Friday, August 31, 2018

It Begins with a Call: Wrestling the Snake, Carrying the Fire (Part 14)

I begin morning pages with my curiosity about the surfacing of Hygeia.  Here is what comes out of my pen:
            You are coming to terms with illness, aging and death because these are the things that can stand in the way of the work.  Legitimately.  You will not be able to do as much as when you were younger, and you’ll need to accept it.  This is the snake you are wrestling with.  You must feed it and get a handle on it or it will bite you and control you, driving you into fear.  And in fear nothing good happens except for heightened senses and the need to run.  From this, though, you will have no escape.  This is a huge piece of work that cannot be done in (healthy) youth.

Here is what I am coming to: the knowledge that when fear arises, as it will since it is my habitual tendency, there is a deep core of myself, where my soul resides, that I can deepen into.  I can breathe, lower my shoulders, and be kind to myself.  I do not need to victimize myself with my fears or catastrophize.

I go to a writing workshop with my teacher.  She drums, and we write what arises in us.

What the Drum Calls Forth

Fire voice rising
Fire voice rising up
Dance dance
dance the fire.
Twice, three times every night
Fire rises up and you
rush to quench it, damp it down.
Why do you think it comes to you?
It comes to be danced.
It comes to be honored.
It comes, and where does it come from?
From Spirit, or the root of the body?
From theories or heart song?
From the core of being?

There is no respect for fire.
There is no respect for water.
There is no respect for air.
There is no respect for earth.

But you,
you have the gift of fire,
of fire voice rising up,
of the power of the fire dance.
The flame, the eternal one that burns
in the deep heart’s core,
you cannot ignore it for anything else.
You cannot contain it if
you cannot respect it.
Your fingertips burn,
your face turns red,
your world burns, and you
have yet to own it.

The voice of fire says –
Take me!  Take me!
You know I am yours.
Why do you turn away?
Why do you deny me,
forsake me, let me run out
of control in the winds?
Because the winds are in collusion.
The water is in collusion.
The earth, the earth lies down
before it.
Deny me – fire says –
and your life is a travesty.
Why do you think you are here?
You are here to ignite the world.

Your longing for water is not contrary.
Your love of water, of sky, of trees,
of hummingbirds at the red feeder are not
a rebuttal.
The facet you polish brightens the
whole jewel.
Now, now do you know
why you are here?

The teacher says it is hard and it is interesting to carry something.  If you are willing to carry it, everything changes.  It is not to be healed, but to be carried.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

It Begins with a Call: An Old Story of Suffering and Healing (Part 13)

Speaking of wisdom figures and guides…  This is an old story of suffering and healing.

My second pregnancy did not begin well.  I was attending a dance class at my teacher’s home studio.  Her daughter came down with the German measles, and so I was exposed to a disease, which if caught, could cause my baby to be injured or deformed.  Just when it seemed that I had overcome that hurdle, before Christmas, at four months along, I went for a checkup and my doctor could not detect the baby’s heartbeat.  He expected me to miscarry, but when I didn’t, he decided I needed to have a D&C to remove the fetus.

I was awake in the operating room.  They gave me local anesthesia, but it didn’t take.  I felt every horrific scrape.  It was torture.  They recommended that I take Demerol, but I’d had Demerol when I was in a difficult labor with my son; not only had it not helped with the pain, but I had felt unable to cope because I was doped up.  So I kept refusing, but finally the pain was too much for me, and I gave in.  Thankfully, it worked for me this time.

I don’t know whether the child was a girl or a boy.  They told me they couldn’t tell.  I’m not sure if I remember them saying this or if I’ve assumed it, but there was something about it being pulled out in pieces. (Sorry for the gory details.)

I grieved for that child.  It was a hard Christmas that year, and I was grateful for my two-year-old.  Before New Year’s, I went with some friends to Wilbur Hot Springs to work on healing myself.  Barry stayed home with our son.  It was the right thing to do, the right place to be, in those healing sulfur waters, in nature, in the peace and quiet.  I took care of myself.  I rested.  It was at Wilbur that the thought arose that I should go get a psychic reading with Pam Neal, and maybe take her class.  My friend Janis was studying with her and thought a lot of her.  I had never, until now, been motivated to see Pam.  Suddenly, I knew that this was my next step.

This kind of unexpected inspiration has aways been significant for me, an impulse to act that arises seemingly from out of the blue.  I have learned to listen to those because the messages are always strong and clear, and these flashes don’t come often.

So, I came to my next teacher, whose influence on me was profound and lasting.  It was a big commitment, driving up to Napa from the peninsula once or twice a week.  Pam eventually moved away, and we eventually lost touch.  I know that she died young, and that saddens me still.  I am so grateful to her.  She taught me all I know about energy, about grounding, about intuition.  She helped me heal myself, and she helped me go forward.

