself a scarf  from it…which was one of the initial incentives behind the wing-spread design; I wanted to wear those wings. However, this morning I received an urgent message from the production team telling me they were concerned about the quality of the enlarged file – it was likely my design would come out “less than” because, zoomed in, it looked pixellated in places and some of the sharp details that were meant to be subtle or not even noticeable looked harsh, ziggy-zaggy, like sharp gashes in the colour-flow.

This is an inherent challenge when enlarging artworks designed to be a few centimetres wide into the massive size required for a scarf. Though I use specialist software to do this, there are always pitfalls to making an image vastly bigger, especially when I design images, primarily, through the eyes of a painter, not as an experienced digital artist. Sometimes, pixelated effects can look quite appealing to me on the screen as I work with an image and I often choose to incorporate this if, say, it contributes as part of a background but this doesn’t make the printing process easy as printers require blocks of colour, not sharp dots and voids of empty space. The only solution seems to be to add more pixels, which has the effect of softening a design, making edges wooly, taking away from the overall crispness…and I like that less than having pixelated areas to my artwork; but this isn’t very practical.

The more I worked on this conundrum this morning, the more it struck me as a metaphor (as working with PhotoShop so often throws up powerful creator methaphors that speak of life itself…). Also as a timely occurrence for me to have to get to grips with on the very last day of a year that has been extremely focussed on my high-sensitivity, chronic pain and how “experiencing too much” is the biggest bugbear of my experience. It’s as though, akin to other highly sensitive people, I have virtually no filters and let everything through my experience net…and then feel each and every one of those “things” sharply, in high definition…when most people seem to have a far more select experience and pay far less attention to those details they do notice, by comparison. I’m reading a book right now (The Spiritual Anatomy of Emotion: How Feelings Link the Brain, the Body, and the Sixth Sense) which examines high sensitivity as a health condition caused by a very-real lack of processing filters and this, I realise more than ever, is me and has been by experience, all my life; generating more and more challenges as the years go by.

Because, here in my artwork was (in essence) me, trying so desperately to spread my wings and take off…as I am always doing…and it felt like my self-invocation, ready for the new year; come on, fly! First reactions to it were impressive: comments like “stunning”, “dazzling”, “so very beautiful”, “oh, the light in those wings” came flooding in the first few hours after I first shared it. However, now my design had already crashed before the new year even happened because I had focused upon achieving a crisp, radiant, striking, super-well-defined image over substance; in other words, it looked nice on a screen but couldn’t be used for practical purpose. Then, when I added more substance (pixels) to grow the image to the size file I needed, it became wooly, faded, more commonplace, less defined; and I found myself resisting this seeming “dumming-down” of the artwork along every step of the way. How very “like me” and my spin on the experience of life. In light of my extreme sensitivity to everything, the way I let every minute experience through so sharply, with such razors edges, it’s as though I focus minutely on a lot of things…in fact, everything, all at once, like zillions of dotty pixels of experience jumping around in sharp relief, each of them unique and self-expressing; this is my filterless world, impressively all-inclusive but not very comfortable to be in as the one trying to make sense of it all through a nervous system that feels perpetually exhausted. Somehow, experiencing everything makes the overall “image” of my experience more defined, dazzling, exceptional…some of the time, seen from a distance. The downside is that, close up (within the physical experience of it), that experience can be unpleasant, far too sharp, jagged, painful, not ideal at all…my life; and who would want to swop for this amount of pain.

This all came through to me as I steadily, patiently as I could, used trial and error to solve my problem. And as I worked on the image, and (slowly but surely) came up with the solution I needed to reach a happy medium, a balance of good definition combined with appropriate blendeness of detail, in order to create the large-scale file I needed for Vida’s production team, it felt ever more important to me that the owl “take off” again before the new year rang in. In fact, I really wanted this to happen before nightfall…and I did it; loading the new-improved file to the website just as it started to get dark. And though the new image was fractionally softer and less crisply dazzling overall, it felt somehow more in balance and realistic than its predecessor. I knew it would be more useful for a range of applications; would make for a far better print on a range of sizes and also a far more satisfying scarf when I finally get it to wrap around me like a pair of wings in the new year.

Night flight small

Night flight – Helen White

So having achieved this, I set off for my walk and I very particularly wanted to go to my usual place by the river close to home, not one of the “special” new year’s eve walks I’ve tended to do in the past. I knew, somehow, I would meet my owl tonight and I was right….she came swooping down and, not only did she give us a really lengthy fly-around in the dusk but she came remarkably close, as though playing with us…a gift. She was my companion on just so many of my walks in the summer, during the late evening sunsets or on my 6 o’ clock morning walks before the days became too hot; but lately, she’s been far more elusive, just a distant glimpse of white wing-span through trees now and then. It felt so fitting to meet her properly again tonight, and at such close quarters; and like it was no coincidence to receive from her such a magical demonstration of her adeptness at taking off and flying so beautifully.

The other experience I had, which felt linked so I’ll share it, was that a vast flock of smallish birds came across the field in front of us, just as it was getting too dark to see well, and first landed or swooped at ground level before gliding up to one particular tree to roost for the night. We had no idea what they were, being too far away to identify in the dusk and as they were making no sound except that sense you get of the air making way for so many birds on the wings…because there were literally dozens and dozens of them arriving in relays. In fact, they were more like leaves on the breeze, so fleetingly did they skim the ground before disappearing into the tree’s dark sillhouettes…and though we walked right under that tree, there was no seeing them perched in there, all apart from one that I saw flitting from branch to branch. It was as though they became part of the tree, morphed with its winter-woody shape, and it made me smile to consider this. What if birds and trees are the very same things; birds being like the spirits of trees on-the-wing meaning that trees are not just these immobile, solidly grounded entities that we think they are. Rather, what if they distribute part of their essence out into the world each day, launched in flight in literally every direction, like energetic emissaries that bring back all those experiences each night, before they all dissolve back together into solid woody form again at nightime. After all, how often do we see all the birds that roost, even in winter’s bareness; how often, for that matter, do we find them dead on the ground except when we cause it.

