OUROBOROS GONE MAD: WHEN SELF-HATRED CONSUMES THE SELF
The symbol of the Serpent eating its Tail is used to signify regeneration, endless continuity of the cosmic cycle, the process of birth-rebirth and the dance between creation and destruction – ad infinitum. Think of it as the circle of life. But we don´t just end up exactly where we began, do we?
It´s more of a spiral. There is a (perceived) movement in a given direction of growth, suffering – or experience in general. Some spirals/cycles lead us to growth and happiness, and others to (a different kind of) growth and suffering. I´m simplifying it here for heuristic purposes – reality is rarely that neat.
The former is what we idealize, the latter is what we (often) neglect to mention. I find this perfectly expressed in the image of a real-life serpent biting seeking to swallow its tail to the point that its mouth begins to bleed. I haven´t posted it here as it´s a pretty disturbing image, but here a link for those of you who want to see it.
For the most part, our conscious, waking selves rarely seek to destroy the self and make it miserable. Few people would willingly say: I´d rather be miserable and self-destructive – as opposed to – happy and self-fulfilling. But many act on the basis of a sub-conscious script that says exactly that.
Mainstream psychology can help to unveil the causes of such self-hatred, the origin of such vicious cycles, through an analysis of childhood years, traumatic experiences and so on.
In my work, I find that these incidents actually repeat themselves, from cycles set in motion long .. long.. ago. It helps to look at the scenario through in terms of karmic and past-life cycles.
When you look for the origin of a particular sub-conscious belief through the life-spans of the Soul´s past … you see a lot of context for the experiences of the present. Many of my clients who work with traditional psychology often have that AHA! moment when we combine those perspectives.
There are of course other disciplines and modalities that do this exact sort of work. I can only speak for what I do and have experienced.
Also – I´m not a physician or psychologist and that the perspectives of these professionals should not be ignored, if you choose to elicit their services and agree with their paradigms. None of what I am saying here is intended to discredit their work in any form. Think of this as an alternative method of understanding what´s going on with the body, mind and spirit.
I´ve been working on myself as of late, seeking to identify unacknowledged parts of myself that operate on self-harming or self-debilitating scripts. We all have them (perhaps except fresh arrivals to this plane or truly transcended-embodied beings – maybe they just handle them better though?).
Part of this work has led me deeper into the study of the Dark Goddess and how that energetic archetype links in with the parts of the self that simply cannot find any reason to love, but need little provocation to harm. Astrology and mythology do not idealize Gods and Goddesses as sources of unconditional good or uncontested sanity – which is why I use them as a framework for navigating my own understanding of The Divine. It makes a lot more sense, to me at least.
It´s been coming together for me in my study of myself, and equally in the study of the charts, cases and people I encounter in my work. Similar types of self-hating of self-harming themes, manifested in strange (but overly familiar) physical symptoms, cross-cutting symbols, and so on. (It´s Chiron´s gig – you help others heal from what you´re trying to heal in yourself …)
Today I encountered two individuals who had blaringly loud self-hate mixtapes playing from within the cellars of their sub-conscious. Each manifested their pain differently. Their stories are represented here with their consent.
One woman chose to move to a city that would re-trigger the exact astrological triggers present at her father´s death and has been stuck, unable to process the event or to begin moving forwards with her life for the better part of a decade. (It helps to look at the energy of a place and how it interacts or alters the expression of your chart before moving someplace). She followed what she thought were her instincts, bringing her face to face with the same kind of abuse and harm she became acclimatized to in childhood. The ´choice´ was certainly not a conscious one – I had to dig deep in the astrology of her natal, relocated and progressed chart to find the common thread. But it was there, undeniably expressed through the mathematics of astrology… the same karmic currents, revisited.
Another lady manifested her self-hatred through (various things, especially) rheumatoid arthritis-since-childhood. Rheumatoid Arthritis basically occurs when the body doesn´t realize it´s eating itself, focusing more so on the membrane lining the joints (again, massive oversimplification). She experienced powerful, frightening visions and symbols as part of her journey with ayahuasca which – ultimately – echoed the essence of her reading. During her session, we connected up the dots and drew up the general features of – what exactly she sought to ´attack / devour´ within herself through an analysis of past-life experiences.
