Dear Brave Souls,
A soul asks: How do women get more in touch with the life-death-life universal cycle?
I’d offer that what I’d coined as the Life/Death/Life cycle is a clear and accurate surveyor’s look to take useful measure of a woman’s life; where she is now, where she is going.
In Women Who Run with The Wolves, I outlined the Life/Death/Life cycle, finding this cycle is the central operative factor in women’s creative lives, in their healings, and in ‘life-life’ in general. That we make many stops along the way, some perilous, some endarkened, some quickening and joyous. That we go on.
That we all, though moving in different directions like the planets and stars whirling through the sky, that we all are traveling along together in cycles that hold. We are intent on this or that, but all we women are walking along together.
Women sometimes speak of our lives as being ‘blocked,” but that particular word can be a little too lite a description of the actual process…which is, and I say this as a gentle truth of our lives here on planet Earth: In meaningful life, we are ever on our way to death and ever on our way to new life again.
In curanderismo (which is composed of many local and ancient healing practices from our Latino culture that stretch all the way back to the Sephardic healing practices in 15th century Spain, to those commingled by the Nahua people known as the Aztecs who were conquered and enslaved, and the African people brought as slaves to ‘the new world’) we are ever somewhere in what can be called El rondo, the grand round of life. El rondo, the round of life in one way, describes our suffering through entropies, and the round of life, in another way, describes our ever radiant abilities for resurrection.
El rondo describes a complex way of seeing, pinpointing, understanding and interpreting a man or woman’s life, but complex like a necklace is finely forged as part of a process, rather than complex like a tangled skein that just lays there.
One useful aspect of understanding the ‘rounds’ of entropy and ascent we all go through, is to understand that we may be at a point of losing energy in the cycle of LIfe/Death/Life in one arena of our life, say a work commitment,
…and yet at the same time also occupy a different point in the Life/Death/Life cycle in another part of our lives, such as in our most personal relationship with another. Additionally, one’s creative life might be in an upswing, and one’s spiritual life might be losing energy.
There is much to be said about knowing where we are at the moment and what is likely to come next on the grand round.
I’d like to put here for you a version of the Life/Death/Life cycle I’ve written more about in Women Who Run with the Wolves, and will be expanding to greater depth when we premiere our 6-weeks online live event with Sounds True in Sept 2010, on “The Dangerous Old Woman, Part Two: Myths and Stories of the Power of the Crone.” The Crone is the quintessential holder of the Life/Death/Life force, and I’ll be telling her stories about precisely that: times to let what can live, live: times to let what must die, die.
The Life/Death/Life cycle moves like this: Think of a circle and at the top, is the Zenith (highest energy), then moving down the righthand side of the circle, imagine stops, like on the face of a clock, each one with a name:
Zenith (at noon)
Beginning of entropy (losing a little energy)
Loss of energy/ drying and dying
Death into dark
Nadir (at 6 o’clock)
Then imagine just to the left of Nadir…
Spark Of Life In Dark: Conception
More Rising Energy
Zenith (high noon)
These are the cycles of all life, all endeavor, all the stars and planets and interests and ideas…all follow this cycle of rising, descending, and rebirth to new energy, fresh life again.
I teach this template to my learners so they can map their own lives. I also use it to see my own life forces in perspective. I find with those I work with over these 40 years of clinical practice and teaching, that the concept of the Life/Death/Life cycle is not only an intense and deeper ‘way of seeing and knowing’ but also so instructive…meaning drawing it all out on paper can give a concise and clear map for descent and rising up again, a surveyor’s tool that is rooted in the ancient ways of seeing miraculous birth, as well as cycles of sun and universe.
I find, that with such a visual and intuitive tool, one cannot be lost, only finding, seeing, espying, having many ah-ha’s! jump out, many “oh now I can see why I feel so oddly depleted-hopeful, or so downcast-oddly creative, or doomed but sense a useful quickening…or feel blank at the moment.”
These states of being perplexed, or feeling loss of familiar spiritual, creative or personal landscape, are easily seen when one plots out the lay of the land— of one’s energic life, meaning the way the life force and our deepest interests and strong commitments, our callings, our troths, our vows, flow through us.
