big jaws and a beautiful space

I’d like to talk a bit about aiming for the positive, the peaceful and the luminous, the light giving and the freeing.

I am not one to underestimate the difficult or trying aspects of life for living beings, and I am not one to gush about what a wonderful world it is. I think it is both wonderful and hideous, but I sure as hell hope there are better options (in fact I believe there are). However, for the last 24 years or so, I have really appreciated the value of what I used to derisively refer to as “positive thinking”, though actually it is more positive functioning.

To be positive (internally unburdened, creative, spacious) is a life skill which I was not taught by my upbringing, by my struggling and traumatized parents, nor by the turbulent counterculture I knew. I needed to learn it a lot later, and whatever criticisms people want to throw at it, the New Age movement gave help there where few did. There’s no doubt in my mind, New Agers get some things right.

Another that really helped was the egalitarian, humorous and independent Witch Marion Weinstein. Just brilliant at what she was able to do, and she remains a quiet inspiration and guide for me.

What it really is about is spiritual power; something which isn’t physical, biological, technological, intellectual, or any other material idea of force or ability that we have. It isn’t even the power of persuasion, communication, and certainly not any kind of manipulation (neither power over, nor power under). In the tarot it is represented by the card Strength, which paradoxically is also called “Force” in some packs, but this is not a power which we would recognize as force, for it is fundamentally unified and unifying, unchallenged.

If this is a power though, then it is also a world. Actually it is the real world for me. It is the fact that this power is also a world which makes of it a shelter and a gateway. For me this is where magic truly comes from, and it is also the world of the soul. Here are answers both low and high, not least of all to our apparent suffering.

I think for me, so many of our problems are due to both us and our society (and even its reformers) having everything fundamentally back to front and upside down. We are caught in identification with what we essentially are not, in a world of appearances that completely misrepresents the true nature of both causality and being. We are like the Hanged Man of the tarot in our moments of realization, hanging upside down, in an already upside down world. To realize and remember that is itself a relief.

So I remember to focus on the positive, and on positive spiritual power. I remember my magical UFO that actually is always there. I have to, because I am frail at times still.

And then I found this article yesterday, about the goddess Akhilandeshvari, and it is wonderful, and makes so much sense to me. You can find a longer article with much of the same information here.

Akhilandeshvari is a Hindu goddess I had not heard of before, though I understand she is a form of the great goddess Parvati. I have seen two translations for her name, one being “Supreme Goddess who rules the Universe”, and the other (used in the articles above) is “the always broken Goddess” (Akhilanda translates as “never not broken”). Some of her icons even show her as kinda coming apart, in pieces. Hindu Goddesses are often shown riding animal mounts, and in Akhilaneshvari’s case, she rides a crocodile, which I also find fascinating and resonant.

From reading these articles I got a great sense of Akhilandeshvari as the power of being broken, as when all our strategies to fake (it’s always a fake) independent coherence and stability, and invulnerability fail, as when our illusory wholeness is broken, when it’s done, over. All those things based on fear, and what we actually aren’t – scuppered. What light then has the possibility of becoming evident.

As Julie Peters says:

“It’s the kind of broken that tears apart all the stuff that gets us stuck in toxic routines, repeating the same relationships and habits over and over, rather than diving into the scary process of trying something new and unfathomable”

Elephant Journal

And that crocodile that I find so fascinating:

“Crocodiles are interesting in two ways: Firstly, Stoneberg explains that the crocodile represents our reptilian brain, which is where we feel fear. Secondly, the predatory power of a crocodile is not located in their huge jaws, but rather that they pluck their prey from the banks of the river, take it into the water, and spin it until it is disoriented. They whirl that prey like a dervish seeking God, they use the power of spin rather than brute force to feed themselves”

Ibid

So the way I am seeing this, the crocodile could be seen as that knot that holds us here as what we have got conditioned to be, and as what we are not in essence and reality. The fear, panic and rage that actually underlies “normality” and ego life. It is no wonder that people find life hard, with all we have to do to avoid looking at it, at this level. But the aspect of spinning confusion is also very interesting, for confusion is both distressing and liberating, and the power of the crocodile is part of what breaks us up. This extraordinary river beast is an awe inspiring part of both what we seem to be, and what frees us.

But as both Julie Peters and Yogi Ananda Saraswathi note, the experience of brokenness and liberation in brokenness also implies an understanding; that whatever we may rebuild is itself also a relative prison, a  conditioning, a rut, built in part on the fear that the crocodile also embodies. We might choose to not be too tightly put together, not out of fear, but out of freedom. It is a great work to really live such a learning, but it is there for us.

So there is choice in the teaching of brokenness, just as there is in magic; and the relief of undoubted honesty.

Considerable blessing.

Crocodylus acutus jalisco mexico by Tomascastelazo (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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