I have just returned from a holiday on a rugged, powerful volcanic island. Being immersed in the heat and the fecundity of nature and more importantly being ‘in the light’ and in the florescence of the sun has had a profound effect on me on many levels. I felt like it penetrated my soul deeply. But with that comes the release of the sediment, the turbulence surges to the surface.
Even though the many volcanoes on the island are inactive, the power generated from them was an elegantly subtle force yet directly fueled with potentiality. The landscape was a mixture of blacks, browns and yellows, all crowned with a hypnotic aquamarine sea. It was ragged and roughhewn – I found it captivating and mesmerising. Early on in my stay I received a very profound insight, very pertinent to my current circumstances. After that I became absorbed in the holiday spirit of sensory pleasure, eating, swimming, letting the sun kiss my skin, exploring the terrain, resting and enjoying every aspect of life away from home.
The street where our hotel resided was called ‘Minerva’. Minerva is a Goddess archetype that has been a symbol of my creativity and forward motion for almost 25 years. I once had a music band that I named after her as well as a publisher many moons ago that was interested in publishing my poetry which was also called Minerva. So it felt like synchronicity, unbeknown to us until we got there, that our hotel was positioned on Calle Minerva.
Minerva is the Goddess of poetry, medicine, wisdom, strategic warfare and the crafts. I felt her presence – her whispers to me were bold to begin with and then softer yet still nudging my consciousness with her sharp fingers.
One of the insights that slid up from the crust of my consciousness was that I had swallowed my fire – to be a nice person I had figuratively swallowed my own fire. The tectonic plates of my own soul shifted in alignment. They merged in agreement. Electricity was created and I could no longer ignore the charged particles around me igniting in the air.
Being in the luminosity of light highlighted to me in volcanic proportions exactly what greyness still pervaded my life. And more importantly what grey souls pollute my life with their fear of moving forward and their fear of looking at themselves, yet all the while pouring every ounce of that fear and ignorance all over me and anyone else in a two meter radius.
I work around a lot of addiction and there is a darkness to that that seeps in and takes a foothold, clinging on insidiously to those in its wake. The good girl part of me spouts words around the dirty canvas around her about “acceptance, tolerance, compassion”. But to step out from that situation for a time, I realised that I am fuming in the most elemental sense that my own volcanic nature is smoking and raging and the lid has been pushed down, so it’s all become stuck in my body. I have been taught that to be a good girl – a decent person – I must ‘enable’ other people’s bad behaviour because “Oh well, they can’t help it”. So I must tread on eggshells so as not to antagonise those mistreating themselves and those around them because that’s what nice people do!
Well, I’ve done that. I’ve done the tolerance, the compassion, the pushing down my own needs, the acquiescing, the supporting, even the moaning and the speaking out and still I am fed the message that I must take on extra because the people around me haven’t got the courage to take responsibility for their total disregard of their own lives, for the fact that they have let the darkness swallow them up and that they are extinguishing their own light on a day by day basis.
Many years ago I was a Buddhist actively following their teachings and even though I am no longer one, there is one teaching that stuck with me, which is that ‘Saying no is often one of the most compassionate things we can do’. They explained that saying yes to others bad behaviour is not helping them, it is enabling them to carry on hurting themselves and hurting others. How is that compassion? That is not true compassion. We are fed and forced to swallow so many false beliefs about what compassion is, what support is, what tolerance is. Maybe that’s all part of it, a strategy to stop us from really stepping into our own power by plucking at the well-defined heart strings of us more sensitive souls. So we cover that up behind layers of cement in order to function in a demanding world.
So my adventure to a volcanic island became the focal point of just that, exactly what I have put a lid on in my own life. All of the life force that is simmering underneath the surface, smoking and puffing away that desperately needs an outlet. The fire in me is tired of being stymied. It wants the full range of its movement. It no longer wants to be confined inside me.
How do we swallow our fire?
There are many ways we allow our fire to be submerged. Physically we often do it with junk food or drink. We can even do it with good food, simply swallowing too much for our stomachs to cope with. This is very taxing for our bodies, our livers and our energy. It literally dampens our fire. We can do it with addiction – all kinds of addiction from smoking, taking drugs to drinking excessive alcohol pushes down our fire into the furthest corners of our being until we become numb and our hearts closed. Emotionally we can do it with being around people constantly immersed in drama, who have a myriad of issues in their lives that they refuse to deal with or try to change, who consistently moan about their lives bringing those around them down to their level of misery. We can court drama ourselves, or constantly having to or choosing to care for others that leaves little or no time to care for ourselves. Spiritually we can do it by ignoring our dreams, discounting or overlooking the nudges we get, the frustrations that build into atomic levels, not allowing our creative or sexual natures to flourish and expand.
