Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

The Well of Feminine Power March 25, 2014

In European and Chinese thought, the feminine principle is associated with passivity and the masculine with action. In Hinduism, however, the feminine is associated with creativity and action, and the masculine with manifestation.

The primary image of the feminine principle in Hinduism is the goddess Durga. In a myth called the Devi Mahatmya, a buffalo-headed yogi has become a monster whom none of the gods can overthrow. So the gods stand in a circle, send their energies back to where they came from, and a great black cloud appears. Out of it comes Durga, the goddess with eighteen arms. In each hand is a symbol of one of the gods. With the combined power of these symbols, she alone is able to defeat the monster.

In this story, masculine power is a specific form of the life energy that is feminine. As Joseph Campbell says in Pathways to Bliss, the feminine is the source of the energy and the masculine is its specification in any particular direction. She is the energy out of which creation arises, he is every visible manifestation of that energy. She is the whole; he is each individual part. This intuition from many spiritual traditions is probably why the feminine has long been associated with the dark sea of the unconscious, and the masculine with the ego consciousness which emerges from this maternal matrix.

Although the masculine and feminine principles are metaphors for the basic energies of every psyche, most of us associate them with the genders. As a result, Campbell says it’s much easier for a woman to identify with masculinity than for a male who is committed to his particular form to identify with femininity. All she has to do is take on a specification of the power that is already hers, but he has to give up his ego identity and personal field of power which feels like disintegrating into a formless void. This, of course, is exactly what the Buddha did, and that, says Campbell, was a heroic act of the first order.

In a perfect world, both forms of energy would be valued equally and every child would be helped to discover and activate his or her own unique blend of interests, skills and powers without regard to gender. But most of us have not yet attained that heroic level of consciousness. An immature ego with limited consciousness equates power with physical prowess and power over others. Sensing the magnitude of feminine power and fearing anything more powerful than itself, it represses the feminine principle in the psyche; and if it identifies with maleness, it will also tend to dominate and exploit females.

A well is a symbol of the feminine principle, the womb of the Great Mother, the human psyche.  We all contain Durga’s power: the totality of human potential. Our ego is only one form of that potential. We can choose to identify only with the familiar and comfortable qualities that are sanctioned by our families; or, if we want to, we can choose to activate our fullest power by accepting everything about ourselves we associate with the feminine principle, including tender feelings, instincts, caring, nurturing, evil, suffering, the capacity for intimate relationships, an understanding heart, intuition, etc.

In empowering Durga we can attain our destiny. What monsters hold you back from attaining your destiny? What do you have to lose by enlisting Durga’s help to overcome them?

Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, IncEbook versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are also at Amazon, and at Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords,and Diesel Ebooks 

 

 

Learning From Our Lady of the Beasts April 16, 2013

“The Earth Mother is…the eternally fruitful source of everything…. Each separate being is a manifestation of her; all things share in her life through an eternal cycle of birth and rebirth….Her animals….embody the deity herself, defining her personality and exemplifying her power.”  Buffie Johnson, Our Lady of the Beasts, Inner Traditions

The successful wielding of power to enhance our soul’s development is a primary concern of the feminine archetypes. For them, power is not about controlling otherness, but about loving and learning from otherness so that our souls are empowered to become what they were created to be. If this is to happen, our energies need to be redirected away from pursuits aimed at acquiring external, historical power toward those that bring internal, natural power. By natural power I mean the soul’s power to act from its rich, authentic core, unencumbered by the chains of fear, ignorance, and conformity. One way of loosening these chains is to learn from Earth Mother’s manifestations in nature.

The farther removed we are from nature, the less apt we are to hear Sophia’s voice or learn from her natural guidance. One night after an eventful weekend at our mountain home I recorded five valuable insights I had acquired, all of them necessary to my empowerment, and none of which I would have learned had I stayed indoors. Through my adult interactions with nature I am rediscovering something I knew as a child but never had the words for: staying close to nature brings me closer to my truest self.

