“The force of life in nature is so astonishingly strong”
“The back of the body is as important as the front and it must regain its dignity” Vanda Scaravelli
Does the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty tell the story of how our spines were put to sleep?
A curse is placed …
… upon a baby princess, so that on her sixteenth birthday she will prick her finger on a spindle & die. Her sentence is commuted to one hundred years sleep by a ‘good’ fairy.
Despite the very best of efforts by all concerned …
… the curse comes to pass. Everyone in the vicinity falls asleep with her, after which:
“a forest of trees, brambles and thorns … spring up around the castle
… shielding it from the outside world“
Let’s look at words:
“spinney (n.) 1590s, from Old French … “place full of thorns and brambles“
“spine (n.) … from Latin spina “backbone,” originally “thorn, prickle”
“back (n.) … may come from a word related to “spine“
Remove the last letter from the word spine & you get:
“spin (v.) Old English spinnan “draw out and …
… twist fibers into thread“
Thread or wool is spun into existence on a spindle:
“A spindle is a straight spike usually made from wood …
… used for spinning, twisting fibers such as wool, flax, hemp, cotton into yarn“
It was through a spindle that Beauty was …
… put to sleep.
To sleep is to be rendered supine:
“Lying face upward“
“supine (adj.) c.1500, from Latin supinus “turned or thrown backwards, inactive, indolent“
I’d like to put aside the oft expressed theories of left/female & right/male sides of the body for today & explore a different angle.
We’re going to play with the idea that the front of the body is a focus for yang/masculine energy, while the back is a conduit for yin/feminine energy.
Think of the moon
which has a
… a dark side.
All things shining, bright, exposed, on show, “up front” (frontal) are said to express masculine energy.
Those which are dark, cold & hidden express the feminine.
“The relationship between yin and yang is often described in terms of sunlight playing over a mountain and a valley. Yin (literally the ‘shady place‘ or ‘north slope’) …
… is the dark area occluded by the mountain’s bulk while yang (literally the ‘sunny place‘ or ‘south slope’) is the brightly lit portion.
Yin is characterized as slow, soft, yielding, diffuse, cold, wet, and passive; and is associated with water, earth, the moon, femininity and nighttime.
Yang, by contrast, is fast, hard, solid, focused, hot, dry, and aggressive; and is associated with fire, sky, the sun, masculinity and daytime“
Like the far side of the moon,
Like the mole or earthworm
they are blind.
Like a female dance partner …
… they follow,
rather than lead.
Where the front goes, the back must follow, being pulled wholly (& blindly) in the decisions & direction of the brightly lit, visioned side.
Yet without a back we’d be …
two-dimensional facades …
oh wait we already are!
Life is unquiet on the Western front:
“We usually live on the front part of our bodies and we have developed more on that part, where most of our sensory organs are situated: eyes, nose, mouth, shoulders, hands and chest. Now we have to reverse our attention giving consideration to the back of our body”
“The back of the body is as important as the front and it must regain its dignity“
Think a minute on the extreme demands placed upon the self of maintaining…
… ‘face’ in this civilised world.
Think on the obsession with (yang) light …
… penetrating every dark place.
Think on how exposed everything is now & how the sum total of each person is being constantly measured, recorded, reported.
What a loss for all of us.
The dark is both powerfully alive
& infinitely restful.
Used wisely the masculine frontal energy would gratefully rest in & replenish through the deep, dark power of the b(l)ack.
In the days of extreme masculine power, it was said
“Behind every great man, is a great woman“
We can now flesh that out to read-
“Behind all great male energy, lies the wisdom of working in harmony & relaxing into the power of the feminine“
So often there has been a yang push to see sex as male domination of female, but isn’t it after all, simply a releasing & relaxing into the feminine?
Let’s see how reconnecting with the back could begin to work in the body”
“We should be able to look from the back of the head, following the channel that reaches the skull. This will not only give us a …
… wider and enlarged field of vision and a better perspective …. bur our eyes will also be able to rest and gain benefit”
“The experience of seeing in depth transcends the purely visual – it organizes the system in a way which creates an enormous sense of understanding, well-being and compassion”
“When you relax the cerebellum, you will feel how it extends from one ear to the other…
… unfolding, like a leaf, “
“By activating the hips at the base of our back, the weight of the body is going to sink down heavily. Let it drop ...
