from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Saturday 12 January 2013

dark forest 11: climbing down the roots of the tree

So, by and by, in the heart of this dark forest, you see – miles away and close at hand – The Tree. Call it the Tree of Life; call it the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil; call it the World Tree. Its branches are ablaze with all the birds of the heavens; in its roots, the animals of meadow and woodland make their homes.

You can climb in its branches to the heavens; but first you need to climb down its ganglia of roots, into the Underworld heart of the dark earth with its dreams and memories, ancestors and becomings.

Every threshold is guarded. Here, on the descent, you do battle with your fears, your regrets, your unmet hopes and dreams, your past, your future, the ways in which you've messed up, been unkind, acted out of ignorance and thoughtlessness.

There will be a question for you.

You have to loosen your pride.

You have to let go of all you know.

You have perhaps already let go of your youthful innocence, your sense that your little life is a vast unending canvas that stretches to the stars.

And now, at last, you can ease your rucksack off your shoulders, and leave it here propped against the tree. In the realm of the Underworld you won't need all the things that seem so essential in the world between heaven and earth.

But you will need to sacrifice something in order to cross the threshold – perhaps that which is most precious to you. (And you'll have to do that again climbing back up before the ascent into light – but that's another story, and your most precious thing may not be the same thing as before.)

And then you can let go; in fact, there is nothing else you can do if you wish to find the Pearl Beyond All Price that is your own soul.


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  1. Oh my. Not sure I want to hear this, even so very beautifully expressed. But I'm sure I need to.

  2. 'you will need to sacrifice something in order to cross the threshold – perhaps that which is most precious to you'
    You have an uncanny ability to post what I most need to hear at exactly the time I need to hear it!

  3. Jean, Roz - hmmm. Am I sick of bloody thresholds, personally speaking - and Jean I'm not sure I wanted to post it, either!

    But I tell you what - I feel a lot better about it knowing that I'm not alone; thank you both, as always, for standing there, in your own way, with me.

  4. Thanks so much for this timely, and beautifully crafted post. The step to be taken into the half known, the half imagined, and the unknown. The sacrifice of the journey all staged in the right place for each of us as we progress to end points unknown, the journeys we need to make; wether we know it and/ or the potential the universe is offering up or not. Yes. It can be scary, but I think there are times when, perhaps, one must have faith, take that step that is right for your soul. I wish you joy and peace in your journeying and choices to be made. A wise person once told me that the world will never throw more at one than can be dealt with (even if it might feel like there are splinters and frayed edges!)

  5. Fiona, thank you so much for this. My wise mum used to say that, too; and it does feel true (although another part of me thinks it's too easy; says 'Was someone who is driven to eg commit suicide given more than s/he could cope with - or not?').

    But once you (one) have (has) stopped twisting and turning, and have given the little voices their chance to be heard, you know what has to be done. As you step forward then, as I think Goethe said, the universe moves with you.

    And who wants to stay the same, not be pushed into growing into all one might be? (Me! Me! Me!!)

    With love to you all, companions on the journey...

  6. I've come here via Jean and found some shivery truth in your beautiful post. Anxiety is my guard dog at those thresholds and I find it tough to get past. I don't mind the emotions, I don't mind the giving up, it's the getting there that seems to be a relentless struggle. Solidarity on the way, though, is very precious. Thank you.

  7. Thank you, litlove (and thank Jean for passing this on!).

    It's an ongoing process, I think, isn't it? Oh and my guardian is anxiety too. I give it a titbit and breathe deeply, keep my eyes focused ahead. And, as you say, we're not alone - and we all have to do this journey.

    Very best wishes to you.


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