A parable of struggle, faith and healing
by Freja Shamanka
The sun is rising, gradually scorching the skin of the earth. Bone dry land cut with an infinite blue sky. A hazy horizon veils the sun as it creeps upward towards its zenith. Another day without. Another day of torture. Another day of desperate searching.
I pray for water, for a respite from my suffering. My keen eye is focused on the horizon, scanning for any sign of The Oasis. Nothing else matters. Every day is like the last; hours of effort spent chasing mirages and always with such promise. 'This time!' I chant to myself. This time it will be different.
From deep within my psyche I am able to tap into an endless reservoir of steely determination and heroic perseverance. I honestly couldn't tell you where this will comes from. To give up is completely out of the question for I always reason with myself, perhaps I just need to try a little harder.
At the end of each day I am exhausted and utterly devastated by one excruciating disappointment after another. As I lie down to rest my weary bones, I lament my misfortune and ponder on what I must have done to make God hate me so. Why have you forsaken me? What am I doing wrong? Tears of frustration and pain prick my eyes and break forth sliding down my parched cheeks.
A new day is born. I awaken but am motionless. The energy I once had has seeped away and crept back into the earth. Eventually I rise and find a smooth rock to sit on. I will not move right now. I will wait for a bit as I hope my fervor returns to drive me forward again. Today I have awoken a little earlier than usual and the sun is low in the sky. It is not really cold but there is still a slight chill in the air. I notice that the rock beneath me feels quite solid and surprisingly reassuring.
As I sit on this rock, out of nowhere I hear a voice as clear as day.
'How long have you been here?'
'What, here on this rock?'
'How long have you been in the desert?'
I consider this question for a moment. I must have been here for quite some time. Not weeks but months? No – it must have been years. As I stop to consider my predicament, I realise with great sadness that I have actually been here for many years indeed.
'Then why are you not dead?'
I hadn't spoken my answer but apparently the voice can also hear my thoughts. I am slightly perturbed by this but there is something curiously comforting about it.
'Now that's a tough one... Why am I not dead? Probably because I haven't given up yet. Heaven knows, it is not because I have found any water!'
The words echo around my head. It is true, I have managed to keep on going despite everything. But if I haven't found water in so many years, how on earth have I not died? This puzzling realisation nudges its way into my consciousness.
'So, why do you persist in chasing the mirage?'
'Because I need water of course! If I do not get some water soon then I will die. Each time I glimpse water shimmering on the horizon, I must at least try to get to it - even if it turns out to be another mirage. I really can't give up, I must keep going until I find The Oasis – I know it is out there somewhere.'
'If you need this water to survive, then why have you not died?'
'Maybe I am given the strength to keep going because I refuse to give up. Maybe if I stop searching, that's when the thirst will get a grip on me and I will shrivel up and die.'
'How can chasing mirages bring you what you truly desire?'
'It's not the mirage I want, its the real thing. Real water; The Oasis. You see, there is nothing else, I must get to The Oasis and if I have to chase a few mirages along the way to get to it, then so be it. Eventually God will reward me for all my effort and for my faith. And besides, if I don't try to get to it how will I ever know that it is a mirage? I am not going to be able to survive without water forever, so if I am not even going to try to find The Oasis, I may as well dig a hole and bury myself now!'
'I still do not understand how chasing mirages will bring you what you desire.'
'What's not to understand? It's perfectly simple. I hate chasing the mirages. I hate the enormous effort, the crushing disappointment and that awful soul destroying pain that follows behind me like a shadow. I have even started to distrust the excitement of the distant sparkle because I now expect to be disappointed. But my faith keeps me going, I simply will not allow this torture to get to me. I have to believe there is a way out of the desert. And besides, with each mirage, I must be getting closer to the real thing – you know with probability and all that.'
'That is an interesting theory, but you have missed one a crucial point.'
I feel have argued my case very convincingly, covering all angles and possibilities. Everything points to the same thing, every cell in my body screams that I MUST KEEP GOING. I do however feel curious that this voice seems to know something that I do not.
'What's that then Big Voice?'
'A mirage will always be a mirage.'
'Well, yes, of course it is! But surely finding a mirage is better than nothing? I can at least live in hope.'
'When you live in the world of mirages, there is no hope. A mirage can only ever be a mirage.'
'But don't you see, I must find The Oasis, I need water to survive!'
'That is an interesting statement from someone who has been chasing mirages, without respite, for so many years. Not once has a mirage turned out to be the 'real thing'. If you really do need The Oasis to survive then how is it that you are not dead?'
I am beginning to feel cornered and slightly nauseous as threatening cracks appear in my reasoning. What the voice says is true and it does raise a very good question. But I honestly do not know the answer and it is starting to perplex me. As my mind races to find some reasoning it can latch onto, Big Voice speaks;
'You have not died because you do not need to find The Oasis to survive.'
Well that does make sense - I have not found it and yet I am still alive. Perhaps I do not need The Oasis after all. But as I try on this possibility, something floating around in my mind still doesn't quite add up. Surely I must need water if I am stuck in the desert?
'When you sleep, what do you dream?'
I smile to myself as I recall the dream I had last night, it's a dream I have had many times before.
'I dream about wonderful things. A man and woman come to me with a white horse. The man carries a lantern and the woman has beautiful wings like a dove. The lantern emits a gentle golden light which dances in the shadows. They come and sit down beside and as I begin to sit up, she wraps her soft wings around me and holds me close. His lantern lights up her face which is peaceful and luminous. She always sheds a tear, just one, and it splashes onto my cracked lips, exploding into a million water droplets, from which I drink deeply. I look up into her warm dark eyes, and she looks right into my soul. I just lie with her like that for a while. Then the man asks me to get on the horse's back and come with them. At this point, the heat of the sun always wakes up.'
'Do you feel thirsty when you wake?'
I pause for a moment and remember my lips, my mouth, my throat. I swallow.
'No, I suppose I don't. But as soon as I am awake, I know I must start the search.'
'The search for what?'
'For water of course. The sun is rising, the heat is coming, The Oasis beckons me.'
'But you are not driven by thirst?'
'It is funny you should ask me that, because if I actually think about it, I do not feel thirsty. But I am sure I will be if I don't find water soon. It is the desert that makes me do it. It frightens me and makes me believe that I must search for water, after all, I know I am going to need it sooner or later.'
