How to Handle a Witch


 It’s been my practice for twenty-five years to meditate in the early morning hours. It’s not a ritual I impose upon myself. It's rather something I want and love to do. My former Yoga instructor explained the sense of it best: "God is calling your name then.”

 It is as the pre-dawn beckons, when, as she used to say, 'even the drunks are asleep and the birds are about to sing,’ that God calls your name. 

 The call to meditate comes during the in-between-time, in the space between night and day. It’s an opportune time to slide into a meditative state. 

 I’ve learned that when I respond to the early morning summons, I am always the better for it

 If I fail to respond, a terrible restlessness begins to take over. And, well, I don’t want to live restlessly. 

 So onto the cushion I go.

 It is always better to say yes to the call, than to squirm one's way out of it. 

 It is always a good thing to do the practice. The pay off is enormous.

 When I’m finished meditating, I lie down on the carpet in the bedroom while putting my legs up on to the wall. (Not quite like the picture above)

 I either lie there in silence, or listen with headphones to very quiet meditative music. Eventually I roll over on to my side and stay there. 

 My wife has sometimes told people: “Al always ends up on the floor.” 

 The early morning practices are the best I know to create a condition that is able to receive and to bear truth.  

 For though it is true, as Artistotle said, that we have a natural desire to know, it is also true that we do not want to know

 Something in us does not want to know. Does not want to be aware. 

 There is a part of us that can so easily fall into a spirit of avoidance and denial. This interia is deadly and must be overcome on a daily basis.

 To overcome that downward tendency, I get up early to meditate. The meditation practice enables a sense of triumph over ignorance and fear.

 Thus the early morning practice is about getting down to the brass tacks of living well by a close attention to the physical and spiritual foundations of my life and being.

 Which has to do, as I have learned, with what is happening at the base of the spine, where the energy has the potential to surge, or to be jammed or damned up. 

 I don’t want to be stuck in the base chakra, (the energy center located in the area of the sacrum and the tailbone.)

 To be stuck there means lethargy.

  It means being sour and grumpy.

   It means being a sad sack.

    It means having little or no energy.

     It means being all pent up and cramped. 

      It means holding on with a grim grip.

       It means surviving, not living.

        It means living like a drip or a dullard.

 To be thus bound and cramped, a corresponding psychology develops. The personality becomes tight, controlling and dragon-like.

 To be like a dragon, means that my primary mode is defensive. I am forever guarding and protecting things. And the tendency is to breathe fire from my cave when threatened by higher possibilities.

 In such a stuck condition, there is no spirit of adventure. There is no initiative to be creative. 

 Every effort is made instead to keep things under wraps - to be in total control. 

 If one stays in such a place long enough, people will start calling you a creep.

 The potential to become a creep increases to the degree that your consciousness contracts - that is, when it contracts to being located only in what Huston Smith calls “an imagined space within one’s frontal lobe.”  

 From your cranial perch, you can become some kind of creepy brain on steroids. Which means that you know how to argue, mock and scorn, but not how to listen. 

 This is known as the state of alienation, or the predicament of modernity, where the soul has been smothered and the restless brain has taken over. 

 This bound condition has been variously described as a condition of angernausea, disenchantment or horror, or simply, that you are fast asleep. 

 I rise in the morning to overcome this stuck state. My effort then is to become suffused, permeated, saturated and charged with a sense of greater, transcendent dimensions. 

 I get up early because I have felt Plato’s experience: "First a shudder runs through you, and then the old awe steals over you.” 

 Thus when I meditate and put my legs up on a wall, I am opening myself up to the shudder and the awe.

 But there’s another way to realize greater dimensions, since, after all, how many are going to rise up early tomorrow morning to meditate?

 The other way to experience the transformation of consciousness is to hear a better story than the one you’ve been living in. 

 Which was the story-telling approach of C.S. Lewis. Lewis’s gift was his ability to out-narrate secularism

 As he did for instance, in the Silver Chair where two children, (Eustace Scrubb and Jill Pole) find themselves trapped with a Narnia prince in an underground kingdom. 

 Eustace and Jill of course know that the underground kingdom is only a slice of the pie and not the whole thing.

 But how do you prove that to a mocking and scornful witch who is convinced that her kingdom is all there is

 How do you prove it, especially if she’s a Freudian witch, who believes that religion is an illusion to be overcome. 

 Well, it’s not going to be easy and before you can say anything, she’s on the attack. 

 When she hears the children speak of the “sun” that gives light to the world, she pounces. 

 Speaking scornfully and mockingly. "What is this sun you speak of?” 

 "Do you mean anything by the word?"

 "Please it, your grace," said the Prince "You see that lamp. It is round and yellow and gives light to the whole room; and hangeth moreover from the roof."

 "Now that thing which we call the sun is like the lamp, only far greater and brighter."

 "It giveth light to the whole Overworld and hangeth in the sky."

 "Hangeth from what, My Lord," asks the Witch; and then, while they were all still thinking how to answer her, she added, with another of her soft, silver laughs: "You see? When you try to think out clearly what this sun must be, you cannot tell me.

 But, of course, on the basis of her merely sensory way of knowing - stuck within her own truly illusory kingdom - she cannot comprehend the Prince’s point. 

 Which is Lewis’s point to his readers - that there is a built-in limitation to that paltry level of knowing. A point that the sagely, Huston Smith, explains: “We have as a society”, he says "simply slid into assuming that the most reliable viewfinder available to our human lot is the scientific one that edits our spiritual truths in the way X-ray films omit the beauty of faces.” (Huston Smith, The Way Things Are, p. 10)

 We edit and omit because we are out of touch with greater and high dimensions of knowing and being. 

 We edit and omit because our consciousness is contracted. 

 How is that limited condition to be handled? How do you handle a witch who who does not see? 

 You can, I’m suggesting, get her to put her legs up on a wall or, failing that, you might try telling her a better story than the one she’s been living in. 

 You never know what might happen.