The Alchemy of Love
“It feels like I’m standing in the middle of a burning pyre being burned alive. When I look out through the flames, there is this intensely raw feeling of being at the complete mercy of a process that I cannot change and can only allow. The flames fly wildly around me and there is nowhere to go. It seems that the flames are coming from my own flesh and bones, so wherever I go, the flames follow.” 1
Hexagram 30. Li/The Clinging, Fire. Li means “to ‘cling to something’, ‘to be conditioned’, ‘to depend or rest on something’, and also ‘brightness’…what is dark clings to what is light and so enhances the brightness of the latter. A luminous thing giving out light must have within itself something that perseveres; otherwise it will in time burn itself out. Everything that gives light is dependent on something to which it clings, in order that it may continue to shine… Human life on earth is conditioned and unfree, and when man recognizes this limitation and makes himself dependent upon the harmonious and beneficent forces of the cosmos, he achieves success… one may put aside hope and fear, and sigh and lament: if one is intent on clarity of mind, good fortune will come from his grief. For here we are dealing not with a passing of mood… but with a real change of heart.” 2
A ‘real change of heart’ opens pathways for healing.
The heart belongs to the element fire, summer, heat, south, joy, sadness, red, bitter flavor, the tongue, blood, sweat, flowering. Taoist sages tell us that deep within the heart within the heart, lives the shen (the spirit of the heart), imbued with the pure light of divine consciousness that guides and protects us in our earth walk. The shen ask us to tenderly care for the altar of our heart—a threshold between the realm of the timeless and the time-bound where mystery lives and informs us in the most sacred ways of the Tao. The shen need our stillness and silence so that we may hear, with the inner ear, the guidance of Mystery whispered in a language only the heart understands.
There is a fire that comes from some unknown source, from Mystery itself, that emerges through shattering—through the humbling of our darkest nights when the wild and precious life we have known is disassembled, and our very sense of identity is changed beyond recognition. The enigmatic realm of the Tao continuously ushers us toward something indestructible, true, eternal, beyond persona and belief. It is a place of clarity, possibility, miracles, wholeness.
Healing cannot happen without love.
Love, like the healing process, moves in mysterious ways, transforming all in its wake. In such times, it is best to move with humility, openness, and patience—the kind known by mountain, water, and tree. Love and healing often come unexpectedly, emerging through darkened places where visible and invisible worlds erase and create one another.
The transformational fires of love and healing sometimes touch us in ways that can almost feel like a violation—a burn—penetrating the hardened surfaces of our being that have not been loved or valued properly, if at all, reaching straight to the mysterious depths of the inner heart and shattering our smallness so that we are free to grow.
Love takes us to the empty space at the center of all the striving and losses, joys and sorrows, dramas and traumas, desires and fears, posturing and judgments and transmutes them in its healing fires.
There is a wound common to many that often arrives early in life that comes from having not been truly seen and loved unconditionally. Too many have not been encouraged to listen to the heart and soul of their inner truth, or to and live in communion with the earth and more-than-human realms who unconditionally love and support us with their wild, loving, and sometimes contrary wisdom. Too many have not been shown that we have value simply because we exist, and that we have something unique to offer the whole-earth community that is wanted and needed. That we do, indeed, belong and matter.
“Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality. No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him. By his love he is enabled to see the essential traits and features in the beloved person; and even more, he sees that which is potential in him, which is not yet actualized but yet ought to be actualized.” 3
It is never too late to engage in the larger dance of existence with our wholeness. It’s never too late to let the soft animal of our body simply love what it loves. It’s never too late to lay on the belly of the earth and let her deep pulsating song lines carve new river beds though our soul and give shape to the sea of blood coursing through our veins. Whenever we share with her our untold stories or offer her our love and sorrow with wild abandon, she receives us so completely, we cannot help but to feel a little more whole. True. Real. Connected. Present.
The dance of healing is a dance of love—love lost, love betrayed, love unreceived, love waiting patiently to be recognized, lived, embodied, expressed. Love sees the wholeness in all beings and all things.
In these summer months as the fiery sun engages in its wildly passionate dance with the earth, it penetrates the boundary of our flesh and melts the outer edges of our being, guiding us toward ripening like the earth who is flowering all around us. The places where we feel vulnerable or wounded may be revealed in new ways. Sometimes we may need to seek shade or water when things get too hot. We may find that we are not yet ready to flower. Or that we are flowering unabashedly with unimaginable grace and ease.
Everything has its own timing and its own way.
This season of tenderness, heat, passion, connection, vibrance, abundance, blooming, and fruition in the outer world offers itself to nourishing the cold, forgotten, or yet to be known beauty of our innermost being. How might life be different if we were to discover something deep within that perseveres though all change? Or find that the love we need streams endlessly through the more-than-human realm around us, though the cosmos, earth, plants, creature beings, and through our own inner heart?
“As indifferent and harsh as life and nature can seem on one level, my experiences keep bringing me to love… always… no matter how grueling things may get… no matter how uniquely bewildering each challenge may seem… no matter how outraged, guilt ridden, horrified, heartbroken I feel along the way… still… love.
After being purified in the transformational fires of life and death over and again, what remains each time after the last embers have dissolved is always love.
And I realize that it has always been … love. And that there is nothing else… but… love.
Not the small kind of love that comes easily, but the love that remains after all has been destroyed. The small love is thrown into the sacrificial fires of our becoming so that we may know in our own being the essence of all of life.” 4
“You have within you more love than you could ever understand.”
1 From a healing session, used with permission.
2 Wilhelm/Baynes, The I Ching or Book of Changes, p.118-121
3 Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
4 From a later healing session, used with permission.
About the Author: Monique Gaboury is a licensed acupuncturist, in Freeland, WA, specializing in Alchemical Acupuncture. She loves sharing her passion for natural healing at her clinic and through writing her blog ’Nourishing Change Through Connection’.