'So how is it that you are not dead?'
'I don't know!' I shout impatiently.
I stop for a moment, my angry words ringing around my head. Somehow I am now aware of the rock beneath me, so solid and calm. I look around and notice the sun is feeling hotter, it has reached a pleasant temperature, for now at least. In this moment I become aware of my body. It is strange that I am not thirsty. For the first time in years I feel my breath, the pervasive ache in my bones, a light, flickering heart beat. Somehow my body has become a complete stranger to me, silently following me around like a lost dog. As my chest rises and falls, my stomach expands and contracts with each faithful breath. I detect a feint but distinct smell, a crisp freshness floating past my nostrils. It fades and disappears only to return moments later, so sweet and moist.
'I am the man with the lantern.'
Oh. I look down at the floor. His voice is crystal clear, but when I look up, I can see no one.
'That is because I am not in physical form.'
'Then who are you?'
'That is another story for another time. I am here with you now, even if you can't see me, so shall we talk?'
'Well I suppose so, but you will have to be quick, the sun is getting hotter and you know, the glistening promise of water is bound to catch my eye sooner or later.'
I am already scanning the horizon to see what is out there. Maybe I missed something yesterday, I was so tired when I finally stopped to rest.
'I come to you with a message. You are not in need of The Oasis because you are not trapped in the desert, you can leave at any time. You have choice. You can continue with your futile struggle chasing mirages, putting all your faith in The Oasis, or you can come with us. You find it easier to believe in something you can see with your eyes, even though in your heart you know that what you see is an illusion. Your eyes deceive you over and over again yet this does not dissuade you from your quest.
What appears before you, glittering in the distance can never bring you happiness and no amount of your effort or faith can ever change What Is So. But after each futile chase, I will be here, waiting for you. I am more real than anything you will ever see with your eyes.'
'Well thanks for that Big Voice – I will bare that in mind! I have to be honest, I do love meeting you in my dreams. It is just a shame that you can't really be here, you know, in the flesh where I can touch you and see your face. After all it is this world that I have to contend with, and in the real world I need real water! But it's great having you around. Oh! Look! Over there, shimmering on the horizon... I ma really sorry, but I have got to go!'
And in an instant I forget my weariness. I forget my breath, the rock and Big Voice. My pace quickens. My focus and energy beams straight ahead, like a predator with its prey in sight. I march purposefully into the rising heat, my goal unchanged. I need water and The Oasis is where I will find it. This will be The One. This time my faith will win out and all my effort will be rewarded. This time God will give me a break and finally put an end to my suffering. This time I can make it happen.
Night draws in and once again I am disappointed and completely exhausted. Why? Why won't God give me a break? Why won't God give me the water I need? Don't I deserve it? Aren't I trying hard enough? Am I not patient or persistent enough? It is the one thing that I want, the single most important thing in the world to me, so why won't God just give me what I want? Others seem to get to live by rivers or lakes, so why can't I? Why do I have to keep struggling in this desert - haven't I suffered enough?!
I slump down in utter despair. This quest is driving me mad but I really can't see any way around it. Whatever Big Voice said, I am in this desert and I do need water. Once I have found The Oasis I could finally relax and be happy. I know that they have all turned out to be mirages but really – how could I possibly know that will always be the case? If I did give up, I don't see how I could ever really know that if I hadn't tried a bit harder or walked a bit faster that I wouldn't have found out The Oasis was there after all. I am absolutely convinced that I can't be trying hard enough. Maybe God senses my lack of faith or impatience and he is punishing me for it. If I give up now, after all these years – what could I possibly gain?
I begin to fall asleep. It is a deep but troubled sleep, as questions still twist and knot up my mind. I am restless in the knowledge that God has let me down – again. Then they come, just a silhouette at first. The lantern's yellow glow bouncing off rock and bush, growing larger than life then slipping quietly into the enveloping darkness. I feel quite awake as they approach. I can hear the horse breathe deeply, hooves click clacking on stones. I notice that the horse is not being led, it walks freely by the man and woman. Their step is deliberate and purposeful.
The horse waits nearby while the woman and man come right to my side. I look up at the woman, she really is quite stunning. Her long dark hair is straight and gleaming in the flickering light. Her wings are long and pure white with gold tips. She wraps me in them and at once I feel relief. All my troubles melt away and I realise I can breath deeply again. She sheds a tear and I am replenished with that single drop. As I look deep into her eyes I know that I am loved. As her gaze holds mine, I feel the eternal expansion of my heart. Slowly, the gentle pink petals of my heart unfurl and unfold revealing an exquisite ruby centre. In that moment I am transported beyond time and space and I feel complete.
As she gently releases me, I sit up. The man with the lantern comes forward and breaks the silence between us.
'Your horse awaits you, will you come with us?'
I take a deep shaky breath.
'I want to come with you, really, I do. But this is just a dream in my head and I don't believe that you can really help me. I have faith in The Oasis, I truly believe that one day I will find it and this is what I really want. I love this dream, but I need real water and the Oasis is the only place I will be able to find that. I cannot survive on a dream when I am living in a desert. Perhaps you are another illusion, a temptation that is keeping me from finding The Oasis.'
'If we are an illusion how then how is it you not dead?'
'I don't know! You make me feel better, and I am truly grateful for that, but really – I need something in the real world. The desert may be full of mirages but at least I can see them and I can keep trying to find The Oasis. I have faith that God will give me a break one of these days. If I give up now and go off with dream figures, what hope have I possibly got?'
'What has kept you going all these years in the desert? Who has sustained you while you have been chasing mirages?'
'Okay, you have – I accept that and if I think about it I really don't know what I would have done without you visiting my dreams. Perhaps I would have died. I really appreciate all that you and this beautiful woman have done for me. Will you stay with me? Will you help me? I need you to be there while I continue my search for The Oasis, I really don't think I could go on without you. You have made me see that I probably don't need it to survive, but this desert is driving me mad and if I give up the search, I don't think I will be able to go on living. Once I have found The Oasis, perhaps then I could go with you on the horse?'
'We will always be here for you no matter what you choose.'
