Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

No More Toxic Air Waves, Please October 30, 2010

It’s a glorious autumn day in Central Florida. The air is coolish (for Florida) and refreshingly dry. The sky is a soft pale blue, unlike the dense, sun-baked, heavy blue of summer which seems to hold in humidity like a bell jar. Today you can breathe easily and feel pleasure in it. I like to imagine that the beards of Spanish moss waving gently from the still-green bald cypress trees are enjoying the air as much as I am.

Summers here can be harsh, which is why I escape to the mountains. I’m so lucky to be able to do this. I have been, and continue to be, the most fortunate of women. I did not grow up with materialistic goals or consumer values. We lived comfortably in mid-century America with few luxuries and no sense of being deprived. We listened to light-hearted radio shows on weekend mornings and had no television set until I was eleven; and then there were only three channels. What I heard and saw from advertising, news programs, and politicians in those days may have been impossibly innocent, idealistic and unrealistic, but most of it gave me hope that the grown-ups in charge were noble, wise, honest, kind-hearted and well-intentioned. I had faith that they had everyone’s best interest at heart, and I trusted them to tell me the truth.

I married a strong, intelligent man of good character and together we bought our first home, raised two extraordinary children, and created a comfortable life. With the help of scholarships, loans, careful investments, a pay-as-you-go mentality, love, good health, and good jobs we are now living the American dream. Our children are doing the same thing. And our grandchildren….. aaaah…..I smile with joy and pleasure when I think of them. We’ve been kind to each other and America has been kind to us. And we are very, very grateful.

But one thing, one seemingly subtle and ordinary — but to me very ominous — thing is spoiling my pleasure in my daily life and clouding my vision of my grandchildren’s future here in the land of the free and the home of the brave. It is a very unkind poison new to our generation that is as toxic to human life as the carbon monoxide from cars, sulfur oxides in acid rain, or nitrogen oxides blanketing cities in hazy brown domes of smog.

The poison I am referring to threatens the health and welfare of our minds, spirits and souls. It is the hateful, hostile, divisive, deliberately deceitful, greed- and power-motivated name-calling, finger-pointing messages spewing out of the air waves into homes, cars and businesses in every town and state of our country.

The scariest thing of all is that this gleeful, blatant, conscienceless lying and fear-mongering is beginning to seem normal. And our children and grandchildren are exposed to this toxic unkindness every day. I can tell you from long experience that the massive, invasive, unrelenting presence of irresponsible journalism, advertising, and political campaigning is neither normal nor healthy. This is very bad news for our souls, for America, and for the world.

That’s why I don’t listen to Fox News and have joined TurnOffFox.org. Must the American dream of a kind world and better future die with my generation? Dear God, I hope not.

 

The Hero’s Journey October 26, 2010

Recently I wrote about my childhood dream in which the Lone Ranger shot me. This big dream was more real than any other I’ve ever had. I was devastated to think my hero hated me so much he wanted to kill me and I couldn’t understand why. I had practically worshiped him, Silver, and his trusty partner Tonto; yet he shot me! The injustice of this was intolerable!

One thing I’ve come to understand is that this dream spoke to my childhood image of God as a heroic male and my growing sense that I was unworthy because I was a female. In 1953 America God was a He, history was still about males, and females could not be bosses, ministers, presidents or heroes.

That new awareness was very painful to my ten-year-old heart, and I tried my best to suppress it for many years; but ultimately, belatedly, it forced me to take myself as seriously as I took my loved ones, to search for my truths, and to connect with God in ways that were personally meaningful instead of entrusting this most crucial of my soul’s tasks to others — especially others who did not value me because of my gender. It also inspired my creativity. My struggle to understand and empower femininity and the feminine side of the Sacred Mystery is at the core of everything I write.

A second message of this dream was the inevitability of death. While being alone most of the time I wasn’t in school or church seemed normal to me at ten, my dream said that unconsciously I was feeling very vulnerable and insecure. I could be left alone to make my way through a dangerous world, I could be victimized, I could die. When my father died a few months later this suspicion became a certainty and my trust in my hero/God was shattered. Apparently I knew something no one else did: the heavenly hero everyone thought of as perfect was secretly untrustworthy, unjust and cruel.

