Wednesday 30 November 2011

Here's the thing...

“The labyrinth is thoroughly known.  We have only to follow the thread of the hero path, and where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god. And where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves. Where we had thought to travel outward, we will come to the centre of our own existence. And where we had thought to be alone, we will be with all the world.”
Joseph Campbell

So, where were we? Where was I?  Ah yes. I was telling you what happened a year ago when I went plunging into the labyrinth.  About those neat precise steps I took that changed my life.  You know, the not eating so much thing. The not drinking alcohol thing.  The exercising thing. The meditation thing. The breathing thing.  All pretty average really.  Pick up any self-help or spiritual development book and it will tell you more or less the same stuff, tell you to do more or less the same things. Thing. Isn’t that a wonderful word?

It comes from the Old English, þing. No, no, not 'ping' – the symbol at the front is a ‘thorn’ pronounced ‘th’ (a soft th). You find the same word in Old Norse and proto-Germanic. Originally it meant a meeting or assembly but later on came to mean a being, an entity or a matter (in other words the thing that was discussed at the thing). Even more interestingly, thorn was originally a rune (there are several which were incorporated into Old English).

There are many various readings of Thorn in a runespread but, amongst other things ;) it can mean a gateway, a place where one becomes ready to contact the numinous, the Divine. A place where you are confronted with the true reflection of what is hidden inside.  In one of my rune books it says:

'Visualise yourself standing before a gateway on a hilltop. Your entire life lies out behind you and below. Before you step through, pause and review the past: the learning and the joys, the victories and the sorrows - everything it took to bring you here. Observe it all, bless it all, and release it all. For in letting go of the past, you reclaim your power.
Step through the gateway now.'

(Wow. What a thing! Never underestimate a word, a letter, eh?)

Anyhow.  Let’s pull back a bit here.  Firstly, you’re assuming this change thing was/is a good thing, right? And yes, as far as I’m concerned, it was, it is, hopefully it will be.  But a lot of people, looking in, from other perspectives, would say it was a bloody disaster.  *grin*  It depends what you want, I suppose.  Jung said that the ‘job’ of the first half of one’s life is to find one’s way in the world and the work of the second half is to find meaning; to find oneself, to ‘individuate’ as he put it.  Trouble is, if you’re like me, you’ve spent a whole lifetime putting up barriers to who you are.  I had so many people, so many personae, so many entity-things rattling round inside my head, it wasn’t so much an orchestra as a horrible cacophony of sound – a string quartet playing music wars with a brace of death metal bands, Brian Eno, The Pogues, Hildegard of Bingen and, um, Donovan.

We find ways of moulding ourselves to the world, to fit in, to belong to our various tribes. We validate ourselves with our positions in life; our friends; our work; our status; our 'brand'; our houses; our cars; our holidays; our hobbies.  Some people get it right. They are congruent. Everything fits, more or less neatly. They know who they are and what they’re about. There aren’t too many contradictions; too many paradoxes.

But for me it never really fitted. I love/d spiritual stuff but I hate/d New Age waffle. I love/d nature and ecology and felt hugely strongly (still do) that the environment is THE biggest issue we have (truly, how can it not be?)  – yet I wince/d at the worthy hemp bag/ranty leftwing political stuff.  I love/d writing and reading but didn’t/don't wanna talk about it all the time; didn’t/don't wanna discuss the nuts and bolts, didn’t/don't want to dissect it.  And so on and so forth.  

You know how some people have their ‘thing’? (btw, dontcha just love the way language evolves??) I envied that. I wanted a ‘thing’. So so desperately.  If I had a thing, I thought, everything would be so clear, so simple. Because once you know what you want you can go after that thing single-mindedly, single-heartedly – and with the right prevailing wind, you can get it.  Yeah, pretty much any thing. 

