What extraordinary times.
How quickly everything has changed. As our governments desperately try to contain the spread of the coronavirus, we are left in the liminal space between spaces. The old world has ceased to function, with all the privileges we have become used to. The world beyond it cannot be seen yet. It will not be the same place. Normal is gone.
And so we exist here, in a world between worlds.
We have committed to a strategy of suppression—to lock down society and thus slow the spread of the virus, so our limited health care systems can handle the influx of those in critical condition. This enables us to save as many lives as possible. The cost is economic and social. As our human systems are starved of the interaction they require, they begin to atrophy and disintegrate.
The scariest part perhaps, is that we have no exit strategy. We do not know how long our isolation will last, nor what state the world will be in when we emerge.
And yet amidst the deep uncertainty, fear and contraction, I sense a great invitation. It’s one that shows itself to me as I descend beneath the surfaces of the news cycle and the inconvenience of my family being shut up in our little house.
It’s an invitation that I hear echoed in the gnosis of my friends.
It’s an invitation that has deep archetypal roots and collective implications.
The collapse of what we know
It was late January that I had a session with my astrologer Mark Borax. I asked him to give me a reading on the coming year.
Astrology was something I had deep suspicion about just a few years ago. But as I have relaxed my New Age allergies, the symbolic truths it is able to draw out have become deeply important to me.
As I listened, amongst the collection of gold nuggets that were for my personal journey, Mark spoke to the great theme of the year for all of us. This year, 2020, is a hugely significant year astrologically. The significance is created by a planetary pattern has not been seen for 4000 years.
This is what he said.
“The old world order is disintegrating. And what needs to replace it is a new dream of what can be. This process—of dismantling the old world structures and replacing them with structures, stories and ideas that are healthy and whole—is going to reach a state of huge intensity this year.”
Prophetic? It has felt so for me.
Jordan Hall, in this excellent article speaks to this theme from a meta-systemic perspective.
We have driven our human systems to fragile extremes—obsessed with short term gains, we have eroded their resilience, exposing them to the possibility of mass collapse in the face of black swan events—things we do not see coming.
And boy, did we just get ambushed by one hell of a black swan.
We can look at this as an accidental tragedy with no meaning. Or we can look for the deeper archetypal theme—as Mark showed to me—and see the great invitation.
This virus is a harbinger of the collapse of the old world. It is speeding the work that has been gathering steam for some years. And now, as we stand before the great unknown, it is inviting those of us who are called, to deepen our work and contribute to the building of the new world. This is the gift amidst the chaos.
The great collective call
We have been plunged into a great collective transformational journey. The kind that cycles throughout time, eternally. The kind we each embark upon as we journey from what was, to what could be. But this is of a different ilk. It has been thrust upon us—all of us—simultaneously. All are at risk. Each underlying weakness exposed.
We are being shoved into the gauntlet of deep change. It cannot be avoided. We cannot bury our head under the duvet and hope it passes. We have no choice—the great collective call is echoing out around the world. We cannot escape the cycle.
This is the first phase of the great cycle of the hero’s journey. The call to adventure. It is a journey that will change us irrevocably—if we embrace it. We have been given no choice about its arrival in the world. It is here.
The only choice is whether we consent to the journey and walk into the unknown with conviction and courage, or whether we are dragged kicking and screaming, crying out for the nanny of society to save us from our fear, desperately numbing ourselves to the deeper invitation.
For there are in fact two viruses in operation. The first is the one featured in every news headline—Corona. It is a highly infection and aggressive virus that overloads our physical immune system and exposes any underlying weakness in our body.
The second is a psychic virus of fear and panic. It is at least as infectious, and it’s spread is outdistancing corona by degrees of magnitude. It is spread through our communication channels and behaviour. It exposes any underlying weaknesses in our psychology, economy and society.
The fear that this second virus spreads is not something to be rejected. It is an invitation. It is showing us what my friend Andrew calls “the flinch”—the particular way we recoil from life and brace against that which we are unable to tolerate. This fear can be a gateway, pitilessly highlighting the places we contract, and pull away from life. And yet they are the very same places that we must encounter if we are to accept this great invitation amidst the chaos.
Together, these viruses are accelerating the disintegration of the old world. It cannot endure. To hold onto it ever harder will increase our suffering, and entrench our incompetence. For the purpose of this cycle is to make us ready for what comes after. We are being offered a future in the new world, but to reach that destination we must journey through the trials and transformations that kill the old, and birth the new.
It’s time to double down on the deep work
The severity of what we now face can be met with equal fortitude. As we stare down the barrel of months of social isolation and mass disruption, a space opens up.
I spoke with my sister last week. Her work as a DJ is reliant on joyful gatherings of large groups of people. She can no longer do this work. Millions are in similar situations, robbed of the life blood of their work.
And yet as we spoke, she told me that she could feel the invitation within the crisis. Her dissatisfaction for her work, and the yearning for deeper contribution and meaning were being thrust into the spotlight, as she stared at a calendar with nothing on it. What did she really want to do?
This is the personal quest amidst the great call to adventure.
What plans, ideas or callings have you been sitting on, that you couldn’t or wouldn’t action? As the old safety is eroded, the path is laid clear for you to take a risk, and follow that which is closer to the soul of what drives you.
Can you hear the deeper invitation, the higher calling? It’s here, right now, in the centre of you. Feel it in your heart. You are needed. Your work is needed. How can you contribute? What service can you offer to us in the midst of this chaos?
As I write this, I am caught, in the same spotlight. The plans I have been slowly working myself toward, juggling the sensations of excitement and resistance, announce themselves in my consciousness.
“It’s time to double down Ewan. Build it.”
This is the clear message I keep hearing, every time I sense deeply—that this is not simply about enduring the storm, or “getting on with work”. It’s time to double down on the deep work. This is the moment. The great opening.
And so our task now is to listen to what is asked of us. To hear it with as much presence as we can muster. To tune the dial of our attention to the signal of a deeper calling, letting the noise of fear subside. Not repressed or denied, but felt as the anxious potential for what lies before us.
And when you find that frequency—or perhaps you already know exactly what is asked—the invitation becomes real.
The invitation is to embark upon the heroic journey that will rot away the old habits, reliance and assumptions, and create the fertile soil from which the new world can be built.
This is the start of the journey. The mythical moment that the evil knight enters the castle and lays down the challenge to those gathered.
You have been asked to embark upon a quest.
Will you accept?
If you do, and I do, and all those who can hear the call amidst the cacophony of panic and misinformation do, then perhaps we will be able to look back on this momentous time not simply as the catastrophe is surely is, but also as the time we stood up, and set ourselves upon a new course that led towards a new world.