Are you aware that what’s going on at this time is a collective shift from an era of Staccato into one of Chaos? Going through my “Evolution” workshop in Toronto over the weekend, this was our investigation, and I was asked to write about it too. So here goes…
We’re approaching the middle of a gigantic wave, unfolding through very long time spans:
Flowing phase: We lived in small nomadic tribes as hunter-gatherers. Constantly on the move, living close to the earth, and with a tendency to perceive the divine as feminine, this is quintessential Flowing culture.
Staccato phase: Things changed with the advent of agriculture. We began parcelling up land with borders and fences, taking ownership of earth and people, with a much more controlling way of relating to the natural world and a tendency to perceive the divine as masculine. We’ve got roughly ten thousand years of Staccato behind us.
Chaos phase: Every wave must break, and the hallmark of Staccato at its peak is that the leading edge of water pushes out and forward to the point of being unsustainable. The only way to go is down. For anyone attached to Staccato, Chaos is a disaster. To that mindset, moving forwards is the ultimate value, and falling is to be avoided at all costs. But if we see the big picture, the unsustainable moment at the end of Staccato is a thrilling transition into that mighty crash we all love when we’re watching big breakers.
And this one is BIG. Ten thousand years, just for Staccato?! Wow. It’s a behemoth of a wave, and we’re just beginning to tip into zone three. (The best bit if you’re either a spectator or a surfer! Or a dancer :-)
Anything we can glean from the rhythms about how to manage this without wiping out?
What does the dance of Chaos have to teach us? The following are all pretty clear to me after 30 years of practice, but maybe you can see some more:
1. Surrender to the process. Trying to keep things in Staccato is a recipe for pain. Get with the program and let Chaos come.
2. Stay grounded and present. Do whatever works for you to attend to the ordinary: take care of the garden, use the kitchen well, and avoid getting lost in screens or head-trips. The fundamentals of movement practice — to be aware of the fullness of life within your body, and the silent space within your breath — don’t leave that on the dance floor. Practice constantly.
3. Let go of old stuff. Going through Chaos is a cleansing process (when it’s functioning well anyway; when it’s not, it’s a mess.) In the process of letting old stuff go, it first has to rise to the surface. Shadows abound, and can seem overwhelming: Stay embodied so that you keep in touch with the knowing, intuitive side of your mind, rather than getting lost in the thinking chat rooms. Let feelings be expressed and released. Be open to changing, radically.
4. Integrate feminine and masculine forces, finding ways for them to work together. This is imperative, both within your self and between us as humans with tendencies towards one end or the other of the gender spectrum. It’s not surprising that the whole business of gender roles is in the mixing pot right now. Chaos does just that: stirs up what was clear and defined and mixes opposites together. Alongside this, there’s a lot of hurt and anger playing out between men and women, with both personal and archetypal forces involved. Chaos asks us to find our way through and work together, not as equals in the sense of all being the same, but as humans each with their own particular mix of masculine and feminine qualities to add to the mix.
5. Community is the new Buddha. The divine no longer appears to us as distinctly feminine and of the earth, nor as particularly masculine in the sky, but now as androgynous and amongst us, between us, within us. Chaos is all about the collective. It is entirely in keeping with this that networks and groups are springing up all over the world and making things happen, from the untold number of personal development groups that form and dissolve every weekend to the agency for change manifesting through groups like Avaaz or the Pachamama Alliance. Chaos is the rhythm of the mind (Flowing-Body, Staccato-Heart), and we’re naturally perceiving the divine as an intelligence, immanent within everything. Chaos teaches that all is divine, both the force of life and the manifest creation itself. Body and Spirit. Sexuality and spirituality belong together.
Let’s look a little deeper at the integration of feminine and masculine forces. Chaos is the union of Flowing and Staccato, and it functions well when we take the teachings of those first two rhythms together and integrate them within our experience of Chaos. You can see the analogy in terms of the life cycles represented by these rhythms: our task during adolescence is to let go our parents as teachers, but to integrate their teachings, at least what was useful, within us. We have to learn to mother ourselves, knowing how to care for our needs and give ourselves space to go with our own Flow. We also have to learn to be a good father to ourselves, knowing how to set ourselves limits so that we can stop when required, and how to internally hold our own hand encouragingly when we’re scared so that we can take risks out in the world.
There’s a natural fall of patriarchy going on globally, with so many institutions that embody masculine authority in some way being toppled — everything from the banking sector to governments to the police. Collectively, we used to look up to such archetypal forms, but that’s all changing, and quite right too in many ways.
However, we are throwing the baby out with the bathwater in ways that render us in trouble. We need to take the teachings of Staccato with us, or Chaos becomes a bloody mess. If we just decry all things Staccato, we lose our way. It’s vital that we stay heartful, aligned with a sense of purpose, and able to discern when something’s toxic. Bringing the medicine of Staccato along into the fall of Chaos helps us to maintain a sense of dignity, knowing the function of discipline in the face of adversity inside or out. It will re-mind us of the necessity of boundaries to protect vulnerability and nurture new growth.
I have to mention Jordan Peterson here, because he is speaking out so bravely and brilliantly on this subject. I don’t agree with everything he’s saying, but most of it I’m right with. (And much of what people get offended by is probably because they’re only paying attention to soundbites or headlines, but if you take the trouble to listen to the whole argument, it totally makes sense.) He’s an incredible ambassador for Staccato values, which is not an easy thing to be right when we’re breaking into Chaos. But he’s got such a strong point: don’t throw out the teachings of Staccato just because we’re going into Chaos! Integrate them! He’s making a massive difference to a huge number of young people, particularly young men, who are the most vulnerable to the fall of the masculine as an archetype.
As a man, I feel very strongly on this subject. Yes, the old ways got rigid, and there’s plenty that needs to change. But it’s a terrible mistake to just lay waste to all things Staccato, and an even worse mistake to blame men for the problems we face as human beings.
A similarly brilliant strong human, somewhat ahead of Peterson perhaps and holding the ground for the feminine, is Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Her famous work is Women Who Run With The Wolves, but I’m currently listening to The Dangerous Old Woman (audiobook from Soundstrue) and loving that even more.
We’re all in this together. Let’s keep learning to trust our feet, love fiercely and hold hands often as we are taken mightily by the holy fall that is the rhythm of Chaos.