Dark and Light: Coming to Trust in the Source of Creativity

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So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing. — T. S. Eliot

 

 

Just as the moon becomes fully eclipsed, I enter the center of the labyrinth. It’s about 5:00 am. The labyrinth is lit up a bit by the lights surrounding Grace Cathedral, offering a bit of light to this very dark moment.

As I stand in the center of the labyrinth, I gaze at the moon for quite a while.

 

I stand there, simply feeling.

Something is being remembered.

It feels as if my soul is reaching back into time, and back into other layers of existence or understanding or something such as this. It’s a feeling, and along with it are images of dark passageways. Not literal passageways, but passageways that seem to be showing straights of time and existence.

 

I know I am remembering something, but it’s not a remembering of something in this life or something my mind might understand. Rather, it’s a remembering of the Soul. I can feel the ‘meeting’ between knowing and my Soul. I feel it down deep in the darkness, down deep in the cells, down deep somewhere that I cannot see, but can see by feeling.

And so, my opening to the darkness as beauty, darkness as wisdom, darkness as rich soil of the divine comes in waves of knowing and realizations of not-knowing, too. My mind cannot figure out what this all means, and believe me it is trying to figure it out. It wants to sneak into these divine moments of darkness. It is trying, yet the pull of this deep feeling space is so sensual and so deeply loving.

 

There is a beautiful cauldron of creation from which all is born. And for women, this universe of becoming also resides in your female body, deep in the waters of the sacred center that is held so artfully and lovingly by the pelvic bowl

Our relationship to the dark is how we relate to our own creativity. Creativity is born out of this cauldron of creation. We can’t see what will be born from the dark. We must come to trust in the dark, in creation itself.

Perhaps what we’ve been taught to believe about the dark isn’t true at all, anymore than what we’ve been taught about light. It is out of the darkest darkness that the most brilliant light is born. And brilliant light eventually finds its way back to the dark.

It’s easy to label things light and dark, good and bad, right and wrong because in a world where we are taught that everything is either/or, we come to believe this way of thinking is the only way. But standing in the labyrinth, feeling the moon and earth and sun deeply affect the deep regions of my psyche, I come to know that nothing is as it seems to the mind. And, it is here in this rich stew of remembering that I settle down into my bones, into the center of a matrix that holds me.

If we truly want to live in harmony with life, and with the earth and moon and sun, we must come to know this aspect of ourselves – the brilliant darkness from which light is born.

Notice how many times you hear dark being used as something bad, while light is seen as the good. Notice how you have learned to shy away from the dark while persistently trying to ‘stay in the light’. Just notice. And, notice what you begin to remember when you allow the darkness of your internal world to welcome you home. Notice how it feels.

Stand in the center welcoming this remembrance, however it shows itself. You don’t need an eclipse or a labyrinth to do so. Simply stand in your own center.

In the stillness of noticing, see how what-you-truly-are is already dancing in divine harmony.

::

I’ll be teaching again next June (14th – 20th) at Feathered Pipe Ranch in Helena Montana.

Feathered Pipe is a beautiful place, with wonderful people, delicious food, and land that welcomes you even before you arrive. I’ll be teaching with Michael Lennox, whom I co-taught with last year. Over our week at Feathered Pipe, we’ll explore this beautiful darkness within from which all is born. I’d love to have you join us.

If you register by October 31st, tomorrow, you can take advantage of two discounts. If you pay in full, both lodging and retreat, you receive 10% off the entire cost. If you register with the $300 required deposit, you’ll pay the 2013 price rather than the 2014 price. You cannot combine the two. Correction: You CAN combine these two discounts.

::

I want to share these wonderful interviews with you that I did with three good friends. I love it when good interviewers get you to share some nuggets you’ve never shared before.

  • Rachael Maddox is the ‘ringleader of the Traveling Soul Circus’. Take a look at what Rachael does. She’s truly inspiring. In our conversation, Rachael and I talk about Bringing Ourselves to the World Situation: Natural, Organic, Real :: Age & Meaning’
  • Evelyn Kalinosky is a catalyst and mentor for business women in midlife transition. I loved getting to know Evelyn and the great work she does with women.This interview was for Evelyn’s Conversations That Matter series. Evelyn asked me to share some of the moments of my life that have been big catalysts for my evolution. I’ve shared some personal stuff here.
  • Nikki Groom has been touted as THE copywriter to watch. She writes exclusively for  women entrepreneurs and believes that words should speak to the heart–not just to the head. Our conversation was fun and is deeply engaging…as is Nikki. She’s fun and has a wonderful way with words.

