Tenacious Magic ~ Chapter 22 (Part 1 of 2)
#metoo * Katherine returns with a request * The Gospel gets dusted off * We're going to France
They asked her, “How did you free yourself?”
She answered, “By embracing my own power.”
As I wind this story towards its conclusion, I’m seeking a way to break the spell of the tenacious magic that once held me in its grips. What’s on my mind as I write is this: patriarchy. I’ve come to the conclusion that this story (mine and Katherine’s) could only have happened in the patriarchy. And breaking the spell, is like breaking patriarchy. How do we do that?
Well, it’s the plot of the Barbie movie, which I reluctantly saw last night. At the climax of the plot, Barbie observes of her human friend’s rousing speech: “By giving voice to the cognitive dissonance required to be a woman under the patriarchy you robbed it of its power!” If only it was that simple…
The patriarchy is—at this point, whether we like it or not—deeply ingrained in our individual and collective systems (all four quadrants of the integral grid). I believe—like Barbie?? (never thought I’d say that)—that the patriarchy is on it’s way out. It can and indeed, will, be replaced by something more harmonious, balanced, peaceful, supportive of the thriving of all life. Philip Slater calls what’s next an Integrative Culture (versus Control Culture) and Riane Eisler calls it a Partnership Paradigm (versus a Dominator Paradigm).
We break the patriarchy by finding the real source of power—within each of us. By recognizing, refusing, and rejecting the malware of fear and disempowerment that lives in our systems. By detoxing from what we have internalized, which runs deep, and stepping into the next unknown instinctual together. When we become fully conscious of the patterns of patriarchy and their effects; and strong enough to resist default participation, we step into something new.
So, why don’t we do that now?
First, the level of awareness necessary to spot the patriarchy in action moment-to-moment (versus reflecting on it as criticism or commentary) is very rare when you’re operating from within it—like a fish identifying water to another fish. Second, it’s terrifying…there’s no structure there, no “thing” to step into…only a trust-fall into the flow of interdependent life, along with radical self-responsibility, and creativity. Which sounds beautiful but also…yikes…when you’ve been dependent for so long. What it takes to become the people who can do this is WAY beyond the scope of the Barbie movie. But, Barbie, in her own way is at least, trying to get on board.
My own journey beyond the gravitational pull of the patriarchy has already been a long one and is still unfolding. Each time I feel completely cleansed, I catch myself having thoughts or running programs that were implanted. They are not natural. I did it just yesterday when I unconsciously played a power game with my partner—my beloved—the person who has held me and helped me become a woman who can divest from the patriarchy. He can do this because he wants this, too. Fortunately, we saw the wound trying to perpetuate itself and repaired it on the spot. This kind of vigilance, cooperation between men and women, and willingness to go where it hurts, is what it actually takes. It also takes time, new generations with fresh perspectives and wisdom, and lots and lots of compassion.
Writing Tenacious Magic has been a big step in my own deprogramming. That it is a collaborative process between me and another woman is part of the magic. That my collaborator is already beyond the veil of this world, and lived in another era, expands our capacity to see and shift things. That I am here and still capable of moving words through space/time and changing karma, matters. That we can feel you, dear readers, receiving our story, matters. Because what lies beyond the competitive and autonomous patriarchy is something much more collaborative and interdependent. The stories we tell to get there must be this way, too.
I wish I could say that once the experience with H was over the spell was broken for good. I wish I could say I was cured…and never made that mistake again. Reader, I cannot. I proceeded to get into similar, though much less serious entanglements three or four more times. Each time with a male spiritual teacher or partner/consort. And each time, I had to wake up to what was happening anew and find my power to end the dynamic. I guess I had more karma to burn or more to see. Or maybe I was exercising an atrophied muscle.
I finally realized, when I stopped beating myself up about it, that this is my life’s work: becoming a woman unto herself; becoming whole within myself; becoming completely clear of the power of the patriarchy. Sometimes, our life’s work actually takes a lifetime. Sometimes, it takes multiple lifetimes.