But if you don’t…

Anyhow, there I was, not a clue in the world, wanting a thing but neck deep in muck.  And I stumbled into the labyrinth.  And, as I said in a few posts last year, it really wasn’t a neat walking down an ordered flight of stairs. It was more of a headlong (I typed headless there and really that’s right) stumble, trip and tumble down a rabbit hole.

Did I follow those precise step things I mentioned? Did I hell!  I just went mad, pretty much.  Something or other in my psyche responded to a trigger. What?  I have no idea.  The scrolls to the Labyrinth were burned. I can’t pinpoint the exact thing that prodded me in the back and pushed me down the hole. Oh, okay, the trigger that made me jump.
I stopped eating. I stopped sleeping. I shook all the time. My mind exploded into a thousand fragments and came back with a totally different formation; then exploded again and again and again.  
I scribbled occasional notes in my diary…like this…

12 December
‘I can’t sleep again.  This time, though, it’s different.  I fall into bed at about 1am and crash, only to wake up at 2.30am with my brain fizzing.  It’s like my body and mind are recalibrating themselves.  I can’t eat either:  just don’t feel like it.  All in all, I really do think I’m going ever so slightly crazy.
And I’m plunging down astral pathways, frantically searching.  It’s a multi-dimensional maze, a crazy labyrinth.  It’s like life’s been on hold for years and now I’m suddenly waking up. 
I know that sounds crazy; it probably is crazy.  It’s scary as hell but it feels horribly right.  Even the not sleeping bit.  I’m writing this at 4.30am.  I’ve been awake for two hours.  I’ve read a book already and my eyes are red sore.  I’m shaking, as if all my cells were being rearranged, being put back into the right order. 
Weirdly, it feels good.’

So. Was that a good thing? Is that a good thing? Is that something you’d want to do?  Is that something anyone should do?  Even if it meant you lost four stone? *wink*  

Have you *got* this thing yet? 

By the way (buy the way!) I would hasten to add that this whole bonkers tumbling thing is all my own.  It’s not remotely what my quasi/pseudo/anti-guru recommended. I hold nobody responsible. Nobody. J  Only my self.  My thing. 


Sessha Batto said...

THAT'S what I'm missing, a thing . . . or, perhaps, I just have too many things :( Now I'm more confused than ever!!

Kim said...

I've had a couple of trips into the otherness. One long one, one punch in the face one. Hurts at the time and the finding 'normal' 'thing' after is interesting. You write well. Thanks.

Ashen said...

Crazy fool writing - highly amusing.
But what are you saying, Jane?

Exmoorjane said...

@Sessh - nah, you have a 'thing'...a good thing.

@Kim - There is normal after? I don't know if that feels good or bad. :) Not keen on the sound of the punch in the face one.. :(

@Ashen - What am I saying, dear Ashen? I dunno really.
- That I'm a crazy fool? :) (I put The Fool up as an illustration initially for this post).
- That there are no simple straightforward steps? That it's probably impossible to break this kind of thing down into steps, no matter how much I'd like to.
- That nobody should follow me or do what I do because, really, I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing or where I'm going.. :)
- That sometimes there doesn't have to be a point, just a following, a feeling, a trusting.

I know you mentioned intent before, on an earlier post...and I do know what you mean. But I have had so much intent in my life, have forced so many things and really, that wasn't always a good thing for me. And so, right now and over this last year, I've been trying not to impose will but just to let be what will be. To be open and alert and to learn.
Ach, words! Too many words. :) I wish you lived nearer...

Rachel Selby said...

I know there is a spiritual/otherness way to do this but It's too complicated for me. I do have to take my own journey though. I think mine might be a more grounded/selfcentred affair. We have a phrase in Hebrew: doing cheshbon nefesh. It means sums and calculations on your soul - usually to make sense of things/your life. It seems the Cheshbon Nefesh application forms are sent in the post as people approach 50 (or 40 for the very mature). I think yours has been a good one btw. xxx

Jake Barton said...

