Seeing Deeply: The Waves of Change

Updated: Apr 16, 2019


I have arrived in Oregon. And there’s lots of rain, lots of flooding, more than in years. And somehow it all feels appropriate, as uncomfortable as it can be at moments. As Oregonians say, “It’s liquid sunshine….” And “Well, if you want all the green, you get all the water….” I grew up with sayings like these…. I grew up in the rain… in the liquid sunshine…which is to say, if you hold off doing things because it’s a rainy day, well, you may spend your life waiting…


But wait. I jump ahead here…. desert, ocean, rain… to catch up with myself…to deepen into the depths of what wants to be written, to be seen. To feel into its meanings, knowings…to bring it forth into words so that it can be understood more deeply…

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Arriving from the desert, the drive through the coastal California mountains was one of those rarified experiences–driving in from the east through the cool moist mountains that run down to the sea, and then seeing the sun set over the Pacific–the mountains' young tenuous green glazed with the yellow and purple of spring blooms, then illumined clouds above the Pacific, rays of light bathed over the water. I understood this as one of those large ‘pacific’ moments: knowing and feeling deeply there was something ahead for me, something to see, a gift of Being…. I could feel its edges already hovering around my Being, around my breathing. I knew I needed only to allow–to allow myself to receive. To breathe. As The Mindful Heart so often says, "Breath...it holds the key to everything... It allows and releases..."


The air, the sunset, my own breathing…like being lifted on the grace of wings…


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Early the next day, Ruby and I went to a favorite beach. We walked the long sandy stretch slowly, thoughtfully. And of course, it was that first day that the gift, the vision, began to unfold in front of me, inside of me…


It was a cloudy morning and Ruby and I were the only ones on the beach…walking, trailing sticks, throwing a stick…picking up small stones, wading in the high tide pulling us back into the depths, and staring out into the gray-green waters…the scripted white caps...


And then, of course, there it was…so unbidden, effervescent, as light as breath…


Death walking out of the ocean… A hooded figure carrying a skeleton…gliding out of the sea, walking out of the waves… Here was, I began to think, a counter-part to the earlier white mourning of the Lemurian sisters… Here was a dark gray hooded figure carrying a skeleton out of the waves under a clouded sky.


Here was the grief of loss…sorrow…and like so many times, I started to ‘think’ what it might mean in my life…where was the loss coming from–whom, what, how?


But just as I began down the analytical path, something happened as began to over-think its presence. A voice inside simply said, “Don’t. Just stay with it… Don’t interpret so quickly, don’t go into fear... Trust it. Just see, be curious, observe…let it show you what it wants you to see….”


And so I did. I stayed with the vague airy image, visioning and walking out of the water, the waves…the drape of the robe, the hood, the skeleton draped in its arms. And I remembered something I had learned to practice through work I had done in Depth Psychology–to simply gaze softly and stay with the image, the vision, rather than jumping to interpretation immediately or associating it with something literal in my life so as to fix its meaning into place, control it. Instead, I began to breathe deeply, simply stay with it, let it evolve, let it show me, what it wanted me to see. To stay with it until it came to its own ‘natural’ rest…rather than ‘grabbing’ it and ‘fixing’ it at first sight.


To see this way, to let the image, vision, unfold as it will–this is far from seeing literally; this is seeing what some would call ‘seeing symbolically’ in a larger vision, and others might say is seeing intuitively, deeply. These are the kinds of images, visions–mandalas Jung called them–that he himself depicted in The Red Book–images, symbols that spoke to him, evolved within him in their meaning and energetic complexity, rather than images merely received and fixed into interpretive meaning.


These are the kinds of images, visions, that heal, instruct, and infuse our understanding, our knowing with their energetic presence. They represent not the literal, but the fluid metaphorical at a much deeper level of our Being. They want to show us how much more expansive, large, our lives are than the lives we lead in this one moment, this one life-time, how much deeper our souls expand into Being, expand into the energetic universe we are threaded into. These images, they work with not only our hearts, our mind, but our energetic bodies, allowing us to see deeper, allowing us to feel more deeply into reality.


We were once much more fluent in these images. We once actually understood how to integrate their knowledge more fluidly into our lives. We once deeply trusted their knowing… Once, it was not only artists, intuitives, mystics, healers, or the religious who spoke their language, but many. They were part of the cultural dialogue, because they are the dream that’s more than a dream. The waking vision that is not in one’s head, but neither part of the material world. Instead, appearing like a transparent veil evolving in the scene. And in their language, their fluency, lies the learning, seeking, understanding of our Souls…our energetic Beings. But far too often now, we toss these deeper energetic visions aside, relegate their transformative power into fantasy, mere distracting day dream.



Working on staying with these images, either from dreams or waking visions, I have had the opportunity to practice ‘noticing’ details with other aspiring Jungian depth psychologists. We had ‘coached’ each other on simply staying with ‘noticing…’ Noticing and reading one’s feelings simultaneously in the body, for each one of us has our own library of sensual and visual references. Through this practice, so often, beautiful insight had come…the kind that strikes you in your entire being. . . leaves you awed at the power of being human…and gives you access to the depths of your own transformation, development, evolution.


So, as Ruby and I continued to walk slowly, I took a deep breath in, relaxed my gaze and let the image waft in and out of vision. I started observing, noticing… the details…the sensory aspects of them in my body–


The drape of the skeleton across the arms of the figure…

The inward blankness of the hood opening

The way the hood opening was tilted down…

The tender kindness with which the skeleton was being carried, held...