I have a new mantra. It came to me in my sleep—the way so much wisdom has come to me: “Stop worrying and start walking.” Now, whenever I catch myself dwelling in the anxiety of the unknown or feeling frightened of something I can’t quite see or understand, I say this to myself and I do it. I actually do it. I stop worrying and I start walking. It has been revelatory. A mantra, custom designed and delivered right on time. It serves me well in this quest to reach beyond all we’ve known for hundreds of years to find the first glimmers and footholds of the future.
Thank you, Divine Grace. Thank you, MM. Thank you to the Unseen World and all those helping us through this portal! Thank you Katherine, Gurdjieff and H! Will you join me as we start walking again six years after we last left me back in NYC?
Now, back to the story….
Fall 2017, Manhattan
The Assemblage is an oasis in Manhattan that bills itself as “the home for a global community of people who believe the world is on the verge of a collective consciousness evolution.” Every day of the week, spiritual teachers, seekers, psychonauts, shamans, herbalists, philosophers, tech entrepreneurs, coaches, and non-profit executives rub elbows, share organic meals and botanical elixirs. The private club occupies twelve floors of an old office building on 25th Street and Park Avenue South. It is the ayahuasca dream of a former financier and for a little while, it is heaven on earth for those of us lucky enough to have a membership.
I’ve been invited to share an office with my friend, D, a well-known writer and community-builder. D achieved cult fame for his early writing on psychedelics and indigenous prophesy. He is brilliant and cranky, a tried-and-true New Yorker. D has been recruited by the founders of Assemblage to seed legitimacy in their budding community. They’ve given him free office space and I’m now benefitting from this generosity. I go in a few days a week to meet D and other friends or to host events. Not much tangible work gets done here, but that’s not really the point. The work for us, it seems, is to weave ourselves together as we stand on the cusp of a great planetary shift. We’re doing what the avant-garde always does.
After things fell apart with H and our dreams of a white glove consultancy vanished, I turned my attention away from the corporate world. Now, I’m serving clients I believe can make a better world: non-profits, climate activists, NGOs. On Wednesday evenings I teach Social Innovation at a college in the city. My clients hire me to consult on feminine principles and empathy in the workplace. I helped start a few women’s groups; including the Yin Circle at The Assemblage and a monthly gathering in Brooklyn called Full Moon Circle. I’m using the platform and trust I earned as a top strategist to put women and feminine wisdom center stage in NYC’s entrepreneurial community.
The genesis of all of what brings me alive now, can be traced back to the awakening with H. I am grateful to him frequently and still hold our time together as a magical interlude. I’m well-established now in my Priestess role and sometimes think back to the time I told H I wanted to help men. He’d responded, “If you want to help men, help women.” Now, I can see he was right. The call I received from The Goddess in the back of the taxicab all those years ago is now coming to fruition. He made good on his promise: he did help me “become that woman” who could bring The Feminine to Wall Street.
My daughter is a second-grader at a public elementary in Brooklyn. She is happy, centered, and wise. When Paul is working late, I bring her out with me in the evenings to events. Tonight a close friend of mine, Sarah, is doing a reading at The Assemblage from her new book. The book, Gaia Codex, is an extraordinary transmission of the feminine; an adventure story about a young woman who learns she is part of an ancient lineage of priestesses who hold the keys to the regeneration of the earth in their DNA. I had a hand in putting tonight’s event together because the story speaks to me as a woman and mother. I am happy my daughter can listen in. I see her self-assuredness and want to preserve it.
I grab some hummus and vegetables from the kitchen for my daughter. D motions me over to the elixir bar where he’s sitting with friends. I settle my daughter on a cushion nearby with her book and snack. I haven’t seen him since reading a recently published slam by The Post. D has become a target of the #metoo fervor.
“Wow, that was a rough article in The Post. How’re you doing?”
“What do you expect? It’s Page Six. I guess I’m fine now. It was pretty shitty for a few days. I was trying to help; trying to be open about my experience as a man. I said what I needed to say. I felt like my confessions were coming from the right place. I guess it’s too raw right now to hear his side of the story? Lesson learned. The atmosphere is super-charged right now.”
