During late summer a few years ago I had a vision. I know it was summer because it was hurricane season and there were several active storms in the Atlantic & Caribbean. Since I grew up in Florida and lived in New Orleans for many years, I have a lot of experience with hurricanes.
In this vision, I found myself seated at the side of the Great Mother Goddess looking down thru a portal at planet Earth. The Goddess looked at me and then turned back to the portal. She put a finger out and touched a place on the planet with a spark of light. Then She turned to me and said, “The energy must be discharged!” She repeated this multiple times and ultimately put her finger on planet Earth five times, each time touching a spot where a hurricane was active.
The energy must be discharged!
That phrase lingers in my memory and has been helpful in understanding some of what has been going on in the world today. Energy discharge or release is very common—it happens in the natural world all the time. That’s what lightning and thunderstorms are all about. When lightning strikes the earth, it discharges some of the energy that has built up inside the thunderstorm and must be released in some way.
Waves and waterfalls and wind are forms of energy release. Animals running and leaping and flying for no reason other than sheer pleasure are a form of energy release. So are earthquakes, volcanos and hurricanes.
The energy must be discharged!
Energy is built up and released by human beings as well and I perceive two different kinds of energy that humans discharge—physical and emotional. Releasing pent up physical energy is fairly easy—just use your body. Before so many of us lived in urban settings, daily life was much more physically demanding and released some of the energy that must be discharged. In an urban setting, there are far fewer outlets and restless young people, bursting with physical energy, struggle to find acceptable ways of discharging it. Playing non-competitive sports is a good way to release energy. So are dancing, hiking, running, singing, performing, cooking, sex, and so on. There are many ways of releasing physical energy that are helpful and wholesome.
The energy must be discharged!
This brings us to emotional energy which is also generated and must be released. All emotions generate energy—some more than others. Emotional energy runs the spectrum from energy that is life-affirming, such as love, joy, contentment, kindness, happiness, and compassion to energy that is life-destroying, such as anxiety, fear, jealousy, greed, resentment, and hatred. Anger can be either life-destroying or life-affirming, depending on how it is used. Emotional energy of all kinds can become so intense that it must be discharged. Life-affirming experiences, such as weddings, festivals, concerts, relationships with family and friends all generate and discharge emotional energy.
Life-destroying energy is also generated and has to be discharged. That usually happens thru violence—physical or emotional—against oneself or other living things—such as rape, shootings, suicide, psychological and sexual abuse. Alcoholism and other forms of addictive behaviors are examples of ways in which life-destroying energy is discharged into the world.
And some things play in both these worlds. Families and relationships can generate both life-affirming and life-destroying energies. And weeping can release both kinds of energy.
As a culture, we excel at generating the life-destroying energy that is an obvious outcome of our patriarchal system. But we are very poor at creating non-violent outlets for the discharge of this energy, which the Great Mother tells us must be discharged. Thus we live in a world filled with mass shootings, domestic violence, and rampant fear of the ‘other.’
I wish I could tell you that I know how to change this. How to increase the amount of life-affirming energy and decrease the amount of life-destroying energy. I have sat and wept with the Mother Goddess at her portal, witnessing the violent discharge of the energy of hatred and fear, an energy that is not honored in any spiritual tradition. In the last few years I have struggled to keep generating the life-affirming energy of love, acceptance, and compassion. My own frustration and pain and righteous anger have tempted me to the side of hatred and violence. I have felt the physical impact in my body of having so much energy—so much anger—built up that I physically need to release it. My solution has been to throw feminist bean bags at a door where I’ve placed various symbols of patriarchy. Believe it or not, this helps.
The energy must be discharged.
As I sit with this question of how to increase the amount of life-affirming energy in the world, I have found guidance in the words of the many mystics. Eighth century Sufi mystic Rabia writes, “I was born when all I once feared—I could love.” St. Francis of Assisi writes, “It was easy to love God in all that was beautiful. The lessons of deeper knowledge, though, instructed me to embrace God in all things.” From them I learn that I must find a way to embrace the Divine in everyone—to remember that we are all flawed humans with the same basic needs—more alike than different—children of the same Great Mother, who weeps for us all.
Twelfth century mystic Hildegard of Bingen believes that humans are infinitely creative creatures and that we are called upon by the Divine to live out our awakening—our power—our creativity. We are called to help the Divine co-create the world—a calling I want to answer!
The energy must be discharged and I get to choose how to discharge the energy that runs thru my body. I choose to discharge it by working with the Divine to co-create a life-affirming world, filled with creativity, love, and wholeness. Hard as it is sometimes, I resolve to continue generating and releasing into the world the life-affirming energies of love, kindness, beauty, and compassion. I choose to discharge my energy in ways that affirm life, creativity, and wholeness.
What do you choose?
Mary Gelfand is an ordained Interfaith Minister and a Wiccan High Priestess. As a Unitarian Universalist, she has served in both local and national leadership roles, including five years as national board president of the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS). She is an experienced teacher of Cakes for the Queen of Heaven—adult education program focused on feminist thealogy and the Great Goddess. A practicing Pagan, her spiritual life is rooted in the cycles and seasons of the natural world which are so abundantly visible in New England. She reads, teaches, and preaches about feminist theology, the Great Goddess, mysticism, and the mysteries of Tarot. As a fiber artist, she enjoys weaving tapestry and knitting gifts for strangers and friends.