Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

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?

 

Slipping Into Myself March 25, 2010

I began recording and working with my dreams in 1989. In those early days, many of my dreams  had to do with conflicting feelings about my career.  This is one of them.

Dream #198: “Hiding From the Enemy”

Someone desecrates my small, primitive wooden house and ransacks my possessions while I’m away teaching writing classes.  It’s a dark night and the enemy is looking for me.  I’m in danger.  I hide, lying flat on the ground, pressed against the outside wall of the classroom.  I’m afraid to breathe or make a sound.  I know my tribe values my contribution and won’t give me away.

In dreams, houses usually represent the psychological condition in which we’re living.  So right away I’m being told that my inner life is cramped and primitive.  Moreover, it is a mess. But instead of trying to fix it up, what am I doing?  Hiding in terror behind a classroom! In other words, I’m using my job as an escape, a way to avoid conducting some inner work and confronting an unknown enemy that’s really messing with my mind.

And who or what is this enemy that has my dream ego holding its breath and cowering in the dark?  When I had this dream I couldn’t imagine what it might be; dreams are, after all, dramatizations about the unconscious self.  But now I know and the knowing makes me sad for  my cluelessness and the needless anxiety I was suffering. I was a puppet of convention and terrified of my natural, authentic self!

At that time it must have looked to others as if I had the world by the tail; but inside a battle had been raging for over nine years between two apparently irreconcilable opposites. On one side was my ego that was growing increasingly unhappy with its lack of personal meaning and spiritual fulfillment, but still preferred the familiarity and safety of the status quo to the dangers of the unknown.  On the other was the compelling new voice of Sophia whose call to freedom from conformity was deeply attractive but felt dangerously subversive. Which side was right? Which was wrong? Nothing in my life had prepared me for this excruciating dilemma. How was I to choose?  Rejecting either one would have felt like a terrible mistake.

My solution was deceptively simple and came in its own sweet time. I listened to my inner opposites and tolerated the tension between them for nine long years without shutting down or rushing to premature closure. Gradually I grew more aware of a fuller range of choices and braver about making original ones that honored my inner life as much as my outer one. Then I had a big dream in which I was going against the current in a rushing river and walking back upstream toward my true home. This dream told me that something in my psyche had shifted. Without my ego’s full awareness I had changed directions and simply slipped into myself.  Why? Because I was taking my inner life seriously and paying attention. I was just trying to stay conscious.

It seems to me that the energies of life support two basic human endeavors: to become ourselves and learn to love.  And until we get the first one right, we can’t accomplish the second. That’s why making the unconscious conscious is my career now and nothing less will ever satisfy.

 

Knowing the Land and Watching the Weather Report March 22, 2010

When we work with a dream our ego is the part of us doing the work. Our ego thinks it knows everything about us, but it doesn’t.  It thinks it is the boss of the entire psyche, but it isn’t.  It is merely the boss of our conscious personality.

An ego is like a farmer who owns a piece of land. The farmer is the boss of that land and gets to decide what part of it to use for whatever crops s/he wants to raise. S/he studies the options, bases choices on climate, the market, personal preferences, and so on, prepares the land, plants the seeds, fertilizes, waters, weeds, and does whatever else s/he can to grow healthy crops that will enhance his/her life and make a useful contribution to the community. These are things the farmer can control.

Meanwhile, there are forces at work over which the farmer has little or no control. Some are social, economic, and political, like fluctuations in buyer preferences, the cost of living, minimum wage, supply and demand, the willingness of banks to make loans, governmental policies, and so on. These are harder to be aware of and work with, but if a farmer will stay in touch and change with the times, the farm can continue to thrive.

The most ungovernable force of all is Nature. Sometimes our land is extremely difficult to work with. Maybe it’s on a steep slope, is full of rocks, lacks a source of water, or has uneven terrain or infertile soil. Then, of course, there’s the weather. Sometimes it rains too much. Sometimes it doesn’t rain enough. Some crops are destroyed by blights and bugs. Some freeze; some can’t take the heat. Then there’s hail, fire, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, erupting volcanoes….well, you get the picture.

