The deeper the capacity for self-love, the greater ability to love and be loved. I am repeatedly asked, “ how do I love myself?” and without fail I recommend beginning with affirmations, positive thinking, and life enhancing intentions/goals. You think positive thoughts about yourself (‘I’m amazing”); you say positive things about yourself, (“I am worthy and deserving of the best life has to offer”); you set clear and positive intentions/goals for yourself, (“my income increases daily”) and you back it all up with complementary actions in the physical world. Practiced consistently affirmations, positive thinking, and clear intention feel great and tend to work quite well, for a while. Eventually though, if you’re doing it correctly you’re going to trigger off all the feelings around why you’re not amazing, why you’re not worthy and deserving, and why you will never reach your goals no matter what you say. So you affirm harder, think more positively, get clearer in your intentions, but no matter what you can’t twist out the feelings. If by this point you’re starting to think what’s the fucking point, it’s the same theme over and over, congratulations are in order. You have bumped into an unconscious wound. Nothing blocks self-love more effectively and will stop you from moving forward in your life faster than an unconscious wound.
Wounding that remains unconscious controls your behavior. Really uncomfortable feelings are part and parcel of wounding; they are the response, the reaction. An unconscious wound is akin to wearing shoes two sizes too small. You don’t know your shoes are too small because they’ve been too small forever and because they’re too small you have to walk, breathe, and carry yourself in a way to minimize the pain. You’re unconscious of the pain because that’s how it’s always been, it’s “normal,” and you remain unconscious of the pain until the day you decide you want to go dancing. You find out you love dancing but it hurts so much you know you’ll never be able to do it again so you suck it up and decide to be grateful for what you have.
But the love of dancing and your deep desire to dance refuses to be swept under the rug no matter how many times you say, “I am grateful for what I have.” Inner voices start to answer back sarcastically, “oh really?” and clearly you feel like you’re losing your mind. It builds, your desire to dance, it builds all the reasons you can’t, and then one day the rage hits. “Why can’t I go dancing?” You holler. “Because my feet hurt too much,” you answer, and finally you ask the right question. “Why the fuck do my feet hurt so much?” This is the beginning of becoming conscious, of removing the too tight shoes, and learning to walk and ultimately dance “beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free.” The work of consciousness is a tangible and very real expression of self-love.
Think of the wound as an emotional block in the body; an emotional block is an energetic block and it’s hard like a rock. Water, tears, melt the block, revealing the wound. When someone’s lying on my table and something painful comes up I tend to say, “my darling bring that piece in and rock it, tenderly, for it is a piece of you.” I was originally taught to release, I was told you need to release that pain, anger, whatever, but life experience has shown me that you can’t release anything you don’t own. I also know if something can’t be released it’s not because I’m doing it wrong or you’re doing it wrong, it’s because something needs to be transformed. To transform the feelings you have to sit with them; this was one of the hardest things I ever had to learn. For example, most everyone I know, including myself, has abandonment issues and when the feelings of being less than and not being safe, (abandonment’s favorite dance partners), come up the last thing I or any of my friends wanted was to do sit with them.
The process of staying with the feelings was an anathema to me because it was so difficult to shake off the idea that my so-called negative feelings would and were creating my reality and were defects of character. This is what I’d been taught, along with it-happened-then-it-is-not-happening-now-so-move-on. There is no compassion for self in the kind of teaching, feelings become the enemy. Compassion for self is intrinsic to self-love; when there is no compassion in the teaching, healing is absent and the work of consciousness devolves into fixing. The minute you are looking at yourself as someone or something that needs to be fixed you are out of the realm of your own humanity and genuine self-love is virtually impossible.
