A new year, new opportunities. Sounds more positive than challenges doesn’t it? January, named after the Roman god Janus (Guardian of Entrances and Exits), invariably brings with it winds of change. Janus was portrayed with two faces, one looking to the past and the other to what was to come. An appropriate image for the conflicting emotions facing many at the threshold of a new cycle in their lives. Thresholds are important places, doorways from one area to another, from one room to another, from one state of consciousness to another. The key is made available to us at times and not at others, then the door is seen to have no keyhole. In some portrayals Janus is shown holding a key…
A lot of navel gazing going on here but please stay with me. Hazard lights are on, life review commencing. Sometimes we have to use drastic methods to shatter the stagnation blighting our lives to allow new growth to emerge. Nature is a great role model, sentimentalism plays no part in the great cycle of life and death. It cannot, but she is not senselessly cruel. All that is dead and dying is removed to encourage regeneration and energy released into the ecosystem. This template can be applied to our own lives. Loss is inevitable but not undesirable. Forgive me for stating the obvious but these thoughts are beginning to emerge from the depths of a forgotten forest lying on the edge of consciousness.
“Loss is inevitable but not undesirable. I like that.” That voice sounds so familiar. In my mind’s eye I see a man clothed in skin and fur standing on the edge of a great primeval forest. The collective unconscious is a marvellous meeting place.
The Bear Shaman surfaces once more. Always appearing at significant crossroads in life, heralding events of great importance:
“Between the rule of balance and the wild forces of nature, humankind enacts many changing roles; in certain individuals these roles are concentrated and combined into one sacrificial act that accelerates the cycles of the Wheel of Life or cuts across them.”
(The Mystic Life of Merlin, R J Stewart)
He stands on the periphery of our inner vision, a messenger from the Otherworld. Fearless, solitary and awe-some. Bringing a remembrance of things lost and mourned. The spirit and intellect desire the same and surge onwards. Step over the line and enter the world of dreams and visions. There is a strong sense of the luminous in this place, which goes beyond our conceptions of deity and religion. Time to get back to basics and the beginning.
As we move further into the 21st century let us not forget where we have come from and what has shaped us. The past is said to be another country, at once vast and unknown. Humanity’s journey from the stars onto terra firma can only be a circular journey, for time is a paradoxical creature. It is like the journey to the centre of the Labyrinth, each step takings nearer to our true selves at its very heart. Yet fear is also a part of this experience, for how will we react when we face ourselves in that mirror? Introspection is not a condition many of us have to time to acquaint ourselves with, perhaps even avoid at all costs. The outer world is filled with noise, as is our inner world. Noise can mask many things, most of all the voice of our Heart. The ancients considered this to be the seat of the soul, spirit or consciousness and accorded it great reverence.
Face the past in order to move forward to a state of grace and acceptance in the present.
The Shaman beckons, no time to linger as the day draws to a close. The twilight of our existence beckons and the journey to the stars awaits us. How terribly romantic! The cave awaits and the descent into death and rebirth. He leads us deep into the earth, crawling on hands and knees. The place of transformation is just big enough to lie in, curled up like a foetus in the womb. All the trappings of modern life are discarded and our naked body lies daubed with red ochre. As we lie there our life up to this point is scrutinised in minute detail. The images flow through our mind like a river, unceasing and crystal clear. Any regrets? Not at all. The river carries away all that has held us back and the sacred element offers us the chance of regeneration.
Our life force withdraws slowly and a star filled darkness envelops the place of transformation. The music of the spheres plays out for all eternity, or so it seems. Our eyes spy the little figure curled up deep within the earth and we give thanks for all they have given us. We wait until the Earth is ready to wake from its own slumber and feel the kiss of sunlight once again. Be patient we are told. Be patient. A heroic journey undertaken by so many others, why should we be any different?
Photos: author’s own.
Stewart, R J, The Mystic Life of Merlin, London, Arkana, 1986.