… as if you were getting rid of a sack of potatoes“
“The back of the legs (especially the back of the knees) should also receive an unknown flow of energy, by opening the small spaces behind the knees … that never see the light of the sun“
Lest’s return to the spindly spine:
“The spindle is closely associated with many goddesses …
… including the Germanic Holda, Norse Frigg and Freya, Isis, Artemis and Athena. It is often connected with fate, as the Greek Fates and the Norse Norns work with yarns that represent lives“
“The spine is a remarkable piece of work that supports our entire body. Physiologically, It is comprised of 33 individual boney building blocks, vertebrae, with cushiony disks in between each. The boney joints provide support for the body and protection for…
… the bundle of nerves that run in between the vertebral column. The nerves carry messages back and forth from the brain to the cells of the body”
“Chakra, which means …
… “wheels” in Sanskrit, are points of energy running along our spine“
Let’s take the idea of the back as darkness /female a stage further. At the base of the spine we find the sacrum:
“sacrum (n.) bone at the base of the spine …
… from Late Latin os sacrum “sacred bone“
It’s shape speaks silent volumes:
“The downward pointing triangle is sometimes referred to as the chalice. It is the symbol of water … the grace of heaven, and the womb
… it is one of the most ancient symbols of female divinity“
“The alchemical/magical symbol for water …
… is an inverted triangle, symbolizing downward flow. The downward pointing triangle … being a representation of female genitalia. One of the four alchemical elements, water has the properties cold and moist, and symbolizes intuition, the unconscious mind, and the enclosing, generating forces of the womb“
That ancient race of magicians, the Egyptians, placed Nut, a female deity in the sky …
… her arching back rounding out creation.
It takes only a short leap for a playful imagination, to now see …
… the Milky Way
as a spinal column.
The conspiracy-beleaguered Masons (who may or may not have things to answer for), certainly seem steeped in Egyptian magic. Their 33 degrees strongly echo the backbone:
“The spine … consists of a long chain of 33 bones each individually known as a vertebrae“
This group appears to have that familiar dominating Jehovian flavour – the one that usurps the pungent qualities of the dark female.
Here we see their all-seeing eye …
… exposed on the Western frontal male triangle.
It’s interesting that this very famous symbol is located on
the BACK of the US one dollar note.
“At the top of the seal stands a Latin phrase, “ANNUIT COEPTIS,” meaning “He (God) favors our undertaking“
First things first – undertaking is the stuff of death.
God (apparently) favours the death (ending/takeover?)of something …
Other meanings for ‘under‘ include:
“below, beneath, bottom, concealed by, down …
Meanwhile at the bottom of the great seal:
“is a semicircular banner proclaiming “NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM” meaning “New Order of the Ages“
Is this new order an attempt to usurp the darkness, the yin/feminine generative aspect?
Does this dollar bill …
“bill … from Medieval Latin bulla “decree, seal, sealed document“
… create a proclamation that the power of yin/feminine …
… is no longer needed, &
can be put to sleep?
By it’s use in the US, that most Yang of countries, are people proclaiming that the world has no further need of regeneration, creation, the subconscious, rest, respite, the quiet dark, intuition etc?
That would be a worry because this world is sure as hell running red hot at the moment. That includes the imitation of power by the nouveau female, which is really nothing more than more male heat being re-translated via female bodies.
It’s a nasty ruse, a trick of western-fronted eyes – nowhere is there the rest & renewal of female medicine which is deep …
… solid & immensely powerful
All the demands of female beauty go against nature. To be showy, exposed, bright, visible is an expression …
… of yang/masculine energy
To demand that women look good, is to saturate them with yang/male energy – how much of this is behind the ‘new women’ that so many men rant about?
In so many essential, primal ways we are out of balance
“When tensions leave, the body goes back to its original state, and balance is re-established“
“The function of the spine is to elongate, and in this elongation its elasticity and youth are regained. It’s not a battle against old age, but rather a bringing back to life of those parts in the body that have been neglected for so long and have lost their suppleness“
So I want to go deeper into the power of the back.
If the back has a power-word or a secret name, I believe that word/name would be “NO“.
Bugger the hype about …
… the NOW ,
we have not understood
the power …
… of the “NO”.
Once, when we were children we may have gotten close to grasping it, but only for a short time until it was beaten, ‘guilted’ or tricked, out of us.
No is a force of monumental female power:
“Henry Tilney explains the parallel between country-dances and marriage to Catherine as he dances with her: “You will allow, that in both, man has the advantage of choice, woman only the power of refusal”
… Catherine replies signiﬁcantly, “I think you should not underestimate the power of refusal” ~ from the movie Northanger Abbey
Refusal does not attack,
but it does
& enable …
When you are able
your life remains supple.
There is no need for stiffness in the spine, because your back is not against a wall.
You are free to …
… get your back up
& to stand your ground.
Your decisions become weighty, grounded & centred.
