Tag Archives: habits

Chuck’s Place: Finding Numen

However it comes…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Behind the scenes in all of us is a force that strongly attracts our attention, a primal something we seek union with. That something, though widely variable in what it attaches to or is reflected in, embodies a numen, what the Romans called the energy of a divine power or presence.

Literally, numen is defined as a nod of the head by a divine presence. In ancient Rome when someone sought guidance they would go to the temple of a god, pose their question and await a nod, some movement that expressed the will of the god, like a gust of wind.

Even in an age dominated by reason, the drive for encounter with some powerful irrational force remains the prime mover and shaker of our lives. One need only look to the headlining quote of the New York Times today, “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” to see an outer expression of the tension, fascination, and tremendum of potential explosive numinous encounter. As the world is spellbound at this current missile crisis, let us turn our attention inward to find  the presence of this numinous encounter in our own personal lives. Locating and working with these encounters within changes the world at a grassroots level.

Numinous encounters are powerful. We experience them with awe, fear and trembling, with thumping heart, blissful ecstasy, compulsion, fascination, urgency, and at times as utter calmness and stillness. A numinous encounter might lift one to the heights of spiritual union or cast one into the depths of trauma.

By definition, trauma is a human reaction to an encounter with a completely unexpected overpowering force greater than one’s ability to assimilate it, which consequently lodges itself in some hidden, fragmentary way within our unsuspecting selves. There it remains buried, perhaps for years, though it continues to exert its terrifying numinous power over the life of its human host.

Only a recapitulation of that traumatic event, which relives and fully assimilates the numinous traumatic encounter, can relieve an individual of its binding fixation, allowing for deeper, more fulfilling numinous encounters to occur in life.

Numen at the lower energy body centers in the human body, from the root to the solar plexus, offers access to divine union with the material fixations of sex, security, power, and substance.

Such numen might draw us back to the blissful experience of symbiotic union in the womb of mother, prior to our being planted as an individual in this human realm of earth. Thus, the ocean, with its mesmerizing rhythm and pulse, may draw us to re-union with this primal experience and rejuvenation in the numen of a beach vacation.

Some might pursue that same numen through the substance of alcohol or the needle of opiate as the ticket to that lulling oceanic bliss within. Addiction is the fixation of numen upon an object, which is why it is so difficult to dislodge. Bill W., AA co-founder, realized in his own numinous encounter with God that it was only an encounter with a power greater than oneself that could dislodge a numen from the substance it had attached to.

Numen frequently attaches itself to food. The ecstasy of binge, of purge, of refusal are all numinous dances with divine power ensconced in food. Reason is no match to dislodge numen from this encounter, to the dismay of family and loved ones. Only a humbled ego, saturated with many a groundhog day of ecstasy and futility, may be ready to move on to deeper numinous experiences beyond the mana of food.

Sexuality is another powerful fixation of numen in the lives of human beings. Freud must be credited with identifying this numen, as it first fixates in the primal family, as an overarching factor in the development of the personality, and of civilization as well. Enduring attachment to the primal family can result in great struggle in finding fulfillment beyond the relationships in the family.

The fixation of numen on one’s parents can result in a lifetime of bemoaning the emotional and material sustenance that one needed and felt entitled to as a child. Numinous energy can become caught here in the torment of regret, resentment, anger, and powerlessness. This can result in a numinous, passionate obsession with unfairness.

The fascination, urging, and compulsivity of the numen of sexuality might find abstract relief in the web of internet opportunities or instantaneous union through online dating. The numen of sexuality may remain ensconced in the flesh alone or find its way to loving connection freed of or in combination with its biological imperative.

Obsession with merger with another in relationship may become the dominating numen of a lifetime. However, in many instances the numen for personal power trumps the concern for love or connection. For instance, the numen of union with the divine might transmogrify into the conquest and accumulation of countless partners, an unending quest to posses more of everything.

The numen of unlimited power can attach to money, material possession, or political dominance. Underlying this numen is merger with infinity and the boundless, characterized by an insatiable quest for unlimited growth and acquisition. The substances that might attach to this power numen are alcohol, which melts away boundaries and limitations, or cocaine and methamphetamine, drugs that transform ordinary human attributes into super powers.

