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  • Sacred Sorrow: The Sacred Wound: Part Three

    The Hero’s Journey

     At a depth of 5km below the Earth’s surface a quake registering 6.3 on the Richter scale struck the people of Canterbury on February 22. Though 8 times less powerful than the 7.1 which struck on September 4 at a depth of 10 km this quake was far more devastating. With an epicentre less than 10 km from Christchurch and its timing, 12.51pm in a city already weakened by the September event the quake left 166 so far confirmed dead and many still unaccounted for, as well the centre of  Christchurch in ruins.

    earthquake damage

    I had hoped to carry on from the previous post and explore the enneagram further. Thoughts around that subject were beginning to gel and then another quake. Everything else began to pale into insignificance. Was this our Mother Earth lulling us into a false sense of security pending the release of the masterstroke? Had we become complacent?

    At Wainui I was catering for two schools when it struck. The intensity of the shake, while not as long as the 7.1, and the almost immediate loss of power convinced all present that this was a “biggy”. Buildings were evacuated and all protocols adhered to. The worry for teachers and parent helpers was evident and in the wake of the previous quakes the children were well drilled in keeping themselves protected.

    I was lost for the first week not sure what my role was in all this. My process is that I focus on what is in front of me in that moment and allow it to unfold. This meant attending to those closest to me as the days past.

    Eventually I realised that this quake required a separate post and at the outset I seemed lost for words and ideas. How does one do justice to something like this? How does one honour those whose lives were taken?

    Looking through some of the faces in the paper of those feared dead I found a face that looked familiar. I recognised him as a regular in a bar that I also drank at a few years ago. I don’t remember engaging him at all though we may have sat in the same group on the odd occasion. It turned out he died entering a building to bring injured people out. There is sadness for me in not having connected with him in some way.

    <iframe src=”//www.slideshare.net/slideshow/embed_code/key/UqFiVYjOuIdA8″ width=”425″ height=”355″ frameborder=”0″ marginwidth=”0″ marginheight=”0″ scrolling=”no” style=”border:1px solid #CCC; border-width:1px; margin-bottom:5px; max-width: 100%;” allowfullscreen> </iframe> <div style=”margin-bottom:5px”> <strong> <a href=”//www.slideshare.net/AndrewMichaelChallies/heros-journey1″ title=”Hero’s Journey” target=”_blank”>Hero’s Journey</a> </strong> from <strong><a href=”//www.slideshare.net/AndrewMichaelChallies” target=”_blank”>Andrew Challies</a></strong> </div>

    The word Hero fits many of the people who were caught in town when the quake struck and just did what needed to be done in the circumstances. As I pondered it further, listening to news reports, listening to politicians, hearing the stories, it seemed a perfect example of the Hero’s Journey unfolding in a short space of time.

    I had touched on the Hero’s Journey previously in my post Working with Qualities of Soul: Cyclical. I follow the work of  Carol Pearson who developed a system of 12 archetypes that assist the path of evolution for our souls. My initial discovery inspired an on-going passion for the work.

    The journey evolves through 3 stages – the preparation, the journey, and the return. Within those 3 stages there are 4 archetypes encountered as we assimilate the rememberings required to move to the next stage. The archetypes of preparation are the innocent, the orphan, the warrior, the caregiver. In the journey stage we have the seeker, lover, destroyer, and the creator. Finally on our return we are governed by the ruler, the magician, the sage and the fool.

    The devastation wrought by an earthquake as experienced in Christchurch can immediately precipitate people, both individually and collectively, into encountering the archetypes of the preparation. An abrupt transition from innocent to orphan as the quake wreaks havoc upon the populace. From an apparently innocuous sort of day we become victims once more to thrashing of the earth. This sense of victim is one of the attributes of the orphan archetype.

    earthquake damage

    People began instantly and instinctively to look after those who had been obviously injured, or going into wreckage searching for those trapped. These are prime examples of the archetypes of the care-giver and warrior. I speak as one who watched from afar seeing the images on a television screen.

    My reality was different being 80km away from the centre of Christchurch. As a chef the archetype that was strongest for me was, I imagine, the caregiver. There was a sense of frustration as I waited for the groups present to decide if they were going or staying so that the warrior element in me could respond to the call to action and begin cooking. When the power returned I watched the TV with fascination as the story unfolded. There was an aspect within me that would have liked to have been amongst the destruction having my mettle tested and at the same blessed because I was away from the worst of it, not having to face the pain obvious to those who had first-hand experience of death and damage.

