Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Do Animals have Past Lives?

Sephira - coloured pencil drawing by Jay Linden
This can be a burning question for those of us who have strong heart bonds with our animal companions.

You may be aware that we travel through our lives on earth in soul groups - often incarnating with the same souls, over and over, in different roles.

The wonderful news is that animals are part of our soul groups too - and they can also choose to incarnate with us many times.

If you have an intense bond with an animal you can take that as a sign that this is not the first time you have been together.

A common soul contract with animals is that they come in as support, for company and encouragement, particularly in lives where we are in lonely or painful situations.

My current cat, Sephira, was with me in a past life where I had run away from a very unhappy home after my father accidentally killed my mother in a drunken rage. I ended up in a monastery where I felt a deep connection to the figure of Christ, but was abused by the elder apprentice monks - a practice that was common.

Lacking any human friendship, my comfort and support came from a wild cat that befriended me. There was an intense bond between us and her love kept me from falling into utter despair.

In this incarnation Sephira is the one who has experienced being tormented - she came to me as a rescue cat, so terrified, she spent the first four months under the house. Patience and loving reassurance encouraged her to trust once more and now she is happy and content and fiercely loving of her people.

When they are not incarnated with us, our soul group animals will often act as guides - part of our support team and may often appear to us in dreams. This is not limited to domesticated animals - wild animals can be part of our soul group too.
             Can we choose to incarnate as an animal or a human?

Some souls only incarnate as animals - other souls incarnate in many forms - human as well as animal.

Tristan - oil painting by Jay Linden
In past life regression you may find that the soul who is an animal in your current life was actually a human in a past life. A soul may reincarnate as an animal in order to resolve difficult past life experiences with us.

Below I tell my story of how a soul who had been both brother and son to me in previous lives came into this life as a cat - in order to to heal some deep wounds between us.

Tristan came into my life as a two year old rescue cat - I was guided by the spirits of my previous two cats as to where and when to get him.

From the beginning there was an intense bond - I adored him - my heart felt like it would burst with joy - and he became the most important being in my life. I had loved my animals before, but never like this.

Then five months later I found him one morning with his back legs paralysed. Shaking and sobbing, I rushed him to the vet, but he'd had a massive thrombosis and was already cold and going into shock. He died in my arms.

The grief was overwhelming - but I knew I had to feel my way through it. I kept his picture as my screen-saver, spent hours feeling every ache of grief. Still the pain did not lessen. I was guided to channel my grief into a creative expression and began to paint pictures of him.

But after six months the intensity of grief was still there. I could feel Tristan all around me - loving me, giving me big furry cuddles - but could not move through the pain and despair of losing him in physical form.

Two intuitive friends told me they were getting the message he had been a son in a past life - and I felt guided to do a past life regression.

                             Soul Lesson  -  Can I protect what I love?

In that past life my family were part of a cave community. I never felt particularly attached to my family though they were kind to me. We herded goats on the top of the red, sandstone cliffs, hunted small animals and gathered fruits and herbs - a simple life.

When I was 14 the slavers came on their wild horses and took several of the young men and women. They beckoned me and I went gladly. I felt no fear, only excitement. Now I would have an adventure, now my destiny was beginning.

Others were struggling, their families crying out, begging the slavers not to take their children. I walked freely over to the man who beckoned me and held up my hand. He pulled me up in front of him and as we left I turned and waved at my family as if I was going on a holiday.

When we reached Sparta the man whose horse I rode did not take me to the slave market, but instead took me to a man who had asked him to look out for a suitable wife. His own wife had died in childbirth many years before. This man was in his mid-thirties with dark hair and a dark beard. He seemed okay and when the transaction was complete took me to the home of his parents.

I was there for many months and his mother taught me the language, how to cook their food, how to shop in the market, the rituals of the temple. We became friends, often laughing together at some funny misunderstanding I’d made with the language.

His sister hated me. She was jealous of my relationship with her mother and she was very angry her brother was marrying again. The family wealth would pass to whoever provided a male heir. I was seen as a threat and she tried to delay the marriage as long as possible.

When I was 16 I became pregnant. This was a huge joy for me. I knew it was going to be a son and already in the womb I felt such a strong connection, so much joy.

