Saturday, July 28, 2018

What is love?

Last week, at the wedding of one cousin I spoke to another cousin who recently separated from her husband after 12 years of marriage. It was disturbing listening to her describe the events leading to the separation, all the more so as it reminded me of past experiences in my own relationships. She spoke of the dynamics of relationships between narcissists and empaths, a topic that seems to be all over the internet at the moment. This relationship dynamic does describe very well a relationship I had that lasted almost ten years. It was very painful and the fallout from those years left me broken, angry and disillusioned.

I went into the relationship soft, gentle and open-hearted. I saw that my lover was hurt and damaged by his parent's divorce and cruel treatment from his father. Naively, I thought I could heal him but his heart was closed. All I got in return was his contempt expressed in the form of criticism and sudden, unexpected angry outbursts. Nothing I ever did was good enough for him. I always felt lacking; unattractive, stupid, clumsy, inept ... he made it clear that everything about me was wrong. But the worst thing was that I believed him. I thought everything was my fault.

I broke up with him twice but he got me back by becoming the person I wanted him to be: kind, gentle, loving. I thought he must love me because he didn't want to lose me. But those honeymoon periods never lasted. He would always go back to his old self within a few weeks. When we finally broke up for good I had zero self-love and was in a deep depression. It took me many years to get to where I am today and I still have work to do.

In one article on the internet, Alex Myles describes the attraction between empaths and narcissists this way, "Here comes the empath, the healer. An empath has the ability to sense and absorb other people's pain and often takes it on as though it were their own. If an empath is not consciously aware of boundaries and does not understand how to protect themselves, they will very easily and very quickly bond with the narcissist in order to try to fix and repair any damage and attempt to eradicate all their pain."

It could be argued that both individuals are damaged in some way and that may be true. The empath may have suffered neglect or abandonment in the past and tries to heal by becoming indispensable to another. They do this for fear of seeing history repeat itself. The empath needs to be needed, to feel important to the other. They make excuses for the other's behaviour much as a parent makes excuses for the way a child behaves while they are learning to manage their emotions. But the narcissist is clearly no longer a child and must at some point take responsibility for their own feelings and behaviour and stop projecting it onto the empath. One thing that I've noticed is that these narcissistic types are incapable of being alone and often go from one partner to the other to avoid having to face themselves.

It seems as though these types of relationships are more common than I had realised and the definitions of narcissist and empath can be helpful to describe the dynamic that goes on between these individuals. But ultimately I am wary of the dehumanising effect this can have whereby the narcissist is portrayed as a kind of monster and the empath as the innocent victim. We are all adults and we are all responsible for the learning experiences we engage in throughout our lives. Creating victims and perpetrators is disempowering for both parties.

So how can we have healthy romantic relationships? The video above was sent to me by my son who recently broke up with his girlfriend. It describes the different experiences many of us go through as well as the modern use of dating apps. It describes the "once bitten, twice shy" reaction to a broken heart, that of shutting ourselves away and refusing to risk any more pain. It describes the idealised image of being in love as propagated by Hollywood movies and romantic fiction. This kind of popular culture sets up unrealistic expectations especially among young women who almost inevitably suffer disappointment.

In seeking to understand its nature, the narrator goes on to describe the scientific explanation of love as a biological trick designed to ensure the continuation of the species in the form of feel-good chemicals that are released when couples get together. He explains the belief that love is seen by some as nothing more than a series of preferences and behaviours that can be predicted by science. The algorithms for dating apps are now so good that they claim to find your perfect match in an instant therefore reducing the search for love to a mathematical equation. The modern approach to finding love appears to be as impatient as with everything else these days: fast food, fast service, fast love... It seems as though no one wants to wait for anything anymore.