My SoulCollage® card for Pam

This is a story of suffering and healing.  The attending grief?  It diminishes, but it never fully leaves. Many women have stories like this.  After you have a miscarriage, you begin to hear them.  

But it took me to my next important teacher and guide.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

It Begins with a Call: A Vision of Athena and Hygeia (Part 12)

Athena is still around. 

I close my eyes and picture the sacred spring at Panther Meadow on Mt. Shasta, a place that is sacred to me. From there, I see myself ascend to the top of a mountain where I find a fire outside a cave.  I sit down alongside the fire and wait, knowing that I need permission to enter the cave.  Athena arrives and takes me inside and Hygeia is there.  She is beautiful but does not look like Klimt’s version of her, although She tells me She likes the way he portrayed Her.  Here She is dressed simply and has a long, dark braid hanging down Her back.  She feeds me a syrup made from elder flowers and berries, thyme, and snake venom.

My Hygeia SoulCollage® card

Athena lays me down and kisses my forehead.  The kiss sends a jolt of energy running through me.  She speaks about my being (or needing to be) a warrior.  Not one who fights literal battles, but one whose work is protecting and defending the children and myself.  She tells me that I am to be a healer, but not a physical healer.  My work is not hands-on healing of the body.  She instructs me to say three times, “I accept Athena Hygeneia,” which I do (I have not seen the name Hygeneia anywhere).

Athena tells me to go to the teacher’s next healers’ intensive, not to either start or finish a process, but to “ripen” one.  She tells me this will be made clear if I pay attention, and that intellectual information will be given to me in my dreams.  She says that snakes are important; they are meant to scare.  My work is about healing fear.

Well, fear is one thing I’m certainly familiar with.  I remember the appearance of a large snake the last time I was at the teacher’s.

I have never felt either attracted to or fascinated by snakes.  Maybe this will change.  Both Athena and Hygeia handle snakes.

Hygeia wields her snake
            with confidence and skill.
She is beautiful and proud,
            and I wonder
what She might be
            to me.  I wonder,
what are Her stories?

The snake amulet came to me
            with a reading about shedding fear.
Hygeia knows about this,
            the way the Cretan snake goddesses -
Ixchel, Kali, and the Rainbow Serpent -
            all embody and brandish snake power
without fear.
            They let me know
I have much to learn.

I remember the teacher once saying that Spirit will not necessarily come to you in the way you want or expect.  Maybe all my whining and complaining about not feeling connected to Spirit is because I haven’t recognized how Spirit communication and, really, communion happen.  I get guidance when consulting my SoulCollage® cards, especially the one I call Wisdom Keeper.  She became my guide at age 65, for the years from ages 65 to 70.  She answers my questions when I write in the mornings, and never fails me.  But sometimes I discount her advice because it comes through the voice in my own head; the words come pouring out of my pen onto paper.  I think, “Well, it’s just my own voice.” But what if it is the way Spirit communicates to me, and I have just been discounting it?

Wisdom Keeper

I also wondered whether this focus on Athena and Hygeia was insulting to Persephone, to whom I feel allegiance, so I asked Her.  She said, “Oh, dear heart, expand your repertoire.  And your council.”

I like this idea, of having a council of goddesses and wisdom figures to be my guides.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

It Begins with a Call: Psyche's Story (Part 11)

Psyche’s story calls me once again.  Like her, like everyone, I have been given challenges. Which of Psyche's challenges occupies me now?  They all resonate, but the one that leaps out at me is her needing to seek the golden fleece.  Looking for the gold, to me, is finding the soul’s calling, what Seena Frost in my beloved SoulCollage® process calls “Soul Essence,” which I like to think of as how Spirit comes through the individual.  The psychic told me that I need to see beyond the obstacles and to cleanse myself of collective and astral energies I’ve taken in.  A good friend confirmed that she definitely sees me as empathic.  I’m looking at that.  I know I have taken on emotions that are not mine.

My Soul Essence card

Back to the cardiologist.  I dreaded seeing this guy because I’d seen one some years back who berated me for not being on statins (even after I had been on them and started developing neuropathy from them), who didn’t believe in CoQ10 supplementation (although everything I read said anyone on statins REALLY needs them).  When my tests back then all came back normal, I didn’t go see him again, or feel the need to see another cardio doc.  But now there is a reason to check things out. 

This new one was a pleasant surprise, soft-spoken, low-key, kind.  A mature African-American man who did not alarm me, but wanted to do some tests and who recommended a new non-statin drug for my familial hypercholesterolemia.  I liked him.  His tests all, thankfully, came back normal.  The new drug doesn’t appear to have side effects.  He explained all of the results and why I was getting the palpitations.  Then he told me that a new doctor was joining his practice, a specialist in lipid issues, and he wanted me to see him after I’d been on the drug for a while.

