March 24, 2019

{Goddess Journey} - Part One

This is the first of three excerpts from the Goddess Journey chapter of my book-in-progress (tentatively titled) A Memory of Love: The Spiritual Journey of a Princess. Enjoy....xo 

{Part One}
“Diana was an ascendant female,” explained Jungian scholar Josephine Evetts-Secker, “who could flout both the patriarchy and matriarchal order, fulfilling and negating feminist ideals; lauded as independent woman by some and by others castigated as a Barbie-doll princess.” Naturally charismatic with star quality, Diana attracted a variety of stars from the entertainment worldElton John, Pavarotti and Freddie Mercury (there’s a story of Diana going clubbing, in disguise, with Queen's lead singer and his pals)—just as she befriended well-known people who were “aspirants to justice” like Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa. Writing in her essay “The People’s Princess,” Evett-Secker continued: “She bridged the glittery world of fashion and the seat of Establishment power. She was as much the female trickster as goddess; so seen, so mysterious, hiding quixotically behind apparent transparency; unconsciously manipulating concealment and revelations, echoing archaic mystery conventions.” 

Like many scholars from the Jungian school of thought, Evetts-Secker compared Diana to various goddess archetypes. To Aphrodite, who “dissolved resistance” and inspired a dynamic of “an ancient strategy, through love to power.” To “girlish Persephone” because of Diana’s playfulness while tiptoeing around danger, and to Demeter as “the raging mother protecting her sons from public assault by those who wanted to peddle their images.”

As a daughter, sister, friend, bride, princess, wife, mother, divorcĂ©e, lover, fashion-plate, healer and ambassador, Diana’s life stages, her womanly rites of passages, were lived out in a world arena for all to see. And since her life was and still is examined like few others, its complexity offers an intriguing milieu, connecting the spirit of all women. “Diana was a divided, unhappy and bewildered Princess,” Evett-Secker added, “as well as an ebullient beauty, graceful, opulent and full of vivid, if vulnerable and threatened, life.”

Or as counselor Steffan Vanel stated in his book, Charles and Diana, An Inside Story: An Astrological-Karmic View: “Diana embodied a complexity of contradictions which would enable virtually everyone to see and hear their own story or agenda in her life.” Diana’s contradictions were indeed our own. 

Ann Shearer, writing through a Jungian lens about her observances of Diana’s memorial service, noted the paradoxical images used about the late princess, from powerful goddess to helpless victim. “And here is a central paradox: the forces of unity that ‘Diana’ became grew the stronger for the very complexity of contradictions she contained. As we learned more of her real and fictitious selves,” Shearer continued in her “Tales of the Unfolding Feminine” essay, “and the legends around her grew, she carried for us an incontestable truth: that we humans must struggle with a mass of inconsistencies within ourselves and somehow learn to honour them.”

Another Jungian analyst, Ian Alister, shared this take in his essay “Your Cheating Heart” from When A Princess Dies: 

An extraordinary feature of Diana’s life, from her engagement to her death, was the extent of public exposure, providing many personal details and characteristics which could act as pegs for our own individual projections. It had all the qualities of a soap opera except that this was real. We could watch this drama which involved the suffering and sacrifice of a person who carries a symbolic charge for most of us, whether consciously or not. We can feel it, think about it, and try to relate it to continuous psychological processes within us. To make sense of it in this way, to give it meaning, is part of our struggle to make body and mind whole. 

Perhaps that was a gift of Diana’s life, in support of both women and men, then and now, to make sense of and to honor our whole”—body, mind and spirit. And, in turn, a deepening of soul. It’s an inner journey calling forth our wise intuitive intelligence and a depth of feminine-grounded compassion, tapping into mythological longings and long-ago legends that can reveal a magnificent peeling-away-of-layers kind of journey. A journey where we all can hear the call of the goddess.

In the words of Rumi, the thirteenth-century Sufi mystic: “There’s a voice that doesn’t use words. Listen to it, as the personal self breaks open.” Such a break open of self holds the possibility of an extraordinary rite of passage into an intimate journey, measured only by the level of our courage, where we just might discover the authentic spirit of, for men, the empathetic side of masculinity, and for women, the authentic spirit of our womanliness, indeed, our own goddess nature. Not unlike one princess-swirled exploration in all its archetypal glory once upon a time.

[Part Two next time, “The Reappearing Goddess”...then Part Three, Glorious Inanna]

March 17, 2019

{Putting Love on the Ballot}

My guest editorial, "Putting Love on the Ballot," published on Confluence Daily...and reprinted below!


I recently attended a gathering in Greenville, South Carolina, where author, spiritual teacher, and now candidate for president of the United States, Marianne Williamson was speaking. I wanted to thank her in person for doing something extremely radical: Putting love on the ballot—squarely, unapologetically, powerfully, eloquently. “I am running for president,” she declared, “in order to harness the political potential of our love, our decency, and our compassion. That is who we are, and that is what America should be.” Love is a topic in which Marianne is well-versed.