D is the first of my male friends to be condemned publicly by #metoo. In eight years, he’s never hit on me, but then again we’re about the same age. He’s been a target for his tendency to date much younger women. He’s definitely far from perfect with women and he’d be the first to admit it; but he’s also not a monster. I had sympathy when I saw that he was publicly castigated/castrated.
“I have mixed feelings about all of this. I understand the anger. It’s outrageous what men think they can get away with. And some of the accusations are really horrific. It’s good that it’s all coming out of the dark and into the light. But, sometimes it seems very harsh…like a witch hunt in reverse. By blaming men without looking at the underlying issues and the dynamics that the patriarchy sets up, I think we risk getting stuck in this victim/oppressor model once again. That’s not what I want.”
D nods, “I know a lot of men who are getting cancelled—men with families, long and storied careers. I know maybe it sounds like woe is me, but is that the way? Seems reactionary.”
“It’s highly emotional and short-sighted—the media has a big part to play in that. We’re in the grips of the collective trauma. It will mellow and then maybe we can deal with it with more compassion and understanding? My ultimate hope would be to come together—men and women—to repair and heal what’s been so broken for so long.”
“What does that look like?”
“I’m not sure, yet. I know we have to bring it into the light. What stays hidden cannot be changed and ends up coming out distorted. The revelations are important. It’s brutal how omnipresent it is. I’ve had some good talks with my mom and other women about it. This has been going on forever.”
“Have you had these experiences?”
H immediately comes to mind, but I push the thought aside. I turn my mind to countless other examples of blatant sexism and inappropriate behaviors I experienced in my corporate days.
“Of course!” I roll my eyes, “I had a man hire me at twice my salary and move me across the country so he could have an affair with me. I thought he liked my thinking! He’s in jail now…”
“For indiscretions with women?”
“Lord, no. For tax evasion.” We laugh and I order a drink.
The event is about to start. A young woman introduces Sarah who is glowing at the front of the space; comfortably stationed behind a microphone. After the applause settles, she starts her program by singing, tuning notes into the mic. The room vibrates into coherence as she finds the notes. Her voice is clear, angelic…unafraid. My daughter looks up from her book to see a radiant female writer holding court, and I feel hope blossom in my heart.
That night, someone else is with me as I listen to Sarah spinning a new mythology…I check. Yes. It’s Katherine. Really? She hasn’t been with me in almost six years. Here she is again, back for a reason. I wonder if she has something to say about this #metoo moment.
“You have to say something,” Katherine says insistently.
It’s three in the morning. The city outside my window is still at this hour. Turns out, the city that never sleeps does actually. But, then again…I am awake. Katherine woke me up.
“About what? Who do you want me to tell?” But, I know.
“About H. Tell your story…to the world. They’re finally listening.” She’s eager like someone who has waited one hundred years for something.
“There’s too much rage. It’s combustible right now. I wouldn’t do that to him. I won’t ruin his life or mine by bringing something so private into the public eye. Besides, it’s not black and white. It’s…complicated.”
She listens and considers, “Where were his scruples when he crossed the line with you? What about ruining your life?”
“It didn’t ruin my life. I’m ok. In fact, I received important gifts through H.”
“Yes, through the real teachings. But, not through the other stuff.”
“How can you distinguish? Where is the line?” I challenge her back. The fact is…I am scared she’s right.
“You do not have the freedoms you have for nothing. Women suffered for you. You have to do your part.”
“I am! I’m teaching and convening around the sacred feminine in a city that is brutally masculine. I am walking as The Goddess. I am a working, single mother…raising a liberated daughter…” I feel my credentials are sound. Maybe we can drop it.
“Ouch. That mother one still stings,” she says, “You can’t undo the wrong with a bunch of rights. It has to be cleared and you have to tell the story to clear it.”
“The thing is…I’m just not angry about what happened. I loved him and I played a part in what happened.”
“Of course. I get it. I really do. That’s why it’s so important to tell your story: because it’s not so black and white. Because you can own your part.”
I shake my head and look away from her.
“You’re still under his control.”
“H? It’s been years.”
“I didn’t actually mean H. I meant ‘The Man,’ the father, your father, all fathers, all men. You have a harpoon in your back and you don’t even know it. But, yes…H, too. He still controls you.”
