Thoughts of Hell and Yellowstone

Hell is like yellowstoneI can’t stop thinking about Dante’s Inferno.

Coupled with that are images of Yellowstone park.

It’s because I’ve been diagnosed with cancer that I am thinking about circles of hell.

It’s been a long time since I read the Inferno, and I’m sure I never read all of it. Let me be clear; I don’t believe in hell as a concept of afterlife, but I am certainly thinking about the trips we take there in this life.

So, if you’ve never been to Yellowstone, it’s this fantastical and stunning natural wonder that has much diversity of landscape. It’s enormous. And it’s really, really crowded. Tour buses, traffic jams, sardine-can campgrounds.

I keep thinking that hell is a crowded place. Like, everyone is going there sometime. Maybe more than once. Probably more than once. And it’s a different journey for each person. Every time. Sometimes you focus on the rivers and canyons. Sometimes it’s the geysers and the mud pots.

Castle Geyser in Upper Geyser Basin. Yellowstone National Park public domain image.

Always there will be a bunch of other people there with you. You won’t ever be alone, but you might not ever be connected either. It’s weird, and strangely beautiful.

I totally get that I have not cornered the market on hell journeys. No way. Yet, I’m on one, and trying to comprehend the wonder of it. Like the first time you see Yellowstone, it kind of blows you away. It can kill you—those mud pots will boil you alive. Buffalo run fast and don’t like to be pet. Grizzlies. Etc. And it can inspire you.

yellowstoneI don’t really know if this analogy is working. But I can’t stop thinking about the potency and proportion of personal tragedy, and the redemptive power of being scared to death and yet walking through that; and images of Yellowstone just keep coming back to mind.

By the way, I encourage everyone to go to Yellowstone. ‘Cause it’s amazing.


You are an astrologer/healer/mystic—did you see it coming?

A few people have said—wow, are you having a Pluto transit? What’s going on in your chart? Did you see a health crisis coming?

I’ll tell you: Jupiter is conjunct my natal Jupiter right now. (a Jupiter return, we call it. Beginning a new 12 year cycle). Jupiter is typically thought of as a “bringer of luck.” I’m on the brink of an pretty cool Venus cycle. I’m finishing up a Neptune transit over my mars, but it’s not specifically related to my health. No hard transits to my 6th house ruler or 6th house (health).

In other words, this is actually a pretty auspicious time.


And this is exactly where the rubber meets the road when it comes to spiritual practice and the arts of personal exploration. Working with what is—whether you saw it coming or not.

I believe that the most important thing for me to hold onto as I’m getting on the bus and off the bus in my trip round the geysers is not my selfie stick and iPhone, but my sense of cosmic understanding.

terror and wonderMy ability to grasp the terror and the wonder at the same time.

I believe that I have the opportunity to step into a place of being and self-understanding, surrender, self-love, and growth as a healer and astrologer and person that surpasses any that has come before.

I believe that Dante’s trip through the Inferno resulted in some personal transformation (and a spot in the literary canon—now there’s an idea!).

The whole point of astrology as I practice it is to grow as a being. Not to predict when something may happen, or to somehow avoid the “bad” things of life. Jupiter’s return to itself in the sign of Virgo, in my first house, has much to do with the way I allow myself to be seen and be the sacred priestess that I am. Has everything to do with choosing self-love and unfolding vs. self-judgment and the relentless pursuit of perfection.

Indeed it may turn out to be very auspicious. I’d like to think so.

The whole point of healing, as I practice it, is not to fix, but to be with what is. To return to wholeness of the spirit—through energetic work or past life healing or soul retrieval or whatever. Being a healer doesn’t mean you don’t get sick. But hopefully it means you know what to do when adversity arrives.

Knowing what to do, for me, means asking for help. Admitting I’m scared. Feeling my feelings. Getting information. Being responsible. Meditating. Dancing. Listening to my higher self and my lower self. Everybody gets a voice.

And binge watching House of Cards.
And sitting under the big big tree outside my house.
And talking to my flowers, of course.

What’s Next?

I’m on the conveyor belt of western medicine and exploring supportive alternative options. I’m gratefully, humbly, heart-crackingly absorbing the love and generosity of my family and beloveds—as astonishing and arresting as the beauty of Yellowstone park.

If you want to reach out—please do! But on private message is best.

If you’ve been to this circle of hell and have any wisdom, I’d welcome it.

For some reason these lines from A.E Houseman’s Last Poems inspire me; I hope you don’t find them morbid.

The troubles of our proud and angry dust
Are from eternity, and shall not fail.
Bear them we can, and if we can we must.
Shoulder the sky, my lad, and drink your ale.

Photo on 4-15-15 at 9.23 AMElia

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