Being away from my routine for nearly two weeks allowed me a space to be just myself that I have not had in a considerable time – no one required supporting, or being tolerated, in fact no one required anything from me. There was absolutely nothing for me to do but be my absolute self. I was free from the responsibility of constantly pouring my energy into ungrateful people and situations. That felt so liberating. Sometimes it feels like being at war, having to constantly protect oneself or deflect others inappropriate or mindless energy. It’s interesting that Minerva is also the Goddess of warfare. One can be at war without even realising it! It takes a lot of energy to be in protection mode. Cell Biologist Dr Bruce Lipton says in his book ‘The Biology Of Belief’, that a cell cannot be in both protection mode and growth mode. So it translates that as human beings made of millions of cells, when we are in protection mode we are not growing or moving forward because we cannot be in both states at the same time. If we are in protection mode a part of us is closed, it is not open to growth or expansion.
I once had a profound dream that has stayed with me ever since: I was flying, I often fly, and I flew over a body of water with a tiny island in the centre. There were three or four people who were on the island and they were safe there and yet they decided to wade into the water. In the dream I didn’t want to help them because I was free, I was in my element, I was on my own expedition to wherever I wanted to go. Yet it became increasingly clear that these few people were in trouble. I didn’t want to but I flew down to assist them and they were too heavy to fly with so my foot and leg became submerged in the water. Soon after my lower leg became septic with a wound that would not heal, it just kept bleeding and bleeding and I knew I would eventually die.
As soon as awoke I didn’t need any translation, any explanation as to what this meant to me. I instantly knew this was about my lifelong predilection of over-giving. If I had ignored them and simply flown over – they actually would have figured out themselves that they were safe on the island. I would have been able to really spread my wings and carry on flying, I would not have become submerged, septic and overburdened. The problem is not helping others – the problem is doing it because we feel we have to, because we had swallowed the guilt pill, whether that comes from deep inside ourselves or others.
How much do we tolerate in our life in the name of being a good person? How much do we ‘settle’? How much do we diminish our own light because we are afraid to be daring, brave and move away from the situations, people and things that do not support our growth? All because we have been fed hyberbolic statements and beliefs about what we must be to be viewed as a good person.
Well, fuck that! I know I am a decent person and that I have a huge heart, I am kind and supportive and I have compassion and tolerance. How do I know that is true? Because first and foremost I am learning to be those things for myself. If by being compassionate I am compromising my own mental health, physical health or anything else then that is not true compassion, it’s someone else’s version of it. And why should I dedicate any time or energy to supporting others who don’t want to help themselves? What a waste of energy. If you want to extinguish your own light then that’s up to you, I am only responsible for myself. How many times have we helped others when we didn’t have the energy to and we ended up sick, or with a bad back or an ailment? It is clear I need to employ Minerva strategies to forge a plan to move on from the ledge of this volcano out into the world.
We need our fire. When we swallow our fire to be a ‘nice person’ or become what others demand us to be we are betraying ourselves. We are not supporting ourselves. Our fire is the alchemy underneath the flame. The flame is responsible for our creative nature, our sacred feminine, our sacred sexuality, our power as women and human beings to move mountains and shift the minutiae of our lives. Shoving down my fiery nature because others needs are more important than mine is not being compassionate or supportive to myself. And it has to stop. But only I can stop it – by saying No! It doesn’t have to be dramatic but it does have to be a definite internal no. Others around me don’t have to know that I’m saying no, but they will feel me disengaging from them and their drama on energetic levels and if that makes them angry or changes their attitude towards me, then so be it. I will never be able to achieve my own dreams if I am entangled by the lower energies of others.
Being around this greyness has infiltrated my own dreams about my future. What we see around us tends to be what we end up believing about life and what we deserve. If there is pain and misery all around us, we tend to believe this is how it will always be. That life will always be difficult and foreboding. I have already left behind a life of darkness and trauma, yet here I am still allowing myself to be immersed in the drama of others, often swallowing my own life force or being told to swallow it to be accepted. I have all the help and support in the world for those who are brave enough to face themselves and face their own crap but my patience has finally become worn out from those who choose to stay bound by their own traumas and projections.
The dreams I have for my own life need to be activated in technicolour. And just like Minerva’s whispers, strategies have to be put in place to achieve the life that is beckoning me. What we ‘see’ around us has a direct effect on our consciousness. Allowing oneself to fully believe in the power of the light to lift us up and keep our batteries powered has become increasingly important to me. It is said “that which we are waiting for is also waiting for us”. I want to walk towards those dreams with a full heart, not enervated and dwindling, with a bleeding leg from expending all of my energy on others. Sometimes we have to leave people to fend for themselves, that we must metaphorically fly over them, lest not be submerged and wounded from attending to others needs. Even though as women we have had it drilled into us that we are made to care for others – and it’s true we are very good at this and it is important but there is more to us than being a care-giver or tolerating the intolerable. It feels like we have built our ‘support muscle’ up to the exclusion of all else, to the exclusion of our other dreams, of stepping into our power, of creating a better life for ourselves based on the integrity of who we really are. We are so much more than what society would have us believe about our skills and strengths. If you have a dream it’s worth honouring. If you have a dream to be more than the small threshold of your life – that is worth honouring.
What colour are your dreams?