I gave birth and was totally in love with my son - carrying him around with me all the time, even though that was not the custom. I hardly let him out of my arms. I was very proud of him and showed him off to all. My sister in law was beside herself with jealousy.

One day at the temple she accused him of not being a true son of Sparta since he had not been proved by the custom they had of leaving new born sons outside overnight. 
Sparta was a warrior culture and this was supposed to weed out any weaklings.

My husband retaliated that of course he was a true son and we were merely waiting for an auspicious time for the ceremony. He said as a matter of fact the next full moon in two days time would be his proving time.

I was horrified, struck through with dread. When we got back home it seemed everyone knew and crowded into our house to celebrate the forthcoming ceremony.

My heart was clamouring, I clutched Tristan to me. Only an hour before I had felt such bliss and connection, now I felt as though he was already lost. In my mind the words - don’t do this, don’t do this - kept repeating, but I couldn’t speak, I could barely move.

In this place he was the one thing that was truly mine With him I felt bliss, a deep connection I had never known before. He was everything, without him I was nothing.

I had a true friend in that life, someone from Sparta who was well-off and respected. She took me aside and told me I did not have to go through with this. I begged her to stop it for me. But she said she couldn’t - it was something I must do for myself.

She also said if I did choose to go through with it that I needn’t leave him all night as the guards could be bribed. I could sneak back and spend most of the night with him, keeping him safe and warm.

But I didn't go back for him. I was paralysed into inaction - locked in agony and dread as the hours crawled by. In the early dawn one of the guards came with my baby wrapped in the cloak and shook his head. My son was dead.

Unbeknownst to me, my sister in law had sneaked out and bribed the guards, who thought she was me. She rubbed some cream that contained a poison on his skin and waited till he had stopped breathing, crushing him to her to stop him from crying out.

The only person who is able to console me in any way is my friend who holds me tight and tells me that he loved me and his soul will find its way back to me. She tells me this over and over again and I have some hope.

In the regression we skip to the death point - we find I have had two daughters, neither of them Tristan’s soul.  When they are older, on the anniversary of Tristan’s death, I kill myself by plunging a knife into my chest.

I do not die immediately. My daughters find me and carry me to a bed. They and my husband gather round and beg me not to leave. My husband repeatedly apologises for Tristan’s death. Does he know of his sister’s part in that? Perhaps he suspects.

I am unaware of their love and desperate to find Tristan - as I die I go into the dark, searching, searching for him. A bitter joy in the knowledge that at last I am where he is and will soon be with him.

I go to the underground caverns where we leave our dead, the realm of Persephone, Queen of the Underworld. They are wrapped in cloth with their knees up in the feotal position to await rebirth. I find him on the ledge and clutch him to me.

His spirit appears as a young boy and we are reunited. Together we re-script that life - looking to see what might have happened had I been able to save him. It is a good life and he is a gentle soul, a poet not a warrior. Exploring what might have been (and perhaps what was in a parallel life) is a deep healing experience. Together we go into the light.

                               How soul fragments influence other lives

My soul’s mission for that life was to hold onto that which I loved - to fight for what I loved most in the world and protect it. But I failed to do this - and did not understand what had prevented me from taking action to protect him.

It took some detective work - and fierce intention - to get to the root of this strange inability to protect the child I loved so much - but I finally discovered the cause in an earlier life we had together.

This was an Egyptian life where Tristan was my younger brother. He was exalted, ruling as a mixture of King and God, whilst I was valued only in how I might serve him.

Still only a boy, he was murdered by our aunt. who wanted the throne for her son. According to custom, I had to die so I could be buried with him and go on serving him in the next world.

My last hours were spent in a dark enclosed space, a stone tomb, filled with anger that he did not protect me - feeling abandoned and betrayed and worthless. The last thought in my mind was that in death, as in our life together, he was everything and I was nothing.

Now this was the same belief I had carried through into the life where he was my son. And I flick to to an image of me walking away from putting my baby Tristan on my cloak on the hillside in the full moon ceremony.

Finally I hear the paralysing thought in my mind, so quiet that perhaps I did not even hear it in that life. But it is the tip of the iceberg that reveals the hidden power of rage and hurt that was able to block all my soul intentions, my deep love and connection to my son and render me powerless.

