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The Laurel Loop

Updated: Dec 19, 2021

Naming a business is fun. And tough.

Daphne is the original Greek name for what would eventually be called "laurel" by the Romans and the plant genus Laurus Nobilis (later, in cooking, named the Bay leaf). Daphnomancy was the Roman process of divination whereby laurel leaves were thrown in the fire and messages were gleaned from the different qualities and/or strength of their crackle and ensuing blaze.

In the earlier Greek tradition, Daphne is the name of a river nymph who falls prey to Apollo's unwanted sexual advances after he has a face off with the childlike Eros (over the size and skill of their respective bow & arrows) and receives the cupid's strike to the heart. Under a spell that seems to legitimize his sexual assault, Apollo throws himself at Daphne who begs her river god father, Peneus, to protect her. Dad's solution is to turn her into a laurel tree.

Frustrated to have his appetites unanswered, Apollo pours his adoration over the tree, uproots and replants her in his personal grove and uses her leaves as a crowning wreath, which forthcoming will be his 'sacred' symbol and that of the victors of his newly established Pythian games. This is also around the time when he establishes the oracle of Delphi, where priestesses will come to channel his divinatory messages.

Giovanni Antonio Pelligrini - Apollo and Daphne, c. 1704, Fresco Villa Alessandri, Mira

Why am I talking about all this?

Well, I am soon starting a new face for my YouTube channel which will include daily channeled messages from my Spirit Guides. I have been deep diving into the pools of imagination and free association, and this has led me to Delphi.

The Delphic as oracular and divinatory. Despite having a double honours in Classics and Art History, when I thought of the oracle of Delphi I pictured feminine mystical power but it was so easy to forget that the priestesses were in fact channelling a male deity.

In my pursuit of a brand name, I began to be excited by the imagery of the laurel leaf. Not only did it represent the process of enthusiasmos (ἐνθουσιασμός/enthousiasmós) or divination, whereby the oracle was said to have chewed the leaves in order to receive and transmit her messages, but it also resembled my Tour de Soul logo, something I only realized during this process. I had also developed the imagery of my company around three core themes: ancient ruins, natural greenery and travel which all fit with the laurel wreath. But apparently, so did a legacy of attempted rape, female sacrifice and male possession.

René-Antoine Houasse — Apollo et Daphne (detail)

The other day, I received a hypnotherapy session and one of the things that came up in the exploration of my crown chakra (and the astral connection space above the head) was that I needed to overcome my fear of learning again.

What? Well, despite a fervent enjoyment of intellectual pursuits in my twenties, I had come to dissociate from my cerebral side for a host of reasons including associated trauma (linking a nourishing experience of intellectuality with an array of physiological and relationship hardships happening concurrently and in direct connection with said pursuits). But I had also somewhere along the way felt that 'more information' would mean a dilution of my intuition and perhaps, a complication of knowing that could potentially lead to crippling self doubt.

Of course more knowledge and scrutiny leads to nuance. That's the point. That's why it's a healthy pursuit. But so much of the past few years has been geared to reverse brainwashing after loving and separating from a narcissist and establishing a sense of certainty so as not to be lost in a rabbit hole of indecision or harmful outside influence (again). I buttressed myself in a place of radical self affirmation and it had radical healing effects.

But I've been called outwards again. To opening the portals of research and applying myself to my curiosity as deeply as I do to my inner work. This was confirmed yesterday in a group exercise during one of my intuition workshops when a participant was reading me through my guides (a magical experience in all directions) and mentioned a return to my historical research roots (from University but also embedded in the aesthetics of Tour de Soul).

So here I am this morning. I've been guided to daily writing but also to incorporating research and ancient rooting. Which means that my joyful exploration of the laurel plant, wreath, my logo, divination and the history of the oracle has become complicated.

I am thankful to have the influence of Dr. Kate Tomas who has shared in her posts that it's important to understand the social, historical and mythological roots of our spiritual tools and narratives. That is not so that we then cancel everything. Because to crash to our knees in despair that everything is ruined and unusable would be to confirm the fear that knowledge should be avoided so that we can be left with some joy and peace.

I read and I learn so I can allow things to be both complicated and simple. I am not unhappy to know what suffering industrial dairy farms produce despite it ruining 99 cent pizza for me. But for the occasional moment that I decide to adhere to my inner American adolescent and have the pizza (back to yesterday's metaphors it seems - disclaimer: this is not actually a metaphor. I ordered pizza last night), I will not only allow my mind to be simple and rudimentary, but I will also thank the cow to say a prayer of respect and acknowledgement of the animal's sacrifice. Both complicated and simple. Both human and animal; spiritually invested and momentarily, blissfully ignorant.

All this to say, will I keep pursuing the laurel imagery despite its oppressive patriarchal undertones? Despite the plant being a tool of self protection that in effect left Daphne immobilized and submissive nonetheless? Can I remember her whenever I see a glowing Italian laureate graduate with a wreath atop their head? Can I love ancient Greek atmospheres despite being repulsed by some of their storylines?

Of course. Knowledge is not an objection to my intuition. Nuance does not kill my enjoyment. And intellect will not dampen my spirituality. This is my stated intention as I try to get comfortable with leaving the cozy corners of my absolutes. I realize that stepping into middle ground leaves you exposed to more layered debates. But I have been out of the ring long enough. My extended period of repose and its associated avoidance of conflict is coming to a smooth transition whereby I allow a healthy challenge to stretch my brain again. This time not taunted or pressured from the outside, but lovingly spurred from within.

Perhaps this is why my morning pages practice of the past few years is transforming into a writing one. For now, at least.

Because architecture doesn't have to disrupt flow and I can still have faith while being in the know.

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