Our Violence Calls

DSCF7428aI awoke today in the dark pre-dawn hours with the news of the Las Vegas shootings. A familiar and heavy pain in my heart deepened as I groaned, “Not again!” Over my morning coffee I scanned my social media accounts, 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 and rampant hatred and mental illness are also the cries of hearts like mine 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 long for it to 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 mind and heart for meaningful solutions but any answer that comes seem pitiful and inadequate.

Perhaps the violence we see on a daily basis is the result of many, many years of emotional suppression. There are few safe places where we can admit to our anger and hatred and desire for revenge. We may find little room to express our neediness and feelings of inadequacy. We may not have the courage to admit just how much we resent our demanding children, our indifferent partners, our needy parents. We may find little tolerance from others for our aching exhaustion or acrid bitterness or the bottomless grief we feel so we shove these unwelcome thoughts and feelings deep into our subconscious.

Though it frustrates me to no end, I must admit I do not have the answers to these complex, many-layered questions that have been centuries in the making. What causes violence is complex. Our mind, in an effort to soothe our ever-expanding fears, wants simple, straightforward answers, though our heart knows that none exist.

What I do know, however, is that 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 all my feelings regarding any event that triggers a discomfiting reaction. This includes the dark emotions as well as the light ones. This means I must both find my joy, and confront my own violent thoughts. I must learn to embrace all of me. I must look to whatever this violence calls out in me.

We are emotional beings. Nothing happens in life without either an emotional impetus or a reaction, Yet we remain strangers to our inner landscape, one that is rich with feeling. Perhaps what we all need during these very trying times is to examine the ways we have both embraced our emotional selves, and where we have committed abandonment.

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

All emotion calls for expression. Emotions by their nature demand movement (expression). We will express our emotions in either balanced or imbalanced ways, depending upon our relationship with 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, these dark thoughts are destined to erupt with varying levels of intensity, the most extreme of which is violence. We often take out our suppressed 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. One way of creating peace in our hearts is to offer a means for restoration for the harm we may have caused others. 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.

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. The weight of our shame, bitterness, rage, grief, and fear can be crushing, at times. Loneliness amplifies the burdens we carry. We can feel shunned and unloved, that we don’t belong. It may seem there is no way out of our darkness and we slip further into despair. Without others to offer compassion, encouragement or 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.

Spend a few moments today examining your heart space for all the thoughts and feelings this most recent tragedy has triggered. Try to do it with tenderness and compassion, and with utter honesty.

Much Love,

Melody

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.

Advertisements

In Preparation for Winter: A Time to Turn Inward and Hide

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me lately. I don’t want to do any of the things I normally do. I just want to run away and hide.”

I’ve been hearing these types of statements a lot recently. Friends, colleagues, healers, and clients alike have reported feeling overwhelmed and exhausted by everything from endless reports of natural disasters to the simple tasks of their everyday lives. But what if there is nothing wrong with us at all. What if instead, our desire for retreat is just our internal wisdom telling us it’s time to prepare for a much needed season of rest?

DSCF2895.JPGThe season of Harvest is all but complete. Fall has already arrived in many parts of the country with Winter right on its heels. Fall is the season of preparation for Winter, where doing nothing is the right and perfect activity. In Five Element wisdom, Winter embodies a season that includes hibernation, death, gestation, and stillness. These forces are at play in both the natural world, and in our inner landscapes. Whether we recognize the need for rest consciously or not, we feel it calling to us in our very tired bones.

Pressed by demands of continual productivity, we fear the very idea of slowing down, of taking a break. Though we want nothing more than to quiet our minds and our activities, retreating into our self-constructed caves of isolation, rest, however, is not a culturally acceptable season in which to linger. But rest is exactly what our bodies and spirits crave, and a season of Winter is the perfect prescription.

“Imbued with the qualities of contemplation, reflection, meditation, and conservation, in the Winter seasons of our lives, we will come to more fully appreciate the core essence of life itself. With its long dark nights, Winter is the perfect time to work on our inner landscapes. When we make good use of this rest we remain more resilient to life’s changes, able to move with the unexpected without fretting unduly over an uncertain future.” –from Soul of the Seasons (c) 2017, Melody A Scout

When we press ourselves into over-work and over-stimulation we create imbalance. An imbalance in the season of Winter can show up as anxiety, hyper-activity, fearful striving, adrenal exhaustion, aggression, and mind-racing, just to name a few. Overwhelmed by our busy schedules. we may believe we don’t have time to rest, but rest is exactly what we need.

