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Healers, Dingaka, Sangomas, Shamans- A Personal Journey With Ritual and Ceremony

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A few weeks ago I was hiking up Silvermine Nature Reserve with my friend InK when she asked me to hold ceremony for her, to mark a big transition she was walking through. She expressed a readiness to surrender that which didn’t serve her any longer, in order to step into a version of Self she’d only caught brief glimpses of, but one she knew had been lying in wait. This was her pilgrimage to Self.

I noticed that the tone of her request was perfunctory, maybe shy even, as if she wasn’t certain whether she was allowed to claim herself thus. When I contacted her a week or so later to discuss her request, she acted surprised. I think she was hoping that I’d forgotten about it.

I hadn’t. I’d heard the fear behind her request, the fear of being seen. This I had  recognised even in myself. In fact my 50th birthday celebration was beautiful but excruciating, since I kept thinking that people were thinking that I’m such an attention seeker. So I understood her anxiety, with my determination becomimg even more fervent to help her walk through it, to the Self she had been called to.

I had advised her to invite some withnesses to her ceremony, as support, but also as a way of affirming her declaration and new commitment to Self. It felt important to invite her to show up to herSelf in front of others. As I was sharing this vision with her, she shared a recent dream she’d had, where she had been placed in the centre of a big circle comprising a group of people. She couldn’t recall the rest of the dream, but understood that the ceremony would be no solo event.

To help contain her anxiety, she’d elected to invite only a handful of women, seven in fact, but was concerned that her very shy husband would be the only male present. So she asked her female friends to bring their partners (all of whom happened to be male), and the next thing we knew, there were 20 of us invited to the ceremony!

Hm… This, what she had been called to, was no small matter at all, but was clearly abstruse… profound, and she knew it too. A few times in the period leading up to her ceremony she would text me, asking me what I thought people would think. I didn’t know, I told her, being careful not to get involved in the story she was telling herself. I also deliberately didn’t dispel her fear, electing rather to help her sit in it. Interestingly, the longer she sat in her anxiety about the depth of her ceremony, the more her commitment to it strengthened.

When InK had first asked me to do this with and for her I’d performed rituals and had said prayers to bega, or announce the request, as a way of asking for guidance from Divinity and Badimo, our ancestors, but also so that I made it clear that it did not belong to me.

A week leading to the ceremony I gave her a lot of self-reflection and journaling homework, to help cultivate an inner space within which the meeting between self and Self would occur. Soon thereafter, my intuitive sense opened up even more, allowing for guidance to start landing in me, in dream time and meditations, mostly as flashes of images and unknown knowingness.

One morning I was guided to ask her to make ash for the ceremony. I questioned this, taking my time in asking her since I had received no further clarification as to the purpose of the ash. But the push to ask her became so unbearable that I eventually relented and asked her, and she surprised me by not inquiring about the peculiarity of the request. She simply proceeded to make a small ceremonial fire, gathered the required ash, and said prayers into it.

InK later revealed that last year, just before she got married, her mother had given her a jar filled with ash which her male relatives had prayed over, to use around the period of her wedding. To me that explained the request for the ash- it was already part of the family’s ritual narrative.

There were many other inexplicable but synchronistic events that took place around this rite of passage, another being where I was intuitively “asked” to take her up a mountain for predawn prayers. I didn’t really want to, but of course was compelled, and so I asked her to feel which mountain she felt drawn to, in our area. She identified one, and in the early hours of her ceremony day I very reluctantly got out of bed just after 4 am to take this young woman up her chosen mountain, to meet herSelf.

We hiked up the mountain above Muizenberg in the semi dark, with me following her closely behind, in silence, as I’d been instructed. A sudden, startling loud bird call that sounded like an alarm, somehow announcing our arrival, pierced through the pristine silence. I took note of the greeting, but dismissed it to chance. However, I could not dismiss the 5 crows that circled a mere few meters above our heads as we got on our knees under a canopy of trees, on a tiny bridge running over a small singing stream, for the invocation I was about to perform. Mother Nature had sent a welcoming party, it seemed.

(An aside, the following night, just before drifting off to sleep, I followed a Crow Guided Meditation on my Insight Timer App. The teacher guiding the meditation shared that the crow represents transformation and change, letting go of what does not serve one any longer, and work in community. Clearly the appearance of those crows was no accident).

Back on our knees on the bridge on the mountain, I offered snuff, announcing our intention to Divinity, and calling in our ancestors and Kali-Ma. I called Kali Ma in particular for her Divine task as the destroyer of untruth. I asked for help and support that we be stripped of old, untrue stories about self, so as to make space for the generative and fuller versions of self, in order to be who we really Are.

At the end of my invocations InK offered her own prayers. I continued praying with her, and without warning, in the middle of this, I slipped away. I must have gone into trance- certainly I had lost all conscious awareness, finding myself in infinite spaciousness within. I cannot say how long I was gone for.

I had been transported to this expansive realm before- at my last Vipasanna retreat in 2015; earlier this year during my journey with marijuana, and when I bent and twisted a spoon using my mind. When it happened again on the bridge, I immediately recognised it.

I came back to this realm to find myself rubbing my palms together as InK was finishing with her prayers. I don’t think she had noticed what had happened with me, and since we were still in silence, I didn’t share.

We gathered our things and went off to a cave-like formation on another part of the mountain to perform the rest of our rituals,  and offer libations. As the sun rose, InK made a song offering to it. We were one with one another, with those that had come before us, and with all there was around us. It felt blissful, somehow.

As we walked down the mountains, a light breeze shook a tree we happened to walk past. It had what looked like dry pea pods for fruit, and they delighted us to no end as they rattled the sweetest sound in the breeze. We had the silliest smiles on our faces as we shook those pods, feeling sure that the Goddess of music was well pleased with our prayers.

Later that evening I led us through the proper ceremony, with 7 men and 13 women present. I had expected especially the men to squirm their way through it, but they surprised me by participating fully in all activities. InK received blessings from them as they came forth one by one, representing the sacred masculine, to rub that holy ash which her mother had given her for her wedding, onto her hands and feet. This was her marriage to Self, after all.

We, the women, then left the men behind, drumming, and went off to another part of the garden, for our own sacred feminine ritual. We created a loose tent with cloth to shield her naked body, and woman came forward and offered her a blessing, focusing on a specific part of her body, which they rubbed with the ash I had asked her to make.

She was then bathed and massaged all over with ointment mixed with the remaining ash. We dressed her in new clothing, and when done, she went over a threshold, out of the old self, and stepped with bold intention, into her next phase of life. Her husband was there at the threshold to receive her with praise and a crown made out of white roses, which he placed upon her head as we all ullillated.

At the end of the ceremony we feasted as we sat around the fire, exchanging many stories well into the late hours of the night.

It was a lovely event of stepping into Self, surrounded and supported by community. Since the ceremony, InK has had revealing dreams that feel prophetic in some ways. There have been other experiences too that seem to validate the purpose and meaning of our time together. It’s almost as if a heavy veil is being lifted off the illusion of self, preparing her for a reveal of her Real Self.

This afternoon, just as she was about to board a plane for abroad to go spend time with her parents, she called me to tell that when she left home a little earlier, a snake had crossed her path, and had waited there, watching her and her husband make their way to their car. She said she felt as if the the snake sighting was significant, and was an omen, possibly. I think a snake in the path as one leaves home for a good number of months speaks of the letting go of the old, to return renewed.

And yet, throughout our journey, we were riddled with doubt and insecurity, as if we were insane to even be contemplating the ceremony. Yet she and I knew that this was not a satisfying of a personal desire on her part- far from it. This was a passage that had to be walked, and one that had been prepared for her long before it presented itself as a very good idea to her.

It is possible to receive guidance from a realm that is not visible to us, only if we would listen.

