Life is a combination of fate and free will.
I first came across the serenity prayer in a room in a rehabilitation center. Surrounded by other “hopeless junkies” just like myself – lacking in, above all, self love. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.” Passive acceptance makes us passengers of our own lives. Acceptance might teach us how to find peace with difficult circumstances, but we also need to understand what we can change and how we can change it.
How do we learn to accept ourselves when we cannot even understand ourselves? The human consciousness is like an iceberg, there is so much hidden beneath the surface that we cannot even begin to unearth it. A lot of what we have learnt about our emotions and society, is from a more logical and masculine point of view. We have been taught to rationalize everything, but since when has life been rational? Since when do our feelings make sense? Our greatest folly is that we often contradict ourselves. Without deeper introspection, we all continually keep running into the same people and patterns.
From ancient times, humans have been turning to different traditions to understand themselves on a deeper level. Why do we exist? What is our true nature? What is our connection to the Divine? Certain spiritual practices such as prayer, meditation and yoga – these call to our higher natures and help us see beyond the mundane details to the interconnectedness of everything. The cycles of life. Through the unfolding of time, stories of these cycles of life have been passed down through the use of archetypes and symbols.
Men looked to the sky for answers and studied the movement of the stars. And here is a wild theory, that is really not so wild. During the Big Bang, all kinds of elements were shot out that landed here on earth. These are the building blocks of everything we are made of – stardust. In scientific terms, when I say elements, I mean nitrogen, hydrogen, carbon etc. Spiritually, I describe the elements as fire, water, air and earth. From Ayurveda to ancient Chinese astrology, the use of elements have been prevalent, some even include wood, ether, space and sound. We are made of stardust.
We are composed of mind, body and spirit and consciousness encompasses all three. Hence our understanding of life and ourselves needs to go beyond just the rational and the material. That is when we go into deeper waters, into the unseen and the psychological. When we look beyond our rigid definitions of what is real, we can open up to magic and wonder. This is when we turn to metaphysics and the intuitive arts.
Soon after my time in rehab, I turned more towards tarot and astrology as a way of understanding myself better. I believed that I could become more adept at navigating life once I uncovered the root of my patterns. When I read my birth chart for the first time on a computer generated website, there were so many different pieces of information. As a novice, it was difficult to tie together. My curiosity led to obsession. This computer generated birth chart described almost everything about me – from my physical appearance, my hidden traits, my inner conflicts and even my strengths and proclivities. I learnt how to use this information to my advantage.
I learnt about the lunar cycles and how aligning with them can help us achieve more ease and flow in our lives. The thing about spirituality is that it truly is individualized to you – what works for you, might not work for someone else. It can exist simultaneously with religion as it does not prescribe to a particular set of laws. And understanding that is part of the radical self acceptance and self love. Through dropping in, you can start to decipher the language of your soul and embody the experience of being you.
Stories and symbols are not rooted in fact, they call to something deeper within yourself. Consider your reaction to a piece of art. Something may move you to tears and you may not even understand what part of your core it has touched. Symbols touch that core within ourselves. Astrology is essentially the study of symbols and patterns – as we learn to understand these patterns, the orchestrations of the cosmic dance start to make sense. We come to understand how life is a combination of fate and free will.
The layered and deep symbolism in the tarot has also deeply influenced my view of life. It has taught me to exist in the liminal spaces and gain an understanding of the “totality of things”. Nothing is black and white, as the High Priestess would tell you. All things can exist together. We can hold many different perspectives. Science and spirituality can coexist and so can the past and the present, the seen and the unseen.
So, to sum up how spirituality brought me closer to self love, I would like to circle back to the serenity prayer. Repeating the serenity prayer, meditation and yoga are practices that help me with acceptance. I gain courage when I test my intuition through tarot – if I am right, I am right. If I am wrong, it is a lesson I need to learn. I gain wisdom when I reflect on cosmic patterns and I take the responsibility to change rather than using the patterns as an excuse. In a world where we are constantly looking outside for validation, we can use these tools from our spiritual practices to commit to ourselves and our life’s purpose. And that is radical self love. First published on IceToday,