A PERSONAL STORY OF AWAKENING
A PERSONAL STORY
Manipura is the third chakra (from the muladhara) in ascending order, and is located within the susumna at the level of the navel. It is the center of the fire tattva.... The element of fire has the properties of expansion, producing heat, and stimulating the sight-sense of color and form, so the power of seeing (chaksurindriya) and color-as-such (rupa tanmatra) are associated with this center, as well as the power of excretion (payvindriya). The deity of this chakra is Rudra, whose function is the dissolution of the world. Just as fire consumes everything, so Rudra dissolves everything within himself....The qualities associated witih the petals of this lotus are shame, treachery, jealousy, desire, inertia, sadness, worldliness, ignorance, aversion, and fear. The qualities of this lower center are all still negative. Not until we reach the heart chakra do we find a misture of both positive and negative traits. However, if a yogi successfuly meditates on this navel lotus, he acquires the power to destroy and create the world. Gurumayi once said: 'Allow the awakened Kundalini to convert your lower tendencies into virtues... With the grace of the awakened Kundalini, you can meditate on these lower chakras and transform their qualities into virtues.'...So at manipura, for instance, shame can be transformed into honor, treachery into loyalty, sadness into joy, and so on.
The Sacred Power: A Seeker's Guide to Kundalini by Swami Kripananda (c) 1995 SYDA Foundation pps. 93-94
Chapter 5 - Solar Plexus
I have been experiencing pain that is shooting from my perineum to just above my navel. It feels like a knife is trying to slice me open and it lasts for hours at a time. Dr. Wang says it is the yin channels opening and it is particularly painful because of blockages and scar tissue. I contracted Gonorrhea in 1973 from my first husband, Larry. He didnít tell me that he was carrying it; he didnít tell our doctor until I was hospitalized for peritonitis and a ruptured appendix. I wasnít told what had caused these problems until I left the marriage a year later. The doctor was a friend of Larryís and told me later that he, 'didnít want to break up our marriage.í Because of the scarring and infection, I have had five operations and a complete hysterectomy.
April 13, 2000. Tonight I watched a documentary entitled One Girl Against the Mafia. The movie told the story of Rita Atria, a young seventeen-year-old Sicilian woman, who testified against the Mafia - daring to break the Cosa Nostra's code of silence. Her father, brother, and sister were all killed by a warring clan and she decided that she had to speak the truth and "stand up for justice." In the process of speaking to the judges and prosecutors she learned much about her family and had to come to terms with who her father was - not only a man whom she felt loved and protected her - but also someone who had people tortured and murdered. Because of her testimony, many were jailed, even her ex-fiance. The film was based on her diary, and all through her collaboration she wrote of the inevitability of her death. During the time she was testifying against the Clan, the two judges, who were her support and who had the courage to pursue these criminals, were murdered by the Mafia. A few days after the second judge was murdered - a man she called Uncle Paolo - Rita committed suicide.
After Ritaís death in July 1992, groups of women, and then men, began to speak out for the first time. There were marches and vigils held to protest the corruption which had infiltrated the heart of Sicily for so many years. It was a purging of years of secrecy, lies, and corruption. I kept thinking, as I watched the program, How does a seventeen-year-old girl find the courage to stand up to such powerful forces, and how does she know what is right and wrong after living her whole life surrounded by lies?
November 1992. I am going on a pilgrimage to Sicily. It is a few months after Ritaís death - although I know nothing of Rita or the anti-Mafia movement at the time. I want to visit the temples of Demeter and Persephone, the well-known mother and daughter figures of classical mythology. My mother died in August, after suffering from Dementia for ten years. At the time of her death, she weighed 50 pounds and knew no one. I want to take her ashes to Sicily and to scatter her remains in a temple dedicated to Demeter. The mother-daughter relationships in my family feel so wounded - my daughter has been estranged from me for many years, my mother and I had a very uneasy, symbiotic relationship, and she always felt rejected by her mother.