During the second part of video, the narrator explains the teachings of the philosopher, Aristotle, on the subject of love. Not having studied much about classical philosophy, I found this part the most interesting. He says that Aristotle spoke of three kinds of relationships although on researching this a little, I found out that he called them friendships: the friendship of pleasure, the friendship of utility and the friendship of virtue or goodness. The friendship of pleasure is clear - one where the individuals come together for sensual pleasure, be that sexual or some other physical pleasure such as shared love of music or food. The friendship of utility is one where the other proves useful in some way, providing money, status or an ego boost. The third one is the one I relate to. The first two are superficial and temporary but the friendship of virtue is more permanent because it originates from the recognition and appreciation of the innate qualities of the other person. The friendship of virtue is the one where the two people are inspired by each other's intrinsic goodness which in turn kindles a desire in them to be the best version of themselves. Also called the noble friendship, I would ask what could be more noble than wanting to be the best you can be in the presence of one who cares enough to acknowledge your goodness? Doesn't that make life worth living?

The last part speaks of the fear of having this kind of love - the fear of losing it. I identify with the Nietzsche quote in the video, "I fear you close by, I love you far away." For me it is the fear of stifling each other, of losing one's identity or individuality, the fear of losing the beloved which provokes jealousy and the need for them to stay the same and not to grow and evolve as humans must do if they are to thrive. It is the equal fear of becoming the imprisoner or the imprisoned.

But if these difficulties could be surmounted, if Simone de Beauvoir's authentic love could be attained, it would be worth facing any fear for that. Perhaps if the two knew that "together they would both reveal values and ends in the world," they would be brave enough to try.

Attraction between narcissists and empaths
Empath-narcissist relationship

Monday, July 2, 2018

Vesica Piscis

During the video featured in my last post, Magenta Pixie spoke about the vesica piscis and its connection to twin flames. She explains how this sacred geometrical shape serves as a visual representation of the twin flame relationship. The shape is of two perfect overlapping circles creating an elliptical shape in the middle where the two intersect each other. This central part is the vesica piscis.

This ellipse with the continuation of the curved lines at one end forming a tail is known as the ichthys, the Christian symbol of the fish, said to have been taught by Jesus to his disciples. The name ichthys is a Greek acronym meaning "Jesus Christ God's Son Saviour" and it has been used widely by Christians since the second century. Several of Jesus's disciples were fishermen and fish and fishing appear many times in the Gospels, the most well-known being Luke 5:4 when Jesus tells the fishermen who had not caught anything during the night to, "Put out into deep water and let down the nets for a catch." The fishermen then caught so many fish that their nets began to break. The symbol of the ichthys and its connection with Christianity may also be due to the belief in the precession of the equinoxes and astrological age of Pisces that began with the birth of Jesus.

The vesica piscis has been used in Christian art and architecture for centuries such as in Gothic arches and in stained glass windows and paintings of the Virgin, Jesus and other religious figures surrounded by the mandorla, the traditional almond-shaped decorative frame.

Santa María de Taül

But this symbol predates Christianity as it was seen in the ancient world as the yoni, the Sanskrit word for vagina, the entrance to the womb of creation from which all things are born. It was the doorway between two worlds, that of the formless spiritual and that of the Earthly manifest. As such, it was revered and has been replicated in works of art all over the world for thousands of years.

In ancient Greece, the philosopher and mathematician, Pythagoras, and his followers believed that all creation could be explained with numbers. From the monad representing the one God and unity, comes two, the dyad, from which proceed all the other numbers and all things in the world of matter. The overlapping circles of the vesica piscis form the pictorial representation of their philosophy and, at the part where they merge, the square, the equilateral triangle, the double tetrahedron and many other geometric shapes emerge from this symbolic womb.

Some believe the mathematics of this shape connect it to the gospel of John. In John 21.11, Jesus appears on the shore and tells the fishermen, who had caught no fish during the night, to put their nets on the starboard side of their boats. They did so and caught 153 fish which equals the ratio between the height and width of the vesica piscis.

  Picture from Chasing the Ark of God 

According to Phillip Smith on the Chasing the Ark of God website, 265 can also be found in the 1611 King James bible in the number of characters between "an hundred and fiftie three" in verse 11 and "third time" in verse 14 when the verse numbers are included in the count. He also believes that the mention several times of the number three in these verses alludes to the ratio being the square root of three.

