Meditations on The Great Work
“Pride cometh before the fall” is a message I recall hearing many times as a child. The warning that, though there was the expectation that I would always do my best, it was not appropriate to express the positive glow of success and accomplishment. If one did not self-monitor humility, one faced the very real possibility of being “brought back down to size”. Messages that urge us to be humble, to keep quiet, to deflect compliments away are fairly strong. Having internalized these messages, there can definitely be a waft of distaste when we encounter boasting. We feel the wave of Ego come towards us and instinctively step back.
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A little bit ago, when I was bringing in two of my favourite Knowledge Card decks (Goddesses Knowledge Cards and Animal Spirits Knowledge Cards), I stumbled upon the Women Who Dare Knowledge Cards. A deck of 48 cards, each one detailing profiles of women who "have exhibited the courage and determination to reach beyond the ordinary and expected, often braving seemingly insurmountable sexual and political tyrannies in the process". (quote from the box)
I have a particular soft spot for this subject - these remarkable women from the past who did not allow themselves to be determined by others' perception of what they should be or how they should act. I find it inspiring to read of their lives and the difference they made in the lives of others. Every so often I turn to these cards to gain an different type of insight and inspiration.
This morning I listened to Damh the Bard's Druidcast podcast in which he shared a discussion centered around the issue of fracking. As I listened I couldn't help but think about Starhawk's novel, The Fifth Sacred Thing - a brilliant novel of two societies coming into conflict, one which sees natural resources as possessions to be owned and controlled and another which sees these resources as sacred and, as such, incapable of being owned by any individual or corporation. I found myself slightly on edge all day, with fracking flitting through my mind. Wondering about those who continue to try to present this as a viable option to the energy situation. Wondering about the effectiveness of dissident voices. Wondering about how to activate change, how to truly make a difference.
This evening, after completing a number of household chores, I decided to treat myself by sitting down and putting a Women Who Dare card. And who did I meet? Ida Tarbell.
Apparently Ida Tarbell wrote a series of articles for McClure's Magazine back at the turn of the 20th century which exposed the blackmail, price rigging and other illegal practices of the Standard Oil company. Her articles (which were published in book form in 1904) led to the dissolution of Standard Oil of New Jersey.
Rather than be discouraged that, even after over 100 years, we still find ourselves in a world that pits corporate profit over the good of the land, the individual and sustainability, I find myself heartened to know that Ida Tarbell single-handedly caused the dissolution of a company engaged in corrupt business practices.
Change is possible and one person can make a tremendous difference.
Thank you, Ida!
A long-time enthusiast of Alchemy, I have often been awed by its relevance to the path of self-discovery. The Alchemist knows - you are The Great Work, the Opus Magnum. This blog explores the many intersecting paths that lead to embracing the Self and living an empowered, fulfilling life.