game of thorns

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 dignityVanda Scaravelli

Does the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty tell the story of how our spines were put to sleep?

Quick overview:

A curse is placed …

baby show er

… 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 …

spin die'l

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
light face
& …


… 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,
our backs

back to back
dark, shady, secret places.

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 …

spine way

… 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 …

eyed up

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.

Also interesting:

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 power

… 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
to say
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 …

hisssed off

… 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
another yes.

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 …

back power

… 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,
wonderfully familiar.

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 return 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 …

dark to life

… 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 …

spine book

… 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 & …

back to back

… 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

No =
yes =
whats left

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

June 27, 2013. Uncategorized.


  1. John replied:

    Holy Hannah, a monumental work.

    What does the turkish proverb you quote on your site say:

    “No matter how far you have gone on a wrong road turn back”

    As a child, I shared a room with my older brother. Generally we still had a bit too much energy to sleep after our parents had packed us away to bed. One of the games we would play, keeping as quiet as possible, was that I would pop over to his bed and we would draw with our fingers a picture on each other’s back. We’d have to guess what the other had drawn. The process was very relaxing – especially the sense of being touched on the back.

    Invariably we’d wind up giggling. And hearing my dad’s angry, heavy footsteps on the stairs to our room, before he could open the door, I was back in my bed in a flash, covers pulled up, pretending to breath the heavy breath of sleep.


  2. RICHIE replied:

    Hello, again, Alex.
    Another, interesting Post.


  3. Max replied:

    Coincidentially, this is one of the currently hottest independent labels:

    Note that I don’t want to paint anything black and white, here. I’m just pointing out what in my opinion is something interesting.

    In 1990 the band Psychic TV released the single I.C. Water which is dedicated to the passed away Joy Divison vocalist Ian Curtis:

    After Ian Curtis’ death, the remaining members of Joy Division founded in 1980 the band New Order.

    Several years ago, I overburdened my back by trying to lift a weight from the ground. It could have been avoided. Frankly said, I did something entirely stupid. Since then I have sometimes a feeling of strain in my lower back and in my knees. It’s still bearable with no problem, though.
    But I definitely have to take special attention to the strength of my spine, the literal one and also the figurative one, as it is difficult for me to be a NO-man.


  4. sineadmcarthy replied:

    Wonderful article Alex!! You’re work always syncs up so amazingly with my personal journey. I was reading in a book about the Alexander Technique ( a technique that helps us unlearn our bad habits and aids in proper use of the body as well as returning to the natural poise and good use of ourselves when we were children) and it was saying how the spine ages 20 years ahead of the rest of our body because we have neglected it. I’ve also learned through practicing yoga how unaware I was of the sensory information I was getting from the back of my body. I totally agree with you when you suggest that when you focus on a body part blood (consciousness) flows there. I’ve noticed through my practice that verbal commands such as release, or relax help my muscles loosen up. I think bodywork such as yoga as well as energy work (within the body) are the missing links. I love how you explain the female darkness. I have felt this my whole life but have not been able to say it. I really hate being looked at and feel much more comfortable and can be myself more when in darkness or candel light. Such a great article thank you!


  5. alex robinson replied:

    Thank you John, what a joy it was to read your childhood tale (leaving aside irate parents). We only offer our back to people we trust.

    Ah yes, I keep finding new depths in that proverb myself :)

    very best to you

    Hello Richie glad you enjoyed

    best to you

    Hello Max, I see you have been connecting dots & creating images. “IC(y) Water” makes me think of Harriet Shelley and her death in the Serpentine. That also makes me think of Finbarr Donnelly from Irish punk band, who also drowned there – kind of taking us back to where you started your comment!

    Perhaps if you can strengthen your ‘no’ muscles, your back will spring back into harmony – I ‘kNOw, easier said than done :) Ah your back stitching picture makes even more sense now …

    Keep up the good work :)

    Hello sinead,
    that’s a great point about the spine aging 20 years ahead of the rest of us – feels so true.

    I have had some AT lessons in my time – and try to bear the ideas in mind, It needs to be taught to all children to help counter the detrimental effects of unnatural conditions they are placed in – like sitting at desks for hours.

    I agree about bodywork & that seems to be where my work is heading atm.

    very best to you dark lady :)


  6. John replied:

    There is an egyptian statue showing at the Boston Museum that beautifully symbolizes some f the aspects of what you have been presenting in this post.

    If that link doesn’t get you there look for the King Men-Kau-Ra statue.

    A very Hathor looking queen leads a very stiff looking king by wrapping an arm around his back. The statue manages to have them walking side-by-side.