Uncomfortable feelings, from the mild to the excruciating, need to be paid attention to. One client said to me, “Kat I did pay attention and it only got worse.” “How so honey?” I asked. She thought a moment and then she said, “Well, all of a sudden it struck me that I truly believed I wasn’t allowed to have what I want. It was awful, I couldn’t stop sobbing.” My heart broke in on itself intimate as I am with the agony of that belief. “Of course you were sobbing,” I said, “how painful is that to realize there’s a part of you that genuinely believes you’re not allowed to have what you want.” “You mean there’s nothing wrong with me?” she asked. “Goddess no,” I said. “This is correct use of all those feelings they tell you to get rid of. Sit with ‘em long enough and they take you into belief systems you didn’t even know you had.” “I don’t think I wanted to know I had them,” my client said and we burst out laughing. I am flashing on a lotus as I write this. A lotus grows out the mud, really ugly, gunky mud; beauty (the lotus) has her roots in the mud, she draws the sustenance she needs to grow, to become, from the ugly, gunky mud. Thus, the ugly gunky mud is integrated, becomes part of the growth that is beauty, that is the lotus.
The work of consciousness integrates all the ugly, gunky mud that is the wound and the belief systems that keep it in place. You uncover your strengths, your weaknesses, your beauty, your ugly, your kind, your cold, your anger, your peace; you learn when to accept, when to surrender, and when to fight back. It’s a life long process, self-love and self-knowledge is ever evolving, but along the way the wounds lose their power to control you, your life, your work, and your relationships and oh, the places you will go. We are human beings, we are the divine incarnate, and we are vast beyond our wildest dreams. The work of consciousness puts us in touch with our vastness, it puts us in touch with our humanity. To be in touch with our humanity is to be in touch with our wholeness, our “ALL,” and our “ALL” contains all feelings, each has its place and purpose. The individual “ALL” is an exact replica of the Universal “ALL” and the Universal “ALL” is love. The macro (world) reflects the micro (individual). If we would see more love in the world, more compassion, then we must first start with ourselves.
Goddess Speak: Thoughts on Consciousness and Change
As I was making my leave-to-the-dark-to-make-room-for-the-New-Light list, one of the things I decided I’d like to create in my life is a more positive attitude. Within two hours after I completed my ritual, my entire shadow, around why I can’t be more positive, erupted. The excuses are good ones, valid, but they are rooted in an old context, a context that is keeping me locked in a pattern of behavior that at one time was clearly instrumental to my survival. What I had to face, what I was willing to face, was that this pattern of behavior, consciously chosen some years back, was no longer beneficial; if anything it was going to strangle me. I know change is in order when I find myself finding fault with everyone and everything and I am so resentful bitter tastes like honey. When this is on me, and that is exactly what it feels like, like I’m being ridden and crop nudged into screaming, frothing at the mouth insanity, I say, ‘oh dear darling, you’re very upset today. What’s wrong honey bun?’ If I’m working I tend to scoot the monster into the cage ( just for a little while darling I say) and if I’m not working I do what I do when I take the monster out of the cage namely cry, wail, bitch, moan, feel the powerless, feel the envy, etc. When it’s all out my body, and that can take as long as it takes, I’ll sit down and get to whatever “it” is. For me it’s not about fixing, I am not in the least bit interested in fixing myself or being fixed, and it’s not about getting something over and done with and closing doors. For me, it’s about opening doors to the not-so-pretty and the not-so-sweet. I am ever curious about who I am, why I am the way I am, and why I’m here. I am ever curious about my evolution and my ever-evolving, tangible understanding of what it means to be a sacred person. These are not intellectual exercises for me; yes intellect is involved but equally important are the feelings. The old mystery school axiom, “Know Self,” is as intrinsic to my life as gravity and oxygen.
Context is multi-layered, an ever shifting combination of experience, socialization, and programming; I make my decisions based on my context. All perception is rooted in context, it’s the soil out which perception grows, if you don’t change the context you can’t really change the perception. When I was raising my son, in order to survive I had to put my armor on every morning before striking out into the day.. There is no question life was a battle during this time and I lived on red alert for many years. Periodically, in my workshops, I bump into an un-initiated newbie who has read one to may Louise Hay books and tells me I should have chosen love. I tell her quietly but firmly that I did indeed choose love. I chose self and soul, I chose to say no, I chose to fight back, and I chose to learn how to set my boundaries. Setting boundaries for me meant I had to actually acknowledge I had needs and that those needs had never been met. I also had to acknowledge that I was projecting those needs outwards onto others and expecting them to meet them. Of course the people I was projecting the needs outwards onto were just like my parents (badly wounded, narcissistic, and controlling) and in this way I was recreating the exact emotional home I grew up in. Bottom line is I had no context for what it was like to have my needs recognized, much less satisfied, and the idea of actually having my needs recognized was so terrifying that I would simply call people who couldn’t possibly help me to keep the world as I knew it intact. This is where I was twenty-five years ago; unconscious of the wounds and unable to see the connection between the wounds and the behavior. All I knew was I was devastatingly unhappy and that was not the way I wanted to live. I dove into the self-help books, which worked for awhile, but life experience has shown most of the information to be little more than piece-meal truths oblivious to the influence and play of shadow.