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Misty Field – Helen White

This playful concept of trees daily-distributing as winged-forms, experiencing and coming back together again (even as the tree itself remains solidly grounded in the earth), like a veritable flock of tree ents, me smile so much as a final thought for the year. It felt like it was related to me exploring more fully, in the year ahead, how I get to experience more than I am exposed to in my daily life; without necessarily having to “go there” and feel everything myself…or become ungrounded all the time. What if I could do my own exploration of life a little more like this; sending my spirit out “on the wing”,  to fly my attention towards whatever I happen to find of interest, rather than insisting upon feeling absolutely everything as it happens, right where I am standing. Perhaps this is my version of a filter; that filter being to learn to differentiate what is part of the main, deeply-rooted substance of my life and what can be allowed to be far more fleeting yet, ultimately, a choice when it comes to deciding what experiences to bring “home” to myself. This all felt like a very timely end-of-year learning to be having, delivered by so many birds.

So, these are my three winged-tales for the year-end. To finish off this trio with more playful winged-ness, we were treated to bats playfully circling around us in the graveyard as we sat on the bench to watch the last notes of colour dissolve from the sky as the night came fully in. Farewell 2018, its been an interesting year in so many ways; here’s to taking off a little more playfully, more softly, less painfully and with a lot more joy in the year to come.

Posted in Birds, Consciousness & evolution, Health & wellbeing, Life choices, Life journey, Menu, metaphor, Nature, Personal Development, Recovery chronic illness, Symbolic journeys | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

How about women taking back the reins of their own evolution

New Year is coming so, before you sign up for YET another new “spiritual” self-improvement program, consider these thoughts (see extract below) from Casey Conroy, which mirror mine pretty darn closely. In fact, I feel like I had been keeping an eye out for someone…anyone…saying it like it seems to be to me, on this topic, as she does in the linked article.

Meanwhile, consider instead that the self-improvement “work” you “need” to do is an inside job and calls for no one else to tell you how…since its organic, free, probably quite unlike anyone else’s journey of personal transformation and is guided by the signposts of enJOYment. In otherwords, if it feels good, you are probable on track.

This is that extract from Casey’s article, which nails some disquieting feelings I’ve been having around spiritual “programs” for quite some time:

“Despite the sexy, spiritual wrapping of inner-goddess-path-to-success workshops, overpriced juice cleanses, body-beautifying yoga challenges and expensive detox retreats, the Sexy Successful Spiritual Woman ideal is yet another marketing tool that feeds off a woman’s sense of “You’re not good enough.”

You’re not thin, successful, sexy, or conscious enough. Let me fix that for you.

It’s just better disguised than the old Beauty Myth or the Feminine Mystique of years past, in this case by quasi-spiritual, female empowerment disguise-wearing, be-a-goddess/unicorn/mermaid BS. Ironic really, given how disempowering targeting this common vulnerability in women, is. And sad, because it’s carried out – not by men – but primarily by both new and experienced business women.

And although there may be payment plans to “accommodate for the poor”, they often cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars more than the original product in “administration fees”. Payment plans like this capitalise on a person’s poverty, which is antithetical to the “love and light for all” catch cry these businesswomen are selling.

The SSSW ideal hinges on the belief that we too can attain the perfect body, unbounded financial success and an aura of sereneness to boot… if we could only think positively, get a yoga / pilates body, and of course, buy whatever it is that’s being seductively placed under our noses.

In short, marketing of the Sexy Successful Spiritual Woman ideal relies on feelings of inadequacy and shame in the women it targets. This is in direct opposition to what the businesswomen who employ these tactics are allegedly trying to create: confident, capable women who respect and love themselves unconditionally.

It’s a fake movement of pretending to be empowering masses of women, when in actual fact these businesses do nothing to further actual social justice issues. Rather, they focus on “improving the individual” by turning her into the ideal woman, without actually lifting up an entire group of marginalised people. Real empowerment elevates both the individual AND the collective.

Far from empowering women, this kind of marketing actually disempowers them by colluding with and perpetuating the oppressive patriarchal institutions that co-opted this bullshit ideal woman diversion in the first place.

As Kelly Diels (writer on The Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brand) says, “these women are not actually trying to lead or create change. They’re trying to build personal empires.” ‘

What irks me is the fundamental mechanism behind this marketing ideal: it underestimates the intelligence and moral substance of women by relying on the fact that most of us have swallowed our social conditioning hook, line, and sinker. The conditioning that teaches us that the most important things in our vapid little lives are to be beautiful, to be sweet, to be successful (but not so successful that we scare the boys), and to be ‘spiritual’ – which is too often codeword for confident, positive, loving, and never, ever angry.

Finally, I’m sad. Sad because I work in a field where I see just some of the casualties…who’ve blown year of savings on “life changing” goddess programs or “empowering” female business development courses, only to come out the other end more confused, broke and looking for the next program to save them or finally get their micro-business off the ground.”