I wake up quite suddenly. Again the rising heat. Again scouring the horizon for the promise of hope. I lick my lips and they are still moist and taste of pink. As I lick them I find a droplet which bursts open again so that I can drink. I have never tasted the tears when I have been awake before. As I wipe my mouth, I smell rose perfume on my hand. First the dreams, then the voice. Now the juice and the smells – has the desert finally got its claws into my psyche and sent me over the edge? The mirages are bad enough, but this? Surely I have gone quite mad.
I stand up, stretch and a few old bones click. I am beginning to feel deeply concerned. All I want is an end to my suffering, to find The Oasis, that's all. Is it really too much to ask? I want real water, real refuge. Somehow the mirages always seem so full of promise, so real as they shimmer in the distance. When it all turns out to be just another trick, it makes me doubt myself – should I run faster, try harder, be more focused or patient? I can never be sure that it is not my lack of faith that is letting me down. Surely if I really believed in The Oasis, one of the mirages would miraculously reveal itself to be what I have always wanted and I would finally get my happy ending.
'Please explain to me why believing in The Oasis is so important to you.'
I have only just woken up but I am already sick of going around in these circles in my mind. A conversation with Big Voice is a welcome break.
'I believe The Oasis is a refuge from this harsh desert, a wonderful place of retreat. I want to get to the end of this search, I can't tell you how weary and lost I feel. I want to arrive. I want my life to start, to feel at home and nourished. I want to feel safe in the knowledge that God really does love me. This relentless desert feels like an eternal punishment and it makes me feel that somehow I am not deserving or that I am not trying hard enough. The Oasis is important to me because when God finally decides to reveal it to me, then I will know I have passed the test of faith and all my efforts will finally be rewarded. I did used to believe that I needed it in order to survive but you have changed that. Now I can see that it is just something I want so I can end my struggle. And if God doesn't notice how hard I am trying...'
'Then I can't be trying hard enough.'
'Ah, I see.'
'I think that I must be getting close or at least be doing something right because you have been helping me as I journey to find The Oasis. I have been keeping a record so I can try and avoid going back over the same ground, I am not completely aimless in my search. I really believe I must be about to find it soon, after all it has been many, many years! The thought of having to go on for much longer fills me with dread. Each mirage makes me feel paradoxically more hopeful that I am getting closer and more doubtful that I am getting it right. But, whichever it is, the solution must be to try harder. I don't want to give up now after all I have been through, and what if it is just around the next corner? Hang on. What's that over there? Excuse me please, I will speak to you later!'
And off I go. I carefully scan the horizon and this time I am sure I can see trees as well. That's got to be a good sign! My heart begins to race with eager anticipation. I begin a steady jog towards the edge of the world, as far as the eye can see. This has really got to be it! Suddenly I am stung by a sharp pain in my right ankle. I stumble and fall. My God - a snake! I have been bitten - two clear vampire holes in my flesh. The snake recoils and disappears behind some rocks. I panic. My leg is already swelling, turning red and throbbing. I can hardly breathe I feel so afraid. I pass out.
I am dreaming again. This time I am not asleep in my dream. I am sat, in the dark, besides a fire. There is a strong scent coming from the wood smoke. The fire is surrounded by a circle of small rocks. I sense that I am not alone, that there is a presence in the shadows. At first I wonder if it is the woman and the man with the lantern, but it is not. While focusing on the shadows trying to figure out who is there, I am also aware that I am surrounded by trees. Not sand and rocks but trees. This can not be! Trees, really? Before I get too excited, I remind myself that this is only a dream. But the musty damp woody smell with fresh sweet overtones is almost overwhelming. It is almost unbearable as I am drenched in such a festival of scents; absolutely divine.
I am aware that my ankle is wounded, but it does not hurt. Despite the lack of pain, I know I have been bitten, that liquid poison is spreading through my body and that I need to get help before it is too late. I am both ecstatic and in a state of intense panic. I have no idea what to do. I sit in front of the fire, mesmerised as it crackles and spits in its own sparky little dance.
'Turn to your left.'
I look over my shoulder, twisting my body around as I try to focus on the shadows. As my eyes get accustomed, an animal figure moves quietly towards me. It is a stag. It stops where I can see it and turns to face back into the wood, as if asking me to follow it. I stand up and find that I am able to walk, so I follow this stag into the night. It begins a gentle trot down a windy path which is barely visible under the moon light. I can sense the poison is creeping silently up my leg.
'We must reach the house before the poison reaches your heart. Jump on my back.'
Without hesitation, I jump on. The strong bony back moves fluidly as the stag gains speed to a canter. Soon the canter is a flowing sure footed gallop. We are going up hill and the trees are becoming more sparse. Finally I see light up ahead and we come to a little stone house set into the side of quite a steep hill. The stag gently slows to a halt outside the front door and I jump off, a little stiff from the ride. I barely have time to thank the stag and it has gone, silently slipping back into the woods.
I stand in front of the door and see that it is slightly ajar, as if expecting someone. A warm fire light streams through the gap and there is a strong inviting smell of cooking food drifting out of the door and into the night.
I am just about to knock on the door when quiet but strong woman's voice calls for me to come in. I push the door open slowly but surely and take the shallow step inside. I close the door behind me. When I turn, the room is quite small with a low ceiling and a large fire with a cooking pot. The walls are a deep red orange and there is a large oak table in the centre of the room. The woman is over by the fire cooking a sumptuous broth.
'Sit down.' she says gently but in a way one could hardly refuse.
I pull up a big solid oak chair and sit down at the table. She comes over and places a bowl of the hot stew and home made bread in front of me. She hands me a spoon and knife and indicates that there is a pot of butter on the table. Aromatic rosemary steam floats up from the broth tantalising my taste buds. I suddenly realise that I am desperately hungry as my mouth starts watering and my stomach rumbles rather loudly. I tuck in, satiating my hunger in grateful mouthfuls.
'You have a wounded ankle and poison inside you which is inching its way up towards your heart. You have reached an important cross roads – I can heal your wound and rid you of the poison. Is this what you want?'
'Yes, oh yes please! I can't feel the pain but I don't want the poison to get to my heart. Can you really help?'
'Well, that is a very good question, and it depends. Do you want this more than anything else in the world?'
