Einstein supposedly said that the most critical decision in a person's life is how they perceive the universe.
"Is the universe a space of love or a space of fear?"
Of course, it's easy to perceive the universe as a loving space when everything goes how you expect or desire.
Things suddenly change when life reshuffles the cards, and things don't go as we imagined, planned, predicted, or worked for, hard as fuck.
The Fool card is the first, the last, and the unnumbered card in the Tarot - depending on what kind of deck we have.
The Fool is all about the beginnings.
It symbolizes innocent playfulness and the endless open potential of new beginnings. It also has its polarity, a shadow - an indifferent naivety, the irresponsibility of the unconscious, the unknowingness.
When we begin the evolution of consciousness in this lifetime - some at fourteen, another at twenty-two, a third at forty-eight ..., almost all of us initially grab a naive idea of the world, ourselves, and spirituality. We mostly kick off with the belief that power resides outside of us and that an authority outside possesses it. We believe in someone or something that determines our lives based on our diligence, purity, and following the commandments.
Another way is to plunge into an approach that says we can direct our lives to perfection solely with our vibration, frequency, and energy. Paradoxically, here too, we believe that if we're positive enough, our vibration "high" enough, positive things will happen, only this time, we don't have a relationship with "God," but our object is less personified.
The less we've experienced a sense of connection and acceptance in the warmth of our home as kids, the more vulnerable we are in an area of spirituality. Vulnerability shows that we're easily convinced that specific laws of life exist, and if we follow them, disturbing things don't happen. After all, bad things won't happen to good people.
That's the promise of every naive spirituality.
"Head high and fuck them all"
The problem is that we block out feelings and emotions by trying to be "good," vibrate "high," and align ourselves with written and unwritten spiritual rules.
Because in spiritual practices, as in our society in general, emotions and feelings are usually considered inferior, abnormal, and unacceptable. We're conditioned to distance ourselves from our sensations, feelings, and emotions; we don't know how to deal with them because even our parents and grandparents didn't know how to deal with them.
I'm sure you know that feeling when you have an important meeting and feel vulnerable. Then you decide in a millisecond that you will make yourself strong. Be strong! And you straighten your back, lift your head, open your chest and say to yourself, stay strong as hell. Don't show them how you feel! Or, my favorite: Head high and fuck them all!* This is combat mode. And it's pretty standard in this patriarchal society. Some do it consciously; many do it unconsciously.
In our society, we certainly have a systematic problem with feelings.
Have you ever had a situation where you said something in anger, said it out loud, in a somewhat confusing way, because, honestly, it's humanly complicated to think straight when emotions are high?
Or that you WRITTEN IN CAPITAL LETTERS by email?!?
Have you experienced the content and value of the message being dismissed by the intensity of strong emotions? That's the moment when the partner says, "when you're back to normal, we'll talk more." Or when, as a boss, you take an employee crying in the office less seriously than when she tells you things icily. Or when the father rejects the daughter, who yells at him from the living room because the daughter won't "turn down the volume."
This is called "tone policing."
Tone policing is a classic patriarchal strategy where someone rejects another's ideas and thoughts because they "judge" they were expressed in the "wrong" way - with anger, disappointment, sadness, or otherwise too emotionally intense.
Emotions and feelings, the same as intuition and sensations, are always a problem in patriarchy.
Aggression is a problem for one reason, sadness for another, and grief and despair for the third. We all know the absence of emotion makes us un-human, but this does not matter much, at least not in daily affairs, dealing with issues on your job or dining table. Margaret Atwood said that war begins when language fails. And I think war begins when the heart closes, the warmth of human love disappears, and compassion disappears when basic humanity disappears.
No spirituality and no spiritual practice can replace our emotions and feelings. No spirituality can heal the wounds and traumas we've experienced in intimate relationships, just as it cannot give us the warmth of human relationships. Spirituality is vital for the transformation of the individual and collective Psyche because no lasting personal and societal change is possible without tapping into the spiritual plane - but at the same time, spirituality should never become a tool of escape, of avoiding reality. This precisely happens when it supports the rejection of emotions and feelings.
When a person has abandoned the initial obedience to patriarchal gods or modern new-cage "vibrational" reality of life, they have outgrown the Fool card just as a child has outgrown a tricycle; in essence, the spiritual path only begins.
And if the answer to whether the universe is a space of love or fear was quite simple initially, things suddenly become complicated. Above all, the universe as a loving space suddenly becomes a little less self-evident, especially when difficult experiences happen to us or others.
