Category: 2016 A-Z Blog Challenge

M: Moon: Metaphor, Metamorphoses for Change

A-Z Blog Challenge M: Moon as Metaphor, Metamorphoses for Changefull moon

“It has been said that the myth is a public dream, dreams are private myths. Unfortunately we give our mythic side scant attention these days. As a result, a great deal escapes us and we no longer understand our own actions. So it remains important and salutary to speak not only of the rational and easily understood, but also of enigmatic things: the irrational and the ambiguous. To speak both privately and publicly.”

from: Mary Zimmermann, ‘Metamorphoses’, American playwright and director adapted from the classic Ovid poem ‘Metamorphoses’ with thanks to Merril Smith who posted this quote on her Monday Morning Muses earlier this month.

We were in Plettenberg Bay last month for our son’s wedding to his beautiful bride. A few nights later it was full moon (23rd March) and I took this photo from our balcony. I felt full too, on many levels, fit to burst.

Already when we returned home the moon was on the wane and no longer visible in the night sky. I see it in the day, white, high or a little bit lower in the sky depending on the time of day I look up. The stars are brighter these nights. Last night she seemed to have passed the half-way mark and was bright.

We are like to the moon in our meanderings, sometimes visible sometimes not. We also wax and wane in the process of change. Sometimes we shine bright, sometimes we’re in shadow.

What is more powerful than the moon who causes tides to change from shore to shore

Oscar Wilde in his ‘De Profundis’ (one of the most depthful, profound and beautiful writings ever, for me), writes:

‘He is in sympathy with the artist who knows that the poet must sing and the sculptor who thinks in bronze and the painter who makes the world a mirror for his moods…’ and that this imperative ‘… is as sure of that of the hawthorn in spring and of the corn that will turn to gold at harvest time and the moon in her wanderings will change from shield to sickle and sickle to shield’.

I came across this from brainpickings.org:

Henry Miller:

‘Art is as deep and high and wide as the universe. There is nothing but art, if you look at it properly. It is almost banal to say so yet it needs to be stressed continually: all is creation, all is change, all is flux, all is metamorphosis’.

From full to empty to full again – always returning – always in change. And sometimes at night when looking up I wonder  about the myth of the moon, and what is my myth? Am I working on it to give it space to unfold?

 

L: Loss and Capacity for Change

A-Z Blog Challenge L :Loss and Capacity for Change

for A-Z

It seems unthinkable to link loss and change. But it is one of those peculiar paradoxes we reflect on when we undergo our dark night of the soul and are scathed. Yet somehow, somehow, an emergence from it can happen if we are fortunate, bearing our wounds and scathing with fortitude, courage, forbearance –

When tidying my desk the other day I came across a small piece of paper on which I had made some notes – I’d noted  plugs phone Ipad computer KIndle etc, clearly prior to going down to Plettenberg Bay in the middle of last month for our son’s wedding to his beautiful bride.

But there were three other writings on this small piece of paper, written around the same time when I was not thinking of A-Z posts. On one side I’d noted  ‘J.C. The dark night of the soul comes just before revelation’. J.C. I think refers to Joseph Campbell. Another piece is from Oscar Wilde: ‘… the moon in her wanderings will change from shield to sickle and sickle to shield’. (I’ll be using it for M). Then the third one who I have not acknowledged which is unlike me, I’d written: ‘When everything is lost, and all seems darkness, then comes the new life and all that is needed’.

How hard it is to have Faith when Doubt is its bedfellow,  each sitting uneasily with the other –

A dear friend of mine who lives in Sydney, Australia lost her husband coming up for 2 years ago after a long and brave battle. He died peacefully with his family about him and his funeral was a joyous occasion. My friend wrote to me last year to say that she’d been on a camping expedition to somewhere remote in Australia, and lay under the stars and reflected and thought and reflected more. She’d lost her role as wife, lover, friend, soulmate, carer and companion, important and valuable identities. Yet somehow she felt another person emerging – different to the one before, even if so forced by circumstance. 

