My wife had the jimmy-leg, the night I got my second post-eclipse wake-up call from Spirit.
She had kicked me awake twice between 11 pm and midnight; both times I was able to fall back asleep easily. At 2 a.m. I woke up because I was having a hard time breathing. Wide awake now, I stumbled out of the bedroom and walked down the hall to the dark living room, where I sat on the couch musing about grief.
My Patreon hangout posse and I had been trading emails about the ongoing effects of the Aug. 21 Leo total solar eclipse and the unusually high solar flare activity. (A massive X-9 solar flare erupted on Sept. 17, setting off geomagnetic storms and coinciding with strange physical and emotional sensations for many of us.)
I had shared this interesting page I found on the physiological-spiritual effects of solar flares while searching for “solar flares asthma” on the Internet. Obviously, this type of ‘spiritual causes of physical symptoms’ information is somewhat subjective, relative to our current scientific framework. But I found my body assenting to the author’s perspective that these intense bursts of solar radiation work on a cellular level to clear emotional trauma from the body.
The grief thing popped up on my radar when it became clear to me that the asthma that had shown up after the solar eclipse wasn’t just going to disappear as suddenly as it had arrived. In You Can Heal Your Life, Louise Hay says the lungs represent: “The ability to take in life. Depression. Grief. Not feeling worthy of living life fully.” Writing about children with asthma, Hay elaborates:
[A]sthmatic children often have “overdeveloped consciences.” They take on guilt feelings for whatever seems wrong in their environment. They feel “unworthy,” therefore guilty, and in need of self-punishment.
This describes me to a “T” as a child. I suffered my first asthma attack when I was around 10 years old. We were at my grandmother’s house and there was a lot wrong in our environment. In fact, there was always a lot of unexpressed anger and blame whenever my mom, stepdad and grandmother were in the same room. (My grandmother introduced my stepdad and my mom. I believe my grandmother was secretly in love with him; within a few years, her love would turn to bitterness and outright hatred.) My parents were no longer in love at this point and were heading into the unhappiest decade of their unhappy union.
I don’t remember anything specific happening to trigger the asthma attack. But I’m an empath. And I felt responsible for my mother’s happiness from as far back as I can remember. I imagine I soaked up enough negative emotion during that visit to cause my body to start expressing it as physical symptoms.
Hay says it’s common for asthmatic children to outgrow the asthma only to have it flare again later in life when a circumstance similar to the childhood environment pushes the same button. This makes sense with my recent experience: the asthma episodes seem to have been triggered primarily by contact with friends, family members or even random people in the grocery store who were experiencing a lot of grief or anxiety themselves. (Did I mention the ‘empath’ thing?)
Lust for Life
When Lisa mentioned in our email thread that she had experienced a couple of huge grief releases in the previous days, I decided I should probably put the subject of grief on the front burner and stop ignoring it in the hopes it would go away. As I tuned into it, I felt a little bit mystified. I’ve done a considerable amount of work on releasing grief.
I knew it was there; I could feel it in my body. But what needed to be grieved? I employed all of my usual tricks and techniques to call this energy forth. But I was still in the dark.
That night before going to bed I’d pulled a few cards from the William Blake deck.
Question 1: Why am I feeling so awful, and what’s my best attitude or action to feel better?
The dreaded Hardship card. (Corresponds loosely to the 5 of Pentacles in the Rider-Waite tarot.)
Question 2: A little clarification on how to work with this?
The Lightning card!
Oh no…so far, the reading seemed pretty grim. And for a moment or two I was free-falling into a paralysis of fatalistic despair.
The Lightning card in the Blake deck is akin to The Tower in Rider-Waite. It signifies a sudden and often shocking change of condition; many people don’t like it. But the Lightning card has traditionally been a good omen for me.
The stock tarot-astrology correspondence for The Tower is to Mars. But I’ve always felt it was more Uranian in nature. This card says to me: “An old pattern or habit or a block that is keeping you from your soul mission is now about to be forcibly blasted out of your life; new beliefs and insights will be flooding in to fill the vacuum.“
It also connects back to a reading my wife did for me a few months ago about career and money. In this spread The Tower showed up in positive light, followed immediately by the Wheel of Fortune.
