This post is a long and winding road but I invite you to join me on it. Along the way, I stitch together so many observational threads about the feminine as guardian of “the long straight path” and where we are all headed in a world that is venturing beyond duality.
I realised something key about the feminine approach to “getting somewhere” recently and it all began when I went on a trip; one that I booked long before I noticed the significance of it. By chance, this trip involved basing myself in two places, one in Austria and the other in Italy, a route following the twelfth degree east longitude line, heading south; so, why so interesting? Because, as chance would have it, I went to two completely different countries along this same longitudinal line last summer. Tracing my life back about 30 years, I found I have been dotting my travel flag up and down that same geophysical line repeatedly, and with remarkable precision, making it (longitudinally speaking) my most visited destination by far, almost like I was following some sort of trail I couldn’t keep away from, or a geophysical theme I was playing with.
Maybe this was the case because (and this was a drum roll moment for me) I read earlier this year, in Carl Johan Calleman PhDs book “The Global Mind and the Rise of Civilisation”, that the twelfth degree east longitude line is where the planet’s left and right hemispheres meet; you could say the dividing line between western and eastern impulses along which the history of humanity has played out in ways that he outlines so compellingly in his book. In otherwords, this “planetary midline” can be demonstrated to have played a “driving role in history”. As he also points out in the book, that longitude closely correlates with the dividing point of the inner core of the planet’s eastern and western hemispheres, marked by a significant change of structure from highly organised crystalline shapes (west) to significantly more molten (east), as found by a group of
Cambridge scientists in 2011 (*details below). He uses this information to support his hypothesis that “the earth should be regarded as a global brain”; its problematic divisiveness something we see play out in the events, politics, economic patterns, spiritual leanings and, well yes, so many of the dualistic behaviours of this world. Indeed, Calleman chose to spend the arrival of the shift into the ninth wave on that longitudinal line “in order to have as profound an experience of this shift as possible”. The tug ‘o war that constitutes the way these two halves “meet”, much like the way our own brain hemispheres interact, is long overdue for a grand reconciliation. Since I seem to have pursued the project of healing my own left-right hemispherical rift all the years that I have been struggling with my conundrum of physical health challenges (subject of many posts), this is something that deeply fascinates me…for in our own journeys we ceaselessly find, in microcosmic form, the far broader challenges of the collective, which comes back to the idea of a global brain, to which we all contribute our unique portion.
Newly tracing that geophysical line and the part it had played in my story over the years, I found I had some of my key “explosive” moments there (for instance, right before my health, as it were, became unhinged and fell apart, I spent some memorable time staying in a hill-top village at twelve degrees east and bathing in the natural hot springs cascading out of the hills in Tuscany on that line). Other visits and synchronicities marked major moments of self-revelation or epiphany, breakthroughs, breakdowns, even the beginnings of key friendships and collaborations, flawed relationships exposed, better ones committed to. It was like tracing the path of my own personal evolution, out of which some of my most heightened moments had apparently flowed like hot lava ready to construct my reality anew. In particular, I went to these locations concertedly for many years up until 2011…and then just stopped; until the sudden urge to return there last year and particularly this. More interestingly still, I accidentally timed this recent trip to coincide with the eighth wave going into a night phase, removing the compartmentalization effect of a dualistic viewpoint (which the eighth wave is), something I wrote about recently in my post Lining up with the Eclipse. This is especially interesting because, to quote Calleman:
“When the global mind is compartmentalized (as DAYS begin) movements away from the midline are induced, separating people who move from it in different directions. When, on the other hand, it is decompartmentalized (as NIGHTS begin), the midline boundary collapses resulting in a movement toward the center abolishing previous polarity”.
So, was I feeling this so strongly that I was, as it were, tugged back to the midpoint for this trip, feeling the compunction to walk a particular “path” at a most particular time? I never discount such possibilities since they have reconciled some of the least explainable impulses of my life.
This year, my so-called “accidental” trip to the twelfth (as in, it was booked before I read Calleman’s theory or was familiar with any of his work) took me to Austria and then northern Italy, both in the Tyrol – spending time either directly on the twelfth or well within the auspices of the 2 degrees either way that Calleman allows for. One of the places I went to was a pilgrimage of sorts; it took me to the lakeside village of Pertisau and up in the mountains thereabouts (at 11.69 longitude), a place that served as inspiration for the location of a series of 58 of my very favourite childhood fiction books. The holiday had taken shape around that pilgrimage and was booked many months before I read about the twelfth degree. With that, I realised, I had been attracted to this location for far more years than I had previously accounted for…right back to when I was, what, 9 or 10 years old. Those books drew me in because of a particular way that they made me feel when I tuned into the sense of “place” they conveyed (as childhood books are so potent at doing since our instincts are wide open to them); a feeling I internalised and which stayed with me all the way into adult life, leading to this long-visualised trip, as though I had planted a red flag in the ground and said “make sure you go there”. Indeed, so much about this eleven day trip in the Tyrol felt like coming home…as it had the year before on my Scandinavian travels.
So what was it; was it something about “lines” in particular that drew me…that, as it were, attracted and compelled the female aspect in me? For this compunction and curiosity to go (not just to one destination but) where I could straddle two or more places and feel out the spaces between them felt just so “feminine” in its origin. I didn’t just want to “land” somewhere and take on its cultural trappings, seeing through tourist’s eyes; I wanted to feel it out much more broadly as one does when they approach somewhere more gradually…almost (you could say) step-by-step, feeling out and reconciling any differences. And I wanted to see it from all angles; high peak, low valley and all the spaces in between…even if this took up some of the time I could otherwise spend at a so-called destination with my feet up by a pool.
