I change shapes just to hide in this place,
But I’m still, I’m still an animal…
Nobody knows it but me when I slip, yeah I slip,
I’m still an animal…
It was one of those mornings when I woke up in pain. They still come, those mornings, just left often now and less extremely. But I know what to do now. I get in the shower and I follow my animal body for the rest of the day. In fact, I always follow it now. I was pretty good at it before. It was my life. But I am excellent at it now.
It was a day I planned to work, but instead I put a coat on over my pajamas and went to a beach that I love, and hadn’t visited in a while. It’s near the road I lived down when I was ten years old. It’s where I went with friends when I was a teenager, and still go with friends sometimes now. It is old and new. Living on the island where I grew up, everything has layers of memories like the layers of paint in an old house. If you scratch the surface, you’ll find all these other colors underneath. All these old feelings there and so much richness. They both sting and revive me, I rise and fall with them like waves. I live among my history and write it at the same time. I feel this way so completely because, remembering so much of my entire soul journey and past lives, everything in the universe is like this for me. I live in these layers, and I fear them not. They are only intense feeling. Most people flee from feelings, but I have learned to sit in the white-hot center of them and have watched them bless my life beyond all description.
I would not trade my life as an animal for anything.
Many of you have heard me say that I am not interested in enlightenment. I have been there before and go there often. I am interested in becoming better at being human. Since humans are animals, I am saying that I am interested in becoming better at being an animal.
I’ll admit when the sun had already gone down at my beach, I chased it across the island at rather high speeds, just to drive fast. And I did find its last rays turning clouds the colors of golden peaches and lining them with fire. I listened to music loud. I do that a lot. I also write until my hand hurts, often…for hours sometimes. I sing, hard sometimes too, songs that would make me want to cry if I weren’t so deep in the singing that I felt too whole to do so. I dance. Sometimes I dance all night long. I have lots of orgasms, and lots of kisses. These are the kinds of things it can take to let yourself be an animal, to bear the immense and immeasurable waves of really feeling your own being…of really feeling.
Of course, what it takes for each person will be different. You have to find out your own way, if you choose, to follow Mary Oliver’s advice, “You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.” To be what Eve Ensler calls an “Emotional Creature.” Because it isn’t easy, but it is better and more wonderful than anything else I have ever known.
Immediately, when the vision began, I was on the edge of the ocean with Magdalen. (Yes, Mary Magdalen, she is a good girlfriend of mine. We have a lot in common, and share many of the same views.) I was teaching my annual advanced course in vision (Persephone’s Pomegranate: The Visionary Oracles Course) and we were all on a journey together to view a past life.
Magdalen and I both stood on a rocky shoreline, right at the point where the water met the land. My feet were bare and my toes wrapped around a rock that was lined in seaweed. We were looking out over the sea and the islands. It was just before sunset, with the crisp light of autumn. She was holding my hand.
She told me that it was time for me to finally bring the whole of myself into this world. That I could finally, truly have it all. Many would say that I have it all now, and even I feel that I do. But when she told me that I could feel what she meant in my bones. It was time to let my even fuller glory be known and felt and shared, as I haven’t been able to completely do on this earth for a long time, and when this happens I will be even more gifted, and gift-ed.
Then she took me into a past life. One I have visited before in Egypt. I was an Oracle, and many came to the temple to speak with me, or experience my energy in some way. It was beautiful, and sometimes taxing in those times, because the demands on me and the expectations were immense. But I had all of that to give and more. So I did.
But the memory was of a specific day. One in which a surgery was performed (the ancient Egyptians were far more advanced medically than we realize now) on me to remove a small part of my heart. It was going to be used to add to salves and medicines, and to create relics with bits of the powder that could be taken to other locations for people far away to receive its healing. Silly idea really. There are so many other ways to do it. But for some reason I agreed.
What I knew, returning back to Magdalen at the shore, was that I would never have to give up a piece of my heart that way again. My animal, emotional heart. It is the great secret, for all of us. It is far more powerful than any outside deity, any incantation, spell or ritual. It is all we have ever sought and more, and it is right inside of us. And while we may also find it in a book, or mantra, if it speaks to us somehow, we are more likely, I believe, to find it in a howl. In a laugh, a tear, a hunger. In our bodies. That is where all the mysteries await most profoundly.
