Saturday, July 31, 2004

Recovering intuition

Vasalisa Approaching the Hut of Baba Yaga from MYTHING LINKS Baba Yaga page

I am still reading Chapter 3: Nosing out the facts: The Retrieval of Intuition as Initiation in Women Who Run With the Wolves. My plan was to finish the chapter and then write a summary but I think it is too complex for just one post and I am going to follow my intuition on this.

In this chapter Dr. Estes discusses the Russian folktale "Vasalisa". In this tale, the heroine, Vasalisa goes through several trials or tests and is helped by a small doll that her dying mother gave her. Vasalisa's wise doll symbolizes her intuition.
...the doll represents the inner spirit of us as women; the voice of inner reason, inner knowing , and inner consciousness. The doll is like the little bird in fairy tales who comes and whispers in the heroine's ear, the one who reveals the hidden enemy and what to do about it all. This is the wisdom of the homunculus, the small being within. It is our helper which is not seeable, but which is always accessible.
When I first started on my journey of self discovery I became very interested in intuition. I read a few books on developing it. I felt cut off from any inner knowing and I didn't trust my hunches or gut feelings.
We, like Vasalisa, strengthen our bond with our intuitive nature by listening inwardly at every turn in the road. "Should I go this way, or this way? Should I stay or go? Should I resist or be flexible? Should I run away or toward? Is this person, event, venture true or false?"
I started to do this a few years ago. Once in a while, I would act on a hunch, an impulse. I did it when nothing too unpleasant could happen anyway. I don't know how successful these initial, feeble attempts were. I remember having the feeling I should give a CD to my landlady, that she would like it. I didn't let doubts stop me. (She'll think I am crazy, she won't like it, this is stupid) I just bought it (Enya's Memory of Trees) and gave it to her. I don't know if she thought I was strange or if she even liked it. Nothing really wonderful happened as a result of this small act of following what I thought was my intuition. But I still remember doing it, years later. I still feel glad that I did it even if I don't know, and may never know if it was the right thing to do. I guess this is one time when I can live with the ambiguity of it. I have tried to repeat this 'hunch-following' tradition. I have to admit there is something freeing and joyful in doing something and not analyzing it over and over again, just getting an idea and doing it.
A woman's grasp of her intuitive wisdom may be weak as a result, but with exercise it will come back and become fully manifested.
I wouldn't say that my intuition is fully manifested, but I feel more comfortable about trusting it. And that is a big step for me.

Later in the chapter (I am skipping lot's of good parts about woman's fear of her own power and about the 'myriad faces of the subterrene feminine.') is the discussion of the 'fiery skull' as another symbol of intuition.
Each woman who retrieves her intuition and Yaga-like powers reaches a point where she is tempted to throw them away, for what is the use of seeing and knowing all these things? This skull-light is not forgiving. In this light, the old are elderly; the beautiful, lush; the silly, foolish; the drunk are drunken; the unfaithful are infidels; things which are incredible are noted as miracles.....
Yet, when one sees thusly and senses thusly, then one has to work to do something about what one sees. To possess good intuition, goodly power, causes work....
It is true, I will not lie to you; it is easier to throw away the light and go to sleep. It is true, it is hard to hold the skull-light out before us sometimes. For with it, we clearly see all sides of ourselves and others...
I am not sure I have a fiery skull yet. I am probably still in the small doll in my pocket stage and so I haven't really felt this desire to put out the light. But I can understand it and in understanding it, I hope I can be ready for it.

