Between Scylla And Charybdis

You know the saying, “between a rock and a hard place.” Between Scylla and Charybdis is tantamount to the same, except it’s more nuanced and poetic because Homer wrote it. Scylla is a rock on the Italian side of the strait of Messina. Charybdis is a whirlpool standing opposite, which once upon a time Homer personified as a female sea monster that devoured sailors.

‘Between Charybdis and Scylla’ calls for more tenuous maneuvering than figuring out how to shimmy between ‘a rock and a hard place.’ It is about the avoidance of one danger exposing you to the destruction of another. If Charybdis is the yin ‘monster’ of the chaotic, instinctual feminine, ready to devour whenever we fall deeply into a sea of emotion, then Scylla is the un-yielding yang of the jagged rock of our masculine. This face-off puts action, and stability up against the inchoate, watery feminine. Who wins? Depends on where and when you fall overboard, and who pushes you…no?

Since this demanding passage lies within as well as without, it is a journey we all navigate, often. It can be the fine line between attempting perfection, without a willingness to fail. It is the equally difficult journey of doing ‘a slide,’ that is taking a risk knowing it cannot be done well. Before you even begin you know you will slide home by your Charybdian hairs.

It is simply all about being on the journey, and making the most conscious, informed choices in each moment, and this comes only by diligent navigation. More often we wreck ourselves on one side or the other, reeling from imbalances of over-reacting. But if our pilot is seasoned, the years of Practice having formed a strong heart, with muscle at the ready, and well-honed instincts alert, then we have a chance of coming through the narrows at the strait of Messina, dry and un-bowed.

Asana: Since we are speaking of polarities, choose a pose, or stretches, with a partner, working the fine line of trust. How much to control, how much to surrender? Observe yourself as you process through this simple stretch. Stand back to back, feet wide and parallel. Bend over, reaching through straight legs to grab each other’s wrists. Now begin to pull forward, away from one another, your only anchor-their weight.

Health Notes: This is a stretch for the hamstrings, and possibly up across the upper back. Observe how much you’re willing to trust as you continue pulling out and away from each other, head reaching toward the floor.

Astrology Notes: We have entered the heat and heart of Leo territory, an energy that likes to call the shots, and is not a natural at sharing unless you’re willing honor their elegance. Partnering work is wonderful for Leo, and ‘in his hour,’ because even kings and queens are stronger when they learn to trust, and ‘play well with others.’

Ayurvedic Notes: Our life is relationship. With summer heat, we all engage in a stronger relationship with Pitta energies and imbalances. These can manifest as: aggression, anger, ambition, and competition, which are also Leo issues.
Remembering that like increases like, your relationship to hot, spicy, citric, alcoholic, and fermented foods needs to be moderate at this time. Choose instead from: yogurt, cottage cheese, sprouts, almonds, eggs, olive oil, and white meats such as chicken, turkey, fish, to name a few.


pat young

Thank you for capturing in this week’s “wisdom words of wonderment” exactly how I feel right now. You would think that this being summer we can kick back and relax. But I find myself “at sea” knowing that before me is only uncertainty after riding out the crests and troughs of waves, with some very brief calm sailing. I am Odysseus on this long uncertain journey and my skin is leathered and thickened by years at sea, no longer trying to predict what the future has in store, but hoping for the best, all the while trying to embrace the experience and journey.


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