Her first book, A Return to Love published in 1992, and the first of seven New York Times’ bestsellers (all reflections on the principles of A Course in Miracles), proclaimed simply: “Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we have learned here.” Marianne writes almost as much about fear as love—given fear is a result of hate, both opposites of love. “Fear unchecked grows exponentially. Love poured forth has the power to remove it.”

Does the presence of love really have that much life-changing power? Marianne adds: “...where love is absent, fear sets in.” Just in case we need a real-life reminder: Fear is what elected Donald Trump and powered the destructive growth of dog whistle politics, giving a louder voice to hate-filled rhetoric spewed from the Senate floor to church pulpits. (No halls so ‘hallowed’ as to escape the maliciousness of it all.)  “It’s not the first time,” clarified Ken Burns, the creator of those movingly beautiful American history documentaries. “Human beings are susceptible to politicians that play to our baser instincts, our worst fears of ‘the other’ instead of, as Lincoln said, ‘the better angels of our nature’.”

We are living in a world where it appears that fear is winning. “Without love, our actions are hysterical. Without love, we have no wisdom.” (Marianne doesn’t mince her words!) It’s time to get revolutionary about love. It’s time for a miracle.

“We had a miracle in this country in 1776,” Marianne announced when exploring a run for the presidency last fall, “and we need another one!” (Keep in mind she holds a ‘miracle’ as ultimately a “shift in perception.”) She then gave a little history lesson, since some may have forgotten what that miracle was nearly 250 years ago. Before this county was founded, all of Europe, under “the divine right of kings,” was “run according to a manorial and aristocratic system.” In other words, a king and/or queen and their pals (the aristocracy) were entitled to the land, the wealth, the education—everything! And the rest of the population, the vast majority, “was little more than serfs to that small group.” However, Marianne continued, with the founding of this country, “we turned that entire mindset on its ear.” And when declaring our independence, we declared that “all men are created equal, and that god gave all men the inalienable rights to life and to liberty and to the pursuit of happiness—and governments were instituted to secure those rights.” Consequently, our new nation stumbled right out of the gate, and then stumbled often, not always living up to those principles. And now we’re stumbling again with a government, paraphrasing Abraham Lincoln, functioning only “of a few of the people, by a few of the people, and for a few of the people”—which means, as Marianne explains, “we have subconsciously reverted to an aristocratic paradigm.”

But we are a nation of courageous “problem solvers who have risen up in their time. So yes, we had slavery, but we also had abolition. We had the oppression of women, and we also had two major waves of feminism and the women’s suffragette movement. We had institutionalized white supremacy and segregation, and we also had the Civil Rights Movement.” With that reminder, Marianne is delivering a call to action for this country’s spiritual awakening, “Join the Evolution!”—it is now our turn to be the problem solvers! And that’s where love comes back into it.

Neuroscientist Richard J. Davidson—professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and founder of the Center for Healthy Minds—considers the next frontier for his field is the study of how the practice of love affects the brain and body, believing there is a quality of love that breaks apart boundaries. Can we take this as an affirmation that, in Marianne’s words, “love is a potent force”? Film director Spike Lee, during his passionate Oscar acceptance speech at the recent Academy Awards ceremony, urging us to vote, urging us to “do the right thing,” put it frankly: “Make the moral choice between love versus hate.”

In calling for a course-correction in this country and putting our democracy back on track; for a resetting of our moral compass and putting the lives and well-being of our children first, Marianne Williamson calls for a return to what made the founding of this country so unique; she calls for nothing less than a return to “an ethical center that is the true exceptionalism of the American ideal.” She encourages us to be on the side of “our better angels” and to “stick with love,” as another peacemaker shared. “We have before us,” Martin Luther King, Jr. remarked—with hate staring him in the face—“the glorious opportunity to inject a new dimension of love into the veins of our civilization.”

It’s time for, like in Lincoln’s day, “a new birth of freedom.” It’s time for some old-fashioned love one another like a day-in, day-out practice. Remembering that love is a show of strength, not weakness, it’s time for a love revolution! “Love taken seriously is a radical outlook, a major departure from the psychological orientation that rules the world,” Marianne wrote in A Return to Love over two decades ago. “It is threatening not because it is a small idea, but because it is so huge.”

When I shook Marianne’s hand that afternoon in Greenville—a packed room of mostly women, women of all stripes—thanking her for putting love on the ballot, she replied, “Yes! It’s time to get radical with our love.” Radical, like love as an “essential existential fact.” Radical, like love is “our purpose on earth.” Radical, like your life depended on it! ~

With the success of her books and appearances on Oprah Winfrey’s shows through the years, Marianne Williamson has been a sought-after speaker on the personal transformation circuit. I’ve followed her work, listened to her various recordings, quoted her in my articles and books, and admired her beautiful and effectively intimate way with words. With Marianne, you re-remember that words have power, that love powers all. “Love requires a different kind of ‘seeing’ than we’re used to—a different kind of knowing or thinking. Love is the intuitive knowledge of our hearts. It’s a ‘world beyond’ that we all secretly long for....”