Rites of passage are critical to sense-making and offer imsightful guidance on how to navigate this thing called human life. Rites of passage can help us know how to be human, and how to thrive as humans.

Calling all healers, medicine humans, teachers, priestesses, elders, Gurus, Dingaka, Sangomas, Shamans and you know yourselves-  Please, we, your students await your wise counsel. We want to remember please.

Ka lerato🙏🏾

 

Healers, Dingaka, Sangomas, Shamans- A Personal Journey With Ritual and Ceremony

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A few weeks ago I was hiking up Silvermine Nature Reserve with my friend InK when she asked me to hold ceremony for her, to mark a big transition she was walking through. She expressed a readiness to surrender that which didn’t serve her any longer, in order to step into a version of Self she’d only caught brief glimpses of, but one she knew had been lying in wait. This was her pilgrimage to Self.

I noticed that the tone of her request was perfunctory, maybe shy even, as if she wasn’t certain whether she was allowed to claim herself thus. When I contacted her a week or so later to discuss her request, she acted surprised. I think she was hoping that I’d forgotten about it.

I hadn’t. I’d heard the fear behind her request, the fear of being seen. This I had  recognised even in myself. In fact my 50th birthday celebration was beautiful but excruciating, since I kept thinking that people were thinking that I’m such an attention seeker. So I understood her anxiety, with my determination becomimg even more fervent to help her walk through it, to the Self she had been called to.

I had advised her to invite some withnesses to her ceremony, as support, but also as a way of affirming her declaration and new commitment to Self. It felt important to invite her to show up to herSelf in front of others. As I was sharing this vision with her, she shared a recent dream she’d had, where she had been placed in the centre of a big circle comprising a group of people. She couldn’t recall the rest of the dream, but understood that the ceremony would be no solo event.

To help contain her anxiety, she’d elected to invite only a handful of women, seven in fact, but was concerned that her very shy husband would be the only male present. So she asked her female friends to bring their partners (all of whom happened to be male), and the next thing we knew, there were 20 of us invited to the ceremony!

Hm… This, what she had been called to, was no small matter at all, but was clearly abstruse… profound, and she knew it too. A few times in the period leading up to her ceremony she would text me, asking me what I thought people would think. I didn’t know, I told her, being careful not to get involved in the story she was telling herself. I also deliberately didn’t dispel her fear, electing rather to help her sit in it. Interestingly, the longer she sat in her anxiety about the depth of her ceremony, the more her commitment to it strengthened.

When InK had first asked me to do this with and for her I’d performed rituals and had said prayers to bega, or announce the request, as a way of asking for guidance from Divinity and Badimo, our ancestors, but also so that I made it clear that it did not belong to me.

A week leading to the ceremony I gave her a lot of self-reflection and journaling homework, to help cultivate an inner space within which the meeting between self and Self would occur. Soon thereafter, my intuitive sense opened up completely, allowing for guidance to start landing in me, in dream time and meditations, mostly as flashes of images and unknown knowingness.

One morning I was guided to ask her to make ash for the ceremony. I questioned this, taking my time in asking her since I had received no further clarification as to the purpose of the ash. But the push to ask her became so unbearable that I eventually relented and asked her, and she surprised me by not inquiring about the peculiarity of the request. She simply proceeded to make a small ceremonial fire, gathered the required ash, and said prayers into it.

InK later revealed that last year, just before she got married, her mother had given her a jar filled with ash which her male relatives had prayed over, to use around the period of her wedding. To me that explained the request for the ash- it was already part of the family’s ritual practice.

There were many other inexplicable but synchronistic events that took place around this rite of passage, another being where I was intuitively “asked” to take her up a mountain for predawn prayers. I didn’t really want to, but of course was compelled, and so I asked her to feel which mountain she felt drawn to, in our area. She identified one, and in the early hours of her ceremony day I very reluctantly got out of bed just after 4 am to take this young woman up her chosen mountain, to meet herSelf.

We hiked up the mountain above Muizenberg in the semi dark, with me following her closely behind, in silence, as I’d been instructed. A sudden, startling loud bird call that sounded like an alarm, somehow announcing our arrival, pierced through the pristine silence. I took note of the greeting, but dismissed it as chance. However, I could not dismiss the 5 crows that circled a mere few meters above our heads as we got on our knees under a canopy of trees, on a tiny bridge running over a small singing stream, for the invocation I was about to perform. Mother Nature had sent a welcoming party, it seemed.

(An aside, the following night, just before drifting off to sleep, I followed a Crow Guided Meditation on my Insight Timer App. The teacher guiding the meditation shared that the crow represents transformation and change, letting go of what does not serve one any longer, and work in community. Clearly the appearance of those crows was no accident).

Back on our knees on the bridge on the mountain, I offered snuff, announcing our intention to Divinity, and calling in our ancestors and Kali-Ma. I called Kali Ma in particular for her Divine task as the destroyer of untruth. I asked for help and support that we be stripped of old, untrue stories about self, so as to make space for the generative and fuller versions of Self, in order to be who we really Are.

At the end of my invocations InK offered her own prayers. I continued praying with her, and without warning, in the middle of this, I slipped away. I must have gone into trance- certainly I had lost all conscious awareness, finding myself in infinite spaciousness within. I cannot say how long I was gone for.

I had been transported to this expansive realm before- at my last Vipasanna retreat in 2015; earlier this year during my journey with marijuana, and when I bent and twisted a spoon using my mind. When it happened again on the bridge, I immediately recognised it.

I came back to this present earth realm to find my body as I had left it, still on my knees, rubbing my palms together as InK was finishing with her prayers. I don’t think she had noticed what had happened with me, and since we were still in silence, I didn’t share.

We gathered our things and went off to a cave-like formation on another part of the mountain to perform the rest of our rituals,  and offer libations. As the sun rose, InK made a song offering to it. We were one with one another, with those that had come before us, and with all there was around us. It felt blissful.

As we walked down the mountains, a light breeze shook a tree we happened to walk past. It had what looked like dry pea pods for fruit, and they delighted us to no end as they rattled the sweetest sound in the breeze. We had the silliest smiles on our faces as we shook those pods, feeling sure that the Goddess of music had come out to dance with us.

Later that evening I led us through the proper ceremony, with 7 men and 13 women present. I had expected especially the men to squirm their way through it, but they surprised me by participating fully in all activities. InK received blessings from them as they came forth one by one, representing the sacred masculine, to rub that holy ash which her mother had given her for her wedding, onto her hands and feet. This was her marriage to Self, after all.

We, the women, then left the men behind, drumming, and went off to another part of the garden, for our own sacred feminine ritual. We created a loose tent with cloth to shield her naked body, and each woman came forward and offered her a blessing, focusing on a specific part of her body, which they rubbed with the ash I had asked her to make.

She was then bathed and massaged all over with ointment mixed with the remaining ash. We dressed her in new clothing, and when done, she went over a threshold, out of the old self, and stepped with bold intention, into her next phase of life. Her husband was there at the threshold to receive her with praise and a crown made out of white roses, which he placed upon her head as we all ullillated.

At the end of the ceremony we feasted as we sat around the fire, exchanging many stories well into the late hours of the night.

It was a lovely event of stepping into Self, surrounded and supported by community. Since the ceremony a week ago, InK has had revealing dreams that feel prophetic in some ways. There have been other experiences too that seem to validate the purpose and meaning of our time together. It’s almost as if a heavy veil is being lifted off the illusion of self, preparing her for a reveal of her Real Self.

This afternoon, 6 days after the ceremony, just as she was about to board a plane for abroad to go spend time with her parents, she called me to tell that when she left home a little earlier, a snake had crossed her path, and had waited there, watching her and her husband make their way to their car. She said she felt as if the the snake sighting was significant, she seeing it, it seeing her, and was an omen, possibly. I think a snake in the path as one leaves home for a good number of months speaks of the letting go of the old, to return renewed.

