Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

Seeing Through the Mist July 6, 2012

I spent the first half of my life in a mist, blind to all that is sacred. A spiritual seeker from the age of 17, my ideas about what was sacred came from other people. Only very rarely did I actually experience the sacred. But then I discovered the symbolic meaning in dreams and myths. Myths are cultural expressions of humanity’s relationship to the gods. While not necessarily true on the outside, myths are always true on the inside because they address the truths of the soul. Dreams are personal myths. Allowing ourselves to be led by mythos thinking helps us grow our spirits and recover our souls.

In A History of God, former nun Karen Armstrong says, “The only way we can conceive of God, who remains imperceptible to the senses and to logical proof, is by means of symbols, which it is the chief function of the imaginative mind to interpret.” And in The Holy Longing, Jungian analyst Connie Zweig writes, “In effect, the life of the imagination is the spiritual life.”

Three months after I began to practice dreamwork I was staying at the beach when I had dream #46. I called it “Temple in the Wilderness.”

I walk through woods on a path cut through the earth. I’m seeking a stream I know to be at the bottom. I find it where it spills into the sea and follow it to a mist-shrouded garden. In it are ruins of a Greek temple; one column remains upright. In awe, I kneel to examine some creamy-white flowers. Near the bottom of the plant is a pyramid-shaped arrangement of four glowing, waxy white horses facing the four directions. Surrounding them are blossoms so beautiful I can hardly take them in. A puppy named Prince playfully grabs my hand, inviting me to follow him. A young woman asks his name and is pleased to hear it. Two other people bring food for the puppy. After seeing a couple walking hand-in-hand through the distant mist I awaken.

I found this dream profoundly moving, which is how I knew it was important. I won’t go into my associations for the symbols of path, woods, stream, sea, garden, Greek temple, column, mist, kneeling, white flowers, glowing horses, the four directions, the puppy Prince who wants to guide me, the people who feed him, or the couple walking through the mist. But when I awoke I felt as if a cold, hard place in my heart was softening, melting down, and warming up.

The body remembers. To honor this feeling so I would never forget it I made a ritual that morning of walking down to the beach with an ice cube in my hand. Kneeling in the sand, I held it in the warm salty water until it melted. After that I deepened my study of symbolism and myths. Two years later I redesigned my dining room to remind me of the misty temple in the woods and began working on a manuscript which became The Bridge to Wholeness. That first book about the inner life opens with an original myth that is a metaphor for my spiritual journey.

As author and spirit warrior William Horden has said, “to those of us attuned to the one psyche, no one can fool us into thinking we are just indulging in our ‘imagination’. We have had a taste of the ever-new bubbling fountain of creation…from that point on, for the intoxicated soul thirsty for more of the gods’ nectar, there is only the creative act…the ‘making’ that reveals the artist within each of us.”

With each imaginative, creative act we make to honor the truths bubbling up from our source we re-myth our lives. To live our own myth is the authentic, soul-satisfying sacredness awaiting us beyond the mist.

 

The Idea of Love February 14, 2012

As I write this I’ve just finished unwrapping, trimming, and arranging the three dozen red roses I received from my husband for Valentine’s Day. This set me to musing about love. As is my habit, I immediately went for the symbolism of flowers and recalled a comment my internet friend, William Horden, made in response to an early post. I had written that my goal in writing this blog is to raise psychological and spiritual consciousness and here’s what he said:

“For the ancients of Mexico, the height of their Lifeway was expressed in the philosophy called ‘Flower-And-Song.’ By ‘Flower’ they meant the ability to perceive that everything is perfect as a flower, yet passing before our eyes. This boils down to grasping the emotional reality that everything I know and love is both perfect as it is and already dying. To be a warrior meant the ability to hold these two profound emotions in the heart-mind at the same time. By ‘Song’ they meant that the only types of self-expression that really matter are those that give expression to the subjective experience of the ‘Flower.’ It’s so nice to see a modern-day practitioner of the ancient art of ‘Flower And Song!’

