Hope through Tragedy

Today’s blog is inspired by a friend going through a very difficult time who suggested I write about enduring hope when I requested a topic. This blog is for her and everyone traversing their own version of tragic circumstances.

What is hope?

Hope is an archetype….an archetype called The Star, according to the ancient wisdom of the tarot.

Archetypes are the collective instinctual drives we all share in common and inherit the moment we are born, according to Jung.

Archetypes are the gods and goddesses, according to the ancients and indigenous people.

Whichever way you want to see archetypes, see them as sentient energies that live in their own place and this is the place we all birth from on a soul level. The collective unconscious is our mother birthing the individual psyche. The archetypes are transpersonal helpers, instincts, forces, and beings.  Hope is a goddess, a god, a sentient energy, and a collective instinct.

Hope is the “light when all lights go out” as said in Lord of the Rings when Frodo is trapped by a deadly giant spider and needs the light of hope to literally not die.  Victor Frankl wrote a book, Man’s Search for Meaning, in which he links feeling hope to the chances of survival for concentration camp victims in Nazi Germany. Could this really be true? Could hope keep us alive?

What we endure as humans is beyond rational comprehension…

From the natural tragedies of break-ups, death of loved ones, illness, and sudden losses of all sorts….to the diseased type of tragedies that stem from multigenerational trauma and systemic oppression such as sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, prejudice, poverty, and mistreatment of humans, animals, and the planet on many levels….human life and tragedy are bound together.

You cannot answer why on a spiritual level without finding a lesson in the darkness. When you endure hope through tragedy you come out the other side of it with more compassion, more liberation, more knowledge, more love, more understanding. This is a truth of human kind.

When you collapse into tragedy with a sense of doom, blame, punishment, despair and resentment you come out the other side more bitter, closed off, abusive to self or others, hateful, and sick. This is also a truth of human kind.

I want to be careful here and say that every feeling needs an outlet. Hope is not turning a frown upside down. It is not putting a positive spin on a terrible situation. Horrible experiences happen. Unfair circumstances happen. Nobody should spiritually bypass the feelings of anger, despair, resentment, rage, and resignation (among many other feelings) by saying, “this tragedy is meant to be because it will make me stronger, wiser, loving, and aware.”

The process is key and the journey is everything. Feelings are like poop and like chemical storms. What happens if you don’t let yourself poo because you tell yourself it is wrong or bad to poo? What happens if you try to stop a raging hurricane? You can’t stop a storm and not letting yourself poo will make you sick.

All feelings need time and space to be honored and felt.  The key to moving feelings out of the body is to not wrap a mental story around the feeling. Feel the resentment when your partner betrays you but don’t tell yourself you are piece of shit and it’s your fault or whatever the story may be. Keep stories off the feelings and use your mind to keep repeating, “I feel resentment” as you find a way to express it.

Express feelings through exercising, making art, acting, singing, venting to a friend, dancing, cooking, cleaning…find your way and let the feeling out purely without a narrative of why and what the feeling means.

I promise you, the feeling will pass as every storm and every bowel movement does. I am being crude on purpose. Negative feelings are crude. They are not elegant and they don’t smell good but they still need to be honored and let out.  If you let your feelings out you won’t spiritually bypass them with answers, solutions, reasons, meaning-making. Even the best of tools can be used for harm.

Karma, which is simply the accumulation of feelings that are not released from the body (due to stories or what the Buddhists call “attachments”), can be turned into a scolding and judgmental concept when you say, “I won’t feel my anger because I don’t want to create karma.” If you don’t want to create karma, feel your feelings fully and let them pass through.

Astrology is a great tool that can also be used the wrong way if you won’t let yourself feel despair by saying something like, “I have a Scorpio eighth house moon so despair is in my chart.” The tiniest bit of reasoning, no matter how true, can shut the actual feeling off.

Many therapeutic modalities do this too. Re-framing, a cognitive-behavioral technique of turning a negative story into a positive story, may shut off a feeling of anger that needs to surface and be released. It is best to first release the feeling and then re-frame the story.

The point I want to make is that all tools in the spiritual-psychological-self-help tool box can be misused. Take positivity for example. Positivity is not about only feeling and thinking positive thoughts. For that secretly judges and scolds negativity and the act of judging and scolding is extremely toxic. True positivity is remembering that all feelings are innocent when felt and expressed purely.

The truth of how the human body works is that honored and expressed feelings leave the body and cause no harm. When feelings collect in shadow they change over time. They putrefy and create bigger uglier monsters that erupt as chronic illness, projections, neurosis, and imbalances of all forms.

When negative feelings are honored and expressed they leave the body and hope has room to enter. Hope needs room to enter. Hope wont bludgeon its way into the heart.

Why some people have an easier time feeling hope while others struggle to feel hope is part mystery and part rational. The mystery roots down into temperaments. We all have a temperament. No need to judge yourself if your temperament is not very hopeful. I am sure you have another archetypal instinct pouring through you in spades.

Every human is a unique finger print of qualities and this is not in our control. The mystery owns our temperament.