What was clear, in each session, was how an unacknowledged part of each individual´s psyche appeared to be operating on a different set of instinctual drives, needs and perspectives. Not quite as dramatic as a case of multiple-personalities or borderline personality disorder (which I have come across as well).
Where does it come from? Past-life work is one side of the story – but in the present – especially for women – a lot of it comes down to the experiences that shape, mark or even scar us. And much of that is bound up in the double-bind that patriarchal institutions have us tied up in knots in. (Translation: We´ll screw you over and if you resist, you´re screwed up / unladlylike / mad / a spitting, raging bitch who deserves the madhouse and/or a good spanking) The same applies to men who choose to explore other definitions of masculinity, people who defy gender stereotypes, and those who are excluded from the mainstream.
Self-hatred is a response to so much of these cues and experiences, especially when one is told that they must accept the status quo – or that it is their fault they can´t adapt, adjust or stay silent. It is a feeling of impotence, rage, anger to the external world that is turned inwards. Some experience this as a state of muddled confusion, sadness, grief that can mask the deeper roots of this reaction. Some people do act out, and that often feeds into the chain of violence, blame, shame and harm that set the cycle going in the first place.
In my work, I see a common thread. That when a strong person is pushed past a certain point, they either need to act out – or turn it inwards. And it, it some cases, literally begins to eat inside you. For me this is not an expression of weakness – but rather energy that gets misdirected. I wouldn´t even use the word ´victim´ or the idea that one is ´to blame´. That´s a part of the problem, rather than the route to its solution.
Part of dealing with the energy is to first recognize when, how, where and why it gets triggered. How it responds to your world, through you – does it co-pt the conscious mind or simply operate so subliminally that it´s hard to trace? It involves becoming aware of this energy/state of being – and being accepting of it. At the end of the day, the name of the Game is Love – it always is. But finding a part of yourself that is mimicking the distortions of the outside world within you – and loving it – isn´t an easy thing.
But is it rewarding?
Hell, yes. Peace through the acceptance of all aspects of the Self is priceless.
I would recommend the use of Aqua Aura Quartz and Rose Quartz to bring you gracefully into a state of witnessing, accepting and integrating the multiple aspects of the self. Labradorite will work wonders for the process of energetic integration. Rose essential oil will help with … bringing it all together as part of the Conscious-Flame-of-Love-And-Spirit-That-Is-You.
My own self-limiting scripts come through when I get in a particular state of mind. There´s a part of my own energy that is different from the rest of me. (Well, it´s all me – but this part is in need of further integration – and it´s pretty damn old). I´ve learnt how to identify this energy through very subtle changes in temperature – almost a kind of heat with a subtle scent and a sense of vulnerability or openness in a place without a name. And I´m sitting with those parts of me, or getting to a place where that´s possible. And we´ll probably (hopefully) find a way to hug it out, or simply coexist in mutual awareness. Maybe even integrate. Let´s see.
So in other words, whether it´s in me, you, people across this planet – we all have some parts of ourselves that lead the serpent to extremes. What is a process of creation-and-destruction becomes pure destruction. The serpent bleeds at the mouth in a bid to swallow itself. Suffering ensues.
And that is really where external help, perspectives and facilitation can be of such use. Because so much of this is sub-conscious and is done in a way that the conscious mind does not know how question – it´s a blind spot. The conscious mind may, in fact, try to find excuses to wash away the need to address the few cues that do come. And the rhetoric of religion and spirituality is unfortunately a great tool in self-deception. (It can bring you to truth, but equally to its opposite – depends on how you navigate the two).
The more I pay attention to this, the more I see that it´s a huge issue for spiritualists, especially those who work more-so with the archetype of the Deep, Rich, Dark, Void. Without circumspection and a decent set of mirrors, it becomes hard to know which of – the multiple you-s – is calling the shots. And all to easy to romanticize instinctual urges from the , shall we say, more damaged parts of you.
As I told one of these women earlier today – one set of your instincts is sane, the other isn´t. Much like the First Nations parable of the two wolves and the choice of which to feed.
Speaking of feeding – it´s time for lunch.
Post © Bairavee Balasubramaniam, 2016. All rights reserved. My thanks to the two women who agreed to having a part of their stories published for this piece.
Image : Roman – Pair of Snake Bracelets – Walters 57528, 57529 – Group.jpg, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons. Digitally edited for colour and tone by Bairavee Balasubramaniam.