This wounded fragment of my soul from the Egyptian life has driven me to lie my beloved baby down on the hillside and walk away and now she whispers: “He deserves to die.”

                                            Healing past lives

At last I understand what stopped me from saving him. The mystery is solved. Now I can feel how divided I was within and why my guides had cautioned I was not ready for that life.

Compassion and understanding flow in as I connect to the deep hurt and bitterness of the Egyptian girl. Healing occurs as that stuck fragment of soul has a witness to the pain and does not die alone. As we work to complete that life I call in the spirit of her brother. We learn he has always loved her and had tried to protect her.

The Egyptian girl was happy to let go of her dark tomb and go into the light and be with her brother again - Tristan's soul. She realised she had chosen that experience of being in a subservient role and it was part of a much bigger soul exploration.

With this understanding and completion the intensity of grief disappears and becomes a simple sadness.

So now, I understood why Tristan came to me in this life for such a short time - and why I chose to lose him again. I needed to connect to those old griefs and clear the energy between us - and reclaim those stuck fragments of my soul.

Whether we successfully fulfill our soul's intentions or not - we always learn from our experiences and our soul grows. I was not able to protect Tristan as I intended in that life - but I did experience the love and the loss and this has given me compassion and understanding for others who are going through that same experience.

From my past life I learned that when I refuse to feel grief my heart shuts down and I am cut off from others and shut out love itself. In this life I learned to embrace and move through grief - to channel it into a creative celebration of love and to let go of guilt. This is a major soul lesson and one which often takes many lives to master. 

Night Visitor - oil painting by Jay Linden
I also learned we do not have to master our soul's intentions in just one life - we can take as many lives as we need.

Those we love are never lost to us - but are with us in the higher vibration of spirit. We can come into physical lives together again and again.

Animals, who tend to have shorter lives than humans, can even come into the same life more than once. And that is the beauty of this great adventure we are on - love is always with us.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Take charge of your life and do what you love

The Emperor is a fiery, determined, decisive energy that propels us into action in pursuit of our goals.

Detachment may not be the first thing that comes to mind when this card shows up. But detaching from distractions, old habits, stuff that clutters your space, can be essential to fulfilling your goals.

Let me give you an example. A dear friend of mine is passionate about art, but finds it almost impossible to do any painting because her space is so full of clutter and her diary is full to the brim with appointments.

Michele is the kindest person I know and spends much of her time and energy helping others and being a major support for her extended family. In other words she has very strong Empress archetype with a major focus on relationships and has challenges around creating boundaries.

This year Michele is in an Emperor year and she is finally facing the fact that she needs to detach from decades of things hoarded and the many people who are depending on her to help them instead of helping themselves.

Letting go of things means detaching from the memories they evoke. It means to detach herself from situations and people that are draining her energy. More significantly it means to detach herself from her own self-image or identity as the competent one who helps others.

So if the Emperor card resonates for you one question to ask is: What do I need to detach from that will free me up to pursue my heart's ambition, my soul's dreams?

To work out what year you are in simply add the numbers of your birth day and month to the numbers of the current year until you get to a single digit. e.g. 23rd July (2+3+7 = 12) plus 2017(2+0+1+7 =10)  12+10 = 22 = 4 The Emperor is a number 4 card so this person is in an Emperor year.

When you've got your year number find the major arcana tarot card that matches. The energy, challenges and learning of that card will be a major focus for that year.

I track this every year and it is amazing how accurate this is - and how helpful. If we know what year we are in rather than resisting or being thrown about by those challenges we can work with the energy and get the most out of it.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Promise of Freedom

And yet..... this is a card few of us welcome. Rather than face the uncertainty of change we stay small and safe. We build towers to protect ourselves - both prisons and sanctuaries.

We imprison some parts of ourselves because they are perceived as too dangerous and disruptive to be allowed out into our everyday lives. 

Some parts have been hidden away for protection, because they are felt to be too vulnerable, too fragile to withstand the outer world.

Some parts have fled to the tower in fear and overwhelm and grief. They are locked away to protect them from further hurt and to protect us from being overwhelmed by their feelings.

Whatever is in the tower has been taken out of the flow of everyday life. Often it takes something unexpected to get through our defenses. The lightning - a symbol of dramatic change - electric, dynamic, precise, shocking, instant.

