I stuck this decal on my back bumper of my car some time ago. It’s small – about 4 or 5 inches in diameter. It’s struck me before that using dots and circles (mandalas) is reminiscent of Australian aboriginal paintings. This one is stylised, yet primitive. I love the beauty of the serpent. I part sketched it yesterday in a note book and I think I will attempt a painting of it. Acrylic? Water colours? Maybe using different colours – green and yellow dots maybe with some red and white and definitely blue. I recently read Lucinda Riley’s ‘The Pearl Sister’ which is mostly set in Australia and the story brings in aboriginal art and CeCe’s search for her ancestry in Australia. So there’s some dovetailing for me – I’ve been wondering what to paint. This is a nudge for me.

And then yesterday – because I’ve been puzzled by a dream from several nights ago, I looked up ‘Cat’ in The Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images. Taschen. It is a precious book. What I’ve excerpted below is on page 300, titled Cat.

‘… In the evening, all the cats who had participated in the rat-catching had a grand session at (the Swordsman’s) house, and respectfully asked the great Cat to take the seat of honor. They made profound bows before her and said: “We all wish you to divulge your secrets for our benefit.” The grand old cat answered: “Teaching is not difficult, listening is not difficult, but what is truly difficult is to become conscious of what you have in yourself and be able to use it as your own….’ The Swordsman and the Cat, from a seventeenth-century master’s book on swordplay.

Now this doesn’t have any direct reference to my puzzling dream in which blue and white cats were rushing through I think my townhouse, but the words are rich. They also remind me of the words of Thomas in the Gospel of Thomas: “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”

I’ve sort of been stuck in this for a while – feeling uncreative, enervated, flat, inertia descending on me like a mushroom cloud – sadness and shock at deaths of people I know during the month of January –

We’ve been in Plettenberg Bay for several weeks already and will be heading to our Johannesburg home this coming week for the rest of the month of February. I won’t say that I’ve ‘failed’ at the several tasks I set myself while here but there is much that I had planned on doing and did not, like walking every day, yoga stretches every day, more swimming in the sea, more exploring, more writing, less eating like a demon possessed –

Am I beating myself up on it? No, not really – a bit – but not much. I’ve certainly done more housework than I’ve ever done in my life. Our Plett home is a large home. There’s no Jane from our townhouse in Johannesburg to do the washing and ironing and keeping things tidy. There’s me and Neil who says he’s never worked so hard and that he didn’t realise what a lot of work is entailed in the maintenance of a home. But, I’ve enjoyed this work, which feels like honest labour to me. (No ironing on my side – things just dry on the washing line.) I employ Fadzi a young Zimbabwean woman once a week who works her magic.  She creates and moves things round rather imaginatively from week to week.We’ve done much to make our home lovelier and more comfortable. I’m looking forward to the time when I’ll create a beautiful garden with its difficult soil. I hope to bring back my lovely potted orchids from Johannesburg to Plett. I’ll go indigenous as much as possible. I’ve already done some planting. We had wonderful much needed rains yesterday followed by this lovely rainbow captured from my bedroom balcony.

Elections are due to take place in South Africa in about April. Already the electioneering begins. Our robust justice system is in process of exposing many members of the the governing party the ANC and businesses involved in breath taking corruption. What’s been happening in Zimbabwe on our borders is beyond appalling. Mnangagwa, its president was recently in Russia begging for loans and did not get to Davos to beg for more but returned to Zimbabwe, for fear perhaps of a coup occurring in his absence. News coming out of Zimbabwe is scarce, as there is a shut down. There are calls for international sanctions against Zimbabwe.

World-wide things are pretty alarming – I won’t itemise it all. But people are rising and saying No, not in my name, individually and collectively. Something is in the air. But I think of the wind that can blow so fiercely here at times here in Plett for a day or so and then all of a sudden it stops, as if it’s run out of breath. 

In all of this I think of white privilege, my white privilege, there by the skin of my teeth or by the colour of my skin. I’ve written about this before and I believe that we’ve projected on to the ‘other’ our own unacknowledged darkness within our own selves. How much easier it is to put it on to others. We fear doing the hard work necessary to look within our own selves, and acknowledge the darkness that resides in the shadows, waiting patiently to be recognised so that healing can begin – There is gold in the shadows – when we own it and bring it out and withdraw our projection onto the other, we develop empathy for others and ourselves and thereby embark on beginning steps towards healing – for all of us.

I was up early this morning and took this photo of the sunrise. The gold bowl surrounding the white light arising from the darkness –

Thank you for reading! May the Force be with you –




47 Comments on Colours

  1. “I believe that we’ve projected on to the ‘other’ our own unacknowledged darkness within our own selves.”

