Friday, 17 February 2017

Self-love is not Always Convenient

The matter of self-love comes up time and again. Being on any kind of healing journey requires patience and kindness towards the self. I believe that this forms the basis of a balanced relationship with others. But what does it really mean to love the self? I think it requires more than thinking positive thoughts.

The parts of ourselves that we reject are those aspects we see as weak and a hindrance. Trying to remedy it by thinking positive thoughts is merely another way of suppressing it. In this way we separate our thoughts from emotions. Dividing the self into desirable and undesirable or strong and weak does not facilitate wholeness.

It is easy to love the self when life is flowing. It is a lot trickier when one is in conflict with the world. I have asked myself if loving myself means sticking to my way when I truly think it is best even though it might be wiser to be open to feedback. My fear of lacking self-awareness is a mask for fear of isolation. Here begins inner conflict, and this is where the matter of self-love becomes complicated. Standing up for one’s convictions is one thing, but at the expense of the need to be loved it can cause more fragmentation.

Love is not always convenient. It sometimes asks us to make sacrifices or go through darkness. The same goes for self-love. It would be nice if self-love were always straightforward and asked us to favour one way above another. But in the midst of confusion there is no such clear remedy.

Self-love requires presence to all aspects of one’s being even amidst turmoil. That is the best I can come up with.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Spider Symbolism: Resistance

Recently when I was feeling very stuck I had some imagery coming to me and I turned it into a poem (loose definition). I then made a drawing to accompany it. The spider and her web were apt symbols because of the association with danger and bondage but also creativity.

I am reminded of the classical myth of Arachne, a female personification of the spider. In Ovid’s Metamorphoses there is a weaving contest between a mortal woman, Arachne, and the goddess of crafts and wisdom, Athena. Not only was Arachne extremely skilful, but she also exposed the crimes of the gods through her weaving. The infuriated goddess turned her into a spider as punishment. As a remnant of her human gift, the spider still spins her web.

Shelob & Me
The mortal and the divine are both present in the story. I would contend that Arachne and Minerva are mirror images of one another. Suppressed creativity can turn into darkness, as symbolised by the lonesome spider. The feeling of oppression, although inconvenient, often would not leave us alone until we claim our creative gifts. My poem is called “The Resistance”.

The Resistance
Like a shadow of the night she comes
Enfolded in darkness
In her hand is a scythe
Gleaming in the moonlight
The door is closed, but she comes in uninvited
Takes a seat on my bed.
I pretend not to be afraid, but my throat constricts.
I ignore her, waiting for the sun to come up.
But time stands still. She is not going anywhere.
She makes me cry.
Why are you holding me back? I hear myself moan.
Why are you making me weak?
The room fades out as her presence turns into a nightmare
A spider she is, and I the moth stuck in her web
The sticky strands clamp wilfully around my wrists.
I try to scream, but my throat is tight
Blue fangs, red eyes
Coming in for the attack
She wants to prey on me, paralyse me
Turn me into an empty shell
Poison moves closer, the end is nigh
Her foul mouth leans in for the kiss
The red eyes connect with mine, become larger
They show me gaunt figures
Lifetimes of suffering
The unloved ones know not how un-alone they truly are
Despairing, they look as trapped as I feel
So many gifts going to waste.
I sympathise with the spider, and surrender
She bites, and my mind is lulled into a soporific sleep
A goddess is holding me, takes me up into the night sky
I sit on the moon and look down on a beautiful creation
A woven tapestry
Magical story created from the self-same strands that held me
This is why I won’t leave you alone, she whispers,
Know yourself.