This is, I think, what we fear most about The Tower - the suddenness of the change - the impossibility of ever going back to that small, defended place - the free fall as some part of our lives is turned upside down. 

We need to tolerate this period of vulnerability until we can turn free-fall into flight. To speak words of courage to ourselves, to be kind and self-compassionate as we move through uncertainty

These unexpected lightning bolts may come from the external world, but they may also be internal - the sudden flash of lightning intuition, a moment of shame or joy or released rage that forever alters how we see ourselves and our life. Our perspective has shifted and we are opened to a more expansive way of operating in the world.

The Star follows The Tower - and this is the promise of the journey. That if we will see it through we will come to a place of serenity. A place where we are more truly ourselves, a place where we can pour out healing waters for those who are thirsty.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Discover your Soul's Purpose through Tarot

Today I'm going to take you through the process of discovering your soul's purpose through choosing 3 tarot cards. This sounds simple but there are a number of tips I can give you that will help to make this a more enjoyable and meaningful experience. You might also find it helpful to read last weeks post: What is a Soul Purpose?

Firstly it really helps to be in a calm and peaceful place inside yourself. This is not something to be doing when feeling overwhelmed with life's challenges, or in deep grief or despair or any agitated state. Why? Because in order to connect to your guidance, to your intuition or divine team you need to be in a high vibration state - one that is receptive to the higher vibration of Spirit.

In a busy mind state or an emotionally activated state, we are far more likely to be connecting to our fears and the defenses or compulsions of our egos.

Some easy ways to raise your vibrational state are:

1) Ten minutes of slow deep breathing - breathing right down into your belly - put your hand on your belly so you can feel it moving outwards - breathe in slowly and deeply - pause - then purse your lips as if you were breathing out through a straw - and breathe out as slowly as you can. Repeat until you are feeling completely chilled out.

2) Take a walk in nature, preferably by yourself, or, if with another person then not talking. Instead notice the details of the natural world around you, the colours and textures, the sounds and smells, the movement of small creatures, allow yourself to sink into the vibration of nature.

3) Another of my favourites is to use a Binaural Beats meditation. I always do this before I read the cards for others in my Tarot for Your Soul readings - I find it quietens any anxiety or doubt or interference from my own life and allows me to clearly hear the guidance coming through for my client. This meditation is an audio download and I've written more about it here.

4) Do something that you know makes you feel calm and tunes you to your internal world. Perhaps gardening or going for a bike ride or something creative. I've recently begun to create portraits of friends using coloured pencil. It is a slow process of layering and I've found that just 30 minutes of colouring takes me to a very peaceful place - neuroscientists have discovered that doing something creative like this actually dampens down the critical, judgemental, negative self-talk part of the brain. 

Create a Ritual and Set your Intention

You certainly don't have to do this, but it can help to slow everything down, create a sense of inner spaciousness and honour that this is not an everyday event, but a special occasion. It could be as simple as lighting a candle or putting a flower in a vase in front of you or playing soothing background music.

Rituals help us to transition from our everyday lives to a sense of sacredness, of awe, of connecting to something bigger than ourselves - a universal divine love - whatever name we may choose to call this by.

Some form of request, a statement of our intention or a prayer helps to direct our focus and opens the way for guidance to be given. It could be simply:

I ask for the Grace of clear guidance and high vibration loving assistance as I choose three tarot cards to help me understand my soul's purpose for this life-time. 

Shuffle your Cards

Firstly, make sure you are using a deck that resonates very strongly for you. My own preference is the Universal Waite tarot deck. I like this one for several reasons. It is rich in symbolic detail which is very clearly shown on the cards. There is a clear distinction between the four suits. The images on the cards tend to be neutral and don't express either a positive or negative bias.

Personally I don't use reversed cards - it tends to induce panic and with 78 cards I feel there is enough nuance of meaning available. So my suggestion for this reading at least is to make sure all the cards are upright.

Next shuffle your cards. For a big reading like this I use the seven hand shuffle. Deal the cards out into seven piles in a random fashion. 

Straighten the cards up and put the piles together using your intuition for the order.

Cut the deck into three piles. Take the top card of each pile. These are the three cards that convey something of the essence of your Soul Purpose.