And further, Dr. Estes discusses how intuition gives a great power of discrimination which we can use in choosing friends, lovers and teachers who are supportive of our wild growth. She describes life as a smorgasbord, where we be satisfied to choose what is near us on the table, or we can use our intuition to determine what we want, independently from what is available.
The way to maintain one's connection to the wild is to ask yourself what it is you want.
... There is around us a constant beckoning world, one which insinuates itself into our lives, arousing and creating appetite where there was little or none before.
...To chose just because something mouth-watering stand before you will never satisfy the hunger of the soul-Self. And that is what intuition is for; it is a direct messenger of the soul.
I think this is especially important in this age because everywhere we are being bombarded with messages, advertisements, slogans telling us what we should want. After hearing these all day, it is so difficult to sort their external screaming from the internal soul whisper. But I have tried to do it their (society's) way and I wasn't happy. It is a good question, "What do I want?" I don't have an answer yet, at least not one that I really feel deeply satisfied with. I will keep asking it, keep following the murmurs of my emerging intuition, my blossoming power.

Love Liza

Last night we saw this film. It is the story of the aftermath of a woman's (Liza's) suicide. Yea, pretty strong topic for a Friday night flick. If I try to fit this into my theme of films prodding me to live life to its fullest, I would say that this film shows what suicide means to those left behind and therefore shows by reflection the importance of living. Liza's husband, Wilson (Philip Seymour Hoffman), is surprised and devastated by her suicide which causes him to tumble into addiction, specifically sniffing gasoline. It is difficult to watch the level of self hate arising from guilt that forces him to do this. Liza left him a letter, a suicide note, and he is terrified to open it, terrified that it will tell him that it was all his fault, but he believes that is what it says anyway and acts accordingly. Liza's mother is played by Kathy Bates and we see a little bit of her grief also. Both actors are excellent. As a person who has thought about suicide from time to time, I have to say this gives me new perspective on what it would do to my family and loved ones. In depression, it is easy to tell yourself that no one cares about you but I think, deep down, I knew this wasn't true and so I didn't move much further than thought. But I definitely didn't think seriously about the days and weeks and months that my loved ones would suffer. I am far from the depressed person I once was.... still I will keep the lesson of this film close to me.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Recognizing self worth

Last Friday Angel posted:
Over the past few weeks I've been really trying to consciously be kinder and gentler to myself; to recognize all the good that I've done and all the good that I've received.
I was reading it and mulling it over in my mind. I was doing that too, for a while, but somehow I just stopped and slipped into my usual hyper critical inner voice. I pick up the book I am reading, Women Who Run With the Wolves and read this:

... women who are raised in families that are not accepting of their gifts often set off on tremenodously big quests--over and over, and they do not know why. They feel they must have three Ph.D.s or that they have to hang upside down from Mount Everest, or that they must execute all manner of dangerous, time-consuming and money-eating endeavors to try to prove to their families that they have worth. "Now will you accept me? No? Okay (sigh), watch this."... However, we can see that for the deep work to continue, trying to prove one's worth to the chorus of jealous hags [internal critics] is pointless, and as we shall see, in fact impedes the initiation.
Maybe this is part of my inner drive to achieve but at what price? I am unhappy with myself most of the time. From other sources I have read that one can stop trying to prove their worth and just accept that they are worthy, just decide it. I guess it doesn't work to just decide it once, but one must keep on deciding it each day.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Catching it

My thoughts have been scattered and nearly never ending. It isn't pleasant. Brings to mind the Ten Steps of Ox Herding (and mind training).

With his horns fiercely projected in the air the beast snorts,
Madly running over the mountain paths, farther and farther he goes astray!
A dark cloud is spread across the entrance of the valley,
And who knows how much of the fine fresh herb is trampled under his wild hoofs!

This has been me, exactly, for the last three days. I have been off balance, unhappy, and anxious. Sometimes a beast snorting, others more quiet but never really in control, not even during my meditation. I especially have lost control of my Inner Predator. He has been trampling all over my newly sprouted self esteem and improved body image. Maybe it is this tender young growth that drew him out of hiding. Maybe it was also that I have some additional sources of stress and I wasn't prepared. One too many balls in the air and they all came tumbling down. That's how I feel, overwhelmed. Balls dropping everywhere and me helpless. I will get some rest. I am comforted by the wisdom of my teacher, "If you feel discomfort, just watch and wait, it will change into something else."