Yet even the most hopeless temperament may experience hope because hope is an archetype we all connect with in the collective unconscious or spirit world. Every. Single. One of us.

Sometimes it takes a little work, which leads to the rational understanding part. If you struggle to feel hope due to your temperament, due to struggles internal or external, or due to being pummeled by tragedy all at once…you can do two things to invoke hope.

First, you can stop rejecting your feelings with judgements and make the dedication to feel your feelings without a story wrapped around them. You may get help doing this with a therapist or healer, a friend, or even a pet. Maybe being with spirit in solitude or in nature is helpful.

Feeling your feelings without stories may take a while. Patience is not easy but needed. For most of us have been told by culture, family, or both that negative feelings are bad and wrong and we experience literal cut-off from feelings as a result. Many of us instead find refuge in various addictions and distractions such as drinking, working, working-out, over-analyzing, focusing on others in service, partying, escaping through drugs, eating, shopping, etc.

But it’s every human’s birthright to reconnect to our feelings. Everyone is capable.

Another aspect to check is the story showing up as identity.

Maybe you identify too much with despair, depression, resentment, etc. Identification is when it’s not really despair you are feeling, it’s the story of despair you are telling yourself and have been your whole life.

You can tell the difference between a feeling and a story by seeing if you identify with it. If you identify with being a depressed person, chances are you have cut-off from many feelings due to being stuck in an identity. Feelings of anger and even self-empowerment may be longing to express but cannot get through the depressed story or persona.

Sorting out feelings from the story, starving out the stories, honoring and expressing the feelings is a process. Process is the most important part. Nobody can bypass their own process. For some it is quick, some slow… but for most of us healing moves in a spiral. We make progress then fall backward yet when we do we are a little wiser, a little more aware, a little more loving.

The second thing is you can invoke hope through ceremony and ritual.  The ancients and indigenous were very connected using ritual and ceremony to stay healthy. Arhcetypes such as hope speak to the conscious-self through images, sound, taste, movement, and feeling. The ancients and indigenous also understand that we are literally made of the elements (earth, air, fire, water, ether) and we may call upon them to ground and connect self to earth.

Whether you partake in a more formal ritual, alone or with a group, or whether you express ritual through making art, singing, listening to a song or a sermon…. ritual and ceremony simply means that you intentionally use your creativity, feelings and senses to invoke the archetypes.

It is everyone’s birthright to invoke hope.

Invoking may be as simple as lighting a candle and calling upon hope in meditation. It may be as elaborate as performing a sacred dance on the full moon after calling the directions, elements, angels, ancestors and allies.

Invoking hope may be as simple as singing a song that makes you feel hope. It may be as elaborate as writing a song about hope and performing in a hospice setting to inspire those close to transitioning into death.

You might find the perfect crystal and invoke hope into the crystal, wearing it over your heart each day.

Or perhaps you put your hands around every glass of water you drink and invoke hope into the water.

Hope does not ask for a specific kind of ritual or ceremony. Hope only asks to be acknowledged.

Many leaders have hope moving so powerfully through their hearts that they inspire everyone around them. Martin Luther King Jr comes to mind as a perfect example of this. Hope catches flame. You may not intend to call upon hope but hope finds you anyway.

Sometimes hope enters the body so strongly that it wipes out any blocks in the way and washes you clean. We have all experienced this through listening to song, watching a movie, being moved by a speaker, looking at a sunset, into a loved one’s eyes, or a work of art.

Hope is always available to us no matter how dense the jungle of tragedy, betrayal and injustice we are traversing. May hope find its way into your heart in your darkest night of the soul.

Full Moon in Capricorn, Karma, Feelings, Stories, Release…

The full moon in Capricorn is happening today. Following the cycles of the moon is akin to following to the cycles of the unconscious. Beneath the ego’s conscious realm of logic and reason dwells the realm of intuition, feelings, soul and the unconscious. The sun is the ego’s domain and the moon is the soul’s domain.

When the moon is full it is illuminating the soul and the contents of our personal shadow that wants to be seen at this time. Bring in Capricorn and we get a focused light. Capricorn focuses the lunar light on what is pragmatic, tempering our feelings and bringing rational understanding to the watery realm of feeling and intuition.

Bringing pragmatic and rational understanding to the feelings and intuition is calming for the nervous system. Many of us are experiencing heightened suffering right now in our personal lives and facing the crisis of this country. We are experiencing relationship challenges, health challenges, loss, confusion, emptiness, rage, sorrow, and battling to get out of old stories of suffering.

Bringing rational understanding to the feelings means discerning the feeling from the story. The feeling itself is a somatic expression. Sorrow is crying. Anger is screaming. Despair is wailing. Emptiness is staring into space. You get the idea. It’s never healthy to repress the feelings. Let them have expression.

Maybe you express through singing instead of crying and screaming. Maybe you express through running. However it gets out, get the feeling out. Make time to get the feeling out. Just like you wouldn’t hold in poo that needs out (how ridiculous!), do not hold in feelings because if you do it will make you sick just like holding in poo.

Use the rational Capricorn energy to make time to let your feelings have release.