This is just an extract of an excellent article…and I do heartily recommend reading the rest of it if you are interested in cultural currents or are caught in this particular slipstream. It can be so refreshing to realise you need none of it to be and do all you ever wanted, as appropriate to your own personal aspirations, gifts and body type and not some airbrushed spiritual ideal. If you like to have a New Year’s resolution to get you up and started in January, why not commit to spending more time with yourself; I mean, really with yourself, paying attention fully. After all, somebody else’s program is always going to be just that…somebody else‘s program!

Source article:

How the ‘Sexy Successful Spiritual Ideal’ Hurts Us – Casey Conroy (with deep gratitude for articulating what I wanted to say).

Related (and recommended) reading:

Kelly Diels, writer and feminist marketing consultant, writes about The Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brand (“not a good thing” in her view as its “bad for women and marginalized people” and “undermines many women and gender non-conforming entrepreneurs striving to rise”).

In one of her articles, she points out that many of the countless number of self-proclaimed empowerment entrepreneurs setting up in business draw, knowingly or second-hand, on a formula offered by Jeff Walker in his book called “Launch”.

Walker recommends certain triggers to activate in your potential client base in order to garner a following. These, in brief, are scarcity, authority, and community. If we perceive something as being scarce, we will give it more value; if we consider someone to be an authority figure, we are influenced by that person; and if we consider ourselves part of a community, we act in accordance with how we think the people in that community are supposed to act.

This latter “trigger”, in my experience, is used as extraordinarily powerful leverage when appealing to women who otherwise feel isolated or as though they long, with every ounce of their being, to be annexed to some far-bigger “party” that seems to be going on amongst all the other spiritual females they know. This is just an illusion propogated by social media…but one which is often triggered in women who are in the early stages of their spiritual awakening which is, by necessity, a lonely, deeply personal and often quite unsettling process so, if other women seem to be doing it all-together in one big happy “family”, that lonely woman will automatically feel as though she is missing out or doing something “wrong”. When they think they see a whole gang of other women seemingly having a blast doing all this spiritual work together, making great strides under the instruction of some so-called woman guru who seems to have it all and is like some sort of big-sister-best-friend to them all (for a fee…), they long to join in and will pay almost any price to be included.

Yes, in the very early stages of my own wake-up process, somewhere around the 2010-12 mark, this used to be me, paying out massive fees for access to material and communities which, at best, offered nothing more than what I already innately knew, “packaged up” to look glossy and mysterious or, at worst, a complete waste of time and a crashing disappointment. I never fit in with the glossy-seeming friendships I imagined were there waiting for me and found those communities to be brimfull of all the same playground politics as I remembered from school. Often, I would feel quite sick at what I had to shell out to gain access to what I truly hoped would be “it” (this thing I was constantly looking for), at a time of my life when I was bearly earning a thing due to the profound health issues I had. Everything I really need to know was already there, it turned out, just waiting for me to allow it up to surface through the layers of my own experiential adventure…yes, there were no shortcuts and it was lonely and intense at times, but it had to be that way since no one else is like me or has my story to process through; which goes for all of us. We are the way we are because we have lived that story and we unravel it when we stop thinking we are like anyone else, with a formula key for the door.

So why do we do it? Seeking an authority figure to guide the way is such an ingrained human behaviour and women have it more deeply wired into them than they realise, coming from centuries of entrainment. Diels quotes the part of Walker’s book where he cites an anecdote from his own life, when a friend of his managed to direct their car out of gridlock congestion by jumping out into the road and using a flashlight to act like a figure of authority, directing other vehicles to move so they could get theirs out. People in the other cars just assumed he was in some sort of authority position, because he was holding a light, and followed his directions like sheep. People offering “spiritual enlightenment” programs can act a lot like that…as though they have a flashlight and the authority to wield it…when, in reality, we all have our own internal flashlight, the question being when will we ever get around to switching it on or even notice we have it if we keep looking outside of ourselves for guidance? Whilst I subscribe to people whose work interests and resonates with me, I regard them as peers, not gurus, and its been a very long time since I paid for access to anyone else’s methodology since I trust my own implicity, way above anything that could ever be “packaged”.

Given our shared facination with this topic, I have to say that I plan to explore more of Diel’s writing as its refreshing to come across someone who is prepared to cut through the latest version of BS like a hot knife through butter.

Posted in Consciousness & evolution, Culture, Divine feminine, Health & wellbeing, Menu, Personal Development, Spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

When “Rudolf” was a woman…

Rudolf was probably a girl (the biggest, strongest reindeer are females who, unlike the males, don’t shed their antlers in winter)…Santa too (it was the female shamans who originally wore red and white costumes trimmed with fur, horned headdresses or felt red hats)….and the familiar image of them flying together through the skies the sun goddess dragging the light of the sun into the new year beyond the Solstice…just saying! (For source, see article Doe A Deer, A Female Deer – thank you to Gather Victoria for this wonderful information).

I shared a version of this article, about this very long-running reindeer tradition underlying our modern culture across so much of the northern landmass, a couple of years ago and it continues to garner a lot of interest (though the link to the original article seems to have become broken so I wanted to reshare). My original interest grew out of my deep fascination with the Elen of the Ways culture because I continue to feel associated with it in some very personal ways that also feel so profoundly related to the goddess culture that has been “lost” and is ripe to be remembered at this time in our collective story (pick up one of the few books on this topic and discover how stories of Elen weave across much of Europe, Scandinavia, Russia…speaking of a lost matriarchal culture that once linked us all beyond any geographical boundaries, living with complete respect for the earth…we could use spadefuls of that right now). This latest post is right on theme, and very topical given the season, so I thought I would share as food for thought on this day steeped in patriarchal traditions…with a view to redressing the balance just a little.

