Coquelicot Gilland

Coquelicot's work has evolved through her more than 20 years of experience of being a minister with the Association & Integration of the Whole Person (AIWP). To every session, Coquelicot brings her intuition and vast knowledge base. Then she gets out of the way to let something else arise; she makes room for a larger knowledge, and invites grace to enter. Coquelicot has a capacity for deep listening, listening beyond the limits of her personality and academic learning. By dropping and melting into something much larger than herself, she becomes simultaneously a student and a teacher, a facilitator and a catalyst. From there, she supports people to free themselves from the internal obstacles that block their innate ability to access this source directly.

Rage as Teacher – Women Who Run With Wolves

The central motif of this story, the quest for a magical item, is found throughout the world. In some cases it is a woman who makes the journey, in others a man. The magical thing being sought is an eyelash, a nose hair, a tooth, a ring, a feather, or some other physical element. Variations on the motif of an animal part or pelt as treasure are found in Korea, Germany, and the Urals. In China, the donor is often a tiger. In Japan, the animal in the story is sometimes a bear, sometimes a fox. In Russia, the object sought is the beard of a bear. In one tale from my family, the hair sought is a whisker from the chin of the Baba Yaga herself.

"The Crescent Moon Bear" story belongs to a category of tales I call aperture stories. Aperture stories allow us to glimpse their hidden healing structures and deeper meanings, rather than just their overt contents. The content of this story shows us that patience will help anger, but the larger transmission is about what a woman must do in order to restore order in the psyche, thereby healing the angry self.

In aperture stories, things are implied rather than stated. In this tale, the understructure reveals an entire model for dealing with, and healing from rage: by seeking a wise and calm healing force (going to the healer), accepting the challenge of going into psychic territory one has never approached before (climbing the mountain), recognizing the illusions (dealing with climbing the boulders, running under the trees), putting one's old and obsessive thoughts and feelings to rest (meeting the muen-botoke, restless spirits without relatives to bury them), soliciting the great compassionate Self (patiently feeding the bear and the bear returning her kindness), understanding the roaring side of the compassionate psyche (recognizing that the bear, the compassionate Self, is not tame).

The story demonstrates the importance of bringing this psychological knowledge down to earth in our real lives (coming down off the mountain and back into the village), learning that healing is in the process of questing and practice, not in a single idea (destruction of the hair). The heart of the story is, "Apply all these things to one's rage, and all will be well" (advice from the healer to go home and apply these principles).

This story is one of a group of stories that begin with the protagonist appealing to or soliciting an injured, lonely creature of one sort or another. If we look at the story as if all components were part of a single woman's psyche, we can see that the psyche has a very angry and tortured sector as represented by the image of the husband home from the war. The loving spirit of the psyche, the wife, takes it upon herself to find a cure for this anger and rage so she and her love can live in peace and with love once again. This is a worthy endeavor for all women, for it treats rage and often allows us to find our way to forgiveness.
The tale shows us that patience is a good thing to apply to fresh or old rage, as is embarking on a quest for its healing. Though each person's healing and insight will be different, the story proposes some interesting ideas about how to go about the process.

A great philosopher-prince named Shotoku Taishi lived in Japan at the turn of the sixth century. He taught, among other things, that one must do psychic work in both the inner and outer worlds. But even more so, he taught tolerance for every human, every creature, and every emotion. The balanced valuing of emotion is certainly an act of self-respect.

Even raw and messy emotions can be understood as a form of light, crackling and bursting with energy. We can use the light of rage in a positive way, in order to see into places we cannot usually see. A negative use of rage concentrates destructively in one tiny spot until like acid creating an ulcer, it burns a black hole right through all the delicate layers of the psyche.

But there is another way. All emotion, even rage, carries knowledge, insight, what some call enlightenment. Our rage can, for a time, become teacher . . . a thing not to be rid of so fast, but rather something to climb the mountain for, something to personify via various images in order to learn from, deal with internally, then shape into something useful in the world as a result, or else let it go back down, to dust. In a cohesive life, rage is not a stand-alone item. It is a substance waiting for our transformative efforts. The cycle of rage is like any other cycle; it rises, falls, dies, and is released as new energy. Attention to the matter of rage begins the process of transformation.