Numen at the higher energy body centers in the human body, from the heart to the crown, offer access to divine union beyond the material fixations of sex, security, power, and substance. Numinosity at this level is energetic union beyond the confines of the body, which is achieved through spiritual practices such as meditation and shamanic dreaming. Alcohol and hallucinogens can become the numinous trappings for seekers at this level as they suspend the defenses which keep the psyche cohesive and expose it to other configurations of reality that may be benevolent or shattering, a bad trip from which one may never return.

As is evident from this sampling of possible numinous engagements, some can promote growth and evolution, while others can be lethal. Once a numinous attachment sets in it can seem impossible to break it, such is the power of this religious hunger. We do best to see the attachment as just that, a religious rite, as reason is no match for compulsion.

Finding out how we personally do our numinous rites in our lives is essential if we are to become truly conscious and aware beings. If we can bring consciousness to, and respect the power of these numinous unions, we can then decide if we are where we truly need or want to be. Have we engaged the right numen?

Ego does have the power to agree to engagement with numen or to refuse it. To refuse a numen is to bear tremendous tension and suffering, however, it can be done. And ultimately, if we refuse that which is not right, the path will open to that which is right.

Finding numen,

Chuck

Soulbyte for Friday March 10, 2017

Something is a habit when it is done repeatedly in an unconscious manner. To break a habit requires nerves of steel, not to avoid the habit but to remain conscious of all that you are doing. To remain conscious is warrior training of the highest level. To slip out of consciousness is to lose awareness of what you are doing and thus habits ensue. With nerves of steel remain conscious and aware of all that you do, and then see what happens. That is the warrior’s way.

-From the Soul Sisters, Jan & Jeanne

A Day in a Life: Habits

The wrens are back and so we know that the weather will now be milder. They’ve moved into one of the bluebird boxes, crammed it full of sticks and straw, and wake us each morning with their noisy, boisterous chatter, so loud for such tiny birds. The other bluebird box has been occupied by a pair of bluebirds for several weeks now. They came in March and we watched them flit about checking where to nest for quite a while before they decided on the box furthest from our deck. It’s an annual event around here, waiting to see who will occupy which nesting box.

The predators will come...

The robins have also returned in force. Though we can’t be sure, it appears that the same robins are building nests in the same areas again. I am fascinated by their ability to forget what transpired in the years before. The robin family that got devastated by a snake creeping up the small ornamental maple and snatching all but one of the fledglings has moved back into the same tree. Go figure!

Another set of robins made a nest under the deck last year and have done so again, in spite of the fact that they were quite upset at our backyard activities and spent the greater part of the summer contending with us humans. This year they have moved even closer to the backdoor and every time it’s opened the mother flies off the nest in a screaming panic. We had watched the nest building along the main beam there for a few weeks as several decoy nests appeared before the final one was completed.

We’ve noticed how birds never fly directly to their nests but have a way of deflecting attention by taking circuitous routes, but once they set up their flight path they never vary. Go figure that one as well! It’s not that hard to find their nests at all.

On the other hand, I am so grateful for nature trusting us by repeatedly coming to our yard. We have made it comfortable and inviting, nothing is discouraged or turned away, everything is acceptable, that’s just the way it is—Oh, except for the poison ivy! But overall, it’s been gratifying to have front row seats to the unfolding of life, to watch the comings and goings, receiving valuable lessons on a daily basis.

Habits is one of the lessons that comes to mind as I watch these annual nest buildings. Even nature has habits and behaviors as potentially harmful as we humans do, so I don’t feel so bad. Picking the same spot to nest year after year, in spite of what has come before, suggests that all of life has the same tendency to forget, to stay with the known, to just do what generations have done in spite of the known risks. We humans do the same.

As I watch the birds reacting to imminent danger, I find myself appreciating their immediate response, often a shriek or cry and then nervous fear, just like us. Flying about in a panic before finally deciding to attack is quite often the case, seeking to deflect attention from the nest by creating a fuss, but once the predator has its eyes on the nest no amount of fuss will draw it away. The tender young are more inviting than the distraction of a fight with the parents. A predator will do what it can in order to get what it wants, just like us.