Question 3: (just to feel sure) Is this “prepare for the worst” Lightning, or could it indicate an impending liberation from Hardship?
The Energy card – my near-constant companion in readings since the Leo eclipse. Among the keywords Ed Buryn gives in his notes on the Blake Tarot: lust for life, sensual delight, abundance of vital energy.
This immediately connected to my Venus download from the other morning: liberation from Hardship comes as a result of my reclaiming my life energy. As I was falling asleep I asked the Archangel Gabriel to show me the source of this mystery grief and help me understand how to clear it from my lungs and body.
“Those who restrain desire do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained.”
— William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
So there I sat, wide awake in the dark at two in the morning. Still puzzled.
And then it hit me:
My mom has suffered from restless leg syndrome for years. Now my wife has it. I don’t want to shadow-project my mom onto my wife anymore. And I don’t want to carry her shadow projections either.
But what’s the answer? After years of working with my shadow, doing so much deep soul work, etc. What gives?
Suddenly I saw flashes of me in relationship. I saw how easy it is to recognize other people’s self-constriction and feel sad for them. I saw myself nodding my head as the other person discussed the same old problem they’d been having for as long as I’d known them. While thinking: “If you’d just stop ________, you wouldn’t have to worry about that any more. You’d be free!”
And then I saw my own lack of freedom. I saw how I’ve settled for so much less than my soul desires out of life.
That’s when I understood the sudden upsurge of grief. And when I saw that it is both personal and collective grief I’ve been feeling.
Because how many people do you know who are truly free – and joyful?
We are so programmed – shamed is the technical term – to conform to others’ expectations. To the infant or small child, it feels as if our very survival is at stake. (In some families this is actually true.) Before we are old enough to use words we are shown in no uncertain terms what could befall us should we refuse to learn to hold our emotions in. We learn what happens when we fail to repress our desires, when we speak our truth, when we refuse to settle for a pat on the head or a piece of candy rather than what we really want.
We don’t live live fully because we feel unworthy of living life fully. Not only that, most of us were trained to feel guilty for our desires and passions.
But our desire comes (as Blake shows us over and over) from our vital energy — from Life itself.
That’s when I understood the grief. My overarching intention for the Leo solar eclipse was: “I am free.” Free to be who I am without guilt or shame. Free to follow my heart. Free to share my gifts with the world without hiding or holding back. Free to enjoy the abundance of life and inspire others to do the same.
It was my Patrick Henry moment: “Give me liberty or give me death!”
And now I was facing the enormity of the myriad ways in which I’d sold my soul down the river, hoping to survive, to avoid ridicule and envy, to not be alone.
Not that I blame myself for it; at least I don’t think I do. Self-abandonment is a strong karmic thread in my chart that connects to many past lifetimes as a monk or initiate seeking union with the Divine. In this incarnation, self-abandonment enabled me to survive until I could acquire the tools and the courage needed to address the toxic shame I’d absorbed in childhood.
But still…the soul-crushing, mind-numbing, emotionally-draining ‘jobs’ where I spent 40 hours a week of my life for so many years. The years in relationships, trying to repress my own needs and desires so as not to threaten my partners’ security or awaken their rage. Trying to be a good boy, a good man, a good person. And inevitably, sooner or later, failing miserably….
Because that kind of repressive, reactive ‘good’ isn’t good for my soul. That’s my inner child, still desperately seeking the love and approval of the idealized parent.
How many times have we heard these words spoken to little children:
“You were such a good boy.” (Meaning: Thank you for repressing your natural, wild, loud self so that mommy and daddy didn’t have to be ashamed of you or bothered by your behavior.)
That ‘good’ is a control mechanism that negates my soul’s drive for freedom.
To be continued…
1 – The images are from the William Blake Tarot of the Creative Imagination, created by Ed Buryn. I enthusiastically recommend this deck to anyone who is creative, interested in archetypal psychology, and/or just seeking liberation. You can buy the deck here. You can find Ed Buryn’s book about the cards here; it’s the most succinct and readable treatise on Blake’s philosophy I’ve stumbled upon to date. Jump back