Memories of Frida

From the front of Aspects of Spiritual Astrology

Murshida Khadija Goforth

Frida Waterhouse was introduced to me by my teacher and beloved friend Sufi Ruhaniat Pir Murshid Moineddin Jablonski, whose spiritual journey involved navigating several precarious life- and-death passages. At one point, dreaming on death’s doorstep, he saw a pair of woman’s legs which he somehow knew belonged to Frida, a San Francisco amanuensis and healer who used Huna (and other) approaches to help resolve psycho-spiritual dilemmas.

As Sufi Murshid Samuel Lewis’ successor, Murshid Moineddin served as spiritual director of the Ruhaniat. This organization was founded to carry forward the sacred practice and teaching legacy of India’s Four School Sufism as brought West in 1910 by Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan and developed by his mureed Murshid Samuel Lewis, among others.

Moineddin was challenged to organizationally ground a legacy deep in tradition, revivified by Murshid SAM’s Dances and realization, among a circle of mostly ‘ex-ing’ hippies whose spiritual awakenings arose in the turbulent ‘60s and ‘70s. Everything was up for re-evaluation; feminism arose and spirituality began moving beyond the doors of the churches and patriarchy into vast, uncharted new spaces. Some of us saw Moineddin’s process as not separate from the group’s.

Moineddin’s “spiritual death and rebirth” took place in this context; his work with Frida played an important but initially misunderstood and sometimes-undervalued part in the unfoldment of our spiritual community. In retrospect, most criticisms were unfair and reflected a certain cultural misogyny. Working with healing and integration, Frida attracted those willing, sometimes desperately, to take responsibility for their psycho-spiritual baggage, mostly women in those days. As transformation involves entering old spaces to reexamine thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and patterns, many of Frida’s students eventually became skilled in dissolving limited inner structures for releasing, rebuilding, and renewal. In the short term this did not always look like progress although in the long term it often proved to be.

In “Three Selves Work” Frida helped Moineddin explore his lack of dialogue with what she called his “feminine basic self,” reflecting that his very survival depended upon developing this inner resonance, redeeming the brittleness of isolation with the resilience of relationship. With depleted medical, psychological and esoteric resources, he surrendered to this process assisted by his wife Mei-Ling Chang. Moineddin later claimed that this work saved his life as Frida taught him skills to move through psycho-spiritual integration in a process he ultimately described as “uniting the one with the One” and which he facilitated with others in a slightly-modified form he called “Soulwork.” Later, after Frida’s passing, he began referring mureeds to those of us who had experienced this work with Frida and with him and who had developed counseling skill.

In 1986, diagnosed with a life-threatening auto-immune disease, I followed in my murshid’s footsteps and flew to San Francisco for appointments with Frida. Entering her apartment was like walking into a crystal’s purity and integrity, with an atmosphere seemingly emanating from yet not originating from her…she appeared on some level a luminous, distinct presence simultaneously seamless with her surroundings. The word “pristine” comes to mind…not the otherworldly “angelic pristine” often idealized as spiritual, but more like “Rahim,” Divine Mercy…embodied, pervasive presence and profound holding in essential safety. Frida demonstrated balance between Yaqin/ Divine Certainty and a lively curiosity about inner processes. I remember feeling both “caught” (no escape; there was no doubt about being seen) and wholly reassured and “held” in previously-unknown psychological safety in Frida’s presence. Over time, Moineddin developed that same quality. I am still in awe of Frida’s “take-it-or-leave-it“ attitude as she seemed to equally welcome people’s acceptance and rejection of her guidance.

“YOUR ONLY SPIRITUAL PATH is HOW YOU LIVE YOUR LIFE EVERY MOMENT of EVERY DAY.” Frida’s words for making one’s spiritual ideal a moment-to-moment reality. Most Sufis would say the same.

ME & MY SHADOW Frida first set up an astrological chart then talked me through light and shadow aspects of the major placements. A student of both Astrology and Murshid SAM’s Astrological Yoga for years I resisted at first, thinking that I already knew enough. Also, already “on the spiritual path” I held the viewpoint, pervasive in those days, that since I was (Estafer’Allah) so spiritually experienced and mystically developed I had completed my psychological homework. Little did I know that it had barely begun. Decades later I came to deeply appreciate the door Frida opened to a grounded, integrative spirituality that considered illumination as the means to ongoingly examine one’s life from the inside out, on all levels.

HOMEWORK Frida offered “homework…updating inner files”… transforming karmic patterns to free self and others. When buttons are pushed, at the first possible moment, she recommended (1) taking time out; (2) retrieving homework (everything already-known about this and similar situations); and (3) replaying after-the-fact, even outrageously, all other possible ways to have dealt with the situation. Frida understood that the unconscious only processes events in present time; she encouraged students to consider choices and options “off the stage” of reactivity.

WOMEN’S MYSTERIES Frida encouraged women to take responsibility for guidance regarding their mating and maternal energies, which she described as universal, pervasive and programmed into human consciousness to assure humanity’s continuation. Mating instincts make most/almost any potential partners attractive; maternal instinct assures nurturing for infants and children. Inner guidance, consciousness, maturity, and wisdom foster discerning choices supporting presence, well- being, freedom and the fulfillment of purpose beyond conditioned mating or maternal roles. Frida was the only person I know who spoke so clearly that humanity’s current evolution depends upon this development in women.

PARTING WORDS Moineddin loved telling this story: Shortly before passing (in her ‘80’s?), in a phone call Frida with Moineddin, Frida reported struggling with a conflict lingering from adolescence, work she had assumed was finished decades before. Since Frida was the embodiment of emotional integrity, her statement revealed integration as ongoing “work in progress” and that even with the refinements of senior citizenship, this inner process of transformation is ongoing. This is reassuring.