I used to burn sage.
Now I ask people, kindly, if they would mind putting it out…so I can breathe. So I don’t have the leave the space we are in together…
I think about the elegance of it all. The perfection of my grand sensitivity, masquerading as weakness, and even experienced sometimes that way. I think about the way I have spent my life getting to this point of extreme beauty through what looks like extreme limitation.
I literally require the purest air, food, water and other kind of inputs at the moment to maintain equilibrium, and my resilience waxes and wanes like the moon, invisible sometimes in a blackened sky. No slender shimmer to be found. But that is the place of all potential, that darkness…that new moon. And there is a force behind it beyond all possible comprehension. That is what I have done on this journey…I have climbed behind the moon to the place of all darkness, and all possibility.
I have crawled into the earth so deeply I entered the underworld, and I have spent years there. I can breathe underwater now…even if sage smoke and wildfires make me sick. That reaction to smoke isn’t permanent, but what I have gained from experiencing illness and trauma is irreversible…for they have transformed me even further into my most true self. They have made me what I most wished to be on this earth: more fully a creature.
I know the aim for our time here is usually something more like experiencing the divine…becoming a goddess. But, like the rest of us, I came here already fully divine, and once you know that, there is nothing more beautiful than bringing it into your deepest embodiment: fully being the creature that you are is being the divine.
You see, because I remember what it is to be fully conscious…because I remember and know what it is to be in “the heavens” and have awareness of the entire cosmos, I am intimately and preciously aware of the fact that we come here to be in a body, and it is one of the most beautiful blessings of all. That means I already know I am a goddess, and what I would like to do is be more like my cat. Pure instinct and connection. Every harmonious ancient tradition in the world revered animals for this very reason. We come here to remember how to be like them. We are them.
It would have been very easy for me not to completely become the animal that I am. Almost especially because I have always had such tremendous spiritual resources and such an unspeakably close connection with my body. Yes, I know that doesn’t seem to make the slightest bit of sense at first. But I could easily have made do with all of that and never reached these deeper levels if I hadn’t been pressed to the dirt until it became my skin…if I hadn’t experienced such phenomenal levels of helplessness so repeatedly that I had to let my body lead in every…single…way. Not just most the time, and not even 99% of the time. All of the time.
I am not suggesting that we need to learn the way I did (thank goodness) or that we need to reach some ridiculous idea of 100% (yes I just called something I only just said ridiculous). I am saying this:
You are a beautiful animal. Your body contains all the heavens. If you hurt, it is teaching you to be a master, even if you feel anything but that. If you are hurting you are brave. You encompass all the wisdom that has ever existed in your bones, in your cells, in your blood…and you will never be alone on your journey on this earth for many reasons, but especially because you have your body with you.
Our entire earthly religion used to be the celebration of the body. Our bodies and the body of the earth. It was only natural.
I know it might be scary to start to listen to your body. At first you might only hear the pain. And even when you feel the guidance it might lead you to do uncomfortable things…like ask people if they would mind putting out the sage…and about a billion other things that might push you in directions you wouldn’t go and yet directions which lead you most precisely and unswervingly onto the path of your deepest dreams and desires in this life.
Some of you are perhaps thinking…”Yes, yes Jennifer I am more than on the same page and aware of the beauty of the guidance of my body…but I need to know more about how! I try and I try but I keep losing the message, or reading it wrong, or doubting myself…”
As far as I am concerned there is really just one place to start…no matter how far along you are on the journey if you want to go deeper with communing with the purest wisdom, insight and instinct of your body. Nourish yourself.
Find out what your body needs and do anything and everything in your power…short of feeling like you have to stress and push yourself which would be counterproductive…to give it to yourself. Your animal body may need nothing more powerfully than it needs to curl up in a ball and rest. And it may need that a hundred times. It may need moonlight, or good food, or music. It may need laughter or hot water or lots, and lots of tears. You may not be able to give it what it needs most right now…and that may be painful…but you can at least begin to hear it.
You may not be able to rest…because you can’t sleep, or because you have work, or because the kids need to get to school. But when you have even five minutes you can climb into the pillows of your bed, or the awkward seat in a public space if needed, and say, “now baby”…”now you can let go for a little while.”
Yes, we are talking about practicing unabashedly a profound level of self-love. And if that sounds too massive to accomplish, remember that it will grow as you give yourself and your body what it needs…one micro-step, one moment, at a time.
Illness and trauma formed the cocoon that allowed me to become a butterfly. And to embrace the beauty of the caterpillar. They ensured for me that I would disintegrate…all the way into a formless goo. It had to be all the way for me. Yes, it didn’t look pretty and sometimes still doesn’t. But it has the power of a million suns, and I am much more interested in that than in whether it looks pretty. I am interested in real beauty. And sometimes real beauty comes from immense suffering, and real freedom comes from having known very heavy chains.
I have said before that, “I am not interested in being enlightened. I have been there before. I am interested in becoming better at being human.” And so today, I want to celebrate with you all…that I have indeed become better at being human, which means better at being a human animal, which means better at being an animal. I am more proud of that than I can possibly say, and it has opened doors of understanding for me that would never have otherwise been available to me.
I have suffered mightily. Much more than I ever thought I possibly could. But I am a butterfly now…I am made of rainbow in a deeper way than ever now…and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. Yes, a combination of Lyme Disease and toxicity, placed on top of a foundation weakened early on by developmental trauma, eventually toppled my entire structure and tested my very life. Yes, some recent setbacks slowed the great progress I had been making…but how long does it take to make a star? How long does it take for an ancient tree to grow its rings or a diamond to be formed under pressure? How long does it take for a pearl to grow from an irritation…how long did it take for the moon to learn how to glow?
It takes a little while. And I can’t think of a more worthwhile thing to do with my time on this earth than to become better at loving, and better at being a creature. And, with the patience of night, I am daily and diligently doing both…every single day of my life.
My dream is that my words inspire you…to not be as afraid or ashamed of your darkness (there is so much gold there) or your fiery, brilliant light. I hope you won’t spend your life thinking that being spiritual looks like you are always ready to break out in an “OM” rather than howl at the moon. Both are beautiful. I hope you feel like it is okay to ask them to put out the sage if it is making you sick, and that you become more and more comfortable asking for a million other things you need, saying no when you want to say no, saying yes when you want to say yes, and saying nothing when you don’t want to speak. I hope you get more comfortable with the “ugly”, and the grit, and the things that don’t fit inside the lines. I hope you dare to live outside of them. I hope you aren’t afraid to have some people not like you, or think that you are less evolved because you don’t hide your feelings in the deepest closets inside of you…like most of them do to feel more “presentable”.
I hope you know you are always presentable because of who you are and what you are made of, and not just always presentable, but always adored.
I hope you make a mess sometimes. All over everything.
I hope the guttural, and the primal, are two of your best friends. Right along with the orgasmic and the ecstatic. I hope they are all invited to your party. And I hope you get to party hard…dancing until you remember everything…
Your body will show you how.
I love you so fucking much.
Learn more about the Nymphs in Jennifer’s writings and courses about them (including the special nymph course packages,) here…
You can also read more of my writings on Spirituality and Illness here…
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