Here’s the linked video included in the article.

 

Here’s that fascinating article again – Doe a Deer, A Female Deer from Gather Victoria.

Recommended reading Finding Elen: The Quest for Elen of the Ways – Caroline Wise

Posted in Christmas, Consciousness & evolution, Culture, Divine feminine, Menu, Personal Development, Spirituality, Symbolic journeys | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Christmas wierdness

“There are many things I love about christmas and yet, I never understood why I could ALSO feel so alone at times on Christmas Day. It didn’t make sense, but it would happen to me, year after year.

I have a loving, fun family and 7 brilliant nieces and nephews, so we are a large group, and there is usually entertainment or laughter happening somewhere. But Christmas Day loneliness and a sense of inner isolation used to haunt me, every year. I could be fine and enjoying myself for hours, then all of a sudden, bam, it would hit me.” Lee Harris (you can read the rest of the post, which opened a big discussion last year, here).

So, the phrase “Christmas wierdness” was coined by Lee yet it rang such a chord with me, no other phrase would do as a title for this post. I remember when Lee first shared this post last year and his description stopped me in my tracks because his words could be mine, they are so acurate. I distinctly remember feeling this aloneness and weirdness on Christmas Day even as a young child and it would spook me; then, when I was a little older (being a highly analytical child), I would sit alone in my room and try to isolate it in order to understand it but I never could. I would often feel intensely alone by the end of that day…as though everyone else had left me to go to somehwhere else called “Planet Christmas”…even though I was surrounded by the coming and goings of noisy people whom I loved and who wanted to include me in all their celebrations.

Later in life, it became muddled with the feeling of drinking alcohol in the middle of the day (now, I don’t) or even missing childhood Christmases and those who were no longer there to spend them with and yet, even with a family of my own and a different way of life to the old one that pivoted around material things or over-indulgence, the feeling persisted. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being with loved ones and the glow of love around the hearth…but…it can feel so cathartic to admit to this feeling and, as Lee found, discover you are far from the only one experiencing it. No, its not depression; I always knew that it was nothing to do with that but it was a profound sense of feeling disjointed with the Christmas culture and thus, I suppose, a little bit alienated.
 
For me, I have also identified it as part of being very highly sensitive and empathic to a fault, which means I pick up on all the disparate feelings of people all around me, neighbours and further afield, but also my own from all those other years, even from other lifetimes….with Christmas Day acting like a calendar anchor to pinpoint them all on the same focal point, across time. Then, as I’ve become more conscious over the years, I’ve felt the out-of-syncness of so much behaviour programing and so many ingrained habits with which I don’t resonate and so its as though the magic of the day very quickly wears off to be replaced with a sort of energetic sludge which, by Boxing Day, feels intensely disturbing to me if I allow it to (mostly, these days, in physical sense which can feel like a hang-over even through I don’t drink or over-indulge with different foods to normal). Thanks to the conversation that Lee opened, I now know that I’m not alone in experiencing this, which makes a huge differences.

It doesn’t mean I don’t look forward to tomorrow…but it does mean I go into it with my expectations set at a realistic level, I focus on the familial love (and send the wish of that feeling being readily available to all people everywhere) whilst taking care of myself even more than ever, which I recommend to anyone else who is similarly sensitive. In the last few years, it feels as though I have reclaimed Christmas on better terms; partly by approaching it as something new and as a celebration of light, love and gratitude; and by not being so ingrained in traditions and pleasing  or meeting the expectations of others. By allowing it to be something spontaneous each time it happens, with no sacrosanct rules to be maintained, no “where” or particular “way” that I have to be, I have given my energy field room to breathe and to evolve, year on year, so that the occasion no longer feels like trying to squeeze into a box I have already outgrown.

Posted in Christmas, Consciousness & evolution, Culture, Health & wellbeing, Menu, Personal Development, Spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Speaking out for each other

In this season of giving, I’m going to do something a little bit different and give this post over to another blogger because they mean so much to me and they are experiencing a lot of heartbreak right now.

Before I do that, I just want to make an observation. Whereas I used to spend most of my time keeping myself in the realms of “light” and taking the spiritual over-view of even the worst of situations, I seem to be in the mosh pit of life at this time.  And, for once, I go there, even though the Jiminy Cricket spiritual-mentor who lives on my shoulder (and who I suspect might just be the amalgam of all the projected criticism I can image being hurled at me by anyone of the mindset that they must keep their thoughts pure, light and airily positive, for fear of attracting “negativity” into their experience)  keeps trying to impart cursory tales to put me off. However, the more I become concerned with animal-rights or environmental issues, the more I intuit this to be  something I am meant to be doing right now, as part of a very-necessary grounding process that I am going though. My long-running problem has been that I am so generally unhappy with the way this planet is, and the direction it is heading, that I spend all my time vacating the body to head for the spiritual hilltops and that’s no good for my health, I need to be more grounded than that to function in a body. And if I’m going to land in a reality that feels pretty rough most of the time in order to rectify that imbalance, I have to be active in it, working for the light, or I can’t be here at all; my life would just feel too helpless and depleted seeing yet doing nothing.

