I tend to write blog posts (or chatty emails, or journal entries…) when I am up and excited about something that I just have to share. Nothing strange there.” So,” you say to yourself, “she’s posting on her long-abandoned blog after two years–she must be downright manic with enthusiasm!” One would think. But nope, not even close.
As a matter of fact, I had one of the worst nights of my life last night. I am telling the honest truth here, not just exaggerating for dramatic effect. I didn’t get to sleep until well after 2:00 am. Anxiety slammed into me like an out-of-control freight train. And this wasn’t just, “how am I going to pay the bills?” or “I’m moving out of a studio apartment into a van in two weeks and how the heck am I going to fit all this stuff back in that tiny space?” garden-variety anxiety. That I’m used to at this point. That would have been manageable, a ledge I probably could have talked myself down from in a reasonable amount of time.
No, this was a major existential crisis. A black hole of despair. I am in yet another transition (pretty much constant since I first hit the road 2 1/2 years ago). Moving out of a temporary apartment in Madrid, New Mexico back into the van in preparation for heading out to Southern California to boondock for a few weeks in my best friend’s driveway before returning to my summer camp host job near Big Bear Lake in Southern California. I have no savings and barely enough money to get there and pay my expenses until I start the job in May. Again, this has pretty much been a constant of my van-dwelling existence (oh, let’s be honest, even before that–ever since the move out of my corporate-job life in California to my life as a wanna-be Tarot reader/astrologer in the Land of Enchantment 12+ years ago). I’ve been living on the edge ever since with a charmingly innocent (or fool-heartedly reckless) faith in Spirit to see me through. Or, at the very least, a blind faith in Spirit’s ability to send me yet another job to see me through. But this time, for the first time in 10 years, I am also in credit card debt. Van breakdowns and plumbing issues (in the tiny former miner’s cabin I haven’t been able to sell) this past Fall took all the savings I had from last summer, and then some.
And for some reason, as I turned out the light last night and settled under the covers, that aforementioned freight train came heading down the tracks straight for me. Powered by one insidious thought that wormed it’s way into my head: If the van stops running for any reason (the 25-year-old van that has needed almost constant unexpected repairs for going on three years now) I am completely and utterly f#$*!d. And the oil pressure gauge keeps riding lower and lower (yes, I am checking the oil–and yes, the slow leak is getting less slow all the time). I have over 1,000 miles and four weeks between me and my next paycheck, I’m maxed out financially and the credit card interest is mounting. Once I put everything in that van, it’s my home. If it breaks down I don’t have any other vehicle to get me to any kind of job and I’m living in the middle of nowhere New Mexico and my ability to obtain more credit is non-existent. And I can’t do the camp host job if I don’t have a vehicle I can live in. And I have a cat who depends on me and no one I know who could reasonably adopt her.
Of course, I told myself, my mind frantically running around in circles in the rat’s maze it had imprisoned itself in, I have friends who would take me in. I’m not actually worried about dying of exposure or starvation. But most of my friends aren’t exactly Rockefellers themselves. It would be a huge imposition to say the least. And they all have animals that would make co-existing with a deadbeat friend and her very large alpha female cat not at all practical. And did I mention how much I HATE even the thought of being dependent.
So, there it was, staring me in the face. The consequences of all the decisions I’ve made in my life that have led me to this pin-point in time. And it wasn’t pretty. Because no woman is an island. The consequences do not threaten me alone, but those I love the most. Because no matter how much I have pretended otherwise for most of my 60 years, we are all connected in an intricate web of love. We are our brothers’ keepers. Although some part of me would rather die than have to seriously inconvenience others due to my ownlack of responsibility, I know my friends don’t feel that way. And that it’s not truly a reasonable way to feel. I could have made other decisions. But I didn’t and here I am. Despite my oldest-child, co-dependent internal myth that “I am the responsible one, I have always been the responsible one” I have, it turns out, been somewhat less than completely responsible in this instance (and probably many, many others). Huge lesson in compassion and self-judgment. And in facing the ugly fact of how often I have been secretly judgmental of others through the years that couldn’t “take care of themselves.” Oh yeah.