    Within the exploration there is the challenge of not attempting to make the events fit nicely into an ordered unfolding of the Hero’s Journey process. With any kind of process there is fluidity around the steps. As the drama unfolds a particular stage may arise out of sequence. As the dust settles the services – Fire, St John’s, and Civil Defence – attempt to impose some sort of order on the scene. That sense of order can be identified with the ruler archetype.

    After those initial hours of people working instinctively a more structured approach begins to take shape. Within that structure there can be instances of archetypes showing their faces as events unfold. Each of the archetypes may play its part over the course of a day. Each day holds the potential of seeing ourselves as innocent or victim, caregiver or warrior, as seeker or destroyer, lover or creator, as an opportunity to take responsibility like the ruler, find our personal power like the magician, the wisdom of the sage and the joy and freedom of the fool.

    The Christchurch quakes have become threshold events enabling us to look more closely at these archetypes. The features of the preparation are seen in the immediate responses to the devastating effects as the virtuous aspects of the archetypes – optimism, realism, courage and compassion – play out. That said, there are also the negative aspects, wrought by fear – abandonment, victimisation, weakness, selfishness.

    There seems to be a cycle involved here, where a fearful focus may precipitate us into the next fearful experience of an archetype. Awareness of the process may assist us to arrest the downward spiral and refocus with a more positive attitude.

    The initiation sets up the continuing journey and the qualities we’re hoping will be embedded in our psyches – a sense of autonomy, of humility, acceptance, passion, commitment, and the sense of an individual calling. The archetypal passage of the journey tends to cycle through seeking, destroying, loving and creating and in fact one of the insights from “Awakening the Heroes Within” suggests that from a lifetime perspective the path of the hero may end in the journey phase. I somehow felt sad that perhaps people weren’t getting the most out of their lives, that it was interrupted before the opportunity to live it fully presented itself. And I also understood how one could be quite satisfied by the loving and creating aspects of the journey

    The journey isn’t about the acquisition of things or knowledge although these may arrive as part of the process – physical representations of the inner passage. The gifts of this unfolding are those that nurture the psyche – the virtues being shaped within our characters and personalities.

    It seems the further we travel the path of the Hero the gifts become less tangible. I know for myself I began to question the almost constant seeking – the “looking” for answers. I was doing course after course acquiring knowledge and somehow feeling I did not yet know enough to do what it was I was meant to be doing.

    I think that was when I began to move into the return. I took the Ruler’s responsibility for what I already knew and allowed it to colour my personality, to expand my character. Essentially all we can be responsible for is how we respond in any given situation.  Whether we follow our heart or our fear is a choice and that can be changed in the blink of an eye. As soon as we accept that responsibility the other aspects of the return seem to come into alignment quite quickly – the personal power of the Magician, the wisdom of the Sage, and the joy and freedom of the Fool.

    Knowledge of the Journey doesn’t take away the challenges. It allows you see the landmarks ahead safe in the knowledge that when this one is reached another one is beckoning. Feel the freedom of the fool and know the optimism of the Innocent is just around the corner motioning you onward to the start of another journey.

    During the last week as the post has been slowly coming together I was informed of another tragedy – and old Air Force friend had been killed while assisting people in a car accident in Queensland. I remember the laughs we shared and not only am I reminded that joy matters on the Hero’s Journey but that Death is the ultimate return and going out with the Heart of a Hero is a true blessing. I’m also reminded to notice the areas of my life which are undergoing change, to acknowledge those things which are passing away,  let them go gracefully and then embrace the new – that which is becoming.  Thank you, Alan. Your inspiration will live long.









  • UnLearning

    “I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth”.

    Umberto Eco

    Enigma. The losing of a wallet. I was looking forward to finishing work on Friday. The thought of escaping to Akaroa and catching a movie made the afternoon fly along.

    A beer was sitting on the picnic table as I got home. Everything was coming up roses. When my roomie headed back to Christchurch for the weekend I still had time to make it to Akaroa. And then I couldn’t find my wallet. The enigma of losing a wallet.

    Is there an underlying truth to it? What if there isn’t. I know there were things calling to me. A phone call to a friend, a letter to write to another, this post to write. Things I probably wouldn’t have done if I’d taken that escape.

    The title and theme of this post has been sitting with me for a two or three weeks and it all began constellating last weekend as I was cleaning out the laundry in the Wainui Heights building.