Mother Earth wisely knows the importance of quality rest. The natural world retreats and signs of life go into hiding. Forced growth and activity during this season can even result in death, so all unnecessary activities die away during the Big Sleep that is Winter.

During Fall we can prepare for the coming Big Sleep by making the proper preparations to sustain us both internally and externally. Much in the same way we save for a vacation, carving out time and resources for time off, we can make sure we have the means and resources for extended periods of rest. To avoid a crash and build resilience we can take small daily breaks that restore body, mind, and spirit through getting quality sleep, and setting aside periods of time for napping, meditation, and contemplation.

In preparation for Winter take some time to consider the following questions:

What can I do now to prepare for an extended season of rest?

How can I incorporate seasons of rest into my every day schedule?

How do I avoid or resist rest?

What in my life needs a good death?

Winter streamThe power encoded within the act of retreating from our everyday lives is perfectly reflected in this poem by David Whyte.

HIDING

is a way of staying alive. Hiding is a way of holding ourselves until we are ready to come into the light. Hiding is one of the brilliant and virtuoso practices of almost every part of the natural world: the protective quiet of an icy northern landscape, the held bud of a future summer rose, the snow bound internal pulse of the hibernating bear. Hiding is underestimated. We are hidden by life in our mother’s womb until we grow and ready ourselves for our first appearance in the lighted world; to appear too early in that world is to find ourselves with the immediate necessity for outside intensive care.

Hiding done properly is the internal faithful promise for a proper future emergence, as embryos, as children or even as emerging adults in retreat from the names that have caught us and imprisoned us, often in ways where we have been too easily seen and too easily named. We live in a time of the dissected soul, the immediate disclosure; our thoughts, imaginings and longings exposed to the light too much, too early and too often, our best qualities squeezed too soon into a world already awash with ideas that oppress our sense of self and our sense of others. What is real is almost always to begin with, hidden, and does not want to be understood by the part of our mind that mistakenly thinks it knows what is happening. What is precious inside us does not care to be known by the mind in ways that diminish its presence.

Hiding is an act of freedom from the misunderstanding of others, especially in the enclosing world of oppressive secret government and private entities, attempting to name us, to anticipate us, to leave us with no place to hide and grow in ways unmanaged by a creeping necessity for absolute naming, absolute tracking and absolute control. Hiding is a bid for independence, from others, from mistaken ideas we have about our selves, from an oppressive and mistaken wish to keep us completely safe, completely ministered to, and therefore completely managed. Hiding is creative, necessary and beautifully subversive of outside interference and control. Hiding leaves life to itself, to become more of itself. Hiding is the radical independence necessary for our emergence into the light of a proper human future.

© David Whyte: March 2014: Excerpted from ‘HIDING’ From the upcoming book of essays CONSOLATIONS: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words.

Melody A Scout is a Plant Spirit Medicine practitioner, Sacred Landscape Designer, and the author of the upcoming book, Soul of the Seasons which reveals the wisdom of Five Element medicine through the template of the seasons of the natural world.

Post-Irma Reflections

20170910_173928In the past week or so the whole world watched as hurricane Irma formed, then steamed headlong toward Florida, tracking up the full length of the peninsula. Glued to our TVs and mobile devices perpetually tuned into weather channels or the National Hurricane Center, we locked our attention on the massive hurricane’s ever-changing projected path as she spread her skirts wide across the Carribean. With warmer than normal temps in the Atlantic ocean and Gulf of Mexico, Irma quickly built to a dangerous Category 5+ hurricane.

Like many here in Florida  my excitement, worry, fear, hope, irritation, panic, and gratitude cycled around as I made my storm preparations. And, although I saw a few panicked people rushing to buy plywood, bottled water, and gas, many  others extended kindness, patience, and generosity to those soon to be displaced by the impending storm.