The next step up the mountain is to keep your hawk eye out for the stories that like to grow on feelings the same way yeast likes to grow on fruit. Sadness may grow an “I am not good enough” story. Anger may grow a “you are bad” story. Emptiness may grow a “life is meaningless” story. Despair may grow a “I want to die” story. On and on. These stories are akin to unhealthy bacteria that make the system sick.

Just like fruit grows moldy if left uneaten, feelings that are left unfelt tend to grow bacterial stories. Other times these toxic stories grow from dwelling too much in a feeling. If you eat 100 apples you will get sick. If you dwell in sorrow you will soon grow a story that says you are incapable, used up, worthless and worse off than everyone else.

Having a regular meditation or yoga practice helps the mind stay aware of the stories so that we can cherry pick which stories are healthy and which to ignore. When you ignore a story long enough, it recedes and eventually dissolves because stories are not real. Feelings, on the other hand, are very real. If you ignore and avoid a feeling it will grow into a story that that you think is real while the repressed feeling makes you sick by showing up as illness, crisis, codependency and so forth.

The pragmatic thing to keep in mind is that the feeling is what needs tending and releasing so toxic stories do not build up and deceive the ego into nailing the self into it’s own coffin while still alive. Dramatic, I know. But truth be told, we humans are dramatic creatures. We are sensitive creatures. We need tending.

If we do not care for our feelings we get addicted to toxic stories and substances and relationships and people. Being able to show up as the present true self in each moment is tall order for the state of the human collective we are in. Crisis is global and personal. Capricorn reminds us to take each moment one baby step up the mountain of progress.

Take one little baby step of awareness to look within….

See how you feel. Feel how you feel. Hear how you feel. Know how you feel. However you get there. Find your feeling in your body. Maybe a song, movie, or story helps you get there. Maybe talking to a friend, a therapist, a healer, a pastor, a tarot deck, or spirit helps you. Locate the feelings in your body and take some time with it. Take some time to feel. Feeeeeeeeel. Breathe. Sit with it. Dance with it. Be with yourself. Connect with yourself.

It’s hard to feel the painful feelings. Sorrow, anguish, rage, despair, oh so hard. Anxiety is a cover up feeling, not the root. Anxiety is the ego feeling a loss of control and security. Some of us need medication or outside support in one form or another to manage anxiety. If you are able, could you allow yourself to feel beneath the anxiety…to feel the loss itself? Could you allow yourself to go deeper and feel the shame?

It’s not easy….it takes time, patience, love and tenderness…and it’s still hard…

Can you see the toxic stories you are telling yourself about yourself? If not, you may be projecting them onto others. Maybe your partner, a friend, a child, a sibling. Can you pull back these projections and face that you feel this way about yourself on some deep down level? If you pull back the projection, you will be forced to feel.

Capricorn is ruled by Saturn and Saturn is our karma. Our karma is our attachments. Our attachments are our feelings. Feelings are so hard to feel that we actually carry them from lifetime to lifetime. Feelings do not just go away. They must be felt to be released. If you die with guilt you are born with the same guilt in your new life. This is your karma.

Saturn will bring you lesson after lesson, experience after experience, to get you in touch with the feelings in your shadow that you are denying. Each time you ignore the feeling and project blame outward or blame the self, you miss the point and your karma continues. What if you felt the guilt all the way instead of avoiding it by trying to be good? Then you would feel what is beneath the guilt. Beneath the guilt may be a feeling of joy or love you never knew existed inside you.

Denied feelings may be painful or joyous and everything in between…

Coming back to the simplicity, feeling the feelings is the medicine. Feeling the feelings dissolves your karma, dissolves the toxic stories, dissolves the complexes. You purify yourself by feeling the feelings. But…there’s one more little aspect to liberating yourself from your limitations, your karma, your toxic stories, your patterns….and this is…

Love. If you bring love to the feelings you can be assured that the feelings are releasing. If you bring judgement to the feelings by crying and judging yourself as you cry, you are creating a toxic story and the feeling perpetuates. You release sadness and create new sadness at the same time. Some people are addicted to this process of continually releasing and re-creating sorrow, despair, anger, etc, through the power of telling themselves they are bad.

It can get very tricky in the psyche. Love assures you of complete release and experiencing love is not something Capricorn, Saturn, me or anyone can teach.

Love is the divine. Love is the transpersonal. Love is God. Love is Goddess. Love is larger than you. Love is life. If you call upon the power of love it will come to you and although it may take time, love will permeate the shadow and every feeling inside. Self love is as mysterious as the divine. You must know and feel this love personally and nobody can tell you how.

Love is not Capricorn’s domain but it is the moon’s domain. The full moon in Capricorn means we have the opportunity to bring unconditional love to our karma, limitations and the feelings that are wizard behind the curtain of every story created.

Capricorn full moon bring unconditional love into the heart of every human being on Earth and fill our cups until they are overflowing. Illuminate the stories we are creating and the feelings beneath the stories that ask for release. Bring us this step up the mountain of progress. May we heal, may we evolve, may we climb with gentleness, pragmatism, and grace.