And yet, throughout our journey, we were riddled with doubt and insecurity, as if we were insane to even be contemplating the ceremony. Yet she and I knew that this was not a satisfying of a personal desire on her part- far from it. This was a passage that had to be walked, and one that had been prepared for her, for us, long before it presented itself as a very good idea to her.

Rites of passage are critical to sense-making and offer insightful guidance on how to navigate this thing called human life. Rites of passage can help us know how to be human, and how to thrive as humans.

We do not even have to know the way right away, since it is possible to receive guidance from a realm that is not visible to us, only if we would listen.

I am Calling all healers, medicine humans, teachers, priestesses, elders, Gurus, Dingaka, Sangomas, Shamans and you know yourselves-  Please, we, your students, your initiates await your wise counsel. We are here.

We want to remember please.

Ka lerato🙏🏾

 

Bravery Vs Courage

54981A38-3641-41AB-8C2D-17BACA9F565C.jpegOn Thursday afternoon a friend and I took a walk along the tiny paved strip running along the sea from Muizenburg to Danger Beach in St James. I think it’s renamed danger beach for very apparent reasons- the waves are supposedly mad there, with no patrolling life guards.
The wind on our walk was insane, with the sea spraying us with disgusting foam along the way. We shrieked as we tried to dodge it.
From behind us a chorus of ‘excuse me Aunties’ announced a bunch of surfer boys ranging surely between the ages of 10-16, trying to rush past us, heading straight for the ocean up ahead. Soon after they all disappeared into the sea- emerging on top of the waves. They were fierce and fearless, leaving my friend and I gobsmacked. Still looking at them riding the waves, my friend muttered: “they are so courageous”. “Hm, it’s true they’re not afraid, so they are likely more brave than courageous, in fact very brave for sure”, I responded. I further explained that for me, bravery is showing immunity to danger and fear. It’s a display of flagrant disregard for danger and fear. Courage sees and acknowledges fear and danger, and looks with love and compassion.

But what if courage and bravery work together?

My life demands that I face inner demons which threaten to swallow me up. In these moments it would behoove me to call on courage to help me face with love my fear of these demons, and bravery to take my hand and, with knees shaking, walk me through the fire of fear.

Courage does not immunise me from fear and pain. Rather I feel every bit of it, but if I desire to go through it, I must call upon bravery to help me take deliberate steps through it. Bravery guided by courage leads to wise action, whereas bravery on its own may recklessly and intentionally ignore danger.
Since committing to working through my fears, I will keep my heart open, and let Courageous Bravery be my tool. I recognise my demons. I see you there. I am going to be wisely brave. I am afraid, but it is time. Lean on Love Makgathi, and Be brave. Courage has my back.

Ka Lerato🙏🏾

Two Emotions- Love and Fear.

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“Love lifts us up to our true nature, and breathes courage into us to soar high above our fears”. MM

I’ve had a raging love affair with fear all my life, but have simultaneously blamed it for the somewhat flaccid results I have achieved in many areas of my life. The old ‘what if I fail, no actually what if I succeed’ narrative succinctly expresses the ubiquitousness, and frankly, the devastation of fear.
The truth is, fear is impersonal, and does not need me to justify it. Yet I do, and give it inordinate power to sway my thinking and actions, or more precisely, inaction. Of course I realise that by giving fear all this power, I inadvertently welcome it into the space of me, and am feeding it my dreams, my passion, my life.

I am left empty, a shell with no life, devoid of prana. I am arrested in place, locked behind a wall of fear, fearing my dreams, desires, myself, but hungry for my dreams, desires. Hungry for the experience of me.

Fear on the other hand doesn’t care where it gets its nourishment- it casually, and voraciously sucks all of me out of me, without concern for its host. It takes my life, and nurtures itself into insurmountable proportions.

And I am allowing this.

I need to know why I have been so attracted to fear.
What is it in me that pulls me to love fear so much?
What am I afraid of?

A Course in Miracles reminds us that the only two possible emotions are Love and fear.

Well then…it is time.
I’m sorry fear but I have to break up with you. Your love does not give life. Your love is the strangling kind, and I’ve had enough. I cannot love you anymore.

I am committing to seeking the roots of fear in me, and whilst I search for the answer, let me open up to Love’s truth and guidance.

I ask Love to lift me up to the truth of Who I Really Am, and give myself permission to breathe in her courage to help me soar high above fear.

Let me rise in love and not crumble in fear.

Let me recognise me when I meet me in Love.

Ka Lerato🙏🏾

Marumo Fatshe- No More Fighting

image.jpegI am starting this post with some reflection on the last one, the one covering my jive with love. My way in to this has to be an acknowledgment of the the role that writing has played in my life. I have in fact discovered that each time I write, and tell my stories, a resultant shift in my perspective on whatever it is I write about occurs, broadening my understanding.

One way I have given form to this love of writing is through journaling, which I started in high school in the early ’80’s. Journaling has been my constant, unconditional witness and companion.  Also my passage. It always delights me to note how each time I go back to read my journal entries, my heart softens somewhat, self disapproval diminishes, and I end up loving myself just that much more, in spite of my myotonic idiosyncrasies. Writing is my tool of self inquiry, my yoga.

Writing is also my plea to be seen… An expression of a deep longing to be seen, no, in truth, to be found.

I do know where this longing to be found comes from- the first source is likely related to childhood experiences that made me play down my own needs and assume responsibility way too young, coupled with an urgent need to please and not disappoint. The second source is more eminent, and is possibly ancient, older than me even, with roots stretching long across many lifetimes, and most likely across us, humanity. It is a longing to be joined with Divinity, with Infinite Oneness, which for me expresses itself through the entirety of my human life, every day highlighting  my separation from All There Is.

This is possibly why falling in love is so compelling- It may just stir within us the experience of Oneness, possible in the dissolution of boundaries which is necessary for facilitating the process of falling in love with another person.

But for me, this longing for me is not a happy longing in the least. In fact, it is beset with excruciating, difficult to explain pain, showing up as random sadness and depression, nestled within a generalised state of disappointment. Since it is a state, it is not in any way attached to any specific life events. It simply exists as one (Irresistable) option amongst a field of many other emotional states, stubbornly refusing to give way to contentment when happy events occur. Instead, this generalised disappointment gets me to feel empty, fail to appreciate the simple beauty of life, leading me to doubt whether God exists for me.

This emptiness was countered, as I wrote in my previous post,as I fell in love with Em. Falling in love gifted me with a precious glimpse of myself. Oh, what a relief it was to know that I exist, since look, he has fallen in love with me. I must therefore exist.

Finally, I was found! Someone had found me a worthwhile find!

Of course we know that it didn’t quite end that happily for me, but in the long run, yes, this whole experience had a beneficial result. Naturally getting to the gem did not exclude pain along the way, although I did manage to work through it.  Eventually. It is only when I had an almost repeat experience with a different man that I got plunged into the “why me?” disappointment and anger at God and myself. How could Divinity send me love, only to snatch it back even before it got delivered? I was the common denominator here, so maybe it was me.

My slightly dramatic self made meaning that it’s not these men that didn’t want me, but  God, since my original longing  was for God. In fact a few weekends ago, as I was sweeping my stoep of dead leaves in the frightful South Easter wind ( the very one that named this lovely, beloved part of South Africa The Cape of Storms), in deep desolation, I arrived at the conclusion that perhaps God doesn’t like me. You know how we all have people that we just don’t jibe with? Through no fault of their own? Well at the time, as I meekly coaxed the dead leaves out from under the table, I considered the possibility that maybe I am that person for God.

Yes I know God is not a person but more of an …___________… and so my anthropomorphic view was ridiculous, I know. But my feelings at the time were real, and the pity I gave myself may have been the only thing that propped me up. I had to give myself permission to be worthy even of that pathetic pity.