When you really take a look at your belief system, when you bump into your lack of self worth, insecurity, self-loathing, and powerlessness, it’s agony. When I started to accept the pain and rage that grew out of this twisted, steaming stew, one of the hardest things to learn was to trace both back to their original source, rather than turning someone into “the other,” by projecting it onto them. You see I was taught to rise above someone’s bad behavior rather than say, ‘stop that.’ If I had said, “stop that,” as a child I would have been destroyed, this is not an exaggeration, so when I actually began to say, “stop that,” in my mid thirties my anxiety level hit the stratosphere. Of course it did, by asserting myself I was quite literally blowing up the foundation out which all that was me in the world grew. I had no context for this, I had no idea what the results would be. All I knew was wherever I was going had to be better than where I was. What I didn’t know then was the uncovering, discovery, and re-discovery of self is an eternal process and that I would be blowing up belief systems, and on the flip side creating new belief systems, for pretty much the rest of my life. Do this for over twenty-five years and believe me you will end up with a context for change, namely if you stay with it, stay with the feelings no matter how hard, take the actions no matter how gut-wrenching, you will come through no matter how narrow the opening. Sometimes it will be graceful and sometimes you‘ll feel like a chew toy for a big black dog. It will never, however, be boring and if you stick with it you can count on a new dawn, which is ever so much better than riding off into the sunset, and hope will once again spring eternal.
What I know of change is it is gradual, painful, life altering, absolutely worth it, and a constant. What I know is if I refuse to change there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell I will be able to live a conscious, authentic, happy life. To live consciously is to not be controlled by the wounding; the wounding creates the context out which the dysfunctional belief patterns grow. Wounds are eternal, you just get better at working with them, you get better at taking their power away and using that power to your benefit. This is psychic alchemy, this is the Great Work, this is the work of the adept. It is ultimately transformative and the province of the Dark Goddess. I was introduced to the Dark Goddess by a psychic. ‘Oh you’re a daughter of the Dark Goddess,’ she said and chills ran up my back and down and lightening hit the tower. By the time I got home I was so shook I had to go to bed and when I awoke the next day it felt like my entire cellular system had been re-arranged. At that point my path took on the kind of synchronicity that comes with living your myth. I found the right and perfect therapist, I found my sacred path, and I started to write. Synchronicity does not mean that all of a sudden everything is sunshine lollipops, far, far from it, if anything the ups, downs, and challenges intensify and there were days, and still are, days too numerous to count, when I know for fact that no one would consciously choose to get conscious, or start down the path of the Wise Woman/Mage, because if they really knew what it involved, and that once you started there was no turning back, they’d never do it. At the same time there is no other way I’d rather live.
Daily I ask and hold the two most important questions; who am I and how deeply can I love myself. Daily I know an all-pervasive gratitude, not the band-aid kind, but the context kind that comes with the experience of grace. To live consciously takes an emotional courage that cannot be measured. What it takes to get out from under, to free one’s self-esteem, from the cultural and familial paradigm cannot be charted and graphed. I, like so many others, am often too quick to dismiss my progress because my world, and I, don’t look like what I think my world, and I, ‘should,’ look like at this stage of my life. It’s been particularly bad this Christmas, kind of like drowning in a morass of grief and hopelessness. I’m feeling my losses and I’m tired of life as it is and there is no question I am undergoing some kind of huge, inner change and psychic re-alignment brought on by my Yule Ritual or the sensations of loss and the battle fatigue wouldn’t be quite so overwhelming. To be more positive in my approach is to lay down my battle mentality, a mentality that made me strong in the areas where I was laughingly weak; time management, planning, strategy, organization, showing up, setting boundary, and standing up for myself. A mentality that was not only key to my survival but intrinsic to my becoming conscious and living consciously. Intuitively, instinctively I knew it was time to release this dear and trusted friend to the dark of the Samhain season; intuitively, instinctively I knew I was going to have to give up the belief that in order to survive I had to be continually plotting my next move. My battle mentality had served it’s purpose, the foundation is secure, the learning was finished, and now it was time for something new.
