Re-configuration time

Scientists are once again combing the world for with the intention of finding a specific drug for what is perhaps a symptom of the world’s disregard of natures’ laws.”  Yvette van Wijk “First Aid with Herbs. Published in 1990. ”  This was not referring to the novel Coronavirus, it was referring to AIDS, which was the big news then.  She goes on: “Early man suffered many of the illnesses we suffer from today, as well as a very hostile environment with its fair share of stress.  What modern, Western man has lost, is that sense of oneness with the earth and the cosmos. We think we have conquered our hostile environment and can live within but separate from it. Today it is mankind who is fighting for life- we naively thought we had conquered it but are now realizing that we cannot control it any more than the dinosaurs could.  So a little holistic thinking is definitely called for.  What we must not do in this over-industrialized, synthesized, silicon-chip, plastic world of ours, is to feel there is nothing we can do as individuals.”  Van Wijk goes onto explain that First Aid is self-help.  “We can use both the natural medicines of the past and the modern medicinal discoveries and technologies of the present, it would be stupid to ignore either and deny ourselves the best of both.”  Explains Van Wijk.

In this intense time of extreme polarities and paranoia, it is very important to ground ourselves and remember who we are and that we are still part of nature.  We are reflections of nature and nature reflects us too.  What feels like an apocalypse has been occurring on earth.  Although this is not the first time.  There have been many events like this, but right now this Coronavirus outbreak and lockdown feels like the end of the world, it is the end of an era, a major shift has come and we needed it.

There are many factors converging, they are sweeping through at a surprising rate and we have to breathe through it.  I personally have been a mess of emotion as I have found myself working through a lot of trauma and stress reactions that have been coming up for me.  It’s very easy to be triggered by the sense of captivity one experiences in a lockdown.  I haven’t taken to it well.  The idea of being restricted on any level is very frightening and easily gives rise to feelings of paranoia and mistrust.   We are locked down with our thoughts and fears with no escape except into our screens where we are washed with a deluge of information and predictions and warnings, many conjuring more fear, with all the scary stories flying at us like a swarm of bats out of the cave of our screens.  One has to sort and sift the stories, one by one.  This requires a steady calm mind, but it’s so easy to be triggered and fall into fear.  The fear and feeling of deep dread that arises in the night are worse than the virus.  Between them, they steel one’s sleep and one’s sanity.

We have lived for weeks, locked up in a strange slow time of inertia.  The whole world at once.  No trains, no planes, no automobiles.  We have come to know the quiet relief of no traffic jams, no traffic noise, only birds talking bird language to each other about how the humans have gone away and now it’s their time to play.  Who would have thought this could ever happen? This event has forced us to change our behaviour for the first time in a very long time.  It has stopped industry and traffic all over the world.  For the first time since anyone can remember, people looking up at the horizon from the hustle and bustle of a once crowded city in India can see the Himalaya’s.  There is a kind of enlightenment with seeing a mountain range appear which before had been obscured by fog.  A new kind of connection.

However, with enlightenment comes the polar opposite- shadow work. We are told to stay home.  So we must go within.  Go within and face our own demons, yet we tend to conjure up more demons and reasons to be afraid.  It takes discipline not to be sucked by that dark undertow.  Just be with what is there and feel it and allow it to flow.  Open the windows, and clear out the clutter.  Detox.  Drink water, cleanse.  Sweep the floor, wash the walls, sort out your stuff, go through the old difficult matters you may have been putting off.  We have to feel them and understand them and let them go.

The scary stories of not enough.  The stories of hunger and death.  The stories of dreaded totalitarian dictatorships and losing sovereignty over your own personal freedom.  You go for a walk to the sea and you lookout and feel that you are breaking the law for going and staring at the sea in the empty carpark, on the dead beachfront, which used to be full of people having fun…

I ask myself, as I did this evening: when did I lose the right to stand at sunset and stare at the sea?  Who took that away?  Am I just being paranoid?  Yes, there have been stories of people being arrested for standing on their pavements. However, nobody can take my right to stand at the ocean and be still.

Surfers Corner, Muizenberg Beach front.  Empty on a perfect day.

Being locked down makes everything so stark and clear.  We have been forced to face up to things we have been avoiding and letting go of what is holding us back and does not serve us to believe anymore.   When we let go of the old story, we find ourselves in the “Place between stories.”  As my favourite modern philosopher Charles Eisenstein calls it. The place between stories is quite daunting.  It may be a place one has avoided for some time.  It’s the place where we have no choice but to face oneself and look at the framework and the source of the stories and beliefs that keep one behaving in the ways that we do.  Stuck in old patterns. We find our selves alone with nothing todo but face the fear from which some of our beliefs stem, such as the fear of lack and the fear of punishment.  This means having to look at past trauma.  It is shadow work.