Elaine Mansfield writes beautifully about loss: In one of her posts in early April she asked the question at the end of her post (I’m paraphrasing): ‘What relationship do we have with those we have loved and who have died?’ And, does it change? It was a very interesting question to me personally – and I sense the universality about it as well – they are important questions. I would also ask what ongoing relationship do we have with those who have died and also did not love?

Loss makes us go inward, into the depths of our souls. We emerge, changed.

K: Knowledge and Change

 Knowledge and Change

keysimages (1)

Know Thyself: The Oracle at Delphi

Does knowledge change us? Perhaps a better question might be: what kind of knowledge serves us? We know that in the fear-filled world in which we live, some of our attitudes harden and we become more fixed in our thinking on certain issues. We also know that we do not know a lot of what goes on behind the scenes but daily, our TV screens are filled with devastating images of bomb blasts, people fleeing their place of origin in hopes for a better life, hi-jacked planes, a wracked earth and more besides. I as observer feel traumatised and wonder when it will end and in what way – and I can’t help wondering about outcome although I have no control –

There are many types of knowledge including those that lie on the underbelly of life.  Baba Yaga the witch resides at the edge of the forest. Her place there denotes that she can negotiate both conscious and unconscious realms. She is of the world but not bound by it. The young girl in the story has to consult her and get directions for her journey. It means following orders that seem obtuse and impossible. It means trusting in the unknown. This is key. Baba Yaga is the one who has knowledge, confidence and firmness in guiding the younger so she will accomplish what she must. She knows the way –

Knowledge is gained through living with its hard knocks interspersed with joy and pleasure, from achievements gained, success in our relationships, traversing insurmountable odds, taking time to seek and see the beauty not only in the world but within as well. Yes, we’ll make wrong turnings from time to time – and gain useful knowledge from that too.

And so with us too, in having trust in the unknown, that of ourselves, and seeking always for more wholeness within that is our birthright. Our dreams provide us with keys if we but take the time to listen.

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes.

Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow.

Let reality be reality.

Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

Lao Tzu

(570-490 BC)

J: Journey and Change

A-Z Blog Challenge J: Journey and Changelight in the darkness

Carl Jung: We cannot change anything unless we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.

Journey – from the moment we’re born to when we take our last breath. Always changing, from infancy through the stage to where we are now, and further journeys still to undergo or even go over – physiologically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually –

Journey: from the Old English meaning road, passage, expedition, a trip, travel, day’s work, day’s journey. I like that the definition includes ‘passage’ and in the way that I use it here, I am not necessarily referring to going back or coming to a particular place. Although I think of a road trip I did a few years ago on my own travelling by car from home through the Karoo down to Plettenberg Bay. That was a journey in a few senses – actually covering ground but also very much a journey within, with time on my own to take in the sights and sounds of silence, as my thoughts kept changing about myself and others, the world in which we live. The pieces of the jigsaw puzzle fell more into place – and I felt an inner shift, an inner change, in my attitude towards life and death and all in between – for me it was a passage of the psyche –

And joy, in the simplest of pleasures! To see the bud bloom and the dew drops sparkling like jewels on the grass or on the trembling leaf. A bee sniffing at the nectar, its wings beating at a 1000 miles an hour. That first taste of coffee in the morning. A phone call from one’s friend or child, a good book, a piece of music that softens and enlarges the heart, the shadows lengthening or shortening signalling change in the seasons – and so it is with us as we continue our journey – 

‘The least of things with a meaning is worth more than the greatest of things without it

Carl Jung: Modern Man in Search of a Soul

I: Invitation to Change

A-Z Blog Challenge: I: Invitation to Change

butterfly

We know that change happens every moment even if we are not aware of it. The sun is that fraction higher or lower, the shadows shorter or longer. Dramatic changes can occur that turn our lives upside down, diagnosis of an illness, the death of a loved one, an accident, a move to a new home from choice or necessity, the severing of ties of those who’ve betrayed us …

These sorts of changes force us into ourselves, force us to see our individuality in our response to them; and perhaps our unconscious collusion in the teeming morass of it all. Dear Lord, our lessons are hard and they are not the sorts of invitations we want. 

