Psyche and The Heroine’s Quest

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In concert with the Hearth Fire: Re-Ember Your Soul’s Truth group that I’m currently facilitating, I’m writing a monthly Goddess blog to correspond with the course content.  Each month we will meet a new Goddess, her mythology and symbology.  Hearth Fire’s intention is to explore how these myths and powerful symbols relate to and inform our lives.  How we at times can experience ourselves as unconsciously overpowered by such forces, and also how we can intentionally cultivate the Goddesses’ unique wisdom and medicine.

In the future, I plan to unveil a downloadable online course that enables participants all over the world to directly engage and experience the Hearth Fire way.  Until then, you are invited, via these blogs, to explore each month’s theme alongside the group.

(An aside, Aware House Books, in Regina, is also publishing this Goddess Blog monthly, as a wonderful collaboration we are both excited to be endeavoring.)

My intention with this blog, and those proceeding it, is to introduce archetypal forces, via Goddess mythology, to support contemplation of how these forces show up in and effect our lives.  My hope is that through awareness of such forces we can liberate our individual psyches and learn to live in co-creative harmony with Goddess forces, never extinguishing our unique voice in service of theirs.  So, kicking off this monthly Goddess blog series, I’d like to start with the end in mind and introduce the story of Psyche and Eros.  This myth, as a template of the heroine’s quest, is particularly useful for modern day seekers.  But before we go delving into the mythological goods, it is paramount we first do a little housecleaning.  To get the goods from these blogs its best to untangle any binds in the mind that exclusively yoke the feminine with women, and the masculine with men.  This may or may not be news to you, but men and women both contain feminine and masculine qualities.  And though in the Psyche myth we consider the female protagonist as the model of the feminine, ultimately, we want to integrate her heroinic example into each of our lives: men, women, and all genders alike.   So, with all that in mind, let me introduce the story of Psyche and Eros.

Psyche was a young woman of unparalleled beauty.  Her beauty inspired the mortals of her time to forget their homage and sacrifices to Aphrodite, Goddess of Love and Beauty.  This unprecedented praise for mortal beauty invoked the jealous rage of Aphrodite, and Psyche not only found herself condemned to what appeared to be her death, but alas also faced with a series of impossible tasks that, in the end served as rites of passage for her to claim her divinity.  Psyche’s story is that of initiation and realization of one’s innate divinity.  This feat of Psyche, a mere mortal activating and claiming her place amongst the Gods and Goddesses, is of extraordinary importance for our own souls’ journey.  No coincidence then, that the word psyche means soul in Greek.  Psyche’s myth plants the seed of possibility in the garden of our souls, as to what is conceivable for us in realizing our own innate divinity.

Psyche and Eros’s myth is nuanced, thick with meaning and metaphor, and can hardly be done justice, as a story well told, in the context of this blog.  And because of that reality, I STRONGLY recommend sourcing the book “Amor and Psyche”, by Erich Neumann, to get a fuller handle on it.  But, for now, let it be sufficed to relay that it was Psyche’s commitment to love, and a hopeful reunion with Eros- God of Love, that models for us the essence of a heroine’s quest: a unique quest that it is essential we endeavor to understand.  The way of the heroine is like that of the hero in that both are active seekers.  However, they differ in that where the hero is typically motivated by the opportunity to conquer, revenge, or prove himself, the heroine is inspired by a longing for union, reunion, passion, and ultimately love.  Psyche’s quest leads to a relationship of conscious co-creativity between human and divine.  Yes, one of her super powers is being persistent and committed to her mission, but instead of choosing to slay, force, or actively assert her power over (as the hero typically does), she models the way of receiving support, and actively surrendering to something bigger and beyond her limited and determined mind.  Her journey shows us the power of letting go of willful control, listening to the ethereal deep, and holding true to one’s courage, beyond all rational, until something greater and mysterious comes to the rescue.