I tried to repress this awareness too, but it was nevertheless a bedrock reality that fueled my determination to do everything I could to stay on God’s good side! Ignoring my wounded Persephone, I concentrated on developing my Athena, the brave, noble and wise defender of patriarchy! And I got pretty good at being heroic.

So it was a bit of a shock to realize at mid-life was that I was copying a version of the Hero’s Journey that has worked quite well for males for thousands of years, but not so well for women. Beneath the image of the independent, white-hatted cowboy on a white horse who rides off into the sunset to right the injustices of the world with a silver bullet is another way — the Soul’s Way — of reining in the heroic ego and connecting with, healing and emboldening a heroic heart. In conforming to a mold that wasn’t made for me, I was betraying myself, losing myself!

Here is the message I want to convey: Whether you know it or not, your God-image — your hope for a vital, authentic life of love and compassion and spiritual meaning and healing and wholeness — is shaped by your personality, environment, and experiences. But you don’t have to settle for a dysfunctional God-image or self-image. Acquiring the consciousness to recognize your wounds and complete your soul is the true Hero’s Journey, and anyone can take it.

My newest book, Healing the Sacred Divide, can be found at this Amazon link and at Larson Publications, Inc.

 

Under the Cosmic Big Top October 23, 2010

Despite the warning in my Lone Ranger dream, my child’s image of God as an omnipotent heroic male dominated my spirituality well into adulthood. But after years of conforming to the rules and expectations of my religion I began to question it:

Why does God still feel so remote and impersonal? Why am I still afraid of him? Why, after all these years of trying to please him and do everything right, am I not a better, happier person? Is God really all masculine? Could God have a feminine side? If so, how would God be different? How would I be different if I had been taught to understand and honor both sides? Would I like myself more? Be happier? How would the world be different?

And so, having explored every avenue within my religion, I began to look elsewhere for what was missing in my God-image and myself. With the help of Jungian psychology my eyes were opened to the fact that just as the physical world is governed by the principle of opposites (North Pole/South Pole; night/day; female/male) so is the human psyche (conscious/ unconscious; masculine/feminine; liked qualities/disliked qualities). This led to the realization that honoring one side of any pair of opposites while ignoring or rejecting the other is just plain ignorant, and that all growth, both psychological and spiritual, moves in the direction of integrating opposites.

And so I began a program of inner work to understand and accept both sides of myself. Has this been easy? Well, let me put it this way: sometimes I feel like I’m walking a tightrope under the cosmic Big Top. Over there ladies and gentlemen, we have my left brain; and on the other side ….yes, there it is….my right brain! Now my masculine side; now my feminine. Now speaking an honest-to-goodness gut truth; now remaining silent. Today feeling heroic; tomorrow cowardly. Here, in love with myself; there, despising myself. Sometimes I’ve been the ringmaster, sometimes the clown. Sometimes I’ve felt like the bear tamer and sometimes I’m the bear.

And what have I learned? That the journey to self-knowledge leads to the Kingdom of God, a place where there are no clear boundaries, no opposites, no rules about who is more important, what you have to believe, or which side is right. Moreover, it is infinitely diverse and utterly inclusive. The psyche is a circus, replete with wild beasts, trapeze artists, jugglers, alligator boys, fat ladies, tattooed men, knife throwers, clowns, roustabouts and a whole bunch of bystanders in the bleachers munching on peanuts and cotton candy. And there’s the little ego, all alone up there balancing on the razor’s edge, making its way through the Big Top without a safety net, just trying to stay on the radical middle path to God.

As you read this tonight (on the evening of its publication), I’m attending a very special Under the Big Top costume party at the home of my brother-in-law, Tony, and his partner, Scott in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. With the help of entrepreneur Karl Strahl, owner of Century Costumes, and his brilliant costume designer, Del Reinhart, I’m dressed as…….drum roll, please…….the sexy bear tamer pictured above! (I should look so good!)