But, horrid though they are, is there a calling card lying at the bottom of the pile that wants our attention? We cannot believe that life’s slings and arrows, its ups and downs have no meaning.

What is the invitation? Could it be to have a deeper conversation with ourselves, an invitation to lead a larger inner life, to find more balance and peace, to find inspiration in the smallest things. To take the inward path for a change, and allow ourselves to be surprised at the illumination we may find …

 The butterfly above – from its chrysalis to a thing of beauty, taking flight upon the wing, from its time within its covering ..

H: Heart and Capacity for Change

H: Heart and Capacity for Changedreamimages (10)

A soul is far too large to hide : Maggie Schien

I could have written, ‘A heart is too large to hide’ –

The heart changes with age. As the heart grows, we can forgive but not forget. We are able to work it out in ways different to our usual modus operandi. We may find ourselves more compassionate towards ourselves for all our foibles and thus towards others as well, as we come to know them warts and all, a little better. There seems to be a heart-felt attitude change that sits better with us. It’s a more inclusive rather than an exclusive view of the inner and outer worlds –

More and more I find myself asking: Do I want or need to do this? Do I have the heart for this particular task? Will it bring a happy increase to me and/or others? These are important questions only to myself I know.  At times I ask myself if I’m hiding from my self or keeping my self in obscurity because I do not want to face it – my self – for whatever reason. And habit – do I know my habits really well? I would think because of a habit being a habit we would know it well, but it’s one of those strange things – we’re not terribly aware of the unconsciousness from which they operate and how we are on an autopilot reaction even when they are not beneficial to us. I speak for myself. Many habits are healthy – thankfully!

 I want Hermes to come to my aid, to help me consider my stuck-ness in a new and meaningful way, to help make alive again that innate creativity instinct we all have. For Hermes to shoot his winged arrow straight into my heart and transform the blank space into a creative and growing space.

I know that Hermes is active in my night life when dreams come to me. And in the day too – Hermes Trismegistus – psychopomp, guide, messenger –

tHermes2

G: Growth and Change

G: Growth and ChangeramOram image

Carl Jung: ‘The afternoon of one’s life is just as full of meaning as the morning; only, its meaning and purpose are different’.

I recently did some research into art and creativity in the aging population for a talk I gave at the end of last month to open an art exhibition of elderly artists. The research was wonderfully inspiring as were the exhibited artists themselves who had embarked on painting and drawing at a late stage of their lives under the careful and encouraging guidance of professional artist and art historian, Dr. Marguerite Prins who extended the invitation to me. 

In this two year research project, results reveal strikingly positive differences in the intervention group (those involved in intensive participatory art programs run by professional artists) as compared to a control group not involved in intensive cultural programs. Compared to the control group, those involved in the weekly participatory art programs, at the one and two year follow-up assessments, reported:

(A) better health, fewer doctor visits, and less medication usage;

(B) more positive responses on the mental health measures;

(C) more involvement in overall activities.

Results (only briefly given here by me) point to the powerful and positive intervention effects of these community-based art programs run by professional artists. They point to true health promotion and disease prevention effects. This latter point demonstrates that these community-based cultural programs for older adults appear to be reducing risk factors that drive the need for long-term care.

This illustrates that aging can be a time of growth and shows the value of digging deep to find that latent creative talent no matter how deeply buried it may be. Let your fingers do the talking and let the ego take a back seat as you allow your growing self to come to the fore.

The garden or a walk in a park or just being still brings to the fore that the seed, the genesis, is there for future growth even if deeply underground and therefore hidden. So it is for our growth.