So in the dark before the dawn of Yule I blessed and released the battle and as the first molten rays of the new light cracked through the cloud cover I set my intentions. (then Jena Luna and I ran around the car screaming ‘Wheeeeeee!’ like the little pig in the geico commercial) Naturally a few hours later my shadow erupted and all the reasons why I “shouldn’t” and why I “couldn‘t“ give up my battle mentality came up. I have a frame of reference for this however; every time I take an action that is life-altering and astoundingly good for me my shadow erupts and when it feels like Pompeii, experience has shown me I am on the right path. I have no context for this next phase of my life, I have no idea what it’s going to look like, or where I am going to end up. The intentions I set are of the heart and the truest and purest expression of my desires. They are about me, not another person, they are for me, not someone else, and I’m busy with coming up with new affirmations to support this change. There’s nothing like an affirmation to re-wire the psyche. The full moon of solstice was not a gentle full moon for me but a hard moon, there’s a-huge-opportunity-for-radical- change-here-kind of moon. I am not alone in this experience, my nearest and dearest felt it the same way; the details of our lives may be different but the themes are the same.
Goddess Speak....In my opinion the most adamant adherents to New Age thinking are the most terror based....Katherine Manaan
Just the other day I flashed on a woman I knew back in the 80’s in one of my twelve step programs who had been diagnosed with a particularly virulent form of cancer. She had been to see a healing ‘guru,’ who looked at her and said, ‘what have you done to create this is in your body?’ Floored by the guru’s utter lack of compassion, I also knew what I was thinking and intuiting was diametrically opposed with what was well on its way and has now become a common, knee-jerk response to illness; that we create it. My heart broke in on itself for this poor woman sitting in the shit brown folding chair, sobbing great gulping sobs, and trying desperately hard to figure out what she’d done wrong; my heart broke in on itself for all the other men and women who were going to experience the very same thing.
My beloved mother died of cancer, two of my closest friends are currently battling cancer, and I have been working with cancer patients for close to seventeen years. What I have witnessed is cancer doesn’t give a rat’s ass if you’re good, bad, virtuous, positive, repressed, enraged, or spiritual; it doesn’t care how much you forgive or how deeply you love or how earnestly you bargain. I have never seen a cancer patient who didn’t fight to live right up to the very end so don’t tell me if so and so had more of a fighting spirit she/he would have survived. That is an ignorant and naïve remark, as ignorant and naïve as the statement, he/she created her cancer. One out of two people are going to be diagnosed with cancer in 2012 and it is not because they’re sitting around thinking negative thoughts, festering with resentment, or repressing their deepest feelings. It‘s because the level of chemical toxicity in the environment and the chemicals in food and virtually everything with which you come into contact are damaging cellular DNA. It is the injury to the DNA that allows mutations in the cells to occur and mutations become tumors; some benign and some malignant.
What I find most profoundly disturbing about the ever growing popularity of the one-size- fits-all-new-age-you-control-your-life belief systems, is it is beginning to have a DDT effect on the way people perceive the sick. When it comes to cancer, I am hearing more and more of, they’re not spiritual enough,’ or ‘they’re not positive enough,’ or ‘they’re not forgiving enough,’ or ‘they’re too angry,’ or worst of all ‘it’s a lesson they need to learn.’ (nice God you got there) I have seen patient after patient internalize this kind of crap; I have seen patient after patient begin to believe cancer treatment isn’t working, or their cancer has returned, because of something they’re doing wrong.
