Four planets walk into a bar...
Yes, friends, here we are in the Grand Cross: can you feel it? While I'm not an astrologer, getting some info on alignments that might well be influencing your life right about now can be useful. Pam Younghans is an astrologer, and her take on the energies of the cross, April 20th (yesterday) through the 23rd, put me in mind of the classic start of a joke, which led to this post.
But this Grand Cross (or Square) ain't no joke! When Mars, Pluto, Uranus, and Jupiter square off at table 13 (each at 13º) in mutable signs, (Libra, Capricorn, Aries, and Cancer, respectively), it's sort of like those old black & white TV cowboy shows, when the poker game in the saloon gets tense and everyone stops talking. Even the phrase squaring off can mean that kind of tension; I mean these are two pairs of hefty planets in opposite signs all perfectly squaring each other. We're talking 90º angles, a shape with four sharp edges and four corners to negotiate, with massive force fields and agendas to go with them. Whether you're talking geometry, architecture, physics, astrology, or dramatized poker games, you're talking balance amid tension.
How we balance ourselves is the thing here. I hadn't yet read Pam's metaphor of the four planets sitting at a square table, Mars and Pluto opposite Jupiter and Uranus, yesterday, when the topic of tightrope walking came up spontaneously. Now I do the math, I get it: balance and tension. Without both of those, the tightrope walker's out of luck. If they're not kept in harmony, the tightrope walker's out of luck. Moreover, they must be kept in harmony under changing conditions and circumstances. Crosswinds, for instance, or their metaphysical counterpart: fear. Even the word crosswinds has a cross in it; the long balancing bar the tightrope walker carries makes a cross with the thin line in the sky.
Cross, square, opposites, tension: a golden opportunity to rebalance. To cross from one mindset to another, release in order to turn tension into real ease. To negotiate real ease out of the oppositions, within and without, may I suggest turning the square into a square dance? The old program would be a standoff, a tug of war, for and against. If you win, I lose. In a more mutable stance, with movement and fluidity, think of the square dance, when the caller calls the partners to make a star with their hands in the center and wheel around. Now that's reel ease!
And yes, I'm having fun with words. But what you can do with pairs in a square, with balance and tension and fluidity and ease is a beautiful thing. You can join hands and swing your partner round and round, you can release and turn to the left or right, do-see-do, make circles and stars and figure-8s and promenade. Like the Traveling Hoedowners do! Watching them, and hearing the caller do that cool thing of singing On the Road Again with the calls as part of the tune is a hoot. And in our personal square dance, it's good to remember you call your own tune. You are the caller of your dance, and like this guy it seems handy to have some practice, know what you want to sing and then sing it with style. Yiha
Whether you take up tightrope walking, square dancing, astrology or – as Pam suggests, "we may find that balance through meditation and dreamwork ... shamanic journeys and psychotherapies" – I hope imagining oppositional forces as a swingin' dance, set atwirl with flounce and bounce, wordplay and natural fun lightens the work of realizing, releasing and re-patterning old standoffs ready to blow.
May you instigate lightheartedness, affection, and optimism to balance the intensity, sensitivity, and vulnerability.
I'm going to take a new trail today and see where it leads. And leave you back where this post started, with the lines of a poem of mine that came up talking about something, that came up from something else, that came from something else.
If you find yourself
on a tightrope
so thin it can't be
seen above a world dropped
away in a stiff wind
think Chagall, Philippe Petit
© 2014 Susan Lynch
What's up with the photo? It seems to have orbs floating in the sky, a tilting old building, and some kind of swan cloudshow. I took this photo at Hawkwood in December of 2008, looking out the window of the big room where The Company of Hawkwood had just finished a meditation as part of the weekend mystery school with Caitlin Matthews, John Matthews, and professor-author Ari Berk. Just today, Caitlin Matthews posted about this longstanding annual event on her blog, Soundings, where you can be guided to everything you need to know, and even still make reservations to attend this year's weekend, if you so desire.
I bring it up because she brought it up because it's coming up for me big time as I create my own mystery school musings. Today I mention it not only because of the Company of Hawkwood energy, but because of world events, as a way of thinking about what my particular mystery school concept encompasses. As I synthesize How Things Happen into areas of potential inquiry, as I develop the scope and discuss it with colleagues, questions arise, and it's helpful for me to articulate answers to those questions. People ask, what sort of stuff will you do there? The scope is wide but small, far reaching but quiet.