Allowing oneself to be taught by one's rage, thereby transforming it, disperses it. One's energy returns to use in other areas, especially the area of creativity. Although some people claim they can create out of their chronic rage, the problem is that rage confines access to the collective unconscious—that infinite reservoir of imaginal images and thoughts—so that a person creating out of rage tends to create the same thing over and over again, with nothing new coming through.

Untransformed rage can become a constant mantra about how oppressed, hurt, and tortured we were.

One of my friends and fellow performance artists, who claims to have been enraged forever, refuses all help in dealing with it. When she writes scripts about war, she writes about how bad people are; when she writes scripts about the culture, similar bad characters arise. When she writes scripts about love, the same bad people with the identical bad intentions show up. Rage corrodes our trust that anything good can occur. Something has happened to hope. And behind the loss of hope is usually anger; behind anger, pain; behind pain, usually torture of one sort or another, sometimes recent, but more often from long ago.
In physical post-trauma work, we know that the sooner injury is dealt with, the less its effects spread or worsen. Also the more quickly a trauma is contained and dealt with, the faster the recovery time. This is true for psychological trauma as well. What condition would we be in if we'd broken a leg as a child, and thirty years later it still had not been properly set?

The original trauma would cause tremendous disruption of other systems and rhythms in the body, such as the immune and skeletal systems, locomotion patterns, and so on. That is precisely the situation with old psychological trauma. For many it was not attended to at the time, whether out of ignorance or neglect. Now, one is home from the war, so to speak, but it feels as though one is still at war in the mind and body. Yet by harboring rage—that is, the fallout of trauma—instead of questing for solutions to it, what caused it, what we can do with it, we seal ourselves into a room full of it for the rest of our lives. That is no way to live, intermittently or otherwise. There is a life beyond thoughtless rage. As we see in the tale, it takes a conscious practice to contain and heal such. But we can do it. It truly takes only climbing through one step at a time.

Bringing in the Healer: Climbing the Mountain
So rather than trying to "behave" and not feel our rage or rather than using it to burn down every living thing in a hundred-mile radius, it is better to first ask rage to take a seat with us, have some tea, talk a while so we can find out what summoned this visitor. At first rage acts like the angry husband in the story. It doesn't want to talk, it doesn't want to eat, just wants to sit there and stare, or rail, or be left alone. It is at this critical point that we call the healer, our wisest self, our best resources for seeing beyond ego irritation and aggravation. The healer is always the "far-seer." She is the one who can tell us what good can come from exploring this emotive surge.

Healers in fairy tales generally represent a calm and unperturbed aspect of the psyche. Even though the world may be falling to pieces outwardly, the inner healer is unswayed by it all and maintains the calm to figure out the best way to proceed. Every woman's psyche contains this "fixer." It is part of the wild and natural psyche and we are born with it. If we have lost track of its whereabouts, we can call it again by looking calmly at the situation causing us rage, projecting ourselves into the future, and from that vantage point deciding what would make us feel proud of our past behavior, and then acting that way.
The outrage or irritation we naturally feel about various aspects of life and culture is exacerbated when there were repeated incidents of disrespect, harrowing, neglect, or high ambiguity' in childhood. A person thusly injured is sensitized to further injury and utilizes all defenses to avoid them.' Gross losses of power, meaning loss of certainty that we are worthy of care, respect, and concern, cause extreme sorrow and angry childhood vows to, once grown, never allow oneself to be harmed like that ever again.

Additionally, if a woman was raised to have fewer positive expectations than others in the family, with harsh restraints on her freedoms, deportment, language, and so forth, her normal anger is likely to escalate over issues, tones of voice, gestures, words, and other sensory triggers that remind her of the original events) Sometimes educated guesses can be made about the wounds of childhood by closely inspecting what matters adults irrationally lose their tempers over.
We want to use anger as a creative force. We want to use it to change, develop, and protect. So, whether a woman is dealing with the aggravation of the moment with an offspring, or some sort of a searing lengthy burn, the perspective of the healer is the same: When there is calm, there can be learning, there can be creative solutions, but where there is firestorm, inside or out, it burns hot and leaves nothing but ash. We want to be able to look back on our actions with honor. We want something useful to show for feeling angry.