The number 153 also corresponds to the Greek gematria of the name of Mary Magdalene as it appears in the New Testament (John 19:25), "H Magdalhnh". Gematria is a code composed of numeric values given to each letter of the alphabet that originated in Greek but was later adopted by the Jews and can be found extensively in the Hebrew bible. The reason for this is that Greek and Hebrew did not have separate symbols for numbers so each letter had a numerical value. Many scholars are now researching this fascinating field of study although there are some who deride it as numerology and therefore merely a form of divination. Catholic writer, Margaret Starbird, says in her book, Mary Magdalene, Bride in Exile, "Gematria is not numerology and is not used for divination. It is, rather, a historically verified literary device used to enhance the impact of a name or phrase by deliberate association with the symbolic number of the cosmic principle it manifests."

The belief in the sanctity of numbers dates back to Plato, the Pythagoreans and before them to the Egyptians. The ancients believed that numbers underpinned the form and structure of the universe and governed the lives of men through art and music as well as the sciences of the time such as astronomy and geometry. Each word or sentence had a numerical value from which meaning was derived. The number 153 bore great mystical significance in the minds of ancient mathematicians due to its properties as a triangular number, a hexagonal number and what is referred to as a narcissistic number, meaning that it is the sum of the cube of each of its digits:

153 = 1³ x 5³ x 3³

Greek mathematician, Archimedes, used 153 as a kind of abbreviation for √3 and the vesica piscis. 

Ancient, Roman, Greek and gothic forms of architecture were imbued with dimensions that were considered to have sacred power. The Egyptian pyramids contain the geometry of the Phi ratio, as do the Parthenon in Greece and Notre Dame in Paris. Many gothic churches also include the vesica piscis in their design such as in the arches of the central nave in Valencia cathedral.

photo by Felivet, Wikimedia Commons

I think there is so much more that could be discovered about the vesica piscis but I did not set out to write an exhaustive treatise on this mystical symbol. However, I find it truly fascinating and my interest in sacred geometry has grown as a result of my research. I am especially intrigued by the numbers such as 21.11 in the Gospel of John and the numbers of Phi and pi and the golden ratio. 21.11 is significant to me as 21 reduces to 3 which is my number, from adding together the numbers of my date of birth, and 11 is a master number that I see almost every time I look at the clock, or its multiples. It is also a number I associate with twin flames. I think more will be revealed to me as time goes on. 

Returning to Magenta Pixie's explanation of the vesica piscis as a symbol of twin flames, I feel the truth of this statement deeply. Although Margaret Starbird connects the vesica piscis to Mary Magdalene, she also sees it as representing the sacred feminine. She says in the recording that goes along with her book, Mary Magdalene, Bride in Exile, "The sacred geometry of this shape, that's sacred to Venus, is the yoni in India, it's the shape of the feminine orifice and it's called the womb, the doorway to life, the holy of holies and the bridal chamber. It has all these feminine connotations. It's also the creative matrix of Sophia, the womb of God." I think this last part is the key. 

The two circles that create the vesica piscis are the geometrical representation of duality, the opposing forces of nature. They are the sacred masculine and divine feminine, electricity and magnetism, fire and water, the ovum and the sperm. Their alchemical merge is the divine marriage that gives birth to babies, ideas, planets and stars. All is made manifest through the vesica's hallowed portal. In this way the vesica piscis is the symbol of creation. It represents the creative force of God.

And what of the twins? If their intentions are pure they can create something worthy, something of love, of beauty, of truth and goodness. The world deserves no less.

Gematria of Mary Magdalene
The Vesica & Geometric Origins of Christian Symbols
How to Draw-Phi & the Fibonacci Spiral from the Vesica Piscis
The Pyramids or the PHIramids of Egypt Phi, Golden, Divine Proportion
Phi and the Golden Section in Architecture


Return of the Divine Sophia, Tricia McCannon
The Dimensions of Paradise, John Michell
Mary Magdalene: Bride in Exile, Margaret Starbird
Magdalene's Lost Legacy, Margaret Starbird