The Coronation Conflagration
In the early months of the pandemic, Charles Eisenstein wrote an article entitled The Coronation, where he characterized the corona virus as an initiatory crowning of human consciousness—an evolutionary leap in how humans relate fundamentally to life. He writes,
“Now the question arises: Initiation into what? What is the specific nature and purpose of this initiation? The popular name for the pandemic offers a clue: coronavirus. A corona is a crown. “Novel coronavirus pandemic” means “a new coronation for all.”
I will not attempt to match Eisenstein’s colossal intelligentsia to assimilate geo-politics, religion, conspiracy theory and virology. As a psycho spiritual healer and Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese medicine, I would like to follow up on the groundwork Eisenstein laid and offer my take on where I see humanity nearly now two years into pandemic life.
The Coronation essay resonated with me. Like all human beings, I desired to make sense of the pandemic. I loved the idea that the virus could have something to do with humanity evolving, growing and healing. Could this be the great transformations that humanity has waited for? The spiritualists, evangelicals and fundamentalist silently giddy in the hope that the reckoning or coming of a new dawn perhaps has arrived.
As many people became sick, not just from Covid but also from depression, anxiety, and general disparaging of life itself, the evolution of human consciousness appeared to be absent of luminous, uplifting or hopeful qualities.
The pandemic spread the contagion of fear followed by grief and its various dimensions—denial, anger, sadness, acceptance, gratitude—as often constant fixtures of the lives of many, mine included. No corner of the globe left untouched by the coronation, humanity received a full force lesson in grief—a spiritual trial in surrender.
The first of many traumatic events occurred when Governor Kate Brown of Oregon mandated all non-essential business be shuttered for two months. As an entrepreneur her decree equated to blasphemy. I make my living by working hard, getting after it—showing up. The powers that govern decided I was not to work, to earn money to feed my daughters and keep a roof over our heads.
Shock followed by panic. Spirituality be damned!
Human evolution could fuck off.
I have to…have to feed my family.
No matter what tact I employed, “ maybe we can wear masks in the clinic?” To which the mandate declared, “if you possess PPE you have to turn it over to the hospitals because they don’t have enough” on and on it went. “I know of a few providers going against the mandate. Maybe we should work anyway.” To which the argument countered with, “ And what f you give Covid to a patient and they die.” Given the anemic amount of information we knew in the early days of the pandemic, there was no safe way to return to work.
In early April 2020, I burst into tears on the phone with my Dad when he offered, “Luke if you need some money, I can help” His generosity pierced my heart. I deeply appreciated his sentiment. I didn’t need money at the time. I needed to know that I could get back to work. This was the first experience in business and in life where with persistence and ingenuity I could not find a way through a problem. And yet here I was, every door I opened, slammed shut until there were no more doors left to open. This phenomenon of unworkability would become the theme song on the pandemic. My ability to put life on my back and carry it forward would be thwarted over and over again until a choice I rarely make would become the only choice I could make.
Surrender to life as it is. Go with the flow, even if that meant the water headed for a monstrous snag down stream.
Surrender to people dying, surrender to people not getting along, surrender to relationships ending, surrender to giving up and letting circumstances rule my destiny?
Hell no! I’m an innovator, a creative. I don’t give up! Surrender means death. I adapted and forged ahead.
After a few months working on-line, my profession received essential designation and we learned to use bleach, face masks and face coverings.
I persisted through the chaos and then after being at work for an hour maybe two, my chest began to tighten. I felt a twenty-pound weight on my sternum. I couldn’t take a deep breath. I couldn’t catch my breath. What was happening to me?
Anxiety, panic attacks. Maybe. My body did not like this new routine. Fear gripped me.
I continued to push forward, work, Zoom school, isolation from family and friends. The more I forged ahead the heavier the weight on my chest felt.
Covid infection or not, difficulty breathing became the key symptom of the pandemic for every arena of life.
The message of the virus showed its first cracks.
If we do not change our ways, the very thing that sustains life would be threatened.
On May 25th 2020 George Floyd called out for his mother and aspirated, “I can’t Breathe.” He died hours later, not from Covid, but from racism.
The invisible biological virus exposed another invisible virus, racism and much of the patriarchal viral systems that have generated a world safe for some and dangerous for the rest. We learned the coronation demanded awareness into every diseased part of our world.
The pandemic did not ask humanity to throw in the towel, become indifferent, check out or become depressed.
The coronation asked for something very simple, but extremely difficult for humanity.
To feel the parts of our lives that we’ve been unconsciously avoiding.