    Wainui Heights
    Wainui Heights

    When I first set foot in a kitchen and began a career in cooking I didn’t imagine that cleaning laundries would be part of my full time employment. It was certainly part of my Air Force career but done outside of work hours. Most of what I’d been introduced to in that 20 year career has had to be unlearned over the last few years. Ways of doing things had become habits, habits that weren’t relevant in other kitchens, in other relationships. Habits are the ego keeping me safe.

    Maybe the terrible thing is an ego that wants everything to have a underlying truth for its life. Creating an underlying truth may become a habit leading to complacency. There’s nothing like hitting an animal on the road to erase complacency. Rushing. In a hurry to a meeting. Late. A hare in the headlights as I came round a bend the previous Sunday night, a sickening thump and the feeling of driving over a lump. I was aware during the afternoon that part of me didn’t want to attend the meeting and so I didn’t leave ‘til late. I have to say I was creating an underlying truth for not wanting to attend. A self worth issue. The immediate truth I created was the death of one of our four legged friends. Sadness and soul searching. And at the meeting? That underlying truth I imagined was unfounded.

    If the underlying truth of life is that our thoughts create our reality then I find it hardly surprising that it could seem enigmatic at times. I often wonder at the events that arrive in my life. What are the thoughts that have attracted them to me? Especially the ones that seem detrimental. Have I always been the protagonist in the detrimental or have the other parties in the events played a larger part than my own? (Separations, relationship breakups, job changes etc.) If the power of a single person’s thought creates their reality imagine the power of a thought that engages collective energy.

    Rather than being an underlying truth I imagine that thoughts creating our reality could be an overt truth both collectively and personally. This being true I marvel at my friend Elisabeth’s direction to our group when she was our shamanic teacher to have “exquisite awareness” both when we were in the middle of a shamanic journey and also in any moment we were experiencing physically.

    To do this one must engage the present moment with innocence and humility. These are prerequisites of the unlearned state. When cultivated they provide each moment with its own unique textures allowing it to become an absolutely new experience whatever we may be doing.

    Look to the moments when life has worked you to standstill. I was at a low ebb this afternoon after a busy weekend feeding the masses. As the group left and we continued to clean up I could feel my energy waning. The excitement was over. The doing was done. And as we left the complex and headed back to the house the moment began to take on a new flavour. I was moving into being. In that beingness I was open. In that quiet openness I saw this tree arrayed in light.   I hadn’t seen it that way before and it captivated me.

    Precious Moment
    Precious Moment

    I found VisionQuest to be not only a powerful experience of exquisite awareness but also of unlearning. The power of being in the present moment without preconceptions in a 4 metre diameter circle for 96 hours in nature. You carry with you an awareness that everything that happens in the circle is a teacher. Openness and innocence is required for you to be present to what the circle is offering you as teaching. At some point your focus is drawn to the minutiae of the physical – ants, caterpillars, spiders, trees, rocks, bushes. I hear it said that the devil is in the details, know that the Creator is there also.

    For those entering the VisionQuest circle a sacrifice is being made and for this they are under the protection of the Creator. The energy generated by a questor ripples outward touching the surrounding areas with peace. Spare a thought for those questing at this time. At present there are people around the world – in the US of A, in Germany, in Australia, in South America; and even a couple here in New Zealand questing and creating peace.


    “There is a road that can’t be seen

    No map can guide the way.

    Winding between thought and flesh

    Changing every day.”

    Thanks Isabelle


    P.S. The Wallet is found.

  • Working with Aspects of the Soul: Detachment

    Learn the growth of that inner detachment which will enable you to merge yourself in the consciousness of your brother and so know and ascertain the best way to help him and stimulate him to renewed effort. Cultivate true humility to force yourself to give all you have in selfless service and then to forget you have given this of yourself.

    I had woken a little later than I anticipated and hurried through the discussion of the previous days activities with my previous post. The painting was continuing and I finally got there just after 9. We were expecting the weather to be super hot and it didn’t let us down. I was putting the finishing touches to one end of the house and then carried on with the work I’d begun a the front of the house. I’d imagined that the front of the house was going to be a little cooler after lunch because the sun would be moving round to the back. Wrong, wrong, wrong. I started to burn.

    I was frustrated because I’d been hoping to finish the work that day. Having said that it was ok we decided to finish early and enjoy the sun. I was able to catch up with a friend who is going through a disputes tribunal at the moment so was able to render him some assistance with paperwork.