Mystery schools, like all other institutions, come in all shapes, sizes, and persuasions. Today's post touches on one of the ways I envision the work could potentially positively benefit the world. Which has to do with the super Typhoon Haiyan which just struck the Philippines. What could we potentially do about such things at the mystery school? Ring bells and wail at the sky?
I'm going to keep this simple. One glimpse at the news headlines and the words devastation, horror, shock, death, lethal force, etc. run riot on the brain, doing little to positively affect a sense of helplessness, victimhood, fear and dread at nature and the world that sells papers in an old school format. Superstorms increase at a rate relative to our action movies about superstorms. Worldwide, we argue about cause and effect, global warming, climate change, the data that shows how superstorms increase from the warming of the seawater and the manufacturing pollution that exacerbates this phenomena. Much is being done from many approaches to both help and hinder our understanding of and our role in the delicate balance that allows us and other life forms to safely inhabit the pretty blue planet. It's major. So what does this all have to do with the mystery school thing? It's such a touchy topic, people strap on their mindsets in an either-or mentality, sparking friction at the table, or the comments section. But what about another possible approach? Not in place of, but in addition to, all the other approaches.
Picture this. Take the knowledge of atmospheric scientists, climatologists, oceanologists, and study it. Take the research of scientists such as Dr. Emoto, who studies the change in water crystals as a result of resonance and positive or negative articulation, and add it to the data. Take the wisdom and experience of practitioners such as Sandra Ingerman in shamanic environmental transformation and radical ecology, mentioned in an earlier blog post, and add it to the mix. Don't get bogged down in superstition, balderdashedly indignant refutation of invisible power, the negation of the energetic component, or any religious dogma about comeuppance or somesuch. Basically, steer clear of old school paradigms which separate wisdom and compassion in favor of some authority being all hopped up.
Rather, combine the power of information, intention, group effort, co-creation in the quantum field, a high degree of skill and words in working with the elements. Not in a last ditch, oh please don't whomp on us fear-based appeal to a judgmental punisher. Neither a 'just think good thoughts' halfheartedness nor a system of experimentation that disregards the power of human thought and heart energy in interacting with physical outcomes, such as evidenced in the transformation of water crystals. Bring the information together into a synthesis of directed thought, speech and action that eliminates lack of harmony with the elements from the source that is creating them.
You gotta be practiced up in this stuff so you can do the thing when it's time, which in the case of the typhoon, would have been when it began to form, in effect stating its intention. Taking it as an extreme example, a natural weather event that was being monitored scientifically, the data was available and could be addressed in many ways. The intention for the work would not be to make it stop, but to see what was going on, to listen to it, discover what was possible and what was needed and how to honor that, perhaps in a way that could then create less volatile, destructive force; a way it could 'live' that could be distributed differently, transmuted, redirected. A middle world journey straight into the eye comes to mind as a possible shamanic approach, and who knows there may have been many shamans doing precisely that.
Naturally, like in all schools, the thing is to start small, perhaps with a glass of water, a puddle, a harbor, a shower, or interacting with a sudden spiral that spins the leaves in the driveway. Providing instruction and space, developing individual skills alongside group intentionality, knowledge sets and levels of practice builds capabilities. What initially sounds impossible later proves to be the new discovery.
In all choices, support systems and materials that don't pollute; mitigate, reverse and transmute past damage, and use the power of words, sound, intention, and resonance in the now to communicate with the world, the universe, directly, energetically. Put it all together. I'm getting at a way of living powerfully and harmoniously with the elements of this world and the energies of the universe which utilizes an informed synthesis of abilities and knowledge to interact with nature in a positive, transformative way.
It's not a new idea, nor an original one. It's simply a multi-pronged approach to living in this (and other) world(s) that connects on a lot of levels for the well-being of all. Working with the elements from wisdom rather than fear, from a sense of empowered co-creative communication rather than victimhood or attack-defend strategies, addresses the manmade causes of imbalance on the planet even as it sends immediate energies that could potentially affect more than the minds of the participants. It utilizes the best experiential wisdom we have from shamanic and other practices and from scientific data with a quantum dash and heart.
