Goddess Thealogy

Awakening the Unknown (and Letting It Rest)

Cross-posted on my SageWoman blog.

For today’s #Thealogy Thursday, I want to build on my previous post regarding mystery. I’ve known for a long time that spirituality isn’t all about bringing light, but I believed “darkness” represented only aspects of self for which I felt shame. My frame of reference has widened to realize we need areas unseen and unexplored in our lives. Permaculture practice includes leaving a small corner of your land to the wild; we need this space internally as well.

I perceived the residence of shadow to be solely the parts of self which I denied having: trauma-time little selves that I banished out of my awareness. Now I am aware of at least two other entities therein. These include parts of self which do not wish themselves known and parts whose form I have not yet taken.

The parts who do not wish themselves known are aspects of self which feel unsafe with me as Mother. They hold themselves back from me in fear that I will cause them harm as others have caused them harm. Willing them known only deepens their resolve to hide.

The mystery selves are my untapped potentials; Spirit-beings and the stuff of the soul into which I must pour care and attention until, pregnant with their unfolding, they blossom to Self. We have the idea in our culture that we already are everything for which we are looking; I think this is an oversimplification. We contain all the necessary ingredients for the truest version of Self of which we are capable, but diligence and perseverance are needed to realize this way of living.

One uncanny ability I’ve always had is that I can look at someone and see their Shadow. I am very wary when this doesn’t work with another as it usually means there is a heavy air of denial going on in the person’s life. I see now that, although I am gifted in seeing the little selves and the parts that hide from others, I am unable to see the Mystery inside them—who they could become if they were fully awake and fully invested in Self. I have been blind to these hidden seeds in others because I have denied them in myself. I thought everything in me needed to be exposed and conscious, but this is forced growth where incubation is instead required.

I marvel at the idea of holding space for the unknown in myself and others; pregnant with ambiguity and uncertainty, believing all that wishes to be manifested will do so in good time. This only occurs, of course, for those who allow for it. If we believe ourselves light and nothing more, if we submerge in denial of half of who we are, there is little room for this type of wading in the slit seeking shoots.

There is so much in Goddess Spirituality that connects to this concept of Mystery. The representation of the feminine in the moon and darkness, in descent and dreams, as well as birth-death-rebirth speaks to these truths. Goddess is not a fixed, unchanging concept, and neither are we. I feel in this new understanding that it is only after much time that the layers to which I’ve only now become acquainted will fill out, each cell dividing and the body coming into its own. When we come to the end of our understanding, we are in holy space. We needn’t resolve to explore and tame the wilderness in our souls; no, we can sit at the edge, singing lullabies, and welcoming with an open heart whatever unfurls and emerges.

Embodied Heart, Inner Work

Bog and Peak: Welcoming Mystery

“Perhaps we should reconsider the importance of swamps. They are the meeting place of earth and water, a liminal space between the surface, the conscious world, and the depth of the unconscious. When we dare to venture into the forbidden forest, the soft ground where waters are dark, or the house of the witch, we engage with adventures and learn more about ourselves.” Eila Carrico, The Other Side of the River, pg. 47.

Trauma survivors face many mysteries—making sense the specifics of their experiences, as well as relating to self and others when core beliefs have been shattered and determining what being “healed” really entails. For today’s #InnerWork Wednesday, I’ll be examining our response to the unknown. I recently shared a poem that I wrote which blossomed into this post.

I thought the purpose of inner work was evaporation; to remove all traces of murkiness from the bogs of my heart and memory, exposing all that I am to the light. But life holds mystery; pure awareness would bore us instantly. No, I think now life is the film on water surface, the pebble-lined shore bed, the dip between road and grass. Rising and sinking, knowing and unknowing, holding and releasing, body and soul. Dwelling in the space between reality and fantasy, solid and mist, sensation and perception, allowing form to pass into the formless and back again.

I widen myself to include the bits of me I do not know. I pull myself in around the same pieces when they make themselves manifest, forming a protective hedge. This cycle of movement births a mothering of inner trust.

When Self meets Other, magic ensues. The edge, teeming with activity, evolves, grows, dies back and reforms. Boundaries exist in nature but are not created or fixed. We can have confidence in ourselves, as we mature, to feel them from the tips of our fingers as we approach Other, rather than to erect them as solid steel fortresses into which none dare enter or to run rampant through any we meet.

Edges require invitation, both across and down. To know ourselves in the places where we are hidden, we must near the drop and stay our feet until eyes surface and request our presence. Forcing parts of self out into the piercing light is just as traumatic as shoving them into the algae. In connecting with Other, voice ringing over range reigns. Asking and receiving permission to sit with another, as well as calling ourselves away as we leave, signals to loved ones that their Self will not be overrun or abandoned by our Other.

We will never know ourselves or another wholly. To awaken is not to perceive, rather, it is to sense not only what the body experiences, but to lift eyes to the mountaintop—the periphery of Other—and the turbid waters—the depths of Self—and to hold in consciousness the awareness of Secrets. To the fullest extent possible, learning to vigil these Unknowns, table set and heart open, instead of demanding their presence or rejecting their existence, enlivens the edge and entrains its spirals and eddies to soften. What bubbles up, what casts down ladder, is both stranger and old friend.