    It’s a stunning piece of art the conveys many subtle meanings.


    • alex robinson replied:

      Wow John, that’s wonderful – my mind wants to apply the the ideas from this article to that – the back supporting the yang energy & also as you point out “walking with it”.
      In Awakening the Spine, Vanda Scaravelli takes her ideas about the spine from Egyptian depictions – how they hold their backs so erect & she suggests that we need to keep straightening / lengthen out the arch in our back – a radically different idea that I am still digesting. Thanks muchly for this additional info.


  7. Jose Johnson replied:

    Hello Alex,

    That was impressive. The female darkness. Everyday we keep getting told to stay in the light. We have been out of balance for so long. Too much focus on Osiris but they forgot about Isis who remains veiled. I believe intuition and synchronicity have a lot to do with tapping into the large well of the unconscious. Synchronicity happens to me in a daily basis but my intuition is no where near that. I am in a society and profession that praises thinking rationally only and it has affected my life. Have been spending last two years paying attention to things not rational like dreams and what my wife or my mother tells me. Do you have any pointers on how to pay more attention to the well of intuition within so I could grow accustomed to its massive force? Also have your heard of the raising of the feminine sex energy up the spine (i.e Queen of Sheba shows up after building up the back) and if so do you have any advice about how to go about it?



  8. alex robinson replied:

    Hi Jose
    From what I can see, Intuition is the long haul. The short-sharp-race to anything is simply that yang energy again. The yin is the long, slow day by day practise – the nine months gestation (intuition) as opposed to the quick explosive bang of the orgasm (synchronicity).

    The logic/rational world is all yang – I think we have become a race of ‘yangsters’ – so unbalanced – yang is life when combined with yin AND vice-versa.

    To my mind intuition is very much a ‘body’ thing, a ‘feeling’ thing – bringing the gut back to life by allowing emotion to flow again there. Perhaps one of the best things you can do is to learn to sit with discomfort – let the uncomfortable feelings exist, they won’t destroy you & they will lessen in intensity the more you let them be. Once emotion can flow again you should find your gut firing up. We can’t choose to only allow the ‘good’ feelings.

    As to the sex energy, the interest in that seems once again, the yang ‘bull rush’ thing – I think we are going to find there are far more intense feelings and experiences than sex, but we have to let our bodies go at their own pace. We have a great deal of apologising yet to do for what we have done to our bodies by denying its reality without trying to force it into giving us another ‘thrill’ that we don’t even have the wisdom to deal with.

    very best to you


  9. Michael Skaggs replied:

    Great work yet again Alex. I am surprised you have not been picked up by an Alternative Health magazine or web site that will PAY you for this type of quality research. Amazing factoids! Bravo!

    Cheer my friend!


  10. alex robinson replied:

    Thank you Michael & I’m surprised you haven’t been scooped up by an animal welfare organisation that actually has animal welfare at heart as opposed to ego trippers.
    hugs to you


  11. Jonathan replied:

    Incredible. Absolutly amazing post. You are so strong of character. Thank you for this well written and mind harnessing piece of philosotech. Long time away. Too long away from here is I. Love


    • alex robinson replied:

      Many thanks :) & good to see you again Jon – I hope all is well in your world.


  12. Mick replied:

    Sex and the spine is the kundalini isn’t it? The female serpent energy that leads to illumination and enlightenment. Everything seems a paradox.

    Also, Castaneda’s assemblage point is situated on the back, near the right shoulder blade.

    Apparently, most astral parasites enter via the back.

    Beautiful essay.


    • alex robinson replied:

      Thanks Mick – perhaps paradox is the only reality. Sorry for delay in publishing & replying – you got paradoxically pulled into my spam folder.

      very best to you


  13. suliwebster replied:

    Great piece thankyou. I have just found your very interesting and unusually female sort of blog via links off Merovee blog.

    I have been writing some things on the No myself and the way the Yes dominates, and its good to find someone else seeing the same thing in a different way ! There is also a recent piece about how wheelchair use is being deliberately increased. I don’t have nice pictures and beautiful layout like you, which is lovely to find too, and so much more relaxing to read !

    I hope you don’t mind me posting some related links here for anyone interested.


    • alex robinson replied:

      thanks suliwebster :)
      so you have also found the No – that is good to hear. I had a look on your wheelchair link – you ask pertinent questions & have tons of info.

      The pics have become an integral part of my work, they are as much words as the words themselves meanwhile I am trying to help the words to become more like pictures.

      very best to you


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