It’s day one of my spiritual retreat, and time for our morning learning circle. I’m part of the Ancestors Path that meets in the shade of a mighty willow tree, with a pristine mountain lake and craggy peaks to one side, and untamed West Coast rainforest to the other.
Our teacher leads us on a guided trance. We’re going to meet our psychopomp: our personal spiritual guide in the land of the dead, and then journey with this ally to connect with the Ancestors.
In the trance, I come to an ancient wooden door. There’s a key in a lock, the key of conscious choice, that I turn and then enter the space beyond. I find myself on silver, shining path suspended in a black void — a vast, fertile emptiness of infinite possibilities.
My psychopomp meets me on this silver path. She takes the form of a sleek black panther who greets me by placing a paw on each shoulder. Even though I’ve never worked with a psychopomp before, my soul immediately recognizes my spiritual guide as an old ally and friend.
The teacher continues the guided trance, and tells us to seek out the land of our Ancestors with our psychopomp.
Although there’s more to this guided-trance experience, this one, crystal-clear insight stayed with me: my body is the body of the Ancestors.My Body is the Body of the Ancestors
On a surface level, this may seem like an obvious statement. My physical form is the result of the coming together of the DNA of my parents, and this DNA holds the material characteristics of the generations that went before me.
In simple terms, this means who I am, how I live, what I give my attention to, how much I let the past and my family patterns determine my now thoughts and actions, and the myriad of other big and small life choices and experiences that make up my everyday existence matter deeply.
Each of us inherits not only the physical DNA of our family lines, but also the energetic DNA of generational stories and experiences, especially those of trauma. For many of us, it’s the unacknowledged trauma, passed on generation after generation, that’s our shadow partner in life. These things live on in our body and life choices. And they can also end, be healed and transformed, through our body and life choices.
Beyond the trauma, how I care for my body speaks to how I treat the body of my Ancestors. Giving my body the food, sleep, relaxation, exercise and pleasure it needs to be happy and healthy are the ways I honor myself and my Ancestors, and how I show respect and gratitude for the precious gift of life and physical form that my Ancestors have given me.
This body of mine, the body of my Ancestors, is a great responsibility. It’s a miracle — a living, unfolding story — an opportunity for healing, growth and transformation — an invitation to joy, pleasure and love. Our Ancestors in the land of the dead no longer have access to this gift and miracle. There are things that they can’t undo, can’t experience, can’t touch and care for. Yet I can do these things on behalf of my Ancestors and family line.My Body Is an Ancestor in the Making
Life is short, and there will come a time when I’ll leave this world and join the ranks of the Ancestors. My physical body will be gone, but what I did with my body in this lifetime will continue on in the energetic DNA I leave behind. I can pass on the energetic lineage I inherited, or I can make this DNA anew, and gift the Descendants in my family line with something more healed and whole.
Perhaps more importantly, my son and the younger generation in my family witness and absorb how I’m living my life now. All the things I do, or don’t do, to respect and honor my body, and the gift of my life are on full display to the Descendants of my family line.
No one can live a perfect life. These insights from the Ancestors aren’t coming to me as a burden, or to increase my self-judgment and guilt. Instead the Ancestors are calling me to claim and rejoice in this precious body and life of mine, and to know that I have a great responsibility to them, to my Descendants, and to myself.
As always, the lessons from the dead remind us how to live.
Photo Credit: Benji Aird on Unsplash
Carl Jung was teaching us about the love revolution when he said that the opposite of love is not hatred, but will to power.
Will to power pretty well sums up the ethos that underlies our mainstream society where those at the top of the pile claim the right to dominate those below them. Self-interest and greed go hand in hand with will to power, and this toxic combination is what drives our political, economic and social systems.
The Goddess has been teaching me about this love revolution for years. Our humanity is at a pivotal turning point where the world as we know it, arising from this ethos of will to power, has set us on a collision course with ecological disaster and societal meltdown. When I ask the Goddess how we can change this destructive trajectory, She always tells me one thing over and over: love is what can mend our human soul, and transform our shared society.
The love revolution isn’t a new idea. It was gifted to us by the sixties counterculture, where love, compassion and awareness were seen as the basis of a revolution in our human consciousness and society. Then it seemed as if the love revolution fizzled out, and we continued on the same collective, destructive trajectory of self-interest, greed and will to power. But here we are, sixty years later, returning to this tenacious idea of love as a counterforce that can mend what ails our lives and shared society.
What is this transformative love that Carl Jung, the Goddess and the sixties counterculture are talking about? This question has been central to my own spiritual journey, and quest for personal and collective transformation, and this is what I’ve discovered.Love is a base human need.
We are wired to give and receive love both within our intimate circles of family, lovers, partners, children and friends, and the broader circles of our fellow humans and creature companions who share our Earth home. We can love ourselves, other people, things, ideas and activities. We typically think of this personal kind of love as emotional, but it’s also about service that honors and nurtures the well-being and happiness of others.Love is a state of being.