On halloween this year I was experiencing some heartache. There had been some recent let downs, but it was more than that. I was in one of those realms you sometimes enter when you are open to the worlds of deep feeling within your vast, ancient soul. I had gone with my sweetheart and friend to the big dance in town and had great fun and laughs, and then afterward some of us piled into my friend’s big, modified school bus and went to his place. He and my husband drummed while a friend and I danced, and I went into one of my deep trance states.
I went into a vision, a specific memory of being in a special kind of temple of women. I remembered the fabrics, and the vibrant yet soft colors. The way the warm air smelled. But most of all I remembered the women. I remembered the exquisite softness of their skin and their eyes. I remembered their deep knowing, and the way they could walk through the world with the full oceans within them. I remembered the way we all touched, almost all the time. Arms intertwined with arms, heads resting on chests. I remembered the way we felt in and about our bodies and their pure sensual power. I remembered how at ease we were, with that, and with each other.
I remembered how it felt to be enfolded this way when one was grieving. How there was no feeling too intense to be acceptable. It was the full embrace. For I have remembered so many temples before, but these were the ones where the women gathered to be together and to heal. And somewhere, deep in our bodies, I know we all, of all genders, know how to do this. We are just remembering. And nothing will remind us more than the animal of our bodies.
I was Alice in Wonderland that night for halloween. At some point my friend asked me, “So…you’ve been down the rabbit hole?”
“Oh,” I laughed. “So many times…”
So many people are afraid of letting the animal within guide them. They are afraid it will take over. Being “animalistic” isn’t exactly considered to be a good thing. Funny thing is, animals usually do a lot better than humans at living well, sustainably, and healthily. What I can’t figure out is how people can suffer through repressing their animal selves. It’s the repression that causes the terrible things we associate with getting animalistic, not the full embrace of one’s instinct, feeling and animal self. I wonder how people haven’t fully seen the cost yet of that holding back.
After all, most of the time we walk through the world by “changing shapes just to hide in this place,” as Miike Snow sings. We keep a poker face, or the presentable face, no matter what we feel. We cram ourselves into all kinds of awkward positions to get through interactions, work, and environments that often don’t fit us. And so rarely does someone actually cry out at the wildness that is being constantly held at bay.
The animal within isn’t insatiable. In fact satiating it over and over again is one of the most rewarding ways to live life. And it doesn’t just want food and sex and sleep and survival. It wants soft touches, warm breezes, wild oceans, bare feet in the grass, laughter so hard it makes your stomach hurt in the best way, it wants to cry and sing and run free. It wants long talks, long looks, bright blazing mornings and dark, sparkling nights. It might want a shiny red pair of shoes, or to give away everything and move to Bali. It wants to ache with joy. It wants to love until there is nothing else, and then love some more. It might want parties, or deep forests. It might want movies, or bubble gum, or to run through crisp autumn leaves. It wants to be hot, and held, and free.
Being the animal that you are doesn’t mean that you have to find out all of this at once and run off to Bali. It just starts with listening to your body, and the yearnings of your heart, and then answering them…as often as possible. It could be as simple as what I did the last time I woke up feeling like I did this morning. Too much an animal to go about my human business in life. I just decided my work would get done later, climbed into the car and went to a place where I could cheat on my currently-strict diet and drink coffee and eat bread, and wrote in my journal, finding all of my redemption in ink. You’ve got to reach deep into your well to feed the thirst of your animal. You’ve got to get the water from your inner earth. And when you’ve found it, you will know. It will be like a warm rain, washing everything away but the very deepest truth of you.
To that deepest truth I write tonight. To that deepest truth of you I drink tonight, a toast of imaginary pomegranate wine. I drink a toast to knowing that we will all survive the flood…the one we face every day. The flooding that rises up inside of us. And I toast to the animal I know we will set free, that will swim in it, that will drink it, that will shake itself off, and get ready to wander the earth again…
Love this writing? Hop on my email list to receive each new post!
p.s. If you love these writings, you will adore my fall courses: (all available worldwide!)
In Jennifer’s one and only live-by-phone course this Fall, feel the flame of your life force re-ignited, and your ancient heart called back to the restorative and rejuvenative powers of the Sexual Priestess, and her serpent powers…and get ready for your life to blossom as never before…
October 21st – December 2nd, 2014
Discover Jennifer’s most essential and life-changing teachings, the purest and most potent alchemy of all, available now to the entire world as a “pay-what-you-want” offering…
Begins September 17th, 2014
Discover how to use instinct and pure intuition to access your most powerful inner healer, in the ancient feminine sound healing lineages of the Sibyls and Nymphs…
Begins November 12th, 2014
You can also view the courses all in one place here!