Cave Woman and the Pandemic
The Cave Woman Tale
Once upon a time there was an old woman who lived in a cave. She sat in the front of the cave weaving the most beautiful garment in the world. Almost complete, she was weaving the hem and adding porcupine quills for fringe.
Now in the back of the cave there was a fire. The fire was so old no one knew when it was first started. Hanging over the old fire was a large pot containing the seeds and roots of every plant known to the world.
Part of the old woman’s day was to leave her weaving, walk to the back of the cave, place more wood on the fire so it would continue to burn and stir the pot of seeds and roots that hung over the fire so they would not turn to ashes.
As she had done many times, over many days, and years, she stopped her work on the beautiful weaving, walked to the back of the cave. She added wood to the fire, and she stirred the pot of seeds and roots.
While she was stirring the pot a black dog crept into the cave. It crept to the old woman’s beautiful weaving, took the loose thread in his teeth, and pulled until the most beautiful of all garments was unraveled and left in a pile on the floor of the cave.
Well, the old woman had finished stirring the pot and walked back to the front of the cave to continue her weaving. When she arrived, she saw the black dog and the tangle of thread which had once been her beautiful weaving.
She stood silently for a moment, looked at the dog, looked back at the pile of unraveled threads. She bent down and picked up a loose thread and began weaving again. This new weaving was even more beautiful than the one before.
Told by Michael Meade in May 2019 Seminar in Asheville, NC
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Cave Woman and the Pandemic
In May of 2019, I heard Michael Meade tell the tale of Cave Woman. Michael drummed as he told this story of the cycle of life. The most beautiful weaving being created, thumpy, thump… tending of the fire, thumpy, thump… stirring of the pot of seeds, thumpy, thump…black dog unraveling the weaving, thumpy, thump…picking up the tread and weaving again thumpy thump. Michael’s drumming gave the story a heartbeat leaving a reassuring rhythm in me. Nature is my mirror. From destruction comes creation.
The Covid-19 pandemic, has forced me to witness the black dog unraveling my life. Each news cycle reports more destruction. I find my current reality is a heart no longer in rhythm but skipping beats and grieving. However, I find solace in remembering the tale of the Cave Woman with its promise of creation from destruction. But, how do I find the strength of the Cave Woman, see this on-going destruction, and pick up the thread and begin to weave again? Carl Jung had an answer for such transitions: I must suffer the transformation. A student of Jung for 30 years, I still dread the suffering aspect of transformation.
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross was a pioneer in identifying stages of grief. Working with dying patients and people experiencing the painful loss of loved ones, Kubler-Ross recognized these emotional stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These emotions describe my process of suffering the transformation caused by Covid-19. I must suffer them to arrive at acceptance, and then I can pick up the thread of my life and begin creating again. But, where am I in the suffering?
I fluctuate from denial to anger to bargaining to depression and back again. As of today, I have yet to find acceptance. My overriding emotion has been anger. Anger that this virus is attacking the entire planet, and anger at how denial on the part of others has put more of us at risk. I always encourage acknowledgment of anger and releasing it in a productive way. I am lucky. I have a wall in my house that needs to be removed. Yesterday I channeled Cathy Bates as Tawanda, her character’s alter ego in the movie, Fried Green Tomatoes. With a hammer and my foot, I was able to release a bit of my anger and make progress on remodeling a kitchen. My family is very happy that I found an appropriate place to express the rage. Please, look for a safe release.
I have heard, “I want to waken and discover this was just a bad dream.” I understand that denial. There is a part of me that wants things to go back to where things were professionally, personally. It wasn’t perfect, but good enough. But the path is never one of retreat. It is a journey forward into the forest of the unknown, acquiring consciousness of what in my life is being destroyed so that a new life can be created. Like the Cave Woman I must suffer the destruction and move with the rhythm of nature. I must accept the dying of my old way of life and prepare to give birth to a weaving even more beautiful than before.
As you and I grieve this transition there has never been a day more important than today for us to honor our emotions. As we grieve we must surround ourselves with nourishing, empowering, creative energy. Wherever your soul finds this, please take a double dose. People, books, music, nature, art, prayer, pets; if it soothes your wounded soul, it is your prescription for endurance through transformation. Surround yourself with the energies of kindness, love, and compassion. We are in this life together. No borders, divisions by race, creed, color, or ideology. Let us work to take care of ourselves, and others so that in unity we come through this transformation into a life more beautiful than before.
Sue Kuhn Hunter, April 3, 2020