    No truer words in these unsettling times. I understand the truth of this, but how do you explain it to other people who cling tightly to their own darkness. Rhetorical question, I suppose. But one that haunts me.

    • Thanks Ally Bean for coming by – such a complex something but at the same time simple in its way. We’re only human and to have base desires is part of our humanity. Owning them is the first step I suppose. How many times have I given in eg to laziness, slothfulness, temptations of food or of thinking awful thoughts etc etc … sometimes I give in to them, sometimes I don’t …

  2. That bumper sticker is a creative sign, Susan, for you to paint it. How very cool.
    Hey, something’s going around on the creative front. I’ve been finding nothing but reasons and excuses to do a million other things but write. What’s going on with us?
    I hope elections go well over there, but I’m probably too optimistic on that front? Doesn’t hurt to hope. Great post, as always.

    • Thanks for coming by Silvia! Thanks for the nudge to paint it – who knows I may even do that during these rainy days in Jo’burg – although I REALLY do think it’s ok to sometimes do as little as possible 🙂

      We’re in the dwang – &*^%*%$#* – here in SA … after our president’s State of the Nation address last week we felt a little more hopeful but now our largest state owned enterprise, our electricity supplier and full of corruption is load shedding left right and centre. A loss to business of R2 BILLION per day …

  3. Something’s definitely up and has been for awhile (since the Lilith days, I would suppose) which is why the snake symbol keeps popping up for you. What is it they say about the time of transformation being so hard to bear, so ridiculously scary because you think that maybe it’s all going to $#!t and then suddenly you’ve got a new skin or pair of wings? So there’s that — new wings may be coming, Susan.
    Cats represent our feminine nature and also self-esteem in that cat way of “I’m the most important thing in my universe and if you don’t like it, get over it because I don’t much care.” I have two cats and have studied the cat phenomena for years — but the blue and white cats add an interesting wrinkle. You should read the book, “The Code,” by Joanna Paungger and Thomas Poppe. It’s eye-opening and most fascinating. According to “The Code,” blue and white are visionary colors residing in the north so if you put all your symbols together — the snakes, the cats, the colors — you are probably smack in the middle of a great transformation. Just a guess. Good luck in there. ;0) xoxo

    • I’m laughing Pam – a chuckle, one of glee! Thank you! Bringing all the symbols together – I like this muchly!

      Yup, we’ve had two ginger cats, one male Harry, the other Angie, female. Harry is buried in the garden – he died in March the same day as my dearest friend 2 years ago. Such a character. Angie is too sweet – she knows she’s the queen of the castle. At the moment, she’s not with us as we returned to Johannesburg on Thursday so we’ve left her in Plettenberg Bay with our elder son (whose cat she originally is and who we took on as he travels a great deal)

      Just this afternoon I was thinking of walking down to the shops and checking out the bookshop but I didn’t because it was too hot. We drove up – north – to Johannesburg in my husband’s car so my one is down there … but who knows, maybe I’ll source The Code tomorrow .. thank you for saying about it!

      🙂 🙂 🙂 xx

  4. Powerful post, Susan. I particularly like the ending. It reminds me of that saying, ‘The things we dislike most in others are the characteristics we like least in ourselves.’

    I’ve certainly found that to be true. Whenever I catch myself being critical of someone, whether out loud or in my mind (usually in my mind), the things I’m criticizing are always one of my own failures as well.

    Except for Trump, of course. He’s in a class all his own.

    • Thanks Holli for coming by! I agree it’s pretty true that there’s value in checking about the characteristics of others we dislike, being ones that we own – after all we’re familiar with them so we can re-cognise. But it’s also true about good and sound people – if you see this in others you probably own them too. But we can also just simply know that the other we meet or think about is not such a good and sound person – experience teaches us –

      Well, I won’t say anything about that man whose name I won’t mention – we’ve had them here …

  5. “Become conscious of what you have in yourself and be able to use it as your own.” This is such a powerful reflection, Susan.
    Once again, your posts gently nudge me out of my comfort zone.

  6. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and challenges in these hard times. I understand stuck. Sometimes my writing feels so inspired, but then those pieces often mean the most to readers. My ego is a poor judge. I can hardly stand to read the news, but I do because this is my country and planet. I live here and have to do what I can or at least witness and hold the suffering in meditation. Deaths (referring to your January experience) bring us into the Great Below and there’s no room for the ego to push its way there to force us to finish the to do list. All will wait as we let those underworld experiences take their time at their own pace. I love that decal filled with life color and rebirth. And the sunrise. In these hard times, I’m glad to watch the movement of the moon and planets across the sky. In that realm, everything sticks with the plan for the short-term.