Now here’s the thing. Dreams, emotions, and our physical and psychological inheritance (the land we have to work with), are Nature. Like hurricanes, dirt, and crocodiles, they simply are what they are. Farmers do not create the land or weather, and our egos do not create our bodies, psyches, emotions or dreams.

The best a farmer can do is become intentional about his/her life’s work and conduct the necessary research to know the land, understand the needs of specific crops, make backup plans, watch the weather reports, and respond appropriately. Likewise, the best an ego can do is gather information about our strengths and limitations, try to remain conscious of what’s going on within and without, and make wise choices.

Our dreams, emotions, and bodies map the lay of the land of our souls and provide an ongoing commentary about the unconscious forces acting upon us. Choosing to be intentional about tapping into this deep wisdom marks a major transition in the life of every individual.

Why would an ego want to go to all this trouble? For the same reason a farmer wants to know the land and watches the weather report! Because in the business of living, this is our ego’s job and the only permanent way to thrive.

 

Coming Home to Feminine Spirituality March 10, 2010

Filed under: Divine Feminine,Dreams — jeanraffa @ 2:25 pm
Tags: ,

Mandala

 I understand that an emerging name for blog is lifestream.  This seems very fitting.  It reminds me of one of the two most important dreams of my life.  This one came in January of 1989.  I had been teaching at a local university for ten years and was growing increasingly dissatisfied.  The previous year I had discovered Carl Jung, joined a Jungian study group, and embarked on a program of serious self-examination and dreamwork.  The insights I was gaining gave me the courage to consider giving up teaching to do something I really loved, but this was a very difficult step for me.  Then I had this BIG dream.

Dream #155:”Going Against the Current.”

I’m walking downstream in a wide, rushing river beside a rocky bank.  People are shooting by on rafts and I wonder how they keep from bashing themselves against the rocks. I decide to go back upstream and walk in water up to my chin.  The rough bottom slows my progress.  I reach up and hold onto some thin, flimsy branches hanging out over the water. This helps a little until they disappear and I have to go on unaided.  

As I near the last turn , suddenly there are thousands of people in front of me, all heading downstream.  I’m in the midst of them, trying to make my way back upstream to the place I’m supposed to be – my base camp.  Friendly people press in on every side.  Sometimes I gently touch a head or shoulder to propel myself forward. 

At the mouth of the river I put my hands together in front of me and gently part the people. This reminds them of Moses parting the Red Sea and they smile indulgently.  Then I’m far out in the ocean in deep water, tired and afraid.  Will I make it?  

Suddenly a younger, blond-haired woman is in front of me, only her head showing above the water.  “That was smart of you,” she says.  I know she’s strong and rested and will support me if I need to float for a while.  Together we head slowly to my base, a place I’ve never been but know to be my destination.

For me, walking through the rushing river represented the swift passage of time in my life’s journey.  For most of my life I had been going downstream in the direction of least resistance, believing what I was told to believe, doing what was expected of me, and ignoring some deep, unfulfilled yearnings. But my dream confirmed that the time had come to discover and honor my individuality. Like the children of Israel when they crossed the Red Sea, I was leaving my slavish allegiance to the collective behind.  I was being initiated by the Absolute (the ocean) and led to my true Self by my inner soul guide (the blond woman).

I cannot overstate the importance of this dream.  I knew “I” didn’t create it;  it came from a profound source of wisdom deep within me. I think of this inner wisdom as Sophia, the Divine Mother. The part of her that speaks to me in dreams is Dream Mother. Because I had the courage to listen to her and change the direction of my life, I soon discovered my true passions, writing and the search for self-knowledge, and they have made all the difference.

With the guidance of Sophia’s Feminine wisdom I’ve decided to take my newest plunge: lifestreaming on the internet.  I hope you’ll find something in the outpourings from my base camp that will help you, too, move in the direction of home.

 

 
%d bloggers like this: