So, can I dare to surrender to this mountain collapse here in Italy on my land, or will I frantically chase lots of rabbits, to give myself a mistaken sense of being in control?
When I was suddenly bedridden in the UK and unable to walk in my late 30s and the female doctor who came around said,
‘I’m sorry there is nothing the medical profession can do to help you, we can only offer you anti-depressants’,
I was devastated. I told her that I didn’t need medication, I wanted to get out of bed to look after my young children and she sighed empathically but still couldn’t help. No-one could help me back then in the UK and I can still feel the shock of this wake up call now, as I write the words.
Those were the darkest days of my life when I was trapped in my bedroom with the curtains closed, unable to get to the bathroom or hold my beloved children because every system in my body was shot.
I know what total collapse is about, when you lose every role you have from mother, wife, daughter, friend and employee. I had collapsed at the Waitrose check out desk and had to be carried home where only weeks before I had been to the gym and to work as normal. I know the sheer terror of suddenly having no energy to walk or digest any food. I lost everything, pretty much overnight.
No amount of begging prayers will sort these kinds of initiations, these dark nights of the soul. Spiritual emergency periods are just that, they take the time they need to heal, as our reference points are completely shattered. Brutal grace can come to wipe away everything with such huge force it’s hard to believe. But illness is a long time coming, it isn’t an overnight process and neither is the healing journey back to wellbeing. It’s a job for the soul. Sometimes it takes weeks, sometimes it’s months. In my case it was years.
Back then, I had no self reference or inner authority, I looked to the external world for solutions and answers. This was therefore a pivotal point. The doctor couldn’t help, even if she wanted to. Other masculine ones were arrogant and patronising, including my own brother as a doctor, in ways that were so devastating, I could write a book on this alone.
It became clear after a while, that there was no-one coming to save me and in truth, there is no-one now, who can save me here in Italy, from the mountain collapse. I am dealing with a mission impossible just as I was when my body collapsed over twenty years ago. The professionals have let me down, the statistic machines and smart offices made massive mistakes about the Ligurian rock formation, that cost me dearly.
Just as the top medical specialist in Harley Street destroyed my gut flora and digestion with his months of antibiotics and steroids causing me extreme harm. And, I’m not oblivious to the metaphor of my own life, the commune approving everything for the house build but the land having her own unstable storyline, just as my body did all those years ago.
Caroline Myss says that the definition of God is law and that nature is law. The law of gravity for example, stands whoever you are, there is no entitlement and no exception to the rule. Nature is a force that needs to be reckoned with. Our culture is one of rape consciousness and enslavement. We make war with our bodies and with our Mother Gaia, using more and more antibiotics and poisonous vaccines, destroying the land with toxic chemicals, losing connection with the natural order of things and the web of life.
Years on in Italy, I have thankfully woken up in this whole process, as I’ve witnessed the sometimes heavy hand of my inner pusher, perfectionist and patriarch at work. I too have had to change my frame of reference, to come into more humility and alignment with my own body temple and with this beautiful land that I’m called to take care of here in Liguria.
Self love is truly the key, we all know it and yet it is probably the hardest thing we will ever manage. In my case this was a long time coming, due to extreme level of self alienation and self loathing. My own inner patriarch was a fascist and teamed up with my killer inner critic, as a formidable duo, like mad Siamese twins. Most women do not realise that they even have an inner patriarch or shadow king as it’s also known, because we internalise our parental introjects and have all been programmed for so very long.
We all need to return to self acceptance, to the feminine, to the body, to nature, to sexuality and to honour the birth AND death process. Right now I’m being forced to come back into right relationship with all of this, there can be no escape, no running from the devastation outside my own back door. Feeling desperately guilty, for some months since the November terraces collapsing with a landslide, I have felt like a tiny child at the mercy of a huge force and one that certainly does not seem to have my best interests at heart.
Italy has been about shocks, not just the three landslides and smashed yurt in the wind, but other painful experiences, like having my metal gates in the road vandalised two times by wild boar hunters, who were not happy with me stopping their right of passage. The second time was especially scary, as it was clear someone was watching me drive away, because the gates had been unlocked for months and yet this first time I tried to close them again, within two hours someone came and scorched them, so I couldn’t even return to my house.
If I’ve come to heal anything in this lifetime, it’s my boundaries which were violated from the get go. These events that happened in Italy, triggered me deeply and it took weeks for me to recover from each shock. It’s always the same. I don’t feel like I have a skin, endlessly at the mercy of outside influences, both on the physical and subtle planes. This is what I am working with in my shamanic family constellation trainings, healing unresolved individual and generational wounds passed down, that have dis-regulated my nervous system and caused havoc with my health and wellbeing.
Here, now, the same damn story is playing out, this time with the land Herself, beautiful terraces all crashed down in a shocking heap. The parallels are all too clear. I learned to hate and be repulsed by my body, to turn against myself and the feminine generally, so it was inevitable that my relationship with nature later, was one of disconnection in a similar way.
No I’m not responsible for all of this mess, for the incompetence of the professionals, weather conditions and Italian bureaucracy but I do have to be radically accountable for aspects of myself that influence my environment. I have to face my inner punishers, slave driver, saboteur, vampire, pusher and perfectionist and to see the repeat patterns of persecution playing out, whether it’s my body/belly or the body/belly of this sacred land.
Coming to this land some eight years ago, I’ve been changing this distortion, learning how to work more slowly WITH the trees, plants, rocks and land, in a way that isn’t about domination but about honour, devotion and respect. I’m kinder to myself, much more self caring. I’ve changed with my partner and no longer mercilessly push and cajole him because he is the artist and follower, where I am the active strategist.
I’m trying to come into right relationship with myself and therefore with everything around me which is so not easy. I’m a work in progress but I know for sure, if we do not trust ourselves or we do not love the sacred feminine, which starts with our own bodies, we cannot love nature or pretend that we do. And this explains what is happening on our planet right now, we women cannot wash our hands and pretend that patriarchy isn’t part of who we are, most of us have taken on this way of living, as an engrained way of being.
So I’m doing my shadow work, endeavouring to honour my body and my sexuality as part of this deep healing process. I’m returning to the feminine by creating beautiful sacred spaces everywhere, to bring healing and rest to those who come in need. Creating a stunning area above with perfumed roses, helicryseum and oregano which honours the Magdalene path, the Way of the Rose.
And, the more I return to my own animal nature and digest what life is offering me, the more I can be present with the stunning land I am fortunate to be guardian of.
It’s clear that this period is about healing the split in me that still exists.
‘How can I deny this with the mirror collapse of the mountain, the as above, so below?’
‘How can I not see it’s a repeat shock, just as happened with my own body years before, the crippling double binds of black and white, good and bad, health and sickness, life and death.’
The split with two names, Sofia and Hilary. The Bella figura that people play out here in Italy and the Brutta figura meaning the good mask or the horrid one.
Fucked if I do and fucked if I don’t, the madness of the inner parental heads.
Right now, my body and this land are in need of deep healing. We are closed for business. For now, the mountain has spoken and I can’t deny that I’m very scared at the extent of the damage that needs tackling. I have to stop and listen, there is no choice just as I had to, on that fateful day in the UK. I do feel like I’m being punished, that I have sinned, even knowing this is not really true. I feel responsible, crippled with shame about the chaos I’ve created, just as I did when my body gave up, unable to ‘stand my ground’.
Here now, the same fucking mess all over again. The scar in the mountain is huge, the mound of earth, massive like a disgusting bloated belly, hanging out of baggy trousers, distended, wobbly and grotesque. It looks like a pile of vomit with damaged sections of trees, branches and rocks all scattered around, like they were spewed out in fury. On top are hanging crevices precariously perched, that could easily fall with any possibility of rain.
Huge rocks started to fall out in November, one by one every few weeks which was frightening to watch, and the mountain has become more unstable by the day, especially with repeated gale force winds, alternating sun and heavy rain. One of the men helping me made it clear that the mountain had not stopped moving, that more movement was due until SHE found equilibrium.
Finally, unexpectedly, while I was away for two days, he was right, as there was another huge landslide, with three more top terraces and two enormous olive trees ripped out, on the very day that I was releasing intense amounts of trauma, in an advanced shamanic ritual and inter-generational training in Milan.
The same frigging day I kid you not. Eighty Italians working on the resolution of trauma, so profoundly in co-creation, there are no words to describe what happened. At a personal level, I crossed a threshold, released enormous amounts of imploded pre-natal and pre- verbal trauma in my nervous system and staggeringly, this same explosive force, was happening at the very same time on my land as SHE finally came to settle to a resting place as well.
We underestimate the power of who we really are as well as the inter-connectedness of everything since we are all energy and not separate as only physical matter. I know it’s time for me to see just how much intense energy is blocked inside of me because I’ve begun to see how when I touch into deep trauma, during a zoom session with a somatic healer, the internet always gets cut off at the key point when I’m extremely vulnerable and exposed.
