The Tension of Opposites

The Secret Aim of all Tension is Transformation…

To work with things is not hubris
when building the association beyond words;
denser and denser the pattern becomes–
being carried along is not enough.

Take your well-disciplined strengths
and stretch them between two
opposing poles. Because inside human beings
is where God learns.
—Rainer Maria Rilke

Our first open invitational gathering of Soul Speaking, the flagship invitation of The Silver Branch grove met today.

As intended, I had no fixed intention. I had no solid idea of what we would discuss, I only knew of the idea that was speaking to me and wanted to speak through me, but what emerged was an exploration of a tension we all live with, suspended as we are in the heart of a duality, between Left and Right, between Nature and Divinity, between Logic and Reason on the one hand and Mythos and Metaphor on the other.

The sense of being caught in a paradox is at the heart of the human experience. We are caught always between Past and Future, Masculine and Feminine, Comfort and Adventure, Being and Becoming wondering which part to defy and which part to surrender to, what to accept and what to challenge. There are no easy answers, and apparently this is both necessary and essential.

What I had aimed to reveal was the metaphor of the Walled Garden ostensibly—and sincerely—a place of light and welcome, guarded by a Wall, which itself contains its own opposite—a Gate. A wall is to keep the inside in, and the outside out, and yet the Walled Garden is a place of Welcome, so the Gate is a way to pass between inside and outside. And in that welcome all are welcome, and even though it is a place of Light and Truth and Beauty, all who visit, and who tend the Garden, invariably carry some of the darkness of the world with them. Jung called this shadow. And this is not only the psychological shadow of our own persona, but all that which is true in the world and has consequences in our lives that we do not have the senses or the language to define and articulate.

And so, within that Garden, we need to allow for a place where Darkness gathers. And within that darkness, we have made a story, an idea that speaks to our hearts in a way that philosophy alone cannot seem to, which is how to find the silver branch on the withered tree in the dark forest in the underworld or the otherworld of shadow which already exists, in our projects, in our lives, in the world and in our selves.

What emerged as we spoke was this notion that if we cannot admit of the duality and paradox of the light and the dark, we are having only half a conversation with life, and missing the perennial invitation deeper into the conversation.

As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.

Carl Jung

What wonderful questions were raised, and how wonderful it was to weave something of profound meaning from that, and then also to find the courage to leave the work incomplete, so that we could all go back to our own lives and be changed by the experience and then also be changed by life and then allow the wiser more experienced versions of ourselves to pick up the work the next time we gather.

The work is never done—if it did, life would simply end.

The Silver Branch, and this modality of gathering, the Soul Speaking cohort, is an invitation deeper into the wholeness of that conversation, tying together the unknown we encounter at the edges of what is familiar to us, and right at the heart of the fire, our places of gathering, where life is unfolding, and how we weave those two opposites together in a tapestry of meaning, through the perennially profound language of myth, metaphor, symbol and song.

Be Invited to that!

Until Next time


This is a poem I encountered by accident from someone else who was sat with the same quote by Rilke:


It wasn’t any angel who hovered,
wings high, upright body,
head bowed, not in prayer,
so much as attention.

But really, any blessing
in a desert feels holy.

A small spark of energy
on a still hot morning
where all I can find are
fragments and pieces,
no threads to weave
them together.

Sometimes just enough has
healed to make the climb.

Sometimes the path through
the burning sand gives way
to water and a grove of palms.

Sometimes when it seems
you can’t take one more step
you realize that it’s breathing
and friendship that will always
save you—
and you remember to have faith
that the deep sacred well
that feeds the beating wings
of angels, (okay, hummingbirds)
and creeping lizards
and circling hawks
is also waiting for you,
just out of sight.

© 2024 Gretchen Schmelzer

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MEET THE Grove Owner

Rocco Jarman


I’m a philosopher-poet, embracing the essence of humanity’s narrative while guiding others through the journey of self-discovery and collective evolution. As a bridge between past and future, I explore the depths of intentional existence, weaving through symbolism, mythos, and psychology to illuminate the path forward. My roles span from teacher to advocate, from dreamer to leader, each facet reflecting a commitment to unlocking the potential of tomorrow through the power of personal and shared myth.

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