You are no longer forced ever onwards
from yes to still
I think the West is owned & operated by the hot, bright, spicy yang word ‘Yes’.
I think the grammar of our lives has been structured in such a way that ‘NOs’ appear abnormal.
Everywhere there seems that trickeryness of the courtroom lawyer who words his questions so well, that anything but assent throws ones character into a bright, ‘bad’ light.
Questions, comments, statements are daily leveled & fired at us & it is impolite to say “no’ or “fuck off”.
But where we have no Nos, we also have no depth of character. Without the nose …
… the rose is without perfume
I think the spine is the yin or female night/knight of the body. It doesn’t seek glory, instead it offers a cloak of protection & holds the source of deep, long, rejuvenating wisdom.
I keep getting an image/feel a great fur cloak on my back, it reminds me of a bear, a mother bear – there is no greater knight than she. She also cloaks the earths spine / axis
“Arctic (adj.) … from Greek arktikos “of the north,” literally “of the (constellation) Bear,” from arktos “bear“
Our fronts are short-term, ever-changing & in constant connection with the busyness of life – they see to our daily bread and butter.
But a front is also a facade, or a short-term engagement with an enemy – it cannot stand the test of time like the back.
Atlas could never have carried …
… the world on his front.
If our bodies were likened to the TARDIS, our fronts would be the exterior of the telephone box –
… easy to recognise, easy to find,
But its possibilities & power lie within. Its hidden depths are invisible & unfathomable to the (frontal) eye. Yet this place can take you …
… to any number of other worlds.
The back is the place we have to re–turn to, & keep returning to. It is our support, our back up, our recovery room away from the glaring lights of the Western Front. Everything is born from the darkness & then goes into the light, it is never the other way round.
Is it any wonder that we live in constant states of exhaustion when we keep trying to begin from the front? Here’s a man who seems to have found his way back:
“in Tai Chi Chuan, real martial power springs from …
… the explosion from emptiness to fullness, or from soft into hard. So there are countless moments when I will release all tension for a split second in the midst of a martial flurry. Ultimately, with incremental training … recovery time can become nearly instantaneous. And once the act of recovery is in our blood, we’ll be able to access it under the most strained of circumstances, becoming masters of creating tiny havens for renewal, even where observers could not conceive of such a break”
“I can’t tell you how liberating it is to know that relaxation is just a blink away from full awareness. Besides adding to your psychological & physical resilience, this opens up some wonderful & surprising new possibilities. For one thing, now that your conscious mind is free to take little breaks, you’ll be delighted by the surges of creativity that will emerge out of your unconscious. You’ll become more attuned to your intuition & will slowly become more & more true to yourself stylistically” ~Josh Waitzkin – The Art of Learning
The spine of a book holds all the pages together, without its strength & binding …
… there would be no sense,
only a jumble of pages.
Isn’t that what our lives have become?
In etymology the prefix ‘re’ means ‘back’ – as in return, reply, reclaim.
Now here’s that weirdness of English alchemy again – because Re is the upfront, light-powered male creator sun god of good old ancient Egypt:
“Ra (Re) was the primary name of the sun god of Ancient Egypt. He was often considered to be the King of the Gods and thus the patron of the pharaoh and one of the central gods of the Egyptian pantheon…
… He was also described as the creator of everything“
Why is it that we can’t seem to get away from these yang-light gods who ‘do it all-by-themselves‘. No wonder the West is obsessed with surface & superficial.
Where is the deep?
The ‘we‘ that we equate ourselves with is not the sum of us. It is the conscious bit, the navigator so to speak.
I believe the job of this ‘navigator’ is to consciously direct/flow ‘consciousness’. I get a strong sense that wherever or whatever we focus our consciousness on, we cause “blood” to flow into.
Blood may simply be fluid consciousness.
All of Western culture seems to be about getting us to flow blood into all things light, hot, yang, frontal & masculine.
What is it that we are flowing all this blood (consciousness) into, I wonder?
It’s way passed time to re-partner our backs & …
… round ourselves out again.
Why not have a go at finding your (own way) back & flowing your consciousness into it. Bring it back to life & see where it wants to take you.
It’s time to turn our spines back on & wake from the enchanted sleep.
~ ~ ~
For those who can never figure out what they want, try working in reverse
Way before his pop days, Leo Sayer put out extraordinary work – here’s a song that sings beautifully with this article, listen as his voice sings of the exhausted living that comes when there is no ‘back up’ or respite – then hear the words of yin wisdom. Ignore the yang visuals & just listen. If the scratches bother you, you need to get out & live more.