While it is true that we sometimes need to vent our rage before we can progress to a learning calm, this needs be done in containment of some sort. Otherwise it is like throwing a lighted match onto gasoline. The healer says yes, this rage can be changed, but I need something from another world, something from the instinctual world, the world where animals still talk and the spirits live—something from the human imagination.
In Buddhism there is a questing action called nyubu, which means to go into the mountains in order to understand oneself and to remake one's connections to the Great. It is a very old ritual related to the cycles of preparing the earth, sowing, and harvesting. While it might be good to go into the real mountains if possible, there are also mountains in the underworld, in one's own unconscious, and luckily, we all carry the entrance to the underworld right in our own psyches, so we can go into the mountains for renewal with dispatch.

In mythos, a mountain is sometimes understood as a symbol describing the levels of mastery one must attain before one can ascend to the next level. The lowest part of the mountain, the foothills, often represents the urge toward consciousness. All that occurs in the foothills is thought of in terms of maturing consciousness. The middle part of the mountain is often thought of as the steeping part of the process, the part that tests the knowledge learned at lower levels. The higher mountain represents intensified learning; the air is thin there, it takes endurance and determination to stay at the tasks. The peak of the mountain represents confrontation with the ultimate wisdom, such as that in mythos wherein the old woman lives atop the mountain, or as in this story, the wise old bruin.

So, it is good to take to the mountain when we don't know what else to do. When we are drawn to quests we know little about, this makes life and develops soul. In climbing the unknown mountain we gain true knowledge of the instinctive psyche and the creative acts of which it is capable—that is our goal. Learning occurs differently for each person. But the instinctual viewpoint that emanates from the wild unconscious, and that is cyclical, begins to be the only one that makes sense of and gives meaning to life, our lives. It unerringly informs us about what to do next. Where can we find this process that will free us? On the mountain.
On the mountain we find additional clues about how to transform the hurt, negativism, and grudge-holding aspects of rage, all usually felt and often warranted initially. One is the phrase "Arigato zaisho," which the woman sings to thank the trees and the mountains for allowing her to pass. Figuratively translated, the phrase means "Thank you, Illusion." In Japanese, zaisho means a clear way of looking at matters that interfere with deeper understandings of ourselves and the world.

An illusion occurs when something creates an image that is not real, such as heat waves on a road that make the road seem wavy. That there are heat waves is accurate, but the road is not really wavy. That is the illusion. The first piece of information is accurate, but the second piece, the conclusion, is not.
In the story the mountain allows the woman passage and the trees lift their limbs to let her pass. This symbolizes a lifting of illusions that allows the woman to proceed on her quest. In Buddhism there are said to be seven veils of illusion. As each is discarded a person is said to understand another aspect of the true nature of life and the self. To lift the veils makes one strong enough to tolerate what life is about; and to see into the patterns of events, people, and things; and eventually to learn not to take the first impression so deadly seriously, but to look behind and beyond.

In Buddhism, the lifting of the veils is necessary for enlightenment. The woman in this tale is on a journey to bring light into the darkness of rage. To do this she must understand the many layers of reality there on the mountain. We have so many illusions about life. "She is beautiful, therefore she is desirable" can be an illusion. "I am good, therefore I will be accepted" may also be an illusion. When we look for our truth, we are also looking to dispel our illusions. When we are able to see through these illusions, which in Buddhism would be called "barriers to enlightenment," we are able to discover the hidden side of rage.

These are some common illusions about rage. "If I lose my rage, I will be changed; I will become weaker." (The first premise is correct, but the conclusion is inaccurate.) "I learned my rage from my father [mother, grandmother, etc.] and I am doomed to feel this way all my life." (First statement, accurate; conclusion, inaccurate.) These illusions are challenged by questing, by asking, studying, peering under the trees, and by climbing the body of the mountain. We lose our illusions when we take the risk to meet the aspect of our nature that is truly wild; a mentor of life, rage, patience, suspicion, wariness, secretiveness, remoteness, and resourcefulness . . . the crescent moon bear.

While the woman is on the mountain, birds fly out at her. They are muen-botoke, spirits of dead people who have no family to feed them, comfort them, lay them to rest. When she prays for them, she becomes their family, she cares for them and comforts them. This is a useful way to understand the orphaned dead of the psyche. These are the creative thoughts and words and ideas in a woman's life that have suffered premature death, and that deeply contribute to her rage. In a way, one could say rage is the result of ghosts not laid properly to rest. There are suggestions for how to deal with the muen-botoke of a woman's psyche at the end of this chapter under Descansos.