Just over a year ago I had fallen in love with another line, a route in Wales known as Sarn Helen which first attracted me as her namesake and then because of what I learned about her goddess-persona in association with deer and all the other creatures of the forest and with the idea of sovereignty, all of which is so relatable to me. We have become so mixed up in our idea of what sovereignty is, taking it in such secular terms to do with power and ownership but its truth runs much deeper and this tale from the Mabinogion (the Welsh book of legends) reminds us. Legend has it that Helen (or Elen) married a Roman Emperor called Maximus, or Macsen, who (in a wonderfully allegorical tale of how a “king”is only a true and worthy ruler when he marries “the land”, bowing to its sovereignty and vowing to respect and serve as respectful custodian of its affairs) made a pilgrimage of sorts to Wales seeking a beautiful woman who appeared in his dreams. His quest to find her (yet another long route to be travelled) and preparedness to live where she lives helps to shore-up his worthiness; a trial by effort in order to kneel before the one who lives amongst all the trappings of Nature, walking alongside the deer of the forest, to ask if she will be his bride. Once married, he offers to give Elen whatever she most desires and she asks for a network of sturdy roads to be built, making use of this distinctly Roman skill set, in order to bring her people even more closely together. Thus she has become known as Elen of the Ways…guardian of the long straight pathways…and versions of her story are known broadly across the whole of continental Europe, Scandinavia and beyond, nodding to how well-connected we truly once were.
The often disjointed remnants of Sarn Helen (sign of our times…) run through the Black Mountains and all the way north towards Snowden, where she was said to live overlooking the Isle of Angelsee. I walked parts of that ancient track on my adventures seeking waterfalls last summer; sensing, all the time, that this route was a far more ancient part of the living landscape than its supposed Roman origin suggests. We tend to regard roads as such masculine things, don’t we, especially when we think of them as having been built by Romans for marching their conquering legions up and down vast territories. Yet many of us also know, in our hearts, that these ancient tracks, and the desire to travel along them, predated those sturdy roads and that all the Romans really did, in many cases, was “shore up” what was already there using their valuable engineering skills and ingenuity; you could say, a marriage of left and right brain skills. The whole vast continent that we live on is a cobweb of ancient tracks; they cross and weave in the most beguiling and informative of ways, highlighting crossing points as places of longstanding interest. They hint at what was so important to those who travelled them and how we were once so much more collaborative and free-flowing than our modern world and its addiction to maintaining borders to keep people out suggests about who we have become. In other words, our territorial impulses are a relatively modern “male” overlay upon the human psyche…and it wasn’t always thus, suggesting we are more than capable of returning to a far more open way of being with one another…the feminine approach. I have come to think of pathways as distinctly female in their impulse, driven by an urge to draw people closer together and connect (not to dominate or pull them apart). Why some routes have thrived, others dwindled, tells us such a lot about our current world and its priorities.
I happened upon another ancient road just before this recent holiday; it’s called the Carmino de Santiago or Way of Saint James and its considered to be a pilgrimage to the Spanish destination of the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela. Again, a male (that is, a Christian “religious”) impulse has been used to overlay the “reason” for the path and yet the book that drew me to it (“Rebirth” by Kamal Ravikant – you can find my review of that on Goodreads) is an autobiographical tale of an American man of Indian roots, not a christian, who impulsively decides to walk the route after the death of his father, on the way back from a trip to disperse his father’s ashes in the Ganges. His relationship with his bullying father had been fraught with unresolved difficulties and he uses the long-steady, deeply contemplative process of the pilgrimage to, as it were, unravel his tangled head on these issues. By the journey’s completion, he has a much softer and more reconciled approach to all of that old and once painful history and is ready, at last, to reunite with the female aspect of himself (a rift played out by his bullish behaviour towards his girlfriend prior to embarking on the walk and subsequent breakdown of that relationship); a transformation marked by how he is now able to reconcile with her and to embark on a new relationship with a free-spirited woman met on the walk. You could regard this all as a parable (conscious or not) on the theme of “the healing of the relationship between masculine and feminine”; and perhaps many of those who go on pilgrimage experience their own version of such a healing. This takes the emphasis off “getting somewhere in the end” (a religious view of pilgrimage) and brings it firmly back to the potential for having a transformational experience that occurs one footstep at a time along the way.
One senses that it is the ancient nature of the route, on a pathway of such antiquity as this (putting those on it in touch with earlier, less complicated, impulses beneath the entangled surface of their present day minds) that gives it such potency. That, combined with all the diversity and challenge of its varied scenery, its undulations, the many ups and downs, the requirement to stay present and aware at every step or risk missing something significant. All of which serves to unravel the tangled ball of string that enmeshes the day-to-day preoccupations of the average person, rendering them more “whole” at its conclusion. What this pilgrimage seems to achieve, as do so many pilgrimage routes, is much more holistic in its impulse than a religious explanation might readily allow us to glean…as though its process is more about straddling and reconciling two disparate aspects of the individual (you could say one side of the track with the other…) more so than “getting somewhere” in the end. Yes, you could say, its more about the journey than the destination. In this, we have the feminine approach to pathways; they follow the line of the rift between two sides and they draw aspects from each of those views, finding things in common and reconciling them…within their own mind. There is something reminiscent of stitching about such a process…pulling the needle through one side and then the other, steadily, evenly, rhythmically. Its a process that I recognise from my own life experiences and it feels like hemispherical healing, in action.