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Robert Frost

Deborah from ‘A Liberated Sheep’, who writes exquisite posts and poetry commented on my C post, and included the above poem by Robert Frost. I’m adding it here as it is beautiful and encapsulates growth and decay and works so well with G. Thank you Deborah very much. 

F: Fear and Focus: Capacity for Change

F: Fear & Focus: Capacity for Change

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Mr. Nelson Mandela

Mr. Nelson Mandela Why am I putting Fear and Focus together? Fear can sometimes help us focus on what needs to be confronted, if we make that bold step. When I am assailed by fearful feelings, I realise they are often the sharp spur needed to shake me out of my langour and torpor. I feel a slight shift, a slight change, a slightly heightened awareness; and I include in that my feelings about aging and what confronts me in the mirror. Sometimes I like, sometimes I don’t –

Paradoxically, fear can promote fulfilment. It could be another sharp nudge to re-member what we lost, want and need. It can motivate us to make those changes we may feel helpless about. We can re-think e.g. our attitude to our health and illness or those of loved ones or ones not so well loved. We may feel fear towards our economic situation, fear about aging bones, fear of loss of youth and all that that stands for. Yet, if we sit with the feeling and go into it we might find something very different emerging from what we initially fearfully anticipated. It is hard to do this –

Of course, fear can also paralyse and we become frozen. We forget that life is in flux and that in the ebb and flow that this time, whether of aging or just where we are now, is a time to look deep inside and to acknowledge what it is that keeps us bound and imprisoned. Name it – and be free from the illusions that have bound us to fantasies of how things ‘should’ be – and feel a sense of marching towards real freedom.

Focus – and be in the moment –

‘We would rather be ruined than changed,

We would rather die in our dread

Than climb the cross of the present

And let our illusions die.’

W.H. Auden, The Age of Anxiety

E: Energy & Eros as Agent for Change

E: Energy & Eros as Agent for Changewheel images

‘Sometimes I forget completely 

What companionship is.

Unconscious and insane, I spill sad 

energy everywhere’

Rumi: ‘Sometimes I Forget’

Energy: it’s never lost – it’s always present while its’ manifestations are expressed in infinite ways and forms – I just have to look out at my autumnal garden to see evidence of that. The energy while always there, has changed the outward appearance of the plants and trees as they begin their slow hibernation in preparation for winter.

For those of you entering Spring it must be a joyous time of change!

Energy is motion and therefore change must always be a significant by-product. Change means creation – of something new and different –

As we age we use our energy to keep writing a life script which keeps changing as we know only too well. Sometimes our energy levels are down, sometimes they seem wonderfully up! Sometimes they remain pretty static. Low energy levels are not always the result of aging – there could be different causes.

But always, the life-force, Eros. Without that connection we are lessened. As long as we are alive we cannot eliminate energy or Eros. It begs the question, what to do with the energy available to us as we age, or at any age? In what way can it serve us, in becoming more of who we are? Can we express ourselves in previously unused ways which yearn to be more known to us? Can we hear that faint echo – and answer its call? Can we engage creatively in it? Can we put more effort into knowing ourselves better? I’m reminded of the Oracle at Delphi – Know Thyself.

And Rumi’s words above: sad energy spilling everywhere – it makes me think of depression and the way it has my family member in a fast grip, and his family also, including me as a bystander – I wonder always how to effect that energy, transform it somehow – with my own effort yes, while knowing that he must make this huge effort.

Creation – the big bang – around 14 billion years ago signalling the beginning of the universe as we know it, dark energy always emerging, evolving, always expanding, always echoing – in space – and within us in a sort of a way as well – as above so below –

D: Dark: Capacity for Change

D: Dark – Capacity for Changedarkness

We’ve sat in those dark places. S’truth, they’re the pits. In the inferno, casting their impenetrable infernal shadows –

Depression – a killer. Too vast a topic for this post. I know of it 2nd hand up close and personal; a family member has it and I live in dread of ‘the phone call’ – and unless a miracle happens I cannot see him or his circumstances changing. I cannot judge. I have only a sense of the darkness of his depression, but I do not know it wholly. If only something in him would change – if only those who I know who have taken their lives had had that small spark of change alight upon them –

There’ve been many times that I’ve been very dark indeed, believe it or not. And it’s absolutely awful sitting in and with it. Any thoughts of ‘getting through’ it do not enter my mind at those times. I do not see the light at the end of the tunnel. That’s absolutely the last thing I think about.