OK, forgive me, but this is where the astrology comes in. We are in the middle of a super eclipse window, half-way in between the solar new moon eclipse that happened last week and the lunar full moon eclipse happening next week. A time of accelerated change. A great time to hold in your mind what you want to create going forward, the possibility of “punching through” to a new reality. Change that can unfold effects for months or years to come. Sounds great, you say. But sometimes (well, usually) for that kind of transformation to take place, something has to die. Some shadow
part of ourselves we’ve been running from our whole life is going to come up to be looked at and released so we can go forward with more of ourselves present. No wonder the ancients viewed eclipses with a healthy respect!
So, back to my rat-mind running around in its little maze in the wee hours last night. I knew this was an eclipse initiation, big-time. And, yeah, that didn’t really help me much. I was so desperate, I was forced to go down to the depths of surrender. I prayed, I asked Spirit for help. I don’t know how to do this, I whispered, I don’t know how to make this go away, tears streaming down my face. I realized that poor little rat had been running around in that maze for years, maybe her whole life. And it is a very, very complex maze. But she’s a very smart rat. She’s so smart that she’s figured out the whole maze, she can get from one end to the other, knows where are the tricky passages are, can find all four corners in the dark, over and over again. But she just keeps running around inside it. Because it gives her something to do. Because there are Rewards set up in different places. A bit of cheese over there, a comfy nest right around this corner, possible sex down that far corridor. Because the maze is designed to make her think that’s she’s doing something, that it’s leading somewhere, that eventually there is A Way Out.
But the thing is, she really knows, deep down inside, that there is no way out. But she has to keep trying because what else is she going to do? If she stops, she will have to face the reality that she is really trapped. And then the darkness of her situation will be truly felt for the first time. The sense of claustrophobia will be unimaginable, the confinement she feels almost unbearable, the despair truly overwhelming.
But here’s the thing. If she doesn’t stop, doesn’t just sit still in the middle of her prison and let the fear and pain and the regret she feels for a life lived in those tiny confines wash over her, SHE WILL NEVER GET OUT. Because a door is not going to magically appear where it never has before. Not as long as she keeps repeating the same pattern. Will she get out if she stops? Who knows. She might have a chance, though. A chance that some new way of looking at the situation will come to her. Maybe she’ll take the energy she’s been expending to no purpose and use it to gnaw her way through a hole in the floor, or the ceiling. Maybe she’ll scrabble around and make such a ruckus that someone will check to see what’s going on and inadvertently let her escape. Maybe she’ll find that the maze actually has no roof but that she just never noticed because she was too busy following the false leads, too busy conforming to the rules, to ever even think of looking up. One thing’s for sure. As long as she’s pretending she’s not really trapped and distracting herself with the intriguing puzzle to protect herself from the pain of knowing the truth, she doesn’t have a prayer.
So, when nothing worked at all last night to calm my fears, I sat up, turned on the light, and picked up the copy of Autobiography of a Yogi which I’ve been slowly reading for several weeks now–for the first time in my life. (Every other self-respecting baby boomer I know read it in the ’60s–as I mentioned elsewhere, see What We’re About, I’ve been living my life backwards). Here’s the passage that was at the top of the page when I picked up the book for solace during my dark night of the soul:
“The Hindu scriptures teach that man is attracted to this particular earth to learn, more completely in each successive life, the infinite ways in which the Spirit may be expressed through, and dominant over, material conditions… Man’s forgetfulness of his divine resources is the root cause of all other forms of suffering.”
I found this strangely comforting. It’s what I’d been trying to tell myself all along, of course, it just wasn’t working. But to have it spelled out for me when I reached out for help was the key I needed to allow me to stop in the heart of the maze. Because the really scary thing about all this was that I knew in essence it was a Test of Faith. Seriously, I actually thought of Job and the Bible story in the middle of all this and felt like I understood it on a new level. Because, really, I could have had this conversation with myself, or a variation of it, anytime during the last 10 years. According to the standards of the dominant society, I have been living way outside any kind of normal comfort zone for a long time. I have not been Responsible. And though I have certainly been anxious and worried–a lot–it never totally overcame my innately fiery, optimistic personality.
