DARK GODDESS RISING
Session 5 we explored the fourth/heart chakra (unconditional love) and the archetype/goddess #Medusa
Medusa wasn’t always a snake-haired monster! Of divine birth, she was originally a ravishingly beautiful maiden. Most men who looked upon her desired her.
Medusa was totally into this. Some see that as owning and enjoying her feminine power. Some see it as vain, and flaunting it.
Poseidon, god of the Sea, overcome by desire for Medusa, has sex with her in the temple of Athena (goddess of War & Wisdom). In some versions of the myth this is consensual. In some versions it’s rape.
Athena is enraged either way, and places a curse upon Medusa in vengeance. The beautiful maiden becomes incredibly ugly … so much so, that the mere sight of her face turns onlookers to stone. Her lustrous long locks are turned into hideous serpents.
Enraged by her fate, Medusa uses her monstrous new power to turn males to stone. Some see this as her getting revenge for the rape … but it’s somehow odd that she turns her anger on ‘men / the masculine’ instead of on Athena. This reminds us of how we often project our rage onto an undeserving ‘enemy’.
Eventually the hero Perseus slays Medusa with the help of a magic mirrored shield (a gift from Athena). He uses this to glimpse Medusa’s reflection so that he’s not forced to look at her, and thus turned to stone.
He then makes use of her severed head on many epic adventures, turning his foes to stone. Eventually he gifts the head to Athena, who is well pleased.
Some see Medusa as a monster, but her myth goes deeper and speaks to us about the frozen numbness that is often a reaction to trauma, and how to melt that ice to regain the tender maiden inside (ie the soft ‘feminine’ heart inside us all.)
WANT MORE? YOU GOT IT, BABY
CLEARING OLD SHIT
The ‘root clear’ process was around:
*Jealousy – the wound
*#Numbness – the shadow
*Boundaries – the challenge
*Safety – the gift
Out of our jealousy of another (like Athena’s for Medusa) we attack in terrible rage. Sometimes the trauma of what’s happened to us is so painful that we numb-out, and go frozen inside. We then act out of our pain to freeze others out, and ‘destroy’ them (like Medusa’s power to turn onlookers to stone).
When we’re numb we often don’t even know what we’re missing. We have massive blind spots that have been so cut off from our psyche that we can’t feel them. The tender soft heart that we were born with is frozen, and we can’t feel or express our soft emotional caring ‘feminine’ nature.
This goes beyond gender. For example, it’s common for men in this culture to shame and attack any sign of the ‘soft feminine’ in another male. Say a fellow male cries … well, he’ll suffer attack for that. Not surprisingly, most men have frozen their soft hearts in order to survive. They can’t even feel what they’re missing.
The myth also speaks to the ‘unhealthy masculine’ attacking the ‘vulnerable feminine’ (ie Poseidon’s rape) rather than respecting and honouring it (which is what the ‘healthy masculine’ does, holding space and encouraging feminine expression in the self and others).
In response the ‘unhealthy feminine’ can become understandably enraged, and possibly project this onto a wrong source (as in when a person ‘hates all men’). This is mirrored by Medusa turning all men into stone.
The way out of this bitterly cold fate, is to learn and embrace healthy #boundaries. When we learn how to protect our soft hearts, and to be the ‘healthy masculine’ that looks after our ‘tender feminine’, we start to melt.
In that atmosphere of love, and an opening heart chakra, we start to feel truly safe. The warmth of the safety we’ve created further melts the ice, and we can finally reach beneath our rage and terror over ‘not being seen and respected in our feminine’. We learn how to express this, feel the old buried pain, and let it go.
Underneath the rage, and terror of trauma, we eventually find a deep grief. We grieve all that could have been, all the times we were hurt and shutdown, all the times we were rejected and abandoned, and all the times we abandoned ourselves as a result.
On the other side of this grief is an open heart. Life comes back into us, and our soft feminine nature starts to gently blossom. We regain the beauty, desirability, and tenderness that our child selves started with. Now it is protected by our own ‘healthy masculine’, and our skilful use of appropriate boundaries.
We can also give this gift of safety to others in their feminine expression, but only when we’ve made the heroic journey to rescue our own softest nature.
To the extent that we’ve opened to our vulnerability and emotions, we’ll be appropriately open to others (while setting any needed boundaries for self-care). To the extent that we’ve frozen over our inner needs and abandoned ourselves, we’ll freeze out others, and reject them (projecting our pain onto them, and so not seeing them clearly).
THE MAGIC OF MIRRORS
I had a huge epiphany this session. When you’re numb to certain pain inside, you don’t even know that you’re numb. There’s no way to see the split-off blindspot without the aid of mirrors (like Perseus’ mirrored shield).
Fortunately mirrors are all around us!
