Taking off the Mask

This week has seen the turning of Beltane, the rich, wild, illuminating fires of seasonal shift in the planetary cycle of our beautiful hemisphere.

At this time, Edinburgh has a vibrant celebration at the top of Calton Hill. A few thousand people witness the Celtic carnival of summer’s emergence in a fire festival with the Green Man and May Queen. The bon fire at the end is exceptional, and to dance around it as the night gives way to the new morning, is a pulsing, trance-like experience of connection – with earth, elements, nature’s creatures, fey, people and self. 

Copyright Martin McCarthy for Beltane Fire Society.

This year, my own celebration took place with a group of 8 companions in the Scottish Borders. The theme of our gathering was Beltane Masks.

During the Saturday we contemplated what a mask is, what it serves, when do we wear them, and what would it be like to cast off our masks? 

Each of us decorated papier-mâché masks, having decided upon that aspect of our personality or habit we would like to change.

We had taken a journey on the inner through a maze of internal corridors to come face to face with our personal mirror. What we saw in the mirror ostensibly would reveal to us that which we wished to de-mask. 

I saw fear. And I felt courage. 

It wasn’t a general sort of fear, but fear linked to spiritual truth. And the feeling of courage, yearned to come out from behind the mask of silence and fear. 

Recently, it has occurred to me that my spiritual truths have changed or have been urging me to change and I have been resisting them. Like one of those pictures that you look at and see one thing, then shift perception and see another thing, I have been attempting to hold my perception in place so as to only acknowledge particular aspects. The others, which have crept up on me, relating to inner plane teachings and personal experiences, I have not wanted to acknowledge or integrate. 

How could I be a credible therapist while also speaking with Spirit, channelling teachings from the inner planes or using my advancing psychism, particularly when some of those teachings and experiences seem so ‘way out’ there? 

Even as I write, I smile to myself because of course, if I am not comfortable with my spiritual truths, how can I expect to help others come to understand and develop their own spiritual experiences?  

And you might say, yes, but Karolyne, I’ve had sessions with you, and all of this has been part of our time together, and I’ve been able to express my own ‘way out’ beliefs too. And of course, that is all true.

I guess, I am thinking specifically about my writing, and more specifically about a book I am writing – Spirit Talk. A friend asked me the other day – what is it that is served by me stalling my writing? It came to me that by putting off writing, I am protecting myself from being judged. If I’m not judged, I won’t look ‘crazy’ or strange or incompetent.

Fear.

IMG_5207So after I had painted my mask – with Eyes of Horus, for my inner plane contact, with a division down the middle for being torn in two, with a closed mouth for silence and a pretty look for hiding – I took such great delight to dance around the Beltane fire with my companions and to throw that mask into the flames!

Of course, it’s not enough, just to recognise the mask and to cast it off in such a ritual; the next step is likely the most important, and that is to move in the direction that the mask was inhibiting.

So my work now is to write every day – to get that book written – and more, to increasingly incorporate my spiritual truths in my language, conversations, behaviours and work, where applicable.

I wonder if you can think of a mask that you wear? Like most of us, probably more than one. Maybe it is a mask worn through fear or for safety, to fit in, to please, to hide, to mirror another, perform a behaviour that you’d rather not or any other reason…

What would it be like to remove that mask?

And what needs to change in your life to help you remove that mask? I’m interested to know. If this blogs prompts some thought, drop me a line. 

What would your life be like free of that mask?

‘Tear off the mask, your face is glorious’ – Rumi

Beltane Fire Festival Photo by Martin McCarthy.

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