What is being skipped over entirely is the fact that traditional cancer treatment does not cure cancer, stop metastasis, or prevent re-occurrence. All traditional cancer treatment does is completely destroy the body’s natural immune system, permanently damage the internal organs, and retard the growth of the cancer cell. That there is no correlation whatsoever between cancer cure and shrinking the cancer cell has been completely left out of the conversation. Rather than blaming the patient for re-occurrence because he/she wasn‘t spiritual or positive enough, the question that needs to be asked is, why are people encouraged, expected, and brainwashed even, into paying several hundred thousand dollars for a treatment that may or may not work for a fairly limited amount of time and is so toxic, painful, and destructive to the body that re-occurrence is almost guaranteed within a matter of years or immediately.
In my opinion the most adamant adherents to New Age thinking are the most terror based. They are terrified of powerlessness, of the random, of a lack of control, and they have finally found a system of thought and a way of being that allows them to feel safe. I have seen the same traits in the followers of any strictly orthodox religion. When my mother was dying, clearly dying, bald and partially blind in the hospital, one of her born again friends, who I happen to love very much, showed up and after she’d visited with mom for awhile came to find me in the waiting room. I stood, reached my arms out to her, and she fell into me crying, ‘oh Kathy I really thought Jesus was going to save her.’
She stepped away from me, her face all crumpled, and rather than asking the next logical question, namely why didn’t Jesus save her, her face hardened and she said, ‘the ways of God are mysterious.’ What I don’t understand is when something is so in your face, so challenging to your faith and what you believe, how can you not ask questions. I question my faith all the time, I grapple with, I hold it up to the light. This is what makes it a working faith, it lives, it breathes, it is not some etched in stone dogma that requires I sacrifice common sense, study, intuition, instinct, heart, and life experience.
The purpose of life is to evolve and we evolve through transformation. Yes there are lessons in life but this whole ‘what is the lesson is here?’ is getting out control. When the question is used in any OTHER way but to FREE you, than it is being used incorrectly and punitively. To the adamant New Age-er negative thoughts create a negative reality so they spend a great deal of time rising above their ugly, splitting off, and denying it, not realizing that the so-called ugly and negative feelings are NOT forming their reality, and are little more than symptoms of what is actually forming their reality. When I finally owned I was blaming (the ugly feeling) people for taking advantage of me, the logical question was why do I allow this to keep happening which is when I discovered the behavior was rooted in an utter lack of self- esteem. The work on my end was to begin the arduous process of repairing my self-esteem. Believe me when I tell you it’s much easier to think this is a negative feeling and I’ll just to rise above and say I forgive; the reason I know that’s easier is because that’s what my first teachers taught me to do and I did it, till it stopped working. That’s when I moved from fixing into transforming.
Real change is transformative; real change is gradual (think snake and you‘re watching your skin shed), rarely comfortable, and forces you out of your comfort zone. Change is a CONSTANT of life; you can see it all around you. Fall become winter, winter becomes spring, spring becomes summer, summer becomes fall, each transforms into the other. Science can explain HOW this happens but they cannot tell you WHY, anymore than science can explain WHY the sperm insists upon swimming towards that egg, the sun continues to rise and set, and the moon waxes and wanes. The WHY is the mystery, the WHY is the unknowable, but at the same time you can see it all around you. The great flaw in New Age thinking is that it ignores the WHY; the metaphor that comes to mind is an exquisitely, beautiful butterfly pinned dead on velvet.
I am of the Wyrd, the concept of creating your own reality, of the impact of thought on your life, has genuine validity but it is a partial truth. I love my affirmations, I love chanting, and I hold true that I can actively impact my life and co- create my world for my deepest and highest good, but life has also taught me there are times when I simply have to play the random and unexpected cards I’ve been dealt. I am a healer and yes I have seen people who refuse to get well, who have a tremendous amount invested in staying sick, who have in fact created their illness, but in my practice these people are the exception not the rule. I consciously choose to work with cancer patients because I am not afraid of the disease or the process that accompanies it. I consciously choose to work with cancer patients because life, change, transforming, and evolving doesn’t stop because they have cancer, if anything it intensifies.