What was different last night? Once the thought that the van could break down, very likely would break down, entered my head I just couldn’t shake it. Because I had NO FAITH that Spirit wouldn’t do that to me. Or, if She did, it would all be for a reason that was in my highest good, an inevitable step on my soul’s journey and would all work out in the end. But last night, I just couldn’t get back there. Partly it’s age. I’m not as young as I used to be and I’ve been facing some physical challenges that have undermined my accustomed faith in my ability to “just go get another job” in any situation, if push comes to shove. Partly it’s because I really have inched further and further out on the limb these last few years, until I can feel the branch beginning to sway. And this is why they call it a dark night of the soul–because you are forced to look the demon in the face: despite all your new-agey, happy/optimistic lip service to the contrary, you don’t actually have faith that there is a Divine Plan and you and all the circumstances of your life fit into it. I could have sworn I did have that Faith, but in a few short hours of inner angst it had completely vanished. For the first time, I could not find that place in myself where I felt held by the Divine Mother when I really, really needed Her.
So, I was immediately comforted by Yogananda’s calming presence. But I wasn’t quite there yet, so I picked up my phone and found my Outrageous Openness Oracle app (check it out!). I took a deep breath, composed my question (what do you want me to know?–the only question I can ever truly ask of the Divine) and the answer was:
“No worry, send blessings. Worry is throwing kerosene on a fire.”
What can I say, it made me laugh. Yes, I could have been–I had been–telling myself this very thing for hours. And it did no good. But, like Yogananda’s sage advice, the synchronicity of the message when I asked for it was evidence of what I most needed in that moment: there is a pattern, a fabric of Divine Love that weaves itself through the Cosmos and I am its child as well as its emissary.
I pulled a Tarot card before I starting this entry earlier tonight, to be included as part of the story. And here it is:
This is from a lovely, earth-based, new paradigm Tarot deck called The Fifth Tarot. Shells are the suit of water, heart, emotions. Ones (or Aces as they are more commonly known) are always about new beginnings. This card is suffused with the heart chakra colors of deep pink and green and the calming, cosmic, oceanic blues. It is a promise that the pearl of wisdom, of heart’s knowing, the knowledge that we are held in the Divine Embrace, will rise up to bring new beauty and hope. Abundance on all levels of being is our spiritual birth right. We are swimming in the Sea of Divine Love and there are unexpected gifts. Although the process of creation that brings us that kind of beauty is more often than not pretty darn uncomfortable. Tell the oyster when that grain of sand is irritating the heck out of it that it’s “all for the best” and see what kind of response you get! And maybe the oyster doesn’t even care, it just wants to go its own way and not be bothered, leave me alone, thank you very much, creating pearl necklaces not my problem. But I like to think that, somewhere in its transcendent oyster-soul, it has a sense of its interconnectedness with the watery cosmos and finds solace in being the instrument for manifesting the “pearl of great price.”
And if we are willing to risk the dangers inherent in diving deep through strong currents, we just may be the one destined to bring that treasure out to the world.
And, yes, I’m a little afraid to crawl into bed, as I will be doing in just a few moments and turn out the light. What if it happens again…and it well might. Nothing in the material world has changed in the last 24 hours, I’m still hanging by a thread, the potential victim of my own crazy choices. And, just in this moment, I feel a renewed connection with the Divine Mother, especially in her manifestation as the fierce and fiery, all-powerful Lion-Headed Sekhmet, Beloved of my heart. I trust that I can go forward, seeking and finding a better balance between following the dreams of my heart and creating healthy structure for myself in the physical world, in a new way than I have in the past. That I don’t have to choose one over the other. The train hasn’t flattened me after all. And even though it may yet, in this moment I am grateful for all the blessings of my life, which includes each and every one of you!
May you feel the truth of Divine abundance in your own lives, here and now, in this moment of potent eclipse energy. What is being eclipsed in your life so that some deeper knowing can seep through? Do you have the courage to let it go? What is the future you are seeding? What are you waiting for? Take the time to stop and look up–you might just discover that the maze is open to the sky after all.