Are the birds really that ignorant, forgetful, self-deceptive? Are we? Yup, I think so. Along the lines of making changes in our own lives, we too must contend with the forces of nature, both inside and outside of us. As we seek to shift ourselves out of our usual patterns of behavior and attempt to do something really different and evolutionary, we find that our foes are often as formidable as the predator coming to steal from the robin’s nest. Such a foe is not easily distracted.

Nature, at least nature in my back yard, shows me each year that it has a plan and it sticks to the plan, no matter what. It has enough energy that it can afford to lose countless chicks and whatever else to the predators that will naturally come seeking sustenance and it will continue to produce life in the same manner—no matter what. It goes on doing what it has been doing for eons. We humans, however, have something else in us that makes us stop and look at ourselves, our habits, our tendencies. We have something that makes us question our behaviors, something that says, “hey, stop that, do it differently,” and this is what gets us in trouble, but what also evolves us.

Nature in balance...

Nature evolves slowly, very slowly. Man evolves quickly, very quickly by comparison. As I write this, I look out the window and see the pesky squirrel digging up yet more of the peas I have planted. I am guilty of habitually doing what I see the birds doing and the squirrel predator has obviously been watching me as closely as I watch the birds. Last year I was quite successful in getting my peas planted undetected and we had a good crop. This year I have been planting and planting only to discover, each morning, that something has been digging up the nice plump pea seeds and leaving deep holes in the soil. I have suspected a squirrel and yet I have just gone on planting, thinking that the squirrel will forget about my peas after a while. But today I see that there is no way that squirrel will forget, for it is nature doing what nature does best, returning and doing the same thing over and over and over again. I guess that bodes well for nature, but it does not bode well for my pea crop this year!

Rather than fighting nature, I’m letting the squirrels have the peas. I’ll settle for other crops that are coming in nicely, planted a little earlier because of the warm spring. It looks like I will have enough food from my garden this year. I can share some things with nature because I just don’t need more than I can consume. I don’t need abundance; I just need enough.

In the meantime, I ponder my own evolution. Am I really doing anything different? Am I just another creature of nature and habit? Do the birds and squirrels have an inner world as rich as my own? Are we humans really all that unique? In the end we are all of us—birds, squirrels, humans—just different forms of energy, inhabiting this world for a time, but I am intent on maintaining my awareness beyond this world, and so I remain alert to what is around me, aware of the passage of time and the seasons, habits and processes, learning what I can.

The Shamans and the Buddhists suggest that we use our time to hone our awareness, using both our waking time and our dreaming time to prepare for our evolution from this life, so that we can learn to stay awake when we die and not miss a thing. We are all beings who are going to die, but in the meantime we are also all beings who are offered the opportunity to truly live and grow our awareness. How we elect to do that is extremely personal and it can take us a long time, the natural time it takes for us to reach a level of awareness that life is more than just what meets the eye.

There will always come a time when we have to make a decision. Do I return to the same place and do the same thing all over again, knowing full well the consequences of my actions, or do I do it differently? As humans we can change any time we want, simply by doing so; by choice and will and patient practice we can change. Change takes action and acquiescence, acceptance and daring, letting go of something while embracing something new. There is always a give and take. Sometimes we might think we are losing something precious but we discover, eventually, that we have gained something even more precious, but it’s only in taking action that we will discover this.

During this time of year, the pagan feast of Beltane—of nature’s passing from one time of year into another, of birth and rebirth—is celebrated, but in reality we have the opportunity to rebirth ourselves into new life at all times. It’s pretty daring to be that way, to confront both the self and the world, asking for new life.

Like the foxes...just passing through...

Although Jeanne and Infinity, in Monday’s channeled message, suggested that the world is far-gone now, I did not feel that meant nature, but only that it meant the world man has created. Nature, as I see every year, will continue doing its thing, just as we will. But, as conscious humans, we have the opportunity to do our thing differently, because in the end it’s our world that is now impacted rather than nature’s world. Perhaps it’s time to admit that we just didn’t get it quite right, to take stock of what we really value and really change now how we live.

Can we live in symbiotic balance with nature, knowing that there will be enough for us? I know that I will survive on what is in my yard, that flowing with nature means that I must stop fighting it and stop taking from it. It means being as simply and straightforwardly natural as the critters in my yard, by giving and taking with full human awareness that I am only passing through.

Just deciding how to live and give, most humbly thankful and grateful for all that I have,

Jan