This is what the feminine does so well…and is what, I suspect, feminine pathways (literal and in the abstract) continue to do to this day. What those of us with a strongly feminine disposition see in the corner of our eye catches our attention on such journeys and synchronicities form pathways in our own muddled attention span; imparting routes made up of significance where confusion might otherwise reign. At the same time that I happened to pick up the book about the Carmino, it kept appearing in my peripheral vision like it was demanding my attention. Various films about it repeatedly came up in my suggested viewing; these synchroncities forming their own path, telling me I needed to go somewhere along its thinking process. Then a friend came to visit me from Germany and it came up again. She lives in Leipzig…which is nail-on the twelfth longitude (interesting in itself, since Germany is the one “stretch” of the twelfth that I have not been to on continental Europe…so it was like she was bringing me the missing piece). In the preamble to her visit, she happened to mention that an ancient route joins Leipzig with Innsbruck, which is where I was about to fly to…I might want to take a look, she suggested, telling me that it crossed with another ancient route under Leipzig’s old marketplace where they are currently digging deep to make an underground station. When I did, I found this route, known as Via Imperii from its Roman days, follows the twelfth longitude all the way into Italy, to Rome, and probably beyond then extends up towards the Baltic and, again, probably beyond to what we know as Sweden where I was last summer. Its name could just as aptly be “Via Twelfth Longitude”. Then, when I studied the map, I found that the other ancient route with which it intersects to form a transcontinental cross in Leipzig is the Via Regia – an ancient extension of the Camino; I was astonished at the coincidence. The Via regia is known to be at least 2000 years old, probably considerably older, and has long been considered a cross cultural link between eastern and western Europe; so much so that it has been chosen as a symbol of European unification and was awarded “Major Cultural Route of the Council of Europe” in 2005. Are these not the kind of unification impulses I refer to above and which our world is desperately calling for us to run with at this time? Perhaps some of these most ancient pathways crystallise the impulse required for our future of unity consciousness made manifest as a practical arrangement based on openness and collaboration that serves everyone, not just a nice idea for “spiritual types”. Ironic in a world apparently fragmenting back into nationalistic impulses, there is another impulse starting to surface from beneath our very feet…and its been here before, in a time before borders.
So, what made ancient folk walk particular routes…was it “just” for trade or conquest or was it because they were far more sociable and curious about their neighbours than we give them credit for? Were they simply unable to keep still, unhindered by modern-day concepts of national identity to box them in; or were they just following the deer that led them to food? Did these routes form the basis of collaboration in a world before war or was it more of a spiritual pursuit, a one-foot-in-front-of-the-other walking meditation for people who still knew the merit of that?
In her book “If Women Rose Rooted”, Sharon Blackie talks about Elen of the Ways and she discusses the similarity between ancient pathways as orchestrated by a feminine urge and the idea of a labyrinth. I wrote about the transformative experiences I have had with the labyrinth last year, both in the context of a labyrinth on St Catherine’s Hill near Winchester, England (also an important male-meets-female node on an ancient north-south dragon line known as the Belinus Line running the length of the British Isles like a spinal column (see my post Walking the Labyrinth) and in reference to my experiences in Copenhagen, Stockholm and Amsterdam where I found the streets of these urban settings had a labyrinthine quality in the context of my quest for a far deeper, metaphysical interaction with place (see that post Graceful Journey: A Scandinavian Experience and Glass Butterflies). As I’ve already said, twists and turns, blind corners and stark contrasts in terrain, in any context, can help us to unravel our badly knotted minds. Again, through black and white masculine eyes, we tend to think of a labyrinth as a “dark, bad, scary” thing into which we plunge and get lost in confusion…but that is more to do with the very clever, left-brained idea of a maze with all its red-herrings and dead ends, all designed to confuse. By contrast, a labyrinth does not confuse…it unravels us (again, like working backwards through that tangled ball of string in order to unpick all the knots).
When we focus on one step in front of the other, and only that step (which keeps us exclusively “in the moment” of the experience), we allow ourselves to be taken to a “place” and that place is all about innate wisdom, intuition, connection with higher self. In other words, life’s muddle, its confusions, its apparent conflicts and divergent interests simply fall away and we gain the relative simplicity of the objective overview that we are meant to be the embodiment of (only we forget to be that, much of the time). We return from that experience with all-new clarity…and a labyrinthine journey, like a long pilgrimage through vastly divergent terrain (maybe mountain peaks, broad river crossings, then endless plateau…or even a complex network of streets, dark alleys, open squares, sharp corners and unexpected bridges) can provide many such moments of insight, walking us through our apparent confusion about life, to unravel it patiently, bit by steady bit. We are transformed “on the spot” of such a journey and when we look up from our feet, all seems very different though (to “logical” eyes) it may all appear to be much the same terrain as before. We KNOW that we are transformed by it…and that is all that matters; and this is what many of my travels have done for me, never more so than these most recent ones since I have come to expect the transformation rather than having it come upon me, as it were, by accident much (even years) later in my process. In other words, transformation comes quickly when you work with the potential of journeys, even relatively mundane ones, to transform you utterly and in an other-dimensional ways.
