Geburah: The pain of unbecoming

This post is the sixth in a series highlighting each sphere in the Tree of Life. For additional background on the Qabala, see Guided Meditation: Introduction to the Tree of LifeLearning Qabala through storyLearning Qabala: Where to start?, and Qabala is queer, and it isn’t even sneaky about it.

Geburah is the fifth sphere on the Tree, sitting right in the middle of the “feminine” pillar/pillar of form/pillar of severity. Geburah is commonly associated with war and destruction.

And Geburah is well worth considering, especially as people are taking to the streets to protest abuses of power against people of color this week. Geburah is about destruction, yes, but it’s about destroying that which does not serve, that which is harmful; and white supremacy only causes harm in a society claiming to be the “land of the free.” The actions of the protestors are Geburic actions.

Geburah is about standing up for justice. It’s about not allowing corrupt systems to perpetuate.

On a macro level, Geburah is the metabolism of the universe. Many of us were taught to value creation over destruction, but truly one could not exist without the other. A world in which things are endlessly created would get impossibly crowded. Likewise, a world with nothing but destruction would be barren. These two forces are parts of a necessary, anabolic/metabolic cycle, like plant waste breaks down to become compost, then enriches the soil to grow new food.

Want more analogies? Here we go.

White blood cells perform Geburic action within your body, removing harmful elements from your system. Geburah debunks falsehoods (MythBusters!) and laughs at tyrants to humble them (SNL!). Geburah is your personal trainer or life coach, helping you develop the discipline needed to achieve your goals. Geburah is the editor that makes the manuscript really sing (and, unfortunately, it’s also the rejection letter when you’ve still got more work to do). Geburah tells you to stop getting distracted and just do the thing already. Geburah protects and fights for freedom.

Geburah is not about wanton destruction or cruelty. Those using destruction to prop up the status quo are not aligned with Geburah.

Geburah is the “celestial surgeon,” to quote Dion Fortune, and it’s where we learn our hardest but most valuable lessons, and where lasting change happens.

What makes Geburah queer?

Last week I introduced the idea of the “coming-out triangle” comprised of Chesed, Geburah, and Tiphareth. Tiphareth’s part of the equation is the euphoria of coming out to yourself, of realizing and beginning to live your truth. But in order to live that truth, there are some things you have to let go. Geburah is about unbecoming what you’re not in order to make room for the potential of who you can become.

Unbecoming is not an easy process. Many people who come out as queer are faced with uncomfortable choices when they realize their true self: Do I tell my family/friends/boss, or do I live a lie to maintain those relationships at status quo? Am I willing to let go of the image of myself I’ve had for so many years, an image built up and supported by those around me of what I look like, how I act, who I date, whether I date at all?

What if everyone hates me?

What if nobody understands?

I don’t want to be alone.

What if I’m wrong, and I’m not this way at all?

Even if you’ve spent your whole life surrounded by queer people, it still takes a tremendous amount of courage to come out to others. (Courage is also a Geburic trait.) Many queer people face very real consequences for coming out. Beyond the inherent difficulties of processing the question “Who am I now?” many queer people may encounter unsupportive or downright hostile family and communities. And depending on where you live, your rights may be severely restricted or your life may be in danger if you’re openly queer. (More on this from HRC for a U.S. view, and more from Wikipedia for a global view.)

(PSA: Do not “out” people or pressure them to come out before they’re ready. Respect people’s autonomy to find the right time for themselves.)

For those who choose to come out to their family and friends, there are rewards as well as new challenges. One of those rewards is to reimagine possibilities for yourself, to embrace an authentic life. More on that next week, when we talk about Chesed.

Beyond its coming-out associations, Geburah gets bonus queer points:

1. Stonewall (which, incidentally, was a riot started by Black trans women) was a Geburic action.

2. Geburah is one of two genderfluid spheres on the Tree. It has two Hebrew names: Geburah (feminine) and Din (masculine).