As in the story, it is a worthy task to propitiate the wise bear, the instinctive psyche, and to keep offering it spiritual food, whether that be church, prayer, archetypal psychology, dreamlife, art, rock climbing, canoeing, travel, or whatever else. To come close to the mystery of the bear, one gives it food. It is quite a journey, this fixing of rage: stripping down illusions, taking rage as teacher, asking the help of the instinctual psyche, laying the dead past to rest.

The Spirit Bear
What does the symbol of bear, as opposed to fox, or badger, or quetzal, teach us about dealing with the angry self ? To the ancients, bear symbolized resurrection. The creature goes to sleep for a long time, its heartbeat decreases to almost nothing. The male often impregnates the female right before hibernation, but miraculously, the egg and sperm do not unite right away. They float separately in her uterine broth until much later. Near the end of hibernation, the egg and sperm unite and cell division begins, so that the cubs will be born in the spring when the mother is awakening, just in time to care for and teach her new offspring. Not only by reason of awakening from hibernation as though from death, but much more so because the she-bear awakens with new young, this creature is a profound metaphor for our lives, for return and increase coming from something that seemed deadened.

The bear is associated with many huntress Goddesses: Artemis and Diana in Greece and Rome, and Muerte and Hecoteptl, mud women deities handed down through the Latina cultures. These Goddesses bestowed upon women the power of tracking, knowing, "digging out" the psychic aspects of all things. To the Japanese the bear is a symbol of loyalty, wisdom, and strength. In northern Japan where the Ainu tribe lives, the bear is one who can talk to God directly and bring messages back for humans. The crescent moon bear is considered a sacred being, one who was given the white mark on his throat by the Buddhist Goddess Kwan-Yin, whose emblem is a crescent moon. Kwan-Yin is the Goddess of Deep Compassion and the bear is her emissary.
In the psyche, the bear can be understood as the ability to regulate one's life, especially one's feeling life. Bearish power is the ability to move in cycles, be fully alert, or quiet down into a hibernative sleep that renews one's energy for the next cycle. The bear image teaches that it is possible to maintain a kind of pressure gauge for one's emotional life, and most especially that one can be fierce and generous at the same time. One can be reticent and valuable. One can protect one's territory, make one's boundaries clear, shake the sky if need be, yet be available, accessible, engendering all at the same time.
The hair from the throat of the bear is a talisman, a way to remember what one has learned. As we see, it is invaluable.
The Transformative Fire and Right Action

The bear shows great compassion toward the woman, allowing her to pluck one of his hairs. She hurries back down the mountain, practicing all the gestures, songs, and praises that spontaneously rose out of her as she climbed the mountain. She comes running to the healer, so anxious. She might have said, "Look, I did it, I did what you told me. I endured. I triumphed." The old healer, who is also kind, takes a moment, lets the woman savor her accomplishment, and then throws the hard-won hair into the fire.The woman is stunned. What has this crazy healer done? "Go home," says the healer. "Practice what you have learned." In Zen, the moment the hair is thrown into the fire and the healer speaks her simple words, that is the moment of true enlightenment. Notice that enlightenment does not occur on the mountain. It occurs when, by burning the hair of the crescent moon bear, the projection of magical cure is dissolved. We all face this issue, for we all hope that if we work hard and have a high holy quest, we will come up with a something, a substance, a material something or other that will—flash!¬make everything orderly forever.

But that is not the way it works. It works exactly the way it is rendered in the story. We can have all the knowledge in the universe, and it comes down to one thing: practice. It comes down to going home and step-by-step implementing what we know. As often as necessary, and for as long as possible, or forever, whichever comes first. It is very reassuring to know that when one is in a burgeoning rage one knows precisely and with the skill of a craftswoman what to do about it: wait it out, release illusions, take it for a climb on the mountain, speak with it, respect it as a teacher.
We are given many markers in this story, many ideas about coming to balance: making patience, giving the enraged one kindness and time to get over his rage through introspection and questing. There is an old saying:

Before Zen, mountains were mountains and trees were trees. During Zen, mountains were thrones of the spirits and trees were the voices of wisdom. After Zen, mountains were mountains and trees were trees.

While the woman was on the mountain, learning, everything was magic. Now that she is off the mountain, the so-called magical hair has been burned in the fire that destroys illusion, and now it is time for "after Zen." Life is supposed to become mundane again. Yet she has the bounty of her experience on the mountain.

