During Sadhana, as I began inadvertently reflecting (my “monkey mind” was jumping around during my spiritual practice) on how I had read “three tales of pilgrimage – Maiden, Mother, Crone,” my occasional scattered thoughts morphed into my own three phases of life which finally resulted in a tremendous cathartic release of my inner ‘bound Maiden’ as to …
I WAS NOT A FAILURE.
Clearly, the abreaction shared below followed partially from the awareness raised during the Dark Moon ritual of last night.
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Crying, sobbing, I realized that I still thought of myself during my Maiden phase of life as a failure, as someone who ‘couldn’t make it,’ who couldn’t meet the mark or live up to the expectations of myself, my ex-husband, my father, or society. That nothing I did was ‘successful’ (the details of my story are not unusual, encompassing everything from spousal abuse to attempted suicide to bankruptcy to falling down untold times). I never made anyone ‘proud’ of me, and I never received acknowledgement of my survival by those in positions of patriarchal authority. Namely … Dad. But this isn’t about him, not really — it’s about me. What do I feel and what did I feel back then? What happened and why? Sobs wracked my body as I lay in ‘bound angle pose’ with my heart open, my lower body open and vulnerable.
I began to express aloud what I was feeling by saying of the Maiden-that-was: “She was not a failure” repeating it over and over. Eventually, I could look inward and say to the Maiden-that-was: “you were not a failure” in mantra. Then, after many repetitions, able to say and feel the reverberations within and without: “I am not a failure.” Barely getting the words out sometimes through a throat that kept closing, choking, sobbing. Old diaries from my 20s are filled with self-negation and anger, and, yes, at times, self-hatred for failing at so many things in so many people’s eyes, or so I thought. What I didn’t see through my own heart-led vision was that I survived — and that means I am successful. I had courage. I pushed through and found ways to survive, to begin the healing process, and it doesn’t matter how long it takes. It doesn’t matter if others saw my struggle as a struggle. All they could see is what I revealed and what their own eyes were willing to look at. I was vulnerable. And I survived. I made it.
When I sat up from asana … I hugged myself, hugged my inner Maiden who was bound and gagged and left in a dark corner as unworthy, as a failure. I untied the stiff knots with strong, gentle fingers, and loved her for coming through and surviving. I had embraced the Mother in my 30s without integrating the Maiden — she was abandoned, slowly bound over time until she could barely move. Didn’t want her input — after all, I had thought she was a failure. Except that she wasn’t! She came through for me. She was strong and brave and continuously on the watch for healing grace through Nature. She not only survived — I survived, too.
For the three — Maiden, Mother/Queen, Crone — are intimately connected, constantly shifting. Even when one aspect is prominent, the other two are there, supporting even when unseen, un-felt, unacknowledged (as I had been). They witness, experience and lend their strengths. They are the Goddess Within, the Divine spark that continues to flicker, the powerful feminine energy of Shakti. There have been other steps I have taken toward integration — along the Gaia Path before I even realized what it was — yet I find each one is more profound and, while leading me into the light, also show the way into the caves of renewal to discover more bones and shadows for excavation.
The Dark Moon ritual undertaken last night en-couraged my psyche to go here once more — to uncover a few more stones upon the grave of the Maiden until she was visible once more. The power of ritual can never be underestimated. Outward journeys can reflect and reveal the inward path, helping us along the trail whether it lies in the cave or the ocean or the desert or on the mountain cliffs.
We are all successful. If we are still here, we are not failures. We have survived., are surviving, and even thriving at times when our path is one we can truly see and embrace with love … loving all the parts of ourselves along its edge … bring them into the core and embrace, integrate, heal. Look around at my sister and brother travelers — how many are struggling? Some on the outside, some on the inside — many both. Compassion wells up in me knowing that someone else has bound and gagged an angry part of herself, a part that deserves honor and recognition for surviving life.
I know now where much of my discomfort comes from when seeing an angry person ‘acting out’ … part of me is envious because I didn’t, couldn’t … but that doesn’t make me weak or a coward. I survived. I am not and was not a failure. I’m here and I’m living life full and present, and growing in every moment. So if the person I see is angry .. I feel their pain and hurt, and seek to bring more love, more compassion into our interaction, our community. How can I help? This is what I see through this anger … the anger I bound and gagged in myself, disguising it outwardly as a ‘chipper’ attitude.
And this also doesn’t mean I’ve been living a lie – I haven’t. For much of the past sixteen years, I have felt peace and love and contentment flowing through my life and I have welcomed these graces. I have been living within a safe space of healing and renewal; in a space of the Mother, a home of nurture and nature all around me.
We are a diverse and intricate design, we that are self-named homo sapiens … ‘self-aware’ … self-knowing … supposedly. Maybe after a while? It’s a journey. We are a work-in-progress here in the world of form. I attached myself to a need for recognition from Dad (and thus from other men, as in a partner, my ‘other half’ and all those patriarchal archetypes I was raised to believe in), who was unable to provide any softness or support in that way. I have always known, though, that he loved me and that’s what I need to open to now … the love, just the love. Because maybe he had an angry persona inside him, too. And maybe my freed Maiden can reach across the perceived limitations of death and time and space to hold his hand and just say … I love you. Without reservation or resentment or anger or hurt. Just … I love you.
And I love myself — all parts of me, for I do the best I can in any given moment. Don’t we all? How can we possibly know what someone else needs in their hurt or anger or even joy if we are living with a part of ourselves bound and gagged in the dungeon for being a ‘failure’?
Strong winds, cool air, blue sky, no clouds — dry and uplifting, I could soar with Raven without tiring. The Ravens are huge here in the Southwest, bigger than I’ve ever seen before, bigger than most hawks. Yes, I could fly with Raven right now, navigating the air currents, reflecting the sunlight off of blue-black feathers that shimmer like polished obsidian.
Sitting outside in the dawn of a new day, holding hands with the Maiden, I feel free as she squints into the bright light unseen for so long. That’s okay. I’ll give her my shades, and plop a straw sunhat upon her head. We’ll be fine in the bright sun. We’re survivors.
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I KNEW SOMETHING big was coming out of my inner desire for pilgrimage, I just didn’t know how it was to manifest. And still don’t. This morning’s experience is just the beginning, a glimmer. But to return to how this recent catharsis emerged, I primarily go back to: (1) the Dark Moon ritual, and (2) the reflections upon the three visages of the Divine Feminine.
What I have realized is that if I hadn’t already been renewed in my connection to the Goddess Trinity, through coming full circle on the Gaia Path, I might not have recognized the tragic abandonment I experienced of my inner Maiden. Without my rediscovered resonance of Goddess within and without, and of Her three beautiful faces, I might have overlooked the hidden aspect of my Self that needs healing even though I was looking to the Dark Moon for release and guidance.