Our Violence Calls

DSCF7428aI awoke today in the dark pre-dawn hours to the news of the Las Vegas shootings. A familiar and heavy pain in my heart deepened as I groaned, “Not again!” I scanned my social media accounts over my morning coffee, scrolling through comments that have become heartbreakingly commonplace: “When will it be enough?” “What is wrong with this country?” “How bad does it have to get?”

Amid posts filled with heated debates over ineffectual gun laws, rampant hatred, and mental illness rise the cries of hearts like mine, those that have grown weary of these all too familiar tragedies. We want something to be done. The ache of loss and grief has become too great. We pray for it to just please… stop.

Anger surfaces. We wonder why our leaders, while mouthing their regrets, do nothing to stem these terrible violent massacres of our brothers and sisters. Still, we summon the grace to offer up prayers of sympathy and support, to find deep compassion for all who are impacted by yet another horrific display of violence. I search my heart for meaningful solutions but any answer that comes seems woefully inadequate.

Perhaps the answers we search for often come up short because the violence we see on a daily basis is the result of many, many years of oppression and emotional suppression. There are few safe places where we can admit to our anger and hatred and desire for revenge. We often find little generosity to express our neediness and feelings of inadequacy. We may lack the courage to admit just how much we resent our demanding children, our indifferent partners, our needy parents. With little tolerance for our aching exhaustion or acrid bitterness or the bottomless grief, we shove these unwelcome thoughts and feelings deep into our subconscious. In an effort to soothe our ever-expanding fears our minds want simple, straightforward answers, though our hearts know that none exist.

It frustrates me to no end to admit I do not have satisfactory answers for these complex, layered issues that have been centuries in the making. The causes of violence are complex and charged with emotion. In order to continue to put one foot in front of the other and continue to live a meaningful life I must enter my inner landscape and to honestly confront  my feelings regarding these events that triggers so much grief and rage and sorrow. I must become aware of the dark emotions as well as the light ones. I must both find my joy, and confront my own violent thoughts. I must learn to embrace all of me. I must face whatever this violence calls out in me.

We are emotional beings. Though we often pride ourselves on our ability to reason things out, 95% of our decisions are made for emotional reasons. Little happens in life without either an emotional impetus or an emotional reaction. Yet we remain strangers to our rich inner landscapes.

Here’s what I know about the dynamics of emotion:

All emotion calls for expression. Emotions by their nature demand movement (expression). Whether we express our emotions in balanced or imbalanced ways depends upon our relationship with them; in how we have embraced them, or abandoned them.

Suppression always causes imbalance. The minute we begin to suppress or judge or deny any emotion, we drive our feelings into the dark recesses of our fearful minds where they fester and become caustic.

Disavowing our suppressed emotions separates us from our power. When we cannot or will not own our dark thoughts–the ones where we carry a secret desire for revenge or hatred or punishment or indifference, we remain impotent in affecting a change. Since all emotion demands expression, our denied dark thoughts are destined to erupt–either internally or externally–with varying levels of intensity, the most extreme of which is violence. When we cannot or will not confront our denied emotions we often take out our unresolved feelings on those we love the most.

Expressing our emotions requires the courage to become vulnerable.  We all need a sacred witness to our pain. The most courageous thing we will ever do is to admit to ourselves, to God, and to another human being the truth of our darkest feelings. This should never be done casually, however, or without assurance that who we reveal our failings to has the integrity to hold our confession in confidence with a compassion that is free of judgement.

Having compassion does not condone action. We can find compassion for another soul whose heart has been crushed beneath the weight of their destructive behaviors without absolving them of the responsibility for their actions. We can also do this for ourselves.  We must learn to tenderly love our most wounded selves while being fully accountable for our words and actions. One way of creating peace in our hearts is to offer a means for restoration for the harm we may have caused others.

Forgiveness is the key to compassion. Forgiveness is a deep letting go of our attachment to our pain. It is not the absolution of another’s hurtful actions. It does not mean that our pain was not valid or that our heart was not wounded. Forgiveness unties us from the belief that we are our painful past. To forgive ourselves is the most courageous and healing thing we will ever do.

We are not meant to heal alone. At times, the weight of our shame, bitterness, rage, grief, and fear can be crushing . Loneliness amplifies the burdens we carry. We can feel shunned and unloved, that we don’t belong. It may seem as if there is no way out of our darkness and we slip further into despair. Without others to offer compassion and encouragement or to present another perspective to our problems, it’s easier to entertain thoughts of harm to ourselves or others. One of the most courageous things we will ever do is to ask for help. The next most courageous thing we can do is to offer help to another in need, no matter how uncomfortable it might make us.