    It is interesting to watch as the world mirrors our intentions. Here we were both facing challenges in our lives and yet both cultivating an air of detachment to it. Doing the best we can with what we have.

    It has been so easy going through the last couple of aspects. I’ve had no one at home so it has been relatively easy to maintain my composure. Any turmoil I’ve had to cope with has been my own inner process and though the fear comes up it also passes.

    Something I allowed myself to do a few years back when I was living by myself and thought I was going mad was to go deeper into the feeling. To consciously plumb the depths of that particular feeling/mindset. The deeper I entered the experience the less heavy it seemed until eventually I began to laugh. A joyous laughter. The laughter of a discovery that what I’d imagined was real was actually false. The discovery of paradox, of contradiction in the moment. It was the ultimate slapstick where you kick yourself up the back side and fall in a puddle of mud.

    Let life be funny, it is one way to detach from worries.


  • Working with Aspects of the Soul: Humility

    It didn’t seem much of a day for humility. Frustration. Projection. Anger. Fear. Even though I began it by doing something I love. Early morning bike ride to a forest by the sea. I had hoped to ride it in the dark. Was loving my bed too much.

    At that particular place, doing that activity I am at peace with myself. Sure there’s physical exertion. But my inner self is in love with it all. Even falling off. Now that’s definitely a way to experience humility. That’s what happens when I ride a new track. One I’m unfamiliar with. Not all the time. Yesterday though. Lucky the soft sand. I rode a couple of new tracks yesterday. The one I fell off on and another. On that one riding felt quite sluggish and bumpy. I didn’t like it.

    The forest’s grown up since I was away. It’d have to be a few months now since I was there. I don’t like it when things change and I do like it as well. Biking around yesterday you wouldn’t believe there’d been a huge fire a couple or three years ago. Nature had reclaimed what was taken away by the folly of humans.

    The scent of lupins, of the native broom, of pine filled the air. I hadn’t seen that much broom since I was a child. (I think the council decided it was a noxious weed and sprayed it to death). What does that say about them? I loved it back then. It was great to fall in love again. Its easy to feel humility in the face of nature’s splendour.

    After the new stretch of track on which I felt sluggish, I rode into a piece that seemed unfamiliar, although I knew I was close to the end. I picked up speed even though it could have been a little messy if I’d come off. I felt for a few moments that it wasn’t me that wanted to go faster but the bike itself. As if it was more familiar with the track than me.

    I always write after I’ve been to the forest on my bike. Somehow I see the ride as having significance to the soul’s journey to consciousness. There’s a humility within that. That while life may seem complex, the simple things experienced fully evoke blessing and awaken our soul.

    The track is the track even though it has new additions here and there. Life gifts us with wonder when we take a new path. I didn’t take the route home that I’d taken there. Wish I’d had my camera with me. Could have photographed the big black mother duck with the three black ducklings, and the three yellow ducklings. It was beautiful. Two of the ducklings, one of each colour were struggling to keep up with the others I stayed and watched their journey to the water. Fascinating to watch. They made it!

    I got home and of course you understand how that went from my previous post.

    Humility in the face of the power of nature. Humility in the face of the power of our own internal processes. Awareness of the moment. Bless it. However it manifests.

    There is a sense of eternal peace in humility. The presence of perfection in all that is.

    Working with Creative Mythology what are the elements of our stories that point towards our perfection? In sharing them do we evoke love, laughter and a sense of beauty. The counterpoint between our inner voices of perfection and imperfection creates the harmony and balance of our lives. How can it be otherwise than to fully feel both dark and light without being seduced by their glamour.

    Blessings for today.

  • Living in Soul: Aspects – Part One

    From the writings of Alice A. Bailey we have the features of what a life infused by the soul might hold. Ain’t life fascinating! A little research for some background of Alice A. Bailey and I discover that she was a cook in the American Theosophical headquarters café. A association with my own work as a chef! It was there that she connected with the Master Djwal Khul who she credits with telepathically dictating the works she would produce from 1919 ’til her death in 1949.

    She had some very interesting ideas on a multitude of subjects and it is from The Soul: The Quality of Life that I derived the following material. The italicized sections are quoted from the book. I’ve broken it into three posts and it may be interesting for you to follow the practice I outlined in the previous post.

