Spiritual Processing,Transits and Empowerments
It’s been longer than I planned since I last wrote here! That’s partly because of family holiday events and preparations – I really love the Solstice/Christmas/New Year season, as I consider it a celebration of enlightenment (more on that in my next post.) But I’ve also been spending more time offline, giving myself some space to process the power and light available at this time of year, and that’s what I decided to write on this week – the descriptions of spiritual processing, transits, and empowerments represented in various spiritual traditions. I think it’s useful to look at these models, and see what resonates at different points in our life and journey.
I think this is a difficult topic for many of us to get our heads around, because on the one hand we know (and are told in many spiritual writings) that inner peace, happiness and knowledge are right here, right inside us, accessible at all times. My favorite chant, Om Mani Padme Hum, is sometimes translated as ‘the jewel in the lotus’, referencing the inherent enlightened mind within each, and all, of us. This is a truth represented in the mystic branches of every religious and spiritual tradition.
So if it’s always right here, why is there a process involved in recognizing it?
That’s the million-dollar paradox: that spiritual insight/inner peace/enlightenment (or whatever phrase you like) both is and isn’t the product of a process. (And I literally mean million-dollar, or maybe even 100 million dollar, because spirituality has become an industry, like any other.) I don’t think the answer to this paradox can really be reasoned out, but here’s a couple of ways to look at why this is so:
1) Enlightenment (or again, whatever word you like) is infinite, and there’s no end to what you can realize.
2) Ego is tricky, and staying true to what you have realized requires (in the words of Alastar Moody to Harry Potter) “constant vigilance, Potter, constant vigilance”.
In other words, you’re never done. (And thank goodness for that, or things might get boring.)
So in that spirit, here’s several types of processing and transiting that we all go through, some all the time, and some maybe only once or twice a lifetime, depending on the nature of our individual journey:
We humans are relational and situational beings, and whenever our circumstances or relationships change, it kicks off a series of shifts in our physical, emotional, and mental beings. Hopefully we are aware of these shifts, and provide ourselves the space to go through them. If we don’t, we often act out or internalize emotions as a result. Young children are prone to both acting out or internalizing when circumstances in their lives change, as they often can’t express, or even identify, what it is they are feeling. So they (or we, when the same thing happens to us) might experience irritability, disruptions to sleep patterns, stomach upset, or any number of other ‘symptoms’ when life changes aren’t addressed in a conscious way.
Buddhism really nails this one, in my view. One of the three marks of existence is impermanence – in a nutshell, everything changes, from our physical to our emotional to our mental beings, and everything in the ‘external’ world as well. We are potentially a different being every day that we wake up, because we aren’t a fixed unit – we are a fluid field of energy that shifts in relationship to our world. Part of living consciously is recognizing when bigger shifts are occurring for us, and handling them with as much awareness and compassion as we can.
Because we’re all fluid fields of energy, we’re linked into the larger cycles of nature – or can be, if we pay attention. In modern society we’ve insulated ourselves from the cycles of nature to some extent, which is too bad in many ways, because we lose touch with these natural rhythms (something I was reminded of yet again when reading The Red Tent.) The equinoxes and solstices were considered especially powerful times by most ancient civilizations, and spiritual communities around the globe still honor them as such. For me, the winter solstice is perhaps the most powerful time of year. Many consider the summer solstice to be the most ‘spiritual’, because it represents the ‘lightest’ day (in the northern hemisphere anyway.) But I love the mystery and power of the winter solstice – I consider it a time for diving deep, cocooning, and coming out new.
I’ve written quite a bit about this one, especially for women, so I won’t repeat it all here. But certainly we can all recognize that the different phases of human life – childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, maturity, aging – as well as different life activities we might engage in – career, family life, etc. – each have their own processes and transits associated with them.
In all the various systems of astrology, there’s some concept of transit – that the planets as they move through the sky form angles to the planets in our natal (birth) astrological chart, and these correspond to particular energies or themes arising in our lives. Some of these transits are brief – a day or two – and others, associated with the furthest, slowest moving planets – last months or years. There are several that we all experience, such as the Saturn Return in our late twenties, the Saturn and Uranus mid-life transits of our forties, and the Chiron Return of our early fifties. Like all types of transits, we can go through these consciously or unconsciously, and that will largely determine whether we experience them as painful periods, or phases of phenomenal growth and insight (or both, because of course these two aren’t mutually exclusive!)
Many spiritual traditions have some concept of ascension – profound and life-changing spiritual transits representing our soul’s or spirit’s movement towards, and greater union with, light or source. Some might say that spontaneous mystic experiences are a type of ascension, while others might say it is a product of prolonged spiritual work. Akemi Gaines, an Akashic Record reader I interviewed earlier this Fall, discussed her views on ascension there and on her blog. I was also recently re-reading some writings by St. Teresa of Avila, who uses the word ‘ascended’ to describe one of her four stages of union with God.
Although ascension is not a word I often use, mostly because much of my spiritual lexicon is derived from Eastern traditions, I am fascinated with how writings on ascension correspond to Eastern teachings on…
Kundalini and Other Energetic Transits
In Eastern traditions such as Vajrayana Buddhism and Kundalini yoga (and all the evolutions of these traditions that have developed here in the West), energy techniques such as chakra meditation (one of my favorites, as most of you well know) are used to consciously and deliberately move energy through key energy channels and doorways in our beings. These channels and doorways are intersections of mind, body and spirit, and when energy moves through them, blockages are released, and processes are triggered. In short, transits are consciously sought and triggered – in fact, that’s really the point of these types of practices. Energy transits can and do occur all the time without engaging in these kinds of practices, but the point of them, for those interested, is to go through them more quickly and more consciously.
When you’re in a major kundalini transit, you can feel very unstable at times – the structure of your energy being is going through a transformation at some level, and there’s processing (that word again) involved. Any number of things can trigger these kinds of transit, not just energy practices (in fact, the book Liquid Light of Sex, which I’ve mentioned here before, discusses the major astrological transits in terms of kundalini transits.) Sometimes these transits represent a kind of release – patterns (or karmas, if you will) have risen to the top of your awareness field, in order to be shed (and sometimes kick up some mischief on the way out.) Other transits are really best described as a transmutation – you are being energetically rewired.
In addition to certain energy practices, initiations and empowerments are a common way for these kinds of transits to be triggered in mystic and occult traditions. A direct transmission from a teacher (living or from another plane) is meant to open doorways to states of awareness that you might otherwise not experience for many years on your own, and to kick off certain spiritual transits in your being. These might not manifest for years – or lifetimes. And in fact, I would venture to say that this kind of transmission is what most religions that revolve around a deity or personage are really meant to be about (although most have gotten hopelessly mucked up in the process.)
So there you go, a multitude of different types and descriptions of processes in the spiritual journey. What are your thoughts? Any more to add? Do you think you have or are going through any of these, and what questions or advice do you have for others doing so?