 

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Shedding Skin

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A year or so ago, I had a dream.

I dreamed I was standing in a grove of wide-branched, thick-leafed trees. It was nighttime. Between the dark of night and the thick of the trees, I stood in darkness. No moonlight or starlight made its way through to my eyes. The darkness was deep, yet not at all frightening. Rather, it seemed to hold me in a kind of embrace not possible in daylight. Perhaps in the darkness all is allowed to simply be what it is. Perhaps.

As I stood in this darkness, my eyes fell to the ground and I saw that I was standing amidst a sea of white snakeskins. They were scattered all around me. The whiteness of the skin was seemingly brilliantly white against the beautiful darkness all around me.

I’m normally afraid of snakes – an old phobia that’s gotten much better through my life, yet still remains to a lesser degree. But, as I gazed upon the skins, I felt no fear even though I wondered where all the snakes were.

::

Just this past month, I co-facilitated a retreat at Feathered Pipe Ranch called Waking the Inner Teacher. One of my co-facilitators was Michael Lennox, an expert in dreams. I shared the dream with him and in response Michael suggested I see the skins as coming from one snake, and that this one snake was me. I was the snake shedding all these beautiful white skins, and I was doing so by coming to trust in the darkest of the dark places within.

Over these past few months, especially since returning from my time in Montana, I’ve been in the throes of another shedding. I don’t really know exactly how snakes shed their skins, but I sense it isn’t an entirely comfortable process. I know the shedding I’ve been going through hasn’t been comfortable or easy. Yet, something deep in the soul pushes and prods – gropes to find its way through the darkness out into the light.

::

I’ve written about The Project, how we all have one, and how when we take it off and set it down, we can breathe in a way we’ve never breathed before, and we feel a kind of freedom we’ve longed for. The Project is made up of all the beliefs you’ve taken on about who you are supposed to be, how you are supposed to live and look, even what work you are supposed to do in the world in order to be successful and conform to familial and cultural expectations.

I liken The Project to those protective aprons the dentist places on you when you have X-rays. It’s heavy and protective against rays being projected onto you, and when they take it off, you feel light again.

As I shed what feels like a deep layer of old outworn identity, I feel this lightness, and a kind of joy. It feels simple. It feels unencumbered by the heaviness I’ve carried around me almost all of my life. I now see why that heaviness was there. Like the X-ray apron, this heaviness was a form of protection, but it was also a reflection of the world in which I was raised. I’ve seen how I took on the look and feel of the world in which I grew up, thinking that’s what the whole world was like – because as a little one, that was my whole world. I was a child of the late-fifties and sixties and there was a lot of heaviness not only in my family but in the world at large.

So much of the hard and stern ways of the structure we live in were actively engaged during those times, ways we are seeing pronounced today in the rigidity of our political and corporate structures. Conditioned masculine and feminine ways of being kept, and keep, many people trapped in suffocating gender roles.

Children are very impressionable and the daily impressions of their world become set in the psyche as the way things are…until the soul pushes and wriggles and finds its way out of those old impressions. This is what I’ve come to see so clearly over the last few weeks. And even though I knew this intellectually for a long time, until I could be with everything that was stored in my body – impressions, emotions, events, beliefs, energies – and allow them to be revealed and move in the ways they needed to in order to be free, I couldn’t come to know this new skin. Or maybe it’s more an original skin that was covered up. It feels that way.

The playfulness and lightness that are here feel pure and innocent, while at the same time there is a new sense of maturity, a sense that holds a kind of responsibility that feels right and good.

This new and supple skin seems to delight in the simple (yet entirely magical and mysterious) experience of being alive.

While dancing last night, I was taken by a sense of awe at the ability my body has to move in the ways it does, by the way small white lights looked lining the walls of the room we danced in, and by the way each of us dancing seemed to find our own unique movement and expression while listening to the same music. All very simple everyday things lit brightly by eyes that have been opened to the blessing that it is to be here, alive, in this body.

I know that the whole world is in a big transition. Both our individual and our collective skins are being shed and its not at all comfortable. But something in us knows we’ve outgrown this old way of seeing the world through eyes of separation, distrust, and sternness. Much of our societal tendencies reflect a belief that play and pleasure, softness and compassion, creativity and giving, are weak values to live. Yet, these very places of tenderness that we’ve tried to protect by hanging onto our old skins are what we must embrace again if we are to know our wholeness and humanness, and we are to truly understand (even the slightest bit) the gift it is to be human and to live our lives as an offering to life itself.

