Cataracts and Hurricanoes Part II: The Eye of the Storm

One Who Has (Almost) Seen the Eye…

The eye of a hurricane is, appropriately, the most feared part of it. The eye itself is usually about 15 miles or so in diameter and is the calm, quiet center surrounded by a swirling wall of the most powerful winds and heaviest rains.

So, if you “get the eye”, you experience just about the entire hurricane in all its glory. I came very close to being in the eye of Andrew in 1992 and, frankly, I feel somewhat cheated that I didn’t. Yes, I know how that sounds but hear me out.

That evening before it reached us in the early morning on August 24th, the skies were dark and cloudy and an amazing but eerie shade of green. I was mesmerized.

I am coming,” the storm seemed to be saying through those moldavite-colored clouds, “Are you ready…?”

The otherworldly sky, the strange tingling in the thick, silent air, the naïve almost-excitement of a young child who doesn’t fully comprehend what’s coming but can’t help being fascinated…all came to the climax of a force of Nature that is truly, in every literal sense of the much-overused word, awesome.

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There had been talk that we were very likely to get the eye and we ended up being close enough; we were right outside the southern edge of the eye which meant that we still experienced just about the worst winds and rains Andrew had to deliver. However, I did not experience that strange middle place when all stops and rests in ominous silence until you head into the other side…

Breathe,” says the storm’s Eye, “here is a moment of calm for you. You have made it halfway through the journey, but you are not done. Prepare yourself while you can.

I had been so intrigued by it as a child, hearing all the talk of the mysterious center of this storm that had everyone so worked up, that I was somewhat disappointed to hear later that it had just grazed us. After all, as close as it came, I should have been able to tell tales of how I experienced one of the most powerful storms to hit the US, eye and all!

storm collage

Collage image © 2017 M. Everwhite

It was especially perplexing (even recently when I asked my sister about her memory of it and had to be reminded that it missed us) because I remembered a gap in the storm, which apparently turned out to be little more than me falling asleep, which I had always been told I did at some point but I had refused to believe.

How could anyone, especially a frightened six-year-old, manage to sleep through any portion of a Category 5 hurricane? Did I end up not being so frightened, for some reason? Was I really just that tired? It’s not as though it was the middle of the night and I hadn’t slept yet. Was it a sort of coping mechanism? Maybe only a naïve, sleepy six-year-old could nap through a hurricane.

I remember our parents waking us in the smaller hours of the morning as the storm approached, and we all huddled on the landing of the staircase which was the only spot in our small town home that was safest and most removed from all doors and windows.

As Andrew gained strength, the power I could hear and feel was overwhelming. Thunder boomed, the bedroom doors rattled wildly in their frames, and I remember being terrified that they would be ripped out any moment and that the hurricane would be right inside the house with us. The windows and sliding glass doors in the bedrooms and front and back of the house had long since shattered.

Our poor frightened cat, Pete, leapt on top of my head in the pitch black chaos and gave me an impressive scratch down my temple.

At one point the raging winds’ howls combined with all manner of destruction outside to create a dreadful, collective illusory sound of thousands of screams and it was hard not to feel like I could actually hear people screaming.

The silence after it passed was almost deafening, and seeing the destruction both inside and outside the house was shocking. The bedroom ceilings had caved in and insulation and debris from trees, our possessions and bits of the house we’re heaped everywhere. The neighborhood itself looked a pile of rubble strewn for blocks and blocks.

Maybe I am still very much in the minority here, though, with the dismay at not being in the eye of this very destructive storm. But just enough of the expected fear is simply overridden by some innate love of their majesty and beauty and an understanding of their complicated necessity, and wanting to be a part of it all.

Fortunately, there are other ways to connect with the energies of storms and hurricanes and to experience their aspects in protective and empowering magic.


Being the Eye of the Storm: A Protective Visualization

I often feel, just by being alive in this world, like I am swept up in an inescapable hurricane; a hurricane of stress, traffic, demands, rudeness, chaos, cacophony, tragedy and the general banality of a modern, mundane civilization.

Placing yourself at the center of it all, in the eye of the storm, can help give you the stability and perspective you need to weather the uncontrollable world around you. You are all you can really control, and a good way to help yourself do that is to meditate on hurricanes, their structure, the spiral and finding your center amidst the madness.

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Hurricane Andrew, 1992, image courtesy of NOAA

A friend’s mother is an astrologer (among other things) and was visiting earlier this summer. We were talking about various aspects of our birth charts and I said to her, “I’m an Aries with a Cancer moon”, to which she replied “Oh, now that’s a hurricane!” Indeed. (Or was it my Gemini ascendant combined with Aries that made her say that…either seems to work!)

When I reflected on that, I realized that it is a great metaphor for two choices that we have…one can either be the hurricane itself – the whole, spinning, blowing, destructive force, or one can be the eye – the controlled, calm, inner circle that sees everything spinning and thundering all around but is not actually a part of it.

It’s hard not to get caught up in the huge, sweeping hurricane. It’s what most people do, go along with the mindless masses, the majority. But the eye is very small relative to the rest of the storm. It takes work and courage but also humility to quietly fit yourself into the smaller, empty space.

So, when you feel swept up in the winds and downpours of the world’s chaos, close your eyes and breathe deeply. Use the energy of the gusts that whip your hair into your eyes and attempt to control you…breathe it in and out as you feel yourself spiral inward, closer and tighter until you break through the wall and float amidst the quiet, open air of the eye.

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Hurricane Irma eye wall, September 2017, image courtesy of NOAA

Picture yourself suspended within this perfect circle and allow yourself a fearless, objective view of everything that surrounds you but does not touch you. Nothing can hurt or influence you here, there is nothing to fear. Except perhaps yourself. But within every storm is the power and strength to know your true self, to be in control, and to find the treasures that hide within and all around us.

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“The Cave of the Storm Nymphs” by Sir Edward Poynter, 1902-1903

read Cataracts and Hurricanoes Part I: The Beauty of the Ultimate Storm

© 2017 M. Everwhite – All Rights Reserved

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