When we get down to it, our impulses as human beings are remarkably simple…we do the same things, many times over and these patterns tell us things about ourselves. When I got to Innsbruck, I visited Saint James cathedral; in fact the lovely small square outside under lamplight afforded one of the most magical moments of the holiday (I was celebrating my own landmark of sorts…an anniversary…on that day). Innsbruck has its own clues that it is also an extension route of the Carmino and many people still follow it as such, seeking the clue of the scalloped shell along a trail of alpine churches and villages throughout the Tyrol region and beyond. That cathedral and also the gates of the town are, apparently, embellished with bishops in pilgrim dress, according to various websites supporting an upsurge in popularity for the Way of Saint James. Such pilgrimages have never been more popular, according to one website – 190 million people a year world-wide, at the last count. People innately love to follow clues…a trail or a treasure-hunt of sorts. What I can’t help noticing is how we have become so reliant on
manmade clues. Somewhere along the way, we seemed to have largely stopped tuning into the more subtle clues and synchronicities that drew us along these pathways to start with; and now is the time to rediscover them since they would serve us well as a means to navigating these times. We do this when we listen to our body’s own responses to location; when we notice the subtle differences between one place and another, using our peripheral vision, spotting synchronistic occurrences, paying close attention to what draws us on, even to what repulses us so that we can question why that is and whether there is an alternative so that we no longer have to plough our way through what feels so desperately wrong (or, sometimes, we instinctively know we must embrace, not avoid, the challenge since it holds something we are looking for). It’s a combination of remembering to be more like water, finding the point of least resistance and getting into the flow whilst also going with that inner craving to climb high for no other reason than to gain the view. When instinct drives us over schedule, we reach all sorts of transformational places on our own particular journey. I have been navigating like this for years and probably all my life yet, for all too many, its a forgotten skill-set and the more we assimilate one place to another, laying on all the usual trappings of the familiar modern world so that all places start to look near-identical, offering all the same conveniences and branding, the more we lose access to the subtle layer of clues that tell us far more important things. What those more subtle signs tell us is becoming more important to us by the day…for they are our mislaid intuition about our relationship with Mother Earth, on whose say-so we are allowed to exist on this planet at all (remembering, like Maximus, that we are caretakers of the garden, not owners of it…)
When we got to the Italian Tyrol, travelling a motorway route through the Brenner Pass with its dramatic sheer edges with the remnants of castles overlooking it and just so beautiful when you kept your eye higher than the road yet beset with such gridlock traffic that it took double time to get there, I truly felt the contrast of the softer spot where we were staying in Naturno (or Naturns). Our vegan, eco hotel was such a gentle sanctuary; so feminine in its impulses (even the playful sparrows that endlessly flitted around our table at meals day after day, we noticed, were all female) that it felt like being on retreat.
For a week, we were surrounded with the soft curve of lush green mountains, distinctly feminine in their roundness like they had been drawn by a child with an idea of where fairy-folk lived…yet our “spot” was focused upon water and we spent our afternoons gazing at waterlilies in a natural swimming pond that always seemed to be bathed in soft amber light until the magical moon orbs of its lighting took it over by evening. My mind kept drawing back to Wales, to a particular amber-coloured pool beneath a sacred feminine waterfall (the Lady Falls) where I found myself daydreaming about swimming right under those falls, though I only dared to wade as far as it took to sit on a rock with my feet in water and gaze at her long “hair” tumbling down from the high ledge above. The potent memory of that visit and the feelings it stirred up has stayed with me ever since (I shared about it in my post The Lady Falls…and then she stands back up again and I subsequently painted it). That waterfall was on Elen’s way…and now I was here, sat next to another nature pool and, yes, this time I got in, though the water was quite freezing, so I could swim shoulder to shoulder with water lilies and dragonflies and look up at the embrace of the full circle of towering mountains in order to see them a whole different way; from, as it were, ground level and I never felt more protected or at ease with my situation.
For everything about this trip had shown me something and it was that while I was in a ring of mountains, nothing about the masculine felt so abrasive; rather, the male and female came together as one, their agenda the same. From the moment I arrived in Innsbruck, the week before, and discovered that, for the first time in two years, I could hold an iPad and use it for half an hour to research where we were going without terrible nerve pains sending shocks up my arm and into my head, also that I could sleep in a hotel with 24/7 wi-fi, I began to realise something about mountains and their crystalline innards. They somehow made it easier to cope with the abrasion of modern technology; they literally seem to transform it or at least absorb it so that I didn’t have to (or this was the theory that seemed most instinctive to me). By the end of eleven days in mountains, I was under no doubt that mountains mitigate the most abrasive energies of our super-wired world with its perpetually wired people (Innsbruck was just the same as any European city in that respect…yet it felt so different to all those I have been to recently). When I got back to London, that electro-sensitivity returned with a vengeance and has remained ever since…so where oh where were my mountains now? I am left wondering where I need to be living to regain the sense of balance that feels swept from under my feet where I currently live and yet why should I have to move from my home; when did living where we choose become so conditional upon our ability to cope with a tidal wave of manmade stressors arriving faster than we can find out about the potential health risks? At least I now know that there are places I can be more comfortable.