Working with your Soul Purpose cards

You won't get all the information about your soul's purpose in one sitting. It is something you feel your way into over time with flashes of insight and understanding. Knowing which are your cards helps you to link certain life experiences and choices to your soul purpose.

You might like to work deeply with each card, one at a time, or dip a toe in the water of all three to get the bigger picture and see how they connect, perhaps coming back to work separately on them at a later time.  

Work with the cards you get - even if they are not the ones you hoped you would be given - even if you previously had negative associations to those cards. 

Spend some time just examining your card, notice the details; the attitude and posture of the character; the colours. What stands out most strongly to you? If you let your eyes go soft and slide them over the card where are they drawn to?

What feelings does the card bring up in you? 

Write down some words that come into your mind as you contemplate the card.

Is there anything in your current life that springs to mind as you look at your card? 

Is there anything from your past?

Close your eyes and imagine you are the character in the card, find yourself in that landscape or setting. How do you feel? What do you do? Allow this to develop into a little story - a kind of deliberate daydream. 

How does that connect to your current life? 

Notice the number, the suit or the court role of the card - what information does this give you? If you are new to the tarot you can always research this later.

Put your hand on your heart, take a breath, and ask for one phrase or one image or one sensation that sums up the essence of your soul's purpose for each card.  

My Soul Purpose cards

The High Priestess: To be a student and a teacher of the mysteries of the inner world. (This was the easiest card to understand as I had already been doing my own inner work and working with clients for many years. And this is still unfolding - if I get this card when I've had an inspiration about doing something new it gives me the green-light to go ahead.)

King of Wands: To gain mastery over the sphere of action. (This has been the most difficult card for me to grasp - perhaps because action does not come easily. Not surprisingly the Page of Wands is my guiding light - action, courage, confidence, going out into the world - this is all something I am learning - and my soul purpose is to persist in this study until I master this sphere.)

The Star: To be authentically myself with no disguise or pretense, to find peace in being my true self and shining with my gifts to inspire others. (This is a great card that guides me to live from the inside out, to let go of any concerns around what others are thinking or doing and instead to trust my own path. )

Thursday, September 1, 2016

What is a Soul Purpose?

Our spirits are adventurous, courageous and curious - at least this is what I've seen over and over again in my past life regression work with clients. After we've explored the past life and gone through to the other side of death there is a part in the session where the life is being reviewed in Spirit. One of the questions we ask is: What was your soul's purpose for that life? 

The answers are often surprising and it becomes clear that each life is a part of a much bigger picture, like a jigsaw piece. So one life is only a small contribution to a soul's purpose that may take any number of lives to fully complete. 

If I look at my regression notes from sessions with clients this year I find the following soul purposes recorded:

To learn to let go of expectations, that you can't plan or control what is going to happen.

To grow in strength and confidence in who I want to be - to learn that if I don't love myself I can't love anyone else.

To experience the feeling of being alone even when surrounded by other people.

Selflessness - to sacrifice oneself to save another without thinking about it.

Responsibility - to take responsibility for one's choices and actions and the effect they have on others.

To experience separation from loved ones, the grief of being unable to protect ones family (this one was a contrast or karmic balance to the many lives spent as a soldier invading other places)

To learn to reach out for help when in need.

To learn to move through a mother's harsh judgement and not shut down in anger and bitterness, but to connect with the life spark within and find self-worth and self-love. 


Being a pioneer to explore new land and find routes for others to follow.

To overcome extreme difficulties and fears to free myself from slavery and then go back and free others.

Marrying for wealth and position - the experience of pretending to love and the inner emptiness that results.

To learn death is not an ending and not to be afraid of it, that death is simply a revolving door where we come and go and cannot lose anyone, they are always there.
So we see that soul purposes are often quite different from ego ambitions which are focused on our culture's definition of success. At the moment, success is often defined as being very rich, very famous, or very powerful. 

Though I've guided hundreds of past life regressions, not one of those worldly ambitions has shown up as a soul purpose. The character in that life may be - or want to be - rich or beautiful, famous or powerful - but it seems that is just the structure for that life and the soul purpose is something deeper within those outer circumstances.

It is often the daily experience of life and our response to those experiences that is at the heart of our soul's purpose. We are growing the character of our soul and though we may be called on occasion to some heroic task, though there may be a time of crisis where we are tested, it is more often the small daily choices and actions that create the life and where we face the opportunities to fulfill our soul's purpose.