*It is at this point in the blog, I recommend you google search, and play the song “We Don’t Need Another Hero”, by Tina Turner, for affectual resonance. *

Another specifically feminine aspect of Psyche’s quest is how she responds to defeat and dead-ends.  Frequently met by insurmountable challenge, she typically crumbles into a pathetic heap, not very heroic, I know.  Her surrender to defeat, however, is in perfect concert with her feminine quality.  Now hold up, wha!?  I know, I hear ya Sister!  As a strong and fierce feminine force myself, there is a loud voice in me that reels at such a statement.  The idea that pathetic desperation could be considered perfectly feminine feels nothing less than the sad and typical masochistic attempt of a long entrenched patriarchal mindset aimed at relegating the feminine, and thus women, to the lesser side.  However, this is where learning about archetypal Goddesses has been useful!  I’ve come to recognize that it is none other than the honorable voice of Artemis, and/or Athena, within my own consciousness whom rejects the qualities of vulnerability, and thus feels little resonance with the desperate feminine expressed through Psyche.  (We’ll learn more about Artemis and Athena in later blogs).  The truth, albeit uncomfortable for the Artemis and Athena in me to bear, is that surrendering to defeat is a potent medicine that Psyche, in her feminine perfection, brings to the table.  And, as prescribed, this remedy relentlessly brings Psyche to her knees, and reliably opens her heart to the wisdom of the Deep Feminine, the Mysterious Mama, the Great Goddess within.

Psyche’s myth also brings to light the importance of embodying our divinity and making holy our humanity, the outcome of which naturally gives way to Joy (who is the aptly named love child of Psyche and Eros).  Although the myth of Psyche takes place in a story world of dynamic, external relationships, the story is ultimately a path-work for the sacred marriage within, and its potential outcome.  The end of the myth, which is also the promised beginning of joy, is the blessed result of such sacred union.  Joy is what is possible when co-creation exists between two mutually empowered, mutually embodied, and mutually divined partners.  Psyche’s heroinic mission not only activates her own divinity, but also initiates the humanity of Eros, awakening the God of Love to his personal love of Psyche, and the soul.  This story teaches of the uplifting power of uniting our inner masculine with our inner feminine, and our inner divinity with our ultimate humanity.

Embodying our unique and divine soul is key to a life of joyful mystery, and the myth of Psyche and Eros is just the template we’re looking for.  Integrating their story helps us to better engage our own quests, as the heroes and the heroines of every day living.  Although there is value in continuing to learn from the hero’s quest, I hope this blog has inspired a remembering of the wisdom and potency of the heroine’s quest.  The medicine of surrender, the need to listen to the wisdom of the Deep, and the quest inspired by love and union are essential remedies for our time.  How many of us have felt at our wit’s end, having tried EVERY possible, thinkable, rational option to solve a major life dilemma, only to find ourselves pathetically and desperately on our knees, humbled by an insanity that there is no solution in sight?  It is here, in a tantrum of madness, wallowing in the muck, filth, and muddiness of our own hellish bottom, that the heroine can come to our rescue.  With her, we remember, there is only one thing left to do: let go.  Then, surrendered, laying belly to belly and heart to heart with the Earth, we can begin to hear a deeper wisdom, and feel Her eternal beat.  Fed by a previously unthinkable source, we begin to crawl, feel, and find our way forward, through, and miraculously out of the mysterious dark.  Psyche’s myth models the honorable, though oft times irrational, way of the feminine.   The Feminine, the Great Mother, in Her essence is a mystery, which generally evokes all sorts of rational resistance.  But, She is patient and persistent, Her’s is no rush and all trust.  She is not fighting time, nor us, and there is no bottom below Her for us to hit, and no height above her for us to escape to.  She waits with loving, open arms, and Psyche’s myth shows us a way to consciously engage, as we walk, yes blindly, but all the more wisely through the mystery towards joy.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this Psyche story bite.  I invite you to tune back each month, as we continue to traverse the realms of the Goddess to help us discern the differences between archetypal forces and our own unique soul.  Until next time, many blessings and be well.

