In the tradition in which I was trained, one of the skills you have to learn in order to be an effective healer is the ability to “transfigure,” to go into a meditative state and see your body as it truly is—light without the baggage of our everyday world. In this place of liquid radiance and energy, you are free to invite your healing guides to transfigure as well and to merge with you. Their hands (or wings or claws or paws) become yours and you can become the instrument of divine energy, the conduit through which healing can freely flow. Transfiguration allows you to be so clear that no debris, pain, illness, or sorrow can be transferred to you. Instead, the various forms of physical illness and imbalance are lifted up out of the body of the patient, transfigured into light, and sent to the waters—the ocean, stream, or river.
The act of transfiguration requires a key, a place in the mind where one can go and visualize the catalyst that helps one to let go and fill with radiance. My place is in the presence of the Alabastor Woman, who glows with light like a portal to another dimension of reality. Bathed in her brightness, I find the strength to become the eternal being of light that I truly am and experience homecoming.
Years ago I attended a Thanksgiving Ritual at Camp Gualala in Northern California, an intensely beautiful place atop a mountain in a redwood forest. Thirty or more people were gathered to build a shrine and give thanks for all of our many blessings.
Drawing upon the various creative talents of the group, and a bounty of ferns, plants, and the leafy branches from the large limb of a pine tree that had broken off during a rainstorm, we filled the entire back of the community room with greenery, colorful scarves and blankets, pictures of our ancestors, hawk and owl wings, candles, and pictures of children, ancestors, gods, and goddesses. Someone suggested that we create a birth canal and a womb in the center of the shrine, so we made a low passage one could enter on one’s belly. At the end of this passage, stood an abstract alabaster statue called “The Initiated Woman.” In front of this figure was a yellow cloth for offerings. The sculptress who had carved her placed a candle behind her that shone through thinly carved sections of stone with an unearthly beauty. With the light behind, however, one could see quite clearly that a large crack ran diagonally through the center of the statue.
The artist told me the story of buying this exquisite piece of alabaster, then being deeply disappointed when she discovered the crack. For a while she wondered whether to continue carving the figure since the stone was flawed. Then one night she had a dream in which the statue came to her and said, “When a woman is initiated by life, she bears scars. But her scars are what make her beautiful.” The artist finished the piece and it has become one of her favorites.
If we live long enough—and fully enough—life will leave its scars upon us. But we do not have to fear them, or believe that they have marred our perfection. Many tribal initiations the world over involve some type of scarring, either deliberate or accidental. My friend Bob told me that when two men in the bush pass one another, they can see by their scars who has been initiated and who has not. In this way, they know whether a man is in control of his nature and whether he can be trusted.
I bear visible scars upon my body (and those unseen on my soul) that attest to my two initiations through cancer. There have been times when I feel saddened at these visible signs of my past suffering. I never before feared nakedness, but now I am shy because I fear revealing these healed wounds to others. However, these scars are also the symbols of my power, my strength to not only survive, but to give myself whole-heartedly to life. They are the signs that I love life and know something about gratitude. They are the visual representations of my willingness to go into the Underworld on behalf of my fellow women and men and return with knowledge and healing that can make their suffering less.
Your scars are beautiful and powerful. They represent the transfiguring forces of fire, spirit, darkness, and illuminating light. Do not fear them. Instead, let them be your teachers to elevate your soul to a higher level of fullness. Wear them proudly, for you are a being of light. And remember that the “cracks” in the mind and the body are the places where the radiance can shine through most brightly.