To feel the ugly parts of life, we’ve buried.
Feel not from the perspective of the ever-inspired healer, or the tenacious entrepreneur but from the deepest most tender place of softness within my body. Before I could do that fully I would need to broken down entirely. The coronation would have to dismantle my entire approach to living; strip down all the ways I learned to survive and endure hardship, push into all my adaptations to trauma and show me what was underneath my created self—the self I invented to live in this world.
My personal life became hell. Extreme conflict with my natal family arose for the first time in my life and persisted.
My business fell into disarray.
My marriage hung together by sheer grit and our parenting skills unraveled as zoom school bored on.
Every arena of my life came undone.
And all off the pre-pandemic ways and strategies, meditation, prayer, loving attention and kindness, sessions with healers and therapists – none of it made a dent in improving the circumstances of my life.
I heard similar accounts from my friends and patients.
All. The. Things. were burning down and I could only watch as my heart broke again and again.
I felt powerless
We all felt powerless
As we witnessed the old ways of relating and organizing life falter, we saw how incredibly vulnerable we are.
People died. As of November 1st 2021, over 5 million souls lost from Covid 19. Some killed themselves—the suffering was far too great to live. Some people became psychotic, clinically depressed, and severely anxious—the psychological impact made living intolerable.
No light at the end of the tunnel. No descent of angels singing the Grace of God. Tent cities grew larger by the day and horrific stories from my patients became a daily occurrence.
The Ocean and Death
I found myself drowning on multiple levels. I searched for a happier time. I remembered my love of the ocean and surfing in southern California. I decided to do something I had sworn I never would. I started surfing in Oregon, one of the fiercest places to ride a wave in the world.
Oregon storms generate some of the biggest swells in the Pacific oceans, which mean the open ocean currents are fast and the rip currents on the beaches are deadly. Big and powerful pair with frigid dark water and usually rain. Rogue waves twice the size of a normal swell are common. Volkswagen bug sized Driftwood and old growth Doug Fir logs the size of long haul trucks frequently wash through the waves from logging operations up river. Don’t forget, Great White sharks. I personally know two people who have been in the water during a shark attack in Oregon.
Why in hell would I take up surfing in Oregon? Great question. I guess I wanted to feel something other than grief. I wanted to feel the thrill of being alive, something I often felt in my twenties surfing in Santa Barbara and north Malibu.
At Otter Rock north of Newport, Oregon I regularly paddled out into 8-12 foot surf. I learned quickly I was not in my twenties anymore. For the first hour my heart pounded in managing my thoughts of drowning. I breathed through the panic as the big cold waves slapped my face, and thoughts of razor sharp teeth plagued my anxious mind.
After an hour, the fear subsided, my body relaxed and the joy I remembered as a younger adult flowed through my heart. I returned week after week to Newport. I gradually fell in love with the Oregon surf, but still felt afraid for thirty to forty minutes out in the water. I wondered, “What am I doing? I have two little kids. Why am I so scared in the water and why do I think about sharks often?” I questioned if some part of me wanted to be put down, by the waves and massive jaws of the Great White, to be pulled down into the dark water and be done with it all.
A few weeks later, I found myself exhausted, as waves of grief washed over me. Tears welled up spontaneously, and I couldn’t track a reason. What was I grieving? A long list of tragedies, some related to Covid, patients dying of cancer, relationships ending, many variations of loss.
At a retreat with my men’s group, I shared my fatigue and grief with my friends. One man turned to look me in the eye and said, “Luke, why don’t you feel your fatigue right here, right now?” His sincere invitation broke through my numb façade. As I let myself yawn and stretched spontaneously, I began to cough and wheeze. Something was stuck in my lungs. I coughed harder and the wheezing increased. My breath labored and I gasped for air. Ounces of clear fluid and blood streaked mucous erupted out of my mouth. As I gulped for air and purged the thick fluid from my lungs, the faces of patients and loved ones lost flashed before me. Their pain, my pain, our pain stuck in my lungs. Sticky, white, frothy fluid, the medium of grief dislodged from my body.
The coronation purged the last vestiges of me that clung to endure, persist and outlast any challenge life could throw. Asphyxiated by the mechanics of my survival, the toughest parts of my identity drowned in grief. The metaphoric jaws of the Great White had me and would not let go until I did.
What remained of me looked like a pithy, pathetic weakling, I opined about myself. I did not recognize my face. My friends said I looked dead.