If I look at the themes of my own past lives (and I've explored over forty of them now) then I can identify the following soul challenges - all of which come up on a weekly if not daily basis:

To make my own choices and not let others control my decisions or actions.

To develop patience and keep going, to keep taking one step after another - even when I feel like I'm not getting anywhere.

To strengthen inner resolve by dealing with difficulties and obstacles and not give up too soon.

To move through difficult emotions and moods and not allow myself to be derailed by them - especially to channel anger into useful action.

To trust my intuition and my divine team - to connect more to my heart for guidance than my will.

Next week I'll look at how we can use the tarot to explore our Soul Purposes more deeply. For now though, why not take a few moments to consider your daily life and the things that come up over and over. See if you can re-frame these challenges as skills that your soul is immersed in learning.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Binaural Beats - Connect to your Inner Guidance

My favourite tool that helps me connect to my guidance is an inexpensive audio download called Binaural Beats.

The benefits of using Binaural Beats regularly is that it awakens your creativity, stimulates your imagination and releases stress. But what it also does is raise your vibration and tunes you to your internal world. So this alpha brain wave state is ideal for connecting to your inner guidance. I listen to the Binaural Beats audio as I am writing up my astrology or tarot reports as it gives me a particularly clear connection and channel to my guides.

Also if you want to do a Past Life Regression session, but are anxious that you won't receive any images or information then practicing with Binaural Beats to connect to your Higher Self and inner guidance can be a good way to open that channel of trust.

Though I've never found it easy to meditate in the classic way of emptying my mind, I do love stories and day dream very easily. The Binaural Beats sound meditation encourages this natural ability to flow into a lucid dreaming experience - connecting to one's guidance in the form of a visual story. 

You can read about one of my experiences, The Knight and the Wise Woman, later in this post. But first:

 What are Binaural Beats?
Binaural Beats is simply a rhythm of beats that takes the listener into that peaceful Alpha brainwave state necessary for meditation and for receiving guidance. Normally we are in a Beta brainwave state which is the busy mind - active - and often agitated. Some people use the Binaural Beats audio simply to relax, to relieve stress and get to sleep more easily.

The Binaural Beats audio I use is high quality and has relaxing water sounds over the top of the beats which are a pleasure to listen to. You do need to listen with working stereo headphones as the beats are different for each ear - it is this difference that has the effect of taking us into the Alpha state.

Many people find their connection to Spirit occurs naturally when they use the Binaural Beats audio. You can also deliberately choose to connect to your guides by setting the intention beforehand, asking your guides to come in and help you with a particular challenge. As you start to listen you can deliberately create a sanctuary, imagining a garden or an island in the sea, or a temple. 

Sometimes I ask my divine team for a high vibration experience for my highest good and allow the images or the messages to rise up and unfold. Other times I ask for help with a challenging situation. Or I simply bring to mind the various parts of my life and get updated guidance on how things are going and any tweaks or changes I need to make.

Where can I find the Binaural Beats Audio?

If you'd like to try Binauaral Beats for yourself here is the link to the 30 minute audio meditation that I use. The link will take you to The Unexplainable Store ESP/Psychic page. The Binaural Beats audio costs $14 for instant download and there is a money back guarantee if you find it doesn't suit you.

Below is an example of one of the visual and spoken guidance stories that I experienced. Just as everyone has a different style of dreaming so we all receive guidance differently - your style may be quite different from mine. Our imaginations are like a port, with both incoming and outgoing data. If your imagination has been neglected, it may take time to get it fully functioning again and for you to be able to receive a rich and clear amount of information.

The  Knight and the Wise Woman

As the music and the sound of waves wash over me from the audio an image comes into my mind. I see my inner female on a small boat standing up. She is dressed in a flowing dark blue cloak and there is a soft energy about her.

She turns to look behind her and in the boat there is a small red and blue imp type figure. His face is twisted and angry and he is wielding a small fork. He jumps up and down and sometimes he stabs her in the back with the fork and twists it.

The inner female turns to look in front of her and sees a beautiful small boy, he is perfect - innocent and gentle - he is however a golden statue.