Sincerely,

Jenelle Finch

 

Modern-day yogi and shamanic practitioner contemplates cultural appropriation

29571421_10150998447624944_5268164462226371783_nI recently participated in a women’s empowerment program at the MacKenzie Art Gallery of Regina.  I found it fascinating that my program: Psyche Soma Yoga, was being offered alongside a First Nation’s traditional healing dance presentation, and a Hindu traditional dance presentation.  Why did I find this fascinating?  Well, the two main-threads I’ve been studying for the past 12+ years have been shamanism and yoga, and my work as a PSYT Facilitator is truly the creative offspring of these two practices.  So, it seemed rather perfect that I was unveiling my creative work, at the art gallery no less, alongside the parent-modalities that have inspired it!

Although that feels quite beautiful and synchronistic, I have to admit that I’ve often felt acknowledging the parent traditions of my creative work edgy.  There is a lot of current awareness, and appropriately so, around the concepts of cultural appropriation, and due to my study paths, and my cultural background, I’m implicated in this conversation, and thus feel invited to contemplate and respond.

Do I have the right to my work?  Who has the right to what traditions?  How do I accept and honor the torches that have ignited me, and still embody the deeper truths they have awakened?   This blog is an attempt to enter a healing conversation around sacred traditions, and our need to consciously remedy underlying suffering and dissonance surrounding the modern day use of them.  This blog is not an attempt to offer a righteous solution, nor to judge, shame, or blame others who’ve previously entered the conversation.  Please do read the intention of peace, compassion, and curiosity between the lines and within them.

Although I’ve intensively studied yoga and shamanism, I am not, and never will be, culturally identified as East Indian, Hindu, First Nations, Indigenous, or Aboriginal.  Although I know for a fact that I too descend from some, if not many, indigenous tribes people from this planet, Earth, who’ve practiced and inherited their own sacred traditions, I do not currently abide on a piece of land that my ancestors were steadfast custodians of, nor do I have connection to bloodline elders who could possibly impart me my birthright sacred traditions. I am a descendant of immigrants, not only to North America, but also to parts of Europe, and main land Eurasia. I come from a long line of peoples who’ve repeatedly had to flee “homeland” due to war, famine, oppression, and/or other life/soul threatening challenges, for generations.  This truth, and the likelihood that so many people on this planet (if not most) descend from similarity traumatized generations, due war and oppression, afford me much compassion to the human experience in general, and especially to those who find themselves orphaned on a life boat void of sacred traditions, unsure of how to start consciously rowing themselves in the direction of the beloved, grace, and the divine.

The first tradition I stumbled on, when starving for the sacred, was yoga.  I came across a hot yoga class, and then an Iyengar yoga class, both of which started me on my path of uncovering the light within, which, although thoroughly buried and refracted, was relentlessly beckoning me home.  However, no matter how deep I went with yoga, I constantly found it left me adrift when it came time to understanding the spiritual content it so willingly helped unpack.  The fact that yoga practiced in the west is oft times denatured from its spiritual roots does not mean its technology is any less potent!  My personal story of a disorienting spiritual awakening, from practicing “westernized” yoga, is not an anecdotal anomaly (here I should have good references for material to find on this subject..which I will edit in eventually, have patience).  Participating in yoga for the lulu-lemon and long, sleek body, did not serve as protection for me from the firm spiritual nudge it ultimately enabled.  And since, the yoga I had access to fell well short of supporting me with integrating and understanding my big spiritual experiences…

The second tradition I stumbled on, when struggling to integrate the spiritual awakening catalyzed by the first tradition I stumbled on, was shamanism.  Shamanism was a life saver, and soul saver. As a clearly spiritually intended practice, it helped me land on my feet and integrate my spiritual aliveness.  I feel I was especially fortunate to find myself in the company of the Foundation of Shamanic Studies, as the foundation is consciously devised to support westerners and other “civilized” people (aka orphans separated from their bloodline sacred traditions) to wake up spiritually.  The foundation teaches de-cultured spiritual technologies, and to learn more about what decultured shamanism is, please read up at http://www.shamanism.org.  The practices shared at the Foundation of Shamanic Studies provided me a firm footing not only with my own inner light, but also with means to access wise, and compassionate beings who can further empower my path for collective, individual, and personal help and healing.

