The Blackened Heart
“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” – Johnny Cash
We have all been there, that quiet, cold, loneliness that threatens to consume your soul. The painful moments when we feel lost and beyond redemption, when we actually listen to the lies of self destruction. Those moments of self inflicted black magic when we turn away from the light and harden our hearts. In that stillness it becomes easy to forget that everything cycles, that everything returns.
My blackened heart was beyond heavy, it was an anchor. A dolmen to which I had chained myself. All the while I believed I was making progress, I was actually walking in circles. Restricting my progress further and further until I collapsed. In that moment I had a vision so clear that it blinded me, woke me to the truth I had so diligently avoided. This blackened heart, a charred relic of what I had once been, was of my own making and only I had the power to heal it.
Like many in my predicament, I sought some scapegoat to sacrifice upon the altar fires, an act of redemption was my goal. Redemption eluded me as swiftly as the Roebuck eludes the heavy footed hunter. Not until I put myself into the flames of forgiveness did I burn away the impurities. This one simple act, to forgive myself and own my mistakes, opened the path of love once more. My blackened heart is not gone, it is a reminder of the dark magics I am capable of inflicting upon myself, however it is now a symbol instead of a rationalization for self avoidance.
The Devil at the Crossroads
“Ran into the devil, babe, he loaned me twenty bills
I spent the night in Utah in a cave up in the hills.
Set out runnin’ but I take my time, a friend of the devil is a friend of mine,
If I get home before daylight, I just might get some sleep tonight.” -Grateful Dead
Scratch, Old Nick, the Devil, Old Hornie, it doesn’t really matter what you call him, he is always there. Like many folks, I met him at the crossroads, not to sell my soul or make a pact, but to gain an ally. That night I had no idea I would meet him there, I had rum and cake, my standard offering, and I went seeking answers. The crossroads is where most of my work happens, both the physical crossroads I leave offerings at and the esoteric Crossroads that lives in my heart. So I traveled to the place where both overlap, where the magic of therapeutic healing happens. The buzzing air around me signaled an unfamiliar presence in that place.
The first thing one needs to know about the Devil is he will not tolerate delusion. He will shatter every false perception you have about yourself. This is not cruelty, it is brutal honesty. The only people who call him a liar are those who fear him, a trickster yes, a liar, no. It is this unrelenting nature of his that makes some fear him, he will not let you off the hook, so to speak. As long as you are content to torture yourself, he is happy to indulge you. This hardness will break you, but you have to breakdown to breakthrough. Once I was able to be honest with myself, he was willing to be straightforward. Fear must be conquered to confront the Devil.
There I was at the Crossroads facing the Devil and in an instant I knew I had gained a freedom that would never leave me. I knew why all the witches of yore worked with him, the soul filled with fear is unsuitable to this work. My preconceived notions about him were all wrong, he doesn’t care if I build a shrine to him or not. It’s unnecessary he assured me, for he is always with us, just like Death. He doesn’t buy souls, why pay for something that dissolves away in most cases, he asked. He will teach me, although I may not always like the lessons, nature of the Beast, so to speak. As a consequence of his friendship, I will see more clearly. This has lead to amazing results.
The Heart Inflamed
“There is no insurmountable solitude. All paths lead to the same goal: to convey to others what we are. And we must pass through solitude and difficulty, isolation and silence in order to reach forth to the enchanted place where we can dance our clumsy dance and sing our sorrowful song – but in this dance or in this song there are fulfilled the most ancient rites of our conscience in the awareness of being human and of believing in a common destiny.” -Pablo Neruda
We are all here to lend each other mutual support. Even in our moments of quiet suffering there are powers, spirits, allies that wait to help us. The difficult part is to reach out, to ask for help. This simple act, of seeking a friendly soul, can seem insurmountable, herculean even. We have all been there, and I believe the only way to keep it at bay is to reach out to others once we have crossed this abyss. The heart inflamed with love conquers all fears, and to hold that place within ourselves for the benefit of others is to keep the flame alive.
PEACE LOVE LIGHT