DSCF7799aPerhaps the thing we need the most to quell the explosion of violence in our communities is the thing we need the most in ourselves: To be heard. To be seen. To be honored. To be understood. To be loved. To belong.

Perhaps what we need during these very trying times is to examine the ways we have both embraced our emotional selves, and where we have committed self-abandonment. Spend a few moments today examining your heart space for all the thoughts and feelings this most recent tragedy has triggered. Try to do this self-examination with tenderness and compassion, and, with utter honesty.

With Much Love,


Melody A Scout is an author and Intuitive Spiritual Advisor. Her deep connection to the natural world has influenced her work as a Sacred Landscape Consultant and Plant Spirit Medicine practitioner. She is currently writing a book called Soul of the Seasons which explores the wisdom embedded within the seasonal cycles of the natural world and how to find balance and joy in both our inner and outer landscapes.


Beating Our Swords Into Plowshares

sword-forgeSometimes I just don’t want to do the more spiritually elevated thing, I just don’t. The most recent presidential election has been just one of those occasions. In the days following the election results I found myself reeling from the wash of emotions coursing through my veins, cycling through my gut, and sharply piercing my heart. Shock. Dismay. Disbelief. Anger. Fear. Heartbreak. Grief, grief, and more grief.

The day after the election one unsuspecting Trump supporter urged me to embrace the new president-elect and to “give him a chance.” “After all,” he offered, “Trump was so sincere in his acceptance speech and even gave Hillary a compliment!” Poor soul, he didn’t understand why his remarks elicited so much vehemence from me. Too soon! Besides, I replied, where was all this desire for unity and forgiveness throughout President Obama’s eight years of presidency? I hung up on him.  I had not yet sorted out my feelings about this momentous occasion. I was definitely not ready to make up and play nice.

To be honest, my own barely contained rage and grief surprised me. In the midst of my deeply charged emotional response I had forgotten my own wise and oft-repeated counsel: Give yourself time to express your feelings without judgement. Take some time for rigorous self-honesty. See what gifts your rage, grief and fear are offering you.

This is truly a historical point in time, one in which, in the light of Divine Truth, all has been laid painfully bare. With this brilliant Light, ALL is revealed: our hopes; our desires for unity, peace, and community; and, lost possibilities.

The Light of Truth reveals all. It reveals not only what we’ve hoped and longed for, but also what we fear. The depth and darkness of this emotional abyss does not discriminate. It occupies and terrifies us all.

It is no coincidence, I firmly believe, that these events now occur during the season of Fall. Fall, in Five Element medicine, is represented by the element of Metal and the emotion of grief. Fall is the season to grieve our losses, to respect and value ALL of life and to let go of that which no longer serves us.

p1000899a1Metal is the element that best reflects the qualities of grief. Like Metal, grief is brittle and sharp, swiftly cutting to the core of the matter. It surgically slices away any excess. It excises what is dead or dying, leaving only what is essential to sustain life.  This cutting away (loss) is the painful but necessary step in the journey toward restoration and creation.

Metal also represents what is precious, what is truly of value in our lives. In order to make the greatest use of this element, however, metal must first undergo a rigorous refinement process. Under great heat and pressure, impurities are sloughed away. Further refinement comes about through extended periods of hammering and polishing, as metal is crafted into a thing of beauty and utility. What is left is a durable instrument designed to cut and separate. The instrument might be a surgeon’s scalpel, designed to swiftly assist in healing, or a gleaming sword, crafted for battle.

I firmly believe that one of the reasons for all the hatred and fear we have been witnessing in each glimpse into the Dark Abyss of America is due to our collective, unexpressed grief. Unexpressed or denied grief eventually congeals into rage,  lack of compassion, and a deep fear of the future and all its uncertainties.

We have a very long history of loss in our country originating from the way we appropriated the land we now call America from the First Peoples, to the trauma of 9/11, to the spectacle that has been this most recent election.

When we cut ourselves off from the powerful emotion of grief, we will find little of value, little to respect. Firmly anchored in our losses we are unable to entertain even the idea of new life. So deep is our grief that we cannot allow anything in because we cannot let anything go. Instead, we hang onto the tiny scraps of a previous life because that is where we last felt valued. We become nostalgic hoarders of a past that no longer, or maybe ever existed.