I stop eating and close my eyes for a moment. Now she's asking! I know that I am wounded, but I can't feel the pain at the moment and I am not convinced that this will kill me. Would I be telling the truth if I said that I wanted it more than anything else in the world? I mean, what about the The Oasis? I don't want to lie to this woman, I don't think I could get away with it even if I tried. I am sure she would spot a lie a mile away.
'If you want to heal, I can help you. But you have to want it more than anything else in the world. You cannot feel the poison spreading through your body, but you know that you have been bitten by a snake. The choice is yours, you can put your faith in The Oasis, or in me. I cannot say what will happen if you choose to ignore the snake bite and continue your search for The Oasis.'
'If I am in danger, then why can't I feel the pain?'
'You are numb. You are numb to your body and to your feelings. Your quest for The Oasis takes you into your head and into a pursuit which numbs out everything else. Your focus is always away from that which is wounded. You must choose. Do you want to continue to run in pursuit of The Oasis or do you want to surrender and hand your healing over to me? If you do not let go of The Oasis completely, I will not be able to heal you. It is that simple. You cannot pretend because the healing just won't work even if we tried. It is not a rational decision that you can make with your mind – the healing will just happen if and when you allow it.'
I take another spoonful of the delicious broth while I mull things over. The Oasis is driving me quite mad. Perhaps I could kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, letting go of the search for The Oasis and getting this poison out of me.
'Once you have completely let go of The Oasis, when you look to the horizon and see a mirage, you will not start hoping and praying that it is The Oasis. The desire will be gone.'
I play with this idea for a moment. No more searching! I try to imagine what that would actually feel like. I am extremely excited by this prospect. Then I remember the desert and I am hit by a terrible sinking feeling in my stomach. Without hope of finding The Oasis, how am I ever going to survive the desert? I will have absolutely nothing to live for. All I will have is day after day of empty scorching heat and devastating loneliness. My heart aches at the thought of it. As I realise what a horrible prospect this would be I am suddenly very aware of why I chase the mirages, why I have put my faith in The Oasis - it distracts me from the dreadful sense of desolation and alleviates the constant fear that follows me around, the fear that there really is nothing out there, that I am completely alone. The desperate search for The Oasis enables me to hide from the futile nature of my existence, it gives me hope so I can keep going. Perhaps it even keeps me sane; surely disappointment must be better than absolute nothingness?
First I believed that I searched for The Oasis because I needed it to survive. When I realised that I didn't actually need it to live, I reasoned that it would be just reward for my efforts and my faith that I would one day be saved, if I could just keep on going, keep believing. But now, I can see he truth as clear as a cold shiny sword poised to strike my heart. The truth is, my life in the desert would be utterly unbearable without it. If God has given me this awful desert to live in, then I may as well keep the believing in The Oasis. It keeps me occupied at the very least.
'Old woman, I want to let go of The Oasis, really I do. And I want you to heal me. But with nothing to replace it except a poison free body and a healed ankle, there would be nothing to live for. You see, I need my faith in The Oasis, not to survive but to make my life bearable. Without the hope of one day finding that wonderful magical place, well to be frank, I may as well curl up in the futile sand and die. If I have to give up that hope in order to be healed, then I would rather allow the poison to get to my heart. At least this way, I would be free.'
'But child, you do have something to replace that hope, that belief in The Oasis.'
I stare blankly at the wall. This really is the bottom line.
'What? What could possibly replace The Oasis except desolation and pain?'
'Remember the winged woman and the man with the lantern? You wouldn't go with them because of your overwhelming desire for The Oasis. Perhaps you could find the faith to put your life in their hands and follow them instead of chasing mirages or giving up on life altogether. After all, the mirages haven't paid off yet and you are even willing to die for the cause – so what have you really got to lose?'
I become very quiet. The old woman's words resonate in my mind and reverberate through my soul; the sword of truth pierces my empty heart. Slowly my ankle beings to throb. The pain gathers momentum increasing in intensity until it is a sharp stabbing pain and I am acutely aware of the poison seeping just inches away from my heart.
'ENOUGH!' I scream, 'Get out of me!! You have no place inside me poison – I don't want you here GET OUT!'
The white rage takes me by surprise but immediately the poison begins its sticky retreat, oozing out of my leg; out of the vampire holes which have enlarged and are now red raw and gaping. The burning poison slowly and painfully trickles out of me and onto the floor, seeping between the floorboards and down into the earth. When the very last drop has gone, the bite bleeds a little fresh blood and scabs up ready to heal, right before my eyes. I am in shock. Where did all that rage come from?
'My child, it was your surrender – your soul's decision to let go of The Oasis and embrace faith in something Higher. You have begun a deep healing; you have been replenished and the poison has all gone. All you have to do now is follow your heart.'
Suddenly I am wide awake. I sit bolt upright and look around me. The sun is going down and I sit frozen to the spot. I check my leg, it looks quite healthy with two small scabs where snake fangs had broken my skin. I am feeling OK, if a little shaken up. Was that a dream? Am I about to die?
I realise that I feel strangely alive and in touch with my senses. I decide to believe it was real – I have nothing to lose and if I am about to die, well, there is clearly nothing I can do about it now. Normally I go to sleep as soon as the sun goes down out of sheer exhaustion but right now I feel wide awake and my body is buzzing with an unfamiliar energy. My mind is calm and clear, not manic or searching, just awake. I get up cautiously, not sure if my leg will hurt when I stand. Gingerly,I put my weight on both feet attempting to connect with the solid ground beneath me. Like a new born, I feel a little unsteady on my feet, but mostly I am excited by the new possibility that unfolds before me.
I feel this incredible sense of peace and the darkness brings a welcome solace. I decide to walk into the sunset. As I take gentle steps into the diminishing sunlight, I feel my muscles begin to relax. My mind is free. I beckon the voice, the dream people; 'I want to come with you'.
'We are always here, all you have to do is ask. You can come any time.'
'I want to be with you, to commit to walking along side you. I want to follow your guidance. I want your lantern to light my way, your wisdom to guide me. I want to leave this desert, to walk away from the mirages.'
'We are so glad you have decided to join us, we will not let you down. Soon you will come to a place of rest but this place is not the goal – it is simply the result of your faith. The goal is inner peace and with your commitment, you will leave the desert with no effort. It will happen naturally. Keep your faith. Keep your contact with us and you will be guided each step of the way. And if you forget, we will still be waiting for you once you remember.'
