While on retreat two weeks ago, I went for a contemplative beach walk. I found 9 upturned clam shells filled with sand and water; part of a moon snail shell with the spiral intact; and the skull of a seal, tangled up in kelp at the high tide line. With the Gaian Tarot 9 of Water / Cups in mind, and Dr. E’s telling of the story of “Sealskin, Soulskin,”* it seemed an answer to my question of “what’s next?” As I follow the spiral of inner and outer unfolding, following the phases of the moon, there is a time for activism and a time for withdrawal, each nourishing the other.
Season of Darkness and Light’s Return
These are the darkest weeks of the year, literally, as the days grow shorter in the northern hemisphere until the tide turns at Winter Solstice. I had set my intention months ago to “go dark” for the winter, withdrawing from most of my online teaching and social media participation and all events, so that I can focus on my ongoing art and writing projects instead. I still plan to do that, to tend my own soul’s fire as well as guiding others. But I’m now adding a layer of activism onto those plans of going dark.
I am financially supporting organizations I believe in, signing petitions, and making phone calls, as many of you are. I am not going to go to Standing Rock in person, but it my honor and privilege to support several friends who have been or will be traveling there. (If you would like to financially support the water protectors of Standing Rock, here is a good place to do that.)
Two Kinds of Silence
One of the hallmarks of the winter season is silence. In light of some recent comments on social media, I think it’s important to understand that there are two kinds of silence. There is the silence that ignores injustice, when we turn our heads to look away so that we can’t be held responsible. That is the kind of silence that is no longer an option.
But there is also the deep, nurturing silence that arises when we turn off our phones, turn off the TV and the radio, turn off the external distractions that keep us overstimulated. When we sink into the deep silence of our souls through ceremony, or walks in nature, or listening to music, or dancing, or making art or a thousand other ways to nurture our souls … that kind of silence heals us, nourishes us, and fuels us to get back in the game.
Each of us has to make our own decision of how we want to respond to the results of the US election, of how to add activism of one sort or another to our already busy, overstressed lives. I trust you to look into your own heart, and to hear the voice of guidance and inner wisdom. You will find your own way, as I am finding mine.
May we each find our own sealskins, and follow the call of our souls, each in our own way. Blessed be.
*The seal brings to mind the story of the selkie in “Sealskin, Soulskin,” as told by Clarissa Pinkola Estés in Women Who Run With the Wolves. It’s the story of a woman who has lost her sense of self, her intuition, her purpose, and her creativity (symbolized by the sealskin) — and how she follows the call that leads her back to it. She recovers her soulskin, her own deep instinctual wisdom.
(Parts of this blog post were originally published in an e-letter I sent out last week.)