Every morning, I read for 30 minutes before sitting in meditation for another 30. This month, I’ve been rereading Awakening Osiris, the translation of the Egyptian Book of the Dead by Normandi Ellis.
This week, I read #27, Not Allowing a Man to Pass East and this passage stuck with me: I shall not travel east. I shall not fall to forgetfulness, nor lose a moment to desire and regret.
I haven’t been able to read anything else for days now. Because that first day, when I sat down to meditate, these lines ran over and over again in my mind, until I finally reached the soft, still silence the cushion cultivates. And in that silence I heard my inner voice, the voice of Spirit whisper:
I do not travel to the east, for I will not chase the sun. I journey to the west, where the sun comes to meet me.
I’ve been sitting with this for a while now. The word “chase” stands out, and I started thinking about it in reference to my life. It feels like I am always chasing something – money, love, self-assurance. The desire I have for my life to be better than what it is tends to rule me. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and to some degree it’s the norm – we all have desires and we work to achieve them, because existence would be pointless without passion. Without passion, we end up living a stagnant life, going through the same lessons over and over again because there’s no drive to move forward. But it’s the attachment to the desire – that obsessive sense, that feeling that if we don’t get what we want that life is not worth living – which brings about the problem. This type of attachment, and the self-defeating view it’s based on, is what gets me into trouble.
In this sense, I have been traveling east my whole life. When I ‘walk east’ I can see the things I desire, but they are always one step ahead, out of my reach. In effect, it is chasing the rising sun – you’re never going to catch it, because it’s already passed you by. This, at least for me, inevitably leads to self doubt and regret. There’s always a list of coulda shoulda woulda’s when I don’t get what I want, or when I don’t live up to my own expectations: I coulda caught that desire had I not been so (insert any adjective here); I shoulda walked faster; I woulda been so happy.
I’m so busy chasing the sun that I don’t realize I’m going in the wrong direction.
In witchcraft and elemental magick, East is the direction of Air. It’s the power to know, but it’s the knowledge of infancy and childhood. It’s the element of the past, of memories both comforting and regretful. East is the space of thinking and preparation, of using words instead of action, of planning our path of manifestation. But there comes a time when we have to grow up, and be willing to put our lives into motion, into flow – the flow of Water, the flow of West.
West is the direction of elemental Water, of daring to grow into adulthood, to step forward into the new and the unknown. It is emotional transformation, receptivity, and acceptance; it’s floating peacefully in the present and flowing into your future. West is the waters of love, romance, and friendship, of open hearts and vulnerability, of moving past fear and entering into the next phase of your life – all the things I’ve dedicated myself to over the past year.
When I walk west, I am walking towards the sun. I’m walking in my present and traveling towards my future, carrying with me the lessons and wisdom of my youth in the east. I don’t have to cling to regret, or illusions, or try to rewrite the past, because I’ve changed direction. I don’t have to chase anything, for the things I desire now meet me along my path, and we journey together for awhile. Then, the sun moves along, leaving its gifts with me, but the next day we get to meet again. Walking west means my passions are working for me instead of against me; my emotional, spiritual, and physical needs are always coming towards me, because I’m always heading towards them.
I do not journey to the east, for I am no longer a child. And as an adult, it’s time to expand my earned wisdom into practice. I remember who I am, and where I’ve been, and the mistakes I’ve made, but I don’t have to let those things define me.
I travel to the west, where my future comes to greet me.