Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

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.

 

Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer May 2, 2010

This book by a passionate nature-lover is one of my all-time favorites. For me it is about how people who have unduly prolonged the promise of Spring ripen into fully evolved, wildly extravagant lovers of life. I see this as a spiritual task as well as a psychological one. Why? Consider Episcopal Bishop John Spong’s definition of God:

God is the Source of Life who is worshiped when we live fully.
God is the Source of Love who is worshiped when we love wastefully.
God is the Ground of Being who is worshiped when we have the courage to be.

By the end of the summer, this becomes a life-path for the main characters. For example, the middle-aged forest caretaker, Deanna, (aka Diana/Artemis, goddess of the moon and wilderness), eases up on her lone-wolf, tough-girl persona and takes a young lover. In return, she receives the gift of hopeful new life: not only in a physical baby but psychologically too. Before meeting Eddie she is a one-dimensional warrior-like Artemis; but he brings out her Aphrodite big time and soon she will develop her maternal Demeter as well. Even if the baby has Downs’ Syndrome because of her age, for her this will be a full-circle return to the love of her youth, Nannie’s wounded child, Rachel, (a nod to Rachel Carson?) who is forever lost to her.

When Lusa moves to Appalachia with her new husband Cole, then loses him shortly afterwards, (Lusa/Loser? Cole/Coal? — symbolizing his descent into the blackness of death and the treasure she will mine from this devastating loss?), this sophisticated city girl relaxes her grip on her old, patronizing attitudes. Befriending Little Rickie and Jewel brings undreamt riches: Jewel’s children, a goat farm, Garnett, and Nannie. Look at the symbolism in these names: a garnet is a semi-precious Jewel. Rickie/Richie/rich. Nannie/nanny goat. All part of the richness-to-come in the summer of Lusa’s life because she risks making original choices. Jung said, “The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” Lucky Lusa to learn this at such a young age.

Garnett, a spiritually rigid and psychologically repressed widower farmer, blossoms too. By embracing Nannie’s disturbing differences, he will be blessed with a whole new family. Even the mysterious Eddie Bondo (Eddie/eddy? — the whirlpool of passion into which he sucks Deanna? Bondo/bond? — their sexual bond releases them both from bondage to repression?) matures. With Deanna’s help, he questions his predatory instincts enough to see the significance of a creature he has heretofore viewed as prey. Might this include woman as well as coyote?

Improbable as it may seem, I see this beautiful youth as a Pan-like Jesus figure, just as Nannie represents the Divine Feminine. The nanny goat is associated with ancient fertility cults and in India is an embodiment of the primal mother. The male goat, besides symbolizing male sexual powers, is a sacrificial animal that takes on the sins of the people: When a scapegoat is banished into the wilderness, all are absolved of guilt. While Eddie is not directly associated with goats, he most certainly is associated with the wilderness and Pan’s goatish, guilt-free sex. More important, like Jesus, he transforms Deanna’s stark life into one filled with joy, authenticity, and love.

What could be more spiritual than that?

 

 
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