'I feel quite sad that I have been unable to listen to you before. I feel sad that you have been here all this time and I have turned my back on you. I never realised how much I struggled until I stopped and let it all go.'
'Do not underestimate how far you have come or how much you have accomplished by finally letting go. The mirage is a powerful magnet for one who believes they are in the desert. You have now chosen to take the path out of the desert, the path of true faith, and we will not let you down. We are always here – all you have to do is ask and open your heart to receive. The rest will take care of itself.'
'Thank you, thank you so much for being there.'
* * *
I walk on into the night. I notice my feet compressing the sand, leaving my footprints along the way. I can feel my heart beating and my lungs filling with the cool night air. I begin to hear the feint sound of drums, nothing dramatic, just gentle, rhythmic and constant. I walk toward this sound that beckons me; the heart beat of the night. I can detect the flicker of orange light and the feint scent of cedar smoke. As I walk closer, the fire is getting bigger and creates a flamenco dance in the shadows. I experience an incredible excitement while simultaneously feeling a deep pervasive calm. I walk forward with purpose because I know I am free.
Freja ♥ ©2000
Thursday, 3 October 2013
Wednesday, 31 July 2013
Freja is available for Shamanic readings over the phone and in person.
An intuitive reading for each sign of the zodiac…
The World, Ruby, Openness You have put a lot of time and effort into a project or relationship that is very important to you. When you started out you had a clear idea about your goals and about how you wanted things to turn out. Things are now coming to some form of conclusion, but it may not be in the way you imagined. Keep an open mind and allow things to unfold before deciding whether this is in fact what you want.
3 Vesicas, Rhodonite, Letting Go You have been putting creative efforts into trying to make something work. However, it seems that you may have been trying to apply a practical solution to essentially emotional problem. You need to decide if this situation would benefit from a more emotional approach before proceeding further and also to make sure you are not looking for love, validation or support where it doesn’t exist.
Patience, Hematite, Simplicity There is a stubborn problem in your life that needs to be properly tackled. Your natural propensity is to flit around such issues, but this really must be tackled head on! Be honest with yourself about the true nature of the issue and what you will need to do to deal with it. Apply the simplest approach possible & be prepared to patiently and resolutely chip away at it until the problem is fully resolved.
Maid of Cups, Citrine, Connection You have a lot to offer those you care about, yet your sensitivity can sometimes cause you to clam up or put to put defences between yourself and others to avoid getting hurt. You may not readily admit this and believe that others are not being available or loving enough. Gently accept any feelings of vulnerability and you will find that it becomes much easier to form close emotional ties with others.
8 Swords, Snowflake Obsidian, Earth Something in your physical world is causing your problems right now, possibly money or your health. You are quite determined to ‘get rid of’ the problem and may have spent a lot of time and energy trying to exorcise it and be feeling quite frustrated by it. Before you put any more energy into trying to banish this problem, take some time to look for the hidden message or gift that it brings.
Knight of Swords, Carnelian, Spirit Guide You are making someone or something into your Higher Power, or perhaps someone is trying to act like one and to convince you that you are ‘less than’ equal. You need to cut through the bull and get to the truth: you are an equal human being no matter what role you are playing and you don’t have to put up with rubbish treatment from others. It is time to make self-care your absolute top priority.
7 Vesicas, Fluorite, Birth Things are coming to fruition and you are reaping the rewards for your hard work. This isn’t so much a new beginning, as the re-birthing of some aspect of your authentic self. Like with any labour, there will be some pain involved in this process, but rest assured it is the harvesting of something you have been working on for some time. Ask for Spirit to support and guide you during this exciting time.
4 Vesicas, Jade, Challenge Life is full of challenges and you are usually pretty good at facing them head on because you believe this makes you a stronger person and also helps you to feel in control. The situation you are currently facing requires a less direct approach. While it is important to remain true to yourself and your values, you are being challenged to withdraw from the situation and find your inner balance.
The Devil, Red Jasper, Love Someone new may have entered your life or perhaps you are searching for a new adventure. While adventure and new experiences keep life interesting, it is important that you keep your feet firmly on the ground while you explore new territory. There is a danger of you over idealising someone or something or of getting a bit carried away. Remain grounded and take things one step at a time!
Ace of Vesicas, Malachite, Change While you enjoy progressing in life, you tend to only like change when it is taking you closer to tangible goals. Your current situation requires emotional changes and this feels far less comfortable to you. Try applying your natural determination and clear goal setting to this unfamiliar situation and trust that you will gain a sense of emotional satisfaction when you achieve what you set out to do.
6 Swords, Amazonite, Stability Your perspective on some key issues is changing and may continue to do so for a while. Although this can feel rather unsettling at times, it doesn’t mean that the foundations in your life or internal feelings of stability need to be challenged. Use this time to allow your views to shift and change without giving in to the knee jerk reactions that often follow. That which you feel you urgently need to express may well change in a few weeks, so hold your fire.
High Priestess, Clear Quartz, Conception
It seems that you are really in tune with your intuition and inner knowing right now, or with a little effort on your part, will be very soon. Your connection to spirit is strong and this is a fabulous time to pray or meditate for answers. If things feel a little uncertain or unclear right now it is only because, like the dark of the New Moon, things are going on under the surface which are not yet ready to be revealed. Test your intuitive powers to see what is coming next.
Monday, 22 July 2013
While we all spend huge amounts of time putting our efforts into things such as building a career, raising children, or searching for love, at some point it becomes clear that life isn’t going to bring us the ‘happy ever after’ that we expected to reach at the age of 25 or 30. Instead, many of us find that life has started to resemble the ultimate ‘shaggy dog story’; no sooner than one particular goal is reached or problem solved than another one arrives to take its place. If none of our efforts will eventually lead to the happy ending we dreamed of as children, then what is the point of life?
For most people the point of life is the reward we hope (or expect) to enjoy for all the efforts we make. The Christian ideology that is ingrained in Western culture suggests that if we work hard and tolerate the daily grind with a serene smile on our faces, that we will eventually be rewarded in Heaven. In this way of thinking, the point is to struggle and sacrifice while finding a way to maintain our faith in the promise of an amazing after life. While many Westerners are a little more earthly and pragmatic in their approach today, they are still ultimately looking for some kind of reward, usually the big pay cheque or finding the love of our lives. There are still others who feel the only point to life is to propagate the species which, if it is, would of course be the biggest shaggy dog story of all time. This particular belief leads to the rather dodgy conclusion that people who are unable to procreate have no real reason to exist and that women who choose not to have children or people in same sex relationships are breaking some kind of ‘natural law’ and should be sanctioned.