Facing one’s shadows is very painful. In the magical nursery story, Peter Pan had trouble with his shadow.  It did not stay with him.  It kept running off without him.  Peter Pan was a child.  He never wanted to grow up.  He was a lost boy.  He needed a bit of help with his shadow.  So he asked his friend Wendy to help him sew it back on.  Sometimes we need help.  Sometimes we have to ask a friend.  Make a call.  “Ask, and you shall receive.” (as Jesus said).  That is taking responsibility for yourself, that is a grown-up thing to do.  Sometimes we find the help we need just by looking for it with clear intention.  It comes quickly then.   You pick a book out of the bookshelf and there it is.

There are plenty of stories circlulation  which create a sense of dread.  But we don’t have to be victims. We do have resources, we can care for our own health and treat simple ailments with remedies from the garden.  For example, an onion poultice- made from a half a cut-up onion wrapped in a dishtowel against one’s chest is helps heal pneumonia.  A woman in England explained earnestly on a video she made on her phone, how she found a herbal remedy book in her kitchen.   She was isolated in a British city and became ill with what she strongly suspected to be the Coronavirus. (Although she was unable to get medical help or a test and was told to sit it out at home.) “I did not want to be another emergency case, “she anounced.  So she found the recipe book and used the onion poultice method to treat the painful chest infection. It drew the pain out with immediate effect. “I felt like I was backed up in a boxing ring with this illness.”  She said.  She had to fight for her life and she was resourceful.   I am not saying that onions are the cure for the coronavirus, but this is something you can do yourself to fight the infection.  It’s a form of self-help- and it’s first aid using affordable resources to take action in extremely frightening circumstances.  Here’s a link to an onion poultice recipe.  Although in the video, I saw, the woman just used raw chopped onions.  I think heat would help too, so raw chopped onions in a clean dishcloth with a hot water bottle on top.  She put it directly against the skin on her chest.  Steaming the chest with herbs also offers huge relief for congestion.  There is a recipe for steaming on the same website link above.  I use herbs from my garden instead of essential oils for steaming the chest, boiled up in a pot.  I have Lavender and Pelargonium, which are excellent.  Eucalyptus and Wilde Else are even better if you have them.  Sit over the pot, with towls over your head and shoulders to trap the steam and breathe it in.

We all have the power to save ourselves. It’s natural to feel helpless and alone and at the mercy of the virus and or the authorities who are imposing restrictions on us, not to mention economic uncertainty and scarcity of having ones income disrupted.   Yet, despite all this, the light within belongs to you.  Know that nobody can take it away from you unless you actually give it away.  We can give our power away either by believing in monsters and by being uninformed.  Both are naive things todo.  Being a grown-up means being response-able.  Being response-able means being aware and prepared to see everything including the shadow within and the shadow without and not giving your power away to any of it.  This means being realistic but we create our own reality.  This is the duality.

So what if you are alone in your lockdown and you start to feel unwell?  How do you know if it is something you can treat yourself, and when to call a professional?  “If we are aware of our bodies, our feelings, and their needs and idiosyncrasies, we will know when it is necessary to seek help from a qualified doctor if in doubt, do!”  Says the herbal first aid book by Yvette van Wijk, I found on my bookshelf.  How many of us are keeping track of our feelings and needs and the subtleties of what is really going on?  It’s a very confusing time. In our search for truth it is essential to listen to our instincts and a use our common sense.  Returning to the commons, finding our sovereignty and remembering who we are all ways to feel rooted again. Being in tune with these requires letting go of all the input and feeling our feelings again.

When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom.  Let it be, let it be.”  

Mother Mary Comes to Me
A painting I did some years ago. She is mother Mary as earth mother, rooted like a tree.f.

Go deep inside and pull out what is real and what is not real.  What is important and what is not important, what is truly valuable and what is not.  It’s a process of sorting. Finding the core values that hold things together.  What lights you up?

It’s a re-configuration time.  I have to be grateful that I have a home and that I have things to share.  There are millions on my doorstep who have much less than me, in this country still scarred by apartheid and extreme poverty.