A few years ago I read a book written by a woman who relates her trance visit to the Akashic Records, where she’d had an experience that clearly told her that God not only loved her, but liked her! That line had me transfixed completely. Fast forward to me fighting with the stormy leaves in tears on my stoep a few weeks ago, and my wounded self sees herself as The problem, unliked even by God.

If Divinity does not like me, and is not coming to find me, then who is? The loneliness of this thought is unutterable.

I know in my head that I’m not lost, and that my wholeness is completely whole. More than that, I know that there’s a part of me that is expansive and limitless, that is closer to …___________ … and therefore knows that I am already Home. However, the human me is out there, pilgrimaging through the world, getting consumed by the promises of the world.

This human me-form is ravenously eating my way through people and experiences, trying to find and feed all the lost pieces of myself; pieces rejected and abandoned, hated and shamed through the pain and trauma of being human.

I do however know that I do not have to be found. In my head I know that, but the head is hardly the best place to hold learning. My Hara is the place, the one best suited for holding and integrating learning through experience. And my Hara told me that, since my Em and Other interaction, I am the one that needed to find myself, and want that self that I find, as it is. At the time though, I held this in my head only as information, doing very little to put it into, hmm, action is not the word- into form, in my being.

I have since, however, started exploring different ways of wanting myself as I am, starting with intentionally searching for all my lost and rejected parts, and making home for them in me. It is arduous, and so far I have a very bad track record. I’m good at letting myself down, and not showing up for myself. But I know that loving myself is absolutely is a doable imperative. I do feel like I have been trying to do this all my life, but clearly there are still orphaned aspects of me that long for Me to find them, and bring them Home.

I have thus decided to undertake this pilgrimage through work that I have been threatening to do forever. I have been saying I want to run retreats, and have done very little to craft processes that include other people, other than myself, mostly because of fear of disappointing clients.  Also, the doubting part of me doubts my qualifications, demanding that I enrol for some studies to ready me.

But it is time, so, yes, I see you doubting self. Now sit down. I have a contribution to make.

Right now I am putting together two women’s circles- the first one being for older women over the age of 45, a Circle of Crones, to help us step with conscious awareness eventually into the elder role; and the other, for younger women below 44-  The Maidens’ Clan. This will have me fully immersing myself in my priestess work, which makes me happy. My African Goddess divination cards are also in process, as are other individual rites of passage ceremonial work for lone pilgrims.

I am nourished by the possibilities of my work as a rites of passages companion, of journeying back to me with others, and being a companion as others journey back to themselves, all of us using love as our vehicle.

Thank you for being my companion through my writing. You indeed are helping me claim myself by being my witness.

It is time I took this work that I love so much, and that feeds me, seriously. This somehow feels like my process of growing up, and hopefully of being a grown up as I approach 52 next year.

One thing I know is that this work is not coming from me. It feels inspired somehow. So perhaps God is finding me, after all… And perhaps likes me…

Ka Lerato 🙏🏾

 

Finding Love on Tinder

 

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What, love on tinder?! Yes indeed.

It has taken me a good four months to write since my last post, with me dodging and diving my writing. I honestly cannot fathom why I have such difficulty writing this, but at last, here goes….

It all started the middle of May when I was in Jozi for work, and was staying with my friend Adele. Now this is the kind of friend that covers all bases of what it means to be a friend- she provides important perspectives on matters that challenge me emotionally; is generous to a fault, no questions asked; genuinely wants me to succeed and be happy; and is also that friend that will have you behaving very badly where you end up dancing on tables after sharing two bottles of bubbly between the two of you at a Sunday afternoon Barnyard show. That is, the two of you being the only audience members to be dancing on tables! To top it all, she’s the one with whom you descend into cosy, pitiful domesticity on a Friday night in front of the TV. She’s that friend.

The first evening of my stay with her in May had us sitting in front of the fire in our pyjamas and slippers, wine glasses at hand. She pulls out her knitting and asks me about my love life, and in particular, what I’m doing to advance it. I tell her what I tell everyone, that “the universe and Divinity know where I live and hang out, and where he lives and hangs out. They must tilt the world to facilitate our meeting when we are both ready”. I soften it by clarifying though that I am ready.

She, ever the pragmatic, responds with a vehement “nonsense gogo ( she’s come to call me that each time she wants to prove a point- mostly a point indicating my ignorance and shortsightedness!), I’m sure the universe and God both know about Tinder too”.

So saying, she grabs my phone and tells me she’s going to download the Tinder App. “It’s an App? Really? I thought it’s an online dating service” I respond, as if it matters. All she says is: ” No. Gogo” as she proceeds to download it. She tells me she will give me a ‘how to use Tinder’ crash course as soon as it has downloaded on to my mobile. When the App appears on my phone, she pulls my profile and photographs from Facebook to build my Tinder profile. When we are set, we go exploring the field, as pictures and profiles of men appear on my screen one at a time. I’m supposed to swipe left for what I don’t like, and right for what I do like.

So, I swipe. Left, mostly, since there’s so much I don’t like, until she tells me to lower my standards, and risk swiping right- the person may not reciprocate anyway, so I would suffer no loss. With deep embarrassment, I start swiping right, essentially letting random strangers know that I am interested in them. What if they don’t like me? No actually, what if someone does like me?! I’m instantly turned into a 51 year old teenager.

I am both astonished and delighted when I get a few matches, (men who have swiped me right too) and actually I’m more than delighted. It does something to me, this indication of my desirability. I either didn’t know this, or I’d honestly forgotten. Adele reminds me: “Don’t be ridiculous gogo, of course you’re a catch!” But in all seriousness, most of my very few romantic relationships were initiated by me, and since the ending of my last one in 2012, not one single person, male or female, has shown any romantic interest in me. So… And yes it has been that long.

And so it is that I pick up many men from my matches, but settle on three, and engage in a virtual relationship with them. I feel guilty as hell, that I’m cheating on all three of them even just by talking.

All three are widowers in their mid years like me- one, the one I like the most, lives in Joburg, while the other two live abroad. I think I like this Joburg one because we are in the same country at least, even though I live in Cape Town. My heart isn’t really in it with one of them, let’s call him Em, and I tell him he’s wasting his time since I’d prefer someone close by. Obviously. He says he too would like someone close by, but that maybe we can get to know and like each other enough to be friends. “Let’s start there, with getting to know each other first” he asks, and the logic is so clear that I agree.

I don’t let go of my other two cheats though, mainly because they are so damn good looking. I’m ashamed to admit that yes, I discovered a shallowness within me previously unacknowledged.

The euphoria doesn’t last though. One of my beaux is too wounded, desperate for love. Regrettably, he leads with this desperation, proposing marriage within a few text exchanges. Oh dear. My heart breaks for him, and I energetically send him some healing light. Through this I get to recognise that men most likely also walk around with wounds related to love and life in general, as much as us women do. I’d never seen that before, mainly because they hide their pain so well in order to meet damning  tribal norms about masculinity.

Joburg guy feels like he’s just lying to me. I feel as if I am but one of the many women he’s most likely talking to. His texts have a cut-and-pasted flavour to them, and I see that he isn’t interacting with the personal me, that somehow I’ve disappeared from this relationship. That’s too bad for me, since I really liked him. However, I don’t pull out straight away, not wanting to hurt his feelings, and wait for him to let go before finally exiting also. This gives me space to focus all my attention on Em, the one I’d originally dismissed. I’m happy and unhappy and happy again about what’s happening to me.

Right at the beginning of us making our acquaintance, Em (who lives abroad) scores major points by not asking me to tell him about myself, a question I loath both in personal spaces, and as part of a job application interview. My responses always feel contrived, devoid of rhythm. I’m pleased therefore when we organically reveal ourselves to each other in the things we are engaged in in the present. This makes our conversations pretty random, but also very real:

Me: “So what are you doing this weekend?”.  Him: “I have to work in the garden. I have a whole lot of dead leaves needing to be raked, before they kill my lawn.” This is immediately followed by a photograph of a garden indeed heavily covered in yellow leaves all around, and a long-toothed rake resting against the garden fence. It makes me smile as I imagine myself rolling in that sunshine yellowness. Of course I don’t tell him this though.