I’ve opened to this state of love through meditation. What I experienced wasn’t an idea or an emotion, but more a place or part of my being where I was love. My whole being was infused with an absolute peace and acceptance of everything and everyone. There was no separation between me and this love; it was in me and outside of me at the same time, everywhere and in all things.Love is the primal power of the living world.
We live in a material Universe, of matter, of Mother, of love as life’s unquenchable desire to create and nurture new life. From our flesh and bone bodies to our shining souls, we are woven of this primal love, as is everything around us. Love is our essence, and the energetic matrix that connects every living thing. We are part of this love, and we are this love. There is no separation, and never was.Love is a choice and sacred responsibility.
Humanity has been blessed and cursed with a dual nature. We hold within us the powers of creation and destruction, and their mirror forces of love and will to power. For millennia, we have collectively chosen will to power over love, and self-interest and greed over concern and care for others. To heal our souls and transform our world, we must consciously choose love over will to power, and then begin to live in accordance with this choice.Love is unconditional and inclusive.
No one and no part of ourselves are unworthy of this love. Beauty and wounding, light and shadow, creation and destruction, those who love, and those who cling to will to power — all of these complex, opposing aspects of our inner landscape and collective humanity have brought us to this turning moment, and all are in need of acceptance, healing and transformation. Love is deep and wide enough to hold everyone and everything, and in this meeting and mixing of the full range of our humanity, we can become whole, holy, and something new, kinder, wiser and more powerful.Love is a revolutionary force that can mend our souls and transform our world.
Beneath the thin veneer of a world constructed on will to power, beyond our personal burdens and scars of broken hearts and wounded life stories, this vast, infinite love calls us home to its welcoming embrace. We need only reach back to reclaim the love that we are, and the love that is ours to share. This love will heal and transform us, and then we, in turn, will heal and transform our world.
We, every single one of us, are the catalysts of the love revolution. The outer world can only change when we ourselves change, and choose love over will to power as the guiding force in our lives. This isn’t an easy journey. It calls us to claim and heal our wounded love, and to extend compassion and care to the great circle of our humanity, with all its mess, complexity and diversity. It requires that we become something new, a deeper, wider vessel for the love that is Goddess, life, and our true essence and best nature.
With each healed heart and mended soul, person by person, step by step, change by change, love is the counterforce to will to power that can guide our way forward into a kinder, caring and sustainable future.
Long ago, we worshipped the Great Goddess, the Creatrix and the Dark One, the giver and the taker of the breath and sustenance of our mortal existence. Her ever-present love and life-giving ways, like shining silver threads, wove the tapestry of our human society, threads that were passed down from the Great Mother, to the priestesses and women leaders, and to the daughters who were to inherit the red cloak of feminine power.
So it was, for generation after generation, the silver threads of the Mother’s ways continued, shining and undiminished.
Yet nothing lasts forever and the seasons of humanity turn. As the sun overtakes the moon in the shifting of night into day, so the rule of men and their patriarchal Gods eclipsed the leadership of woman and the Great Goddess. Dominion and death overruled creation and the nurturance of life, and the silver threads of the Mother became tarnished and frayed.
Still, within this newer, distorted weaving, the silver threads remained visible for those with eyes to see and a heart to receive.
With each successive generation and in patriarchy’s quest for absolute rule and absolute suppression of the Mother’s ways, Her silver threads faded farther and farther from our human awareness. Fear and disdain replaced love and reverence.
There were no priestesses, no women leaders, and no daughters to pass on our sacred feminine lineage. Only the bravest of our ancestors, the witches and the healers and the wise women, dared to remember and speak of the remnants of the Mother’s silver threads, woven into the Old Religion of the Great Goddess. Then they too became a part of our disappearing herstory, tortured and murdered during the horrors of the Burning Times for the taint of association with She who must be purged from Her stubborn roots in the human psyche.
Yet nothing lasts forever and the seasons of humanity turn. The sun shares the sky with the moon, just as God shares this world with the Goddess, and a male ethos with that of the sacred feminine. One may eclipse the other for a time, but what was lost will be refound and balance will return.
These are powerful times that call for powerful presence. The world as we know it appears to be coming apart at the seams, in both immensely positive and terrifyingly negative ways. And we must find our place and power, our love and goodness, in the midst of this river of change that carries us forward to a brighter or desolate future. The Goddess speaks to this transformative moment, calling us to collect and weave the silver threads of Her love and life-centered ways into a tapestry of love that offers a new vision for our lives and shared human society.
I feel the import of this moment, like all of Creation is holding its breath, waiting to see what we humans will choose at this colossal tipping point. I’ve visited this tipping point many, many times with the Goddess and always She returns to the same message: you already have what you need to heal your soul and this world; it’s inside of you, my greatest gift to you, and your most sacred birthright — love.