By mapping where we are in the Life/Death/Life cycle, we can not only parse what stages of development we might be in, and what we can likely expect to come next, but also to ever know that what energy has gone or taken its leave from us, will ever come back in different and new form…
and this is important to the heart of hope we all carry: that nothing is lost in the psyche, rather it is recycled, re-purposed, transformed, made new again.
If you would like to see how your life looks at present on the rounds of Life/Death/Life, if you would like to scry what is incoming and what is outgoing, here follows a method I’ve devised that is ace-clear, in depth— and also does not take days, but rather minutes to bring forth a good, strong picture of your life overall.
After mapping the terrains of one’s life, if desired, one can then take as long as one wishes to contemplate the facts of one’s own Life/Death/Life map.
Here’s one way I teach “how to”:
— Draw a number of circles on a paper, put in the nodes of the life/death/life cycle, with ‘zenith’ at the very top, and ‘nadir’ at the very bottom, and all other compass points listed above in between.
— Now, write under each circle one aspect of your own life’s energies/ focus/ interests/commitments/callings, such as :
Life For Others
— After you’ve named each circle however YOU yourself see the arenas of your life…then red-x where you are in energy/interest/commitment to each.
— Now compare them and lay your life and hopes and dreams down alongside the map and see what you see that you hadn’t seen before.
There are many, many ways to both look and see. I suggest, amongst others, using your intuitions and instincts— two of the great gifts of the creative life force—to give name to what you think the incubations of new life in you are about; process, content, subject matter.
There is no right or wrong way to analyse your own life, only that it be useful and meaningful to you.
Uno secretocito, a little secret: Often, when one is in entropy in more than one part of one’s life, one may feel slightly down. Or as it’s said in the vernacular, we might feel like sh&#@. (That’s a technical term, and I hope you are laughing with me.)
Nonetheless, take heart, the new life is coming. New life is ever coming through us. Given that some demented wizards recently decided and managed to, ‘bomb the Moon,’ to see if they could rouse some water there, it is not only a blessing, but also outside our will to interfere with—in other words— it’s a law of the universe that new life comes after entropy. Thankfully none of us have the power to change such perfection.
Otro secretocito: Another ‘little secret’, meaning here, something we’re not often told aloud: If you have many cycles that are in incubation at the same time, you may feel impatient, or as we say in the backwoods where I grew up, “She’s rubbing up one side ‘gainst the smooth, t’other side ‘gainst the splinters.”
Also then, hold on. Like being eleven months pregnant in the hottest July on record, the new work, new energy, new child will come. Often we can’t make this occur faster, but we can find meaning in it, and create from there in the meantime.
And a last little secretocito for now: You know don’t you, that much of the most bold, most useful and meaningful work, the most deep insights, the most sudden openings of heart in life, are not only created during the time we are at the zeniths of our lives…
but also from the times during which we were at the bottom of entropy, when by twists of fate, or other, we made the journey through the land of the dead.
Each turn of the grand round, each step of the Life/Death/Life cycle has its challenges. Even though we would like very much not to learn certain very hard things to see/feel/process/ be scarred by/ rise from the dead from…each phase of the cycle has a creative gift for us. In the midst of every wound there is a gift, of this I am sure, having lived it in spades, and also from having been first witness to so many I’ve walked with for a while, who pursued and found treasure in travail, also.
If you are in the sometimes more difficult aspect of the Life/Death/Life cycle, meaning in the side of entropy, losing energy, death, and all this occurs before transition to new life of whatever stripe or kind…the most enduring lantern I can light for you on your way through the dark, carries this one little but eternal golden flame: It has been so, it is now so and it will ever be so, that death is a night between two days.
This comes with love and with peace,
Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Newest releases in audio series:
Mother Night Myths, Stories, and Teachings for Learning to See in the Dark
The Dangerous Old Woman
Part One – Myths and Stories of the Wise Woman Archetype
For more information see Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ Resource Page in the Village Library