A major step in my own return to nature began when, in my fifties, I fulfilled a childhood dream of buying my own horse to train: a two-and-a-half-year old gray thoroughbred I called Honey’s Shadow Dancer — gray to symbolize the union of the opposites of black and white for which I strive, Honey for his sweetness, Shadow to signify my desire to be always mindful of my own shadow, and Dancer to honor the ever-changing dance of life. For me, the physical care I lavished on him and our efforts to understand and trust one another were spiritual practices that were every bit as meaningful as my earlier, more cerebral ones.

Native teachers and healers Jamie Sams and David Carson tell us that for many native peoples Horse represents both physical and unearthly power, and that the impact of Horse’s domestication was akin to the discovery of fire. “Before Horse, humans were earthbound, heavy-laden, and slow creatures indeed. Once humans climbed on Horse’s back, they were as free and fleet as the wind. Through their special relationship with Horse, humans altered their self-concept beyond measure. Horse was the first animal medicine of civilization.”

The term animal medicine refers to life lessons learned from animals whose characteristics and habits demonstrate how to walk on our physical Earth Mother in harmony with the universe. Like Buffie Johnson, I think of the aspect of Earth Mother that conveys lessons through wild creatures and beloved animal companions as Our Lady of the Beasts. Next time I’ll share some empowering animal medicine she brought to me through my beloved teacher, Shadow.

What animal teachers has Our Lady of the Beasts sent to you?

Congratulations to the three winners of my blog tour giveaway: Nancy Hup , Vicki Edmundson, and Rick Boys. They’ll each receive an autographed copy of Healing the Sacred Divide, and Nancy, as first place winner, will also receive an Amazon gift card.  Thank you to them and to all who followed the tour.

 

Journey to Summer Camp June 18, 2011

Today we’re on our way back to the mountains for a cooler, kinder summer. Our car is filled with various essentials, (my clothes mostly!), and carries an equally stuffed “pod” on the roof. But this year the back seat is not occupied by Bear, my best golden retriever friend who snoozed there on our annual treks for many years, or by the hanging rod with my clothes. For the first time it will be filled by our two granddaughters.

This was their idea. When their mother asked them if they wanted to attend a camp this summer they said they wanted to go to Camp MaBoppa! In case you hadn’t guessed, their names for us are Ma and Boppa. They like “Camp MaBoppa” because it sounds Native American, which is fitting since our summer home is near Cherokee, NC. We know they used to hunt deer and bear on our land because my mother-in-law once found an arrowhead in Buck Creek. The mountain on which our cabin stands is called Deer Lick by the locals, but the deer are long gone. In fact, the creek was named for the last buck to be killed there.  But there are still lots of bears.

As we return to the wilderness home of my soul I’m thinking about the choices that brought me to this moment. I could have made so many wrong turns on my journey. I went to college in the 60’s, a watershed decade for America. Some of the boys in my generation died in the Viet Nam war. Some of the girls became hippy drop-outs, rock band groupies, Playboy bunnies and swingers who, with the invention of the “pill” succumbed to the soul-numbing pleasures of free love or surrendered to the pain-escaping allure of the drug culture, never to recover their balance. How did I manage to keep mine?

Many women of my generation joined the early, angry years of the feminist movement when we were shedding the detritus of thousands of years of repression — the stereotypes, glass ceilings, condescending attitudes and religious prohibitions that had limited our options and buried our souls. Some sacrificed the pleasures of family and children for careers only to regret their choices in later years. Some, like me, struggled to combine both with varying degrees of success and satisfaction. Most managed to move past our rage to places of forgiveness and self-respect, but a few were sucked into whirlpools of heart-wrenching, relationship-destroying disappointment, bitterness and blame. How did I survive that shipwreck?

I’ve always assumed most of the credit belongs to the positive models of my mother and father, but I know of many loving people whose children seem hell-bent on self-destruction so I can’t stop there. There must be many factors, genetic inheritance among them, but I’ve come to believe that the single most important factor responsible for the blessings in my life today is that early on I somehow acquired a religious attitude. As I wrote in my Dec. 21, 2010 post, “Sophia’s Gift of Meaning,” by “religious” I do not mean believing in specific creeds that reflect personal or cultural biases. I mean having reverence for the unconscious, unknown otherness in the world and ourselves. How did I acquire my reverence for life? I honestly don’t know. But Carl Jung believed it is essential to a whole life well-lived and I’m inclined to agree with him.

