Thursday, 13 October 2011
When life is shit...
Life feels intolerable sometimes. It can feel like we’re being torn in half, ripped right down the middle. No matter what we do, no matter how hard we try, nothing seems to go right.
None of them helpful. Shit, I am exhausted this morning, I truly am. But then, curled up in my rocking chair, listening to music, I realised what's needed. The Mandorla. It’s been nudging me in dreams and visions for a while now but I haven’t paid it enough attention.
Cos, see, when we can’t keep the contradictions of life at bay, the mandorla offers a space to hold the opposites. Cos we’re not superhuman; we can’t be. We are divine but we're not superheroes.
Do you know the mandorla? It’s the almond-shaped segment that occurs when two circles partly overlap. It signifies the overlap of opposites – the overlap of heaven and earth; ego and shadow; good and evil; dark and light; male and female. It's an inbetween place; a holding place; a threshold; a place of faith.
Eliot knew. The fire of transformation and the rose of rebirth are one and the same. Poetry bridges the circles – it creates the mandorla. So too can music and dance and art. When they are used properly, with truth and honesty. ‘All good stories are mandorlas,’ says one of my favourite Jungian writers, Robert Johnson. ‘We like to think that a story is based on the triumph of good over evil; but the deeper truth is that good and evil are superseded and the two become one.’
He says, and I feel he may be right, that when things become intolerable; when we say we can't stand things any more, that this is precisely the time when we have to possibility to shift. ‘When the unstoppable bullet hits the impenetrable wall, we find the religious experience. It is precisely here that one will grow.’ Or, as Jung said, ‘Find out what a person fears most and that is where he will develop next.’
Think of the bush and the fire; the bush that burned and burned and yet was not consumed: and the fire that would not damn well stop burning. When the clash of opposites comes and neither will give way to the other then, oh then, the numinous (call it ‘God’ or whatever you will) is present. This is the liminal, the place that is neither this nor that…the shoreline inbetween tides, the space between one room and the next, between one world and another. It's where we try - usually unsuccessfully of course - to hold the paradoxes.
‘Our own healing proceeds from that overlap of what we call good and evil, light and dark,’ says Johnson (yes, I re-read him on this this morning). ‘It is not that the light element alone does the healing; the place where light and dark begin to touch is where miracles arise. This middle place is the mandorla.’ And yes, Christ is the mandorla – not for nothing did the early Christians scratch out the fish symbol which is, really, yup…one of those…
Christ? Yup, Christ. I’m not going to say this – I’m going to let Johnson take the rap… ‘One can view a human life as a mandorla and as the ground upon which the opposites find their reconciliation. In this way every human being is a redeemer, and Christ is the prototype for this human task.’
Christ. The divine alchemist. Hmm.. Alchemy. Another of my preoccupations right now… Can’t go into it in huge detail but again it’s all about facing the shadow, recognising our projections, holding the opposites. The major stages of the alchemical process: the nigredo (the descent); the albedo (the brightening); the rubedo (the discovery of passion); the citrino (the golden warmth of the sun). And finally? The pavanis, the peacock’s tail, the rainbow bridge.
Right. That hasn’t made any sense at all, has it? Never mind. J
Next post will be about dog food I promise.
Next post will be about dog food I promise. And yeah...that was what I said above, when my PC decided it would talk in symbols...WTF??? I tell ya, the world is weird, weird, weird.