The Major Arcana has 22 cards, after all.
The archetypal journey of consciousness isn't brief, and the spiritual path opens us to 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows. **
When bad things happen to good people
Man has developed consciousness slowly and laboriously, in a process that took untold ages to reach the civilized state. And this evolution is far from complete, for large areas of the human mind are still shrouded in darkness.
- C.G. Jung
There are things we can control directly, things we can influence to some degree, and things we've no control or influence. Every Adult Child in recovery knows this, and every recovering addict should know this, and psychologically mature adults live by this. The paradox of life is when we take responsibility for what we can control or influence in our life, we can work hard, but that doesn't mean we're in control.
Trusting the universe is a place of love - when bad things happen - is not easy. Especially man-made bad things happen. Humanity is capable of plenty of impossible horrors. Observing them, people like you and I describe a range of reactions. Some are not upset or entirely rational - which is very rare—and some report sleepless nights. Kids are experiencing mysterious stomachaches and headaches. Many feel sheer despair over dirty geopolitical games, sociopathic leaders popping up worldwide like poisonous fungi coalescing into an invisible mycelium ... to the point where they wonder if humanity needs to destroy everything.
We talked at the kitchen table when the war in Ukraine started in March 2022. The youngest kid said, " But how can they do that, Mom? Mom, I can't imagine how anyone could do such a thing."
Girl, I can't imagine it either. I guess many of us, feeling and emphatic people, can't.
Collective suffering and emotional body
In any collective suffering, like a pandemic or war, the collective energy field is saturated with shock, sadness, helplessness, anger, despair, and rage. Our bodies are antennae. When we're empathetic, emotionally and energetically open, and conscious simultaneously, what's happening in the collective is part of our karmic theme. Vast amounts of collective shock, sadness, helplessness, anger, despair, and hopelessness can flow through our field.
Is there anything we can do about it?
One way is to say I don't look at reports. I don't deal with information. I understand this. People always need security, a moment to breathe, and protection. But, as I see, there's one thing to protect and another to ignore. Probably everything that some people openly ignore, in reality, we all share; others feel what those who run away from instead of facing it. The principle is similar to families where members disown the psychopathic uncle or the drug-addicted daughter and say, oh, we don't want to deal with that. Then, usually, the weakest member of the family explodes or implodes, and they're the only problem, although the problem was never just individual but always systemic.
Another possibility - and I'm afraid there's not much left after this one - is that we stay with and process what's so very difficult and exhausting, and so very real.
When the war in Ukraine started in 2022, I remember one morning, I was lying in bed at twilight. My whole body was aching. I asked silently, can you please tell me how to get out of this? The answer came immediately: feel it; this is the way out. The answer was the same as so many times before, and it always works.
It's essential to add that we shouldn't identify ourselves with the energies of the collective unconscious. The one is that we allow ourselves to feel and, simultaneously, be awake and alert and look at where we're open and vulnerable in a moment. The second is that we fall into feelings of helplessness and the whole spectrum of the victim archetype; we must distance ourselves from that.
At times of collective suffering, it makes the most sense to be aware and present but simultaneously detached enough that we can carry what's ours.
Our emotional body needs to be supported, and as humans we do that mostly by being in touch with other people and talking about things.
Of course, if the emotions are too strong, we work with them energetically and support ourselves in various ways. Anything that lovingly supports the body also supports the emotional body because emotions are a physical event - helping contact with others, hugs, flower essences, acupressure, acupuncture, specific asanas when we do yoga, movement in nature, etc. However, it's essential to become aware and conscious of emotions.
We cannot escape the collective flow but don't have to get stuck. Using it to expand our consciousness is wise and meaningful because our collective consciousness grows only through feeling and awareness. Tapping into collective energies is part of our humanity; separating from them is part of our uniqueness, individuality, and diversity.
Processing feelings doesn't equal "understanding"
The elevation of consciousness is the essence of our spiritual development. We move from separateness and states of polarity to states of oneness and awareness that we're all divine beings. We can increasingly accept ourselves and others in all their diversity and develop deep compassion, wisdom, love, and other divine qualities. When we die, we'll take only our consciousness to the other side, the expansion of consciousness we've crystallized in this incarnation. However, the spiritual change and evolution of consciousness in us and society occur only through our humanity - and probably always will. This means sensible spirituality is anchored in emotions, feelings, and compassion for self and others.