One Saturday he tells me he is spending the morning preparing for his son’s weekend visit. I pick up in his tone that he is excited, which warms my heart when he tells me his son is 24 years old and is away at university in the UK. I tell him that I see how much he loves his son, and my reflection both surprises him but also makes him happy. He tells me: “He is all I have”.

Later on in the evening he sends me pictures of the meal he’s prepared for the two of them, and I tell you, the man can cook. And pretty food too. Me I don’t care how food looks on a plate- as long as it’s tasty, that’s all that matters to me. When I compliment him on his cooking skills he tells me not to worry, that he will be cooking for me when him and I are together. This thrills me like you cannot believe.

We continue like this, with conversations that are mindless at times, and deeply personal and revealing at other times. One day during one of our random conversations he tells me that he can see he’s going to fall in love with me, and soon after, maybe a week later he signs off from a text conversation with a “I love you baby.”

I swoon, but don’t respond with the same immediately. Rather, I wait, and a few days later tell him “I love you too baby”.

And I do.

There is a lot I love about him- the father he is; that he took time to work on his healing after his wife passed away;  the way he pays attention to what I say, and how he holds a mirror up for me to see my own beauty; what we love in common- gardening, running, cooking, our spirituality,  red wine; and his sexy smile and chest and legs! But he just feels like a good person, like a friend. My friend.

For instance, there was that time in June, when the Western Cape was hit by that horrific ‘hurricane’. During that time I was freaking myself out at home as I listened to the scary wind threaten to uproot and deposit my entire house into the lake across from me. This is even before the unleashing of the deluge upon us. As I sat in my home in deep fear, I posted a text on my neighbourhood whatsapp group that read “Urgently seeking a husband-for one night only, to hold me and reassure me through the storm. In the morning we part ways, no strings attached, no hard feelings!” I meant it, due to the inexplicable overwhelm that gripped me. Why do I have to handle everything on my own?!

When I tell Em how scared I am, he immediately goes into man mode and takes care. Yes I choose to call it man mode, and of course if I were here with small children, I would be doing that for them. Of course. But right now I just cannot. I can’t. My inner masculine is impossible for me to locate, so I go looking for one outside of me.

Em asks me to make sure that all windows and doors are closed properly, and that there is nothing outside that could potentially go flying off and course harm or injury. Potentially physical threats taken care of, he then focuses his attention on me, gently but assertively calming me down: “Don’t be afraid baby. 120km per hour winds do sound scary, but you must try get some sleep. But stay alert in case you need to respond quickly. And call me whenever you feel you want to. I will check in with you later to see how the storm is going. You’ll be okay baby. I love you”.

The thing is, I’d lived in New Orleans before during hurricane season, and have had to learn about hurricane preparation, so I’d already done what he had suggested. I guess my inner masculine had already taken care of me after all, but just having Em there reassure me was so comforting, that I melted into his love.

As time goes on I notice how happy I am, and how my boundaries dissolve and paradoxically get strengthened at the same time. As I make space for him within myself, I inadvertantly loosen my attachment to the vision I have of myself, and somehow get to encounter myself in new ways.

I suppose this is what love does- it makes one less self- centered as one willingly joins with the beloved. As the two join, each one becomes the perfect mirror for the other to see the parts of self that are hidden even from oneself, the parts that only emerge within the safety of love.

The safety of love invites us to stand naked not only in front of the beloved, but most frighteningly, in front of ourselves, hidden parts exposed. These hidden parts are essential to our wholeness, since they hold painful traumas that make us feel too unsafe to even look at by ourselves. When kept hidden long enough they form our shadow, our hidden perceived shame, cut off from us, but which in fact is the very portal through which we need to traverse, to get back to ourselves.

Love gives us courage to be able to withstand the weight of our own and each other’s pain/shame, leads the journey as we welcome back into the light, those cut off and rejected parts of ourselves, and cracks our hearts open so that we can learn to love ourselves and each other back to wholeness, through the love we have for one another.

Right now however I am at the dissolving of boundaries stage, which feels pleasurable and good, as if I’m super healthy and strong. I’m giddy and lose my breath at Em’s morning: “Hi baby, are you there?” texts. He tells me that looking at photographs of me makes him breathless, that he wonders how we will look together. He says when he’s driving in his car he sometimes imagines me there in the car with him, talking and laughing.

I tell my loved ones about him, and he tells his one friend about me when we both realise how deeply we’ve fallen in love with each other. We develop such trust that we become very vulnerable with one another. We continue to share stuff, very risky stuff, and fall even deeper in love. Love glues us together, forming a sort of a oneness.  We plan our first meeting since he travels to South Africa regularly for work. I’m even promised bedroom Olympics! Through this, my mind creates all sorts of scenarios of us together, which I have enough sense not to share here.

I marvel at how happy I am, and get what the fuss about love is al about. I suddenly understand why we all yearn for it so much, because it really feels like it makes all things fall into place- things that were never out of place in the fist place. I walk around feeling like I have my own constantly full tank of oxytocin. Dopamine and endorphins are working overtime in my body, and I spread pheromones all around me. Yho!

It is at this height of emotional arousal that he one day asks me a favour which I cannot do for him. It’s a long complicated story which I shall not relate here, except to say that for some reason, this marks the beginning of the end of us. It’s not my no that creates this, but rather the consequences of my no. My inability to help him throws him into a big challenging situation, which he struggles to address successfully. He’s stressed beyond belief, and is unable to receive any of my reassurances and support. I in turn feel helpless at not being able to help him, and this throws me into stress too. We are two desperately unhappy people. The tone of his texts change, with fewer and fewer endearments expressed. The ‘I love yous’ cease, as do the ‘baby’. I become clingy, but there is no one there to cling to. My heart starts to break.

One day he stops communicating altogether. I desperately send texts and emails, but he remains silent. I give it two weeks and send a very neutral text, and receive a lukewarm response. I then decide to stop chasing, to rather wait to be chased, but he doesn’t.

My heart breaks so much, that it shuts off all dopamine and oxytocin. But cortisol, ever in the wings, takes over. I’m a wreck, weeping in public as much as at home. I lie in bed in the early hours of the morning begging for something, Anything to explain to me what happened? How can he leave me just like that? Why?

One morning a response comes through in a meditation. I’m invited to contemplate my life, and to identify what Em’s sudden departure could possibly have been reflecting back to me about myself. Ah, the gazing in the mirror stage. Sigh. Have I ever left myself like that before? When have I disappointed myself like that? Dropped myself so unceremoniously?

Bulimia.

I have suffered with this illness most of my teens and early adulthood. Although it’s mostly gone now, there is the occasional purging of what I have taken in. It is extremely rare, but sufficient enough to show up on this radar. Hmm…

So what is this then, this bulimia? For me it’s the ultimate expression of ambivalence. I want it, but am afraid of holding in, whatever the “it” is .

This is good yes, but what could it potentially do to me?

Actually am I worthy of it?

I suppose it’s the expression of my belief in my unworthiness. Will I get what I want, and more importantly, will I get to keep it?

So when Em defied my sense of unworthiness and loved me regardless, my internal structure was shaken at its core. Somehow however, the structure of unworthiness remained intact, prevailing against Em’s love. My belief that I am unworthy of love was so strong that it stood firm against freely given love. He did, after all leave me, and without a word. Self expelled without warning. That’s bulimia.

I want love, but feel unworthy of it, and in fact secretly fear it, so that even as it shows up, I have to throw it out in order to maintain the painful loveless status quo. I can try and create all sorts of realities on the outside, but ultimately it is what I hold to be true on the inside that will eventually manifest and prevail.