At this time of the summer solstice, may we cultivate reverence for the miracle of new life bursting forth from every seed. Happy traveling to your soul’s favorite summer camp.

 

Food for the Soul July 24, 2010

When I started this blog over four months ago I had no idea how much my soul hungered for the psychological and spiritual companionship of like-minded travelers, so was somewhat surprised to see how avidly I’ve been lapping up the warmth, wisdom, and compassion revealed in the comments of readers. Making your acquaintance has been a true blessing to me, and I offer you a gift in return: the recommendation of one of the wisest, most soul-satisfying books I’ve ever read written by one of my favorite new internet friends: William Douglas Horden.

Once in a while a book appears that is exactly what the spirit of the times cries out for. The Toltec I Ching, a reworking of an ancient oracle by a contemporary sage, is one of those books. The use of oracles was common in many civilizations of antiquity including the Greeks, Norse, and Egyptians. The most well-known is the Chinese I Ching, or ‘Book of Changes’, a collection of linear signs originating in the Shang Dynasty (1600–1046 BC). Oracles have long had an important role in Tibet and the Dalai Lama still consults one. The Yucatec Mayas consulted the writings of an oracle priest who correctly predicted the disastrous coming of the Spaniards.

Horden’s Toltec I Ching combines the ancient wisdom of the Chinese and Toltecs with the intellect and sensibility of a modern-day spirit person. For example, at the beginning of the 20th century Carl Jung said we each have a masculine and feminine side and repressing either creates psychological, cultural, and spiritual imbalance. Is there anything new about this message? No, spirit persons from every culture have always intuited this truth and devised wonderful teachings to convey it, but advancing civilization keeps forgetting and digging itself into ever-deeper holes. So just when we are waking up to the frightening darkness and depth of our current hole — featuring, among other things, terrorism, economic crises, worldwide violations of human rights, and environmental disasters on a global scale — along comes the Toltec I Ching.

This brilliant and beautiful oracle is written in a series of 64 brief chapters that reads almost like a novel. The main character is the authentic Spirit Warrior. The setting is the dual inner and outer worlds of the would-be warrior’s awakening soul. The plot describes the warrior’s journey through a series of psycho-spiritual tests which develop his/her masculine and feminine sides, strengthen intention, motivate action, guide direction, and create growing awareness. And the theme is the exact same one found in this blog: how to free oneself from ignorance and transcend duality to become a conscious, responsible, enlightened being capable of making healing choices of benefit to the world.

William Douglas Horden’s writing style is clear and masterfully organized logos artfully combined with imaginative, symbolic mythos. And the format? Simply gorgeous! Martha Ramirez-Oropeza has painted 64 extraordinary full-color illustrations in a style as simple as it is profound; the print is plenty large for aging eyes; each page has a sense-satisfying heft; and the cover is as sturdy as a non-hardback book could possibly be.

In short, the team of writer, painter, and Larson Publications has created a work of art worthy to sit on the shelf with the world’s spiritual classics. The only books I’ve underlined more are my King James Bible and the complete works of Carl Jung. If you have not yet added The Toltec I Ching to your spiritual library you’re missing a key to the mystery, and mastery, of your soul.

 

Learning From Our Lady of the Beasts June 26, 2010

“The Earth Mother is…the eternally fruitful source of everything…. Each separate being is a manifestation of her; all things share in her life through an eternal cycle of birth and rebirth….Her animals….embody the deity herself, defining her personality and exemplifying her power.”  Buffie Johnson, Our Lady of the Beasts, Inner Traditions

The successful wielding of power to enhance our soul’s development is a primary concern of the feminine archetypes. For them, power is not about controlling otherness, but about loving and learning from otherness so that our souls are empowered to become what they were created to be. If this is to happen, our energies need to be redirected away from pursuits aimed at acquiring external, historical power toward those that bring internal, natural power. By natural power I mean the soul’s power to act from its rich, authentic core, unencumbered by the chains of fear, ignorance, and conformity. One way of loosening these chains is to learn from Earth Mother’s manifestations in nature.

