Rose, Adding to Wholeness

Rose blesses my garden. I receive songs and guidance from her, and am deeply nourished by her. Rose is known as a triple Goddess plant in the Wise Woman Tradition (Shamanic Herbalism) that I practice. She is nourishing to the heart, nervous system, and womb. In my experience, she has an energetic quality of awakening healing in the body, particularly when the immune system needs a boost. Through her guidance and love, I am a sovereign being, adding to wholeness. Her blossoms invite beauty and sacred sexuality; the leaves nourish strength and friendship; the hips, containing the seeds, bring continuity over time, and her thorns stand for mutual respect, protection, and maintaining healthy personal boundaries. I love the following articles. The first by Annie Lalla and the next by Asia Suler (One Willow Apothecaries).
“I feel, therefore I Am” By Annie Lalla:
Being-in-Love and Feeling-in-Love are two different things. In romantic relationship you may feel in love, but sometimes you do not – often actually.
For me, feeling-in-love is about the willingness to experience all my feelings -including pain, fear, uncertainty, jealousy, shame, anger, sadness & despair. Being-in-love is about staying in the game regardless of how I feel in the moment, because I know the benefit is worth the work and pain.
Real Love contains inside it the entire spectrum of human emotions -from triumph and ecstasy to terror and despair. Like white light comprised of all the rainbow’s colors, True Love unpacks into all possible emotions -each one sacred, wise and worthy of honor. Every emotion -when experienced fully- gives you holographic access to your own wholeness.
I feel therefore I am.
Relationships are the context in which we develop the skill of experiencing our emotional cycles to completion. Feelings = a matrix of physical sensations in the body (like an itch or the need to pee). And each feeling contains information, feedback on how to iterate future behaviour for our own well-being.
Shame, for example shows up in my body as nausea moving down my chest. Anger shows up as a constriction around my throat as I struggle to express it. Both are always in the same place.
If you start scanning your body when feelings arise, you’ll notice each feeling has a somatic texture, color or shape that recurs in the same area of your body. Learning to map our internal sensations is key to emotional intelligence.
Love asks us to become a cartographer of our own emotions.
Babies can feel from birth. Feelings are ancient, they’re pre-cognitive and pre-lingual, and so cannot be processed as mental narrative. Feelings don’t happen in words. Experiencing them requires taking your consciousness inwards to scope out salient sensations within. It’s like going on a reconnaissance mission for secret intel inside your body.
Many of us disassociate from our body when sensations get too intense. We escape from our feelings into mental narratives or what I call the “story-about-our-feelings”. This narrative usually includes explanations, reasons, blame, shame or justification.
The first thing people say to someone who’s angry or sad is…”why?” We’re trained to have good reasons for our feelings. If we can’t justify them, they aren’t seen as valid. Every feeling is real, even if it isn’t always true.
When we have an itch or a need to pee, no one asks us why; no qualification is needed. Feelings do not need to be explained or defended. They have a dignity just from existing, and must be honored as such.
Tuning into our reasons & narrative about our feeling is NOT the same as feeling. In fact, it’s the opposite; it’s how we humans avoid feeling our feelings. The “story-about-our-feeling” is a custom-built disassociation tactic bootstrapped in the moment to dodge physical sensations that seem unbearable.
As kids, our delicate nervous systems felt like they’d die if we stayed with our intense sensations, so we learned to disassociate (leave our body & go into imaginative narrative) as an adaptive strategy. This trick worked so well, we kept doing it long after we developed the skills to cope with intense sensations.
I’ve never heard of a person literally dying from a feeling, especially if they have loving support. Emotions might make us cry, shudder or tremble, but they won’t kill us. And only after the heroic effort of feeling an emotion to completion, can we realize it wasn’t as bad as we’d thought.
Feelings are clairvoyant messengers sent from our unconscious to our conscious mind in somatic code. We can only decode these messages (upon which our development depends) if we attend to our body sensations in real time, as the feeling is arising. And this takes immense courage. It is also the mark of adulthood. For me, an adult is someone who takes personal responsibility for their emotional state. An adult is willing to regulate their nervous system in order to feel their feelings.
Breathing through intense fear or sadness while attending to our body sensations is what I mean when I say: “Love is not for the faint-hearted, it’s a gladiator sport.”
It’s also what my husband Eben means when he says: “It doesn’t take a lot to be in love…it takes everything.”
Romantic relationship requires us to experience the full spectrum of human emotions. That’s why True Love transforms us into more integrated humans. It calls all our marginalized parts home.