Mind-boggling systems of support, rescue, and recovery–both public and private–were mobilized and set into place. On social media people set up groups to track lost pets, check on loved ones in Irma’s path, locate available shelters, where to find gas and water, the latest evacuation routes, the best charities to donate to, and the latest weather reports. We posted pre- and post-hurricane tips.  We told stories and posted pictures of past disasters we’d weathered. We shared memes that made us laugh hysterically and others that broke our hearts. Image may contain: cat and text

 

We posted “Be safe!” and “Please check in when you can.” over and over again on the walls of friends, colleagues, family and loved ones. One Facebook friend remarked that “Be safe!” sounded a lot like “I Love You!” so we started posting that too.

 

Having made preparations as best we could we crossed fingers and toes and formed prayer circles as Irma approached. We threw parties, long a tradition here in the Gulf states, toasting Irma with Hurricanes and smoothies and martinis, and visualized blowing her back out to sea. Someone vowed to take a drink every time they came across the word “hunker” and quickly became inebriated.

Disheartened, we watched the destruction on the islands that preceded Irma’s impending landfall on the mainland of Florida and counted it a good enough reason to break into our hurricane snacks.  People made shelters in their hallways and bathrooms, supposedly the safest places to be during a storm. We saw pictures of cocoons constructed out of mattresses and pillows and forts made up for furry friends. Some donned helmets and others tucked chickens into their shower stalls.

Though thoroughly engrossed and entertained by the 24-hour coverage, I took breaks from Irma-watching to do a job for a friend, visit with another friend, and to spend time on the beach. Though we were not in the hurricane’s projected path here in the panhandle, Irma’s power was so vast she stirred up the waters, affecting tides and currents 500 or more miles away. The pull of her winds created tides so low people could walk far out into the sands. At my local beach, the Gulf was offering up larger than normal waves. Red and purple flags signaled warnings of dangerous marine life, rip currents, and a brisk northeasterly wind.20170909_164802b

I’m like a kid at a birthday party with an impending storm and I have to make sure I don’t overdose on excitement. Going to the beach both calms and opens me. I found myself standing for long moments, gazing far into the horizon, feeling the power of the sea in my solar plexus. To conserve energy the seagulls huddled up near the dunes. Tucked out of the winds, they looked sleepy.20170910_174928a A few surfers took advantage of the waves while other beachgoers scoured the shore for newly offered shells. Back home I posted pictures of the beach, told everyone I could think of “I love you!” and “Be safe!” After updating the latest hurricane stats and sent out prayers, I gave up and went to bed.

During the day on Monday I watched as Irma changed direction and intensity once again, heading further inland as it blew up the middle of the state. As she went, she quickly lost steam, doing far less damage than we had first feared. Waves of relief flooded over me as people began assessing damage and checking in. No one I knew personally suffered injury or had significant damage to their homes. Governmental and Emergency support teams already in place moved into action, clearing roads and restoring utilities as quickly as possible.

The damage from Irma is not slight and the total assessment of loss has yet to be calculated but we are grateful things were not worse. There’s the usual bickering and complaining about not enough being done but on the whole, community stepped up. We were there for each other, looking out for our neighbors, and offering whatever help we could.

Just as with hurricane Harvey in Texas a few days earlier, I am reminded once again that the majority of Americans are kind, generous souls who support each other when in need. Though we are grateful for federal assistance when it’s given, we can organize and mobilize and step up, even when our government can’t or won’t. My heart opens wide seeing all these examples of community at work.

Our hurricane season is not over yet so we cannot fully let down our guard. In the days and months ahead there will be much to do and much to learn. I continue to pray for those who have lost everything and will have to rebuild, repair, or relocate. Some veterans of powerful hurricane Andrew that struck Miami 25 years ago are feeling re-traumatized. Physical, emotional, and financial support will be needed for a long time to come.

Thank you to all of my friends and family who checked in on me and offered prayers of safety and support and shelter, should I need it. I am grateful beyond words. Let’s not forget to continue in our prayers and support for those devastated by hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and forest fires everywhere. try not to judge the difficult decisions people have to make when tragedy befalls them.

Just watching these disasters unfold can be exhausting, not to mention recovering from one. The initial surge of adrenaline from the excitement will soon wear off and can leave us feeling exhausted, irritable, and melancholy. Take breaks when needed.  Laugh when you can. Eat well. Sleep. Get a hug. Give a hug. Know you are loved.