Several months later I went in to see the new specialist.  I was surprised to see a man close to my age, having expected for some reason that the “new” expert would be young.  He expressed deep concern for my health and really wanted me on a statin, even though my LDLs had dropped 130 points on the new drug.  Not enough, according to him.  He also wanted me to get a heart scan to see what damage had already occurred to my arteries, and he told me to take a daily low-dose aspirin.  He refuted everything I brought up from my own research; after all, he was the expert and knew all the data.  And his research pointed to my demise by stroke or heart attack unless there was serious intervention.  Finally, he cut me off saying he had no more time.

I left in a daze.  Walking to my car, I felt like a ticking time bomb.  I was overwhelmed and terrified.

I investigated getting the heart scan.  I took the daily baby aspirin.  I didn’t want to go back on statins again – I didn’t trust them or the pharmaceutical industry that make them such big business.  I’d been so proud of being in my sixties and not being on any pharmaceuticals.  Now, I was on two, with them wanting me on a third.

My acupuncturist and friend’s response was clear.  “Any time you leave a doctor in that much fear,” she said, “it’s not the right doctor for you.”

I agreed, but could not shake off the fear.  I understood that the cardiologist intended to get me to conform to his program by scaring me into agreeing.

A week and a half after beginning the daily aspirin I began getting large, ugly bruises for no apparent reason.  I went to see my primary care doc.  I told her about the baby aspirin and about my experience with the cardiologist.  She thought the bruising could be from the aspirin, but to be safe had me get a bunch of blood tests.  She had heard other complaints about this lipid specialist’s bedside manner.  The test results were normal.  I stopped the aspirin.  The bruising stopped.

I investigated the heart scan, but after a lot of back-and-forth, it turned out that my insurance wouldn’t cover it.  Considering that it would cost me $700 and shoot me full of radiation, I declined.  Plus, all they would do if the results came in as problematic would be to stuff me full of more statins.  No thanks.  So far, nothing recommended was panning out.

I decided to fire the second cardiologist.  I broke my scheduled appointment with him and made one with the first guy.  Dropping my fear and anger has not been easy.  I’ve processed, meditated, started an EFT/tapping practice, and still have felt distressed.  Really, wasn’t this worse for my heart than any high cholesterol issue?

With some trepidation, I went to my appointment with the first guy.  He is personable, easy to be with.  We don’t agree on everything, but I don’t feel like a “case” with him.  He tells me he’s conservative with pharmaceuticals and even with supplements (thinking I take too many), but push come to shove, he ultimately agreed with the other guy.  It was just easier to take it in from him.  I left feeling a little teary, resistant to going back on even low-dose statins, but I told myself that it’s just one more med, that I can try it and see if I get side effects from it or not, and go from there.  I calmed down.  My genetics are what they are.  I do what I can with diet and exercise, but some conditions may require more serious intervention.  He was holding off on the heart scan.

Part of my quandary is, of course, over these specifics about my physical problems.  But there is an even deeper issue: How am I working with my fear, my habitual responses, and my tendency to catastrophize?  These are apparently increasing as I age.   I might have expected that when I got older I would be wiser, more at peace.  That I’d have learned how to work with my core issues – or even transcend them.  Right?  What has actually happened is that they have come into sharper focus and are now in the forefront of my life, not just in the background.

Maybe this is one of the secrets about aging.  I certainly saw it in my father, whose tendency toward cranky, short-temperedness increased as he got older.  At the time, I chalked it up to him not doing inner work.  Certainly not like me.  And here I am, aging and replicating the pattern of intensified negative qualities of personality.

Maybe, as awful as it is, this is the wise gift of growing old.  This is the work.  It is clear and undeniable.  Do it, or descend into bitterness.  Look, this is hard.  Friends are dying.  People are getting cancer.  My symptoms, all the strange ailments I have had in the last few years have given me ample opportunity to catastrophize.

It isn’t how I want to live my life, whatever time remains to me.

I tried the statins again, despite the fact that I don’t trust or like them and that my LDL numbers had dropped considerably.  Not long after, I began experiencing some neuropathy in my hands.  No more statins for me, thank you very much.  I sent the cardiologist an online message, but got no response.  I already knew he wasn’t diligent at returning emails, but I decided if he wanted to talk to me or change treatment, he or someone in his office would get back to me.  Never happened.  My primary care doc agreed that statins didn’t seem warranted.  So, that’s that, at least for now.  There is definitely a place for western medicine; if you need surgery or help with a broken bone, it is a godsend.  But I distrust it because the whole set-up is not truly about health and well-being.  It’s about unquestioning adherence to the “experts,” throwing pharmaceuticals at every problem, and not looking at underlying issues and health of the whole person. (Sorry for the rant.)

And so, back to Psyche.  With help, she managed to collect the golden fleece.  It involved knowing when to do it and how to be tricky.  I hope I can trust my own knowing on issues with my body.  That would truly be collecting the gold.