In so many ways, the practices of shamanism and yoga are inherently designed to dethrone any living guru or external authority figure.  They are designed instead to empower the guru and guiding light within, the yogi or shamanic practitioner are empowered to skillfully navigate the oh-too-common politics of human power-struggle, and as sacred warriors they are ultimately informed by, and embody a direct-line connection to the divine, the light of truth within (which is of course found in every being, animate or otherwise).

Knowing that this is the root of all sacred traditions, to invoke loving kindness, wise compassion, and skillful means in it’s practitioners, I do find some of the rhetoric around cultural appropriation often a disservice to the integrity and intention of the practices the arguments deem to defend, or protect.  I think it’s possible that the underlying dissatisfaction and anger these arguments point to has less to do with the cultural-identity of the seekers who engage and employ (or are employed by) them, and more so about the pathology that finds it’s roots in competition, comparison, consumerism, capitalism, and in general the “us vs. them” mentality, which is making us all sick.  Is it helpful for us to pick up stones to shame or blame anyone along their path of becoming…the same path we are all on?  The deepest truth, spiritual, scientific or otherwise, is that we are all one.  We all descend from this planet, this galaxy, this universe, this time-space continuum.  Whether we like it or not, we are all related and connected.  All lines drawn are continued misperceptions and misconceptions that only fuel further war on ourselves.

My vote is that more and more we enter healing conversations, where we practice the art of sacred listening and mutual respect.  Hearing one another’s pain, longing, confusion, clarity, and humanness as catalysts to embody the healing balm of loving kindness we can afford each other.  This is achieved with a willingness to learn, grow, and heal as a collective, leaving all of us on each other’s side.

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.” -Rumi

Developing Self-Edgency

I’m a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapist, and lets be honest, the title invites a certain level of mythical curiosity.  What does it mean when you’re not only a Yoga Therapist, but a Phoenix Rising one?

The legend of the phoenix is a curious tale, and like all tales, it is known to have several divergent versions, depending on which continent, and in which culture you find yourself.  My interpretation of the phoenix legend is that of a story of conscious transformation: of conscious dying and conscious birth.  In most tales, the phoenix emerges from the destructive flames alive, alight and soaring, wholly transformed from its original state.  However, the phoenix is not a passive recipient of change, but instead seen to be a conscious choice-maker, who appreciates and values the fire as a catalyst for its own essential becoming.  

Understood this way, we get a hint for why we’re called Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapist, as the phoenix is a symbol of intentional transformation, of enlightenment grounded in conscious choice-making.  This is what Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy is all about.
But where, you might ask, does this promise for transformation abide in our normal, day to day lives?  How can we recognise the ripe possibilities for change while folding the laundry, getting to work, and feeding the cats?  Well, in all your edges of course!

Our “edges” are places of discomfort in life, places where we feel stuck, or places we fear-avert from, places of triggering, disharmony, and general dis-ease in life.  Dissonance can be our best sign post towards finding the potential for a phoenician transformation in life.  But, the catch is, they need to be engaged consciously if they are to lead us towards a sense of self agency…aka Self Edgency!  