And my husband? Tonight he gets to be the bear!

You can find my newest book, Healing the Sacred Divide, at this Amazon link and at Larson Publications, Inc.

 

A Message From the Lone Ranger October 19, 2010

In the dream I am walking between railroad tracks that curve into a distant horizon. I see only earth, sky, this hard metal road with rock-covered banks that fall away on either side into dark woods below.

I know this place. I walked these tracks with Daddy when I was five and we lived in Tallahassee. Daddy wanted me to feel the magical allure of trains, but also to know their danger. There were hobos in tent camps in the woods and I should stay away from them. I should stay away from the tracks too. Little girls could get crushed by the metal monsters that rode them.

Are there hobos in the woods now? Will a train come soon? Why am I here? Where am I going? Where’s Daddy? I don’t know. I only know I am alone and must keep walking.

From behind me a voice calls, “Jean!” I turn, and there is Tonto.

“Come,” he beckons. “Lone Ranger wants you.” I am thrilled. The Lone Ranger is my hero and he wants to see me! I push away a niggling shadow of apprehension and follow Tonto. The Lone Ranger stands in a clearing. Behind him his magnificent white horse, Silver, munches grass contentedly. Beyond them, the dark woods. I feel wonder, excitement, curiosity. Beneath these, that tiny knot of anxiety.

“Stand there.” The masked man points to a spot on the ground in front of the steep embankment. I obey and wait for the words that will reveal his regard for me, tell me why I’m here, confirm my mission.

The Lone Ranger pulls his gun out if its holster, aims at me, pulls the trigger, shoots. I feel the kick in my mid-section, clutch my body at the point of impact, wait for the blood and pain. Is this it? Will I die now?

I wake up screaming, “Nooooo!” between great heaving sobs, outraged by this inconceivable betrayal from a man I have admired second to no one but Daddy. Mama rushes up the stairs into my bedroom and holds me in her arms.

“Shhh, you’re okay. You’re okay. It was only a dream.”

Only a dream. That’s when I tell myself, stunned with incomprehension but fierce in my determination, “This is important. I am ten years old and I will never forget this dream!”

If you have read my book, The Bridge to Wholeness: A Feminine Alternative to the Hero Myth, you already know this story. In the book after that, Dream Theatres of the Soul: Empowering the Feminine Through Jungian Dreamwork, I mentioned the Lone Ranger once again. Then, thinking I was done with him, I set him aside to address headier matters. I’ve been writing for years, hoping to round out these two books with a third that would complete them, but nothing quite gelled. Now I understand I still had unfinished business with the Lone Ranger, Tonto, and Silver.

The Lone Ranger gave me my mission: You want to know why you are here and where you are going?  I will tell you. These tracks represent your spiritual journey. I have given you an experience that will shape it. Never forget the pain of being betrayed by the god of your childhood: a lone, remote, and mysterious masked man who doesn’t value your significance and holds the power of life and death over you. Remember this dream and become conscious of its fullest meaning. This is your life’s work. He was right.

You can find my newest book,  Healing the Sacred Divide, at this Amazon link and at Larson Publications, Inc.

 

Righting Injustice in God’s Name October 16, 2010

My ideas about justice and injustice are shaped by reverence for the Mystery of the Divine All-In-One and the commandment to do unto others as I would have others do unto me. This is not exclusive to any religion or God-image. Living with Consciousness and Compassion is the basis for all authentic spirituality.

How do I want to be treated? With care. With understanding and tolerance for my differences. With respect for my sovereignty. With entitlement to equal rights under the law and in relationships. With fairness and freedom from enslavement: physical, psychological, spiritual, sexual, and social (familial, religious, legal, economic, educational, and political).