I love that image and have never forgotten it because it’s a perfect description of the way I try to live my life. So here I was, remembering this inspiring concept while I was standing at the kitchen sink, mechanically trimming and arranging these gorgeous flowers without paying the slightest bit of attention to where I was, what I was doing, or how I was feeling!

Was I savoring my subjective experience in that moment?  Was I handling each rose with loving attention? Was I fully appreciating the fact that neither these flowers nor moments like this — perfect moments when I’ve just received a gift of flowers from my lover, when my body is strong and healthy and free of pain, when I have the strength in my legs to stand at the sink, the flexibility in my hands to hold the roses and trim their stems, the sensitivity in my skin to enjoy the cool water running from the tap, and the ability to see and touch the sturdy green stems and velvety petals — will last forever?

I wish! But no. I was off in some mental la-la land enjoying an abstract theory. I hadn’t even stopped thinking long enough to smell the roses! I was as far as one can get from being what William had said I was: a modern-day practitioner of the ancient art of ‘Flower And Song.’

I have to tell you, that’s annoying! And embarrassing. Especially for an idealistic perfectionist like me who wants to practice what she preaches. I was making the exact same mistake as every misguided seeker who has ever gone before me:  I was worshiping the words and ideas of the scriptures while ignoring the physical reality to which they point.

I truly appreciate the idea of love. Everything in me aspires to loving myself and others and every moment of my life with all my mind and heart. But here’s the thing. Mostly I still love ideas more than realities. Because, let’s face it, practicing the art of seeing and loving the fleeting perfection in everything and everyone is hard!  It’s a whole lot easier to escape into fantasies that have nothing to do with the way I actually live my life.

Happy Valentine’s Day everybody. On this day at least, I plan to practice more appreciating and less wishful thinking.

 

Breaking Through to the One Thing September 14, 2010

“What is the [survival] value of the feminine within men? The masculine within women?” asked author and Spirit Warrior  William Horden after reading  a recent post.  Here’s my best answer for now.

Consider these examples from Nature:  single-celled organisms and many plants and fungi reproduce all by themselves. Even some invertebrates and less advanced vertebrates such as amphibians and reptiles do not need a male parent. In the absence of males female turkeys can produce fertile eggs, and there are two known cases in which female sharks, raised in captivity without males, produced offspring genetically identical to their mothers.

The more advanced, multicellular and sentient forms of life, however, require two parents. Biologists think sexual reproduction may create more genetic diversity which helps organisms adapt to changing environments. Thus, life on Earth evolves from simple to complex, vulnerability to strength, self-preservation to species-preservation, and, most relevant to our question, unconscious to conscious. And the single most important factor influencing this direction is mutual cooperation between complementary pairs.

There is an inherent connection between the evolution of Nature and the evolution of Mind, or Spirit.  An ancient mystical saying says it this way, “As above, so below.” The original text reads, “That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the miracle of the One Thing.”  This means there is some unifying Plan, Intention, Mind, Source, Force, Ground of Being or One Thing whose laws govern both the metaphysical and physical universes. It also means the One thing needs both halves to accomplish its miracle. And what is the miracle?  Creating new, ever more complex and conscious life.

The Above half, Spirit (mind and consciousness), usually has been equated with “masculine” and the Below half, Matter (the body and the unconscious) with “feminine” which has led to damaging stereotypes. But these terms are not about gender roles or sexuality. They refer to the two modes of energy the creative drive takes everywhere, whether Above or Below. The ultimate reality is that if life is to continue to evolve in accordance with the Plan, or One Thing, there must be cooperation between masculinity and femininity at all levels: Above and Below, without and within, consciously and unconsciously, spiritually and psychologically.