*Every person you fall in love with
*Every person you judge
*Every person you hate
*Every time you’re triggered
*Every person you deeply admire
*Every situation that ‘gets your goat’
The mirrors point the way back home, to regaining lost parts of self (both ‘dark’ and ‘light’).
ME AND MIRRORS
I’ve had a huge and welcome epiphany that I feel very grateful for. Most of my life, I’ve felt easily drawn and often very tender toward other people who are in emotional pain.
It’s like I can smell it a mile away. For much of my life (not as much in recent times) I’ve wanted to ‘heal and save them’, and I’ve often imposed my help on others who did not ask for it and did not want it.
I now realise that what I was seeing mirrored back to me was MY OWN PAIN AND NUMBED-OUT TRAUMA. It’s not that this didn’t exist in others in some way too … but that doesn’t matter in the light that it exists in me, and was screaming for my attention.
I was so frozen to some old painful memories, emotions, body sensations etc that I couldn’t hear my own screaming.
I developed a ‘protector part’ (when I was young) in an attempt to deal with my ‘wounded abandoned/rejected child part’. My particular protector was a rescuer (and most of us are run by our protector parts, most of the time, and dis-identified from our wounded parts … who we cut-off and become numb to).
My rescuer acted to rescue other people from their pain, and put the focus on them and their needs, over me and my needs.
It told the justifying story that this was because I’m a loving and compassionate person. But the deeper truth is that I was running away from my own inner pain and self-abandonment, which I couldn’t bear to feel and felt terrified of (because it would have been overwhelming to feel it as a little child, and wouldn’t have helped me at all back then). So I distracted myself by focusing on others’ pain.
It was a smart (and very understandable) strategy for child-me to develop. My Mum was the only one in my family who was allowed to have needs, and I was rejected and punished when I expressed mine. When I learned to care for her needs instead, I wasn’t in as much danger, and she sometimes even showed me crumbs of approval.
Child-me hungrily lapped these up, and learned my lesson well:
*My needs = badness. I won’t be loved.
*Others’ needs = good. I might sometimes be loved.
Now as I face a life situation where the past is coming back to life in the present (as it does, over and over, until we feel and heal it), I have a golden opportunity.
I can see my own suffering child’s face in the mirror of others’ rejecting me, out of their frozen pain.
Rather than focusing on the other, for perhaps the first time in fullness, I’m focusing on me. I’m taking the time and putting in the effort of gently being with myself.
Every time I think of ‘the other’, I look deeper inside myself. Each time I discover that there is a wounded child in me feeling pangs of pain. I’m only thinking of ‘the other’ as a strategy to distract myself from my pain.
I witness these pangs of pain from the seat of my compassionate heart. I feel both my compassionate love for myself, and the pain of the hurting child inside. If the child wants to cry, I cry. If they want to shiver, I shake. If they want to rage, I find a safe place to yell.
I use my ‘healthy masculine’ to both hold my pain in spaciously mindful awareness, and to make sure I’m in safe situations to express it (whether that’s alone or with consenting others who have capacity).
As I do this practice I notice my pain is easing. I notice there is flow again in my emotions and body, where once there was frozen rigidity. I notice the way I look at the world is melting and reforming. I notice that the world is changing, that it’s becoming softer, rain-hued, more beautiful.
I notice that all my ‘soft feminine’ is beautiful, and all the magic and beauty I once only projected onto others, also lives inside me.
HOW BOUT YOU?
Are there mirrors in your life that get your attention? Is there pain inside you that you would like to learn to be with, soft parts that you’d like to recover?
If so I invite you to turn within, and give them your compassionate attention.
If you’re new to such a practice, you might benefit from a supportive therapist (I have at key points in my life), and/or practices like mindfulness, Acceptance & Commitment Therapy, or Eugene Gendlin’s ‘focusing’ (which has been hugely beneficial in my life and anyone can learn to do. It was developed for people who couldn’t attend counselling to be able to receive its benefits).
Anybody can start here:
*One conscious breath at a time
*Staying with trauma-pain for only one second
*Then resting with a self-nurturing practice (ie taking a bath, walking in nature, a warm drink, a hug, doing art or whatever works for you)
If you’re more practised, I suggest extending the time that you stay-with trauma-pain, holding it in your compassionate awareness, and feeling it fully. Remember to pay attention to when you’re ‘losing the ability to stay present and getting overwhelmed’, and to rest with a self-loving practice.
This practice is called titration and it’s used to excellent effect in trauma therapy (use it for any emotional pain that feels ‘too big’).
Over time our brains and nervous systems rewire, and we develop capacity to hold ourselves fully (and others’). This is the miracle of neuroplasticity, and simultaneously the grace of the divine.
We don’t need to stay under Medusa’s curse. We can learn from her fate, and courageously recover our softest heart.
Until session 6.
[Image sourced at https://mitosleyendascriaturas.blogspot.com/2017/07/medusa.html]