“Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair / That I may climb the golden stair.”

When I was a little girl, my father read to me often. He read so theatrically, I can still hear the voice of Rapunzel’s handsome suitor, beckoning the princess in the turret to drop her flowing locks. All right, it’s a bit of the maiden-in-distress-needing-rescue scenario, but I think the stunner in the tower knew exactly what she was doing. Like Rapunzel, in “letting our hair down” emotionally, we too, could facilitate ascension.

Anxiety and depression imprison us. Holistic modalities based upon natural, ancient systems of healing offer a way out. Acupuncture, aromatherapy, Bach Flower Remedies, Reiki and the like alleviate symptoms and rebalance us energetically, all without provoking addiction or side effects. I am untrained in these methods, so my angle on this month’s topic is more about spiritual strategies for moving us beyond the paralysis of being anxious or depressed.

In the spiritual journey, we are motivated to attain a deeper understanding of our human condition. Cedric Red Feather once confided in a mentor that he was feeling a nagging pull of uncertainty, “more of an uneasiness,” as he puts it. The elder looked back at him kindly and said, “Your spirit is growing.” Now whenever that feeling washes over him, Cedric is aware that great shifts are underway; and he is able to reassure himself, “My spirit is growing.”

Just yesterday morning, I was reflecting upon how I could transmute feeling walled off in a stone fortress of fatigue and immobility. Things weren’t going my way, leaving me with a sense of heaviness and uncertainty.

During my errand at the bank, I stepped up onto the entrance walkway and glanced down momentarily at the curb. Near the edge lay a small, slightly impaled creature, its slate blue and gray wings spread symmetrically open like an angel’s on either side of its now lifeless body. All the pretty swallow wanted was to swoop gracefully under the eaves, offering beauty, song and a few hatchlings; instead, it died, dazed and alone. My heart welled with compassion for this brilliant creature, temporarily displacing a state of self-absorption and quelling any internal regrets.

That entire day seemed filled with emotional challenges. A series of developments and people encounters pushed button after button. I suppose it didn’t help my state of comfort that the heat index on this day brought local temperatures into the upper 90s. I arrived nearly exhausted and dehydrated at the glass doors to my apartment building.

Suddenly, at shoulder level, there hovered a pencil thin, glittering blue, white and gold damselfly. She paused long enough to allow me to be present with her; my thoughts grew louder, and with that, she darted and whooshed away.

Damselfly was a messenger, reminding me to generate magical thought forms and maintain a higher vibration energetically. I couldn’t always control how I felt, but I could choose to remain awake. I could use adverse events as opportunities to transform old, patterned responses. Instead of self-pity, I could breathe in, buck up and emanate pure love in a way soft enough to share space with the delicate creatures of the air.

The way beyond depression, therefore, begins with a genuine curiosity and drive to move beyond the stuck place. Sometimes we are so attached to clinical labels or the notion we have a chronic condition that we stop imagining getting well. The mind-body connection is stronger than people think. We can take inventory of exactly what we are sensing inside, and in the space that follows, tell our cells something different. We can ask questions and listen for answers. We can move through our day staying open to signs.

Aren’t we tired of holding on to old dramas? Instead, we can remember to relax, to breathe and let it go, to “let down our hair” now and then. Perhaps we will, like Rapunzel, finally leave that annoying issue behind in the woods and find our way out, unfettered by past negative patterns. Through the exercise of free will, we can move in a different direction and, in the same gesture, like the perspicacious princess, unfurl a path for another’s ascent.

Janet Michele Red Feather
Janet Michele Red Feather, J.D., M.A., is a ceremonial singer who has learned over 60 traditional songs in Mandan and Lakota and sings in nine different languages. Janet was a full-time defense litigator in California for nearly eight years. Her life changed significantly after she traveled to North Dakota in 1993 to fast and pray for a way of life. A regular columnist for The Edge, she has also appeared in Psychic Guidepost, FATE Magazine and Species Link. Her book, Song of the Wind (2014, Galde Press), dealt with her experiences as an empath, and her journey through Mandan spiritual culture. She is currently a full-time, tenured English faculty member at Normandale Community College, having taught Composition and Literature for a span of 20 years.

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