 

Spring: The Season of New Beginnings

Fig     In Five Element medicine, Spring is the season of expansive new growth, both in the natural world, and, on our inner landscapes. Spring is also the season where we see (or renew) our visions and goals. It is the season where the old gives way to the new in an explosive burst of new growth.
     The Spring Equinox is the perfect time to re-evaluate our vision for ourselves–God’s purpose for our life. As we consider the visions for your inner landscape, we might also consider how we present ourselves to the world. Why is this important? Well, as my learned teacher used to say…
“Everything has to do with everything.”
      I’m big into no muss, no fuss. And to be honest, I used to be kind of judge-y about those whose careers/lifestyles revolved around fashion, hair, and makeup. Although I appreciated a good haircut and well-applied, understated makeup, to me, the whole fashion thing felt like too much emphasis on the external.
     Then my daughter went to college for fashion design. While externally I encouraged Jessica to pursue her dreams by repeating my strong belief that education is never a waste, internally my practical mind shouted, “Whaaaaat are you thinking???”
Jessica however, having her own tastes and sense of style since about two years of age, soon taught me that certain lines and cuts of clothing, not only made me look better with my particular body composition, they made me FEEL better. She taught me that I could envision something new while still respecting the past.
Jessica Head shot
     I still believe that focusing on the external over the internal can signal underlying imbalances in self-valuing. However, I have come to see that the face we present to the world through our clothing, hairstyle, and makeup (or not) can be the external expression of our inner essence.
     Today, I applaud those who artfully make us look and feel better about ourselves. It’s the first day of spring. Clear your closet of anything that doesn’t look or make you feel or feel fabulous. Make an appointment to get your hair cut and styled. Schedule a makeup consult or get a facial. Talk to a fashion consultant. Get your bra fitted properly or get measured for a suit. Make sure the outer you reflects your inner most radiant self.
Jessica car

Spring Visions

Fern2Spring is one of my very favorite times of year. As Spring enters the natural world it awakens flora and fauna from their winter slumber in order to reveal and fulfill God’s purpose for them on Earth–the vision of who and what they will become.
In Five Element medicine, springtime is about new beginnings, explosive new growth, vision (physical, mental, and spiritual), the emotion of anger, and the organ systems of Liver and Gallbladder.
“The road of life is paved with flattened squirrels who couldn’t make a decision.” –Unknown
In Chinese Medicine, Gallbladder represents a presence that works within us, imbuing the qualities of: making sound decisions in a timely manner; the ability to spot potential problems and adjust our course accordingly; a strong sense of fairness and injustice; and the ability to act quickly. In Soul of the Seasons, I refer to this presence as The Decider.
DSCF0907The Decider works hand-in-hand with Liver, AKA: The Planner. The Planner helps us through the ability to; make well-thought out plans that account, not only for today’s needs, but our needs long into the future and does so with a deep sense of fairness, kindness, foresight, generosity and warmth.
You can welcome Spring, the passage of new beginnings, into your life by asking yourself the following:
What is your vision for your life?
Do you have any long term projects that need a fresh look?
How are you at making grounded and timely decisions?
What is your relationship with anger?
*Welcome Spring into your life by planting some new seeds. They can be literal seeds or they can be the seeds for a new project, hobby or relationship. Start a new friendship. Plant a garden. Begin (or renew) a long-dreamed of project.

The Problem with Labels

It’s irresistible it is to label people; to put them in little boxes and categories that feels more comfortable in our minds. To keep them fixed in categories in which we may confidently judge as, “not us.” But, by labeling others, we separate ourselves from them–from who they are as whole human beings. We are separating ourselves from someone, who may in reality, be more like us than we know.

Try to remember that those speaking up or speaking out, just like us, have families and mothers and beloveds. We all have breakthroughs and struggles. We all carry pain, grief, anger, and sacrifice. We have all experienced loss.

Don’t assume that because someone…

…is conservative means they don’t care about equality.

…is liberal means they aren’t concerned about being fiscally responsible.

…is ProLife doesn’t mean they don’t feel for the plight of women in difficult situations.

…is ProChoice means they are pro-abortion.

…is concerned about the plight of immigrants means they believe there should be no vetting.

Someone of faith means they hate those who are not.

…is atheist or agnostic means they think those of faith are idiots.

…is a Feminist means they are an angry man-hater.

…is male means that they are a misogynist.

…is a protester means they hate their country.

