Winter is Coming

by Simon Goland, November 12, 2017

Leaves are falling non-stop, like a magical multi-coloured and multi-shaped rain. The days are also getting shorter, and the air colder. At times, very cold. Given that it is Vancouver, they are also getting quite wet. Winter is coming.

Archetypes is a concept that was brought forward in various teachings and traditions (I know, it looks like a sudden new direction, after barely a paragraph. I will connect the dots). Personally, I am familiar with the revolutionary work on the archetypes and the collective unconscious that Carl Jung pioneered. These teachings found their way into the processes of the Mankind Project, where I believe they were integrated with the indigenous teachings of the Medicine Wheel and the Four Directions. There, the archetype of the Magician is connected to the direction of the West.

While West is associated with the colour black, it is not about “the negative.” Think about the bear who crawls into the cave, to hibernate for the winter. This direction and archetype of the Magician hold the energy of reflection, integration, and incubation. Of completing a cycle, be it a night, Fall, or an end of a phase in one’s life.

Order and wildness dancing cheek to cheek in a vital and necessary dance, informing everything from the way the land branches and splits in an earthquake to the distribution of incomes in a modern economy. Natural systems tend to move toward and find their most vital form at the boundary between chaos and order. Living systems never really settle down. Plants and animals that do settle down in evolutionary terms do not survive for very long. It is as if life is forever trying to keep itself exquisitely balanced on the edge between chaos and order, always about to fall into the imprisoning forces of an overly ordered world on one side and the seductive calls of complete chaos on the other. – David Whyte

This is what these past 16 months are calling me to do as well. A LOT has happened – from cancer of last year, to the transition of Tobi, to closing quite a few “professional doors” to contracts that don’t nourish me any more and don’t give me enough space to bring my full self forward, to the very recent and final completion of everything unsaid and unexpressed with my father; he is at the very end of his life and I’d like to think that I am now truly and completely at peace with “all things father/son.”

One of the main things these days is still grief about Tobi’s transition and the lack of his physical fluffy form. It comes in waves, sudden and unexpected and usually unpredictable, and hits hard and deep. For instance, we were recently in a beautiful restaurant, taking our guests for a lovely dinner. At some point, I went to the washroom, and it hit me on the way there – the previous two times we were at this restaurant, there was someone waiting for us at home. Welcome tears.

In this grieving period, I am learning to live without Tobi’s presence. I have more free time, I engage with various activities, go about my days. I enjoy them, and yet, quite often, feel the sense of the meaninglessness of it all, and how I would trade it all – in an instant – to have Tobi back instead. Even for a moment. Then the waves of grief come back again. The hole that is ever present in my daily life.

Throughout it all, there is a professional transition brewing for me. I continue to be called to listen. Something is coming, and wanting to be born. This something is waiting for me to slow down enough, to complete things, and to open up. I have been closing doors on various professional engagements, primarily in the educational realm. I am working on completing my PhD dissertation, and have 2 chapters left. This is the work of the Right Livelihood Quest and it is clear that it is evolving into something even bigger than before.

Yet, there is something else. Bigger. Deeper. Richer. With a lot more impact than anything so far. I get glimpses, hints of ideas, flavours of dreams, footprints of clues, reflections from my beloved and her wise sight. Nothing tangible or concrete, which means it is not yet time for me to get the clarity of what “it” is. It looks like a growing collection of random pieces of a puzzle, with a loose sense of relevance and not much else beyond the deep knowing that this is the ONLY thing I need to be engaged with right now.

Without black, no color has any depth. But if you mix black with everything, suddenly there’s shadow – no, not just shadow, but fullness. You’ve got to be willing to mix black into your palette if you want to create something that’s real. – Amy Grant

In the meantime, welcome to the wisdom and the presence of the West, the direction of the Magician. I shall keep listening, grieving, and gathering the clues and insights.