Is grief good *or* is “good grief” an oxymoron, a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction?
Members of my family of origin used to and probably still do say “good grief” to express frustration, exasperation, annoyance, and those such feelings. I didn’t realize this was a family idiosyncrasy until my older sister’s college boyfriend, who came to visit at Christmastime, pointed it out to us.
I don’t think “good grief” is an oxymoron. In fact, I think grief is good, that experiencing grief is a healthy way to get in touch with and release the pain of the past. I had a good grief experience just this week, like a relief valve that had been holding a lot of pressure finally opened up and out came the grief. Ahhh . . . that felt good.
How did this all come about? Through connecting with and sharing stories of my past. Last Sunday I met with a guy who reached out to me for relationship counsel. He knew I had been married and knows that now I am not and wanted my advice and input on some challenges and strife he is experiencing in his own marriage. I never really considered myself “married.” Our marriage lasted all but a series of weeks, but I was in and out of that relationship for nearly 10 years so I do have a lot of history and experience to draw from.
As this guy described the conflicts within his relationship – the unresolved and perpetual fighting, his wife’s combative behavior, what sounded to me like the classic behaviors of separation anxiety and the insecurity that ensues – I saw into my own relationship of past, saw into a version of myself and some of my historical patterns that played out in my relationship. (If you’ve read or seen, “A Christmas Carol,” – it was kind of like that).
My relationship had also been one of conflict and strife and I fought passionately because I so wanted my needs to get met, I so wanted to be seen and heard, I so wanted to receive empathy and understanding…I just went about it the wrong way and I was dancing with someone who was not skillful or awake in communication and of course, neither was I. Drawing from lessons of relationship past, I heard myself say to this guy, “something will have to change or it will just be more of the same.” Communication patterns and how we show up in relationship must be up-leveled in a relationship of conflict and strife for there to be peace and harmony and deeper intimate connection and really, it must be up-leveled no matter the kind of relationship for us to move deeper into connection and intimacy with others, to experience deeper love, including with ourselves.
I was rolling this conversation around in my mind as I walked home under the light of Saturn, who is viewed by many as having a fatherly presence in the sky. Standing in my kitchen, I had what I am calling an “Archetypal Ah-hah.” I was thinking about what I said, that “something will have to change or it will just be more of the same” and an image of rams butting heads flashed into my mind. Fighting. Aggression. Locked Horns.
I’ve been moving deeper into astrology study under the guidance of celestial navigator, modern mystic, StarryTeller, and shamanic astrologer, Gemini Brett of More Than Astrology, of whom I’m a huge fan. From my birth chart reading with Brett, I learned that at the time of my birth the moon was in Aries in the Zodiac and in shamanic astrology, moon is our ancestry, our lineage. A moon in Aries means I come from the Aries tribe, a fiery and warrior lineage, and a tribe whose totem is the ram head. That rings true to my fire and my passion *and* definitely speaks to the conflict and struggle, the warrior “training” of my youth. And these were not healthy models of fighting, but downright hurtful and destructive. My father was the “worst” and the “best,” showing me all the ways I don’t want to fight and show up in relationship and yet…I had to do that dance and then go out and learn new ways of relating and communicating so I could put down the brutal weapons of my past, of my lineage.
So here I was, standing in my kitchen, butting ram heads flashing into my mind and I got it – I experienced a deeper understanding of the Aries archetype and my lineage. Thursday, 7/16/15, Pluto in Capricorn squared my Aries moon. This particular transit is unique to me and my chart – it is how the alignment of the planets in the sky are relating to and interacting with my celestial fingerprint. Ok, so I’ve got Pluto squaring my moon. What does this mean? Gemini Brett says this is a time for me to “know Aries,” to “retrieve the warrior goods,” to connect with the “righteous warrior of the Aries lineage,” and through alchemy to “turn led into gold.”
The conversation of Sunday past was a real gift, an opportunity to see into my lineage and to do just as Gemini Brett advised, to “know Aries.” And in synchronicistic fashion, because I live in a land of synchronicity, I had another very significant recollection of how the ram has showed up in my life, of how deeply connected I am to the Aries lineage.
My dad, that vicious, brutal character who was my earthly father, raised sheep. When it was time to breed the ewes and make lambs, he’d bring a ram to our property. I was four or five years old on one of these occasions and somehow I found myself out in the field with the ram. It charged at me, butt me with its head, and knocked me to the ground. I got up and it knocked me down again. I tried to run away, but it ran after me, butting me down over and over and over. I couldn’t get up. I couldn’t get away. I didn’t think I was going to make it. My older sister was watching (I have no solid memory of her presence, but know she was there through her own retelling). She screamed out for help and my dad ran onto the scene and with a Godlike presence swooped me up, like the strong, warrior man that he was and saved my life. My dad, my earthly father, the one who hurt me so much with his hands and his words, pretty much until the day he died, saved my life. He gave me life AND he saved my life.
In one telling of my story this week, I felt the flood of emotion start to move from deep down inside and I let the good grief flow.
The Warrior that I am today.