When we lost touch with the land, we lost our instincts about these very basic things which tells us how and why the effects of living in one terrain is quite different to living in another; information that we need now, more than ever before. To keep going along this technological trajectory that we are so fixated on (and I enjoy its benefits as much as the next person) we need to remember this knowledge we once had and get back in touch with it; and we need to adapt to the earth, not try to force it to adapt to us, assuming we can install all the same “conveniences” wherever we happen to be without considering first the impact. As an article I read recently (For More resilient Cities, Stop Trying to Conquor Nature) reminded me “when we work against nature we only work against ourselves”. Elen and her spouse knew this…so when did we all forget that the earth is still sovereign (as are we…but only when we work with her)?
There was something I particularly wanted to see in Naturno and it was a tiny and very ancient church, viewable from my balcony, with an intriguing mural on its wall depicting Saint Proculus, to whom it is dedicated, sitting smiling on a swing of sorts that is apparently being lowered over a ledge from a kind-of window. This image has had academics scratching their heads and hypothesising for years but I went with an open mind, only to be utterly charmed by this little church and its inside and out of brightly coloured frescos.
Dated at around 630AD, it is considered to be one of the earliest Christian churches in Europe, with the most ancient frescos in the German speaking region and built on a pre-existing pagan site. Even the adjacent museum across the way was a draw…for there on its wall, as I descended a staircase to the main exhibits, were several references to another ancient route, the Via Augusta, that passed this way through the mountains; an alternative mountain pass to the Brenner and now, its seems, reduced to little more than a popular cycle route though it was once a main crossing point. Everything about Naturno; the mixture of cultural styles incorporated in this little church, for instance, suggests a cultural meeting point of travellers from all four directions. What little I could find about the Via Augusta also celebrated it as an “avenue of communication and cultural exchange connecting northern Europe with the Mediterranean and beyond” in its day. Even now, Naturno was a bizarre mixture of Italian and German speaking influences, like it had never settled down into one fixed cultural identity. All of this felt like a clue that I was staying on the feminine aspect of a dragon line; one of those male and female paired serpent routes that (like the Belinus line in England) “walk together” in some places and pull apart in others. Here, (having pulled asunder at Augsburg in the north) the male line seemed to have chosen the Brenner route through the mountains (now beset with roadworks, traffic jams, toll booths, villages bisected by the road and endless satellite aerials competing with church towers) and the much diminished female current seemed to continue flowing here in this gentle place adorned with so many feminine clues, not least the super-feminine vibe I was tuning into. Those two routes join back together again at Bolzano to the south. So what determined their impulse to choose divergent routes through the mountains?
Where the feminine is, especially in an ancient sacred spot such as this, a natural spring is never far away and I kept gazing up from that church wondering “but where is it?”. Near an English church built on an ancient pagan site with a mount or on naturally raised ground, I would expect to find a nearby well or a tiny stream…something implying the presence of water just beyond the churchyard, playing out the almost forgotten symbolism of “masculine meets feminine”. A walk later that week confirmed my instinct. High up on the mountain ledge of the Texelgruppe Nature Park, having got up there by one of the gondola cable cars (which, by then, I had become addicted to over the course of a week…for all that I am usually pretty challenged by heights and, especially, drops) and having walked long and energetically in the heat along a rugged uphill route, we reached an obvious turning around point. Suddenly, I was forging ahead anyway, leaving my companions way behind, as though I knew I was about to get to something important beyond that bend…and there glistening in sunlight was a small waterfall springing out of the mountain and playing over the most sparkling silver-foiled rocks; tumbling directly over a view of the roof of Saint Proculus far-far down below. As I stood astride it and took a cupped hand full of the water, I truly felt like I had found my particular “point” on the twelfth longitude; the place where my own particular meeting point of masculine and feminine occurred since a combination of both left-brained ingenuity (the cable car) and an instinct to walk where I did at the top had brought me to this. It was as though something clicked into place for me there, that day…a finale of sorts and I was all smiles as I returned to the cable car.
Because I had been led to this “heightened” experience via a new-found love of those high-wire mechanical contraptions that are dotted all over the alpine region and which, just one week earlier, I still regarded with a fair amount of trepidation. All my life, I had looked up at high points, especially at mountain peaks, longing to be on top of them to gain the most expansive view…except for one small hitch; I strongly dislike climbing or scrambling on rocks or uneven, slippery and precarious surfaces of any kind. I particularly dislike the feeling of a sheer-drop in a situation where I’m not attached to a solid building (so I can forget about fairground rides). Give me an elevator or a rooftop and I am fine; but a rugged mountain path with unpredictable edges is another matter. I repeatedly tried to overcome this in my youth but the outcomes were never very happy; instead, I became envious of those who just do all these things; climbing, paragliding, skiing holidays, though I never really wanted to do them as such…I just wanted to be at the top or, you could say, to start at the top and take it from there. There was even a well-schooled level of my psyche where I told myself I didn’t deserve to have the experiences I craved because I wasn’t prepared to “conquer” the hardships with my physical prowess and sheer determination to overcome fear (the masculine spin that has been given to so many of the things we do and why/how we “ought” to do them). Yet a deep-seated female stubbornness in me reacted to the living metaphor that this situation seemed to be for an old-style belief system that states that only those who pursue the masculine path deserve to reach the very top in life and I have long refused to have anything to do with that. In other words, I had long-ago opted out and must do without my views (my version of entrenchment in a belief; I had chosen the feminine way over the masculine)…or so I thought.