We women hold a way of being the world hungers for. It is what we are when we stop trying to be what we are not. We are not men.Our bodies hold offerings we must now live if we are to survive as a species.

 

Photo : AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by rustman on Flickr

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Earth: Before I was named I belonged to you.

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I’ve been on the road for ten days, now. First Anchorage, Alaska; now Helena, Montana. Both new places to me. Both places that have offered windows into the sacredness of this Earth we call home.

In Alaska, I had the fortunate opportunity to fly around Mt. McKinley, and Denali National Park…and even to land on a glacier. I mountain biked around a teal blue lake. The land there is powerful. Big mountains. Open sky. It is beautiful. And, the almost-endless light caused me to crave the dark.Darkness never really came. Still light out at midnight went against everything I’d ever experienced about day and night and how they are ‘supposed to’ weave together. I couldn’t ever really get a good night’s sleep. All of the light is a lot of energy to take in. A lot of masculine energy: big light, big mountains, big contrast.


In Helena, it is different. Very different. Immediately upon arrival, I felt a softness. Before being shown to my room, I walked into the garden and just sat for a few moments. I took in the purple iris, the bleeding hearts, and the lilac. One by one, three cats came to greet me. Each one found a spot in the sunshine to stretch out into. The aspen were quaking in the breeze. Everything felt soft and welcoming.

Here in Helena, at the Feathered Pipe Ranch, the power of the land has called to me since I was first asked to teach here about seven weeks ago. I could feel the land calling. I sensed there would be a deep connection. There is.

Each place has its song. Each place has its scent. Each place calls to us in its own tongue.

What an experience to feel the big contrast between these two places. Lately in my life, I’ve experienced so many new places. It’s as if I am being invited to witness the uniqueness of our Mother, how she offers something so astoundingly different depending on where you sit. And, how she, and the brightness of the sun and sky, dance together within this experience.

Some of this can be known by the mind as data and fact and details. Most of it can only be known by feeling our relationship with the land, and by being willing to listen deeply to what is here.

Consider this: everything you receive in order to live comes from Her, from life. Your food. Your water. Your air. Your life. You came from Her and you will return to Her.

I came across this poem, by way of Filiz Telek. Oh how it spoke to me as I stood on that glacier. Oh how it rumbles through me as I sit witnessing Mother Robin feeding her young with their mouths gaping wide, waiting to be filled. In fact, as I watched, one little one sat so long with its beak wide-open, that its head dropped down over the nest into a sound sleep.

::

Earth, isn’t this what you want? To arise in us, invisible?
Is it not your dream, to enter us so wholly
there’s nothing left outside us to see?
What, if not transformation,
is your deepest purpose? Earth, my love,
I want it too. Believe me,
no more of your springtimes are needed
to win me over—even one flower
is more than enough. Before I was named
I belonged to you. I see no other law
but yours, and know I can trust
the death you will bring.
See, I live. On what?
Childhood and future are equally present.
Sheer abundance of being
floods my heart.

Rainer Marie Rilke
From the Ninth Duino Elegy

Soon I’ll be sharing much of the richness and beauty I am experiencing here at Feathered Pipe. Stay tuned.

With love, Julie

 

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The Inward Turn to Self – Waken the Inner Teacher

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In just twelve days, I’ll arrive at Feathered Pipe Ranch. I must’ve taken the Virtual Walking Tour at least ten times since I was asked to co-facilitate this kickoff retreat for Feathered Pipe’s summer program.

(take the tour. the land is breathtaking!)

When I first learned about the Waken the Inner Teacher retreat, I had a sense it was going to be about helping people discover this inner Self at the center of the heart. I had a sense that many who would come would do so in order to dive in for the first time. And that is true. But, what I didn’t initially get was how many would come for the deep bonding that happens as we all take that turn inward together.

Living from the inner teacher is not easy…especially in many of the current cultural climates that continue to suggest others know best and that we should follow the dictates of those in powerful positions.

Yet, during these times, we need to be living from truth. We must begin to live from a lived sacred relationship with all of life. Taking the inward turn to Self awakens us to this sacred relationship with life, with the earth as a sacred being.

Saying yes to follow the Self is a choice I’ve had to make many times over. Sometimes it is easier. Sometimes, not so much. Eventually, it seems there is a quiet and gentle ‘Yes’.