She has knowing. The energy that was bound up in rage can be used for other things.
Now a woman who has come to terms with rage returns to mundane life with new knowing, a new sense that she can more artfully live her life. Yet one day in the future, a something—a look, a word, a tone of voice, a feeling of being patronized, unappreciated, or manipulated against one's will, one of these—will crop up again. Then her residue of pain will catch fire.

Rage left over from old injuries can be compared to the trauma of a shrapnel wound. One can pick out almost all the pieces of shattered metal from the missile, but the tiniest shards remain. One would think that if most are out, that would be that. Not so. On some occasions, those tiniest shards twist and turn within and cause an ache that feels like the original wounding (rage rising up) all over again.

But it is not the original and vast rage that causes this welling up, It is the very small particles of it, the irritants still left in the psyche that can never be fully excised. These cause a pain that is almost as intense as that of the original injury. Then a person tightens up, fearing the full blow of the pain, in effect causing more pain. They are involved in drastic maneuvers on three fronts: one in trying to contain the outside event, one in attempting to contain the pain broadcasting from the old injury inside, and one trying to secure safety of position by running, head down in a psychological crouch.
It is too much to ask a single individual to take on the equivalent of a gang of three and try to KO all of them at one time. That is why it is imperative to stop in the midst of it all, withdraw, and take solitude. It is too much to try to fight and handle feeling gut-shot at the same time. A woman who has climbed the mountain withdraws, deals with the older event first, then the more recent event, decides her position, shakes out her ruff, puts up her ears, and goes back out to act with dignity.

None of us can entirely escape our history. We can certainly put it in the background, but it is there nevertheless. However, if you will do these things for yourself, you will bridge the rage and eventually everything will calm down and be fine. Not perfect, but fine. You'll be able to move ahead. The time of the shrapnel rage will be over. You'll handle it better and better each time because you'll know when it is time to call in the healer again, to climb the mountain, release yourself from the illusions that the present is an exact and calculated replay of the past. A woman remembers that she can be both fierce and generous at the same time. Rage is not like a kidney stone—if you wait long enough, it will pass. No, no. You must take right action. Then it will pass, and more creation will come to your life.

Righteous Rage
To turn the other cheek, that is, to remain silent in the face of injustice or mistreatment, has to be weighed very carefully. It is one thing to use passive resistance as a political tool as Gandhi taught masses of people to do, but it is quite another matter when women are encouraged or forced to be silent in order to survive an impossible situation of corrupt or unjust power in the family, community, or world. Then women are amputated from the wild nature and their silence is not serenity but an enormous defense against being harmed. It is a mistake for others to think that just because a woman is silent, it always means she approves of life as is.

There are times when it becomes imperative to release a rage that shakes the skies. There is a time—even though these times are very rare, there is definitely a time—to let loose all the firepower one has. It has to be in response to a serious offense; the offense has to be big and against the soul or spirit. All other reasonable avenues for change have to be attempted first. If these fail, then we have to choose the right time. There is definitely a right time for full-bore rage. When women pay attention to the instinctual self, like the man in the following tale, they know when it is time. Intuitively, they know and they act. And it is right. Right as rain.

This story is from the Mideast. In Asia, versions of it are told by Sufis, Buddhists, and Hindus.' It belongs to the category of story that treats of performing the forbidden or unsanctioned act in order to redeem life.

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Coquelicot teaches didactically, experientially and by example. She brings to each session a lifetime's worth of tools, exercises and practices that I use at home to further my own development. Her genius combines intuition, sensing and a comprehensive knowledge of human emotional and biological development. What I've learned from her has not only given me a deeper understanding of my own patterns, dynamics and behaviors, it's also enhanced my understanding of others. I am a far more compassionate person thanks Coquelicot. In fact to the degree that I am a more evolved being in any regard, Coquelicot was instrumental in my transformation.

-L. M. Artist and wellness ally

"Dear God:

Please untie the knots that are in my mind, my heart and my life. Remove the have nots, the can nots and the do nots that I have in my mind. Erase the will nots,
may nots,
might nots that may find a home in my heart.
Release me from the could nots, would nots and should nots that obstruct my life.
And most of all,
Dear God,
I ask that you remove from my mind,
my heart and my life, all of the 'am nots' that I have allowed to hold me back, especially the thought that I am not good enough. Amen."
- Author unknown, The Knots Prayer

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