In an old Welsh legend, Vortigern wanted to build a tower. Every day his men would work hard erecting the first of several proposed towers; but the next morning they would return to find the masonry collapsed in a heap. This continued for many weeks until eventually Merlin explained him that two fighting dragons were hiding beneath the foundations, and that their constant fighting was why the tower continued to collapse.
What have things been like for me this week? Most definitely not the way I had hoped. I guess what I had secretly hoped to see was some kind of sign that I made the right decision. Instead, I was told this morning that the course I signed up for was cancelled.
Does that mean I got it all wrong then, when I decided to risk the way of the fool? Maybe not. Maybe it’s that, as in the story I quoted above, I first have to examine what’s hiding beneath the foundations of that tower I am trying to rebuild.
I have always found it extremely difficult to imagine a future for myself. Follow your dreams they say, but what if you don’t have a clue what those dreams are? All I’ve ever managed is to think of a few projects which could probably be achieved in six months to a year if I really put in the hard work. And those are really more in the category of ‘hobby projects’ like writing a book. Apart from that, my life ambition has never really reached any further than ‘finding a nice parking spot that allows me the time to do these things’. And probably there’s not even anything wrong with that.
Except that some clues have started to emerge this week that part of my life so far has been spent not so much dealing with my own emotional issues, but rather paying a price for emotional issues that started in my paternal line generations ago.
As a child, you have to rely on your parents to shape up the world for you, and to give you tools to understand that world. A lot of that happens through subconscious communication, where you react to non-verbal clues, and decide what is and is not right behaviour.
But what if you are constantly being bombarded with clues and signals that were never intended for you in the first place? What if you are having feelings that are actually not even your own? How on earth are you supposed to grow up in a stable way and discover who you are?
A thing I discovered this past week is that I am an empath. In retrospect it seems obvious, but I guess I refused to believe it for a very long time because I had become so good at building walls around my soul, that there was a point in my life where I had almost stopped feeling entirely. But now that I am doing so much spiritual stuff, those walls are coming down again, and I guess I need to learn to be aware of the dangers involved.
In case you wonder what these dangers are, imagine this. Have you ever cried your heart out without knowing why, to then discover that those are the feelings of the person standing next to you? Or being blown away by the negativity emanating from someone, when none of that was intended to be visible to you?
Now imagine that kind of openness in a young child. A child whose father does have some emotional issues he thinks he is managing to hide well, but is instead, unconsciously, being spared the full extent of his emotions because his daughter is acting as a sponge, therefore spending her own energy on trying to make sense of feelings of negativity that are not hers, trying to heal them instinctively by doing the things that would make those feelings go away, and thereby, slowly but certainly, beginning to be a person she isn’t supposed to be.
That seems to be my life story so far. I have lived the career my father would have wanted for himself: studied mathematics, done a PhD, then gone on as a postdoctoral researcher. And if I hadn’t discovered Druidry, that would probably have been the entirety of my life story. I probably wouldn’t even have been unhappy about it, but I was leading someone elses life. Studying Druidry has made me realize more and more strongly that this is not a world where I belong, that I can no longer motivate myself to spend all my energy doing research into topics that have the same relevance to real world issues as solving sudokus.
And this is why I need to make a U-turn now. To make a clean break with my life so far, hopefully to finally discover what my own dreams are.
And perhaps, a bit more time will need to be spend first exploring those broken foundations, and really understanding the emotional harm done by them. For, while I do not wish to blame anyone, there’s a part of me that feels like a victim of abuse. Especially since, in the last years of his life, my father also tried to (again, probably unintentionally) leech parts of my own soul and use it as a substitute for his own, by refusing to ever really hear my side of the story, while at the same time boasting about my spiritual journey to everyone he talked to, as if it were his own accomplishments. Until I cut him off from it, which caused our relationship to go a bit sour, with him actually accusing me of emotional immaturity because I refused to give him what he wanted.
And part of me still tries to convince me that I am the one being unreasonable here.
I would like to finish this post with the advice given to me by one of my inner guides.
This is Crow woman
You have found the core thread of darkness within your psyche. It is a thread that is ancient, probably as old as the world or even older. The need for love and recognition.
The need to belong. Souls were not made to be islands. They were made to be threads within a tapestry. Made to add their own unique shade of beauty, and be supported in that by those closest to them in the weave of reality: their family, their ancestors and their friends and loved ones. Unfortunately threads untangle easily, or get caught up in all sorts of obstacles.
True evil is rare. Most hurt comes from those we love and trust. And that is why it can cut so deeply. We show them the most vulnerable parts of our psyche, and give them access to parts of ourselves that are vital to the health and pain of our soul. Not doing so is not a viable option. That leads to fragile threads that break as soon as they come under pressure, because you were not made to stand alone. But few of us never get hurt by taking the risk of love. And some of these wounds are placed so close to the center of our being that they risk unraveling our soul, as it desperately tries to heal, often by denying what has happened, and thereby opening oneself to making the same mistake over and over again, or worse, by beginning to think that what happened is what is supposed to happen, and it is us who are unreasonable, and those who destroyed us actually have a right to us.
There is a way out. But it is not easy. It means looking each of our wounders in the soul, and asking them to give back what is ours, and walk away to a place where they can no longer reach us. But while that sounds obvious in theory, it is probably the hardest thing there is. For often we love those who hurt us, and have allowed them to own parts of our soul. Or in case they are our ancestors, they are actually part of our very blood. You do not simply walk away from that.
Yet the only way to face hurt is to search a place where we can heal. A place where we can become whole again, and the wound is not constantly reopened by triggers we receive through our interactions with others. It is this stage the world is now in. All that inhabit it are wounded to some extent. And they are desperately looking for safety and a way out of the betrayal they feel. And it creates extra tangles, as we are confronted with the pain of others, and have it touch the parts of ourselves that are sorest. Unintended further woundings, by those that could have been our allies but now suddenly seem to reveal themselves as our worst enemies.
It is time to face reality and the fact that the world in its current state has no future. Not before substantial healing has been done. For until then, even the best of intentions will cause some people to fall apart. We are all interconnected. This is your and mine mess. We will not solve it by arguing about which kind of hurt is most important. It is not what matters. It is all so interconnected that the wounds of everyone have become our own. Our worst enemy is our greatest ally, because they are the mirrors we can use to discover who we truly are. Where our lifeblood runs. Where our heart is buried. What we are willing to fight to protect. And what we have to let go of because it is only dragging us further down and causing us to drown in tangles created not by ourselves, but our ancestors.
Our ancestors created the world we live in today. We have inherited it, and we have inherited the shadows they were trying to run away from.
It is the first thing we all need to come to terms with. The fact that we carry old pain, and that it twists the way we look at the world around us. It is holding us hostage. But it cannot simply be walked away from. It is our inheritance.
This is the lesson of crow. I bring the blessing hidden within the dark. I bring hope where there seems to be only darkness. This old pain is not only your burden, but also a hidden treasure. Like the carrion bird feeding itself and thriving on death matter, or the way oil – dead plant matter from a distant past – has become a source of energy, so that humanity can become renewed by looking at the past pain and suffering as a resource, whose energy can be released by working to disentangle the knots that keep us prisoner.
The darkness is never absolute. Hope is the first step. Hope and the choice to turn away from despair. And cry for help. For help always comes to those who ask for it.