Monday, March 30, 2020

Howl's Moving Castle

I've been binge-watching Studio Ghibli movies... and watched Howl's Moving Castle with my attendant. When it was over, and I expressed my delight about it, she told me there was also a book. I ordered it off of Amazon and read it in three days. 

The movie is based on the book but the scenes are very different. However, the main things I got out of both were the same. There are elements of suspense and danger; good vs. evil; courage vs. fear. I began relating the scenes to aspects of my own life as well as what is going on in the world around us. 

Sofie is a young, beautiful girl who thinks she is ugly. Just like I was. The Witch of the Waste put a spell on her and turned her into an old woman. I have certainly felt like I've had that spell put on me, too. But unlike I was, she is resilient... and not afraid to face people who are mean-spirited or moody. She is courageous... and walked miles through rough terrain to reach her destination.

Howl is a wizard. Sofie went looking for him hoping he could break the spell the Witch of the Waste put on her. She arrived as an old woman, believing the only place she can go is to this castle. Inside, she finds it absolutely filthy, which reminded me of how dirty my son's room was as well as the homes some men (and some women) I have known were. She declared herself a cleaning lady and went to town cleaning and scrubbing every part of the castle... despite the resistance she received from its inhabitants. I thought about the neatnik I am, cleaning every inch of my living space.

Sophie easily stands up to Howl's cranky behavior, firmly reprimands him, she sees through his behavior, and chooses to see his kindness... the same kindness that allowed her and another apprentice to live in his castle. I had also chosen to look past the behavior of boys and men, choosing to see the good in them. But I didn't know how to be assertive like Sofie.

Despite his power and expertise, Howl must battle the evil the Witch of the Waste had done, putting spells on people that he couldn't figure out how to reverse. He is stuck emotionally as a teenager constantly concerned about his looks and impressing girls. In the book, he spends hours in the bathroom preparing for a date. If a girl he is pursuing rejects him, he comes back depressed and turns into slime which oozes all over the castle. I loved this visual. He had a reputation of kidnapping girls and eating their hearts... typical of most of the boys and men I was involved with who pursued me only until I fell in love with them. I felt like they had eaten my heart, too.

The castle itself is a grand invention that reminded me of some of the things my nephew invented. Maybe Howl had Aspergers, too. He even had similar meltdowns. There is a magic knob inside by the door... and depending on what setting it is put on, the door opens to completely different landscapes. I compared this to my own environment.

One of the knob settings of my life opens the door to the current pandemic. I peek out, become aware, get educated, practice recommended precautions, then close that door and turn the knob again. My front door looks out onto a parking lot and other apartment buildings. My back door looks out onto the creek, beautiful with trees, grass, blooming flowers, squirrels, birds, deer, and community cats. 

I already know the consequences of stress, worry, and anxiety. It is what it is. The only thing within my control is how I react to it. 

In the movie the enemy drops bombs, destroying communities just like COVID-19 is doing. And after much destruction, the people who remain pick up what is left and rebuild. Even my own great grandparents did this. I am alive today because people in that generation survived the holocaust... and the world wars. I have faith that no matter what happens, people will recover and rebuild.

Since I have experienced being fractured as a result of too much stress, I thought about COVID-19 being fractured as a result of the stress humans have caused to the planet. It's her only defense. 

What is within my control? Meditation and visualization. I began to visualize the virus as a stressed-out fractured entity defending itself against the onslaught of torturous activities such as fracturing, deforestation, and pollution. Now that she has succeeded in putting the brakes on that assault, I began to visualize loving this entity back into integration just like I learned therapists can do with people who suffer from trauma. I see in my mind's eye all its particles collecting in one place, being contained, and going into the center of the earth to be purified in molten lava. It is a visual I learned when I took ThetaHealing classes to release and purify our own toxic energy.

Sophie managed to walk through miles of rough terrain, even though she complained the entire way, to get to where she needed to go. With COVID, I see our emergency responders and healthcare workers courageously walking through the unexpected, the unplanned, and the unknown.

We can all be scaredy cats during the current dilemma or see it as a challenge for a wizard. In the story, Howl takes on an apprentice who spends days on end trying to figure out how to make a spell work. The wizards of the world are studying how the virus operates. They are wizards, even wizards in training, bravely experimenting with 'spells' to come up with a way to defeat it. We can choose to support their efforts with positive prayer, meditation, and visualization. But fear is known in every spiritual community to feed the evil energies. This is yet one more opportunity to shift fear into love to diminish its power. 

By the end of the book and movie, love, indeed, prevails. Spells are broken, and people's lives go back to normal. It is a message. We can do this, too.

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