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Tag: soul-mapping

How to spend less time fixing yourself & more time being perfect

(Or: how jewellery, astrology & bodyfulness fit together)

 

Greg Rahkozy and Elizabeth Gilbert

 

I’ve finally faced the fact that I’m the kind of person who can’t just do one thing, because I end up being bored witless.

The reason I decided to do a PhD was because hours at the jewellery bench had my thoughts wandering into ‘bad neighbourhoods’, and I realised that the devil makes work for idle minds, just as he does for idle hands.

When I popped out the other end of the PhD mincer and felt nicely squeezed into the sausage skin of academia, I had this niggling feeling in my bones, little whispers of resistance. After all there was some kind of deep irony in the fact that I’d just written a thesis on conspiracies, wrestling so hard to tame far-fetched ideas into acceptable forms. I had mustered together the wondrous and inexplicable, working hard to rationalise it and reference it to voices more authoritative than mine.

There’s always been this rebel in me who’d go against something just ’cos everyone else was going for it. It’s something to do with the Aries part of my nature.

Actively resisting anything mainstream was a 30 year habit. But then I spent 5 years shaping myself to fit academia. And yet, as my mind and my words had submitted to the requirements of being a ‘doctor of philosophy’, my body fomented a quiet resistance.

Oh blessed relief that, buried under ‘appropriate’, was still some wildness, some aching to roam freely!

I hadn’t entirely smothered that love of wonder and magic and mystery that had followed me around all through childhood. So I stepped off the gravy train and went back to being an artist.

But there was something else calling to come in, this urging to make my work a more wholistic practice. To bring in all the things that fascinated me (which I managed to tidily boil down to three. Because I do love trinities).
This is the practice of blending astrology, bodyfulness and jewellery.

So now I work with all three to cultivate the art (and the science) of embodiment.

Often a jewel will already whisper its need for a body, for fingers that appreciate its fluid curves, or that indent at the throat where it may comfortably nest.
This seductive relationship between jewellery and wearer is a theme in everything I’ve made, from the elaborate glamouring of costume jewels to the private intimacy of the amulet.

The ancient history, the social power, the talismanic magic of jewellery has inspired me since the beginning.

That certain materials contain an intrinsic energy we can acquire through wearing; that a jewel can hold our desires and memories, or remind us of promises and intentions; these ideas are as old as humans.

When we wear a piece of jewellery it takes on our warmth, it breathes with us.
It becomes a secret extension of ourselves, revealing something to us.
An essence that might otherwise never have been visible.

Of course not to romanticise it too much because there’s that other face of jewellery too. The hard and glittering gems, with absurd price tags, whose cold perfection (if we are fortunate or wealthy enough to wear them) draws attention away from our own inadequacies. Or that ‘high street’ junky stuff that dazzles us when all shiny and new, then breaks and blackens and disappoints within months.

I believe in jewels that tell their own stories but don’t leave us out of the picture.

Instead of being glittery and hard, they collude with us, and whisper of that deeper essence we sense inside.

And it’s this same essence that astrology can show us, as it opens a window onto the soul. Or gives us a map to navigate the path to becoming more completely who we’re here to be.

But all that ‘being who you truly are’ stuff can feel clichéd and airy-fairy if we don’t bring everything down to the body.

To get our toes into the dirt. To be OK with ourselves when we laugh with crazy joy, or cry like our guts are being torn out. Or wallow in the swamp of numbing depression. Or become livid with anger and do stupid things. The whole point of ‘being who you truly are’ is to live everything like this is the only chance you’ve got.

The astrology chart decodes the soul, but until we embody this it’s simply an abstraction.

It’s only by coming deeply into the pleasure and the pain of this whole experience of ‘human’ that we have any real understanding of all that esoteric knowledge.

So here we’ve come full circle. From the ancient stories that bodies and jewels tell together, to the soul’s mirror – that old symbolic language of the stars – and then back down to earth again. Back into our bodies.

There’s a variety of ways we can feel purposeful and make a positive contribution, but ultimately, whatever it is you’re here to do will only come into focus when you recognise the quiet perfection of being yourself. And accepting there’s nothing that needs to be ‘fixed’.

Like jewellery, there are many types of astrology. I’m only interested in the one that helps us decode and navigate the soul’s living experience.

It’s astrology that shows us the simple truth: we just have to seek out what makes us feel alive.

Because, as Howard Thurman says, the world needs more people who have come alive.

Bodyfulness is the practice of that deep aliveness.
And when we wear the jewel that tells our story, it reminds us that this is what really matters.
Zodiac illustration of Aries

What astrology has taught me

I first discovered astrology at a time in my life when I was stuck.
For one, my obsessive desire to be a successful artist seemed to have run aground and I wondered was the Universe working against me? Was I just unlucky? Or just plain ‘not good enough’? Was it a sign that this wasn’t meant to be?

