Don’t get me wrong, Octopi are marvelous creatures. Intelligent problem solvers, they apparently have a little brain in each of their tentacles in addition to a big one in their head. My tentacles should be so fortunate. They also respond to affection.

That said, I had a vivid spiritual image this morning in meditation that involved an Octopus. The teacher that was holding the meditation invited us to do a forgiveness practice with, and for our ancestors. Western culture is not so big on ancestral focus, but those who came before us are responsible for our being here, and hopefully in a good place. Thank you grands, great-grands and onward.

I was meditating on the possibility of angels and other protectors who might be holding the dark at bay for me, and a vision came up in my mind of being on the other side of a big glass barrier with an angry octopus on the other side. It was looking at me with a scowl, and writhing its tentacles against the glass, trying to get through. It seemed like a concentrated symbol of all my karmic debt with souls that to whom I have caused suffering. I felt safe enough, so I had a dialog with this creature.

All the while pounding against the glass. Looking closer I could see that there were manacles at on each of the tentacles, and that each tentacle grasped an object. One was what looked like a cannon ball, or a bowling ball, heavy and black. Another held a pitchfork, one more held a big live coal, burning red. All represented some long held bitterness, some long cherished revenge. All the animal would have had to do was let go of the object, and the tentacle would be free of the manacle, it would simply have slid off.

I asked,

The creature hung motionless in the water, considering.

The Octopus continued to look at me with it’s hooded eyes, unblinking.

I tried again.

Slowly, slowly, the tentacle with the fiery coal raised up, and released its hold. The coal fizzled away, and the manacle slipped easily off. The Octopus had seemed to be a sort of grey-brown color, but the liberated tentacle became filled with colored light, animated with life. It commenced to performing some kind of light art work in the water, a delicate filigree of intricate designs in gold and silver. The eyes of the Octopus popped wide with wonder, reflecting the light.

At this point, my mind came up out of the meditation, and the vision ceased.

The analogy seems clear enough. If we persist in clutching fiery coals, how can we be free to express our highest possibility?

Kristin Strachan

Teacher, practitioner, student.

I was in the Far East and I went into a restaurant and I ordered octopus and the waiter said: “It takes four hours.” I asked why and he said: “It keeps turning off the gas.”

Frank Carson



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