Vipassana Hot Flash
In Lane's Greenwitch Tarot this is the 4 of Fire
Our Heros dance in the 2 of Fire ["Kundalini"], but sometimes adventure happens sitting absolutely still and letting Kundalini energy rise. Flames that consume but do not burn. Once at a Goenka Vipassana silent retreat I vanished into fire, losing track of time and my aching limbs. I was sure I would find my cushion charred when the session ended. Later I realized my Allies had been present with me: Kali Ma with arms to cut cords and to comfort. Compassionate Kwan Yin on a sliver of moon. The dancing masculine life energy of Shiva Nataraj. And Shaman of Wands (Fire) from the MotherPeace deck. My own Soul Self anchored between my breasts feeling the magic.
The energy of Fire is asking to take you somewhere you’ve never been before. Can you let go enough to allow that to happen? Is there a discipline to help? What do you long for in your heart of hearts?
Now I have the image I want (for part of the painting) – the Kwan Yin in Nancy Burton’s office. She lounges there deceptively casual, a ball held loosely in her hand. As I lay there on the table with an acupuncture needle in my third eye (among other places), I realized she is about to throw that ball of power (as Nancy described it) to me. So now I replay that throw over and over in my mind. Am I practicing? Did she do it right in that minute? Or is it yet to come? Or does it come again and again – new pieces each time I see it.
The Cauldron in my belly.
While having a show of my paintings at the Bay City Arts Center, Helen Hill asked me if I was still having food troubles. When I said yes, she said that she thought it might help me to do the 10 day silent meditation retreat at the Northwest Vipassana Center. It was one of those moments when things just go clink into place. Spirit speaking through a dear friend to give me something I needed.
Tom and I did the retreat in April 2004. There were several points during it when I felt like I was completely immersed in fire. And it was only partly because of my hot flashes. I felt like I must be singeing the people around me and afterwards I surreptitiously checked for char marks on my cushion. I was that hot. And, yes, the process did help my digestive problems in lots of ways. The on-going meditation practice has given me an addition to yoga to focus into my body. Though nothing like the fiery intensity of sitting 10 hours each day on the retreat! Words couldn’t explain that so I picked up my brush, working both larger and more carefully and over a longer period of time than usual to capture the feeling and honor the guides who came to my aid.
I don’t know if the teachers at the Vipassana Center would have approved of some of the beings who were around me in the throes of the fire but it was their presence that got me through it. I don’t know who all of them were. But Mother Kali from India (upper right) is She Who Cuts the Cords. The midwife who knows when we’re ready to breathe on our own. The fiercely compassionate one who sends fire to burn out the old stuck places of our egos – and then dances upon it, bones clanking. I called on her for help throughout.
The Shaman of Wands from the Motherpeace deck (lower right) appeared many times over several months this year to comfort and inspire. Gentle male of steady power. Maori, I think. A Healer. A Guide. Shiva (lower left) – an Indian male god as fierce as Kali Ma. Life Force pushing up the green growing energy. Pele – Hawaiian Fire Goddess (lower middle) - the volcano that burned under and through me. And Kwan Yin from Asia (upper left) who also showed up – flitting, fleeting – on the retreat. She was the hardest to pull together for the painting.