Black Madonna Pilgrimage, Day 8

Today were unfolded the four Alchemical Transformations, and I bring my own understanding to each.  More questions, really, than answers…

  • Negredo – Gestation in the dark of the womb, and return to the dark of the tomb: the boundary between embodiment and spirit, time and eternity. Mysterious of blackness, redolent of dirt, dark, chaos. Holy shit, if you will.
  • Albedo – Birthwaters and moonlight. Silvery white and the baptism of tears. A time of intense emotion.
  • Citrinitas – Childhood, daylight: Golden sunlight, clarity and insight.
  • Rubedo – Unification of the Divine and the Human: Bloodred, coming of age: the child becomes the mother. Rebirth…

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I am struck to find the story of my last few years written for me in color. I am now/again in the places, time-travelling, rewriting a story of pain into a pathway of transformation, leading me to the Black Madonna.

The Crucible

Mister Man and I had a plan in 2012, and a very good plan it was. We would marry in early 2013, then start a two-stage cross-country move from California to Massachusetts. My elder son was about to begin his freshman year of high school, so I would go first, securing a home and and a job in the summer of 2013 while Mark provided financial support for my move. Mark’s son had one year left in high school, so Mark would follow when his son had graduated, and I would provide the transition support for Mark’s move. 

On paper, it was a perfect plan.

Negredo

In January 2013, Mister Man was in New York putting the finishing touches on a new office for his employer’s business. In preparation for my move to Massachusetts just a few months later, we decided it was time for Mister Man to meet my family and we scheduled a few appointments to look at possible home rentals. 

I arrived in New York to find everything dissolved into chaos: while he was in New York, his supervisor had contacted him to say they needed him back in California on Monday…to orient the very person they had hired to replace him.  They offered him a severance package that was a fraction of what had been previously promised, and his employment with them would end just 2 months later. 

The engagement party my sister had planned for us turned into a complete embarrassment of a missing bridegroom, and Mister Man, who had been teetering on the edge of a bottle, fell right in.

The Chaos deepened as our well-planned cross country move turned into a leap of faith. We left in the middle of the school-year, exhausting the last of our financial resources with the fortuitous purchase of a home in July 2017. 

Over the course of the next year, we struggled to make ends meet on my income working just 10 to 30 hours a week, combined with what credit I could access through a home equity loan and a couple of credit cards. The family I had crossed the country to rejoin evaporated: my parents disowned me for religious reasons, and my sister – just 3 years after moving home to Massachusetts – decided it was time to rejoin her husband in Cairo, Egypt. Despite my intense efforts to find full-time work, by January 2014 we were a double-unemployed family and Mister Man was deep in the grip of an alcoholic depression. Then in April 2014, Mister Man suffered a heart attack and nearly died.

Albedo

In May 2014 I started a new job…exactly the job I had hoped to avoid having to take. Forced by necessity to settle for the depressing familiarity of mid-level assistant work, I made of it a refuge from the worse chaos that continued to rage at home. I turned to books, because people had become unsafe: I could not justify to others my choice to hold this family together. I had been judged and I retreated from the judgment. It was just too much.

Truth be told, my choices seemed to be impossible even to me: “take charge” and destroy my family, or let it go and watch everything  be destroyed by Mister Man’s maelstrom of self-loathing. I was truly baptized in my own tears, drowned and brought back to life. I had never felt so utterly alone.

I turned in this time to the Red Madonna, with its painting by the cycles of the moon. I read A Course in Miracles and pondered what it would be to deal with these problems from a place of Love instead of a place of Fear. I read and reread Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now, and I learned to be present to my own self, my own experience, with compassion and acceptance. To not judge my anger or my fear or my pain, but to accept it, and to extend the same acceptance to Mister Man in his struggles.  Still the tears collect at the back of my throat as I recall and write this.

The blackness receded and I was left in a light drizzle of rain like a gentle summer rain, and slowly a light began to break through the darkness…

Citrinitas

The movement from Albedo to Citrinitas was a longer process. In tiny ways I began to intentionally shift my awareness from Chaos & Fear to Light & Love. I especially remember so many times sitting with Mister Man, going round in circles with both him and with myself, struggling to understand…

What would Love ask of me to do now, in this Impossible moment?

Sitting with Rilke’s admonition to “love the questions themselves,” I learned to sit patiently with this question. It was a big deal at first simply to refrain from acting from Fear, but slowly I discovered that doing so created a place of peace within me. Eventually, I began to discern a new voice in that quiet space.  But at first it was all I could do to witness my Fear and not go to battle with it, or worse yet, let it turn me to its own purposes. 

I became more comfortable with not-knowing, and the golden light of a new awareness did indeed begin to illuminate my inner landscape, and shine light I could follow in my outer path.

Rubedo

I felt the Red Thread tug very strongly throughout this time. From the very moment I learned of the Color of Woman school, I felt strongly called to that discipline. However, for a long while I was prevented from following it. Indeed, my failure to step onto that path earlier this year threw me into another cycle of alchemical transformation of Negredo/Chaos, Albedo/Baptism, Citrinitas/New Awareness and at last to the very threshold of integrating all the Crucible has taught me. In 2018, I will join the Color of Woman school, knowing full well it will bring its own cycles of Alchemical transformation.

But a little red sun has been born within me now, and never again can I be without its light.

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