That being said, the whole reason I found this particular vlogger and kept coming back to her over a period of a couple of years now is that she takes me off to the kind of light-infused earth-existence that I can relate to; giving me some kind of vicarious experience of being able to live the life of my dreams, here at this time, showing me (and offering hope) that this is possible. The time I spend in her vlog-world gives me such soul solace and seems to help me repair all the tatters and tears in my soul, like spending time in nature does, only her version of nature is on a whole other scale to mine. The unspoilt, majestic landscapes she shares through her photography are like food to the part of me that already feared such a world had disappeared, so to see it whenever I need to keeps me going, as does her light-filled spin on life and the creative, nature-appreciating way she spends her days. She is like an aspect of me given full rein to be all that I already am, though my soul feels constricted by the quite different daily reality that I am presented with by circumstances where I live.

 

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artbyjonna.com

Her name is Jonna Jinton and she lives in the north of Sweden, a country that I love very much though I have never visited such a remote part of it. She moved there eight years ago, having given up city life and her studies to start a new life in the land of her ancestors. Having survived several frozen winters there, she is now thriving in her little house with her jewellery-making partner, her dog and her art and photography business, her vlog and all the videos and music she makes. Sharing all the ups and downs of what is a pretty challenging existence, in a tiny village with just a handful of inhabitants, very far from most typical urban resources, has the powerful effect of transferring such a landscape from being of the world of fairy tales and make-believe into a relatable reality, if a very different life compared to what most people believe to be what they are stuck with. In other words, she presents an alternative and lifts the sense of what we know as “normal “being forced upon us, regardless of whether it fits our soul.

 

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artbyjonna.com

Though I don’t deny the hardships of such a life daunt me, the feeling of Jonna’s life seems to fill me up with something I so desperately need as a foil to the typical urban life. At the end of a day that has felt, in any way, harrowing, I know I can just “go there” and its as though I am transported to a landscape that feels deeply familiar to me in a way that speaks of other lifetimes. Perhaps this is how I found Jonna because I am always drawn to that far-northern reindeer culture (the land of Elen of the Ways…) that feels like it is beyond national boundaries or human bureaucracy, like it is a deep-cellular memory  of another time that is already known to me and, of course, those northern lights to which I am so sensitive, even here where I don’t see them, play out like a colour-box over her house all winter long, which feels so significant. Its as though such places, which just about remain in our world (yes, just about…) breathe for the rest of us, holding a frequency, even though we hardly notice that they are doing so most of the time and it feels just so important to me to receive constant evidence that they are still there, unspoilt, natural, teeming with the energy of another time, before we messed-so with our environment that it all began to change. We are far more reliant on such eco-throwbacks…places that still hold onto the natural patterns of the earth…than we know and, one day, we will realise this, whatever the outcome of this retrospective understanding (hopefully, from the standpoint we realised just in time).

Underpinning everything that she offers to her audience is, as she describes it, a desire to give something back that speaks to the soul and dissolves all boundaries and you can feel that, whether you are hearing about her day, marvelling at her breathtaking photography or listening to her  practicing her kulning, which is the eerily beautiful ancient Swedish herding call that she has instinctively taught herself. I can relate enough to the way she spends her days, jumping to her sudden creative impulses just as I do, to be able to focus on the similarities in our situtaion…the same (if not quite so acute) tilt of winter sun through our windows as we move around our houses in our thick woolen socks…even though the world outside her window is so very different to my urban street view. Immersing in all his is, for me, is real medicine for the soul!

 

In fact, I had just been for a healing session last night, with an incredible woman who is able to read the subtle energies playing in my body like a book and, in my meditation, she took me to that very part of the world, encircled by pine trees, deep in snow. The scene she described my body craving to be in, in order to ground from some recent circumstances that I’ve found very taxing, was exactly where Jonna lives, though I had never told her anything about these videos or my thoughts on Scandinavia. For fifteen minutes or more, she proceeded to describe what could have been an episode from Jonna’s vlog and I was transported there as she described how this landscape was profoundly healing to me “transport” to whenever I can so, of course, when I came home I knew just what I wanted to to do.

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artbyjonna.com

However, until then, I hadn’t seen Jonna’s most recent vlog or what it was about, though its title was enough to forewarn me. Usually, what she offers is so full of light but tonight she had something far more burdensome to share. In this video, which I will attach below, she offloads the burden that where she lives has been under threat of development for the last few years and, though they had thought the problem had gone away, it has just come back with even more vengeance with a new application submitted that is likely to be accepted by those who get to decide. In brief (watch her video for more details) a powerful company has set its mind to building Sweden’s largest wind turbine farm and hundreds of kilometres of road right next to her village where, currently, ancient forests now spread as they always have.  These several hundreds of monstrous structures would be flood lit and noise-polluting, not to mention the decimation of the landscape involved in making way for them.  This would  utterly destroy all the natural beauty, the wildlife habitat, the tranquility and a whole way of life for these people; and the landscape, of course, would be ruined for generations to come if not forever.

Her videos speak far more powerfully than my words ever could; as does her own emotion at describing what this development would mean for her, the villagers and the indigenous people who, yes, still herd their reindeer there. At the end of the video, she shares footage of an ancient forest that she has filmed many times, close to her house (the very one pictured above…that stone is sat on is now completely barren), which has now been, quite unexpectedly, cut down to the ground, its mossy places and timeless magic turned into row upon row of numbered “timber” for the lorries to pick up. This was just a small taste of what lies ahead if the wind farm is approved. Watching this video near broke my heart last night, as it did for her countless other viewers, many of whom have gathered to create a petition, which I will also share below (I’ve signed and donated…perhaps you could too). Here’s her video; you can start at 12:20 to jump to where she talks about what is happening.