Love is about expanding the range and intensity of emotions we can hold without collapsing. For parents & lovers: the extent to which we’re able to support our partner or child through their feelings, is limited by our capacity to feel ours. This skill increases with practice. The heart is a muscle and every break or tear builds it stronger.
The more you can feel, the more you can love.
Rather than seeking only happiness in relationship, I recommend optimizing for aliveness. We fall in love with the people we feel the most ALIVE around. Your aliveness comes from feeling all of your feelings as if your life depends on it. Because it does.
-To Your Heart Open, Annie
“Becoming Sovereign” by Asia Suler: “A quiet has settled over these hills in the past few weeks. A hush that rises from the fading amber of the landscape and its open-limbed winds. The ebb of everything speaking to a deep need to withdraw and rest; an ache to refind one’s inner space.
For the Celts, the time following Samhain marked the waning of work, and the waxing of winter’s magics. Traditionally, harvesting ceased after Samhain. The squashes in the field left as food for the unseen. As life drains back to the roots, many of us are feeling this call to cease the ceaseless doing and reclaim the quietude of our inner terrain. And at the center of our ache to create this space is the desire for something that looks so very much like sovereignty.
I’ve been having a bit of a love affair with this word recently. Samhain, in the Celtic calendar, marks the beginning of the new year. With each new turn of the wheel, I like to choose a word as my personal emblem and yearly theme. For this new year my word is: Sovereignty.
Wikipedia defines sovereignty as “the full right and power of a governing body over itself, without any interference from outside sources or bodies.” To be sovereign means that you imbue yourself with the full right to take care of yourself, your energy, your needs. It means crowning yourself as the maker and maintainer of your own destiny. Claiming your power as well as your responsibility, and acknowledging that the two are one in the same.
Sovereignty creates boundaries where there were none, marking the outlines of where everything else ends and you begin. Sovereignty is about tending the borders of your own fields. Curating what you welcome into your space (including news and social media) and deciding, once and for all, that you are willing to take care of your own inner landscape. Sovereignty gives you back to yourself in a time when you feel scattered to the winds.
Lately, I’ve been pouring over Sharon Blackie’s book If Women Rose Rooted and was struck by one of the old Arthurian tales she recounts. As the story goes, one day King Arthur is walking in the woods when he is captured by a powerful knight. The knight agrees to release King Arthur under one condition, he must answer this most-puzzling riddle— “what do women truly desire?” Arthur has one year to find the answer, otherwise the fearsome knight will take his life. After almost twelve months of seeking King Arthur is no closer to the truth, until he encounters the knight’s own sister who tells King Arthur the answer he’s been seeking (in exchange for a wedding to Sir Gawain, of course, which had its own unexpectedly empowering ending). The answer is: Sovereignty. What women desire above all else is sovereignty. And with that, the King wins back his life.
It reminds me of a historical truth I heard long ago about Celtic peoples and their governance. Traditional Celtic male rulers were very literally wedded to the land in a ceremony called banais ríghi. In their crowning, they agreed to uphold a sacred covenant between human culture and the more-than human world. And it was from the land, the bride who contained all the powers of the fertile and feminine unseen, that they were given their sovereignty. Their right to protect, guard, rule, govern and decide all came from their ability to commit themselves to the power, potency and desires of the unseen.
Our personal sovereignty lies within our ability to connect to our own inner landscapes, the fertility of what lies in the terrain of our personal unseen. When we take a step away from the outer world, we can access the regenerative soil of our connection to Otherworlds and sow the seeds of our own sovereignty.
So how does it feel to put on the crown of your own being? To know that you have the ability to claim the throne at the center of your own existence? That you can chose yes or no? That you can decide how to feel, or where you want to give your energy? That you are the ruler of your own destiny? This is self-sovereignty. And it is how we protect the chalice of our days.
In a time where the subtle come in quick as dusk the land itself is asking us to reclaim our own sovereignty by connecting to the unseen. To learn how to listen to the terrain inside of our own being and recommit ourselves in a sacred marriage to our inner fields.
So, take this time before we enter into the holidays to ground, center, and become sovereign. Decide where your boundaries lie. Mark the corners of your fields, with time spent in quiet solace and warm solitude. Take time to listen to your deeper needs. Time in the bath or with your hands in well-kneaded dough. Time to brush out your hair or massage your feet with sesame oil. Time to realize what you truly crave, so that you can stand strong in your own crowning, and be at peace.
from the throne of autumn,

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