Extreme Unction


“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness, that most frighten us.  We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?!

You are a child of God.  You are playing small doesn’t serve the world!  There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.  We are all meant to shine, as children do.  We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.  It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.  And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

~ Marianne Williamson


native-healer-2Calling

In his book, Native Healer, Medicine Grizzlybear Lake explains how some healers receive their call.  He says that “some people are born with a power while others receive a calling. Regardless of how you receive your power, there is evidently a definite cosmic procedure that we must follow. There are tests and exams to pass. It is only through severe pain, suffering, sickness, and death itself that you gain access to another form of reality. That “other world” is where you find the knowledge, experience, qualifications, and power to help the people. The calling comes in the form of a dream, accident, sickness, injury, disease, near-death experience, or even real death.

Death and dying, healing and being granted an opportunity to live again is terrifying to anyone not ready for such traumatic experiences. It is through such experiences, if one truly lives through it, that one becomes a shamanic healer. We learn about our strengths and weaknesses, power, love, reality, healing, and life itself.”

At some point in our lives, we all face a tragedy or two that are life changing which forces us to look at our lives and then we connect to the world. The journey to mortal goddess status is similar to the shamanic experience but different in the sense that a goddess is not a shaman – a shaman learns how to travel between two worlds; the spiritual and the physical world and their practice are embedded in cultural traditions and beliefs. This is not to say those mortal goddesses does not have this capacity, yet I do not want to disrespect native beliefs and their philosophies by comparing it with what some might view as “new age” talk. That being said that doesn’t mean we cannot learn from the journey of the native healer and take what we can for our own life’s practice. We can also look at ancient myths of goddesses (i.e. Inanna, Demeter, Persephone etc.) that provides the model for the journey of life, death, and rebirth.

Being a mortal goddess is not about the external qualities we bring to the table. It’s about the internal and when we look at ourselves and our inner workings through the body, it is there that we find our greatness, we find the gems to bring outwards and manifest into the world at large. I would compare this journey to what feminists call a “consciousness-raising” experience.

A word about Consciousness-raising

In Feminism’s Third Wave: Surfing to Oblivion, authors Lisa Rubin and Carol Nemeroff observes the characterization of young feminists’ self-expression, by feminists and non-feminists, as “Self-obsessed’ and “divorced from matters of public purpose”. This makes young women/feminists highly marketable and is often the subject as a target audience with discretionary dollars, but also profitably exploited as a new and highly marketable image.  The author’s questions whether third waves’ self-reflection, their grappling with contradiction and ambiguity and consciousness-raising experiences are viewed as political expression and; what impact do their confessional tales have on feminism as a movement and as a discipline?

According to Victoria L. Bromley author of Feminism Matter: Debates, Theories, Activism, here she writes about the concept of raising consciousness. “Raising consciousness more generally express the process of people becoming more aware as thinking, feeling, and caring people (Freire 1970). It is a process of heightening one’s awareness, whereby revealing the links between the personal and the political. It is also a personal self-reflective process that helps us begin to recognize our positionality and our relationships to other people.

One of the ways that we can move forward and make social change is to engage in critical self-reflection (Lorde 1984). By engaging in this process, we acknowledge that all knowledge is partial and that knowledge is created under and within particular social conditions. That is to say that we are products of our social circumstances. The act of critical self-reflection, and it is a conscious act, demands that we interrogate our complex identities produced through and in particular social, historical, political, and cultural locations.

It demands that we recognize our multiple positionalities and experiences as advantaged/disadvantaged and oppressor/oppressed (Narayan 1988). In so doing, we are able to see how our ideas, assumptions, theories, and actions, as well as in-actions, affect others. Finally, critical self-reflection pushes us to think and act differently. By beginning with ourselves, we are better able to empathize with others.”

Anatomy of the Spirit

By undergoing the process of raising one’s own consciousness there is a spiritual element that accompanies this journey where our religious understandings if you were raised with beliefs from an institutional religion, as we move into spiritual adulthood. Author Caroline Myss Ph.D. provides an alternative outlook in her book, Anatomy of the Spirit, “Today many spiritual seekers are dismantling old religions’ classic parent-child relationship to God by moving into spiritual adulthood. By invoking a spiritual authority this maturation involves the ability to develop and interpret deeper messages of sacred texts to learn the spiritual language of the body. We do this by becoming more conscious of our internal life by recognizing the impact of our thoughts and attitudes upon our physical bodies.

Myss identifies the seven stages of power and healing through the chakras. In this article, we will focus on the seventh chakra because when that energy center is illuminated, it’s a sure sign that you are well on your way to reaching the status of a mortal goddess. Energizing the seventh chakra is not an easy journey, however, you possess the tools and lessons you have accumulated from energizing the other six chakras. You simply cannot energize the seventh chakra if you’ve skipped energizing one of the six below. Energizing the seventh chakra requires the energy of the other six to punch through to illuminate the seventh so you can connect to the eighth chakra (yes there’s an eight chakra) which I believe, what Jung commonly called the “collective unconscious”.