The inner call of Self:

Something calls to us. A voice. A feeling. A knowing. It keeps calling. And, even when we turn away, it never turns away from us.

This that never turns away from us, even when the last thing we want to do is hear its voice, is the inner teacher. But when we do accept that we want to hear it, what helps us to hear it is crafting a relationship to it of trust and wonder. When we come to acknowledge that we do indeed long to know the Self, we begin to feel this longing more deeply. When we ask to hear and realize the silence we find is pregnant with life, we open to truly listening. When we are genuinely filled with wonder and a kind of curiosity of what we might find, we open the door. Sometimes, it happens all on its own. And more often than not, it takes our turning inward with a true intention to want to know.

At this point in evolution, we are all being asked to take this inward turn, the inward turn to the creative heart. And, at this point in evolution, we are also being asked to do this together, in community.

As Adyashanti writes,

“We are birthed into sangha, into sacred community. It is called the world.”

The whole world is our community, our sangha. The entire world holds us and has held us since birth. To know this brings about a kind of peace and relaxing into. And to find a community to do this work, deepens this knowing of being held.

So, I ask you to check-in within. Listen deeply. What does your intuition tell you?

Follow this voice. One of the keys to deepening the relationship to Self is to act on one’s intuition…whichever way it guides you. Intuition is always a yes/no. It either says, “yes”, or it says, “no”. That’s one thing really easy about it.

If you feel called to come to Feathered Pipe, please do. I would love to spend these precious days with you. June 15 – 21. In the beautiful big-sky country of Montana.

We are all teachers. We are all students. We are all finding our way, together.

Or as Ram Dass wrote, “We are all just walking each other home.”

 

 

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There is a hungering… and it is really practical.

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There is a hungering…

to come closer into the body and open to a deep connection with the earth. It is soul time. Time to connect with our own soul, with other souls and with the soul of the earth.

I see how for most of our lives, women have been told what to do and how to do it. It is time for us to allow our own wisdom and intuition to be the guide of our lives, for when we do this, true feminine wisdom will arise in the world. And, we need feminine wisdom desperately.

It is time for all of us, women and men, to stop trying to control everything, and to come to remember the earth’s capacity to regenerate herself. It is time to align with our essential nature, essence, so that we live in harmony with our own body and the body of the earth.

 

From June 15 -21, I’ll be co-facilitating the
‘Waking the Inner Teacher’, Empowerment Camp 2013
at Feathered Pipe Ranch in Montana,
along side Karen Chrappa and Michael Lennox, PhD

There are many reasons why it is important at this time in history for all of us to be waking up to the divinity within. You can listen, here, to the information call we held to share why we feel this retreat will be remarkable.

 

On this call, Karen Chrappa shares a really important point about why waking the inner teacher is so important right now. She speaks of how we’ve been taught to look outside of ourselves for wisdom, and when we do this we give away our power. I’ve written about this here on the blog over the years, but I really like the way Karen speaks of it. It is so important for each of us to find this inner teacher to awaken the power that lies within us to be of service to this world.

 

How do we get more deeply in touch with our own wisdom and intuition? We must awaken the inner teacher.

To do this, the body is key. We are here on earth by way of a body. It is the vessel through which we live and create.  This relationship between the inner teacher and the body is beautiful. When we fear our essential nature, or essence, we can try so tightly to control life, to control ourselves, and to control others. But when we come to feel the inner teacher, to know how it moves, to feel the sensations of its expression within, and to open to how it communicates, we can come to trust in this sacred intelligence that is the essence of all of life. We come to trust in our own nature, and the sacred nature of all beings.

This is really practical stuff. When it comes right down to it, we live smack dab in the middle of a mystery. We might not be so keen on acknowledging that fact, but it is so. Our rational minds try really hard to do the job of figuring out the mystery, of controlling things so we only have those ‘good’ experinces and none of the ‘bad’ ones, but it is not the right tool for the job.

What is the right tool? Life. Or, another more often used word is Intuition. Some say the heart. Other call it compassion. This inner teacher has many facets and qualities. Ultimately it is the intelligence of Life itself. Life knows how to navigate life. We are life. The inner teacher is this intelligence and it moves the body and moves through the body.

When we begin to trust this intelligence, our wonderful rational minds can let go of the job they are exhausted trying to do, and can instead be a wonderful helper in living this life more creatively, intuitively, and ultimately, more joyfully.

Whether or not you might want to come, take a listen to our information call we held on May 8th.. There is much wisdom in these 60 minutes. 