    • Thanks Elaine. We truly have to hold the world in our thoughts and meditations and keep abreast and bear witness to what is happening in the world and among those we know no matter how hard we, I, you may find it. And have patience – not my best suit but I think I am learning as I go along. To be rather than to do …

      And the movement of the celestial above does give a measure of continuity, a little certainty even if all else is so uncertain… thank you for saying so 🙂

      And to you Elaine as you go into surgery tomorrow – my thoughts, love and best wishes are with you all the way. Soon, you’ll be able to hear the music of the spheres of this I have no doubt …

      • I’m recovering well 24 hours after surgery–and taking a two day healing break from news. I’ll be back to it by tomorrow I can tell, because I’m already sneaking peaks at headlines. No open sky today, but rain. Such a strange warm-for-February period after last week’s freeze, but it made the drive to the hospital easy. Winter is far from over here. Sending love and thanks for the hope for the music of the spheres or any music at all. I know music comes slower than speech and I won’t have the sound turned on for 6 weeks. Patience, patience, and more patience.

        • I’m replying only now Elaine, as we’ve just returned from a long travel back from Johannesburg (overnighting last night) and am delighted to imagine that you’re back home among all that is familiar and hopefully resting up and less snow bound!

          Love from me to you and may patience reward you greatly –

    • Thank you Lisa for coming by. It’s so nice to hear that you found that my post ‘spoke’ to you. Gary, on Penny’s Love Lives on is such a dear – and such a kind man from what I see of his posts on Twitter – I seldom check out Twitter. I popped by your website a moment ago and I look forward to looking more closely at it. The photos looked lovely as do your books and the little more that I read. Thank you 🙂

  7. Your post are always thoughtful, a write in repose but highly alert. That’s how your writing strikes me, Susan. I love colour too. And you’ve given me a new thought: Gold in the shadows. I’ll search for it on this dreary, shadowy day. Thank you!

    • Thank you Marian for coming by and for your lovely compliment! From what I’ve seen in your posts there’s plenty of colour whether inside or outside your home! There is indeed gold in them thar shadows for sure – enjoy finding them or being in them as I’m sure you will –

  8. Really interesting post, Susan. I love the decal, the art tie-ins, your home and the effort you must expend to make it what you want. I pondered over your discussion of white privilege as I do often when that toxic label is applied. Here again, it didn’t seem to fit me. I have never shied away from the hardest work or stood aside, waiting for things to be done for me. I’m very much into personal responsibility which sets me at difficult ends with many I know. What the heck is wrong with personal responsibility?

    Sigh. What a world.

    • Thanks Jacqui for coming by. It’s such a complex subject ‘white privilege’. It presses my buttons at times and I wonder whether my ‘guilt’ is appropriate or entirely not so. When hate speech from the previously disadvantaged is hurled at those who lead normal hard working lives, I am alternately bemused and sad. You would not believe some of the hate speeches that are said against the minority whites. Racism is a reality here on many levels yet I know that most South Africans from all walks and stripes are not racist at heart and want only the best for our beautiful country. It’s a political ploy – the usual, divide and conquer. Our history is so complicated and convoluted. It seems sometimes to me that the oppressed becomes the oppressor. But I do know that I have to carry some collective responsibility.

      Personal responsibility is the best way forward – in this way much can be achieved.

  9. Susan, I LOVE your photo of the sun rising out of the depths of darkness. It gives me HOPE! You at least have written on your blog. I’m trapped in a mire and can’t seem to energize myself to get unstuck. My ambition is at about zero and it has been for some time now. I NEED to get up on my horse and start charging, as you are doing.

    Like you, I see so much darkness in the world. Our government’s shutdown impacted so many citizens and our President doesn’t care about anything but himself. However, in looking around at the world, now seems to be a scary time of transition for all lands as there is so much violence and negativity taking place. However, when I fell and gave myself a black eye and a severely bruised body, I’m slowly healing so the worst is going away. I will have to use that image for the world, to keep in mind that healing can take place.

    I did find it interesting that the Cat in power was a female. Could this mean there is HOPE for the world? Thank you for your inspiring post. It definitely gives me hope!

