...a Guiding Light to Break Free
Continued from And in the Dark there was a Spark...
And then I found the healing salve of myths and archetypes. A small hidden door into a world that filled my life with purpose and meaning. They were the gateway back to my imagination, back to my soul. Particularly, the myths of Underworld goddesses felt aligned with my journey in addiction and recovery. In Greek mythology, Persephone is dragged down to the Underworld against her will. In Sumerian myth, Inanna goes willingly into the Underworld to be stripped naked of everything she had and everything she was. In many ways, I can understand the need to go down into the Underworld to face what we may not be willing to face and the desire to bring this to the Upperworld, world of consciousness. But what if it is as Hillman said, that "part of us always lives there?"
But the myth that gripped me the most was Hecate, Greek goddess of the Underworld. She isn’t dragged down there, she doesn’t go there, she simply is there. She’s there without a male consort, husband, or other. She’s just kicking it by herself and handling shit. When I first happened upon Hecate’s story, I was blown away. She’s rarely talked about and stories are hard to find. Not only is she the Goddess of Magic, Night, and the Moon but she’s also mentioned in Persephone’s story as her guide. The Underworld can also be a metaphor for death and destruction, which leads to rebirth and transformation. Not a literal death, but the parts or ways in which we need to die, to let go of, to start new. It’s as if Hecate is the keeper of the crossroads, those moments in life when you just don’t know what the fuck to do or where the fuck to go. She’s just chilling with her torches to light the way, unlocking secrets with her keys, connecting to new paths with her rope, and cutting through all the bullshit and lies with her dagger in hand.
These myths led me to my dissertation research.
Breaking Free & Reprogramming
I had been doing research on my dissertation into the many models and theories of addiction. Physician and author Dr. Gabor Mate’s renowned work in the field of addiction is one who sparked my curiosity. He likened addiction to a kaleidoscope in that, “Addiction has biological, chemical, neurological, psychological, medical, emotional, social, political, economic, and spiritual underpinnings—and perhaps others I haven’t thought about. To get anywhere near a complete picture we must keep shaking the kaleidoscope to see what other patterns emerge.”
Research studies in epigenetics (the study of how your behaviors and environment can cause changes that affect the way your genes work) and neuroplasticity (the brain's ability to modify, change, and adapt both structure and function throughout life and in response to experience) were also very fascinating to me. Synchronistically, around this time, I heard a podcast with Jonathan Van Ness and Dr. Adi Jaffe, “Getting Curious" Episode #67, where they talked about Dr. Jaffe’s book, “The Abstinence Myth.” A book where he talks about his own experience as an addict and years of research with clients & families in the addiction field. His book “breaks free from outdated explanations and rigid ‘rules’ for recovery, moving away from shame & judgment.” Which deepened my curiosity and research. I had spent 15+ years ‘doing the work,’ deep inner work and inquiry, that I truly did feel like a whole different person.
So, in Oct 2019 at a friend’s wedding, I decided to have a couple glasses of champagne and a very small watered down glass of wine (Insert overwhelming guilt, shame, and fear here). The world didn’t end. I didn’t wake up wanting to drink or run and grab an eight-ball of coke, or go stick a needle in my arm. What did happen is what I’ve come to call, “creating a new relationship with substances.” To say, “experimenting,” doesn’t really encompass my journey and for some reason that word makes me cringe.
A New Journey
It’s been more than two years now and I’m FINALLY feeling (sort of) comfortable enough to put it out there in writing. I enjoy a drink now and then, but also finding ways to incorporate cannabis in my life- for fun and medicinally. I’ve had a couple/three times when I really pushed my limits too far and paid for it with horrific hangovers. Let me tell you, being hungover for the first time in 17 years is no fuckin joke. Plus, I can’t stand being so high or drunk that I can’t function. Mostly, I just enjoy a drink (hard kombucha is what I mostly drink, some hard ciders and wine) or two at home. I have some edibles, ranging from 2.5mg to 10mg and can take about 5mg without being shot out.(Big thanks to California for legalization!) I have a few THC, CBD or combo vape pens and take a couple puffs when I feel like it. Microdosing THC has helped my anxiety, at times gives me energy when my chronic fatigue is high (great for when I need to clean the house), and lessens my chronic pain.
I even took psilocybin on the Winter Solstice. Only the 2nd time in my life, the 1st was over 20 years ago. But that’s a story for another time. Let’s just say I won’t be trying that anytime soon but we have some microdosed capsules from a friend that I wouldn’t mind trying.
It’s most definitely been a trip, pun intended, this journey of life with moderation. (Oh, I even did a web search for ‘moderation coach’ because I thought I could help others in this way. Turns out it’s a total, legit thing being practiced and offered… NOT my original idea, HA!).