…is part of a “privileged” group means that they are insensitive to those who are under-privileged.

…is for income equality means they are a communist.

We cannot possibly know anyone unless we take the time to hear their story, without bias or judgment. Right now we need each other more than ever. We need each person’s love. We need their kindness, fierceness, anger, grief, concern, compassion, kindness, and courage. We need to remember we are all in this together.

Grace, Unconditional Willingness, and the Power of Vulnerability

-from Soul of the Seasons by Melody Scout © 2016

Grace is the heavenly alchemical reagent that transforms rage into right action, sadness into joy, and hunger into satisfaction, grief into value and respect, and fear into the seeds of a new vision. Grace is a gift bestowed upon us by our Creator. It can’t be earned or purchased. It transforms the criminal into the crusader, the victim into the activist and the grief-stricken into those who carry a space of reverence for the grief of others. It  transforms the fearful into the sage. Some call this act of transformation infused with God’s grace—forgiveness.

If we do not wish to repeat our mistakes of the past we must become unconditionally willing to own our part in what happened, both the good and the not so good. We must look deeply into our relationships, not only at what we have generously given, but also what we have withheld. We must look at both how we have sacrificed for and supported our partners (or friends or family) but we also must confess our neediness and manipulation. We might need to examine exactly how we get our esteem needs met. Do we manipulate others into giving to us? Have we developed patterns of codependency or control or behaviors that may have helped us survive in the past but that now no longer serve us?

Taking this hard, unvarnished look at our behaviors requires vulnerability—and huge amounts of courage. Authentic vulnerability demands that our hearts become soft and supple and fluid. We must become willing to stand in the utter truth of the matter with our arms and minds wide open, and without judgment. We must say, here and now, that we are unconditionally willing to submit to this experience with love. That we are willing to see it differently, to judge it differently, to forgive, and to grow. That we are willing to be completely wrong, willing to let go of everything we cling to out of fear.

Only in this moment of complete surrender can we enter into our vulnerability so we might begin to feel clearer, more grounded. Being in a grace-filled state of vulnerability can be both terrifying and exciting and it’s the best thing we will ever do for ourselves and for our relationships.In this place we can trust that, I’ve no idea how this will turn out, but something tells me it will be okay.

There’s no magic pill or formula for healing the soul and ultimately the mind and body, especially after we have become ‘burned out’ and ‘stressed out’. But what is stress but an intense emotional expression that has not been fully integrated? We cannot effectively deal with our stressors if we remain unconscious to their origin. Only by entering into an unconditional willingness to become aware of our destructive thoughts and behaviors can we then embrace the amazing example of divine creation that we truly are. Only then can we move through our darkness and out into the light of love.

DSCF7799a

A Prayer for Unconditional Willingness:

This prayer is a three-part petition to The Divine for the transformation of emotional stuckness into an empowered place of choice. I find it serves me faithfully whenever I am confronted with difficult passages and my unmet needs have congealed my feelings.

I pray the first prayer…to be willing…and then, if the situation hasn’t shifted or if I’m still feeling stuck, I pray the second prayer—to see my unwillingness. If it still feels stuck, I pray the third prayer—to be willing to be willing. If I am truly unconditionally willing to become vulnerable, I usually find that some sort of shift happens, usually within twenty-four hours. If not, it’s a signal to me that there may be some resistance at play and I return again to the first prayer.

 

Three Prayers for Unconditional Willingness

Prayer One: Creator God, I recognize my unmet need of _________. It is my sincerest desire to be unconditionally willing to become vulnerable, to see or do whatever I need to in order to heal this issue.

Prayer Two: Creator God, I recognize my feelings of being “stuck.” I pray for the ability to see what I need to see so I might become vulnerable to your will. I pray now to transform my unwillingness.

Prayer Three: Creator God, I recognize my unwillingness to transform_______________ (name the issue). It’s hard and the pain (or whatever you may be feeling at this moment) is deep. I pray now to become willing to be willing to transform this experience.

 

Note: There are times that ‘to become willing to be willing’ is as close as we can get to letting go of a difficult experience, to surrender it to God, especially if it involves deep betrayal. But often, it may be the only prayer we need in order for a transformation to occur.

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,

Melody

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.

Never.

Ever.

Ever.

#ICANTKEEPQUIET