Shamans have worked with weather conditions for the good of the people multiculturally for millennia. An integrated awareness of ways to live without disturbing the delicate balance of nature, lessening such cataclysmic events and restoring harmony on the planet includes what we create on the material as well as mental, emotional, and spiritual planes. Put them all together and see what is possible. And hey, collect the data, compile evidence where possible, to add to the field of knowledge. Thank the spirits, honor the wind, the water, the ocean, the earth. Help each other not create conditions that harm each other as well as send help after such cataclysmic events. Learn how to do all of this at a mystery school by developing your powers and increasing your awareness of a lot of stuff. That's the idea.
This is the second in a How Things Happen series of blog posts.
As a kid, I constantly asked How come? I've pondered and studied the subject enough to know that once you understand, you can make things happen very effortlessly. Lao Tzu's statement that by doing nothing everything gets done is a clue to the value of examining How Things Happen. So, like how do they?
How Things Happen is an area of inquiry at the heart of the examined life. Socrates famously said the unexamined life is not worth living, but it takes a certain je ne sais quoi to examine the invisible. Which is precisely what you're looking at when you examine How Things Happen at the root level. Like when you're cooking up something new.
Creating new forms, re-inventing yourself, coming up with an idea for a story, a song, a poem, a work of art, a new project ... the list includes discoveries, inventions... has several stages, like a recipe. Much of the stuff of the finished product happens in the abstract, in the invisible realm of thought, emotion, imagination, sentient awareness, spiritual connection. In the quantum field. As if it's out there somewhere. Or in here somewhere.
Sometimes you see it before you know what it is; sometimes other senses ping first with a feeling of knowing. The saying, it's on the tip of my tongue is an apt metaphor: while we are not quite ready to actually say the thing we're thinking of, the tongue already feels its presence as the mind works on the information it is organizing, retrieving, bringing forward. Our desire, intention, need to know initiates the activity; our attention to the tip of the tongue helps pull the remembering into the physical, to re-member or make it appear in the now in the form of spoken representation.
Another, less abstract analogy for How Things Happen is cooking. We say we're cooking up ideas because it's a metaphor we can access easily. Cooking's part of everyday life, keeps body and soul together, and is a sentient pleasure as well. It can be easy or complicated, intuitive or totally mapped out in instructions and procedures. Either way, the results can be unpredictable. Ingredients, procedures, tools, heat sources, and timing are involved: materials and conditions. But what comes before those things? The recipe. And the inspiration for the recipe.
Genius is an interesting word: a person with exceptional abilities of creativity, imagination, intellectual ability. Many have thought processes that are quite extraordinary, tapping into the unknown in an uncanny way. Many think about How Things Happen big time, or not at all, and simply let it happen. Wikipedia says research into what causes genius or mastery is still in the early stages. Imagine that.
But the word itself is ancient and has not changed a bit from the Latin genius: the guiding spirit (of a person, family, place). These spirits and the word are connected to the verb to create, or to bring into being. So, since ancient times, How Things Happen has involved guiding spirits to help bring things into being, from non-being. Sorta like magic.
Maybe you're cooking up new forms from the invisible, with guiding spirits helping the realization of the intention and the desire – the genius recipe – the first stage in creation. Energy follows thought; they are both invisible forces. This abstract stage is one of winnowing, focusing, identifying, envisioning, dreaming, and choosing. Did I mention huge amounts of uncertainty? Part of the recipe. Along with childish curiosity, trust, abandon, fearlessness, courage, support, and ways of following your knowing, of connecting with the genii and powwowing.
It's okay if you don't know every detail, don't have all the ingredients, don't have the recipe all worked out before you begin. What are you cooking up? Take the thing that's on the tip of your tongue and let it tantalize your senses until you can taste it, use all that vast space of uncertainty as a playground. Throw your ideas out there to the genii and ask that they play ball with you, toss a few ideas around, pitch some possibilities. Mix up metaphors and ingredients, free associate. Creative directors do it all the time. Then, someone gets a genius idea.
Oh, and creating from scratch can make you hungry. For that, there's Amanda Hesser's Genius Recipes. Yum. Leave a bowl out for the genii. And set a place at the table for the unknown.