    • Thanks Gwynn – it’s a tough place to be, stuck in an impasse, stuck in the status quo and no inclination to move out of it. I know only too well. I can’t tell you how many posts I had started in the last several weeks but couldn’t get any further than waffle waffle waffle. So they sit in the drafts … I’d be nervous to look at them again –

      I’m dreadfully sorry about that lousy fall. Yet, sometimes, even those sorts of things can nudge us to re-evaluate as we feel that the worst is ‘going away’ and that some sort of healing is taking place.

      The collective stuff that is happening can and does impact on us even sometimes to the extent that we have to say, enough of that, I must take better care of myself. Strange though that may seem.

      The symbolism and mythology of Cat is really interesting! Yes that the Cat was feline in this story is meaningful! My hope is for masculine and feminine energies to meaningfully acknowledge and blend with each other so that from these two a third energy can arise – the feminine has been disregarded for too long and it is a divine energy in its own right. Use your lovely energy Gwynn … it’s there, just in hiding for the time being. Get properly well – xx

  10. How interesting that dotted picture is, Susan. It is reminiscent of the Maori art. I am sure doing your own housework is good exercise but I am glad I only have to do mine on weekends. Have a lovely week.

    • Thanks Robbie – a friend of mine, relocated from SA to Australia many years ago, has sent me calendars in the past with gorgeous pictures for each month, which I’ve kept. These have been Aboriginal paintings so I’m more familiar with them that Maori art. You too have a lovely week 🙂

  11. Lovely, lovely and your descriptive descending of a mushroom cloud did make me smile.
    Just what I have been experiencing lately. I think that a simpler life with not too many expectations is good….but so often feel the inertia is going to eat me up! So many glasses on the tree….love that xx

    • So lovely to see you here DiDee! It is quite graphic, the mushroom cloud. Let’s hope no-one in any hemisphere pushes any red buttons …

      I’m glad Fadzi didn’t come across any specs under the car seats, maybe under the bed too .. but the tree is a good place for them to be, though I miss saying ‘anyone seen my flippin’ glasses?’

      Inertia – it can be gobbly can’t it? Like a greedy gobbly giant who’s aim is to totally flatten – it’s a hard thing to deal with … but this too passes after a while, even if a long while. Love to you Di – xx

  12. Dear Susan, Thank you for sharing your words and wisdom with us! It’s always good to hear your news and catch up on your musings and lovely photographs. Here in the UK we’re at the midway point between the winter solstice and spring equinox, and there’s so much “quickening” and all manner of stirrings going on below the surface. I guess things are different (in the southern hemisphere) where at “Lammas” it’s time to give thanks for the year’s harvest (however defined). Writing out a gratitude list has always helped me to shift a low mood (when it hangs around for too long!) as I give thanks for all I’ve received throughout the season, especially the poems that arose from the sacred soil of the soul.

    Hmm, your fingers seem like they’re yearning to hold a paintbrush! Why not let them and see what happens next. Love your colourful serpent decal! Often, when not listening to heart and soul, I feel flat and very tired too so will fold a blank sheet of paper in half and have a short dialogue (active imagination) with my Self in order to find out what’s going on below! Oh, I love the joy and simplicity of housework, cooking and gardening, such honest work indeed! If ever there was a great way to readdress imbalance with our thinking functioning there’s a few answers. I always say, look to your own typology, the answer usually will stand out … perhaps it is your “Sensate” function that calling you!

    I love that Taschen book, it’s my favourite one for exploring symbolism! I own it too and just a thought, if you wanted to explore the archetypal symbolism of cats deeper I can highly recommend “The Cat” by Marie-Louise Franz, it’s only a slim book but packed full of rich insights. Hmm, the first thing I thought of was the ocean when you spoke of your blue and white cats rushing through the (dream) house and an old poem I wrote years ago about the goddess Yemanjá called “Blue and White Love” … blue for sadness, white for love and light. To finish with such a beautiful sunrise photo was wonderful, gold in the shadows, just perfect! Nature and psyche’s pleasure! Warm and wild Imbolc blessings, Deborah.

    • Dear Deborah, thank you so much for your empathic response! Much for me to respond to – firstly I got MLvF’s book The Cat – A Tale of Feminine Redemption on your advice about a year ago. I’ve just pulled it out of my bookshelf right NOW and will have a peek at it later this afternoon.

      Earlier, we took Angie or ginger female cat to our son’s house as we’re going to be away for a few weeks. Before, we’ve travelled by car with Angie from Johannesburg to Plett and back again but it is too stressful for both the cat and ourselves!

      And earlier this morning I had a good long walk on the beach and a dip into the icy sea as I was pondering moving Angie to a temporary new home – she is much loved by son Mike so that helps and glad to say she seems perfectly happy there!