I realise these two aspects are two extremes within me and need to come together to create something in the middle. At this thought the golden boy moves around to the back. The demon manages in his anger to stab himself in the foot and the fork is stuck there. He howls in pain. The Golden Boy puts his arms around the demon and begins to comfort him. He tries to pull out the fork, but the demon howls louder.

At this a woman appears, she is dressed a bit like a medieval nun with only her face showing - but her face is full of kindness and wisdom - there is something of the Mother Mary energy about her. She explains to the dwarf that if the fork is left where it is things will just get worse and worse and more painful. But if he will consent to letting it be pulled out - it might hurt worse for a bit - but then it will get better and he will be much happier. Between the three of them they pull the fork out. The Golden Boy holds the demon lovingly and they merge.

What they turn into as they merge is a young man who stands on the opposite side of the boat to the inner female. He has the pointed chin and tiny beard reminiscent of the dwarf, but the dark golden hair and smooth skin of the golden boy. 

As they merge the demon's fork is tossed into the air. The wise mother woman catches it and runs her fingers down it turning it into a silver sword which she gives to the young man. 

She then begins to talk to the young man about his role and his path - this goes on for some time and keeps repeating as if he is not very good at taking her words to heart.

In this part we move to a landscape of rolling hills where we can see a path going off into the distance. The young man asks where is his horse - surely he should have one if he is to be a knight for his lady?

The woman replies that there is one waiting for him up ahead and it is a very good horse. She shows us a large white horse that has a golden heart that shines from it's breast. She also shows us a couple of scenes of the horse guiding the knight away from a bad decision - one of which was where he wanted to go and bang on a castle door and confront someone - and the horse shows him it is better to go round the back quietly and get in that way and change things from within surreptitiously.

The young man asks why he could not have the horse now, he feels silly walking along the path on foot. The woman replies he can only have the horse when he has learned not to rush. That if he had the horse now he would go charging off like the Knight of Swords or the Knight of Wands in the Tarot instead of being like the Knight of Cups which he is meant to be.

If he had the horse now he would not be able to resist trying to go at speed to get to the goal and he would miss all the important things along the way - things he needs to learn. These are:

Self-Belief - not needing to prove himself all the time
Trusting the inner rhythms

Valuing the inner female
Learning how to be in service to her creative visions
Learning to check in on how he is doing - to reaffirm his direction.

Learning not to give up when things don't work out, but to persist and find another route.

The wise mother figure keeps showing him how he has this anxious impulse to rush off to the goal and when he does this all he is aware of along the way is empty fields - but she shows him that when he slows down and lets go of the need to get ahead - then suddenly all around him fills up with a deep richness of experience.

She shows him that though his role is to assist the inner female to bring her creative children into the world, his own personal quest is to be found in all the experiences, adventures, obstacles and challenges he will meet along the path to doing this and the learning and maturing that results.

She tells him to look at the writing on his sword. When he does he sees the writing is in the form of a question: What am I learning right now?

The wise mother figure repeats he needs to slow down and learn patience and only when he feels no need to rush will the horse appear - and then he can go at speed according to the inner rhythms and not because of inner weakness or wounds. She says that asking the question on the sword will help him to slow down and open to the richness and depth that is always there in any moment.

The young man repeats the question over and over until he can feel how this works and until he feels he will be able to remember it.

When I awoke from the meditation I wrote the story down in my journal and added:  This must be important guidance because the same message is coming to me repeatedly, though this was the most detailed version - and I often complain that I am moving at snails pace and my goals seem to get no closer.

I think I had better write down the question: What am I learning right now?  and stick it around the house, because it took a lot of repetition for him to get hold of it and it would be very easy to forget to use it. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Rest and Renewal - Balancing your Brain

The Four of Swords as a four is part of the Emperor family. Yet in the picture we see something mysterious going on. The swords are divided into three hanging on the wall and one beneath the knight. The three swords along with the female figure and child in the stained glass window clearly bring in the energy of  The Empress.

So why is this card, which is essentially an expression of Emperor energy, so closely connected to the Empress?

Weirdly enough the answer lies in the structure of our brains - and in particular the difference between the right and left brain and the way they perceive the world.

The Emperor is concerned with civilisation - the structure and organisation of life - he creates rules, justice, punishments and hierarchies - the city state which must be protected and expanded. This is in contrast to The Empress who brings new life into the world encouraging it to unfold naturally and organically. Symbolically the Emperor is connected to the city and the Empress to the Forest and natural world.