We may choose various ways to give our life meaning but the point of life itself must be beyond these individual choices or, depending on your point of view, certain individuals or groups would automatically be barred from having any right to exist. While individuals and cultures may adopt various different values and approaches to life, the underlying point of life has to be universal. Human beings are continually projecting their experiences and beliefs out into the world whilst believing they are looking at the whole picture, but you can only see the whole picture when you include all human experiences and possibilities. If a belief about life excludes any human experience, person or group, then it cannot be ‘the truth’, it is only the truth for some people. While there may not be one single meaningful way to live life, there is a universal point to it and it isn’t to gain reward, to compete for survival or even to procreate. There is only one thing that we all have in common and that is that we are here experiencing life as human beings; we all exist at this point in time. Therefore it seems the point of life is simply to experience being human and any other purpose we give our time here is merely a reflection of our personal values and preferences.
Once we accept that the point of living is simply to experience being human, then life suddenly becomes a lot simpler and less divisive. When we are able to take a step back, even the most abhorrent experiences or actions become just another colourful pattern in the giant kaleidoscope of experience we call ‘being human’. If a human being is doing it or feeling it then it is a valid human experience no matter how much we dislike it. The experience of being human will always contain both positive and negative aspects, the problem arises when we attach moral judgements to the intrinsic polarity of our existence and label positive experiences as ‘good’ and negative as ‘bad’. When we make such moral judgements, we start to separate experiences into those we will accept and those we reject and fight against and this naturally causes division and conflict within ourselves, our relationships and society as a whole.
Somewhere along the line, we lost sight of the fact that experiences are essentially neither good nor bad, they just are. There are positive and negative aspects to every human experience; nothing can be experienced as purely positive or negative. It is impossible to blot out or eradicate the negative aspects of life, yet this is precisely what we seem to spend most of our time trying to do. We don’t want any pain, illness or suffering and we judge particularly harshly anyone we deem to have caused such things. Of course I am not suggesting that we should tolerate or ignore destructive behaviour amongst our fellows, but we can learn how to put up healthy boundaries, both personally and culturally, without stepping into moral judgement. Saying ‘this is not acceptable and if you do this, these will be consequences’ is very different from saying ‘you are a bad/evil person and you must be punished, humiliated or obliterated’.
As Jesus once said; let person who has not sinned cast the first stone. However, this Christian understanding that we are all sinners has unfortunately often been misconstrued to mean that we are all bad and intrinsically guilty, ashamed and worthless so everyone is busy trying to pass the buck. What it actually means is no one is perfect and therefore no one is qualified to ‘play God’ and sit in judgement of anyone else. We are all capable of selfish, destructive behaviour and of making mistakes (sinning) and if we want the world to be a more loving place we would do well to focus on cleaning up our own side of the fence rather than casting aspersions, scapegoating or blaming others for the messes in our individual lives or the world as a whole.
Acceptance of ourselves and others becomes a whole lot easier when we let go of any moral judgements about the meaning of life. If the point of life is simply to be, then every ‘sin’ against us can ultimately be forgiven because feeling pain is just part of the human experience. When we maintain strong, loving boundaries with appropriate consequences for transgressions on both a personal or social level, there is no longer a need for the revenge, retribution or humiliating punishment and we become free to give our energy to something far more productive than trying to eradicate evil. And if we accept that the point of life is to experience it to the full, warts and all, then we also become free to give our individual lives any meaning we choose without fear of judgement or punishment for ‘getting it wrong’; if the 'point of life' is simply to experience it, then what purpose do you want to give your life?
If you are interested in a personal Shamanic reading with Freja: CONTACT
Friday, 28 June 2013
'While it is a challenge for any individual soul to swim against the collective tide, thankfully the collective tide is now turning towards equality and personal freedom.' Freja ♥
While there are many benefits to 'staying the course' and to being loyal and committed, sometimes we reach a point where we must 'walk away' from a relationship or situation. We can spend many weeks, months or sometimes even years feeling unsure and undecided about whether to 'stay or go'. So, how can we tell when it is time to walk away?
It was not so very long ago that people were expected to simply 'put up with' their lot in life and it seems that having the ability to do this is still regarded as being a sign of inner strength and fortitude. While sometimes this truly is the case, more often than not the desire to 'stick it out' comes not from inner strength but from feelings of fear.
The list of fears that come up can be quite overwhelming; fear of lack or scarcity, fear of insecurity or loss, fear of nothing better being available, fear of being 'wrong', being judged by others or making a mistake... you get the picture. Our internal fears only get amplified when we think of the old saying 'better the Devil you know than the Devil you don't.' Surely it better to have no Devil at all?
This rather popular expression suggests that ultimately we are always caught between a rock and a hard place; that even if we manage to escape some awful reality, there is nothing better available to us so we may as well just 'put up and shut up'. Or, as a rather forthright Headmaster once advised me to do when I was really struggling as a teacher; 'go home, have a stiff drink, then come back tomorrow and get your head down.' 'Ah', I thought to myself, 'so that's where I have been going wrong all my life!'
For better or worse, I have never been able to simply 'put up and shut up' and this has made for a very rocky ride indeed. Although my approach has lead to a somewhat insecure life, when I look back the only thing that ever truly bothered me was the nagging belief that I should somehow be able to 'put up and shut up', and that if I can't then there must be something wrong with me.
The list of 'shoulds' that accompany the 'putting up with it' approach is also very long; should be able to 'stick at it'; should be able to turn a blind eye or ignore unacceptable behaviour, should be able to meet the unrealistic demands and expectations of others, should try harder, work harder, be more accommodating and less sensitive. The question is, where did we all get the idea that if a situation is truly awful that we just need to 'get better' at dealing with it, and if we can't that it means we are not trying hard enough? And who decided that being a 'responsible' adult equals agreeing to put up with 'the Devil' in our jobs and relationships?