This holiday provided a solution and it was where masculine met feminine in what, for me, was a most transformational union of both. In the form of the wonderful piece of left-brained ingenuity that is a cable car, I found the solution…a mechanical contraption that would take me quickly up thousands of feet to the highest peaks and safely back down again when I had had my fill of walking at the top and looking at the view. From the very moment I stepped into my first cable car north of Innsbruck, I was hooked…and what surprised me was how it was the downward journey that had me grinning from ear to ear. While other passengers stared nervously at their feet, I would dash on board and rush to the very front in order to secure that near-as-dammit feeling of jumping, or gliding, off the edge like a bird of prey and it was exhilarating, it fed my dreams, it was an oddly familiar feeling like something dredged up from another lifetime and which, now awakened, remains part of me to this day. I would just have to close my eyes lying in my bed hours later and could feel myself free-gliding across valleys, as light as air with that bird’s eye view. It was all I ever wanted; and it opened up all those high peaks to me for the first time in my life.
In light of this twist in my story, I was able to gain the overview of my lifelong phobia, no longer making it wrong to choose my particular way. I now knew it to be rooted in the fact that I try to make balancing and spacial awareness “mental” and “logical” to over-compensate for the fact that, to me, dealing with gravity has never felt like the instinctive thing that it is for many others. This tied in with what I have recently come to know about vata-types like me (that is, those whose constitution is, according to Ayurveda, all about air and space). In our human form, I suspect we vatas remain so cognizant of all our other manifestations beyond three-dimensions that we still remember we can fly, that our thoughts can take us anywhere, that we are as fast and light as the wind. Spacial reality, therefore, leaves us bewildered and a little clueless for much of our lives; we find it slow, clumsy and frustrating. Have you ever watched someone climbing a rock face as I did on holiday? It takes so long and has so many set-backs; to me, there seems to be no joy in something so slow and arduous (though I respect the point of view of those who beg to differ); I just want the journey to be light and airy. As a result of this non-compute it is us who, all too often, seem to be the slow and clumsy ones; we struggle to do sport or even to walk in a straight line…and its because we are just not all that adept at being in a human body, coordinating one leg in front of the other. It can make us seem weak and feeble and we often struggle with “health issues” or even staying grounded in a body at all. This had been me all my life…always feeling like I missed out on half of what life has to offer (those views); yet here was my answer and it happened when a left-brained “idea” met “inspiration”. This is what hemispherical union looks like in our world; it entices and makes real the most divine aspirations we possess as human beings, bringing them down into physical reality as they partner with practical solutions that meet what we long to achieve with our hearts. This is what we have at our fingertips when divine feminine meets the divine aspect of masculine. It reminds me that technology does not always have to be in opposition to nature…just as long as we keep Nature in the picture.
My experiences with the cable car reminded me that we don’t push back against fear to conquer it, like we would if we were engaging in a conflict with it…rather, we override it, gliding overhead, like riding a high wire straight to our highest joy and getting there in next to no time. We don’t need to pain over the obstacles when we focus on the highest truth we know to be waiting for us in that far more unlimited place that has always drawn our the attention of our higher eye; we can get there so much more swiftly and with ease when we don’t stumble over gaining each foothold, our nose pressed against the hard rock of so-called “circumstance”. What’s more, I realised I had been doing this already for the past eleven years…each and every day I woke up in pain and yet fixated on a more ideal reality rather than the minutiae of my so-called dire situation. This was starting to feel like what non-duality might look like, in action.
So it was that when I looked at the image of Saint Proculus on the walls of that church, having been on cable cars a handful of times by then, I felt I knew at once what I was looking at though I’m not sure anyone else would agree with my audacious theory. Proculus, as far as they know anything much about him, had fled persecution in Verona to come to these mountains, presumably finding “his special spot” here too. So, why wouldn’t he look up at those high peaks and, like me, think to himself “I want to know what it feels like to be up there, defying gravity, flying like a bird”; and why wouldn’t he say to his baffled-looking peers “strap me onto this seat-thing and hang me over the edge so I can find that out”? A seventh century cable car or ski-lift, of sorts, is what I see when I look at the clue in the artwork…and it makes me smile whether I really believe it or not. I like to imagine that I share Proculus’ exhilaration at reaching a place that brought him out of the darkness of his earlier experiences and into a high place with such a view and a gravity-defying sense of liberation.
When it comes to having lost the over-view, when did we lose our way? Perhaps when we prioritised the most direct and the fastest ways; the most economical, impressive, bullish, hard-lined and non-negotiable steps forwards. So why was it that the Brenner Pass, with its toll booths and endless traffic jam felt more abrasive and really rather lacking compared with the gentle ease of the week I had just spent wandering my way less purposefully on top of mountains of soft velvet green. True, the slowness of the traffic on that road had afforded me ample opportunity to take dozens of photographs (I thank it for that) but such bumper-to-bumper slowness wasn’t what the road was meant to be about, as the miserable faces of all the people we met queueing for facilities at the services confirmed to me. As a photographer in no hurry, I found my own perfection in the way it turned out; after all, when you no longer live life in such a hurry, a few hours spent in transit is just another opportunity for life to surprise you with its gifts. However, though the views were spectacular, I kept noticing communities bisected by that road; churches left isolated right next to the crash barriers where the road had cut through and I could only imagine the traffic noise for residents (we are bisected by an increasingly busy, noisy and fumey trunk road where I live in what used to be a quiet village, in spite of residents’ protests, so I know how that feels). On the way home, we were forced to leave before sunrise for our late-morning flight to ensure we would get to the airport on time though the drive was only supposed to take two hours so, you could say, the masculine route wasn’t working so well. It was as though the feminine was having the last laugh on this road as we drove along slowly enjoying the view; as, perhaps, she is having about many such roads the world over where traffic has become snail-like in spite of every effort to make them faster, slicker, more direct. A meet-in-the-middle compromise is needed here just as it is in every other walk of life; we need to look at where we are going and why, how we are travelling there and how fast we expect to go…not to mention the dire impact on each other and on Mother Earth when all we really care about is speed and convenience. Like in all these things, a more balanced set of priorities would serve us better.