The farther removed we are from nature, the less apt we are to hear Sophia’s voice or learn from her natural guidance. One night after an eventful weekend at our mountain home I recorded five valuable insights I had acquired, all of them necessary to my empowerment, and none of which I would have learned had I stayed indoors. Through my adult interactions with nature I am rediscovering something I knew as a child but never had the words for: staying close to nature brings me closer to my truest self.

A major step in my own return to nature began when, in my fifties, I fulfilled a childhood dream of buying my own horse to train: a two-and-a-half-year old gray thoroughbred I called Honey’s Shadow Dancer — gray to symbolize the union of the opposites of black and white for which I strive, Honey for his sweetness, Shadow to signify my desire to be always mindful of my own shadow, and Dancer to honor the ever-changing dance of life. For me, the physical care I lavished on him and our efforts to understand and trust one another were spiritual practices that were every bit as meaningful as my earlier, more cerebral ones.

Native teachers and healers Jamie Sams and David Carson tell us that for many native peoples Horse represents both physical and unearthly power, and that the impact of Horse’s domestication was akin to the discovery of fire. “Before Horse, humans were earthbound, heavy-laden, and slow creatures indeed. Once humans climbed on Horse’s back, they were as free and fleet as the wind. Through their special relationship with Horse, humans altered their self-concept beyond measure. Horse was the first animal medicine of civilization.”

The term animal medicine refers to life lessons learned from animals whose characteristics and habits demonstrate how to walk on our physical Earth Mother in harmony with the universe. Like Buffie Johnson, I think of the aspect of Earth Mother that conveys lessons through wild creatures and beloved animal companions as Our Lady of the Beasts. Next time I’ll share some empowering animal medicine she brought to me through my beloved teacher, Shadow.

What animal teachers has Our Lady of the Beasts sent to you?

 

Portrait of a Spirit Warrior May 25, 2010

According to neurologist Leonard Shlain, the development of the brain’s left hemisphere and ego consciousness “resulted in humans creating a distinction between me-in-here and world-out-there.” This detached subject/object split enhanced the skills of hunters who needed to separate themselves from the hunted and strengthened their ability to remain motionless while focusing on a single task, but this occurred at the expense of attributes like holistic awareness and emotional depth. As Shlain says, “The dispassion inherent in dualism, a viewpoint indispensable for killing, is the opposite of a mother’s binding love for her child.” Eventually, a sense of alienation from our fuller selves became the norm in most “highly civilized” Western societies.

But many indigenous cultures, for example, the Toltecs of Mexico and the Taoists of China, never discarded what William Horden calls the “magic world of the unconscious dreamtime.” Knowing that Ultimate Being consists of a unity-totality, they envisioned a new kind of spirit warrior who unites all opposites within him/herself. Five days ago I witnessed a living example of this ancient wisdom as my husband and I drove through the American southwest.

After visiting the magnificent Monument Valley National Tribal Park in Arizona, we were driving toward the Grand Canyon when we stopped at a roadside stand on the Navajo reservation. I was examining a necklace made by the lovely young woman running the stand when I heard the strange, high-pitched mewling of a predatory cat coming from somewhere behind me. Turning, I saw a man about ten yards away leading a brown and white pinto across the red clay desert dotted with silvery-gray sagebrush shrubs. Huddled in the saddle on the horse’s back was a little girl who appeared to be around two or three years old.

In an instant this idyllic scene was transformed into a life and death drama. Perhaps the child was frightened, or maybe she was just tired, but when she made the mewling sound again, the horse, which by now must have been convinced it had a bobcat on its back, erupted into frenzied bucking. I watched in horror as, enveloped in a rising dust cloud, the child was thrown off the horse’s back and the father thudded to the ground clinging to one thin leather rein.