The loss I felt symbolized in this last election was acute and personal. I became physically ill from the act that reflected misogyny and oppression, the hatred and the fear. My personal glimpse into the Dark Abyss revealed the many faces of disrespect and devaluation of all things female. (You can read my personal story on this experience here.) My heartbreak and grief over the loss of the Divine Feminine has been crushing, as I know it has for many women. With the outcome of the presidential election this loss was resurrected, sharp and deep, and with it all the accumulated anger and despair of not feeling truly seen.

Though our darkest attitudes and behaviors have been unmistakably exposed during this election, I have also been greatly inspired by the stories by women, no longer willing to keep silent, who have courageously come forth with their personal accounts of abuse and recovery. I am encouraged by the desire to reach out and support each other, and by the dialog, however difficult, that has been opened. I am beyond grateful for the male friend who called me after the election to see how I was doing, not only as a fellow citizen and friend, but to see how this event affected me as a woman. What a precious gift!

I’m also inspired to take right action, to actively do something to correct an injustice, for that is ultimately what our anger calls forth in us. I intend to spend more time listening to people of color and differing sexual orientations and of religious beliefs–and yes, differing political views. I seek to find places of commonality, where, though we have differing views and beliefs, we can agree and work together toward ensuring that all families will be safe and adequately fed and housed. I will work to see that we all worship and love and create with respect and without molestation.

So, what’s next? For many of us, the veil between our hopes and reality, between our ideals and what is, has been shredded leaving us with the stark reality of our shortcomings. For some, the feeling is, “Thanks for finally waking up.” Our work remains the same, however. We still have families to care for and communities to support. We have art to create and people to feed. We have injustices to correct and ignorance to educate. We have our stories to tell. We have love to demonstrate.

Here are a few things you can do right now to help heal the great wound of our grief:

Sit quietly with our own grief–truly value and respect all that you have lost.

Honestly examine that which no longer serves you. Honor and respect it until you are ready to let it go.

Comfort those who are grieving.

Offer a hug to someone every day.

Listen with compassion and understanding to your brothers and sisters of differing cultures, races, gender and religions without insisting they see things your way.


Ask for help when you need it.

Take time for joy, passion, beauty and play–they are essential to healing.

Anger demands action, it requires injustice to be corrected and boundaries to be restored. But before you act, ask yourself, “What is most needed here? Do I need to pick up a sword, a plowshare, or both?” 

Stand up for those who are disadvantaged, who don’t have a voice.

Make space for the deep emotions of others. NOTE: If you cannot be present with someone through their expression of deep feelings and you find yourself offering unsolicited advice, it may be a signal that you have healing to do with your own unexpressed emotions.

As we learn to move artfully with our grief we can then come to respect and honor the loss of others. We can search the ashes of our experience to find what is truly of value, which can sometimes seem pitifully small. Take heart, what remains will be just enough to bring forth a creation that is rich and meaningful. Together we will find how to use our anger, grief and fear to beat the sword of oppression into the tools that will feed our world for generations to come.

With Love and Grace,


Look for more on the season of Fall and how to more artfully move through the emotion of grief in my upcoming book Soul of the Seasons. To pre-order Soul of the Seasons: click here.


When Enough Is Enough

Fire spread2

Honestly, I felt I had gotten past my wounds of being sexually assaulted all those years ago. Really, I did. Today I found myself weeping again over the loss of dignity and honor of all who have suffered from sexual abuse. I wept for my own loss–for all our losses–because in tolerating these types of actions, it degrades and dishonors us all.

During this election cycle I’ve heard many, many reports from women all over the world who talk/blog/write about having flashbacks as a result of watching this abuser (you know the one, he’s running for the title of Leader of the Free World) not only commit sexual and verbal assault and get away with it, but to then laugh in our faces afterward.

Chew on this for a while: Nearly EVERY woman or girl you know has been on the receiving end of some sort of sexual abuse or assault. I’m not exaggerating. Don’t think so? Ask around. Ask your friends, your wives, your co-workers. Ask your sisters–your daughters. Ask your mother.

At age 11 I was groped by an uncle, at 13 I was assaulted by a family member, at age 15 a man exposed himself to me and two of my girlfriends on a lonely country road. At age 20 I was told by my parents I was a slut. Later I was sexually denigrated by both my exes during the course of our separate marriages. So…I know.

I will no longer sit by and remain silent.