I like to think I spent my week in Naturno tuning into another way, a softer way that once ambled through the mountains at a pace that was equally unhurried; prepared to take in the high points as well as the low. Between the contrasting experiences, it felt like I had tuned into a twelfth longitude kind-of impulse, straddling high peak and valley, and both straight and winding routes.
The most direct route, in its most modern sense, can miss so much; yet Elen reminds us that the long-straight route is of benefit to us, joining us all closer together. Maybe that long-straight quality of old is more metaphorical than literal; referring to the kind of route that is a balancing process that takes in “both sides” fairly, affording them both equal attention and finding things in common between them. After all, as soon as we take more from one side of a line than another, our line becomes a curve so we are forced to be even-handed to retain the straightness of it. I notice how this is how I have come to live my life in recent years; for every inspired creative urge I follow, I contribute its equal in rational thought…for every practical step I take with my health I add its fair share of the mindfulness that leads to broadest wellbeing since it reminds me that I am already healed and whole. When I wake up in the morning, it’s as though I stitch myself back into human form by taking positive, practical steps to ground into physicality. I refered above to the feminine being so adept at this “stitching” process, drawing together aspects of each side of the hemispherical track. The modern-day analogy you could use is of a long-straight zip fastener. If you have ever looked closely at a zip, it is made up of tiny hooks like miniature hands and the zip pulls them together in pairs so that they hold onto each other, joining in the middle. We are that zip-puller; we make it happen.
The twelfth longitude as some sort of “zip” in the global mind may sound like nothing more than an abstract concept yet that geophysical line births so many real-life consequences…the kind we can see play out. Just think about the global kind of consequences born out of places such as Rome and Berlin, both past and present. In recent history, recall what stark divisiveness Berlin has seen play out, manifested as a literal concrete wall segregating east from west. It took a busy kind of feminine impulse buzzing into that particular era of history and, like bees, making honey in the mortar (you will need to cross-reference to my post Walls of Honey to grasp the allusion I make), softening and lightening that intractable symbol of separation from the inside, for the wall to come tumbling down. That was at the very start of the eighth wave’s influence coming in; the birth of a new feminine era. Now we are well into the ninth wave; so how does that play out where divisiveness still wants to happen? Are we prepared to be the makers of its honey when we encounter this kind of impulse still happening in our world?
Already, I tend to look back at my week in Naturno as a hallowed retreat from the “real world”; a sort of honeyed escape from it all. Is that the so-called problem with the feminine approach…it just doesn’t feel “real” enough to provide practical solutions for our world? Do we still think that feminine impulses are more to do with our extra-curricular pursuits, our holidays or weekend get-aways, our spiritual time; things that hold no practical sway on real-life situations? All too many people seem to spend their time divided between stress and retreats from stress (or stress and times of health crash; days off spent under a duvet hiding from the world); we have yet to perfect the art of mixing it all up into one big picture. Its time to make the feminine perspective just as real and practically applicable as the many gifts brought to the table by the masculine.
I’m seeing that bigger picture clearer than before my trip. The Brenner Pass had got me to my destination, several cable cars had got me to the top of numerous mountains and I admit to welcoming mobile technology back into my hands like an old friend as soon as I found I could use it without it without the usual headaches. Digital technology was born out of a yin-yang marriage; a female urge to bring people closer together combined with the technical solution that made that a reality. How many of us now have friends dotted all over the world (like my German friend, who I would never have met without the Internet). I celebrate that I am, in this moment, sipping wonderful tea discovered on my Italian holiday yet made in Germany and delivered here straight to my UK door. I envision a world where roads like the Brenner Pass continue to deliver people from one country to another with nothing more heavy-handed than a toll booth at its border. There is so much that is wonderful about our modern world…we just need to straighten up its line a bit.
It’s sad that so many of us only seem to experience peaks of stress and worry rather than the kind of peak moments that make us feel more connected to the earth or with our very reason for being here. The long-straight routes that we tend to know best are the short-cuts and the rush to grab what we want without thinking through the broader consequences. We reap the consequences in our health, our damaged eco-system and our nagging sense of disconnect from the planet…and each other.
Yet, though we all carry memory of trauma in our DNA, we harbour other memories too; including recollection of times when we walked expansively, openly, without borders to keep us separate. Ancient journeys are literally built into our DNA and we awaken them when we travel mindfully, allowing them to surface.
Memory of tectonic collision is held in every rock where mountains peak yet they also have far more uplifting things to share; after all, we don’t go to mountains to harp on about age-old trauma, do we? Their constant patterns of light and shadow are a reminder that we can be both of those things at the same time, without contradiction. These patterns change so quickly against the sides of mountains that it is hard to keep up with a camera; yet they are staggeringly beautiful and quite mesmerising to behold. If we could only remember to be so transient, so fluid, so easily forgiving of what has now passed by…whatever head-on collisions we may still hold memory of deep down…how quickly could we recover from eons of repeat trauma; in fact, those cycles of endlessly repeated behaviour could cease. The mountains that I watched so closely on this trip defied their own solidity by presenting themselves as beings of light, of ethereal mystery and by disappearing altogether in great banks of cloud only to reappear dressed in very different hues moments later. They show us how to learn new rhythms and behaviours beyond the hard-lined belief systems of the past.
