Unraveling The Spell of Hidden Beliefs Part 2
We are just completing Scorpio season the time of the year associated with depth and mystery. The velvety night has deepened in length inviting us to go inwards, I view it as a time that offers the opportunity to explore our shadowed selves. As I have noted, the modern ruler of Scorpio is Pluto, the God of the underworld.
I have been involved with TheI Artist’s Way since 1988. That’s 25 years, I began facilitating it over 20 years ago. Yet, each time I facilitate The Artist’s Way there is at least one new awareness that deepens my understanding both personally and of myself as a facilitator.
As I noted a couple of weeks ago, anyone who has been in one of my Artist Way classes hears the very first week that I don’t care if they don’t do their homework. It’s not that I am not encouraging them to do it, just that I don’t want them to shame themselves into thinking that they are not worthy of being in class because they are not showing up with the idealistic perfection that they are expecting of themselves. During this workshop participants are working at getting past their creative blocks and at the core this is inevitably connected in some way with the feeling that they don’t measure up in some manner. I have learned over 30 plus years of facilitating that one of the chief blocks shows up as they are working on getting unblocked; not doing the class well enough is used as an excuse to give up on themselves or the class. I share with them how much of the homework I blew off the first time I participated in the class with Julia back in 1987 and let them know it still changed my life. Then I tell them that there are two times I will actually go over specific homework in class and that I will let them know when that occurs.
In my last blog discussing the workshop, my current class had just completed week 5, Discovering a Sense of Possibility, where students are asked to examine their God Concept. The first time we actually go over a piece of homework in class and as I noted it is always a struggle as everyone is sure that they believe in a supportive universe.
We are now in the Middle of week 8, Discovering A Sense of Strength, and our second moment of in-class homework has arrived. In this week students are asked to name their dream, to actually write it down, and to create a broad action plan. In a world filled with vision boards, you would think this would be a piece of cake, right?
Once again participants are confronted with their God concept, this time actively in the form of what they will allow themselves to imagine as possible within their life. Immediately even the most practiced students, the people I have had in class multiple times, find it challenging to actually move beyond all of their very logical reasons why something won’t work. Their reasons are legion they are too old, too financially insecure, they have too many responsibilities, if it hasn’t happened by this point it never will, etc (there are basically a litany of reasons, fill in the blank with your own). Even within the bounds of a class exercise, they find it nearly impossible to write something down authentically. And when they do it is most often very reasonable, it is a good goal but it doesn’t fill them with joy. In my 30+ year history of facilitating, there has been only one time I haven’t had to recreate a dream with them, to persistently but gently move them past of of those very good reasons and that student had taken the class with me at least five times.
This is why I do the exercise in class, we have been so conditioned to be responsible adults. But responsible to what or whom? Here is what inevitably happens; they light up when we land upon the true dream. And everyone in the class can see it. Everyone. There is a visible change.
Why is this so hard? One word: Shame. We have been insidiously shamed out of dreams over time by the myths we have been spoonfed since birth by both our family and our culture. They are now part of the soup we swim in that shows up as our beliefs (feelings) as to how the world really works.
This isn’t logical, and we all have these inner edicts that hide in our felt expectations of the world yet we most often don’t take the time to really examine to see if they are really true for us in our lives. They also don’t disappear during a 12-week workshop. But over the course of the class, we peel back a layer and are able to see more fully how these hidden beliefs, these hidden laws that we are living our life by block the way forward. We are in essence bound by them. Our belief about the world has become its own impasse, a wall we cannot seem to get around.
Biases are funny a thing, we defend them with our lives. This is what our ego really is, our identity is made up of myths and preconceived opinions about ourselves (and the world as well) and what we are capable of creating. You might call it a sort of bigotry. I know that’s harsh, but it is also true.
Unconsciously, we actually find our yearnings somewhat intolerable. We have trouble even admitting them to ourselves as they feel so threatening. So we in essence shrink ourselves in response
So how do we heal our sense of shame?
One word: Love
We begin by implementing a practice of love and compassion towards ourselves. Using the two basic tools of The Artist’s Way this would show up in the form of the morning pages and artist dates. The pages are powerful because you are basically just listening to yourself without correction. They are a witnessing practice. As I write this I think of the practice within some churches of crying out “Can I get a witness?” Witnessing is a sacred act.
The first written practice of this dates back in myth all the way to ancient Sumeria and the myth of Inanna’s Journey to the Underworld.
Astrologically she is connected to Venus, whose symbol represents a hand mirror. In myth Innana, Queen of the Heavens, the Great Above. In this part of her story, she goes to visit her sister Ereshkigal, Queen of the Underworld, the Great below is symbolically Innana’s mirror image. Ereshkigal is in labor but has become so stuck in the grief of losing her husband that she refuses to let her child be born. She actually executes Innana upon her arrival and hangs her on a meat hook. In order to save Innana the God Enki creates two creatures and instructs them to enter the Underworld like flies, to sit upon Ereshkigal’s bed, and to then simply repeat, essentially mirror, Ereshkigal's words back to her. Adding that she will eventually offer them a gift and that they are to ask for Inanna's body and then pour the water of life over her bringing her back to life.
From the story:
“Ereshkigal was moaning: Oh! Oh! My Inside!
They moaned: Oh! Oh! Your Inside!
She moaned: Oh! Oh! My Outside
They moaned: Oh! Oh! Your Outside”
Eventually, Ereshkigal experiences being seen and heard and indeed offers them a gift.
Innana is brought back to life.
When we witness ourselves, not trying to fix ourselves, but simply witness ourselves we are in essence given a gift and brought back to life. No matter where Venus is within your chart this archetype desires to be admired and completely accepted. Venus is without shame. She is also the Goddess of creativity.
When we witness ourselves over time our dreams are brought back to life. The ones we often abandoned in the name of reasonable responsible adulthood. From this new place of strength, we can actively ongoingly midwife this world creating part of ourselves.
We sadly most often don’t take the time to witness ourselves. To view ourselves through the eyes of compassion. And we see ourselves as separate from the universe, essentially cast out from Eden. We, not just individually but culturally, live in a world where we most often view ourselves as separate from the greater cycles of life. Personally, I prefer a more enchanted view of the universe, as renowned cultural historian and astrologer Richard Tarnas posits. One where the universe is seen and thus experienced as caring and sentient. One where both we and everything are connected.
When we cultivate the enchanted cosmos we are filled with gratitude and grace.
My closing benediction is to wish you all a Thanksgiving holiday enfolded in the embrace of the enchanted cosmos.