What used to be mere annoyances and irritations have crossed over into rage, or its ugly wife, cynicism, or their malformed child, depression. Just to be clear: Rage is the lid we jam on top of our true grieving that comes to call us into our true love. Cynicism is the cold we apply to the fire of anxiety that is calling us back into our true power. And depression is a twisted form of devotion to the infinite.
Well, those are some big statements! I can't really unpack them all the way right now, or this article will suddenly veer to the left and never be seen again. But I'll say this: the paragraph above is about how our sacred power gets twisted - and so is the rest of the article below.
Look around at how much powerlessness is being expressed in every direction. The Me Too and Black Lives Matter movements are about calling those with inherited power into a conscious use of their power. Inherited power most often seduces us into unconsciousness. And when we exercise our power unconsciously, it brings great damage.
Whenever unconscious forces, whether they are personal or collective, are called into the light of consciousness, they raise a great ruckus. I like to call the forces dragons - the forces that urge us to stay in our lowest consciousness. They wish to remain unconscious because in the dark, they can feed, without our awareness, upon our sacred power – the life force that connects us to all of creation. The result of their feeding is our sacred power is drained, we believe we are smaller and less holy than we really are, and we perpetrate that smallness on the external world through or decisions and actions.
Light kills these dragons. So, when the light begins to shine on them, they get very active in their defense of the dark. So we have the stupid backlash of All lives Matter and we have Trump, and moronic grinning goons with torches in Charlottesville, and we have the cable TV parade of every conceivable form of people competing for the biggest victim prize, and we have the breakdown of truth, because the dragons are masters of confusion. How to transform your dragons.
The literal translation of "the apocalypse" is "the uncovering." So, yes, we are in living in the "uncovering." In tradition, what is uncovered, or opened, is an injection of pure power from creation. This is the time you chose to be born into. Fantastic, yes? What's more, you were born with the power to do the work that is needed. The dragons tell you every moment that you were born weak, you were born sick, you were born diseased, that your traumas have destroyed you. But if that is true, why do they choose you to live inside? Why are they eating your sacred power?
It's important to pour light down into your own forest, first, or you become part of the problem. Unhealed healers bring damage. Undarkened social justice warriors add to the feast for the dragons. They just create new karma. Facebook, by the way, is the playground for the creation of new karma, so be careful, please - your next lives depend on you using social media wisely.
I've worked with four indigenous shamanic teachers in my life, and each one has said, "First, you must build your power." Every bit of my teaching focuses on this simple sounding idea. What does it mean to build your power?
In essence, there are two approaches. One is to look at what is draining (or blocking) your power, and stop the leak (or unblock the flow). The other is to identify the ways you can call new power into you, and call it in, hold it, and use it. This is an ongoing process – a life-long pursuit, a long journey with unexpected twists, and also with surprises so radiant they cannot be put into small human language. I – like you – like all of us – are working moment by moment on "building my power."
Even the use of that word, power, can be terrifying to people (it has been to me, and to many of my students) because one symptom of the inherited illness that we call Western Culture is that power is misunderstood and used very poorly. Power without sacred love of life brings destruction. (Love without power is mere sentimentality, which happens often in New Age spirituality and smiley Christianity. And love and power without wisdom is just spiritual farting. Wisdom is the breast milk of the Dark Mother of creation that brings you the power to sing healing into this world. Well, that’s another strange phrase that I don't have time to unpack at the moment.)
I hope I never give anyone the impression that I believe I'm oh so powerful and magical because I talk about these things. It's just that, for some reason, I've spent an ill-advised amount of time, money, tears and pain on learning as much as I can about all of this before I pass from this lovely earth, and I've been unbelievably blessed to seek out and meet beautiful teachers who have helped me grasp and use these ideas and practices. Those teachers have included human shaped ones, as well as the teachers shaped as mountains, rivers, crows, and many plants and animals - on and on they go. My deepest love is working with all of this and teaching it.
(Okay, one more digression: Reason is not, in itself, a disability. Reason is a profound gift and tool for human beings. But, reason easily slips into arrogance, and when it does, it becomes a disability. The story of western culture has been like taking a lover with a great body and a full bank account but no heart. The Earth Mother has now become keen on where this relationship has been going.)
The Coming of Angus and Bride is one of the most powerful Celtic stories that exist. However, it's easily overlooked by the western mind because the story invites you into the mythic heart, and the medicine of nature. This is why I've made the story the center point of my online Spring Equinox shamanism class that I just put out a few days ago. The class takes you very deeply into working with the imagery – otherwise called divine forces or High Frequency helping spirits – that inhabit the story. It's a great way to use this Equinox and transition to spring a vehicle for spiritual growth.
The Coming of Angus and Bride
This is a story of the transformation from winter to spring. It is the story of winter wants nothing more than to hold its icy grasp on the land, and how spring comes and pries those icy hands loose. As the sun arcs higher and higher in the sky bringing more light, and the promise of the new world about to emerge in spring, we tell this story at this time.
This story has been told for a long time in Scotland. It's story that take place a long, long time ago. Or maybe this story takes place right here, right now. Maybe this story takes place on the land where you live right now. Maybe this story takes place in your inner landscape, inside your heart. And maybe this story is always taking place in you.
In Scotland she is known as Beira, the queen of winter. But she's no ordinary queen. She's also called the Cailleach – the mother goddess who put all the mountains and rivers into their places. It is said that was a one-eyed giantess with white hair, dark blue skin, and rust-colored teeth. She built the mountains of Scotland using a magic hammer. What's more created Loch Ness when she transformed her negligent maid Nessa into a river, which broke loose and made the loch.
In the Scottish tale, all the long winter Beira, holds captive a young woman named Bride. Beira was jealous of Bride's light and beauty. And she hated hearing that girl sing those – perfectly lovely songs.
Beira gave Brigid ragged clothing to wear, and put her to work both inside and outside that the castle doing the dirtiest, meanest tasks. And no matter how well Bride did the tasks, Beira scolded her, calling her lazy and worthless.
Each night at sunset, Bride was made to return to the castle to be locked away in her dark room. Bride did not have the strength to resist or escape.
As winter progressed and the sun began arcing higher in the sky each day, Beira became even more demanding and cruel.
One day in midwinter, Bride returned from her task outside the castle, and in her hand she carried a small bunch of white snowdrops – the first flowers of springtime. Her eyes sparked with delight looking at them, and she showed them to Beira.
Beira took one look at those flowers and became furious and demanded to know where Bride had gotten them.
Bride explained that… well, as she walked along, and as she might have been doing a bit of humming, and maybe a little bit of singing, the flowers sprang up under each of her footsteps.
Beira erupted in rage, snatched the flowers from Bride's hands.
"Why were you humming? You know I hate humming."
Bride explained that recently she had been dreaming of a radiant young man. And those dreams had filled her joy and song.
What she didn’t say—but what Beira knew—was that this radiant young man would bring the end of Beira's cold reign.
Beira demanded Bride return to her dark room – and no more humming!
Beira summoned her eight hag sisters, the winter storms.
"Sisters, we are in danger! Ride to the north and ride to the south, ride to the east and ride to the west, and I will ride forth also. Smite the world with frost and tempest, so that no flower may bloom and no grass blade survive!"
The Storm Sisters mounted the backs of their black, shaggy, wild-eyed, flying goats and rode forth to smite the land. Beira flew forth also, grasping in her hand her magic hammer. With every smash of the hammer on the ground, ice and snow appeared.
Now there was another reason Beira kept Bride prisoner. Her fairest and dearest son, whose name was Angus-the-Ever-Young, was in love with Bride. All winter long Angus lived on the Green Isle of the West, which is also called the "Land of Youth." And recently he had been dreaming of a most beautiful maiden who walked in a frozen land, with tears upon her cheeks. Angus's heart was broken open by such a site and he decided he would go and find her.
But when he tried to make his way across the sea, to Scotland, the waves of the sea and the cold winds lashed violently at him and his white steed, for the eight sisters were out smiting the world with more winter.
So Angus reached across the wheel of life and borrowed three days from warm August. The cold waves fell quiet, the wild eyed goats ridden by the Storm Sisters would not fly, the sun shone peacefully over the land, the air warmed, and all the creatures and people rejoiced.
Then Angus easily rode his white steed across the sea to shores of Scotland.
Beira and her hag sisters pelted him and pummeled him with storms and ice and rain, but up and own the land rode Angus, searching, searching.
Then came the day when Angus and Bride met - in a forest away from the castle, unseen by Beira or her Sisters.
Angus said to her: When I first saw you in my dream I thought the stars were falling from the sky but it was just your tears falling, and wherever they touched the earth, blue violets as beautiful as your eyes sprang up and danced in the warm breeze."
She said to him: When I first I beheld you in my dream, I thought a great fiery heart was riding the winds of heaven across the black waves, but it just your face shining over the winter land in beauty and power.
Said Angus: This is a day of great joy.
Said Bride: A day of great joy for all.
And as they spoke, and as their eyes sang to one another, new shoots of grass and delicate flowers sprang up around them and began to spread across the land.
Beira knew the two had met finally and she was filled with what looked like wrath, but was actually terror and grief over the knowledge that her time as queen was over.
And she once again called on her eight sister hags to ride forth in ferocity to smite the land with storms. And so the delicate blades of new grass were smacked by ice, and the new buds on trees were ripped away by winds. And the little blue flowers were drained of blue by the cold.
But Bride would respond by singing a melody over the land and the green would return again and yellow primrose would pop up. And Angus would reach out his hands and as flames danced from his fingers, the ice would become water flowing. The wild ducks began rising from the reeds quacking and the lambs sprang from their mother's bellies.
And Beira and her hag sisters would blow black whistling winds that swept the land for days and killed half the lambs, and killed the ducks, they would smash the primrose with their hammers.
On and on, back and forth it went between Beira and her hag sisters trying to prolong Beira's reign, and Bride and Angus singing new life into the land, getting stronger each day as they gazed into one another's eyes and spoke poetry to each other.
And then at the spring equinox, Beira knew her time was over. She had become so weak and so tired. She threw her terrible hammer under a holly tree and that is the reason why no grass grows under the holly trees.
She fled to a mountain top on the Isle of Sky, and watched, as Bride, resplendent in her radiant green robe, sang the tulips and the daffodils up out of the dark ground, and Angus sang golden light into the seeds.
Beira wept tears of sorrow, for she, too, loved the land in her own way, and she loved reigning over it. But her job of cleansing the land was done. When night came on she travelled westward over the sea to Green Island. She was so tired and so old now, and she barely made her way to the well at the center of the island. As she lifted the cup of water to her lips, the equinox sun broke over the eastern horizon. The old hag of winter sipped the water from the well of life and fell into a deep sleep from which she would not awaken until autumn.
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