The week after Momís death, I feel drawn to see the film Enchanted April. The movie tells of four English women, in the 1920s, who rent a villa in Italy for a month. This holiday changes all of their lives. The main character, Lottie, sees deeply into people, and through her knowing, and the healing power of that place, each character slowly begins to discover their true selves. I'm hesitant to go to a movie so soon after Momís death, but I feel, for some reason, that I must see this film. At the end of the movie I feel a compulsion to shout into the theater, MY MOTHER HAS JUST DIED. I don't cry out, but I realize for the first time the enormity of my loss.
A few days later, I have this dream: I meet two men who work with the ĎColour Me Beautifulí organization. They show me my colours; they are fuscia, gold, magenta and a burnt orange (the colours of the clothes worn by the women in Enchanted April). They tell me that the swatches of colour will cost one hundred and fifty dollars, but when I take out my wallet to pay them I see I have only one hundred dollars. They wonít accept a Cheque and they tell me to give them all the money I have and that this will be enough. When I reach in to my wallet, I find an Italian Lire behind the dollar bills; it is vibrant, almost glowing, and covered in Ďmy colours.'
A few days before I leave on my trip, I feel the spirit of my mother telling me, ĎIf you want to go to Sicily and see the goddess temples, fine, but donít take me with you.í When she was alive, she was very strong-willed and always seemed to get her way. Early the next morning, I take my motherís ashes with me in the car and drive to the ocean. On the way there, I tell my mother all the things I couldnít say to her when she was alive. When I get to the ocean, the sun is slowly rising. I throw her ashes against the strong wind and watch as they blow across the surface of the water, then slowly sink to the bottom of the sea.
I have been drawn to the myth of Demeter and Persephone for many years. I identify with Demeterís loss of her daughter and with Persephone, as she is pulled into the Underworld by Hades while she was "gaily picking Narcissus" on the shores of Lake Pergusa.
(She)...stretched out both her hands to pick this delightful thing... (and) the earth, wide with open roads, opened up!...she screamed in a shrill voice...but nobody, no one of the immortals, no one of mortal men, heard her voice. The Homeric Hymns
When I was 24 years old I, too, was pulled into the underworld. I married a man who lived in very dark places. When I was preparing to marry Larry, I, too, was screaming - albeit silently - hoping someone might hear me. I began to have severe panic attacks. I told a few people how afraid I was to marry this man, but no one listened or took me seriously, and I didnít, yet, know how to listen to myself. I knew Larry was lying to me and yet I chose to believe he wasnít. Many years after I had left him, a therapist asked me, "Why do you think you chose Larry?" I was confused by his question for I had always felt that Larry had done the choosing and that in some way I had no choice.
Many years later, I read Descent to the Goddess: A Way of Initiation for Women by Sylvia Perara. In it she tells the Sumerian myth of Inanna and Erishkigal. Inanna decides to go into the underworld, but before she goes she instructs Ninshubur, her trusted female executive, to appeal to the father gods for help in securing her release if she does not return within three days. When she arrives at the first gate of the underworld, Ereshkigal, Queen of the Great Below, is furious and insists that Inanna be brought "naked and bowed low." Inanna is killed, and her corpse is hung on a peg where it turns into a side of green, rotting meat. In time, Erishkigal brings Inanna back to life and releases her. However, like Persephone, she must spend half of each year in the underworld. Sylvia Perara says:
The basic yin (feminine) ground...is a constant to which many daughters of the negative father have little or no connection...(She) unknowingly (has) put her negative animus superego first and been overpowered. She is split off from her primal affects, has lost consciousness of them. Yet she falls easily into the underworld as into a vortex, or she follows a beloved man with psychopathic or psychotic tendencies, who can lead her into the depths.
Before I leave for Sicily, I tell the dream about Ďmy coloursí to the Jungian analyst I am working with. She says, "You will have just enough energy (money) for the trip." And then she warns me, "Donít forget the dark side of the Goddess." I really donít know what she means, but I think of my mother-in-lawís words when I tell her about my trip, "Be careful of the Mafia." At the time, I remember laughing at her words.