Doing healing sessions online is not easy, as one minute there is deep connection with one or more people, the next, the whole system can shut down mid sentence and you are left completely alone. I’ve learnt to see this sudden ‘cut off’ is not a coincidence, it’s happened too many times when working with trauma healers and always resulting in a sense of being suddenly, viscerally severed.
When it first took place, I was so shocked and alone I could barely breathe, panicking that my healer had disappeared leaving only a blank screen. Severe abandonment kicking in. Frozen trauma activated.
Thankfully I clocked the teaching being offered over the months especially since I was dealing with in utero trauma and the loss of my beloved twin in a tsunami experience that rocked my world as a foetus. Here again it was playing itself out in repeat circumstances of the internet, on the land, to help me clear and release unresolved trauma still thwarted in my nervous system.
Finally with this awareness, a I stopped being re-traumatised by the old story, staying disciplined and totally focussed on my breath as well as grounding myself in my body, uncrossing my legs, feet firmly on the floor. Thoughts would kick in and try to change this but I chose to stay absolutely present WITH myself, instead of my energy going outwards with what had happened.
Amazingly as I stopped reacting, the zoom problem stopped as well. Just like that.
Everything is a mirror if we stop to notice and in this case, it not only showed me the power I had to manifest the internet cutting off, to have a physical effect on the technology around me on a regular basis but also the incredible resilience I had, to stay present to myself, regardless of any given situation or drama in my field.
In this way, I am also beginning to trust that the mountain right now, might also be my greatest teacher. Still, even knowing how I’ve come through brutal grace and re-invented myself many times before, I’m still terrified that SHE might continue to collapse with more terraces falling down. I’m not solid in myself yet and it’s desperately hard to step back and have the depth of faith needed with all this shock happening.
Intuitively, I know I am being sorely tested, to see if I have a spiritual backbone and whether I will falter. I recognise that this is about my relationship to my own Higher Self, to see if I trust that I can influence my world instead of endlessly being at the mercy of dramatic events out of my control.
The reality stares at me in my face because there is a sheer drop at the top of the triangle crevice with exposed tree roots and the earth is continually wet from underground water veins creating pressure alongside sunshine and rain beating down at different times. With nothing to hold this top triangle section in particular, the rest of the woods above, could come crashing down and bringing with it a huge telephone pole that belongs to my neighbours.
The water that has been causing such damage, cannot be stopped but it can be diverted away from my land, which is what we eventually do some months later using an excavator and ensuring it ends up in the river bed further along. I see the metaphor with this as well. Staying close to my breath at all times, I too can allow intense emotions but with new resources I can also avoid being flooded and overwhelmed as before. SHE has had her footing taken away by excavators and SHE has been undermined. Underpinning with a strong foundation is necessary. Gentle loving care is vital.
This is my story of trauma too. I breath with HER and ask what SHE needs, as I tune in at the same time, into my own belly and do the same. I have such resonance with HER predicament, nothing in my system feels stable either. The mountainside desperately needs containment from the base upwards. SHE needs strong holding. SHE needs safe touch and tenderness. Just as I do.
Tenderness is exquisite
Potent and gentle
Soft and unyielding
She doesn’t judge
Battered and bruised
She doesn’t fix
But quietly enables
Surrendering your guard
Smiling with innocence
Of shared humanity
This deep resonance
Speaking in tongues
From the One
She softly enters
Plays no roles
Or power games
Requests no glory
And demands nothing
Sitting in pure
Unbounded still presence
Without separating judgement
Or painful projections
Creating deep connection
And total safety
Melting all barriers
Embalming your wounds
She holds you
Completely and utterly
In Mother’s embrace
Don’t underestimate ‘HER’
Speaking with compassion
This unassuming angel
Humbly comes unexpected
With no whistles
No fancy qualifications
Just life experience
Surrendered on knees
From brutal grace
Like grapes trampled
Making refined wine
And Cocoon Goo
Emerging and transformed
Into Butterfly Wings
Perhaps tenderness is
A radiant spark
Of the ONE
Precious and Nourishing
Opening the Heart
Kindling dampened flames
Beaming renewed hope
Igniting new potential
This Alchemic Breath
Expansive and restorative
Returning you back
To your heart
This inner reunion
Subtly and surprisingly
Bringing you ‘Home’