I think it is safe to say that I have never experienced any kind of real grief, rage or sorrow over anything political. Until now. Much has been written by those more adept than I about the cultural and personal impact of realizing that our country willingly chose to elect a madman whose parallels to Hitler are utterly terrifying.
I raged and cried and collapsed along with millions of other men and women worldwide for days. I then did what survivors always do and that is stand up, dry my tears and realign my spine. It’s what women do, isn’t it? You can rape us and tear our bodies open and get away with it because you’re a swimmer and have a bright future. You can crush our rights, deny our equality, make us work three times as hard for less pay than our male colleagues, convince us to Botox and cut and distort our bodies and still there is a part of us that just will not die.
We. Will. Not. Die.
With red swollen eyes, because it hurts when the scales fall from them, and with painful seared lungs from the forest fires in Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee I stood up. I was not blind to the metaphor madness of a burning, boiling smoke-filled world all around me as my interior world surged in fury and agony. I didn’t want to move back to the South last year because of the Sorrow steeped in this entire region and now this? More pain? The fire was doing (is still doing) its part in burning up energy and now it was time for me to do mine.
I asked what next? Where do we, I, go from here? What action would You have me take?
First I offered what comfort I could to my Periscope followers. They know I’ll show up for them even a disorganized mess and I did cry during my broadcast. I’m actually scared of the people who didn’t grieve or have an emotional reaction to our current state of disarray, to the knife we’ve agreed to hold to our own throat.
Next I accepted being added to a Facebook group for change and then signed up for the Women’s March on Washington where my daughter, my mother and I will go to hold space, carry signs and add our voice as best we can to the collective statement that this is unacceptable and we will not roll over. We will demonstrate to the world and to my twin toddler granddaughters that we never give up.
Then after processing my own grief to a level that I could see again. I reached into the collective unconscious to ask what I could do to alleviate the group grief that was swirling all around my every breath. The density of this ancient and current sorrow was wrapped around me like thick, dank, bone-chilling fog and I could feel the pulsing need for release in every cell of my body. I had a moment of not wanting to touch it, to turn my back, to avoid hearing the songs of pain crying in the Now and still drumming in the earth beneath my feet from the very nearby Trail of Tears, from the very nearby Civil War sites, plantations and all manner of tragedies.
In the past I would have gathered and held that collective sorrow and gained more weight, literally expanding my tissues to absorb what I had taken on. After learning that I have the ability to process by allowing full Soul presence to merge into my body and transmute energy from others, including that of the land I live on, I no longer need to carry emotion tangibly. My excess weight is gently melting away.
The more Presence, the more Alchemy, the more alive I feel and the lighter this land becomes. Is the land not my body anyway? Is my breath not the wind itself? Are my tears not the rain that’s missing from the sky but still falling to nourish the ground from my eyes? I cannot be separate from Nature. I am as cyclical and seasonal and changeable as It.
Days of horrors culminated in a three and a half hour drive to Greenville, SC to dance Qoya with Sara Ballard. Unbeknownst to me, she had planned a blind dance with grief. She was my partner and stood ready to protect me while I danced alone, blind and disoriented just as the initial shock of grief renders us every time.
I cried, I twirled in my black swinging skirt and bare feet. Tears fell to my black shirt from behind the black blindfold as the black burning sorrow from now and hundreds of years ago burned up from the earth into my feet. Inside I howled, outside I bent and twisted and felt my Soul enter every cell of my body. My gut twisted with the shame of racism, my breasts ached with the pain of white privilege, the realizations of what my brothers and sisters have faced and will be facing filled me with fear and a cynical acceptance. I saw hijabs and brown eyes, the White House gone cold and remote, the Constitution in tatters, Confederate flags flying and blood running in the streets.
Sorrow changed to fear as I willingly pulled everything I could up into my legs, into my pelvic bowl, into my stomach. The energy hurtled full speed all the way through where it cramped my heart, fought like demons in my throat, ripped through my third eye and roared out the top of my head and back to land once again in the center of my being. I felt every flicker of flame and every shard of ice mixing with my blood and bone, my womb became a cauldron of alchemy, taking death and transmuting it into life once again. I felt it settle there, stirred and rippling with my breath. I inhaled hot darkness and exhaled cool light. It entered into my body through full acceptance of Shadow and through Grace exited as health, sunlight, and roses. I was in the transmutation center. I Am Alchemy when I choose to fully Be.
I was not aware of Sara though I felt her steady presence. I was not aware of the boards beneath my feet because I was dancing on the skin of the Mother and she taught me in those moments the felt meaning of alchemy. I pulled in and transformed pain over and over and over until my blood calmed and my hands gathered my skirt up as if wearing an apron. Without conscious direction, my hands and arms scattered invisible seeds in wide arcs across the floor which I could not see and in fact I may not see the results of those energetic seeds but they are there, waiting for the right conditions to rise up and shine. Is there a seed near you in time and space? Are you willing to still yourself, to ask for guidance in what way you can serve best rather than being swept up in the moment and perhaps squandering your precious energy in misguided directions?
Sorrow into seeds, rage into compassionate rain, despair into daring to hope once again.
Dance your Sorrow. Feel your Pain. In your kitchens, in your bathrooms, in your woods, beaches, and prairies: dance. Let your womb spaces do what they do best which is create and be a conduit for Life. Life as art, song, the clearing of a table, the making of a small altar to Love, the mindful washing of your babies, petting your animals and caressing your loved one’s faces. Life as preparing a meal and treating yourself as the Temple you are as you nourish yourself bite by slow bite.
Throw boulders of fierce love and cleansing anger into the Dreamtime and dance on the ripples which travel through time and space. We are One. We are Life. We will own what lives inside us and through Presence change the planet.
2 comments on “The Alchemy of Sorrow”
Aho! Taking our sorrow as a dance partner. Transmuting this energy into something fertile and healing. I am blessed to know you, Michelle.
and I you Sara because no one else could have created a space that felt safe enough to me to access that part of myself away from home!
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