 

These things can make us feel small again; like the high-soaring soul we feel we are, when we spend our days existing in a spiritual mindset refusing to engage in all the negatives of the world in case we lose our creator powers, has been crashed to the ground with broken wings. These days, I have matured into a slightly different point of view and its to do with making wholeness out of what used to feel fragmented in myself and externally. So many of us talk about achieving this wholeness again, this wonderful ideal of the masculine-meets-feminine balance that will make us into super-beings that are, at once, both spiritual and earth dwellers, and yet they run to the hills when confronted by what (so sadly, at this time) has come to represent the badly distorted masculine aspect…and by this, I don’t refer to gender but the energy of masculinity that, so often, tramples upon and takes whatever it wants with no thought of consequence. Until we face up to the current reality of that masculine aspect run amok and truly witness, with our attention, what it has become; seeing it in order to heal it, we can only ever remain fragmented…living in our spiritual other-world, while the solid earth beneath is turned to mulch by those who would walk their hob-nailed boots over it, taking whatever they see fit to, until it is all ruined or gone forever. When we speak out for each other and the earth, as our friend, we make ourselves more whole in ways that go deeper than any far more abstract concept we may have of what wholeness looks like; so I speak out for Jonna and I speak for the eco-system that is under dire threat in that place…and anywhere else that this is happening (which is in far too many places to count). It feels so important to do so.

Whatever “story” is making you heart weep right now, be it the ecosystem, treatment of animals or of people (there’s a lot to choose from…), I say to you, don’t run away from it but take steps to be active in it; taking POSITIVE action, which is being your light in an earthly sense and in ways that don’t deplete but invest you in your humanness. This doesn’t have to mean being dragged down and nailed into an undesirable reality from having to think about it too much (which I am as adverse to as the next person). I’m not suggesting we live in that reality for very moment of our day and, in fact, the gift is to know how to be in it yet to be whole and unsullied by it, at the soul level, for all we inevitably get our boots dirty from doing this. Then we bang those boots on the mat and come home to ourselves at the end of every day, or even at the end of every moment that gets too much for us, by stopping to breathe deeply whilst centring upon our own heart. This is where we learn something powerful beyond words; the work-out of all work-outs, limbering us up to become enlightened humanity in the fullest of ways.

By mixing up what is real and practical, thus, by definition, pretty distressing and hard to deal with (since we are going through agonising birthing pains as a planet, at this moment, the outcome of which is still uncertain…relying on our involvement) with what feels spiritual, optimistic and light, we truly become the creator-beings that take part in moulding our new reality. Personally, I also want to avoid looking back in years to come and having to ask myself “what was I thinking, why didn’t I speak out or do more than I did, why did I pass on such a messed-up world to my grandchildren” just because, at the time, I was way too focussed on existing in my own hard-earned, pristine little world, tucked away from all the horrors. Sometimes, as in Jonna’s case, that horror comes knocking on the door of even the most pristine, off-grid and really-not-bothering-anyone-else kind of existences and, if that happened to me, I would surely hope that others such as we are would rush to my aid. How literal could the metaphor of the feminine “goddess” energy coming under attack from the “distorted” masculine get than this video from a woman who is like the goddess personified; I can’t help seeing in this the macrocosm that, as we potentailly all rally to heal the situation, becomes a healing in a much wider sense, impacting us all.  As we all work together, fuelled by the heart, we become much bigger and more powerful than our individual selves and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if there is more to this than “just” a small local issue at stake; with Jonna cuaght at its centre, it feels way bigger than that.

So, please, watch Jonna’s heart-rending video above (and I really recommend watching the intro below first, to get the beautiful picture of the inspired life she has created). Then, please do what you can to lend support, be that signing the petition, making a donation so that it can be distributed further or doing everything you can to share her plight via social media and other channels.

If you do get a bigger picture of what her life is about and the incredible break for freedom that this lifestyle represents (which, I believe, she and others like her are making on behalf of us all, impacting far more people than just themselves), then I really recommend subscribing to this or some other lifestyle vlog that transports you to a largely unedited world that makes your heart sing in a way that feels real to you. What I love about the culture of vloging is that it has made something quite magical happen, which is that we are becoming deeply impacted by people and lifestyles that are, geographical and culturally, very far from our own. And when we start to care very deeply about these people, even entertaining that we would also like to live there or like that (which opens up our whole concept of what it means to be human, beyond boundaries, labels, ownership…); even feeling like…and this can happen…at some level “we are them”, we start to develop the collective soul of a fully healed and holistic higher-human being who deeply remembers how we are all connected, thus how what happens to one really happens to all. So we make our own hearts as big as a planet and the effects of this are exponential when it comes to transforming the outcome for this whole vast spinning orb we call home.

So, I hope, in this season of giving, that you can at least give a little time to this as it feels just so important and much bigger than the circumstances of one woman in a place we have never heard of.  We speak up for that part of ourselves that longs to live in a place that speaks to our heart, to put down roots and live there free from the threats driven by the commercial gain and power play of people living hundreds or even thousands of miles away, as we all have the absolute right to be able to aspire to. Thank you so much if you do feel able to relate enough to add your  combined heart and voice to this effort; I never felt more strongly that this is what it takes to make all the difference to our world!