These past two years (and even still now) I battled those deeply embedded internal messages that one day I will go back to active addiction, throw the last 18 years away, and either end up in jail or dead. Those voices, which were once screaming banshees in my mind, are now (for the most part) occasional passing thoughts. They don’t grip me with terror, but I still have periods of Doubt and Questioning. The latter of which, I feel, is a more healthy response to my behavior and keeps me in check in a way. I still consider myself as sober, a topic of GREAT controversy (just look up #californiasober, coined by Demi Lovato to describe her own journey with moderation at the time). I’m not creating chaos from my using, I’m not obsessing about how I’ll get my next fix (Though the guilt obsession is real), and my life isn’t out of control because I’m ‘using.’ I don’t indulge to numb out, escape, or hide. My motives feel entirely different than that.
I’ve since told my family of my journey. It was met with some resistance, very rightfully FUCKING SO, but mostly met with their trust and support in my decision. I’ve been open and honest with those closest to me and now with whomever finds themself reading this right now.
Looking back to that day, March 20th, 2004, it's no coincidence it was the Spring Equinox and a New Moon in Aries, when the Moon is at its darkest but it's the beginning of the lunar cycle. So, while there's a sense of new beginnings, there's also an energy of finality. At the New Moon, we take the opportunity to re-center, reflect, and re-member. Paying attention to what life is asking of us. We use the darkness to tap into deep insight.
Like Spring season in the Northern Hemisphere awakens the breaking ground for the buds to push through, so does our consciousness awaken to the potential of a new spark of the Aries New Moon. In an Aries New Moon, we fire up our passions, we reignite the creative spark, and we burn bright with motivation. The fire can burn the dead brush to clear the path forward and also reactively burn out of control.
It was the eve of the start of Aries season, the Zodiacal New Year. Think of it as the New Year's Eve/Day of the Zodiac. A time to put forth fiery action, to step into leadership, and plant seeds for new beginnings.
On this day, there were some impactful transits (relationship between the physical motion/ actual location of planets and location of the planets when I was born) and aspects (angles that planets make to each other) to my natal chart (picture of the sky at the exact time/place when I was born). More on that in a bit.
For some context, I want to talk about chart rulers. One way of looking at the ‘rulership’ of one’s chart is starting with the ruling planet of the ascendant/rising sign and any aspects to the ASC and that ruling planet. For me, my ASC is Taurus, which is ruled by Venus. Then we look at where Venus is in my chart. My natal Venus is in Virgo in the fifth house. Thus making Venus/Virgo the ruler of my chart and any aspects it makes are potent.
*Click the drop down arrows for more...
Planet of beauty & aesthetics; it's our likes/dislikes, what we're pulled towards or pushed away from, how we give/receive love, relationships we want to attract, what we value as beautiful/aesthetic).
Aspects to my natal Venus:
Trine midheaven and North node.
Square Saturn/Gemini (Saturn makes an inconjunct to Mercury/Scorpio: meaning all of this is even MORE connected).
Mercury is the planet of the mind, communication, and thoughts. It’s how our minds take things apart and put them together again. It's how we communicate, perceive, receive, conceptualize and express information. Mercury governs technology, transportation, and traveling. It’s the way we intellectually interact with others.
Saturn upholds structures & systems, loves boundaries, and drops the reality check with a swiftness. It's our psychological need for limits & laws. It's our inner authenticity & inner authority. Its shadow form is expressed as rigidity, disappointment, and pessimism.
Any transit over my ASC would trigger the energy of Venus, Mercury, and Saturn with an added focus of Mercury & Saturn.
But we also look at aspects made by my ASC, and for me, my Moon/Taurus because it’s so close:
Which means any transiting Jupiter activates all of the above!
Jupiter energy draws our focus back from the intrinsic details of life to the immense depth and breadth of the world. Jupiter is the planet of expansion of feelings & emotions but also new territories & explorations, and broader meanings, often presenting opportunities. Jupiter is our active need for purpose, belief, and hope. In its shadow forms, Jupiter energy tends towards superiority, self-righteousness, excess, and restlessness.
On this day:
Transiting Jupiter conjunct natal Venus and trine natal Moon & ASC.
Transiting North Node conjunct natal Moon & ASC and opposing natal Mercury; Transiting Neptune square ASC;
Planet of consciousness itself. It's the archetypal mystic, weakening barriers between conscious & unconscious. Neptune energy refuses to accept the limitations of the world. Sensitivity & spirituality increases. In its shadow state there's a tendency towards escapism, confusion & addiction.
The Moon represents how we nurture, how we express feelings, and how we intuit. It’s connected to our unconscious processes, instinctual nature, and deep psychological patterning.
18 years is a long fucking time and space from where I was then, longer than I was in ‘active addiction.’ I’m forever grateful for all I’ve learned along the way; for those who crossed my path to inspire me or show me something I need to grow from; for continuing to evolve and be open to doing things differently; and for what is yet to come…
Below are some links to resources if you or someone you know needs help-
- SAMHSA: Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration- https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline IG: @samhsagov
- IGNTD: https://www.igntd.com IG: @igntd.me
American Addiction Centers: https://recovery.org
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): https://nida.nih.gov