“I disagree,” I had done a lot of work to move beyond what had happened with us. I had eventually entered a healthier relationship with the man I’d met at the dance. I was in the process of divorcing Paul and we had managed to stay amicable. He was living next door, co-parenting harmoniously. I felt like I’d moved on. Even now, sitting here in my bedroom, decorated with my art and linens, my altar in the corner…I felt independent, autonomous. Could she be right? I check my back for any sign of this harpoon.
“Where’s your book?” She says curtly.
She points to the bottom drawer of my dresser where The Gospel of I AM still sits, has sat for six years now. I feel a tug in my back. I feel sick. She’s right.
“The only way out of this patriarchal mess is to tell the story—fairly. Bring it out of the dark. This is the way to heal…through art, alchemical and nuanced art. You don’t need to take him down…just speak your truth. Find the source of your own power, your voice. Say what needs to be said and do it on your terms.”
“Is that why you’re here? It’s been six years since I’ve talked to you.”
“Yes…and well, there’s something else. I need you to tell my story.”
Suddenly I realize what she means. I understand why she was with me those years with H. I understand why there is so little written about her time at the Prieuré, her last months with Gurdjieff. I think I know…finally…who ‘My Darling’ is.
“Yes,” she senses that it’s all dawning on me, “Your story is my story. Me too.”
We sit there in silence resonating together. I want to hug her but she’s immaterial. I feel such a bond with her, with all women.
“He’s buried right next to me. Of all the places in the world…We are laid to rest, the both of us, in that uninteresting little cemetery in Fontainebleu. Why do you think?”
“I don’t know?”
With that, she disappears, leaving me alone in the dark room. I go to the kitchen for water and to steady my nerves. I am facing a task I do not want. But, I know it must be done and no one can do it but me. I go into the room of my sleeping daughter and put my hand gently on her shoulder. I will do it for Katherine and for her. One day, maybe I’ll also find the strength and self-compassion to do it for myself.
The next morning, I get my daughter ready for school and send her out the door with her dad. In the quiet light, I make a tea and pull the manuscript out of the dresser drawer. I haven’t read this story since I wrote it. I have no idea how it will be to revisit. Within a few minutes, tears stream down my face. This is not shameful. This is beautiful. The writing is inspired. The love in it is sincere. It’s me.
I call my cousin in Kentucky. She’s a poet who has always been like a sister to me. I trust her with my soul’s work, which is what this is. I tell her about the book and ask if I can send it to her.
“I just need to know if there’s anything worthwhile in it. Is it worth salvaging? I was going to send it to an editor, but I just don’t think I’m ready to share it to strangers yet. It’s very personal. It may be nonsense.”
“You wouldn’t be sending it if it was nonsense.”
I sigh, “You’re right. I need…support.”
“I can be your courage until you find your own,” she says gently, and then sounding like our grandmother, Hilda, she says, “And I’ll be honest with you. Even if it hurts. Better to get the truth from family than a stranger….”
“Where is this guy now anyway? Have you spoken to him?”
“Not in years. I think he moved to Europe…Zürich, maybe?”
“Huh, yes. I hadn’t thought of it.”
“Well, send me your Red Book and I’ll take a look, cousin.”
A few days later, I receive a text from Lauren:
“Just now digging in. It’s incredible, Skye. There’s so much magic in here—the good kinds and the bad kinds. I don’t know if this is coincidental, but I’ve had a mild buzzing in my third eye since I started it. It’s knocking me out over here. I love it. We can work with this.”
What a relief her words are. Not just the content…but the fact of them: the fact that the story now lives with another woman is an unburdening and I feel gratitude.
Later that evening, while playing with my daughter, I feel something new—courage, a sense of adventure. I know what I must do…Go to Fontainebleu. And I know I need to take my daughter with me. It’s not her first trip to France. We went two years ago with my parents and she loved it.
“Honey, what do you think about making a trip to France to see Hannah this spring?”
She jumps into the air and gives a little shout, “OUI!”
To be continued…Part 2 of this final chapter will be published on Thursday or Friday this week. Stay tuned…