    Aspects of the Soul

    Love, Responsibility, Humility, Inclusiveness, Joy and Happiness

    Love is the nature of the soul and therefore I make it the first of its characteristics. This isn’t the love of affection, emotion, or sentiment. It is soul love and flows from the inner self. Rather than needing to be projected outwards by one willing it, it radiates touching those that come in contact with it, even on a subtle level. It brings order to chaos and changes pity to compassion.
    There are some affirmations from the work of Alice A. Bailey as regards soul love:
    a. May that soul of mine, whose nature is love and wisdom, direct events, impel to action, and guide my every word and deed.
    b. Let the love of the soul attract, and the light of the soul, direct all whom I seek to help.
    c. Right attachment releases the love of the soul, and only love, consciously, intelligently and deliberately applied, can make for successful work.

    For me responsibility is foremost after love. It brings me into solid connection with my physical existence. By taking responsibility I take ownership of my ‘I AM PRESENCE’ in the here and now. I am 100% responsible for anything that is manifest in my life. My words, my actions, all my thoughts from which I create my life. And if there is negativity manifest in my life then I take responsibility for it. I do not attach blame to anyone or anything exterior to me, but attempt to discover what the thought is that evokes the manifestation of the negativity.

    I went through a series of humbling experiences on my journey to connect with my soul. The Alice A. Bailey writings speak of the concept of Glamour and when I was humbled by life, I was seduced by the glamour of an idea.
    Even though it felt like I had the best of intentions I noticed that in some ways I was stroking my ego. I wasn’t anchored in a soul-based consciousness. I was attracted to working as a therapist but not out of a sense of service to others, but rather the glamour of working in the field.
    It was a reality check. In Overcoming Emotional Chaos authors Doc Childre and Deborah Rozman of HeartMath refer to something similar and call it vanity. Once seduced by this vanity or glamour I was not in a state of being fully present to all my life. These experiences evoked the humility required to exist in a more soul conscious state.
    I had discovered HeartMath a year or so earlier and had committed to their training and a seminar in Australia. Their teachings on heart intelligence are powerful. I was possibly the first person in New Zealand to do their training and excited by the prospect it held. When opportunities didn’t unfold though I marketed the program I sensed the vanity and also the possibility there was more of me to be uncovered. Rather than pushing me to look further outwards for answers these humblings prompted a turning within. Was I denying parts of myself that needed expression? A visit to a person channeling a Persian Mystic invited the idea that I might look at soul retrieval. For some time I had been reading material around the soul, never imagining that I might be missing part of it. Once the shamanic practitioner had taken me through the rite of retrieval and time had been taken to integrate the part there was a greater feeling of unity within. The journey was not yet over but there was a sense that somehow I was more of me. I had less of a feeling of separation from the rest of those in my circles. A previous sense of difference and isolation was being replaced by a feeling that whoever we are we’re all looking to evolve our humanness in our own unique way.

    Bailey describes inclusiveness as…. the outstanding characteristic of the soul, or self, whether it is the soul of man, the sensitive nature of the cosmic Christ, or the anima mundi, the soul of the world. This inclusiveness tends to synthesis.

    Synthesis can be thought of as fusion and for me involves creating the space within my mind and heart to acknowledge that I’m part of all that is. That by virtue of being a guest on Planet Earth I’m intimately connected with all that entails – the rest of humanity, the animal kingdom, the plant kingdom, the mineral world, and in even a wider sense the rest of the universe. I live with a sense of sacred relationship to all these facets of life I honour each for the gifts they bring.

    Joy and Happiness
    The Bailey work says that happiness is based on the confidence of the God within. I’m not sure I’d describe myself as being a happy person, and acknowledge there have been times in my life when I thought of myself as being depressed but unsure whether it was anything that was affecting my life detrimentally. At times it became a good excuse if things didn’t appear to be going to well. Following the soul retrieval, I came to notice within, not a happiness, rather a feeling of profound contentment.
    The work of Alice Bailey speaks of happiness as a personality reaction and to endeavour to demonstate it. She says joy is a soul quality that is experienced in the mind and advises us to be joyful as it is joy that allows light to bless us. Bliss is described as a nature of the spirit and can only truly be encountered once unity, the ultimate beingness, is realised through the soul.

    ….work not for joy, but towards it; not for reward, but from an inner disposition to serve; not for gratitude but from the urge that comes from having seen the vision and realization of the part you have to play in bringing the vision down to earth.

    May the Blessings of the New Year touch you. Gratitude to all.


    D.K. through Alice A. Bailey
    The Soul The Quality of Life

    Wikipedia: Alice A. Bailey, Dwhal Khul, Anima Mundi