Today I came across a post on social media that posed this question: Ladies: Would you rather spend a night of wild passionate sex with (a particular presidential candidate–I will NOT use his name)or take a razor to your eyes? I’m sure the author meant it to be funny but it was about as far from funny as you can get. Reading through the replies, I was stunned to find a number of women willing to choose the former, thinking the whole thing hilarious. The sad truth is, these are just the sort of choices many of us are left with in a culture that tolerates the “boys will be boys” mentality: We either have to smile and put up with it, or face the vicious backlash that results from speaking up. Women and people of color and gays have been “kept in our place” through threats of poverty, job loss, loss of our children, loss of shelter and loss of our dignity. .

When will enough be enough? When will sexual assault become unfunny to you?  When it happens to your daughter? Your girlfriend? Your wife? When will you speak up on another’s behalf?

I do not have all the answers here. Crawling out of the utter denigration and disrespect of the feminine will be long and painful. And, there is as much of an imbalance in women as in men. (Trust me when I tell you some of the most vicious attacks I have received on this subject have been from women.)

What we can do is to tell our stories. We can support each other. We can refuse to let someone travel through the aftermath of their assault alone. We can be a sacred witness–to truly hear those who have suffered from any sort of abuse, no matter their gender, race or sexual orientation. Let us no longer be bound together by our wounds but instead by our strength, our courage, and our voices.

Speak out!

So, I will promise you this:

I vow to speak up on behalf of those who have suffered the unspeakable, who have tolerated the intolerable.

I will not play nice.

I will not smile so you can feel more comfortable.

I will not keep silent to protect your wounds.

I will not laugh nervously to escape the backlash/assault that results from speaking up.

I will not dumb down to protect your fragile ego.

I will not shut the fuck up so you can assuage your guilt and continue on with your destruction of all things feminine.

I will NOT.






Finding Joy In Times of Profound Trouble

In Five Element medicine, Summer is the season for growth, maturing, heart-centered connection, intimacy, joy, communication and happiness. Fire is the element associated with the season of Summer.Fire.jpg
The tragic events this summer (and sadly, nearly every day since) represent the very antithesis of the balanced attributes of Summer Fire. Violence, unrest, miscommunication, greed, rampant fear, and bigotry seem to be present everywhere we turn. These tragedies seem too much to take in, too much for our hearts to process.
Discouragement, apathy, sadness, bitterness, lack of warmth (both physical and emotional), lack of passion, and profound loneliness are all natural responses to experiencing or witnessing trauma. Prolonged exposure to trauma, cruelty, intolerance, bigotry, loss, and indifference  can lead to an imbalance in the season of Summer. Our fire has run low.
Our hearts may literally ache with the pain and suffering that surrounds us, permeating us to our very core. But, how do we reconnect with our joy in times of great distress? We may even wonder…Should we?

We were created to life a joy-filled life. Joy is the emotion essential in keeping the heart healthy and balanced.  Joy comes in many forms from a subtle smile to high-intensity ecstasy. But without regular engagement with joy, a key emotion that supports our health and happiness, the heart grows heavy.

But, what if the burdens of the world seem too much? How do we counter the pain and suffering we experience? When sadness and loneliness start to feel overwhelming  consider engaging in some of the following heart-centered activities to lift your heart:

DSCF7718 Good conversation with a good listener– Never underestimate the power of open and honest communication. Everyone needs a sacred witness. Let it all out. Don’t try to sanitize or “spiritualize” or explain your feelings away. The burdens if the world weigh heavily upon all our hearts and those burdens are not meant to be borne alone. In turn, learn to be a good listener for others. Caution: Be sure to engage with someone who is trustworthy, someone you can trust to handle your heart with gentleness, love, and respect. Someone who can really hear you without a need to offer unsolicited advice or try to “fix” you.

AnoleEncounter Beauty–  Beauty soothes, moves and heals the heart like nothing else. Whether you find beauty in art, music, a sunset, your lover’s touch, a child’s smile, or a beloved pet, take the time to  encounter something beautiful every day. I never fail to find beauty in the plant world. I’m fascinated by their limitless variety of colors, shapes, and growth patterns, and those mysterious flowers! Each bloom is unique and sometimes even to the individual plant itself. Taking a short walk in nature to commune with plants always lifts my spirits.