      Yes, my sensate function needs working on – I like that idea of a blank piece of paper folded in half and having an AI! before I go to sleep each night I note the day’s events for which I have been grateful – this keeps me grounded I reckon..

      Your blue and white poem – I remember a blog post I wrote some years ago called I think ‘Colour me Blue’ as that was what I was feeling at the time … and I noted the blue sky and white clouds if I remember correctly! Blue for sadness, white for love and light – thank you! Maybe that’s what my puzzling dream was hinting at –

      I’m making notes of what to take with me when we go travelling again and I’ll definitely take my paints and a canvas or two – thank you for the nudge Deborah!

      Keep warm and fiery as Imbolc blessings are with you as well as St. Brigid … with Love and thanks, Susan

  13. Susan, It’s interesting to me that those feeling you describe are usually what happens to me in our winter (cold,snowy, etc)…but it’s the opposite season for you now… so that interests me very much in that it bucks a stereotype. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Thanks Beth – I know of your extreme winter freeze – but I suspect you enjoy even that finding pleasure in the great outdoors. As I do too in winter time; and really especially in summertime where the livin’ is easy … well, I’m glad that I bucked the stereotype! – this time round …

  14. Thank you for your excellent reflections, Susan. The bringing forth of what is in you seems like good advice. The world is indeed full of color, but sometimes we don’t always see it. That rainbow is beautiful and so is your golden sunrise.

    • Thank you Merril for coming by! I guess in part why I enjoy your musings so much is that they are colourful with their lovely photographs and reflective of your everyday life. Apart from your skill in writing of course – and all the wonderful food pictures you put up 🙂

  15. I’m sorry January was not a good month for you, Susan. I hope the year improves as it unfolds. I appreciate the theme of your post, beginning with the excerpt about cats expanded with the words from the Gospel of Thomas, then finally expressed so clearly from your heart towards the conclusion of your post. There is “gold in the shadows” and in these days of darkness, we do need to draw it out and let it shine. Best wishes to you. May the force be with us all.

    • Thanks Norah for coming by. So appreciated!

      I am feeling better thank you even though the news on all fronts is scary. There’s nothing like a walk on the beach as I did at low tide this morning and a dip or a plunge rather into the rather icy sea to make me feel refreshed and a little more vital again! I suspect the sea was colder today on account of the rains yesterday.

      I hope all is cooling down in Australia; these extreme weather conditions are something else. May the force be with you!

  16. I really enjoyed this sharing, Susan… The beautiful aboriginal snake painting is meaningful to me as I’m editing a manuscript I did in 2015 called The Book of Snake, sixty days of shamanic journeying with Snake energy. There is something in these paintings that captures the beauty and richness of the vital life energy that snake represents, without the fearful jolt many often experience when seeing even a photograph of the the limbless creature.

    I too have been in a quiet ‘trough’ through much of January, listening, being still and waiting… without any sense of clear direction or typical momentum to ‘do.’ But that has shifted in the last few days as a rush of creative energy begins to flow again and I feel the pathways open for an embodied spirit-guided ‘agenda’ for the next 6 – 8 months. Waiting let me source the well.

    Always appreciating a glimpse into your heart-ful life, Susan.

    • Thank you Andrea so much! I remember your absolute fascination with snake energy … and you know about mine too and Lilith.

      That trough is so worthwhile – a time for waiting and patience in the valleys and deep dark wells before the peak becomes visible. A time for being, rather than doing. I’m glad to hear of your burst of creative energy! May the week be wonderful, and the months filled with creativity as your agenda gets under way … or over the way ..

    • Thanks Diana for coming by. I popped round now to your website and much enjoyed your lovely drawings and your movies – especially the (Vis)age one. May you continue on this strange journey called life …

  17. I relate to this sense of feeling stuck. An astrologer friend recently indicated a dark moon phase that could last for some years, a kind of collective inertia, which however seeps into personal moods, for some more, for some less, urging inner work, for sure.
    I have some of Jung’s collective works, and a very tattered edition of ‘Men and his Symbols.’ Now I’m thinking of getting the wonderful book of symbols you mention.

    I plan to post on my blog a purification breathing practice you may like, probably today.

    • The Taschen book is truly excellent Ashen, I know you will enjoy it hugely. Fabulous research and mythology and much more besides.

      Thank you re: your offered breathing practice. I look forward to that. I’d forgotten about the one I’ve sometimes done, breathing through one nostril while holding down the other, releasing the other closing the first etc … with the forefinger on the ‘third eye’ between the eyebrows.

      Yes, the collective can surely seep into everything … thank you for mentioning about your astrologer friend.

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