 We all fear that the worst is yet to come as hunger looms like a spectre over the land and the cold winds blow.   Strong women are taking leadership positions.  Community  kitchens have sprung up at short notice.  They could not wait for the funding to arrive, the immediate crisis required immediate action. In a grand gesture, our kind President announced that there would be a 50 billion bailout of aid to the mounting economic crisis and to ease starvation.  He suggested we begin to build “a new inclusive future economy,” once we have survived the fall.  Many are cynical but I find this hopeful.  It is in alignment with a positive outcome if we chose one.  It doesnt have to be all death and destruction.  What if we use the time to start planting seeds and growing gardens, and creating barter economies and a more naturally sharing caring economy that is more sustainable and community orientated.

It all comes down to finding value.  Finding what has value and how to present it in a way that is relevant in this new emerging version of reality.  The whole system is changing along with our values too.  What is valued is affected by what the general public values.  If we value art, art has a good price, if we value fashion- you can put a big price tag on it.  The value of oil has just dropped through the floor.  Everything is relative.  So we have to let go of our old framework to keep up with the emerging new normal.   This is part of the process. Money may give way to a barter system.  A new emerging inclusive economy is the “Beautiful world our hearts know is possible.  It’s the new story. ”  as Eisenstein speaks of it.

In the first weeks of lockdown, I made a mosaic with broken plates and bowls, from the last 14 years of living.  Each holding memories. It has been helpful taking the broken things, which felt a bit like the fractured reality around me and putting them together to make something new. It was a kind of art therapy, which I needed to do.  Cutting pieces of pottery and mirror and making my own jigsaw puzzle on the wall felt real. I felt like I was connecting with something physical and getting out of my head and all the swirling abstractions and stories.  For days, my fingers were covered in messy tile adhesive and bits of mirror glass.  (I couldn’t touch my phone, let alone my face!)  I sifted through the broken pieces, along with all the old stories until each one found it’s place in the big picture.

Nothing is permanent. That is the lesson.  One cannot live in fear of the future, nor in regret of the past.  The only reality is the present moment, so what are you going to do with it?  No judgement, just be here now and feel.  The answer will come.


The mosaic ( a work in progress)  is about change and going within.  There is the wave of change, the fish who dives deep beneath it does not feel it impact.  Meanwhile, the long time sun shines down smiling benevolently, as in the ancient yogic prayer.  “May the long time sun shine upon you.  All light surround you, and the clear light within you guide your way on.”

This is all a work in progress.  It may take some time.  We hold space for the healing to happen, for so many who are fighting for their lives, for the world, for the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the creatures on the ground, the health of all.  For the body, the mind and the spirit of the world as we go through this transformation and re-imagine a better future.

In the meantime, seeds are being planted. Communities are forming to create food gardens in the townships and the commons.  There are positive initiatives, no matter how small, they are seeds and they will grow into something bigger.  There is a strong rise of the divine feminine coming through in leadership for these initiatives. (The rise of the divine feminine and the fall of man- another duality.)  Already in the South Africa, which has the strictest lockdown, in the world, amazing grassroots community initiatives have flowered into a multitude of long imagined dreams coming true.   There is new motivation and value is being found in things like community food gardens, where they were not given as much attention before.   There are so many possible solutions.  So many opportunities.  One has to free oneself of the problems and focus on the solutions, that’s how we find the flow.

Now the half moon sets on the horizon just as the clock is about to strike midnight on the last night of stage 5 lockdown in South Africa.  Much earlier this evening, a fleet of police vehicles of every variety, from sedan police cars to prison trucks – all with sirens wailing and popping passed noisily down our narrow street.  At first, I cowered in dread, cursing the dreaded authorities and oppressors. Then as it came closer, my curiosity had me peeping through the curtains.  There was somebody on a loud hailer speaking between the sirens.  The voice said, “Thank You.”  It was not some dreadful emergency as I imagined, it was just the cops coming to say a friendly thank you to the neighbourhood for behaving well during the lockdown.  The sun will rise again tomorrow, and we will be allowed a few more liberties. Yes, Thank you for saying thank you.  We are all human after all and there is a lot to be grateful for- like another beautiful day while the angel of death passes over in these almost Biblical times.

So we face level 4 lockdown for the next undetermined length of time.  This includes marshall law -and an army enforced a curfew from 5pm -preventing me from watching the sunset over the sea.  Yet I stand in my sovereignty and I free myself to feel my feelings and trust my instincts.  I am not a puppet nor a slave to anyone or anything.  So help me God.  The show is not over till the fat lady sings.  Who is the fat lady?  She is mother earth.

The last Sunset before lockdown
Muizenberg beach on the night before lockdown began.


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