Saturday, December 22, 2012

What goes up must come down

One thing we failed to teach in Reclaiming - or even mention - is that contact with the numinous is blissful - or at least ecstatic (which is not always pleasant). I wonder why we forgot that part? Also forgotten, mentioning that after the ecstasy comes the agony. The let down after a big event is inevitable. Just imagine the first couple of weeks of January. Yeah. That's what I'm talking about. It's coming, our great, national month of detox from the holiday festivities. January is the queen mother of holiday hangovers. Whew!

What goes up, must come down.

Come to think of it, in Reclaiming we did mention the unfortunate reality of energy hangovers - ruefully - but never until the day after a particularly transformational ritual, as one would after drinking too much. It never occurred to us to try to mitigate the heavy thud of coming back to "real life" after a dance with the divine. We didn't think of our rituals as intoxicating exactly. We referred to them as "powerful," an excellent euphemism, I think.

It isn't just modern day neo Pagans who experience the energy hangover, of course. Think of all the ecstatic sects in Christianity. Below is Bernini's interpretation of the old Catholic version of divine bliss. That's St. Teresa. Not sure who the other nun is, but dear God, they are clearly flying as high as any one of us pagans when we did our rituals. One wonders how they felt the next day. And Teresa went on to be a saint which always means There Will Be Suffering. It was worth it to them, to experience an intimate moment with God. 

Naturally I'm thinking about this because last weekend was, for me, a rite of passage, a numinous, luminous, magical and perfect culmination of an old cycle in my personal saga, the cycle of my relationship with my mother. I will likely never find the right language to express what happened to me. If I were a poet, I would try that form. Last weekend was so overfull of wonder and transformation, I will no doubt reflect on it for the rest of my life. It was that big.


Now I'm home, back in mundane reality. I'm working a lot (which is good). I'm also, of course, coming down from the pure clarity and perfection of last weekend. It's inevitable but may I say I'm not really enjoying it. Who would? When I planned the trip I didn't understand that returning right before Christmas, when you're supposed to be full of holiday cheerfulness, was perhaps not the best timing in the world.

Buddhist and Hindu saints and high practitioners of those traditions focus on being calm. Of course they aren't calm all the time - no human can be - but the practice must stand them in good stead at moments like this, coming down off a peak experience just as Christmas is ramping up for the big blowout on the 24th and 25th. 

Here's the face of Guanyin of the Southern Sea, the big ole bodhisattva I've been friends with since the early 1970s. Here's a pic I took of her. It's blurry, unfortunately, but you can see she has the calm face, nothing like St. Teresa, above.

I experienced a pure, calm state when I lay down on my mother's grave. The pic I posted the other day is me with the calm face. I can't stop looking at that picture. Wow.

Though I have not yet been able to get back to the placid, centered smoothness I felt at that moment, I now know it's possible. That's what the Buddhists mean by being centered! What a revelation. I thought being centered meant observing the drama and trauma of life from an objective place, remaining slightly aloof so as to keep from being drawn in. 

On my mother's grave, I went deep to a quiet place where there is no drama, hence no need for detachment or aloofness. That state of being produces the calm face. How I would love to find a way back to that state without having to lie down on my mother's grave! What I'm trying to describe, being centered, isn't a sustainable place because I am a dynamic, living being, but I would love to be able to access it sometimes, even if only for moments at a time. Not knowing how I got there last week, I have no map to get back to it. Hence I am practicing the calm face of those traditions. It's a Fake It Till You Make It strategy. 

It hasn't worked so far, but in the meantime, I'm enjoying the practice and I do think it's mitigating the energy hangover. I am grateful for that. 

Also grateful that the solstice has passed. Let there be light! Shalom.


Pam said...

How beautiful -'placid, centred smoothness'.
Such a soothing place to go to in your mind whenever you need to Reya, and knowing that you can always return to this place in Kansas where such a necessary experience happened.
Family pushes so many emotional buttons. It's good when some of these either that were previously detrimental, no longer work, or we manage to change our emotional wiring to short-circuit previous responses to a much better place - closer to our heart than our analytical mind.
So happy for your peace. x

ellen abbott said...

You aren't enjoying this because you are still enjoying that. Nothing wrong with that. You may feel out of sync but everyone still has in common the joy and general happiness that underlies the individual expressions of transcendence.

ellen abbott said...

Does that make sense?

Reya Mellicker said...

It does.

Your comment, too, Pam.