Over the last hundred years or so, we have been moving into a more 'liberated' age, a time when people feel compelled to break free of oppression and enslavement. This process is all part of evolution of Humanity which is pushing us more and more urgently toward spiritual freedom. However, until we are ready to fully experience liberation and have found a way to integrate it into our lives, it can seem like all we are doing is trying to run away from something we ought to be able to accept.
Nothing can be further from the truth. Ultimately we are not really 'running away' from anything, we are 'running toward' spiritual freedom and inner peace. However, this process takes time and can make us feel lost and confused. Our soul's call for spiritual liberation usually begins with a strong intolerance for oppression, bullying, double standards, and for unreasonable demands being made on us in exchange for the security of love and/or money. Any intolerance to the endemic abuse of power within our society is not a sign of weakness or irresponsibility, it is a sign that your soul wants to break free.
The closer you get to reaching spiritual freedom, the greater your intolerance of power abuse becomes, however minor, subtle or unintentional. As your inner journey brings you closer to personal liberation, you become increasingly sensitive to how others respond to and affect your energy. While it would be so much easier to function 'normally', the 'normal' lack of sensitivity is actually due to desensitisation caused by thousands of years of oppression and layer upon layer of cultural denial.
Heightened sensitivity and intolerance to oppression is a sign of becoming increasingly unable to live in the 'Old Paradigm' – the abusive hierarchical social order that people have lived under for thousands of years. While it is a challenge for any individual soul to swim against the collective tide, thankfully the collective tide is now turning towards equality and personal freedom. Gone are the days when you are likely to be nailed to a cross or burned at the stake for owning your power or striving towards spiritual freedom – though don't be surprised if you are judged or shamed for it.
If you are trying to decide whether to stick at something or to walk away, you need only ask which option will enable your soul to evolve. Take a step back to check your feelings and listen carefully for any 'shoulds', underlying fears or limiting beliefs that may be holding you hostage. If having done all this you are still not sure, then make an empowered decision to commit yourself fully to your current situation, at least for the time being. And trust that if it turns out that you do need to walk away, in time it will become absolutely crystal clear – just as soon as you are ready.
Sunday, 16 June 2013
'The best way to deal with shame is to talk about whatever it is that makes you squirm and want to hide under the blanket.'
We live in a society where individuals are free to choose all aspects of their life style. Gone are the days when a woman was passed from father to husband like a prized jewel or a marketable cow. Gone are the days of shot gun weddings, 'illegitimate' children, and the the fear of becoming an old maid at the tender age of 25. When it comes to sex and marriage, society has changed beyond all recognition, so why is it that people still feel so much shame about being single?
I used to think it was 'natural loneliness' that drove me to join one online agency after another and endure endless dates with men who were completely devoid of even the most rudimentary manners. But after the ending of my most recent relationship I was reminded once again of an inescapable truth: There is nothing more lonely than living with someone who doesn't love you - at least when you're single you're free to focus your time and attention on people who do love and care for you. After the initial shock and grief of the latest break up I thought I'd finally cracked it: I was happy and single – and if one day a lovely man should come along, he knew he would be the cherry on the cake not the eggs, milk and flour.
The it started, that old familiar feeling like a dark heavy cloud creeping slowly across the sun. I checked in with myself to see what I was feeling; lonely? No. Desperate for sex? No. Bored and in need of some drama or excitement? No. I decided to sit with this feeling until finally I was face to face with what was making me feel so bad and much to my surprise I discovered it was shame. I was absolutely horrified to hear the voice of shame that said 'no man wants you and therefore you are a failure, an outcast, an absolute reject'. In the eyes of shame, it never matters how great I think I am, or how wonderful my friends say I am, it doesn't matter how amazing my life is or what I achieve in the world – if no man has granted me his 'seal of approval' then shame quietly points out to me that if I am still single, then I must be completely worthless.
This may sound harsh but that is exactly what I discovered lurking in the core of my being when I stripped away all the layers of 'perfectly natural' loneliness, the urgent desire for sex, the feeling that something is missing and the wistful belief in my very own 'happy ever after'. And, knowing as many single women as I do, I also know I am far from alone in experiencing this insidious, excruciating shame. Are women really are free of the shackles of social control, or has the oppression has simply been sublimated and hidden from view, making us think we are now choosing to go bonkers in the quest for His love?
Things are difficult for men too, after all we all live together in this shame based society. If a man manages to cleverly avoid being 'tied down' by a woman, then he is expected to be out there having sex with everyone and anyone, (as long, of course, as it is not with someone wearing pig tails or long shorts which is the only sexually addicted behaviour that is frowned upon these days.) I have met many men who have no interest in 'sleeping around' but who feel shame about not having done it – as if this would have somehow made him more of a man.
Despite the 1960s 'sexual revolution', it appears that women and men are still carrying huge amounts of shame about their sexuality. We can't simply be, instead we have to constantly find ways to prove our sexual worth. The shape and form of the shame many vary between the sexes, and even between individuals – but it is always there; ugly, pervasive and cunningly well hidden. That's the problem with shame, it lurks in the shadows and is such an uncomfortable feeling most of us will do anything to hide it, even from ourselves.
A wise person once told me; shame doesn't live in the light and I have discovered that they were absolutely right. The best way to deal with shame is to talk about whatever makes you squirm and want to hide under the blanket. I was shocked to discover that not only do I feel ashamed of being single, but I also feel deeply ashamed that in this day and age, I can still feel this way. (I should have more self respect than that!) But I'd much rather own up to my feelings of shame than continue pretending that I am experiencing one of the more socially acceptable feelings of loneliness, horniness, wanting a baby or some dreamy notion of being rescued.
I wonder how many of us are running around sleeping with strangers, going on endless disappointing dates or slowly suffocating in painful, unloving relationships just because we are afraid of feeling ashamed? (Ashamed of not being 'man enough' or of not being cheerfully claimed and taken off The Shelf.) Maybe if we started admitting to our feelings of shame we could finally begin to heal the buried wounds caused by thousands of years of social-sexual oppression. Perhaps we could begin to experience true freedom from the realisation that none of us have anything to prove to anyone through our sexual encounters or relationships with others. After all, true self acceptance can only come from letting go of external judgements and living a life that is true to oneself.