~ ~ ~
Text in this colour from Awakening the Spine – Vanda Scaravelli
“honesty (n.) early 14c., “splendor, honor; elegance,” … from Latin honestatem … reputation, character;” figuratively …
… “uprightness, probity, integrity, virtue” .“
How wonderful to connect
splendor, honor; elegance with …
“uprightness, probity, integrity, virtue” –
sounds like a foundationally-solid &
life-affirming plan of action
Today I did not go to my mother’s funeral. It would have been ‘easier’ to have gone, to play my correct part, look good & not upset other people.
But it would have gone against everything I am learning
in my faltering steps into honesty.
I have lived my life crawling through other people’s good books.
Now as I find my feet, I seem to enter their bad ones.
Wobbling into life on two undeveloped feet
& falling down a lot.
But just like Fitzy’s baby I get up & try again.
This has surely got to be one of the most vital things in life – finding our feet &…
… then USING them.
Perhaps it is because our civilisation is so worded, that I keep finding that my feet are connected to my voice. And much of my movement from crawling to standing seems to revolve around the word ‘No’.
Funny how learning
to say No
comes close on the heels
of toddlers who are learning to walk.
More & more of late I am feeling a great curiosity …
… about this word.
I think of sculptures, & how rock or clay is …
… carved out, or cut away,
to create the vision, the reality.
is a word like that.
It cuts away
I am wondering if life is what is left over.
Is NO as full of life as Yes?
Because I think it is meant to be.
Maybe it is more so.
Maybe that’s why we are so afraid of it.
When we say no to something we ‘turn our back on it‘. That is an action. A very powerful action.
“We usually live on the front part of our bodies and we have developed more on that part, where most of our sensory organs are situated: eyes, nose, mouth, shoulders, hands and chest. Now we have to reverse our attention giving consideration to the back of our body“
Turning our backs is NOT backing away or backing down –
… those are done submissively while facing a ‘dominator’.
I’m thinking that
one of the most powerful forces in the universe.
Does the egg reject all those millions of sperm I wonder? Is there something in the act of rejecting that positively reinforces that which is then chosen or revealed?
A book on yoga found me at the library recently – it is based on principles I have not seen elsewhere.
Using gravity consciously, almost sacredly.
I would like to throw out a very unscientific suggestion that the force of ‘no’ may be directly connected to gravity, or perhaps its immense power may come from working with gravity – this is play remember, not science – so there aren’t rules here, only pauses & nibbles for thought.
Just ponder the times you have used ‘no‘ effectively in your life (or wished you had) as you read the following:
“Gravity is like a magnet attracting us to the earth, but this attraction is not limited to pulling us down, it also allows us to stretch in the opposite direction towards the sky“
The sky is the home of the ‘gods’.
Could use of the …
… word/force ‘no‘
be akin to wielding divine power?
“We make use of the force of “anti-force”, which gives us a new flow of energy – a sort of anti-gravity reflex, like the rebounding spring of a ball bouncing on the ground.
When we use no with vitality & consciousness do we create a springboard effect that generates a positive path of least resistance?
The resulting wave is extraordinarily powerful and helps us to find the right approach: an unexpected opening follows, an opening from within us, giving life to the spine, as though the body had to reverse and awaken into another dimension“
Over & over these days, I seem to find myself offered opportunities to say no – I can see no other ways to describe them than ‘opportunities’ – as if my new choices are being queried:
“Are you sure you really want this?”
Each time I say no to the old, I feel greater clarity & vitality.
“Healing may not be so much about getting better, as about letting go of everything that isn’t you…” ~Rachel Naomi Remen
The more I contemplate the Turkish proverb I chose long ago for this site, the more I see within it:
“No matter how far you have gone on a wrong road, turn back“
~ ~ ~
Text in this colour from Awakening the Spine ~ Vanda Scaravelli
Although I hadn’t planned to, I went to see my mother’s body today.
She was all dressed up, lying neatly in her coffin. She looked quite healthy for a corpse.
Now I am home & maybe it’s the wine I’m drinking, but I can’t help thinking:
“is that it?“
Do all the years of being scared of her come to this – this nothingness.
How can we be so scared of life & other people when there is this smallness when they/we are no longer here.
What made us so scared to live,
when death is so small?
I offer this short post today because of its closing thought.
Before that I must confess that my wine & musings bizarrely reminded me of my feelings the first time I had sex. I still remember the shock of comprehension:
“Is this is?
What’s all the fuss about?‘
I’m left with a similar feeling today:
“How can we be so scared of life if death is really so small?”
Perhaps there is nothing at all to lose by becoming too big for our boots, buying a pair of dancing shoes & bowing to life?
will resume shortly
If humans can take a storm
& turn it into play,
what is there to be afraid of?