grief

Where Does it Hurt?

Where Does it Hurt?

Ruby Sales, asked the question “Where does it hurt?”  This question is so simple and yet quite powerful.  I have been pondering this daily, especially as I listen to current events and watch attacks played out on social media.

The truth of the matter is that we are all hurting.  We have been trained to think of ourselves as individuals, so we often forget that we are all connected.  (We are actually more similar than different.)  What happens to the Earth, what happens to children on the other side of the world (or in our own country) affects us all.

Chapel of Resistance: the Love of Corn Mother

My Heart breaks and I grieve on a daily basis; though generally, I allow these feelings to wash over me and help my Heart grow rather than be bogged down. This is because I am able to tap into the bigger picture and see the reason for the destruction or whatever is happening, able to see the overall energetic pattern, rather than this minute detail. And I choose to see the Beauty and Love that is abundant wherever I look.

Today; however, I learned that a judge granted Williams Partners the right to seize 5 properties in my area, which will allow them to build a ridiculous natural gas pipeline. The worst part is one of these properties is owned by the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, a group of nuns, who built an outdoor interfaith chapel on their land because the pipeline interferes with their Land Ethic. This ethic includes, “As Adorers, we honor the sacredness of all creation; we cultivate a mystical consciousness that connects us to the Holy in all of life.”

So today, I became overwhelmed with the short-sightedness and the blatant disregard of Life (human, Plant, Water, all Life). I wondered how far do we have to go? What will it take for us to realize that money in the bank is nothing compared to the gifts we are destroying? I did what I do when I am overwhelmed, I go to Nature and pray. This time I went to the little chapel in the middle of a cornfield.

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The sight that greeted me was Corn Mother growing up through the pulpit. Well, this instantly calmed my Heart. As I remembered the incredible resiliency of Corn and her sacred relationship with humans.(If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend The Unlikely Peace at Cuchumaquic: The Parallel Lives of People as Plants: Keeping the Seeds Alive by Martín Prechtel. This will explain why this sight was so powerful for me.) The Nature Spirits were already telling me to go Home and do my work, that I didn’t belong there grieving. Though I asked them to rlet me feel this a little.

I said my prayers and asked for forgiveness. I sang my grief and as I did the wind blew through and Corn responded. Tears did come. As I’ve been taught not to waste these, I gifted them to Corn Mother.As I continued to sing what was in my Heart, my song changed and continued to change until finally I sang the song Corn wanted to hear. These are the words that came:

We’re gonna rise, rise, rise up.

We’re gonna shine, shine, shine bright

We’re gonna Love, Love, Love, Love, Love

We’re gonna dance, dance, dance, dance, dance

And so Corn danced while I sang and my Heart lifted. I know that this is only a small part of the picture. I do have more work to do and I cannot be bogged down by this. Though it would be easier if we could all recognize the incredible Beauty and gifts from the Sacred that surround us and start treating this Earth and one another as the Divine Beings we are.

As always, I am grateful to Corn Mother.

Healing the Culture of Pain

I have spent a good portion of this year reflecting on pain and pain medication.  In one of my classes this summer, David Dalton shared his observations of working with people in pain.  He said that whenever a person tries to suppress the pain with pain medication, the level of pain will rise to surpass the medication.  For those of us, who know people with chronic pain, we can see the profound simplicity in this statement.  How many times does someone get a cortisone shot and feel really good for awhile and then the pain is greater, long before the shot is supposed to wear off?  Or how many people are constantly increasing their medications or switching to stronger ones because the medicine is just not doing the job anymore? Of course this is what happens.  Why?  Because the physical pain is a symptom of a larger issue.  So suppressing the symptom, does not heal the situation.  In fact, it exacerbates it.  Our subconscious will not let this continue and so it will increase the physical pain, until the underlying issue is healed.  Many allopathic doctors, as well as, our pharmaceutical industry, do not recognize that the pain is a symptom.  They simply try to eliminate it.  Which then starts the cycle of increasing pain, increasing medication.

And so where does this never-ending cycle lead us?  In my case, it has left me heart-broken and brother-less.  My brother had a very large, sensitive heart.  He felt everyone’s pain and internalized it as his own.  Early on in his life, he learned that he could self-medicate the pain through alcohol and drugs.  (In my opinion, addiction is based on the desire to escape pain, trauma, etc.)  This past year, my brother had an operation and another instance where there was considerable physical pain.  The doctors prescribed him oxycodone both times.  He quickly became “addicted” to oxycodone and fatally combined it with alcohol.  (I use the quotes, because his doctor told him that he was not really addicted.)

For those of you who don’t know what oxycodone (aka OxyContin) is, it is an opiate or narcotic that is prescribed for pain.  It is extremely addictive.  It has also been a presence in the news lately because of the amount of deaths among those who use it.  Yet the use of this drug has drastically increased, Americans consuming the majority of it.  Why?  Well, clearly we are a culture in pain.  As you can tell, I have a very personal reason for wanting to stop this cycle and I now feel its time to share my desire.