I try to sit with it. It’s hard. I’m inclined to distract myself by heading to the kitchen to find something to stuff those feelings down – and hate myself even more for that destructive behaviour. It is usually only retrospectively when I’m on my way out of the tunnel that I can consciously reflect on what it’s all been about – 

I’m reminded of the lotus that emerges from the slime and mud, always in process of change, beauteous as she bursts forth upon the clear water. And in this picture the north star – and perhaps those are two serpents at the bottom enclosed in the circle, all against a background of dense black –dreams lotus_n

How long it takes to emerge from darkness! The dark days of apartheid here in South Africa – dark days indeed – and 22 years on we’re still trying to emerge from that darkness. I gain inspiration from people like Mr. Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King and others who had faith that change is possible – and that the darkness can become less dim as we struggle through this thing called life – and that the demons can be changed into daemons –

We have deep and dangerous divisions and shadows in our country. We’re hoping that the President will see that is possible to emerge from this depressing time and for our country to reach its full potential. Even if it means his stepping down … let his fall be the rise to change we wish to see …

C: Change

C: CHANGE

The only constant is change

serpent3images (1)

I’ve changed my mind –

I changed my mind about my theme being about heroes and heroines and heroic acts although I would have loved to have written about eg Irene Sendler or Anne Frank or Helen Keller or – Cybele, Hermes, Persephone, Demeter, Ishtar – but a gal can change her mind –

My posts from henceforth will focus on Change – from C – Z – this is my C post

So, Change – sometimes slow and imperceptible sometimes fast and furious – 

I suppose the question is what are our thoughts and feelings about change. But of course, it’s a huge question to which there is no short answer – nor should there be –

We could look at it from many perspectives I suppose: change on the outer level as in eg climatic change, economic change, political earthquakes, whatever – we’ve just had such a one in which our President was found to be in violation of our Constitution, by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, last Thursday. It was gripping listening on the radio as I delivered my son and new bride to the airport to return to Cape Town; they’d spent a few days with us after their honeymoon in Mauritius. Change I thought! Hallelujah! Ripple effects! Calls for his impeachment or at least that he resigns. Zuma addressed the nation on Friday night – he apologised for the drama (saying he didn’t know what was going on), and has not acknowledged his wrong-doing or complicity. The fall-out is coming –

We can approach it as well in another way and ask of ourselves  – what are the changes that are happening to me on an inner level as I traverse this particular stage of my life. Who and where am I at this particular stage of my life? No short answers to those questions either nor do I intend to provide any –

This is the approach I will taking in my posts – a psychological one. For D tomorrow (pre-scheduled) I’ll probably do Dark and the potential for change in it. E probably Energy and how it is never lost and always transformed. ..

This is my own photo of a cheetah taken in Plettenberg Bay 2 years ago – small head and tear lines –

20141012_cheetah plett_resized

And, I messed up badly, the below is a LEOPARD (by me) taken in Oct 2014 in the Sabi Sand! O my, having to change the photo!

cheetah_0192

The image at beginning of post is a caduceus – an embrace of the masculine & feminine principles inter alia

B: Botswana

B: Botswana

Botswana lies on the borders of South Africa, up north from us. It also borders Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia, Mocambique and is entirely landlocked. It’s a 2 hour international flight from Johannesburg to Maun.