When I see that this is what is happening, I immediately vow, NEVER again. From the last time, whenever that was that I purged a meal, it stops now. I’m not willing to lose love again. The stakes are too high for me, and I want to be in a loving relationship. So I vow to chose myself, and thank Em for what he brought me. He insisted on loving me, and in challenging me to alter my own view of my worth.

What’s interesting is that I’d done a lot of work around restoring my sense of worthiness of love, and truly believed that I had managed to create that sense of worth. Clearly though there were still parts of me that clung to the unworthiness narrative, which were exposed through Em’s loving me, and ultimately leaving. I would not have known about these hidden parts had things happened differently. What I mean is, by myself, I would only have gone up to point. I needed another to hold the mirror up for me to see myself.

When I look back on all this, I see that parts of me had been yearning for healing for the longest time, and as a last resort, had planted the desire for a relationship in me, in order to walk me along a path of healing. Without Em and losing his love, I may never have fully committed to my healing.

But maybe we hold mirrors up for each other, irrespective of the nature of the relationship? Maybe every one of our relationships offers potential for our own healing? What if every relationship is a necessary space within which we can all learn to be more of ourselves?

Ka lerato 🙏🏾

 

On Depression And Random Sadness

Depression wakes me up in the early hours of the morning…

That’s the first line of a poem I wrote last year- an homage to my unwelcome constant companion, stealth in her ability to show up unannounced, unexpected. The gatecrashing party-pooper.

My first memory of her visit is of me as a little girl, perhaps four or five years old, in mama’s classroom at the crèche where she taught. I was the only child left in the classroom, perhaps even in the entire crèche, waiting for knock- off time to arrive so mama and I could go home at the end of her work-day.

We were sitting in her classroom, with me playing by myself, I would imagine, and her, making some beaded piece of art. Mama was a masterful crafts person, able to churn out stunning art and domestic pieces, some of which I still own.

Engrossed in her beading, she was whistling this soulfully wistful tune, evocative for one so young. As I listened, a haunting sound came through, substantial, like a Being. It was the match-maker, there to conduct the formal introduction of this little girl to her lifelong spouse, Melancholia, sealing the deal with an immediate honeymoon of deafning sadness.

My companion loved me only as a spouse loves their beloved, insisting on my attention whenever she felt like it. I never knew how to decline her exigencies, and would meekly follow her to her cavernous darkness, her irresistible abode, where she would keep me as long as she wanted, a soul trafficker showing a jealous streak that I had to surrender to. I just didn’t know how to leave.

When I eventually mustered enough nerve to leave, she would follow me into my world. She loves surprises, often showing up out of the nowhere, and making it impossible for me to prepare myself for her visits. In truth though there are some outward experiences that acted like a telegram to her- “come now, urgent!”.

One such beckoning scene is from a long time ago, and is of watching Mama in our dusty backyard, sitting on a patchwork cloth she’d made herself, pounding her African traditional medicinal  herbs on a big stone mortar with a huge, rough riverstone which she used as her pestle. She would be singing, mostly humming a song which she loved very much, hardly noticing me. I too loved that Tswana song, and was desperate for her to teach it to me, although I couldn’t get myself to commit to learning it since it always made me so sad. Looking back now, I never understood the source of the sadness though, whether it was the song, or the entire picture of my mother and the patchwork cloth, and the medicinal dust bellowing up in our backyard.

My companion also loves music, which she uses as her most favoured portal to get to me. She’s equally fond of a stunning nature scene, a good book, a memory, family photographs, images of love- actually she’s not particularly choosy. She has an ability to show up in these moments of utter beauty, tapping me on the shoulder to sway my attention with a smile, only to punch me hard in the stomach, and drag me to her hole.

She also uses me as her vessel, and gathers up other people’s tears, handing them to me to hold, and shed for them, leaving me wondering exactly whose tears these are?

She is very skilful in asking me difficult questions that I can never answer- ‘why are you here, Makgathi? What does your contract say?”. I always get flustered when she asks me this, and immediately unknow everything I’ve known all along. The answer is probably very simple, and right in front of my eyes, but I can’t see it. Instead despair shows up each time I’m unable to answer, and with it, hopelessness, guilt, disappointment in me. Can anything be saved, of this life?

It is in these moments that she introduces the topic of death. Of not being. Of being dead. Had I not known that death is not an end, but a mere lillypad for the ultimate self reflection and love-recharging opportunity, a pause point for integrating all that one has learnt during life on Earth, I might have followed her urging a long time ago. But I do know better, and perhaps this is my surprising act of rebellion, of self-assertion. No, I won’t!

I don’t really know why she’s chosen me, but I feel as if we’ve known each other through many lifetimes. She is that one relative that defies death, that is there at the moment of death and new incarnation, script in hand, compelling me to review in pedantic detail, a life lived, at death, and pick up from where we had left off as I enter new life. I think she just wants to make sure that I’m learning something from her companionship, even if it’s as simple as the recognition that my choice to live, is a choice which I need to exercise every moment, from the minute I recognise it as a choice. You see, that’s why ending my life has never been a consideration for me, since she would just be waiting for me on the other side anyway, asking me difficult questions whose answers would be too late in coming.

So, I promise her that “I’m goin’ deal with you personally, personal-personally”, to borrow from P-Square. But my journey with her continues.

Yesterday she woke me up again in the early hours of the morning, and found me fair game. But she doesn’t know about my meeting with my Ultimate Observer Self during my cannabis/hashish experience. She doesn’t know that I’ve been taught to observe without attachment, without building up a story about the event. So yesterday when I prayed for help as she was preying on me, I was open and receptive to the help. But that didn’t stop her- she wanted to make sure that I am learning…

So as I was sitting at my desk working later in the day, she added pressure, reducing me to a fitful bout of gut-wrenching crying that made even me worried. I opened my psychology books through my tears to read up on depression, and considered asking my therapist friends Lizbe or Dimakatso for help. Before I could formulate my SOS, and literally mid sob, a WhatsApp text came through loudly on my cellphone, and for some reason I picked it up to read the text.

It was from a neighbour on our neighbourhood chat group, asking for urgent use of someone’s wifi in order to complete an eminent piece of work. I responded by inviting them to come over my house to use my wifi. Then I remembered that I’m still full of tears, and my eyes bloodshot. How do I explain this pitiful scene? Plus I needed to put on a bra before he arrived.

To prepare for the neighbour, I splashed my face with water, put on a bra, and waited. Then another text came in saying he had received help from another neighbour, so I was saved. In every way, actually.

When I returned to my desk, it was to quickly get up when I realised how hungry I was. I went in the kitchen and made myself my first meal for the day, stupid, considering it was after midday already. But here’s the thing, as I was making my meal, I felt so light, so lightened, as if a heavy cloud had just been burnt away by the sun, like an impenetrable fog had suddenly given way, enabling me to leave. I hadn’t felt this randomly light in a long time, but also so spent that I was in bed by 7pm. Well done Divinity, that wifi request was simply artifice!

I do know though that I need to address this properly, and am thinking alternative therapies will help. In any case, there is a lot of help from the medical and mental health professions to address all manner of needs. Depression is hard, and I know I won’t be handling it alone.

Also, I am ready for a proper life companion, and this one must go. She has served me long enough, and it’s time to part ways. I thank her for reminding me that I have chosen life, and yes, now I get it. But she cannot have her way with me any longer. I want my real soul companion to be the one to have his way with me instead!

Ka Lerato Beloveds🙏

Episode 2: Makgathi Unplugged

I need to rewind a bit before I delve into the subject of my plant medicine experience.

The period of my Lent was very hard, despite how I make it appear in the previous post. A lot happened in my forty days:

I suddenly had to leave the easy rhythm of my days as work demands crept up. Venus and Mercury went retrograde, throwing me into deep discombobulation. Hm, I’d never noticed my sensitivity before.

