Times are tough. That feeling of being caught between a rock and a hard place intensifies, as Mars now inflames the Capricorn planets with its retrograde transit. (see Reality Bites!)
Many are struggling. And I’m really interested in what support we might bring to our struggles.
Creative responses shaped specially for the challenges of this year were explored in Medicines for 2020. Here I offer one more.
Making sense of change as an opportunity to grow.
Making sense of change, as transformation
For me, hidden within any trial that I experience lies the potential of some personal transformation. Buried, like hidden treasure. And I may need to do a lot of digging to bring it to light.
I begin by asking questions. How is this change, by pressing my buttons, pushing me to grow? What is the quality, characteristic, or strength I now need to lean into? In my discomfort, how am I moving beyond an old edge, an old pattern, an old idea of who I am?
The discovery of deeper meaning in answers to these questions can bring solace to my difficulty.
Which does not make any struggle easy or painless, let alone those involving a serious loss, but for me it offers direction and helps the heart to open.
Let’s learn more about transformation, and its hidden bounty.
Change as a rite of passage
Sometimes in life we find that it is time to grow. Whether this is something you choose or is forced upon you by a life event, you feel pressure to change.
A big change is sometimes called a life transition. Or a turning point in life’s journey. I especially love to use the term ‘rite of passage’ to describe a period of transformation because it suggests these qualities:
- big change has a spiritual impact much like a ritual,
- it can be quite an ordeal, and test you in ways that are spiritually demanding,
- you are made different by the experience of going through it.
Initiation and transformation
A rite of passage is an initiation into a new phase of life or a new way of being.
Your character grows through a rite of passage. Ideally, you become someone more mature and wiser.
You may also redefine how you express yourself in the world. Perhaps your profession, your identity, or your lifestyle changes in some significant way.
What is the difference between change and transformation?
For me, change works like the wind, while transformation involves becoming different on a much deeper level. Transformation is evolution. A slow force of Nature.
Like the phoenix arising from the flames, or a snake shedding its skin, or death and rebirth.
With transformation, there is no going back to how things were.
One more difference between change and transformation is that transformation takes time. It is a process. And much like the making of diamonds, it requires pressure.
What does a rite of passage feel like?
If you have been through a rite of passage, as people en masse are doing right now, you know that it begins with a need to change. Maybe because it feels right, or the time is right, or you simply must because life has changed.
Taking a forward step from where you are and moving into the unknown often means facing up to an inner conflict. Because some part of you wants to move on, while another wants things to stay the same. This split sometimes plays out in a struggle with someone else.
Once you do move forward there continues to be a long sequence of tests and challenges. It might also take a long time to find meaning in what you are going through.
Within a rite of passage there is rarely an ongoing sense of comfort or purpose.
Support for a rite of passage
The difficulties of a rite of passage can be tough yet there is help available.
It can be the perfect time to seek out a skilled professional for counselling and wise guidance. Taking on board a mentor is classic strategy for making sense of a rite of passage.
As explored in Medicines of 2020, practicing good self-care is also a must.
And you have other tools also. Astrology, for example, can offer miraculous insight into a big life change, opening your eyes to deeper levels of meaning and possibility.
Most importantly, tapping into your inner wisdom is the real work, whether you are guided by others or not.
In fact, deep in your heart, you know how to get through a rite of passage. Why? Partly because the journey through transformation is a central theme in our storytelling.
The hero’s quest
Stories describing a journey through a rite of passage and spiritual transformation share a meaningful pattern called the ‘hero’s quest’.
The ‘hero’s quest’ is a template for all the stories that tell a tale about a hero who braves a necessary journey, overcomes crisis, and is transformed by the experience. The tests the hero must face along the way symbolise a variety of spiritual dilemmas that are typical of a rite of passage.
The hero’s quest teaches us how to grow through testing times.
Let’s look to one story of the hero’s quest as example, the great saga of the ancient world, Homer’s ‘Odyssey’.
This is the tale of the hero Odysseus and his struggle to journey back home after a great war. The drama of the story has the hero encounter many difficulties. At one stage he must resist the temptation of the siren’s song. At another he must use his wits and keep a cool head if he is to survive attack by the giant Cyclops.
Odysseus must find within himself cleverness, courage, and determination to respond to each crisis as it happens and keep going on his journey. With each test passed he gets closer to home.
The struggle of change
Seeing my life as a hero’s journey honours the difficulties of profound change by revealing how new growth forces the end of an old way of being and turns me to face the unknown. Fear and doubt are part of the journey and I will need my inner hero to have courage.
The hero’s journey also reveals that transformation is a process. It takes time. It involves pressure. And my character will be tested throughout.
Once my difficulties are understood as meaningful, however, they become more than just hurdles to where I think I want to go. This comforts me, and is also useful, as I try to see the wisdom in what is happening for my own growth.
“To have continued the same, life would have been wrong, because it would have been limiting.” – Oscar Wilde
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