July 2013 069.jpgLaughter and Play– Though troubling times may seem like the last place for laughter and play these powerful (and highly underrated) expressions  of Joy can literally transform our spirits. Laughter and play (unstructured time for fun) are some of the most healing things we can do for our battered hearts. If you observe the actions of children you will notice that they can, in an instant, drop their hurt, tears, anger–what have you– with an offer to play. While you’re at it don’t forget to laugh. Hang around with people who know how to have a good time, watch a funny movie, take note of the playful antics of your pet. Remember what makes you smile and go find someone to share it with.

Loving Touch– Everyone needs touch. Gentle, soothing touch can go a long way in healing a troubled heart. It can be sexual or not, but it should always be respectful and clearly invited. Hugs, kisses, a hand on the arm, gentle tender caresses have profound healing power. Don’t be afraid to ask for touch when you need it.

Honor Your Heartache– Though sometimes painful beyond words, wounds of the heart can both soften and strengthen us. They can teach us to respect and revere the frailty and sanctity of life. The can teach us to find preciousness in the present moment. Give your heartache the honor and space it needs. Allow it to teach you to become vulnerable to love. Gently soothe and tend to your suffering and, to the suffering of others.

IMG_0245Take a Break– Watching trauma and drama can be addictive. Turn off the radio and TV. Put away the paper and all electronic devices. Give your heart and mind a much needed rest. Instead, take a nap, go dancing, enjoy your favorite hobby, go for a walk or drive or go do one of the above activities. Take a weekly media fast; go at least 24 hours without picking up your phone or computer. Let your calls go to voicemail. I promise you that you will survive. Rest is essential in restoring balance and sanity.

Having a healthy balanced heart ensures that we will have the strength to move through difficult times with grace, courage, and clarity. A balanced heart doesn’t deny our pain and suffering but finds a place of joy in the midst of it.

Sending You Much Joy and Laughter,




Thinking the Unthinkable

IMG_2815The recent events in Paris and now San Bernadino, CA ,and Savannah, GA are just the latest in the string of unthinkable losses that befall us each and every day. Somewhere on the planet someone is experiencing their own horrific trauma. Rest assured, whether we are consciously aware of it or not, we all feel it. No one is exempt from these gut-wrenching emotions, not even terrorists.

The mind simply doesn’t want to comprehend these hugely tragic acts of violence–that they are a part of our everyday world.Our collective unacknowledged grief begs for our attention. Violence and hatred find a perfect breeding ground of a denial that separates us from our grief.

The recent horrific events here in America and countless other locations around the world resurrect within me old feelings of anger, powerlessness, fear, and despair. So many questions have been running through my mind. What would I do during a catastrophic event such as this? How can I protect myself and my family? What do I do with my grief, fear, despair and anger over so much tragedy and loss? When will enough be enough?

As I prayed and meditated on these questions, questions that have been troubling me since 9/11, I asked God the following: In the face of senseless destruction how do we keep from being overwhelmed by our fear and grief? What do we do in the face of such evil, an evil that wants only to destroy? How do we deal with a group of people who’s credo is ‘We love death more than you love life.’?

St. James church ruins overlooking the Potomac in Harper’s Ferry, WV

Here is the response that came to me:

“You can start right now by building and strengthening your communities at the most personal level. Develop more intimate relationships with your family, your loved ones and especially your neighbors. Build relationships that embody compassion, kindness, and affirming another’s worth. Learn to resolve conflict with an empathy that includes both the laughter of children and the wisdom of your elders. Create a space of honor, respect and value for all–a place where all benefit just from being there.  Comfort each other. Be a witness to another’s pain and grief and help them to bind up their wounds.  Create a place where together you can work toward the best and prepare for the worst.

“When you develop your communities in this way there’ll be no room for evil. By developing your relationships and becoming more intimately acquainted with all whom you encounter, you will KNOW when your brother or sister is in trouble. You will know when they become filled with darkness or are being led astray. In creating greater awareness in your communities you can help others become more aware of their needs and their gifts, their capacity for love and the depth of their shame. Of course, you will first have to do the same for yourself.”

Once again I’ve underestimated the power of my prayers. It was crystal clear; my responsibility to my community included a responsibility to myself.  I need to work toward the best, but prepare for the worst. I need to comfort and bind up my wounds in order to have the capacity to heal or comfort others. I need to resolve my personal conflicts with offering empathy and kindness to those who show hate. I have no excuses. There’s no reason to throw up my hands in despair declaring, “What can I do?” There’s always a soul to comfort and a spirit to lift, and that includes my own.