Now I am going to quote Myss directly from her book and I do apologize for taking such a large quote, however, I am doing this for two reasons.

I do not want to misquote/misinterpret the important information that she has imparted; to offer a snapshot of the spiritual process one needs to go through, so if you are feeling any of these symptoms, I implore you to go to the nearest bookstore and pick up a copy of her book.  So let’s learn about this energy center, the seventh chakra, according to Dr. Myss.

Anatomy of the Spirit:  Seventh Chakra

thomas-neulinger

The seventh chakra is our connection to our spiritual nature and our capacity to allow our spirituality to become an integral part of our physical lives, to guide us and it represents our connection to the transcendent dimension of life.

Within the Seventh Chakra, we will find the entry point for the human life-force, which pours endlessly into the human energy system, from the greater universe, from God or the Tao. This force nourishes the body and the lower six chakras, connecting the entire physical body to the seventh chakra. This energy influences that of the major body systems: the central nervous system, the muscular system, and the skin. The seventh chakra contains the energy that generates devotion, inspirational and prophetic thoughts, transcendent ideas, and mystical connections.

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Primary fears are relating to spiritual issues such as the “dark night of the soul”; fears of spiritual abandonment, loss of identity, and loss of connection with life and people around us.

Primary strengths:  In Divine presence, faith, and in all that faith represents within one’s life – such as inner guidance, insight into healing, and a trusting quality that eclipses ordinary human fears; devotion. She points to the Christian sacrament related to the seventh chakra which is Extreme Unction (or Last Rites), the sacrament administered to the dying. Symbolically, Extreme Unction represents the process of retrieving one’s spirit from the various “corners” of one’s life that still hold “unfinished business,” or releasing regrets that continue to pull at one’s consciousness, such as words that should have been spoken but were not, or words that should not have been spoken.

Unfinished business would also include relationships we wish we had ended differently or paths we wished we had taken but did not. At the closure of our lives, we consciously draw these memories to a final point, accepting the choices we made at the time and releasing the feeling that things could have or should have been otherwise. This is what it means to “call one’s spirit back” in order to leave this world and return to the spiritual dimension completely.

From a different symbolic perspective, Extreme Unction represents a ritual needed to integrate into a regular part of human life. At many points in our lives, we face a crossroads where we need to let a previous phase of life “die”. The less we hold on to the physical world, the more we place ourselves to consciously access the energy of Keter, or the crown chakra, our transcendent link to the Divine.

Eddi van W

Seventh chakra energy motivates us to seek an intimate connection to the Divine in everything we do. This spiritual desire is significantly different from the wish for connection to a religion. Religion, first, is a group experience whose main purpose is to protect the group, and even war. Religion is rooted in first chakra energies. Spiritually, however, is an individual experience directed toward releasing fears of the physical world and pursuing a relationship to the Divine. The sacred truth of this chakra is Live in the Present Moment.

Myss teaches us about seeking a personal spiritual connection that shakes us to our core. Our conscious or unconscious prayer to come to know the God directly, she offers, goes something like this:

“I no longer want to be protected within the group, nor do I desire to have a mediator filter my guidance for me. I now want YOU to move into my life directly and remove from my life any obstacle – be it a person, place, or occupation – that interferes with my ability to form an intimate union with You.

In seeking union with the Divine, we are asking to have all physical, psychological, and emotional “illusions” removed from our lives. Once this process of removal begins, we awaken an internal voice of authority that immediately begins to compete with every external authority in our lives, which can throw us into internal turmoil, or even “spiritual schizophrenia”.

The Dark Knight of the Soul

Dr. Myss points to The Dark Knight of the Soul, written in the sixteenth century by Saint John of the Cross. In this classic work, the author articulated the stages of separation from what Myss coined as “the tribal” or “group mind” that are necessary to form a fully conscious bond with God. At each stage come experiences of exquisite mystical transcendence as well as feelings of depression, madness, and extraordinary isolation unknown to ordinary human experience.

The “symptomology” of a spiritual crisis is almost identical to that of a psychological crisis. In fact, since a spiritual crisis naturally involves the psyche, a “beginning mystic” may be unaware that the crisis is “spiritual” in nature and may describe his or her dilemma as “psychological”. The symptoms of a spiritual crisis are distinct, however, and threefold.

The crisis usually begins with an awareness of an absence of meaning and purpose that cannot be remedied merely by shuffling the external components of one’s life. One feels a much deeper longing, one that cannot be satisfied by the prospect of a raise or promotion, marriage or new relationship. Ordinary solutions hold no attraction. Those who are in a spiritual crisis, however, have a feeling that something is trying to wake up inside them. They just don’t know how to see it.