So what has this got to do with our brains? Well the Emperor does not know when to stop expanding his empire - there is no rest here - there is never enough power or territory. Even if you are at the top of a hierarchy, if you are the best, the highest paid, the most famous, the one in control, there is always the fear that someone coming up behind you will be better and will tip you off your pinnacle of success. 

This is why we see him suited up in sharp, shiny armour in his rigid stone chair looking defensively to see who might be sneaking up on him. The Emperor is immersed in his material world - see how much red surrounds him - and does not realise that without the Empress and her desire to be in relationship, her connection to the unconscious springs of creative and spiritual renewal, his world becomes increasingly sterile and barren until, eventually, it crumbles away.

Neuroscientist Iain Gilchrist explains that the left side of our brain is also concerned with manipulating the world to our use, with controlling resources. It is very logical and linear and tends to rigidity and narrow focus. The left brain is concerned with quantity - getting more and more - and has no ability to appreciate quality. When it dominates the left brain tries to run our lives as if we were a machine. 

It is our right brain that has an appreciation for the particular experiences of life, for art, beauty, relationship, community, the unique, the individual, the spiritual. It is the right brain that is concerned with the meaning of life, with feelings and dreams and it is this part that can empathize with another and feel compassion. (The left side of our brain is also connected to feeling, but the feeling it is mostly connected to is anger.)

Civilisations in history where right brain values have led the way have flourished and quality of life has been full and rich. Civilisations where the left brain has been in control have dwindled or fallen apart and the quality of life for most of its citizens have been impoverished and miserable.

Now according to Iain Gilchrist the interesting thing about the two sides of our brain is that although the right brain knows it needs the left brain and values those left brain skills - the left brain thinks it can go it alone. The left brain does not understand or value the right brain and believes it is unnecessary - a bit like the Daleks on Doctor Who, living machines who, when faced with heart connected responses to the world, can only say: Does not compute - Does not compute!

So when the Four of Swords appears in a spread what it is saying is that we have become lost in fighting the battles of the Emperor. Remembering that swords is all about the mind, our thoughts, our communications - we could say that our thoughts have become too dominated with Emperor values, and we are in danger of pouring all of our precious life force into attaining or defending something that has no heart connection for us - something which brings us no joy. We are treating ourselves as if we were a machine with attention only on the material world of things and power games and contests of will.

The Four of Swords tells us it is time to retreat, time to find a sanctuary - a place of peace where we can lay down our weapons and reconnect to what brings joy into our lives - it is time for renewal, to find a new purpose, a new attitude, a new guiding light for our lives. Both the child in the window and the single sword under the knight speak of new beginnings. The child is the symbol of the new born, of hope, of play and light-heartedness.

To get to that new life we have to go through the Three of Swords that are pointing down at the knight - piercing through our defences to find what is truly in our hearts - to feel both the grief at what we have done and what we have lost, to get to the heart of who we truly are and what we truly care for. 

So where do the sea turtles come into this? Well this was my rest and renewal, my Empress experience. For a short time I lived like a wild child in a wooden hut called a Fale on the coast on a Pacific island called Savaii. I swam in turquoise sea, snorkelled with fishes, went about bare foot in the sunshine and had no contact with my ordinary world. No internet, no responsibilities, no chores or duties, no goals. My mind refused even to think of such things. 

Wild sea turtles came over the reef on the incoming tide and if you were lucky one of them would allow you to snorkel alongside as it peacefully grazed on sea grass and came up now and then for air. I saw several on this holiday, beautiful, peaceful giants. On the last morning I swam with one for fifteen minutes, close enough to see the wrinkles on its neck and to see the depths of that wonderful large dark eye as it turned to look up at me.  

The joy of that experience, the wonder and inner spaciousness it created are still with me even though I have returned to my everyday life. My values have been re-sorted and some of those Emperor compulsions released. I am allowing myself to slow down, to be spacious and to spend much more time doing what I love.

(If you are interested in finding out more of Iain Gilchrist's work I recommend watching one of his talks on YouTube or reading the very accessible 30 page essay: The Divided Brain and the Search for Meaning  available from amazon on kindle.)