When we choose to step into whatever frightens us about our selves, our relationships, our experience (emotionally, physically, psychologically, and/or spiritually), we begin to employ courage and curiousity, two necessary allies for facing our shadows.  And, good news, this is where employing a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapist can be an act of wise, self-compassion.   There’s no need to recklessly throw ourselves into the belly of our internal beasts, and furthermore a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapist is specifically trained to hold space for your Self Edgency and Transformation, without interFEARING (which is typically what most your well intended friends and family inadvertently do).   Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapists tend to be pretty good at supportin* an embodied experience of transformation because a) they’ve likely already walked through their own phoenetic fire, and b) they’ve been trained to.

Walking consciously, and skilfully into self-transformation is, to say the least, an enlightening and empowering experience.  And thus, it’s no surprise the work has been aptly named after such a magical, and mythical creature.

 

Healthy Connections, Clear Boundaries

Reflecting on my Camino-in-Writing blog post of a year ago, I am reminded of the intricate balance between feeling connected to others, and still having clear boundaries between us.  The art of intimacy in relationship is one I will forever be unfolding in, and although it would seem like a contradiction, I find the clearer my boundaries are in relationship, the more intimacy is afforded.

Clear boundaries help us discern the difference between what we are feeling, and what someone else is feeling.  This might sound like a ridiculous statement, to assume that people can feel what others are feeling, but the concept of being overtly empathic is not a new one.  It becoming more and more recognized that  some individuals are highly sensitive (HSP), not just to their physical environments, but also to the emotional, psychological, and spiritual surrounds.  Whether these sensitivities are the result of a type of pathology or simply as a quality or attribute that someone have is undetermined, and perhaps only relevant to how we approach and integrate, or treat, these empathic experiences.  Many people, wittingly or unwittingly, are getting around not only with leaky gut syndrome, but also with leaky emotional processors.

Personally speaking, as I’ve come to self-recognize and self-honor, I’ve realized what is necessary for me to not only heal my physical “leaks” and wounding, but to also heal my my emotional leaks and wounds.  This quite literally has seen me embodying a clearer, more discernible, and self-aware boundary, including a healthier digestive tract boundary, which in turn enables me to pursue sustainable intimacy.  I have come to realize the vital difference between my initial behavior of getting to know someone via empathic digestion of their emotional and psychological content, versus now simply seeing, hearing, and knowing another all the while behaving more so in a way that has me reflecting them back to themselves, and resisting the temptation to take personally any of their behavior.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’ve mastered this way of being, but I’m much more aware of it, and of the gifts of healthy connection and boundaries it enables.

Harvesting the Moon

This morning I crept out of my house for an early morning walk around the lake.  As I strolled down the creek-side path, to meet a walking companion, rapture stole my heart as I caught sight of the enormous Harvest Moon setting itself above the archways of Cameron Street bridge.  The contrast of colors, yellow orange encased in auroric midnight-blue, and the symmetry of shapes, a slightly elongated, orb-like moon cresting over a half-moon bridge, were more than enough to refresh my sleepy mind and refuel my hungry soul…and that was all before the ecstatic recharge of connecting with a friend who inspires you to dig deep, and churn out new and familiar gems from the compost life.

It’s hard to believe how brief the autumn is, and how captivating.  Every day, at least three times a day, I have the opportunity to turn the corner, heading home from a walk, or work, or the collection of my daughter from school, and EVERY time my heart skips a beat.  Without fail, my eyes feel stupefied with delight, to be suddenly surrounded by the golden, flaming vault ceiling of elms cascading regally down my street.  These are the simple, and yet rhapsodic treasures that I feel grateful for, not only that they are in my life, but that my life is so that I am empowered to see the cornucopia I am surrounded by.