Strange new fears are the second symptom of a spiritual crisis. These fears are not ordinary, such as fears of abandonment and aging; rather, they make a person feel as if he or she is losing touch with a sense of self or identity. “I am no longer sure of who I am and of what I want out of life” is a standard report from a person saturated with the energy of the seventh chakra.Artist: silenceinthewings

The third symptom is the need to experience devotion to something greater than oneself. Our need to devote ourselves to a higher power has found many inappropriate surrogates: devotion to a corporation, a political party, an athletic team, personal exercise program, even a street gang. [I will also add volunteering/joining a cause – not that it’s a bad thing, but understand the motivation behind your zealousness to give is the important factor]. All these earthbound surrogates will eventually fail the devotee. No matter what!

We expect our devotions to earthly things and people to return to our quality of power that can take care of all our woes, but no human being or organization commands such power. We are not meant to devote ourselves to a human being: devotion is directed up and should take us with it.

The absence of meaning, the loss of self-identity, and the need for devotion are the three strongest symptoms indicating a person has entered the “dark knight”. Certainly, these characteristics are similar to common psychological dilemmas that people experience. Yet when their root is spiritual, the person lacks the motivation to blame other people for causing their crisis. Rather, he or she realizes that the cause of the crisis is within. The inadequacy of the external components of the person’s life is a result of the spiritual crisis, not the cause.dark-nightOne can become more open to receiving the answers to them by reorganizing one’s life in ways that remove mental and emotional blockages. That reorganization will at first make one feel worse as one experiences the “dark night of the soul,” through which one comes to know the content of his or her mind and heart, confronts fears and beliefs, consciously pursues the shadow side and challenges false gods who do not give up their hold upon the human psyche without a fight.

Enduring the “dark night” requires faith, prayer and if possible, a spiritual director or turn to some spiritual literature if you cannot find one. [Myss lists a few resources in her bibliography]. Finding a person who understands the nature of the journey can feel like finding a life raft. Keep a journal, record your thoughts and your prayers, and above all, hold on to the truth that all dark nights end with a light illuminating a new path.

Myss quotes Ron, a former Catholic priest who earned a national reputation because he possessed the ability to heal people:

“The signature of an ordained healer is having gone through a ‘dark night’ and endured the sensation of abandonment by the God. The significance of abandonment represents a question from God: Are you capable of believing in ME even in the darkest night? Your own spirit breaks during the abandonment, and you realize that the only way back from that hell is to turn back to God and accept the terms of God, regardless of what heaven asks of you from that point forward. The memory of the ‘dark night’ remains in your consciousness as a reference point, keeping you aligned to God, humble and forever aware that resurrection can come at any time no matter how dark the night.”

This is the road or the process to ordination. To be a mortal goddess means that you are a healer. I’m not necessarily saying in a medical sense, what I mean is that you use your unique Divine given talents to heal yourself and the world.

Spiritual Adulthood

Today there is more and more need to watch the mental status of young women [feminists] and the need for psychological and emotional support especially from [feminist] women therapists to support and guide young women through their consciousness-raising experience. The need is greater because we are in the Age of Aquarian where humanity is moving from tribal and individual power to symbolic power. In the Aquarian Age, the predominant thought is that we create our own reality. Aquarius is an air sign which governs the realm of mind and intellect, we see new ideas and fresh thought. We now begin to view our biological design in unison with a spiritual design.

As we make the shift more and more individuals will find themselves caught in a spiritual crisis, not knowing what they are experiencing, as we struggle to find our new spiritual identity which requires an individual more intimate connection with God [Divine], not through a tribal connection through religion. Councillors, therapists, psychoanalysts and teachers and others in the mental health field become more and more important as those undergoing a spiritual crisis will seek out the help of such professionals for support through their consciousness-raising experience. In terms of the feminist movement, failing to acknowledge the spiritual element and inter-dependency of the waves and young women’s goals undermines feminism’s trans-formative possibilities.

We are reaching a spiritual critical mass where we find ourselves redefining our perceptions about religion and spirituality. We will never abandon the truths contained in the scriptural teachings of the different religious traditions. These teachings are meant to unite us, not separate us. Yet through literal interpretation, it creates a divide within our kind, whereas symbolic interpretation – seeing that all of them address the identical design of our spiritual natures – brings us together.

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As we shift our attention away from the external world and into the internal one learning symbolic sight, we will soon see that we are all the same, and the spiritual challenges we face are all the same. This new way of thinking will see us challenging our ideas about god, taught through our churches, as we search for a more intimate connection with God. Harmonizing mind and body will play more of a central role as we begin to understand that we create our own reality. In turn, this will usher in a new phase of consciousness which marks the transitional beginnings from “Homo sapiens [sapiens] to Homo noeticus– an awareness based on spiritual insight and vision.”iii