Psychologically, we associate each half of the creative drive with specific qualities and locate them all in the Self.  As long as our egos are unaware or unaccepting of large portions of either half, we cannot fulfill our basic purpose or experience our greatest joy: to create.  But when we recognize that every quality we associate with masculinity and femininity indwells us, we break through the shell of dualistic thinking. The scales drop from our eyes, our creative potential is released, and we experience a blissful sense of oneness with the ultimate creative force: the One Thing. In alchemy, this enlightened state was known as the hieros gamos or Sacred Marriage.  (Next time I’ll share a dream about it.)

William concluded that, “… [the] sole purpose [of men having a feminine side and women having a masculine side] is individual well-being. It fulfills us to be able to incorporate our own opposite-complement.” Yes it does.  Why? Because this is how we unite the Above and Below and claim our divine inheritance.  Thanks for the inspiration for this post, William.  Thanks also to RamOsinghal for his reminders that all is divine.

You can find Healing the Sacred Divide here at Amazon.com and at Larson Publications, Inc.

 

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.

 

Seeing Through the Mist May 4, 2010

I spent the first half of my life in a mist, blind to all that is sacred. A spiritual seeker from the age of 17, my ideas about what was sacred came from other people. Only very rarely did I actually experience the sacred. But then I discovered the spiritual meaning in dreams and myths. Myths are symbolic cultural expressions of humanity’s relationship to the gods. While not necessarily true on the outside, myths are always true on the inside. Dreams are personal myths. Allowing ourselves to be led by mythos thinking helps us grow our spirits and recover our souls.

In A History of God, former nun Karen Armstrong says, “The only way we can conceive of God, who remains imperceptible to the senses and to logical proof, is by means of symbols, which it is the chief function of the imaginative mind to interpret.” And in The Holy Longing, Jungian analyst Connie Zweig writes, “In effect, the life of the imagination is the spiritual life.”

Three months after I began to practice dreamwork I was staying at the beach when I had dream #46. I called it “Temple in the Wilderness.”

I walk through woods on a path cut through the earth. I’m seeking a stream I know to be at the bottom. I find it where it spills into the sea and follow it to a mist-shrouded garden. In it are ruins of a Greek temple; one column remains upright. In awe, I kneel to examine some creamy-white flowers. Near the bottom of the plant is a pyramid-shaped arrangement of four glowing, waxy white horses facing the four directions. Surrounding them are blossoms so beautiful I can hardly take them in. A puppy named Prince playfully grabs my hand, inviting me to follow him. A young woman asks his name and is pleased to hear it. Two other people bring food for the puppy. After seeing a couple walking hand-in-hand through the distant mist I awaken.

I found this dream profoundly moving, which is how I knew it was important. I won’t go into my associations for the symbols of path, woods, stream, sea, garden, Greek temple, column, mist, kneeling, white flowers, glowing horses, the four directions, the puppy Prince who wants to guide me, the people who feed him, or the couple walking through the mist. But when I awoke I felt as if a cold, hard place in my heart was, at last, softening, melting down, and warming up.

The body remembers. To honor this feeling so I would never forget it I made a ritual that morning of walking down to the shore with an ice cube in my hand. Kneeling in the sand, I held it in the warm salty water until it melted. After that I deepened my study of symbolism and myths. Two years later I redesigned my dining room to remind me of the misty temple in the woods, and began working on a manuscript which became The Bridge to Wholeness. That first book about the inner life opens with an original myth that is a metaphor for my spiritual journey.

As author and spirit warrior William Horden wrote in response to my recent post, Living Art, “to those of us attuned to the one psyche, no one can fool us into thinking we are just indulging in our ‘imagination’. We have had a taste of the ever-new bubbling fountain of creation…from that point on, for the intoxicated soul thirsty for more of the gods’ nectar, there is only the creative act…the ‘making’ that reveals the artist within each of us.”

With each creative act we make to honor the truths bubbling up from our source we re-myth our lives. To live our own myth is the true sacredness awaiting us beyond the mist.

 

 
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