Life after Hell

After she’d done the deal with Hades and ensured her daughter Persephone could return to the land of the living every spring, Demeter was at a loose end. What was she to do next?

The quest to rescue her daughter had been archetypal.  She knew it would be told and retold down through the ages. Many would see Persephone as the heroine and look to her yearly return as a kind of salvation.

All that was as it should be. Of course the beautiful young woman clothed in the glory of her own fertility was the star of the story. Demeter’s role as the mother was to be applauded and her journey to the underworld was laudable yet Demeter knew there was more to the story than that.  After all she’d lived and breathed the quest. It had occupied her entire consciousness for so long she couldn’t just shrug it off and say that’s it, job done, end of story. There had to a sequel.

For ages she wandered about the countryside mulling over what she’d been through.  The overwhelming grief and deep depression she felt when she realised her daughter was lost – that terrible rage when she cursed life itself and caused the crops to wither in the ground then the long and perilous journey into the darkness of hell, that place of shadows and haunted, plaintive wailings had changed her forever.  She couldn’t just go home and sit by the fireside.

Restless, she wandered on and on.   After a time she came to a gracious city.DSCF8112

The people there were curious about her.  ‘We can see you have travelled far and suffered much,’ they said.  ‘Please tell us of your journey.’

Flattered by their interest, Demeter told her story.  In the retelling she came to understanding the deeper meaning of what she had experienced and was able to devise a method whereby others could journey into their own darkness. Within the protected of the city walls she initiated people into processes that enabled them to explore the unconscious aspects of the self.  As they confronted the shadows within their own psyche the potential trapped there was released.  After such journeys initiates returned to the bright light of day restored and renewed.

As more and more people experienced her teachings, Demeter’s path became known as The Mystery Religion for embedded within personal journeys towards individual regeneration lay a deeper mystery. Somehow personal resurrection contained within it the seeds for the regeneration of the Earth itself.

Even as she taught the people Demeter knew there would come a time when the Mystery Religion would be forgotten. People would grow afraid of their own shadows and seek to live only in the light. They would exploit the Earth in their pursuit of pleasure and the gratification of their every desire. Crops would wither in the ground and vast tracts of the planet would become a wasteland.

For many, life would then become a kind of hell on Earth. Demeter knew that the desecration of the Earth would sear the hearts and minds of humanity. Many would feel such pain over the destruction of the planet they would cry out for salvation. It would be then that the old archetypal stories would once again reveal their deepest truth – the way to the light lies in embracing the darkness.

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Detonated blogs

I detonated my old blog ‘Art and Life’ this morning.  https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/detonate/

The subscription was due in a few days and I didn’t want to renew it.    I’d left posts saying I’d moved blogging addresses but people still kept following.   The easiest thing to do was click the Delete button and detonate the whole thing.   It’s gone now.  Just like that.   Years of work, aspirations, ambitions, musings, whining  and creative outpourings gone in a moment.   It was amazing how much energy I had tied up in that blog. Deleting it was liberating.

As for this one – well I’m not sure it’s going anywhere, or at least, not going where I intended it go.   My last post was about the spiritual process of ascension.   I’ve been writing about this process obliquely for at least 5 years but apparently no one noticed.   When I wrote about it directly the author of the challenge prompt expressed amazement that I was even thinking about this subject.   Not sure where that leaves me – am I that bad a writer that no one noticed I was interested in spiritual growth?    While I ponder that and wonder whether in fact I should detonate all my blogs and go and meditate in cave I will post some haiga and haibun I have written that go some way towards mapping the spiritual journey I’ve been taking.

No one says much to me on this blog.  Half the time I feel like I’m pissing in the wind.   That detonation button and the inner cave are looking very appealing.

 

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inner peaceliminality

Some years ago I studied Indian Philosophy at university. It was a hard subject and I can’t remember much about it except for a strange debate we studied.

Sometime around 200BC a Hindu and Buddhist had an argument about the nature of the eternal soul. The Hindu said that the eternal soul is fixed and continues unchanged through time and space. The same soul stays with an individual through every incarnation. The Buddhist argued otherwise.

‘No,’ he said. ‘The soul changes and evolves as we do. Its nature is not fixed.’ He argued the soul is fluid and changes from moment to moment. What we do and think in the present impacts our soul. In every moment we are faced with a choice – to stay fixed in our current state or to grow and evolve.

In my essays I took the side of Buddhist. The lecturer favoured the Hindu point of view. ‘If my soul changes from moment to moment,’ she giggled, ‘I would wake up the morning as someone else. My husband wouldn’t recognise me.’ I found it hard to discuss the matter with her. She was convinced her view was the right one.

I find many people have hostile reactions to the idea. Maybe it is that, in this changing world, they like to think they are solid and dependable, fixed and reliable.

To me it seems they misunderstand what the Buddhist was getting at. I find it liberating to think that in every moment there is the possibility of redemption – of forward movement – of personal evolution.