Pathworking to experience Geburah

Below is a recording and text of a pathworking to help you experience Geburah. If you wish to subscribe to future pathworkings, you can do so on SoundcloudGoogle PlayTuneInStitcher, and Spotify.

Welcome to the Geburah pathworking, from Major Arqueerna. Please ensure you are seated comfortably and won’t be disturbed for the next ten minutes while you do this pathworking.

Close your eyes. Take three deep breaths, slowly, in and out. With each exhalation, let go any tension you find in your body.

Without opening your eyes, visualize the room around you. Now picture it fillin g with a gray mist, starting at the floor and working its way up to the ceiling, until the only thing you can see is grayness. As the mist dissipates, you find yourself in a field, sitting on a small, wooden platform colored olive, citrine, russet, and black. It’s night, and you can hear crickets, cicadas, and other night insects buzz and chirp around you. It’s warm and humid.

You look at the starry night sky and notice a red dot towards the horizon. It’s Mars. As you gaze at it, the platform you’re sitting on begins to move towards it, skating along the ground and eventually grazing treetops and lifting higher and higher into the atmosphere. The air grows colder as you ascend and you feel your blood boil with determination, strength and courage the closer you get to Mars. The red planet grows larger and larger until it fills your vision and then you are surrounded by a red mist.

When the mist dissipates, you find yourself in a courtyard surrounded by brick buildings. It appears to be a university. You take a look around and your eyes fall upon a person wearing red academic robes standing in front of you. “Hello,” they say, crisply. “Welcome to Geburah. Let’s take a tour.” They turn and begin walking away. You follow.

“Geburah is where people come to optimize themselves,” says your guide. “What is optimal is different for each person, but everybody can improve by letting go the things that no longer serve them.”

You walk past several empty rooms, and your guide gestures at each one briefly to explain what they are. There’s a group therapy room, a ritual space, a fashion show catwalk, an art studio, a stand-up comedy space, music practice rooms, a gym, a doctor’s office and surgery center, a self-defence classroom, meditation spaces, and more. “All these spaces are where people can let go, in some way,” your guide explains. “Or help them create healthy boundaries with others, or themselves. People cling to self-destructive ideas and habits that keep them from realizing their potential. Here, we help them shed those things. It’s often a painful, but productive experience. Lifelong lessons are learned here.” 

“Now,” asks your guide. “Which of these spaces would you like to see in more detail?” You find yourself drawn to one of the rooms. What sort of space is it? What do you see? What features stand out to you?

(pause)

Your guide asks why you chose that room. Answer them.

(pause)

Your guide may have some wisdom to offer you regarding how this space reflects something going on in your life – something you need to refine or let go of. Listen to what they have to say to you.

(pause)

Your guide pulls a gift from their pocket and hands it to you. It is a small, 5-sided red box with the words “Send love to Future You” inscribed on it. “Open it,” your guide says. “It contains something that will help you with your goals.” What do you find inside the box?

(pause)

You thank your guide for the gift, and the tour. They bow and walk you back to the courtyard where you began. You step onto the platform you rode to get here. Your guide offers you a salute, and you are surrounded by a red mist. When the mist dissipates, you are once again flying through space, towards Earth. You contemplate your gift as the Earth grows larger in your sight. Soon, you break through the atmosphere, and the air grows progressively warmer as you glide back down to the field where you began. You step off the platform and gaze up at the night sky, offering a silent thanks to Mars for the experience you’ve had today.

Eventually, the air around you begins to fill with a pearly-gray mist, until you can no longer see the field. When the mist dissipates, you find yourself seated comfortably once more. Take a deep breath, wiggle your fingers and your toes, and when you are ready, open your eyes.   

Thank you for listening to this pathworking from Major Arqueerna. If you enjoyed it, please take a moment to subscribe and share it with a friend. More content can be found at majorarqueerna.com.

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