Happy Autumn, Happy Fall Equinox, Happy Harvest Moon, Happy Thanksgiving.20151007_152510

 

 

Following versus Leading

“The Camino reminded me that whether overcoming an addiction to dairy or an addiction to co-dependency, my will and intent would be constantly laundered on spin, until what ever is left emerges clear and clean. Realizing uplifting change requires the steady strength of our will, and the clear vision of our dreams.  It’s the pragmatic one footfall after another, that will not only make our dreams come true, but will ensure they can be realized in a sustainable fashion.” Oct 3, 2016 Camino-in-Writing

I’ve been recently contemplating the pros and cons of following in the foot steps of others, as the means to the ends I have dreamed up for myself.  The Camino del France offers a useful analogue, as it is literally a series of pathways well established by pilgrims of the past who have walked down, and sign-posted along the way, a successful route to a desired destination, Santiago or Finesterre.  But there are other pathways I am talking about, such as if your dream is to become an Naturopath, your route might look like following through with an undergrad in health sciences (or any sciences), and then continuing on in a graduate program in Naturopathy.  Or, if your dream is to become a Mom, this might look like following the pathway of getting pregnant with a fellow parenting-inclined adult, and then making house in a way that enables the fulfillment of your dream.  Or, if your dream is to become spiritually enlightened you might follow a pathway such as yoga, or Buddhism, or the kabbalah, or a religion such as Christianity, as a means of fulfilling your goal.   All of the above mentioned routes are pre-established ones that a certain populations of people have walked down, and hopefully experienced as successful means to their desired ends.  These proven results tend to be what inspire us to consider following in the footsteps of those who’ve gone before, but I think there is also good cause for keeping a weathered eye for opportunity to break new ground and go your own way.

Each moment carries with it a myriad of possibilities, some likely, some less likely, some miraculous if they occur; however, each NOW is the opportunity for creative becoming, for evolution.  And this is where following, versus leading, can limit creative possibility for change.  If you adhere to a world view that we are all connected, and because of this connection are essentially part of a greater whole, than it is possible to imagine that each of us truly carries one piece of the collective solution.  In order for us to skillfully navigate and offer our individuality to our collective health (which means to be whole), then we need to be Awake, and connected to the inner compass (or inner compassion).  If we loose sense or sight of the present-moment, inner compass, than not only is it easy to be derailed or confused, but also easy to find ourselves walking blindly in the groves, ah-hum ruts left behind by another.  Although established paths appear as offering efficient and effective opportunity, they also offer risk of assuming the same mistakes, bugs, and errors of the ignorant past.  Many pathways are littered with mindsets and limiting beliefs that no longer apply to the present-moment; but without a doubt, breaking bush  takes a reasonable amount of courage.

How do you find your inner compass?  This is where being embodied: feeling, seeing, and being awake in your life are essential to uncovering your authentic, soulution-oriented self.  Being alert to your inner sense of passion and curiosity supports an interdependent (not independent and not co-dependent) expression of you, your way, your song, your contribution.  And, then, instead of becoming “another brick in the wall”, we can each offer our gifts as a collective way-finding towards peace, health, and happiness.

Brahmacharya: Restraint of the Senses

Last year’s post is a reminder of what emerges when we take leave from habitual sensory and social patterns.  An intentional restraint on processing external stimuli, and the choice to instead pay attention to our inner world, greatly reflects the yoga practice of Brahmacharya- the fourth yama of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra.

As living practitioners of yoga, our interpretation of the sutras is what literally brings them to life, otherwise they are simply two dimensional expressions on paper.  And, without a doubt, the yama Brahmacharya has been interpreted many a different ways, with each perspective leading to divergent living experiences.  Yoga International provides a succinct, and relevant to me and this post, definition: “[p]ractically speaking, brahmacharya turns the mind inward, balances the senses, and leads to freedom from dependencies and cravings.” (read more here).

And, reflected in my Camino-in-Writing post of a year ago, it was at this point on my walk that I was gaining good tread towards seeing clearly the shadows of addictive lifestyle patterning that needed to go.  Nothing like a desert to help you face your inner demons.

“It was useful to be in the desert feeling these. These were my feelings, and watching them like the clouds of the Meseta sky, I could see them morph to either take on new shape or shed more light. It was a relief to find this open space, and a gift to be by myself, seeing only me and my shadows.” – Camino-in-Writing 2016

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