Right now we are entering into a “dark” time; in the sense that the eighth wave is going into a night phase (along with all the previous waves of our evolution which are already into their “nights”) leaving the ninth wave as the only one that intermittently swings in and out of a “day phase” every eighteen days. For more on this, you can read Calleman’s latest article here (also listed below). Thinking about this is enough to make you feel you have to gird your loins in readiness for extraordinarily tough times ahead (and we could say that we are already noticing signs of this all over the news) and yet….what can we really say we know for sure about the times ahead when the whole point is we have never been there before; it’s a whole new paradigm. What this phase also means is that we are heading out of the influence of duality for a time (since, whilst the eighth wave marks the return of the feminine, it is also a dualistic wave). The ninth wave is also a far (far far…) faster oscillating wave than we have ever experienced before; I can’t help thinking back to those beguiling patterns of light and dark speeding past against the blank canvas of white mountains again. Perhaps the only thing we can expect is to “move” far more quickly in and out of the rhythms and preoccupations of our lives as we atune to this new wave. This is set to make for a far faster evolving “picture” of reality than we have ever seen take shape before (and without the influence of duality); and there’s a level where this is, surely, just as exciting as it is somewhat unnerving. A bit like launching off the edge of a mountain, you could say…not knowing if you will crash or glide.
What could the absence of duality mean to our world, even in a so-called “dark” time? None of us know for sure. One thing the feminine is all about is that we deeply understand how some things can be seen more clearly in the dark; for we are used to finding ourselves there. In that fecund darkness, we have learned how to dive upon the pearls that we forgot we had ever left behind in there and, in doing so, we somehow always manage to seed our next level of transformation. All those women who have ever broken down into tiny fragments, tumbling into the peaty earth like they were lost forever, only to return from the darkness transformed beyond explanation (and I am one of them) will tell you all about the dark place. Its rich chocolaty soil is the bed in which our best seed took root; many of us were reborn there and came back stronger than ever. The key is not to fear it but to seek its clarity and its opportunities. Many of us have multiple lifetimes’ experience of doing this and we are remembering that a little more each day. Perhaps that’s where we are all at, together…taking a plunge into the unknown darkness only to rediscover who we really are down there, ready to come back feeling more complete than ever before. In times like these, it is near impossible to fixate on a particular destination yet our ability to place one foot in front of the other…calmly and without fear…is our gift and will hold us in good stead. It’s a skill we learned in the long dark labyrinth of being a female in unfavourable times; where all we could look at was our feet and the immediate view to the left and right of us. In that place, we remained whole by focusing on what was similar, not disparate, about those sides of our experience, stitching them together as ourselves. Our special skill of unity-wisdom is called for now; for we are the keepers of the long straight path every bit as much as was Elen of the Ways, who kept the remembrance of this safe for us, wrapped up in the forest green cloak of her particular archetype.
Though we don’t know what is coming, we can each play our individual part through the attitudes we adopt and by putting our effort into the “one foot in front of the other” walking meditations that we make of our lives; by which I mean we live consciously, doing what we can to bring our lives into balance. I honestly believe that fear will not serve us; in fact it will tug us down to the depths of previous waves as a manifestation of how much we remain triggered by those same old themes. Instead, why not focus on all the little bursts of beauty around us, like you might on a literal walk as your eye is caught by wild flowers under a hedgerow or the fall of light on a rock (there is much to be learned from the skill-set of steady walking in Nature). Life is full of beauty in all the most unexpected places when we remain open to it; and when we appreciate that we make even more of it appear. When all of life becomes as conscious as a step-by-step walk that keeps us tuned into our highest potential in every moment, adapting and responding to things as they unfold without hard-line opinions and beliefs to keep us blinkered, meanwhile remaining open to seeing beauty and potential on both sides of every situation, we start to unravel all the knots of the past. Life becomes a living pilgrimage of sorts…and the only destination, such as there is one, is to make our world a more sociable, collaborative, trusting, adventurous, life-affirming, peaceful and creative place, all on a scale never seen before. Also one in which an attitude of respectful custodionship is combined with the very best aspects of human drive and innovation, making for a holistic (non-dualistic) way of living together on this planet. I like to envision us getting on track for all that pretty soon.
* Waszek and deuss, “Distinct Layering in the Hemispherical Siesmic Velocity Structure of Earth’s Upper Inner Core” 2011 (as referenced by Carl John Calleman in “The Rise of Civilization and the Global Mind”)
“The rise of Civilization and the Global Mind” – Carl Johan Calleman PhD
“If Women Rose Rooted” – Sharon Blackie
“Finding Elen: The Quest for Elen of the Ways” – Caroline Wise
“The Nine Waves of Creation” – Carl Johan Calleman PhD
“Rebirth: A Fable of Love, Forgiveness and Following Your Heart” – Kamal Ravikant
“Disasters and Non-duality –The Consequences of the Eighth Wave going into a NIGHT on September 27, 2017” – Prof Carl Johan Calleman
All photography Copyright Helen White 2017