This is where wisdom enters the picture. The father did not cry out in fright or anger. He did not let go of the rein, his only connection to the terrified animal that so easily could have trampled the tiny child. He did not jerk the rein or lash out at the horse. Rather, in slow and graceful motion, he stood, gathered up both reins, and looped them over his left shoulder as he walked calmly toward his daughter. The horse, which seconds before had been a hysterical beast, followed like a docile puppy as he led the girl to a rock and sat with her, murmuring quietly and caressing her face and long black hair with infinite tenderness. Moments later, father and daughter walked away hand in hand, the horse following peacefully, connected to them only by two thin strips of leather casually looped over the man’s left shoulder.

As I watched the father model the wisdom of the ages to his daughter and horse, memories of humans who were the irrational, emotionally overwhelmed beasts ran through my mind. In stark contrast to them, this man understood his unconscious, instinctual self. In taming and befriending it, he had replaced fear, anxiety, anger, and compulsiveness with trust, peace, compassion, and consciousness. These are his infinitely precious gifts to his family, his horse, and the world. His gift to me was the honor of standing in the presence of a spirit warrior.

 

Avatar, Ego, and Cultural Reform March 29, 2010

I loved Avatar’s lavish version of the hero’s journey. Its characters are such exotic examples of the archetypes starring in myths from every nation, generation, and religion. Its new symbols of interconnectedness–the wormy squirmy tentacled pony tails that bond with similar anatomical appendages of bizarre beasts; the electrochemical connections between tree roots that recall ancient Hinduism’s Diamond Net of Indra, Jung’s collective unconscious, and quantum physics’ holographic universe–are so imaginatively resonant. And I never tire of the themes of self-discovery, initiation, revolution, transformation, and redemption.

The human psyche creates culture, so intended or not, there is a psychological dimension to all art. Since I cannot help but view a movie through a psychological lens, (which adds another dimension to the 3D ones already supplied for Avatar), here goes: For me, Avatar is about the difference between the heroic ego that succeeds in its quest because it opens to otherness and change, and the stuck ego that ultimately fails because it refuses to budge. Indulge me for a moment as I engage in a bit of imaginative word play to illustrate my point.

Corporal Jake (Jacob was the Biblical favored son and usurper of his twin brother’s inheritance) Sully is a sullied soldier who is transformed into a heroic Warrior and passionate Lover. The qualities that lead to his redemption and the salvation of the Na’vi are his bravery, his respect for princess Neytiri (who says”nay” to tyranny and is Sully’s equal, savior, and Beloved), and his receptivity to the foreign ways of her culture.

And what about the Na’vi? Like all Native peoples they have long navigated safely through a difficult world by honoring the sacred underlying patterns of life. But because they will not capitulate to the dysfunctional ego mentality which has destroyed Earth, their culture is in danger of extinction. Sound familiar?

Other archetypal themes are represented by the Na’vi’s spiritual leader Mo’at, (an abbreviation of Mother Earth?) a blend of the Jungian archetypes of Queen, Earth Mother, Wisewoman, and Beloved. Then there’s Jake’s mentor, Dr. Grace Augustine (a saintly name if ever there was one), who symbolizes the Queen’s regard for shared authority and individual differences and the Wisewoman’s intuitive intelligence and pursuit of truth.

Finally we have the necessary obstacles every hero must overcome: the self-absorbed and self-serving ego symbolized by Selfridge, corporate administrator of the mining program; and the obsessive Warrior mentality of the head of security, Colonel Miles Quaritch (from quarantine, a place of detention? Or quarrel, an angry dispute? Or quartz, a hard rock?). Cameron’s soulless dark invader, like Lucas’s Darth Vader, has miles to go in his own journey because of his rock-hard rigidity and unrelenting itch to maintain his power regardless of cost.

Brave, heroic ego vs. rigid, fearful ego. Cosmic connectedness vs. personal self-interest. Do the psychological themes of this haunting myth remind anyone else of the conflict surrounding the passage of Health Care Reform?

 

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,876 other followers

%d bloggers like this: