Weekly energy pulse: Oct 20-26
Revelation with a catch
In this reading: Earth ‘school’ can be a tough old gig. When we return from the stars (transcend the ego’s narrow agenda), the self that returns will not be the same as the self that left. That means more fully choosing to be here than ever before.
Pilgrimage (Star People)
The mythical Chinese sage Lao Tzu is famous for saying: “A good traveller has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” We might say this can refer to the mirror image, not a dualism, of staying still while in movement; and moving while staying still. Either case, we need to turn the journey-not-the-destination aphorism upside-down and shake out its pockets. Words are useless – and platitudes less – unless they can evoke a felt reality.
The purpose of pilgrimage is to find the still, spacious centre within, even if we call that stillness God. All that travelling, is it necessary? After a brutal day walking 37 kilometres through olive groves in the Andalusian heat during one of my pilgrimages across Spain, in 2010, a Frenchwoman at the hostel took one look at me and declared: “You don’t have to suffer so much for God.” And she was Catholic!
One virtue of a walked pilgrimage (for me) was the hypnotic effect of the sheer repetition. Pain was a reminder that there was nowhere but this moment, and the next step, and the next. Imagining the relief of stopping at the day’s destination, still hours away, was fool’s gold. This is certainly not everyone’s experience of pilgrimage. Catherine, the Frenchwoman, was right. I had made an idol out of suffering.
Breaking through the pain barrier
HOWEVER, A MEASURE OF COMPASSION: one of the remnants of early-life trauma is the conviction of pain as the only stable pattern of reality. We can only use the tools at our disposal. The key, it turns out, is to bring awareness to the suffering itself, until the suffering is disarmed.
The walking established a rhythm, until the rhythm established me. I breathed in and out, my footfall a scuffed cadence, unaware that the focal point of my consciousness had shifted. I ceased to be a peregrino, but the dream of a pilgrim. If I had been looking for God out there, I was sorely disappointed.
The aphorism ‘It’s the journey not the destination’ means well, it really does. But it still sets up the duality of the journey and the destination being separate. This week is about realising we have arrived, and yet are still moving. And we are moving because the ‘destination’ is always receding on the horizon. That’s the nature of evolution. That’s the nature of art. We will never arrive ‘there’, because we are constantly arriving ‘here’.
And there is only one place where we are both here and there. What does that mean?
It means the focal point of our consciousness will shift, sometimes seamlessly and sometimes like an act of grace, between the Dreamer and the Dream.
The angel and the icon
In The Meaning of Mary Magdalene, Cynthia Bourgeault points out that Philip in his gospel uses the striking image of a union of “angel” and “icon” as an inner reconciliation that must occur before the Dreamer and the Dream (my terms) dissolve into primordial union.
The angel, in this sense, is not only our true nature, but our cosmic identity. The icon (or analogue) is that curious walker, determined to walk and walk and walk, so far in fact that, despite himself, the walker disappears. The task is clear: to live, simply live, and allow the boundaries of the self to dissolve through no effort at all. Then the landscape changes. We are neither ‘here’ not ‘there’, but in the ground of creativity itself.
Let’s unpack this to see some practical implications.
Spain’s famed pilgrimage route, the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, is in fact a network of routes. Compostela means, literally, field of stars, and el camino (‘the way’) is heavily associated with the Milky Way. This highlights multiplicity and singularity.
There is no single road to destination, other than the one we are on; however, the stars are an absolute (echoing the angel and the icon). There is a sense here that we can’t go wrong, even if we take a ‘wrong turn’. Look up. It has scarcely changed our true orientation.
That recognition establishes our safety. Efforts at transcendence can fall afoul of core security beliefs. Suffice to say we must attend to our egoic wounds as a necessary basis to allow ego boundaries to dissolve.
With safety established, we can switch our perspective to ‘up there’ among the stars. Now how does our pilgrimage route look? The whole landscape is within view, miniaturised even. This suggests that if our paths have seemed obscure, destiny veiled, then this week is a time of revelation and clarity. With a catch.
drops of jupiter
The one who wanted to know, the one seeking clarity and direction (when out of balance, a desire for control), that one – the icon, not the angel – will return from the starry skies changed. A greater expanse of the sky is housed within now. The desire or frustrated compulsion for change, direction and/or clarity – the desire itself – has been reoriented.
Put another way, we’ve been orienting according to a map (full of icons!), but now we’ve seen the entire route, unbroken, from start to finish. The limiting attachments of the map will be spontaneously released. What we wanted before will not be the same as what we will want after. As the angel and the icon move towards union, as the degrees of separation break down, our desire and divine will become increasingly aligned. And that’s powerful.
This new orientation replaces suffering (for me, and code for linear convention) as a stable pattern of reality. Is heaven overrated? We can dare to ask the question now.