By this the Goddess doesn’t mean our human, emotional kind of love, but the love that infuses all living things in the unfolding Cosmos, that drives life to create and nurture new life, and to honor and embrace the brilliant manner in which every life form, and every one of us, holds a unique, essential piece of the shining, living, breathing whole.
I feel the Goddess in my fingertips as I write this post. I feel Her in my heart and in my solar plexus.
“Find these threads in your own life. Gather them to you as the precious gifts that they are. Weave them into a new vision, a tapestry of love that centers your everyday existence, and your choices and actions in the goodness and beauty that you are, and the goodness and beauty of your Earth home. And then live your tapestry of love, with all your heart and all your will, knowing that this, and only this, will bring the depth of change that’s needed to turn the tides into a brighter future in these perilous, exhilarating times.”
This is our spiritual pathwork, now and for the rest of our lives. Be assured, the heat is being turned up in this battle over what will rule our soul and our human society: the worst of our nature, with its fear, greed and compulsion for dominion, or the best of our nature, with its goodness, generosity and drive to create. Our primary task, no matter what challenges, fear and resistance cross our path, is to keep collecting and weaving these silver threads into our tapestry of love, to make this weaving strong, resilient and shiny beautiful, and to join with others to create greater tapestries in support of the things we commonly hold dear.
Remember that to face our fears, heal our pain and embrace our challenges are essential parts of our collecting and weaving task. Whatever tapestry we create, individually and together, will contain the shiny, silver threads of our intact goodness and beauty, and the tarnished, frayed strands of our wounded places. All these things are part of our truth and wholeness, and essential to the strength and integrity of our tapestry of love.
As we collect and weave, collect and weave, trust that She, the Great Goddess, Dark Mother, or whatever language you use to name this greater power of life and love, collects and weaves by our side. Together let us sing out to the listening Cosmos and our fellow humanity: we are awake and we are choosing love, and then dive into that river of change and swim with all your might toward the brighter future that awaits us.
Related Post: The Silver Threads of the Great Mother
The Goddess tells me one thing over and over again: to heal and evolve this world, we need to become something different. We need to be love.
Though these words sound simple, what do they really mean? What is this love? And how do we go about being love?
To answer the question: what is this love, I have to tell you a story.
I was attending a workshop on the Buddha’s doctrines on love. As the teacher delivered his dharma talk on this topic, I shifted into a meditative state and opened to this love he spoke about.
Later, in my connection with the Goddess, I came to understand this place or part of me as the golden love of the Goddess that had little to do with my pre-conceived notions of love, and everything to do with my direct experience in the Buddhist workshop.
This isn’t the romantic love of Hallmark Valentine’s Day cards, nor a warm, enveloping, motherly love, but something woven into the very fabric of existence — sometimes fierce, tugging and unrelenting, like the ocean calling us back to its life-sustaining waters — sometimes hot, sensual, igniting, like the skin-on-skin of a lover’s touch — other times gentle, accepting, peaceful, like the hands of the Goddess cupping us in their infinite interior — always as close and intimate as our breath, yet also way beyond our limited human conception of things — something of soul, of body, of experience, not mind.
What I know, beyond all doubt, is that we are this love. Our very beings are woven of its golden strands, and our most sacred purpose is to be love.How Do You Go About Being Love?
To answer the question: how do you go about being love, I offer you a meditation exercise.
1. Start with a simple breath meditation.
Take several full, deep breaths, following the sounds and movements of your inhalations and exhalations. Feel your body soften. Empty your mind of thoughts and worries. Relax.
2. Turn your awareness inward.
Imagine stepping away from your mind’s way of understanding the world, and into the vast wisdom and knowing of your body and soul. Ask to be shown the love that you are. Keep your focus on your breath, with your body soft and your mind quiet and curious, and see what comes to you.
The challenge in this exercise is to get completely out of your own way, letting go of all preconceived notions and expectations, including the story I have just told you.
Be profoundly still and open, and let the love pour into this emptiness.
3. Bring this exercise to a close.
Before you complete your meditation, imagine lighting up your whole being — mind, body and soul — with the golden energy of this love. Totally immerse yourself in the love that you are, and the love that is everywhere and in all things.
Let this connection change you, in whatever way is good and right for you at this moment.
When you are done, use your breath to fully return to your physical form and waking consciousness. Pat your body and say your name out loud. Then slowly, softly get up and continue on with your day.
In the days that follow, and every time you do this meditation, pay attention to any shifts in how you conceive and engage yourself and your outer existence. Set the intention to embody and experience this golden love of the Goddess in your everyday life.
Trust that these things will change you in profound ways. You’re healing and evolving yourself and our world. You are being love.