Ashen says this very well. I want a thing, I want more than one, I want yours, but I still don't 'get' this. Fair enough, that's due to inadequacies on my part. I'm a simple soul at heart.
With that disclaimer in place, I can add how much I enjoy reading your blog posts - never miss - and admire your stylish and invigorating take on the world about you. You write beautifully and I admire the words, even when I don't understand their meaning.

Exmoorjane said...

@Rachel - more grounded sounds good to me, hon. :) If it weren't for my son and the occasionally vomiting dog, I would have floated off aeons ago. I now have to investigate cheshbon nefesh (and how I wish again I read Hebrew). xx

@Jake - Oi, get off my thing! But really, truly, there is nothing 'to get' - that's the point! Or rather, not. :D

Dump Him Love said...

I love your writing. I find the topic intriguing but I don't understand much of it. It feels as if you a describing a breakdown or death and rebirth but if that's the case what was the manner of letting go? I do identify with the contradictions. I've always put it down to equal and opposing parts. Keep writing I'll keep reading but whether I'll ever end up getting it who knows?

Ashen said...

Ah, I'm a fool like you. Better put maybe - sacred fool of the crazy wisdom no-path. In that dance with the unknown there's not so much an object but an objective towards the centre of the labyrinth, again and again. An intent, yes, but more like tuning to an inner frequency and readiness for shape-shifting surprises. The unique thing about the internet is that we can have fun chatting over walls to other labyrinthers or non-labyrinthers. So I don't always get what you're saying, but I enjoy your style :)very much.

F said...

I understand the need for a thing. Utterly, totally. I don't know what mine is either, but I think I may have found my own map to the labyrinth (different guru, though) and I think if I can just follow it, maybe I'll find what I'm looking for. I think that 'thing' I am seeking might be myself.

Ivy said...

I hope you don't mind me saying so, but I find your recent blogs deeply disturbing. Hope you are okay, hope you are staying in control ( to some extent) and I pray you come out of all this a happy (ier) person. Change isn't easy but trotting the same path, day in day out, isn't fun either .
Your elephant drives me crazy my eyes always struggle with drawings like that but this one is extremely challenging :-)

Love, light and peace
Ivy xx
(how about coming back to skool , the old place has re-opened it's gates and its buzzing.)

Zoë said...

I think my thing is to be forever searching; the spiritual nomad.

Exmoorjane said...

@Babs - thank you. I think transformation is possibly closer - some kind of spiritual alchemy maybe. And so, yes, break down, dissolve, death of old ways of being, change. Rebirth? One hopes. :)

@Ashen - yes. A dance. And a spiralling. Returning and retracing, winding, circling...repeating... I'm not sure there is a middle or end point. But then, I don't know. And yes, there are sweet companions of the road and one of the major gifts of this last year is finding who those really are... :)

@Frankie - talking of sweet companions of the road... :) (a whole batch of 'em on this comment thread actually). The thing? Yup... You have a map??? Coool. And yeah, get your own guru!!! :D

@Ivy - Bless you for worrying but I'm fine. Finer than I was, that's for certain. I'm not saying it's all hunky dory, cos it isn't - but at least I am being more honest now; and slicing away the crap. The old place? I'm thrilled it's back on form and have huge fondness for it but it's not right for me right now. Send my love to everyone. :) xxx As I type this Asbo launches into a barking frenzy - maybe he's saying hello to Ivy. ;)

@Zoe - let's nomad together, dear friend. We could get camels... :) xxxx

Greg said...

I'm still searching for the/a 'thing' too, especially after the death of our son. Life just seems so cruel and unfair now and I need something to keep me ticking over (besides my younger son who is my shining light).

F said...


(I don't have any words for you, I just wanted you to know what you said there was heard.)

Exmoorjane said...

@Greg - your comment slipped past... You are so often on my mind as I just do not know how/if I would cope with the loss of a child. But, as you say, you have to for the sake of your younger son. We talked about the blog thing and I do feel it might be a Good Thing... I can't help but, like Frankie, I can hear. xxx