Nothing is fixed

forever set in concrete

– healing can occur

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One day I asked Google a question. ‘What was before the Big Bang?’

I received a number of answers. The one that intrigued me the most was the idea that the big bang emerged from a singularity. This singularity was the last remaining trace of a previous universe. The previous universe had gone through a period of expansion after being created in its own big bang, After eons of time the energy released during this big bang dissipated and the universe that preceded ours began to implode back in upon itself.

Eventually all that remained was a singularity.
This singularity exploded in a big bang which released the energy from which our universe is created. In time this energy will expend itself and our universe will implode. Eventually it too will become a singularity that will, at some point, explode in another big bang. A new universe will come into being.

This cyclic procession of universes reminds me of a story from Hindu cosmology. When the God Brahma breathes out, all life comes into being. When Brahma breathes in all life ceases to be until the God breathes out again. All existence is Brahma breathing in and out, in and out, in vast cycles of time and no time.

Infinite multiverses

expanding and imploding

– no ending in sight.

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In my early 20s I took a lot of acid (LSD) – a lot. My last acid trip took place in a National Park outside of Sydney. I had gone there with some friends to drop acid. While my friends tripped to some place where they giggled and cuddled, I went to a space where the world was made of paper – a place where the environment around me looked a painted backdrop and my friends looked like cartoon characters. I felt like the whole world could just blow away in the wind. It was a freaky feeling but what was even worse was the feeling that there was nothing, absolutely nothing behind the backdrop. Behind this world there was nothing but a vast empty void.

I tried to explain my freak-out to my friends but they were too busy laughing and cuddling to get it, ‘Of course the world is real. You’re just tripping out. You’ll come down,’ they said.

Back in Sydney the next day my friends straightened up and got on with life. I came down enough to know everyone else was no longer tripping but I also knew I still was. I stared out at Sydney harbour willing the paper yachts to become real. It was three days before they did.

The experience affected me deeply and I sought to understand it. Attracted to the Indian idea that all life is an illusion I began reading books on Hinduism and Buddhism. What I wanted to know was– if life is all illusion – what lies behind it? Is there really just nothing – an empty void?

‘Everything that arises and ends as a result of cause and effect is like the landscapes we see in dreams, the illusions, created by a magician, the bubbles on a fast-moving stream, and the unreality of shadows.’ from The Diamond Sutra

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heart haiku

lightness

Whether or not this blog gets detonated remains to be seen.   If it goes on  – it will take a new direction – a more integrated one where I express myself more openly.    A while ago I put a lot of my writing about spiritual matters onto a separate blog.  I then decided I needed to make that blog private while I worked through some deep blocks that were affecting my spiritual growth.   Now I’m thinking I either bring the content on that blog into this one or I detonate both of them and concentrate on my inner growth in private.

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The Shift

This week Chevrefeuille of CDHK offers the word ‘Ascension’ for inspiration.   spiritual way haiku – no. 10

He has written a long post that is well worth reading.    Here are some of his key points –

“Ascension is “a fundamentally changed consciousness whereby everything is perceived as an interconnected unity.

An individual is ‘ascending’ in the sense that something of a lower vibration is ascending; is is being ‘raised up’ or becoming higher in vibration.

Ascension is about ‘bringing heaven to earth’ by raising the ‘lower vibrational aspect of your non-physical being to a higher vibrational state of being or realization.

Ascension can also be understood in a more metaphysical way by considering the concept of ‘Dimensions’ or ‘planes of existence, or planes of conscious’. This would mean that Ascension is about shifting from one dimension, frequency, plane of existence or conscious (such as the ‘lower’ physical Earth plane) to another plane, dimension or state of consciousness that is of a ‘higher frequency.

In this time of Aquarius, we all will ascend to a higher state of spirituality. We will go into another dimension, another state of thinking.
Ascension is becoming more spiritual, maybe it is the moment that you choose to take another path to fulfillment, or spiritual growth.”

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For this challenge I have decided to post  a haibun from my archives

Driving home yesterday the light distracted me as I crested a hill. Beyond the farmland the sea shone as flat as a silver mirror. Above it the sky was an expanse of featureless white light. There was no discernible demarcation line between the two. The dark mass of the headland appeared to float in a shining void.

The road swept down the curve of a hill and I had to draw my eyes away from the sight to concentrate on driving. Every now and then I would catch a glimpse of the light shimmering on the edge of my peripheral vision. By the time I got home the clouds had closed in and the sight was lost.

Inner light comes to me like that – a sudden flash that momentarily illuminates my interior landscape of thoughts and emotions.  For a timeless stretch of being my conditioned response to life and my definitions of reality are seen to be constructs – no more than thought forms – eternity glimmers beyond – a timeless expanse of shining light.