Freja ♥ © November 2011
Additional note for Manifesting Mr Wonderful readers:
There is absolutely nothing shameful about wanting a positive loving relationship or to meet the right man. However, I highly recommend checking to see if you are motivated by feelings of shame about being single or if this shame is hidden somewhere in your unconscious because it will only stand in the way of you manifesting what you want. I now believe this 'shame of being single' plays a major role in blocking women's ability to manifest positive relationships; there really is nothing more effective at lowering your vibration and your standards. Shame is an incredibly powerful emotion and our unconscious fear of it can lead us far away from self caring decisions. If we really want to raise our energetic vibration then we must begin by confronting any conscious or hidden reservoirs of shame.
Tuesday, 29 January 2013
So, here we are in 2013 and still in one piece! The Celtic Fire Festival Imbolc will soon be upon us, the initiatory awakening for the next 26,000 year cycle. As I predicted, there were no Hollywood style catastrophes on the Solstice, but that doesn't mean that ‘nothing happened’. All it means is that what is happening is happening energetically and predominantly on an inner level. People are changing on the inside and all changes of consciousness eventually ripple out and manifest in the outer world. One only has to look at the public outcry in India in response to one (sadly not uncommon) extremely violent sexual act to see the tide is already turning. That sort of collective reaction can only come about when the seeds of change have already grown strong within the human psyche because all social and political reform begins with people inwardly ‘waking up’.
Now that the door has energetically been closed on the Old Way, the established powers will find it increasingly difficult to control and manipulate the populous. Those individuals who continue to attempt to abuse and dominate whether out of fear or an active desire for power will find they are no longer supported by the blanket denial and collusion of collective. I predict over the next few years there will be many more dramatic, shocking ‘falls from grace’ for those high profile individuals and individuals who are abusing their power. Ordinary individuals will also find it increasingly difficult to tolerate repression or abuse whether within their personal relationships or in the outside world. As a result of this awakening, there will be many more uprisings, riots, revolutions and a general feeling of social unrest. But rather than fearing the chaos, we must embrace it for the chains of collective slavery must be broken if we are to find a way to build a peaceful, egalitarian future for humanity.
So what can we personally do to help ‘bring in’ the New Age? Well there are many things we can do, but it is useful to begin with setting our intentions. While Solstice 2012 was about finally releasing ‘that which no longer works’, Imbolc 2013 is about identifying what you want to manifest and opening yourself to receive it. We may want to focus our intentions on world peace, and this is a worthy cause. However, world peace requires happy individuals and to achieve this we must turn our thoughts toward inner peace. Often we focus on all the chaos and pain ‘out there’ and forget that ‘out there’ is simply a manifestation of what exists ‘in here’. Yes, we need to be aware of what goes on in the world and to contribute to making a difference in whatever way we can. However, if we fixate on the state of the world instead of looking within we will be frustrated in our efforts because ultimately we only have power over ourselves.
Attachment to trying to fix other people or circumstances ‘out there’ is often a distraction from dealing with our own inner issues. If you feel unhappy, scared, lost, confused or uncomfortable being alone (with no distractions), I highly recommend that you make healing your own inner state of being your No.1 priority and trust that world peace will be the eventual natural outcome of this. The pain, abuse and suffering that we would all like to see come to an end stems from inner conflict and disconnection from Source. As Ghandi said ‘Be the change you want to see’ – and to do this you will need a strong, positive, loving relationship with your Self.
It is often much harder to look within than it is to focus on the outside world because of how we are taught to behave as children. It is the job of our caregivers to teach us how to be responsible in our actions while remaining true to ourselves. When we are taught to blindly ‘do as we are told’ for their reward or approval rather than to find a responsible way to be true to ourselves, we develop a codependent approach to life – we learn to live our lives through others. In this codependent state we must please, placate, manipulate and control to get our needs met, because we have not developed the skills or awareness to relate to and nurture our inner selves directly. In severely codependent states, we are so removed from our inner selves that we are really do not know who we are, how we feel or what we need except in relation to other people. This extremely frightening and powerless existence creates the compulsion to control and manipulate others in an attempt to make ourselves feel better. Give someone with no ability to know, love and care for themselves political or corporate power and they will take their inner battle for control onto the world stage. This is how wars start.
While we cannot change the unstable, egocentric individuals who are in power, we can change ourselves. And when we change ourselves we automatically show others what must be done to heal. As more people connect to their inner ‘authentic’ selves, we will naturally begin to choose leaders who mirror our personal integrity. For this to happen we must STOP abusing ourselves on every level; we must learn how to care for our bodies and minds and re-connect with our emotional and spiritual selves. Self-care may seem ‘selfish’, but actually people only become ‘selfish’ and egocentric when they don’t know how to meet their own needs. Once we can lovingly care for ourselves, the need to control, manipulate or abuse others evaporates.
So, if you really want to see love on a global level then make it your intention to lovingly care for yourself, no matter what. If you want to see world peace, then take time to heal the conflicts within your own fractured psyche. If you want those in power to be more responsible, start taking responsibility for your own neglected needs, whatever they may be. If you want other people to start treating you better, then it is time to treat yourself with more consideration and respect. If you want people to love you more, then learn how to deeply and unconditionally love yourself. Whatever you feel most attached to seeing change ‘out there’, whether in the larger world or in the people you know is exactly what you need to start giving to yourself. And giving yourself what you need is exactly how you will change the world, because a world full of happy self-caring people is a world full of people who have so much more to give.
Want to celebrate Imbolc 2013?
True Imbolc takes place whenever the Sun reaches 15 degrees Aquarius, which can occur on different dates from year to year. Traditionally it is celebrated on the 2nd of February but this year Imbolc actually takes place on the 3rd at 4.14pm GMT. If you would like to do a ceremony to celebrate beginning of the New Great Year and/or to ritualise your intentions, Sunday the 3rd would be the best day. Imbolc is all about cleansing and renewal so a good place to visit would be where there is naturally vibrant running water, preferably a spring, waterfall or a lively bubbling brook. Lighting a fire is also an important component of honouring the Goddess Brigit on Her special day. If you want more information about how to celebrate or ritualise Imbolc, there is plenty of information online. Whatever you decide to do on Sunday the 3rd, find a way to open your heart to all the wonderful new possibilities of the Aquarian Age and New Great Year. Enjoy!