I felt sad and exhausted. I no longer had any desire to push myself or allow my inner Tony Robbins to motivate the hell out of my loved ones and me. I could see with utter sobriety, I’d developed a habit of overriding and excessively self-motivation to persist and endure at the expense of my health, in the name of survival.
Inside, I registered an extremely tender place that felt sad and exhausted. I recognized, not the feelings, but the place as the vital and primal essence of my being.
I could feel with utter clarity the location of my individual soul, even as its chalice held grief and fatigue. Relief washed over me as I consciously chose not to override the feeling with my inner survivor and my inner motivator.
The most tender soft place within me sat my soul. If my awareness remained centered on this palatial home, I could tend to me pain and nurture my wellbeing. The grief gave way to a poignant facet of sadness. The stage of grief that follows acceptance revealed a new stage; the celebration of life lived and memories cherished.
The most beautiful thing happened to my sadness.
It turned into longing, a deep cutting longing to be united with all that I am. I welcomed the motivator and the survivor. They were not to be cast away or disowned but honored as faithful servants who helped me start and build a life that could provide for my family and serve the well being of others.
I believe this longing is what Charles was sensing when he wrote The Coronation. Not so much an upleveling but an inleveling. An evolution, yes, but more so an involution towards our inner most goodness, tenderness—a place that naturally knows the correct and most sustainable pace to move through life, sensibly recognizing when a boundary is needed, when too much or too little of something needs adjusting. In his own words, Eisenstein says,
“The true sovereign serves the people, serves life, and respects the sovereignty of all people. The coronation marks the emergence of the unconscious into consciousness, the crystallization of chaos into order, the transcendence of compulsion into choice. We become the rulers of that which had ruled us. The New World Order that the conspiracy theorists fear is a shadow of the glorious possibility available to sovereign beings. No longer the vassals of fear, we can bring order to the kingdom and build an intentional society on the love already shining through the cracks of the world of separation.”
At first glance, the coronation is not an evolution into a celestial realm out there in the cosmology of divine light. It is asking us to take up residence within our deepest sensitivity. To live from that intelligence and allow it to shape a world that we could easefully love, steward and pass on to our children.
I’m a healer. My deepest self is compelled to make life whole.
How do we find wholeness in these times?
Resistance is futile.
The painful work of making life whole is inborn. Most of us have been shamed away from this innate capacity.
To feel life right now is as simple as allowing the breath into our lungs.
Feeling—our most primal sense—has become a bad word, a concept relegated to the weak. So say the resistors married to fear ruling all decisions.
The coronation is an invitation—an unrelenting invitation for humanity to feel our way into and through what arises in our bodies, and perpetually arrive home to our sensitivity, sensibility and simple knowing of what might serve everything we care about.
I recently visited with a patient who felt overwhelmed with grief. Her mother had Covid, but it was the metastatic colon cancer that would imminently end her life. My patient couldn’t travel back East to be with mom because she had to care take family here in Oregon. At our last session, She said to me, “ Luke this is too much to feel. I’m drowning.” I replied, “You are.” I listened to her pour out her anger and heartbreak for the next hour. I hear these stories multiple times a day.
Her sentiment, “this is too much to feel,” could be a broad-spectrum characterization for these times. Yet, what is now clear to me, two years into this novel life with no “end” in sight is we have two choices.
I have consumed more hamburgers, French fries and pizza in the last two years than I have in my whole life. I have dedicated much time to Netflix, HBOMax, and Apple tv. I even developed a compulsive shopping addiction for nine months. I have tried many ways to numb the pain. I can’t do it anymore. Though I have some strength to keep fighting, I don’t see a world that is sustainably nourished from pushing myself to the brink.
So, I’m giving my soul a chance to feel its way through the pain, and it hurts, and I’m learning that I can do it. I can feel through anything. I’m learning if I allow my soul to feel the feelings in my body, I can use the information I get to inform my choices. No matter how painful the feeling, I simultaneously feel integrated. I feel good. I feel congruent with my ability to give. Even when I feel sad and angry, a sense of wellbeing is also present.
So, I wonder how your coronation is going?
How much are you fighting?
How much are you resisting?
Are you sick of numbing?
Are you ready to feel?
You are so much more powerful than you think.
It you let all your struggles go, if you go with the current, things will fall apart.
Life will burn down.
You will not rise like the phoenix.
When the ashes clear the truest, most exquisite sensible version of you will remain and this is the you we need to rebuild life again—to build life in the image of your own deep beauty and virtuosity.
I’m finding my way and hope you are as well.
Please write me and share how you are fairing in the coronation conflagration.
I’m so deeply interested in your process.
Here’s a hug. Love…Luke