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Season change

Perhaps it is the smell of autumn leaves moldering in corners…

Perhaps it is the smell of burning fossil fuels as the gas heaters and wood burners of the town are arced up to combat the creeping winter chills…

Perhaps it is the smell of burning money as people in all electric homes attempt to pay their power bills…

Perhaps it is the smell of global politics – the malodorous stench of war mongering, hypocrisy and injustice – the lingering whiff of hot air escaping…

Perhaps it is the smell of my own kitchen waste slowly fermenting in the bin I forgot to empty last night…

whatever it is – it stinks.

As season change rolls in I am ambivalent about the coming winter down here in Oz.   It’s a chance to knuckle down and get some serious work done but then there’s all those long grey months and all those long, grey faces of people around town.   Am I just noticing it more or are more people more depressed than usual?

It feels like we all need a big shake up – a revitalizing blast of fresh air, ideas and energy. Not some superficial makeover that blows away as quickly as it arrived but some fundamental shift in perception.

I open my windows and let a blast of sharp salt wind stir up the stagnant air in my house.   I throw out my garbage and sort the recycling.

I walk outside and smell the rich, fertile earth damp from last night’s rain.   As the wind stirs the trees behind my house eucalyptus laden air fills my lungs.   It circulates through my being invigorating me.  It infuses me with the strength to keep going and the energy to keep clearing, to keep releasing everything that is keeping me stuck in old ways of being and thinking.

Let the change come…

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prompts:   https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/infuse/
https://lindaghill.com/2017/05/26/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-may-2717/ – smell

Evanescent

What a wonderful prompt from WordPress this week – https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/evanescent/

“Evanescent can be any fleeting moment in time. It could be the moment you drop a seed into your garden, marking that promise of new growth to come. It could be a photo of the Eastern Phoebe that visits your deck each day, wagging her tail as she calls her own name. If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, it could be that carpet of leaves that fell overnight, before the wind scatters them. It might be the moment you light the first fire of Fall.”

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Down here on the shores of the Southern Ocean autumn has definitely been evanescent this year.  Nearly every day for the past month has been wet and windy.    The autumn leaves in the parks and gardens mostly droop in soggy brown clusters or rattle as they blow in drifts down the gutters.  Blue skies are a rarity.

Evanescence –
glimpses of autumn gold
between showers.
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Rocks as energy

I’m finding life very intense at the moment.  My feeling nature seems to have become more acute and I am becoming more aware of the energetic fields in the natural environment.   Today began with major tree felling going on next door.  At the sound of the first branches falling my legs started to shake.  It was a weird feeling.   I think it’s in the Star Wars movies where they talk about a disturbance in the force.   This morning felt like that.   As the men started to bring down the branches of the really big eucalypt it felt like a disturbance occurred in the energy field of the neighbourhood.

The noise of wood chipper was appalling so I went out.   When I came home later I saw the branches on all the trees that hang over my neighbour’s back fence have been removed but the smaller trees are still standing.   The large tree is now a massive tree trunk sticking up about 12 feet into the air.   It’s already partly covered in ivy.   I guess in time it will become totally covered and look like a tall thin tower of ivy.

The energy still felt kind of fractured and the wood chipper was still going so I decided to see if the rumour that the Southern Right Whales had arrived from Antarctica already was true.  (they spend the winter in the Southern Ocean here).    I drove out to the lookout.   There were quite a lot of people about.   My whale spotting strategy is to scan the ocean in the direction where most people are looking.  Sure enough, far out to sea I caught sight of the distinctive spume of the Right Whale.   As I watched I saw the dark shape of the head appearing from time to time and, once, the tail fin.   The animal was so far out I caught no more than glimpses.   All the same, there was a moment where my sense of myself in time and space suddenly expanded.   Maybe it was the thought of the creature swimming all the way from Antarctica that did it.    For a brief instant I felt like I was part of the vast cycle of life on this planet – hard to describe but it was enough to make me think I’ll be doing a lot of whale watching this winter.

So –  a day of high drama.   During the past week I got back out to the rock cliff I featured last week.   I walked in as close as I could get and concentrated on taking photos of the detail.    Reducing the photos to B&W highlights the dramatic presence of the rock wall.  I think the photos work as a visual metaphor to convey something of the intensity I’ve been feeling lately. Although the final photo is of a vertical rock face it suggests the power and energy of the sea to me.   It goes some way towards corresponding with the kind of feeling I get when I see the whales.

 

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prompt:  Sally D’s mobile devices challenge – challengers choice

Haiku fragment and phrase

sunrise

“First and foremost, and certainly the guideline which I have consciously or unconsciously followed the longest, is the one that a haiku must be divided into two parts. This is the positive side of the rule that haiku should not be a run-on sentence. There needs to be a syntactical break dividing the ku into two parts…

For the purposes of this discussion, I would like to call the shorter portion, the fragment and the longer portion, or rest of the poem, the phrase.”   Jane Reichhold

prompt:   http://chevrefeuillescarpediem.blogspot.com.au/2017/05/carpe-diem-universal-jane-17-fragment.html