Equinox came and went, peppered by various ceremonial rituals and painful riots in my valley, which unsettled me to the core. Not for the first time in my life I asked myself, who does land really belong to? How do we get the right to lay claims on her? To sell and buy her and own her? And then name her and limit her with self-created borders, so that even indigenous peoples that were here before us are rendered landless, and have to endure our rapacity for basic shelter? I struggle to make sense of what it means to be human.

On that fateful Friday in South Africa, my friend Ria and I drove in to town to a political rally, with me trying to introduce a ‘We Must Rise’ response chant. It doesn’t gain much momentum though. I think we find it easier to break anything down, than build it up.

The turn-out at the protest rally is remarkable, and simultaneously breaks my heart that it is anger that has brought us together as South Africans. I shout “We must rise” some more, a little embarrassed, and very desperate, hoping that love can make its way through the throng of us, and help us build. But perhaps right now what we need is to break down? I don’t know.

A couple of weeks before then, whilst visiting family in Tshwane, I got woken up in the early hours of the morning by excruciating stomach cramps. Those old familiar ones. I rolled around the bed all night, unable to breathe due to the pain. When I started vomiting from its intensity, I knew I was in trouble.

But I refused to believe that this undiagnosed issue had reared its head again. “What is it?”, I kept asking it,through laboured breath. “What am I failing to attend to, to learn? Why are you shaking me from within?” But I got no response. Nothing. Just more breath-taking pain and body shaking retching.

My stubborn/stupid self waited until the break of dawn before I decided to ask for help. I phoned my sister Poppy from the bedroom in which I was sleeping. Instead of answering the phone,  she comes running in to see what’s wrong, to find me ashen in pain.

By then I was so worn out that I agreed to be taken to Casualty at Die Wilgers hospital in Pretoria, where I received superlative, kind and generous care. Constantiaberg Casualty, please take note.

Later on, my other sister Maureen comes to join us at the hospital. I’m discharged as soon as they’ve drugged me silly, and Aus Maureen takes me for a meal at The Grove. I am in my several sizes too large, faded old pyjamas, my hair looking deranged in half done dreadlocks. My sister, who runs a Mental Health hospital, could easily be mistaken for being on a mall field trip with one of her patients (is there such a thing even?!)  Somehow though, neither of us finds anything wrong with this scene. Love is here, and that is all that matters.

Whilst in hospital, I had received a call offering me work for the following day, and I incredulously had accepted it. When I arrived at work that Sunday, I mustered all my focus and pushed through the pain, continuing with some fairly demanding tasks. To drive the point of my determination home, I showed up for other previously scheduled work, instead of cancelling, which had been my typical response to this medical issue in the past. ‘I see you pain, but I’m unplugging from your story’. I simply refused to allow the viccicitudes of my life get in the way of my living.

This unplugging ushers in an inner shift in me, one of not feeling overcome by my life. In fact, although the condition of my life is exactly the same as my last blogposts- in debt, broke, fat and single- somehow I’m able to surpass it.

I don’t wake up to tight anxiety knots in my stomach all that often, and when I do, I acknowledge them, and continue with my life. Inexplicable depression visits me, bringing a depthless well of tears with it, but I am able to acknowledge it and walk right past it. Anything and everything is a trigger, and I honestly can’t say who I’m crying for anymore, whose tears I’m shedding. It’s very easy for me to turn innocuous melancholia, that gnawing home-sickness, into full-blown depression, but now when it arises, I acknowledge that I am forgetting that I am loved, and so send myself some.

I am desperate to perceive the miracle that is all life, but my senses are blunted. Somehow though this is okay, since I do not get involved in the condemning thoughts my mind tries to spin about my failure.

I used to be so afraid of life, and now, I’m not anymore, since I have pulled the plug out of the socket of story-telling and drama. I am a player; on the field and simultaneously spectating the game of my own life.

The thing about not being plugged in though, is I start noticing how rudderless I feel, as if I’m floating in space. The stories I used to tell myself provided a pillar for me, and with them gone, my pillar has crumbled, exposing me to how ill equipped I am to prop myself up. I wonder if this is what flat affect feels like, but no, this isn’t it. Maybe nihilistic, somehow? No. The difference is subtle… with this, feeling more ethereal. I am still me, just unsubstantiated by my stories. I waft between being afraid of this, and not caring a shit. I’m 51 years old and my life isn’t what I thought it would be, but I embrace it all.

It is whilst in this inner space that I have the experience with the now legal in Cape Town plant medicine.

Nothing much happened around the time of ingestion actually, except that I noticed I was a little louder in my speech, and partially ostentatious in my manner. After the lunch, we had gone home in the early evening to prettify ourselves for a night out at the theatre, to watch a physical theatre piece our friend was performing in. After the show we decided to go a local pizza joint (haha) in Observatory for a meal. I was surprised to hear me support this pizza idea, since I’m generally unaffected by the hype surrounding pizza. I just fail to perceive its joy-making properties. It is after all, but an open cheese and tomato sandwich.

When we arrived at the restaurant, we went upstairs and found a table to sit around. Someone said something silly as we sit, and I laughed so hard that I had to put my head down on the table, and watched as my body convulsed uncontrollably in the release of happy hormones. I lifted my head up and declared to my friends “oh my God, I’m high!” And got lost in another laughing fit.

In that moment I’m fully aware of myself as me, then I slip into another realm right next to this one we are in, from which I observe myself. In this other realm, which is exactly like this one, but different somehow, I see very clearly how I keep myself imprisoned by my thought stories. In this realm, non-attachment is offered as a real, viable, option. It is not a delusional denial this, but rather an acknowledgment of things as they are, without getting lost in their story.

I re-enter the regular realm, and continue a conversation with my friends, and then retreat back into the parallel one. This is wild! Everything is more pronounced, but also lighter here. It feels like I’ve gone through a portal, opened by MaryJane.

I spent the entire night swinging between realms, getting up to dance when Lauren Hill comes through the speakers. I even surprised myself by enjoying the pizza, and kept eating slices after slices of it. Is it really this delicious? I make a mental note to return to this place in a more sober state, to validate my findings.

By the time I got to bed after midnight I was still in this space.

I’m content, and grateful I was with safe people for this experience. My friend Nina corroborates this, and cautions that it’s not unheard of for people to experience paranoia in this state.

When I later share my experiences with some other friends, they ask me if I’d be keen to try it again, and I tell them no. I’ve been given that experience for some reason, but feel zero need or desire to repeat it.

In truth though, I cannot credit the plant medicine for offering me the gift of non-attachment, since I’d already slipped into it anyway a little bit before then. The biggest gift it did offer though was to affirm the non-attachment for me. It did also take me through to the parallel other side. I’d known about this other realm, but had only had a cognitive understanding of it. Now I know it’s real. And for reasons unknown to me right now, I needed to have the veil lifted, to help me catch a visceral glimpse of it.

I will post the third instalment in this trilogy soon.

Ka Lerato 🙏🏾

The Lazy Disciple- oh dear

Episode 1 of 3

It has taken me forever to give an update of my Lent, and what I’d committed to. I wish I could say I was the perfect Lenten observer.

Well, instead of all my moments being encompassed by the Passion, I am embarrassed to admit that the subject of my meditations was George Michael. I know. What the fuck? The ghost of George Michael had me trolling YouTube channels until crazy hours of the morning watching interviews and listening to his music. I wasn’t even a fan while he was alive, so what is this?!
If that wasn’t bad enough, my mind would wake me up in the morning to his bloody catchy tunes, overtaking my meditations, and insinuating his lyrics as mantras into my quiet moments ‘…well I’ve been loved, so I know that it exists…’. This could only be boloyi, some GMjuju! I know he was masterful in his music making and singing craft, and seemed like such a nice person, but this is ridiculous. As for that flashy smile with all those teeth, and so many needy folk here in the Cape…
My Lent had turned into a passionate one sided affair with the very gay and very dead George Michael. I’m so sorry Jesus.