I should treat others the same way: with compassion toward everyone without hurting anyone. Do I try to do this? Yes. Do I ever fail? Of course. Why? Because I have a Shadow made of all the fear, pain, strong emotions, instincts, needs, attitudes and assumptions I don’t always see well enough to keep under leash. It’s what makes me human. It’s why I do inner work. It pains me so to see the hurtful things I sometimes think, feel and say, and I want to right the injustice of it.

One other kind of injustice bothers me as much as my own: that perpetrated by religions. Injustice in the name of God occurs daily, probably everywhere, and we’re so used to it we often don’t notice or care.  Sometimes it drives me nuts.

I’ve done my share of  work for social causes. But lately I’ve been zeroing in on my true passion: to overthrow the tyranny of the ignorant, unconscious, self-righteous attitude which, in the name of God, ignores human pain and need in the interest of feeling safe, superior, self-important and powerful. In modeling intolerance, indifference, blame and fear, it spreads toxic divisiveness and incites hatred. In bestowing approval in return for obedience and correct belief, it commits the unpardonable sin of thwarting the soul’s growth into Consciousness and Compassion. As a Christian alumnus, I have to ask myself, if Christ is about bringing healing light and life into the world, what is this attitude if not the antichrist: the opposite of everything every authentic spirit person has ever stood for?

You know what? I have some of that in me. So do you. In a dualistic world, humans cannot contain the Christ without also containing the antichrist. My intense dislike of people who try so hard to be spiritual that they come off smug, critical and self-righteous shows me my Spiritual Bully Shadow! So do my dreams where he occasionally shows up to torment me. Does this shock you? It shouldn’t. You also project what you don’t like about yourself onto others. Be careful what you hate lest you become it. I have met the enemy and it is me.

My cause is to right the injustices of psychological ignorance and spiritual brainwashing. I began my solitary arm-chair crusade thirty years ago this year. Since nobody else understood me or knew how to fix the injustices I experienced and inflicted on others, I decided to understand and fix myself. I didn’t know this was my cause, nor did I realize it was a social cause. But the progress I’m making with my inner work convinces me it is the most important cause of all. Join me if you agree. We don’t need a formal organization — in fact, that would probably ruin everything — and we may never meet on the physical plane, but our souls will know one another. What shall our slogan be? I know: “Inner Workers of the World, Unite!”

 

Gated Religions October 12, 2010

For many years, literal belief in the doctrines of my religion (Christianity) was enough to satisfy my spiritual hunger. But the strain of containing my beliefs in a tightly enclosed, left-brained compartment labeled “Religion” while repeatedly coming up against a Mystery that encompasses the entire universe eventually wore me down. At the age of 37 my ego waved a white flag and surrendered its need to feel safe and in control. In leaving the gated community of my religion, I entered a Dark Night of the Soul that lasted nine years.

I returned from the desert with a new way of seeing and living. My mind had been redirected from needing correct belief to seeking truth; from preparing for an afterlife to living now; from pretending and pleasing to being authentic; from defending a God-image of judgment, exclusivity and stasis to embracing a God-image of inclusiveness, openness and change. When I could no longer go to church without getting a stomach ache, I stopped attending. I was by no means rejecting the Mystery, but only a local and, to my way of thinking, painfully confining way of connecting with it with which I no longer felt at home.

Sometimes I’ve been angry at organized religion but I’ve kept most of my thoughts and feelings to myself; partly because I didn’t want to offend or mislead anyone who finds hope and healing in their faith, and partly because I’m simply more comfortable with affirming than critiquing. But there’s also a deeper reason: I’ve been afraid of the backlash. Ultra conservative elements of all three patriarchal religions have a long history of persecuting “heretics,” and frankly, the rabid religious intimidate me with their polarizing prejudices; their obsessive self-righteous anger; their intolerance and lack of compassion; their willingness to turn on those who question their fear-based practices and beliefs; their ability to fire up masses of devoted followers who support them blindly; their indifference to the pain and injustice their inner Nazis inflict.