Links

Jonna’s website and youtube channel

You can sign the petion on Change HERE

 


What does Jonna have to worry about? Well, the health and eco impacts of wind farms are largely shovelled out-of-the-way by the clever tactic of focussing on how we so desperately “need” these alternative energy sources; and this heavy-handed, righteous approach tips things in favour of those who stand to make vast money out of such schemes, people who have little or no concerns for the impact on the nature or people in particular places they single out for their development projects. As Jonna points out, they pick places that are away from the cities and the lifestyle that gobbles the most resources; the wind farm in question is intended to generate energy for Germany, not even for Sweden. People tend to think of wind power as such a benign thing, the very opposite to drilling for oil, like someone comes along and holds a paper windmill up in the air on a hillside and it gets blown round a few times to magically generate electricity. The reality is that these are mammoth industrial projects like any other, requiring mile upon mile of road infrastructure, towering pieces of metal and engineering as big as skyscapers (a whole forest of them, in this case) powerful floodlighting and all the becessary grid to distribute power to another location. In the places where they happen, in others words, they are far from benign or without repercusions. In many cases, putting them in the most pristine of places of all is undoing the very eco motivations they profess to be built upon and you can’t help wondering if this is just to tuck them out of sight and complaint of the urban majority; do they already know what a health risk they really are? As ever, nature and rural communities lose out.

According to one article, health issues are rife around even much smaller developments than that being proposed where Jonna lives and its not just about the land use, the loss of natural habitats or the “noise (these are bad enough!), as the effects can be much more subtle.  To quote this article on National Wind Watch

“Most of the discussions have centred on the effects of the noise made by the wind farms, and many thousands of people have reported sleep disturbances and serious health effects forcing them to leave the area they have called home. The wind turbine companies refuted, even ridiculed these complaints, and pointed out that many common sources generate noise of greater intensity. The thousands of reports from doctors dealing with people suffering stress, sudden bursts of tachycardia, and hypertension would seem to be harder to discount, but these reports have not yet been prepared as a coordinated scientifically controlled study. The turbine companies and organizations buying clusters of the turbines often have considerable power over affected communities, through agreements with local administrators and contracts with residents for use of the land. In many cases the residents of wind farms have had to sign agreements forbidding public complaints…

After looking at evidence from several seemingly disparate areas of research it seems to me that the effect of the current wind farms is not confined to the noise they make. I am convinced that the evidence suggesting tissue damage both to people and to a wide range of other species is strong enough to sound a warning of environmental damage far beyond 2 km both on land and on water…It is important then to ask the question whether vibrations can affect health. Here we can refer to a quite extensive literature on communication between creatures. These range from the simplest multicellular organisms such as Physarum polycephalum, a yeast that can at times join with its neighbours and coordinate joint behaviour by transmitting vibrations from cell to cell, to a wide range of insects that transmit information to others of their species using a range of different mechanisms. In most species the frequencies used are below 20 Hz and transmission is through solids, usually the fine stems of flowers and leaves. The vibrations produced in a plant stem by a small insect are so tiny they are undetectable without very sensitive equipment. For a small insect however they are immensely significant, sending information about potential threats, about food, and of course courtship. Most marine creatures, some of them very small, transmit information through water, also usually by low frequency vibration. All fish are very sensitive to low frequency vibrations and any angler will tell you that merely walking on the side of a lake will send most fish scurrying out of range of their net….

What is known of the effect of vibrations on people working in industry? These extensive studies report numerous serious illnesses and, yes, many deaths, mainly from unusual cancers. A particularly characteristic finding is a thickening of the fibrous sheath surrounding the heart, the pericardium. Diseases such as type I diabetes and epilepsy developing late in life were also found and unusual malignant tumours were seen in the lungs, colon and brain. Rage attacks occurred in some individuals and sudden attacks of nonconvulsive mental defects were seen. These illnesses were caused by low frequency vibrations and developed slowly over many years, with deaths usually occurring after five years of exposure. The low frequency induced disease complex is called Vibro Acoustic Disease, or VAD and is thought to be the result of disruption of the fine fibres that connect the cells of the body. This disease complex is not yet widely recognised clinically or legally and this has seriously delayed diagnosis”.

Of course, these illnesses are notoriously hard to “pin” to environmental pollutants such as wind farms, especially since the latter have money and the so-called eco imperative on their side (conveniently ignoring all the other eco effects they are having), but I know all too well, from my own experience, how low-frequency vibrations profoundly affect health as I live with the consequences every single day (see my posts on Living Whole for more on how my profound sensitivity to certain frequencies has made me so unwell for the last decade or more). My health became significantly worse after a solar energy plant was opened less than a mile away and, though it is near impossible to provide direct causal links, I know that this is somehow related.

Article quoted is by Max Whisson, MB, BS FRCPath, is a retired pathologist with a strong interest in ecological issues.

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Dissolving barbed wire

‘The global atrocity of eating animals and wearing animal skins is responsible for the mass murder of more than 150 billion innocent animals annually. If you added up all the humans who have been enslaved, and murdered since the beginning of time, you wouldn’t even approach the 1 billion mark.’

Barbed wire fenceI came across a post from Gary Yourofsky on Instagram today that compared a picture from the film The Boy With the Striped Pyjamas showing two boys, one an inmate of a concentration camp and the other an “ordinary” boy of about the same age, staring at each other across the barbed wire. For comparison below it was a picture of a dog and a cow behind a barbed wire fence almost touching noses as they stared into each others face. It could have been my dog on one of a countless number of walks where that happens as he does this a lot; I often sense he knows all too well that these creatures are not as free as he is.

