A guest post by Maria Ede-Weaving…
Anyone who has followed a spiritual path for some years will know that at points along the path we can find ourselves in a place of stasis. All those techniques and practices that we once found inspiring can suddenly lose their luster; what once made perfect sense can now feel a little meaningless. It can be a deeply frustrating state but one that I have come to believe is all part of the spiritual journey and offers its own special lessons for our growth.
These strange pauses can range in intensity from a mild ennui to a life-changing dark night of the soul; it is a time when we cannot force a shift; try as we might, the lethargy takes root, the colours fade and we wonder whatever happened to the magical connection we once felt.
If you find yourself in this place of uncomfortable spiritual suspension, do not lose hope (even though losing hope is often a symptom of this condition!). The torpor, as excruciating as it can be, gives us an opportunity to examine our relationship with the notions of patience, surrender and trust. We have, in effect, entered the chrysalis, and no amount of wriggling will release us until that inner transformation is complete. Just as the caterpillar completely dissolves into a gloopy mass before reshaping itself into a butterfly, our sense of ourselves becomes a kind of psychic soup, worked upon by mysterious alchemical forces within us.
So often, we associate times of transition with a good deal of external movement and change but this is only one part of the process. I have found in my own life that momentous external changes – both self-created and that of circumstance – have often been followed by a spiritual slump. It is funny how humans become obsessed with the idea of continual growth and movement. We have an economy based on the idea; it is deeply destructive and doesn’t honour those fallow moments that are vital to the cycles of life.
I have come to believe that on those occasion when the spark has deserted us – despite shaking a fist or two at the gods and bemoaning the fact that our inner compass feels out of whack – this fallow place is the most fertile of voids; our old self – whether we know it or not – is redundant and gradually dissolving. Any forward movement, no matter how desperately we desire it, will not happen until our new and more authentic shape is fully formed and ready to break out of the fragile boundary of our old being. This all happens in a subtle way beneath our surface; we become like winter soil, still, dark, resting but full of potential.
I have a deep love of the Mineral Kingdom and lately quartz has been teaching me much about this curious pause on the path. As most will know, quartz crystal is transparent, hexagonal in structure and grows to a point. I have been lucky enough to be gifted with a clear quartz and a couple of citrine quartz. Upon closer inspection, I discovered that each of these has the most beautiful phantoms inside them. Phantoms are wonderful things: at moments in the quartz’s growth it can actually stop growing. A light sediment of minerals settles upon the surface. When the conditions are right and the quartz begins to grow again, the layer of sediment becomes encased in the crystal and this is seen as a ghost-like shadow of its former self.
My quartz contains five phantoms, very clearly visible and defined; the citrine have several more, some thick bands, some tiny threads that can only be seen if you shift the stone in the light. These phantoms speak so much to me of those spiritual pauses; those resting points between our old shape and our new self waiting to emerge. Phantoms remind me to honour the pause; like the concentric rings in a tree trunk , they are a record of the many transformations that my spiritual growth has brought along the way. When looking at them, I get a sense that the moments of my life between the pauses, are indeed like a series of past lives and these layer one upon the other, each the foundation for the next, all of them a part of me. The spiritual pause gives me the chance to examine what has been, to give thanks for it and to open myself with gratitude to the next stage on the journey.
So when you are find yourself feeling stuck and stagnant, when no amount of action seems to cut through the fog, rather than naming it as a spiritual crisis, look at it as a time when the sediment is settling into a beautiful phantom. Not only is it a line that marks the transition from one phase to another, it is an honouring point, a surrendering to the fertile void. When you finally sense the shift into forward movement, that ‘empty’, frustrating time will reveal its deeper beauty.