I fly with local and US friends on Saturday 16th April to Maun, two weeks today! Truly, a going into the unknown, as is any going into the bush, the wilderness. It is a going outside but also inside into our own wilderness of the psyche and it seems that some connections are made while in that liminal space –map botswana

from space-botswan

We overnight in Maun – the next day or 2 we are on water, transported by mokoros, those dug-out, flat bottomed canoes carved from wood. We’ll be on the Okavango Delta … a man will be standing at the top end of the mokoro, poling/navigating us – probably two passengers per boat – with his oar. And we take in the sights and the sounds –

okavango delta

I think I will die and (hopefully) go to heaven if I hear the cry of the fish eagle. If I also see it swoop from high to take a fish in the water in its talons and soar up again to its high perch, it will be heaven all over again – I don’t think I’d care too much if a hippo or a croc in the water suddenly decided it had its eye on me –

I don’t know why this has such a strong primal feel for me – but the pure animal cry of it gives me goose-bumps –

fisheagle

The waterways are filled with lilies of all colours – this one from google: ‘almay stock’ on the Okavango

lotus on okavango

I’ve been there before, each time a soulful replenishing experience. The last time was 6 or 7 years ago with my friend Liz, here in Johannesburg. The time before was many years ago, maybe 20 years or so – a prize that my husband won from entering a medical competition – and the time before that was 26 years ago – many many elephants outside our tent on their way  to the water hole –

My US friends arrive on Thursday 14th April. Susan Schwartz, Jungian Analyst from Phoenix, Az., will give a talk to the Jung Centre here in Johannesburg on Friday 15th April: ‘Longing to Belong – Otherness, Culture and Jungian Psychology’ – and then we fly out the next day. My husband is not coming as he is too fearful of contracting malaria.

After 2 days on the delta (probably camping overnight in tents on the banks with a fire and guard on watch all night long, to warn any wild animals of getting too close – and perhaps each of us if we’re brave may elect to keep watch in the dead of night) we return to Maun from where we overland to Khwai. I don’t know much about this at this stage. We’re there for 4 nights I think. We’re all in the hands of my nephew David S, son of my late half-brother David who lived in Maun for all of his adult life –

I hope to visit the tree at which he is buried, on the banks of the delta, at his home in Maun and pay my respects. And to see Anne, his widow who lives there –

Botswana – two weeks to go –

A-Z begins!

ATTENTION: THE ADVENTURE OF A-Z BEGINS

A2Z_BADGE_2016All thanks to Arlee Bird and helpful gnomes, fairies, minions – all those who work so hard at this annual blog-fest and encourage us all along the way – Thank you! Deep gratitude!

If it’s your first time participating, good luck! Your 2nd 3rd 4th or 5th time – good luck! We all know it’s a mission and a half in spite of how well we’re prepared. Many of my posts have been done in advance for April 2016. I’m busy with ‘L’ as I write. I remember the early days of still putting up a post for the next days’ letter at midnight .. that particular April was a killer. Being let off on Sundays was a blessing!

I’ll be away from the middle of April, in Botswana! Tomorrow’s letter will say something about Botswana but the post will not be my immediate experience of it as I am there from 16th April to 23rd April. I HOPE to have my A-Z posts lined up so that they go into the stratosphere while I’m away, irrespective of whether or not I have internet access while away which I doubt actually … so in advance, I’m notifying you that there may be a gap in my responding to any comments you may make on my posts (always so grateful) as well as my making comments on yours.  If late in responding please understand the reason why. Unless a croc or a hippo or a lion gets me while out in the bush, my responses to yours on mine and my comments on yours may take a while … off to Botswana on Sat 16th April, back the following Sat 23rd April.

By the time you read this, I will have given a talk last night on ‘The Art of Ageing’ and, since I am prescheduling my posts, I can’t give you any feedback –

I’ll be keeping my posts short-ish. Hopefully 350 words or less …

So, may the adrenalin serve you well, but do not let an overload adversely affect your adrenals ..

At this point I bid you adieu as I wonder what to say about Botswana –

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