Cancer patients are some of the bravest people I know; they quite literally deal with their mortality on a daily basis and it is a solitary, devastatingly lonely, and agonizing process. I am a fighter by nature, love life beyond all reason, and I will not hesitate to intervene, sometime gracefully and sometimes not, when I feel a patient is being punished or her process, a process so huge it boggles all reason, is reduced by malignantly simplistic minds looking for easy, comfortable reasons. Any healing is interactive. I know the transformative work my patients and I do together extends their lives and equally important, improves the quality of their lives before, during, and after treatment. I also know the work I do is integral to, but not, the cure and that once traditional treatment (chemo/radiation) begins I am no longer treating the cancer but the horrific side effects of treatment.
Rachel Carson, the mother of the modern environmental movement in this country, was the first to draw a correlation between chemicals and cancer in her book ‘The Silent Spring,’ The book was published in 1962. Fast forward some forty-four years and the 9/11 first responders, men and women who were breathing air thick with toxic chemicals for days, even months, on end, are suffering from types of cancer medicine has never seen before. All the dogs they had down on site sniffing for the dead were tumor-ridden and dead within six months. Yet traditional medicine still refuses to recognize the clear correlation between environment and cancer, it’s a money thing, and continues to treat a chemically induced disease with the harshest of chemicals.
Chemo is a derivative of mustard gas, radiation poisoning is a side of effect of radiation and a nuclear blast, also a money thing. All cancer research is based on the hypothesis that the way to cure cancer is to kill or retard the growth of the primary tumor through toxic and aggressive means; the theory flies in the face of thirty-five-plus years of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Statistically people with the best rates of cancer survival use alternative therapies in conjunction with tradition treatment yet virtually no monies are spent on researching alternative cancer treatment and prevention. This is something I hope with all my heart and soul to change in my lifetime. As I write this Wise Women across the country are actively involved with herbal prevention and seeking herbal cures; cures that work with the immune system of the body rather than against it.
God did not make cancer; God does not give you cancer; and when people die from cancer it’s not God who did it, it’s the cancer. And you know what…it sucks, it really fucking sucks. Yes my mother was a smoker, she had quit years before, and she still got lung cancer. My father smoked like a fiend, kools no less, he didn’t get lung cancer. I know of another woman who was a life-long vegetarian, never ate anything that wasn’t organic, didn’t smoke or drink or do drugs, was a yoga instructor, and was hit with bone cancer which metastasized so rapidly through-out her body she was dead in a matter of weeks. I know of still another woman who lived on fried foods, whiskey, and camels and she lived to the ripe old age of ninety.
The stark reality is for all the reasons given for cancer there are an equal number of exceptions and when there is no clear answer people get insecure. When people get insecure they don’t feel safe, they feel powerless, and when they feel powerless they start reaching for something that will make them feel safe. ‘What do you think she did to create it,’ they ask. ‘The ways of God are mysterious,’ they say. Bullshit, I say. Just watch an oak and a linden through the seasons.
Live loud, love fierce, and suffer no fools, Kat *******************************************************************************
"When you harness the resistance of everything massing against you, to incarnate the full presence of the radiant one inside you, you conjure a force of love stronger than all the hate in the world."...Nancy Retzlaff
Happy Samhain! What happens to me at Samhain is a slowing down, a pause. I am not in any hurry to move forward; rather I am interested in looking back over the year and taking stock. Samhain after all is my New Year; I am going to take all the time I need to say good-bye and honor the passing of the old, I am going to take all the time I need to think about which pieces of the tapestry I’m taking with me. Sometimes I have no idea what to take, in which case I turn it over to the Lady and the Lord for my deepest and highest good. Sometimes I know exactly what I don’t want ever again and I do a burning. Samhain is a great time for burnings.
As a witch I fully recognize the interconnection of all life. At Samhain as I grieve my losses and say goodbye to my year, the good, the bad, and the in-between, I never forget that, like the Goddess, I hold the seeds of new life and new light within me. That light however is not my focus; death is my focus and I honor its role. Death has taught me to let go, to make room for the new; death has taught me of inevitability; death has taught me that no matter how devastating the grief and the loss re-birth always follows; death has taught me of the vital importance of change.
The present is rooted in the past and the future is rooted in the present. If I would change my future I must look to my past and allow what needs to die to die. In this way I honor the life force.
Happy New Year My Darlings. Blessed Be. Love x 3 Kat