Why are we a culture of pain?  Well, I’m sure we can discuss this for ages and like everything there are many reasons.  Though I think one of the biggest is that we are not living the lives that we want.  I feel as a nation, we are disconnected from Nature and our true, Wild Selves.  We have gone too far from ourselves, yet there is still that shining Light in us that is trying to call us Home.

(I would like to digress for a minute.  I feel pulled to say that I recognize that pain can occur for a simple reason, we stubbed our toe or had a surgery, etc.  While part of me wants to acknowledge that, a bigger part of me is questioning if that is where the pain stops.  I admit the pain is created by the stubbed toe or the surgery, but is that the original source?  I know for myself, that when I have stubbed my toe before, I was not being mindful and paying attention to my surroundings.  So I’m not completely, ready to discount the acute pain as not having a deeper connection to our subconscious.  Though, in general I’m talking about chronic pain.)

So what can we do for pain?  I think the very first step is to acknowledge it and try to get to the root of the problem.  This often takes time and help from others.  A good place to start is by journalling and paying attention to our dreams (Ah, this is what this season is about?!).  Of course, working with a good therapist is wonderful also.  (I stress good, because the wrong therapist can be detrimental to our healing.  Trust your instincts.)  Spend plenty of time in nature.  Plants have a way of bringing us back into balance.  Plus, they help us remember our Wild Selves and guide us on our path.  Breathe, deep, full breaths.  Oxygen affects our pain threshold.  Nourish yourself (physically, emotionally, and spiritually).  I, of course, recommend seeing a Flower Essence practitioner.  Flower Essences can be a valuable tool at this time.  They can serve multiple purposes.  Depending on what is chosen, they can help to strengthen the person, help bring to the surface the underlying issue, help us see through the problem, help us clear the problem (particularly if it is trauma) from our system, help us to re-create ourselves, and more.  Many of us have seen David Dalton’s Teasel set be helpful for those in pain.  This is the basis of what I use for Lyme.  However, we are constantly finding more uses for it.  My intuition tells me that the Teasel is not suppressing the pain like medications do, but helps to release it from our system, often makes it easier for us to understand the underlying issue, helps us clear it from our bodies, and I think it also reminds our cells of health, helping them to return to their natural-state.

These suggestions do not mean that you will never experience pain.  Quite the opposite.  Pain is an inevitable part of life.  But just like joy, we need to really feel pain and acknowledge it for what it is or what it is showing us.  The pain of losing a brother (or other loved one) is incredible.  Yet, it shows the depth of Love that is there.  I would not trade the Love to avoid the anguish and so I will embrace it and honor it.  While I can no longer guide my brother through his pain, I sincerely hope that I can help others.

The Beauty of the Healing Crisis

As I write this, Autumn is in the air.  The leaves are beginning to change color.  Just like Persephone, the plants are dying or beginning their return to the underworld. I have spent the last two weeks caring for my grandmother, whom it seemed was making her own way to the other world.  Today is her 94th birthday, she has surprised all of us, by deciding to live!  While, she still has much healing in her future, to me she is a symbol of strength and determination.  She also has re-enforced my belief that there is a reason for our healing crises.  I really could not find a reason for her suffering.  However, it was clear to me today.  When my grandfather died in January, my grandmother didn’t think there was any reason for her to live anymore.  No matter how many times we told her she was important to us, she never truly believed it.  Now, so many people have filled her with love and prayer.  Today was, I believe, the first time ever, she has really sat on her well-deserved throne as matriarch of the family.  I can see in her face that she is reveling in the love and attention and finally understands that she is important.

While I was not happy with the timing of her sickness, I appreciate the timing of her recovery.  It seems rather appropriate to me, since we are approaching the end of October.  For many cultures, the end of October/beginning of November is a time to honor our ancestors.  In Mexico the festival is known as “El Dia de los Muertos”, the Catholic Church calls it “All Souls Day”, in Sweden it is known as “Alla Helgons Day”, and many countries celebrate “Halloween”.

Most of us are most familiar with Halloween.  However, what seems like a mainstream money making holiday is actually based on a Gaelic sacred holiday to honor the ancestors and celebrate the new year called Samhain (pronounced SAH-win).  They believed (as do many Pagans today) that at this time of year, the veil between this world and the next is thin, which allowed the ancestors to come back and help or guide us or if they have not been respected, to haunt us.  People would set out turnips or beets with lights in them to guide the ancestors to their home, hence, today’s jack-o-lantern.  People would also give offerings of food to the ancestors, which has been replaced by trick or treating.

I have always felt that our culture disregards our elderly and ancestors.  I use this time of year to honor my ancestors through my favorite medium, food.  Generally, I eat and give offerings of their favorite foods.  I also have an offering plate for all of my ancestors and the ancestors of this land.  Up until this year, I mostly focused on my great-aunt Emma by eating a milky-way and my great-grandfather (“Great-Pa”) by eating or trying to eat a grapefruit (that is another story about the power of grief).  This year, of course, I will be adding my grandfather and brother.  As I see this as not only a time to honor them but also as part of my grieving process, I am sure that I will have a more elaborate celebration.