Peace-loving Muslims are getting a lot of flak these days for not speaking out against violent Islamic groups but are they any different from me? It would be easy to point fingers at them, but wouldn’t a more effective use of my energy be to address the destructive forces in my own religious community? How can I self-righteously blame members of a religion I know nothing about for failing to speak out against their fanatics when I’ve been afraid to speak out against mine? Isn’t that what Jesus meant when he criticized hypocrites for pointing out the motes in others’ eyes while ignoring the beams in their own? As my five-year-old granddaughter would say in mock exasperation, “Peepuhl! What are we thinking?”

When it comes to religion, many of us are not thinking, at least not with both sides of our brains. We’re reacting instinctively and emotionally. We want the approval of our tribes. We want to stay safe. And so we shut down the inner other who yearns for a freer, more authentic, inclusive and compassionate way to celebrate the sacred miracle of life, and we shut out others who are different. But we should be just as afraid of ourselves and our exclusive communities as of outsiders. The real enemy lives within our gates and the true work begins at home, in the place we know best and where we have the most influence.

The world is in trouble. If there was ever a time to think psychologically and live spiritually, it’s now. If there was ever a place to start, it’s with ourselves.

Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at this Amazon link and at Larson Publications, Inc.

 

Coconut Sailboats October 9, 2010

Three comments after my last post about forgetting a recurring dream inspired this one. George wondered if a dream that addresses our waking thoughts and wishes is an authentic original response or just programming from the ego. William said he often wonders where memories go when we don’t remember them. And Ram0singhal shared his belief that trusting the natural flow of your dreams brings God to your side in the form of creativity.

All three responses are based on the assumption of an underlying Mystery beyond the realm of normal awareness. The only things I know about the Mystery come from personal experiences that have filled me with awe, wonder, meaning, appreciation, gratitude and compassion. But there are theories that add a few pieces to the puzzle I am trying to assemble. I’ll discuss two of them here: one from quantum physics, and the other from Jungian psychology. Although neither uses the language of any one religion, both affirm the underlying truths of every religion because when we talk about the Mystery, we’re talking about God.

Physicist David Bohm theorized about three orders of the universe. The explicate order perceived by our senses is like a sailboat floating on the sea. The implicate order is like everything beneath the boat we can’t see, but which gives rise to and supports everything in the explicate order in the same way that all forms of life originated in the sea. The super-implicate order is like a benevolent Poseidon who lives in a royal chamber beneath the sea and determines how the sea’s energized particles of potential will manifest in the world above.

Carl Jung’s corollary to Bohm’s theory emphasizes three orders of mental functioning. Bohm’s explicate order corresponds to Jung’s conscious self: the me in the sailboat. Beneath that is my personal unconscious, a sea of energy filled with my forgotten memories (as William’s sea contains his), instinctual needs, disowned emotions, untapped interests and skills, and so on. Like the particles floating in Bohm’s implicate-order sea, anything in the personal unconscious can be brought to the surface at any moment. Sort of like a coconut that falls from an island palm, floats around awhile, then turns up beside my boat.

At the bottom of the sea is the entrance to the royal chamber Jung called the collective unconscious. Sitting on its throne is the Self which, like Earth’s core, underlies everything, connects us to everything, and determines what to bring into our conscious world. Bohm called this the super-implicate order. Another name in current use is One Mind. Whatever we call it, it is a melting pot containing every individual mind with every thought, form of energy, or creative idea that ever was or will be. We gain access to this underground cave of creativity via the Self…our trusted sacred center which speaks to us, as Ram0singal notes, in dreams!

So my answer to you, George, is that you are loved by the Mystery beneath the sea and every one of your dreams comes from there. Dream Mother knows you intimately because she always sees you sailing around up above. Since she wants only the best for you, she uses material from all three levels to create the exact dreams you need every night. You might enjoy some of them that pop up — especially the ones about sailing trips — much more than others, but you can trust that all of them are in your best interest and contribute to your creativity. Speaking of creativity, maybe you should start adding sailboats to your coconut art?

You can find Healing the Sacred Divide at this Amazon link and at Larson Publications, Inc.

 

 

 
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