As an aside, I’d like to comment how all these super talented performers all have personal trainers, managers, massage therapists, body guards, and so on, and yet none of them ever thinks of having a psychologist or counsellor on their pay roll. Why not? So many of the ones we’ve lost over the years have been due to some self- medicating substance habit or other, gone very wrong.
But back to my Lent, I’m not surprised at the turn of events- after all, I had long given up on committing to giving up most of the things I had given up for it- coffee was back on the breakfast table, red wine a happy- making companion at sunset. My 3am meditations replaced by much needed sleep, and my meals as random and unplanned as ever, well, safe for the perpetual meat as a disappointing constant. It’s as if I deliberately went out of my way to disappoint myself.
When I started this Lenten journey, I’d read up on the events surrounding the Passion of Christ to help me understand the real meaning of it. One of the readings was about Jesus’ forty days and forty nights of prayer and fasting. It sounds like it was hard going for him, being human and all, and he was depending on his disciples’ moral support to help him through it. They, being even more human than him, couldn’t keep up with him. They kept falling asleep at inappropriate moments, and probably gave in to the sort of foibles I describe above, including a devastating (and necessary?) betrayal.

One particularly difficult night, Jesus finds his followers in deep sleep again, instead of deep in prayer. In a moment of hunger, testing by the devil and fatigue, Jesus gives in to his own gatvolness and castigates them, particularly Peter, calling him “lazy, sleeping like an old dog”! When I read that I felt as if Jesus was addressing me directly, letting me know how disappointed he was in me.
That’s why  I found it so easy to identify with all the disciples (instead of Jesus, whom I was desperate to identify with), and understand the ease with which we can give in to our human compulsions, even when under the loving guidance of an evolved teacher who is right there with us. What chance do I have, really, in this lifetime?

Seriously though, with my life in such turmoil, how do I remain faithful to the ungraspable spiritual life? How do I continue to meet my human obligations whilst longing for spiritual release? I don’t know. I’m just sorry I’d decided on doing this Lent thing in the first place, and then making the mistake of declaring it to the world.

But when my Lent got hard going, I too gave in to my own ‘old lazy dogness’.

Having let myself off my commitments, I went one further, and took drugs.

I’d driven to that lovely village of McGregor one weekend for a workshop with our youth group at The Mothertongue Project. I’d run the session on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, and had driven back to town on Saturday afternoon to gate crash a luncheon hosted by my friend in her gorgeous home in Seapoint.

Refreshing and delicious supplies of Gin and Tonics welcomed me as I landed, followed by the meal. My friend is an attentive and generous host, and knows how to lay out a spread, and she had. I gorged on her roast potatoes like the Irish.
The music then came out, and some dancing. In between this, we found time to mourn the loss of Ntate Ahmed Kathrada, and drive ourselves crazy over the idiocy of our president. With emotions this high, my friend takes the opportunity to mention that she’d acquired some black paste marijuana, which she offered us to try. I usually pass up on smoking weed since it does absolutely nothing for me but deposit nasty breath in my mouth.
But for some reason, the mood was right, so I swallowed the tiny half a chewing gum-sized thick paste, which promptly adhered to the roof of my mouth. But I was dancing and we were talking and laughing, and my friend decided that that tiny amount was probably not right, so we tried a small second round. All this is happening on the very day that marijuana had been legalised in Cape Town, although I discovered this only the following day

Please visit Episode 2 of 3 to, continue reading

Ka Lerato

🙏🏾

Days 5-Now: On Anger and Shame

Since calling my Lent journey a “radical confrontation”, issues that are uncomfortable and upsetting about myself are emerging in an acute manner. Or maybe it’s because I’m not drinking that I can now see clearly!

For one, I’m noticing what an incredibly judgemental person I am. I touched on this in an earlier post, about how my mind regurgitates all these past faults leveled against me, and goes on an attack of these old instigators. Well now the thing that’s happening is that I attack even in the present moment.

For instance, on my birthday I decided to treat myself to a free ride up Table Mountain in the cable car. The day was perfect in every way, sun, not too hot though and no wind, so the entire European, American, and Asian nations were on the mountain with me, pushing and grabbing and being very loud, irritating the serenity out of my birthday attempt at peaceful contemplation. I couldn’t believe how I ‘tucked my dress into the legs elastic of my panties’ (township straatmeisie-style), ready for a fight.

I’m not a violent type of person, well, not that I know of, but there I was, inducing heart failure in myself as I glared accusingly and disapprovingly in my mind at people trying to enjoy this 7th Wonder of the World. What the fuck Makgathi? What happened to “World Peace Begins With My Inner Peace”? In yoga class this very morning Leora my teacher had wished me happy birthday, inviting me to “share this Light with everyone”. I had nodded my head with tears in my eyes, genuinely believing myself when I promised her and myself that “yes, I will”. Hm.

It did bother me to see this mine of random anger within myself, and how helpless I felt against it. Why is my mind doing this?  I became vigilant, castigating myself for my judgemental thoughts, but my mind flagrantly tossed me aside in gleeful rebellion against my intention to give love instead. Remember how a mere few weeks ago I was falling in love with everyone? How did that happen so easily, well, and how is this anger also coming out so easily?

I felt so angry and ashamed of myself.

In my radical confrontation space, what should I pay attention to, the anger or shame? The two companions are showing up,  both cycling within me indefatigably, each taking a turn like little girls on a swing. Except they lack the easy giggle of little girls, as they grate against me, inside me.

But grace is also a constant companion.

This morning during my Centering Prayer meditation, a silent contemplative prayer popularised by Father Thomas Keating, I drop deep into silence, and find myself in tears. As I Surrender to this, I receive a strong impression of my young self, of me as a child. I gather this little me in my arms, repeating my Sacred Phrase for the practice, “All is well”, and some comprehension drops in.

This is the little girl that has been holding all manner of unexpressed emotion for me. She’s the one that swallows all my sadness, disappointment, anger, needs and wants, and has learnt to self-soothe by sucking her thumb. I now know that she’s the one that has tried to save my life by carefully padding me with fat on my body, over feeding just to silence the unquenchable longing within. She’s the one who has been feeling unworthy of receiving. She’s also the one who goes into panic each time I lose weight, for fear of being exposed, and for the shame she harbours.

I know that shame can be addictive, and can trap us into a spiral of feeling shame for the pain we may have suffered as children, and paradoxically, feeling ashamed of the shame, as adults. I have seen this in myself, and understand how this shame is the very emotion that keeps me feeling bad about myself, for any and no reason at all, and keeps me in the very condition I am ashamed of!

It is the shame that has me waking up in the early hours of the morning doing a food count of what I’ve eaten the day before, making me angry at myself for my lack of resolve; it is the shame that constantly compares me to my peers, making me angry at myself for not making the achievements I should have by now; the very shame that tells me I am just like the sleeping disciples, failing to stay awake, and later betraying their teacher, making me angry at myself for not being strong enough in my spirituality.

Yoyo Anger and Shame. I am the Drunkard of Le Petit Prince, (Antoine St-Exupéry)  who drinks to forget that he is ashamed that he drinks. My shame is an addiction which I keep alive by feeding it the anger I feel at myself for not being perfect, making me ashamed that I am not more loving toward myself, which shows that I’m not perfect, which shows…

May I know that I am worthy of every emotion I feel, regardless how shameful, and thus relieve my inner child of this bitter burden she’s been carrying my entire life. Onward and inward into my Lenten journey. I will no longer allow shame to shame me.

I accept. It is perfect. Thank You.

ka Lerato🙏🏾

Oh, and all tourists visiting this beautiful Cape Town, a heart felt welcome to you!