The smoothness of the walking through the waves…out of them…

The drape of the skeleton’s head, the way it ‘swooned back’…

As if it were a fully embodied human form…

The way the skeleton did not drape at all like a skeleton…

but something more fluid, flowing, fully fleshed….

The way I ‘felt’ its draping, swooning back, and the folds of its essence

draped around its absent body…


And then it hit me with such a deep frisson throughout my body…


St. Theresa in Ecstasy…the swooning ache and ecstasy of divine love…


Here was Death carrying the largest love, divine love, out of the water, bringing it up out of the depths, restoring it to its proper day light... Here too layered into it was the hooded Hermit in the tarot transforming death through personal reflection into wisdom, learning…into ecstasy, and the knowing…. of passion…pain…love…joy… The often solitary work we've come to think of this as, but contrary to this perception, it is so often filled, infused, with communion, and more and more so now, for those walking into the sensitive depths of themselves, the internal world of Being to allow back into expression the truth of what we are, there is not only solitary communion, but the deep connection with others–a growing and growing presence and desire for the expression of our true Being, our true nature.


Co-passionate–that knowledge that with every death, transformation, even small change, comes the opportunity for the new, the space for more divine love. Without the shedding of the old layers of self, there is no transformation, no evolution. Like our bodies–our skin, cells, organs, etc–we regenerate, renew through the process of death. A process everywhere around us, yet we so frequently fight against, resist experiencing the change, as it requires the pain, beauty, compassion and transformative love to fulfill itself through us.

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Change, transformation…it comes to us with the sweet reckoning of loss, death, but also renewal. It comes to us through surrendering…surrendering the agony of our expectations and not knowing…and allowing the joy receiving brings… the peace and love…the compassion.


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I had seen that draping, swooning before. I had seen 'The Ecstasy of St. Theresa' in the Cornaro Chapel in Rome. I had stood before Bernini’s depiction of her one winter morning in the depths of the post-Christmas season when a man with whom I'd lived once called to say, "He was having a child"–the sweet agonizing tenderness of the desire to let me know. That morning, I left the hotel for a long aimless walk, but found myself heading towards the Cornaro Chapel where I stood absorbed in the light of Theresa’s rapture. Standing there, I realized I could feel the fluidity of the marble itself–the passion in her heart. The almost absence of the material body in her ecstasy. The grace of the stone. The rapture and ache of her devotion and its unfolding into divine love–its embodiment in form.


St. Theresa experiencing the piercing of her heart. Her mouth agape. Her eyes closed, but the draping of her body backwards in grace, love, swooning.

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And so here out of the light of broad daylight, was the Hermit of the tarot, the seeker of wisdom and reflection, in the embodiement of Death, lifting out of the depths, the agonizing love and communion of change, transformation...


To surrender–so often we think of surrendering as ‘giving up’ or ‘giving in’ or ‘over’…but to truly surrender is to allow ourselves to receive, even in the midst of, especially in the midst of the letting go, the relinquishing of control…what can often feel like death, loss, but is truly only a moment in the process of allowing ourselves to receive the greater gift of love’s bounty… So often to us, 'surrendering' means not being fulfilled, not receiving our heart's desire, our Soul's desire, and so we stop the embodiment of our truth at the moment of fear of death, loss, rather than letting it evolve into fuller receiving, Being...


And so I walked, walked hours over the sand, the length and time, the days and hours, the years, of what felt like had been my resistance…my heart overcome with tears in the gray light of the ocean, the light of the waves capped in white… And I thought of my family, T., and so many I truly loved, surrendering how I thought things should be and allowing instead for things to be as they are…to unfold as they are...

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How to love the world…. To love each individual…. And to know love for one individual in the midst of this greater sea of transformation…to experience its love, forgiveness, openness, and its utter humanness, while staying centered in one’s own being at a depth that allows for true surrender, allows for one to truly receive... These were the questions this beautiful vision brought forth…this waking image, this waking vision–neither imaginary, nor unreal. To surrender to love both in the particular and universal–to allow oneself to stand in the caldron of its transforming pain, compassion. To surrender and receive without control…


This was the experience it brought forth…. The knowing of this…outside the articulation of words. Outside of the realm of any lack, outside of the realm of blame, the realm of 'being hurt or disappointed'. But instead, in the knowing of this in Being


The absolute tenderness and passion. The engulfing expansiveness…

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There is the continual dying of the self into love…the continual transformation and loss that we all experience that can allow for greater love if we can allow ourselves to let go and truly receive…but to receive we have to let go of the control, let go of the fear…the pain of expected past suffering… the possible disappointment of prior expression…


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On the fifth day, the ocean was glass calm…there was a serene smoothness about it that was almost surreal if it weren’t for the fact that there were others too walking on the beach marveling at the calm… It felt like a net of smooth silk had been cast over the water, that the roiling and turgid depths had stilled into placidity.


Ruby, in her joyful lumbering, stitched herself in and out of the calm low waves as we strolled.

And though I knew I didn’t want to leave California for the present moment, I knew it was time to head north, to work my way towards what was beginning to feel like the end of the journeying inward to come out the other side into expression. To allow this deeper sense of Being, feeling, to find its own expression through me.


In loving gratitude,

Allannah

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