Find out more about Empowerment Camp 2013 at Feathered Pipe Ranch. I’d love to have you join us!

 

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The Wildish Within

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The Wildish Within.

That wild alive feeling and knowing that you are

so much more than you present to the world.

So much more vibrant and alive and instinctual.

Awaken this vibrant teacher within

 ::

I took my usual morning walk today, ambling (yup, I only amble on these walks) down to the business section of my neighborhood to get something hot to drink. I like to sit on the bench in front of my favorite place and simply take in the morning smells and light and sounds. It’s my favorite time of day. These spring days here in San Francisco have been amazingly, so this morning was really warm.

As I sat, I could smell a faint odor of smoke, like something was burning. It was very faint, as if perhaps there was some kind of fire in the distance. As I smelled it, I found myself taken back to mornings in India…mostly in Delhi and Varanasi…during my travels there. The smoky haziness guided me back to the vibrancy of those city streets, where there tends to be small street fires, along with very hazy air.

In some of my work with clients (and of course with myself!), I’ve encountered how we are with chaos and wildishness…how it’s all around us, and how in some places we seem to pretend to keep a pretty good  lid on it all.

I thought about the streets I had just ambled down, streets that have some of the finest homes in San Francisco and beautifully manicured yards with streets routinely swept clean of debris. I thought about how around these parts the wildish is kept at bay. I’m not saying I don’t love living here, nor am I saying that I don’t feel blessed to be living this life. What I am saying is that something inside me felt that familiar longing for the wildish nature that I experienced in India, brought on by the smell. I felt the very palpable longing for the vibrancy and aliveness that come when things aren’t so contained and controlled. Smells are strong reminders for us of past experiences.

I’ve felt the wildish in so many places in the world, and even do feel it in the grove of trees in the nearby Presidio.  This wildish I am referring to is a kind of chaos, a kind of dance that is always happening in life. It’s always happening inside of us, in our bodies, in our souls. When we try to keep it at bay, we have to stuff it down somewhere where we don’t think about it, and perhaps become unconscious to it. We pretend that there isn’t this wildish in our own selves.

This wildish nature is our nature…We know it, even if we don’t let ourselves know we know it.

And, there’s a hankering inside us to allow this nature out, to live it. It is primal. It is creative. And, it is an aspect of life that doesn’t just go away because we pretend it does. I know I have feared it in myself. Yet, when I’ve been with it, when I’ve invited it out, it isn’t what I expected it to be.

When we come into the body, we begin to come back in touch with the wildish.

I know during the short five weeks I spent in India, something vibrant came alive in me. Seeing a world so full of life, and death, reminded me of parts of myself that don’t get much reflection here where I live – these wildlish parts within.

This wildish within – it’s in all of us. Not just women, of course. And, it manifests differently because of the nature of our bodies. For us women, it’s absolutely necessary for us to get in touch with this elemental energy within because as Dr. Christine Page writes,

“A woman’s body is an alchemical vessel that possesses the power, wisdom, and knowledge to bring about transformation and enlightenment. For far too long we have submitted to patriarchal thinking and rejected our body’s seeming imperfections, illogical rhythms, and chaotic expressions. Yet when we stop fighting our body and allow it to do its work, we find ourselves embodying its mysteries and becoming a formidable force that refuses to be hidden or suppressed any longer…” 

 

So…

Do you long to know this wildish within?

How do you feel it? How does it call to you?

What does it cost for you to keep the wildish at bay? How much energy? How much disconnection?

How much joy, love, and creativity are kept in the shadow when you keep the wildish at bay?

 

Come join me on Retreat! Awaken the Inner Teacher

I’ve written on embodiment for a while now, especially as I’ve been on this long journey from the head to the heart.

And, now I’ll be a guide, alongside two remarkable wisdom guides, Michael Lennox, PhD and Karen Chrappa, on how to awaken the inner teacher.

I will be guiding this awakening through movement and visualization. We’ll be inviting out the wildish, waking up the wisdom of the body, this ‘alchemical vessel. This opportunity is for women and men, held at Feathered Pipe Ranch in Montana.

 

*** Retreat Informational Call

Want to know more? Ask questions? Hear what will be happening?

Wed, May 8th, 7:30 edt, 4:30 pdt. Register here for your call-in number and PIN.

 

 

And, if you’re wondering, the wildish within is sacred. It’s not separate from the divine. It is the mystery that is life, the mystery that is you.

 

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