Can you relate to that kind of situation where it feels like an uphill battle and things we have no control over keep blocking the path?

Ah, such a human dilemma! As a species we’ve been chasing that elusive control over our fate since the time before time. Whether it involved inspecting the entrails of chickens, or visiting the priestesses at Delphi for some incomprehensible gibberish, we’ve pursued this hope that if we could just unravel the signs they would reveal the secrets of what the gods had in store for us.

Astrology provided fuel for my obsession to decode the mystery of who I am. (Notice this theme of obsession running through my oeuvre?? And yep, it can be seen in my astro-chart). I’ve always felt different – you know, the weird kid at school, the oddball who didn’t know how to do things right – and I desperately wanted that difference to make me distinctive, instead of a victim of ‘not good enough’.

So initially, like many others, I was drawn by astrology’s promise to reveal destiny.
And I had really high hopes of what I would find – although I confess I was a bit disappointed. It felt like Alice’s rabbit hole and I could keep digging forever without finding definitive ‘answers’…

Now, 20 years later, and with the comforting retrospection that only time affords, I recognise that astrology doesn’t hold all the answers, but it does give us the ability to develop tremendously useful wisdom of the most practical kind.

In fact, there are 4 very useful things that astrology has taught me.

1. Perspective.

Or what I like to think is ‘the God’s-eye view’ – that view from a great height or depth or distance.

What the soul knows that the brain doesn’t.

When we understand how certain qualities we possess create our expectations of what we’ll meet in the world, we can cultivate the ability to ‘step outside’ of the frame and get that ‘big picture’ view.

Astrology gives me perspective on how I ‘operate’ – not only my character traits, but also what my soul is learning in this lifetime.

Ironically, I only developed perspective after I stopped relying on astrology for all the answers to even the little things. Because astrology’s greatest promise is to be a map for the soul, and maps give us a perspective we don’t have when we’re on the ground with the road in front of us. That’s why I refer to the astrology sessions I offer as soul-mapping.

If we start to believe astrology offers all the answers we lose the ability to access the truth it really does offer.

So now I think of our charts as our own personal sacred geometry, a map we can use to navigate life.

Capricorn and Sagittarius
from: Constellations of the Zodiac, Atlas Maritimus by John Seller, 1679

2. Compassion.

With perspective comes compassion. Too often in the age of psychiatry we’re fond of blaming others (especially mum or dad) for our foibles and failings.

Astrology shows me I’m not a victim, and what I’ve experienced is what my soul expected to experience.

It also shows what’s to be learned through having that experience.

I can’t tell you how huge a leap this enables. It helps move me move through resentment and blame, even in the most challenging experiences.
And so perspective has helped me cultivate compassion – for myself, for my parents, or for anyone who’s presented me with challenges  – in way that is completely natural, not forced or obliged.

3. What to do when things get challenging.

Perspective and compassion underpin the ability to know when to act and when to wait patiently. (Or in my case, as a rampant Aries, how to learn patience!)

Astrology not only reveals where I need to be paying attention when the proverbial hits the fan, but also the nature of a challenge – and it’s ‘reason’.

It provides the shortest route to the heart of the matter.
And shows how this challenge fits into the much larger play of time, and my own personal mythology unfolding over a lifespan. It’s even possible to see where it fits the collective challenge of a generation or an era.

4. Repetition is necessary

And in respect to the ‘play of time’ – do you find yourself still doing things that you think you should be over by now? Like perhaps you’re always ‘choosing the wrong man’. Or you could be in a work situation and suddenly feel like you’re reacting in a way that takes you straight back to some high-school horror story…

We think we should be past that by now, but repetition doesn’t mean you’re stupid and you’ve learned nothing.

Astrology has helped me to be OK with repetition because I recognise that when I’m repeating myself it just shows where I’m not really awake yet to what I’m supposed to be learning about this particular theme that keeps recurring in my life.

So that means I really know I’ve ‘got it’ when I don’t repeat it anymore. And maybe that’ll be never!!

 

Aries the ram
from: Constellations of the Zodiac, Atlas Maritimus by John Seller, 1679

 

Essentially, astrology shows me a more wholistic picture of who I am, and how to be more of me – to accept myself as I am.
It helps me get comfortable with being both the shadows and the light.

I don’t need to ‘overcome’ some bits of me in order to be a better human.
Because in every quality there is an advantage and a hindrance.

Of course developing the above skills doesn’t mean life is easy… but it sure makes it easier to deal with.

(P.S. If you want to know more about my astrology technique check out the Body + Soul Code sessions.)