I remember when I first became animal-abuse aware, like I was waking from a deep groggy sleep, shortly after turning vegetarian a few years ago (I am now vegan) and I started to notice things that went largely unacknowledged before. I was driving my daughter to school when one of those animal transporter lorries went past me on the roundabout and I was confronted with a multi-decker vehicle towering right over my windscreen, crammed full of sheep on the way to the slaughterhouse, their forlorn and terrified eyes peering out through the slats.  It was as though such proximity enabled me to feel what they were feeling because I felt suddenly sick to my stomach, in fact it was as though my knees were suddenly too weak to continue driving, my throat became so choked-up with terrible, helpless grief while my heart-felt like it might burst with the direct-hit of sudden realisation I underwent. I remember so distinctly thinking “how is this any different to the holocaust….how is the nonchalant indifference of most people, when they see these transporters and other clues as to what goes on beneath our very noses (although, have you realised yet, these transportations mostly take place at night so we don’t see them…) any different to the same indifference displayed by those who witnessed jews being rounded up and marshalled to cattle trains at the station to be taken to hellish places where they encountered unspeakable torture and mass murder.

It’s a realisation that you can never unlearn and it starts to form cracks in your entire picture of this reality that we live in, which never seems quite so benign ever again. And my stance…its not hopeless, we don’t let grief knock us to our knees or make us so fearful of our reality that our only response can be to lock all these terrors away again, putting them pristinely out of sight in our minds, to where we don’t have to deal with them any more. Rather, our most mindful and heart-directed response is to face up to them, expose them to the light; make sure we, as quickly as can be, get into to a new era where these heinous circumstances are as retrospectively unrelatable to us as what happened to the jews now is. How quickly we could do this together, with all our shoulders to the wheel; but it takes having the nerve and the degree of personal accountability in place to wake up, shake up, speak up and make these changes because they are so obviously in need of being made.

41066563350_48614f3ce5_o.jpgAnd by the way, don’t trust that just because the status quo is so very good at making us feel that these are not obvious or necessary changes to our behaviour that this is necessarily so. Such complacency can be so terrifyingly harmful; as also demonstrated by what was deemed so normal, acceptable and even morally supportable to ordinary people…family people, wives, grandparents, children…living under Hitler’s regime. We have to do our own heart-work and that means looking into all the unseen places to see how we lie with all these things. How comfortable are we, with every stage of the process of how our food reaches our plate; for instance, would we willingly spend a day walking that conveyor-belt, like we might visit a chocolate factory for our own entertainment, or is the only way we are dealing with it because we are in total denial? If you ask yourself this and find yourself recoil then thein lies your answer because do you really want any part of your psyche or, indeed, the culture to which you lend your support, to be a dark corner into which you do not dare to look; which you wall off as somehow separate and not your business, somebody else’s dirty work? These are uncomfortable lies that we tell ourselves and they are why the messenger of a plant-based alternative is so often shot in the delivery of words like mine; we make people prickle with electric ants of discomfort because we poke the most inflamed corners of their own guilty conscience or, more accurately, the loving consciousness within, which does not lie well with these harsh and uncompassionate truths underpinning the way we have set-up our current world paradigm.

It’s just one short step to the other side and, I can promise you, it feels so so much more aligned, more truthful, more light, bright and comfortable to be standing on a different reality that fully matches your heart to one that is built on a foundation of abuse, torture and bloodshed. And when you take that small step, which feels so easy (as all heart-aligned things are…) once you have made it, though it can seem  like an untraversable chasm when you are still hesitant and feeling so culturally directed on the other side, there are over 600 million vegans and vegetarians waiting to warmly greet you over here!


Yes, did you know: “There are over 600 million vegetarians and vegans in the world. That is bigger than the United States, England, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Canada, New Zealand, Israel, all put together. If they were one nation they would be bigger than the 27 nations of the European Union. They are bigger than NATO, and they are bigger than OPEC. Despite this massive demographic footprint, they are still drowned out by the raucous ‘hunt and shoot and kill’ cartels who believe that violence is the answer when it should not even be a question. But alas, we live in a world of media sound bites and tweets”. Extract from a powerful speech given by Philip Wollen to the 2018 Communities in Control Conference convened by Our Community, May 2018.

Unbreakable Bond

Unbreakable Bond, artwork by Helen White from the Not Food series.

Is it a coincidence that, the day before discovering this post at the top of my feed, I spent some considerable  time removing all the barbed wire out of one of my numerous images of cows so I could transform it into the true image that was always there just beneath, of a mother and calf; the “Unbreakable Bond”, as I have now named it. I patiently, lovingly removed all traces of barbed wire fencing and ear tags from this image before creating an artwork designed at letting them be seen for what they really are; the universal mother and child, not “meat” for somebody’s plate. As I worked on this image, I focussed all my efforts on imagining how I was dissolving all such barbed wire, all such stamps of ownership from all sentient beings, whatever their species. In fact, I worked with the intention that speciesism be exposed for what it is, alongside racism and all other such discriminations.

With bizarre yet not all that surprising synchroncity, I just realised that it was Gary Yourofsky’s speech (frequently referred to as The Most Important Speech You Will Ever Hear) that marked the switch to plant-based for me 6 years ago…I watched it late one night, tore my heart to shreds, and never again ate a morsel of meat. With goosebumps, I also realised that was exactly six years ago..to the very day. I just want to add that I somehow knew I was at the threshold of needing to make this change when I did and went in search of the kind of information that would enable me to face up to what I knew I had been hiding from all my life and Gary’s speech was it; there was no going back from it. Not for the faint-hearted but absolutely for anyone whose priority is compassion, transparency and truth.

My new and growing Not Food series of artworks is available as prints and for license purposes from www/helenwhite.uk.

 

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