In the face of collective tragedies, our awareness and humanness grow through compassion, empathy, shock, sadness, helplessness, anger, despair, and rage.
The growth of human consciousness takes place through the emotional body.
Processing physical-emotional content is a very different story than "understanding." Each of us in the psychotherapeutic process knows how unpleasant it is when, after a specific time spent in therapy, it seems that "yes, everything is fine."
These crucial emotional changes start happening in the deeper layers of the being. A profound shift in consciousness and Psyche is an alchemical process involving the mind, body, emotions, and soul. These are the changes that lead to a fundamental transformation.
We must allow our feelings and emotions to flow like a river or a wave. We should not block them out, for we leave our humanness outside.
The expansion of consciousness is the development of being human. And humans are to care, love, support each other, and improve the world. Humanness hurts too. And that pain naturally always gives rise to doubts about whether the universe is a place of love, suffering, and fear.
The birth of consciousness in toxic patriarchy
The birth and rebirth of consciousness is an ongoing process, never without pain.
This is true for the individual process as it is valid for whole communities.
During the pandemic of 2020-22, large masses of collective shadows already came to the surface. An impossible, polarizing, and chaotic mixture of care and sacrifice, solidarity and compassion, perseverance and wisdom up to intolerance and condemnation of dissenters, oppression, guilt, deceit, arrogance, abuse of power, chauvinism, and xenophobia emerged. Many communities worldwide are in economic trouble, with soaring rates of depression, drug overdoses, substance abuse, alcoholism, and domestic violence.
Does anyone remember the inscription on the T-shirt I can't fix stupid, but I can sedate it, paralyze it and intubate it? The whole shadow cast on the pandemic chaos from the collective unconscious was symbolically captured in that inscription. The fewer people were conscious, the more they acted by this shadow. According to the in-depth dynamic logic, what started happening in Ukraine in the spring of 2022 is perhaps the next round of the same story we've watched and broadcast for two years. And we saw the activation of the patriarchal matrix - its shadow - on a large scale.
In toxic patriarchy, the deep energetic background of humanity, people are punished and excluded when they disobey an external authority. In a patriarchal frame of reference, individuals are neither encouraged, trusted, educated, nor believe they're free and autonomous. In patriarchy, one must submit to be accepted.
And to avoid disobedience and rebellion, emotions, especially anger, should be ignored or numbed. Expressions of anger and revolution are always dangerous and sanctioned from the perspective of patriarchy because righteous anger combined with compassion is always the guardian of free thought, independence, and sovereignty and, therefore, undesirable to the patriarchal system.
No matter how far we've advanced technologically as a civilization, psychologically and energetically, we are still deeply stuck in 2022 in a patriarchal society of power, domination, cold reason, and oppression. The system of toxic patriarchy is a system of internal and external pressure, insensitivity, irrational cruelty, and ruthless goal-driven rationality. It is still multidimensionally present, operating in complex and sophisticated ways.
This dynamic of oppression on planet Earth must be dissolved and reordered at some point. We can only hope that the solution won't be a painful, absolute disintegration of humanity. Humanity is on the verge of solving something so difficult and painful, namely the patterns of existence that humanity has been dragging around for centuries. After all, like it or not, the history of mankind seems to be a history of wars and the pauses in between. My rhetorical question is, has our collective shadow already intensified, amplified, and transferred to a bigger stage? Is there a bigger stage? And if so, what's its nature?
I think humanity needs to move forward at the level of collective consciousness. We have known this since Vietnam and the Prague Spring of 1968. Years ago, I read that there were between 20 and 40 open military conflicts and civil wars on the planet at any given time. I think about this often. I think about the brevity of the human psyche of the individual and the community and the need for struggle, violence, and domination. Once you get a little away from the innocent naivety of the first card in the Tarot, trusting in the universe as a space of love becomes a huge dilemma for many.
The growth of human consciousness occurs through the emotional body; to heal, we first feel, and we only feel through our bodies. Reality starts from the neck down. It's crucial that the vast emotional body of humanity finally wakes up. I don't know how this will happen, but I think it will sooner or later. This is how to raise collective consciousness and transform the most toxic patriarchal shadows with which people destroy themselves, each other, and the Earth.
* "Head high and fuck them all" is Nick Cave's mum's lovely, uplifting quote 🥲
** Jack Kornfield