Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

In Praise of Perseverance; In Celebration of Creativity January 29, 2011

It’s difficult to explain the connection between self-knowledge and creativity without psychological jargon getting in the way. Maybe I should start by sharing a dream.

Dream #4287 : The Check Casher

A quiet man is sitting on the curb at a roadside rest stop. I hand him a check I want him to cash for me and he gives me the requested amount plus a stack of checks I have written to him over a long period of time. He never cashed them, and all that money is still in my bank account. He did this because he wants to help me. I am overwhelmed with gratitude. He has given me twice what I asked for with no strings attached! I have been doubly blessed and am touched almost beyond words. I take his face in my hand, look him in the eyes, and sincerely say, “Thank you.”

The first thing I usually do when I work on a dream is reword it in terms of what its symbols mean to me. So I’ll begin with the roadside rest stop. Apparently I’m on a journey. For me this suggests the journey to wholeness and enlightenment.

The mysterious check casher gives and gives, full measure, pressed down and running over, with no expectation of return. I associate this quality with the Ground of our Being, the sacred benevolent Force that never stops giving and sustaining life. So I see the check casher as a symbol of the masculine side of the Self, my Spirit Warrior who shows up every day and does the work that needs doing. My work is to acquire self-knowledge and write about what I’ve learned. My Spirit Warrior helps me do that.

The money I’ve been withdrawing from my bank account by way of the check casher represents the energy, effort, motivation, determination, self-discipline and perseverance we’ve both been willing to expend on my soul’s passion. And the fact that he returned it double-fold feels like a reward for my efforts and shows me how much value he places on our work together.

I know what the reward is. Four days before I had this dream I learned that Healing the Sacred Divide, a book I’d worked on for many years, had been accepted for publication! This dream is a picture of all the help I’ve requested from the Self, all the energy I’ve put into my inner and outer work, and all the treasures of creativity and renewed energy that are the return on my investment.

My ego didn’t write this dream; I’m not that creative. Anyway, egos don’t create dreams. The Self, the source of all my energy and life and creativity does. But I, by which I mean my ego, can persist in diving into my dreams, reflecting on their meaning and writing about what I find there. Intention and persistence pay off. My regular descents into the unconscious ocean beneath my ego’s awareness over a period of many years have created what Jung called an “ego-Self axis.”  Through this connection I have met many ocean denizens and grown familiar with the terrain. It was inevitable that I would eventually discover and benefit from some of my sunken treasures.

This dream touched me almost beyond words. To the Self I can only say with all the gratitude and sincerity in me, “Thank you for being my partner on this amazing journey.” And to you who follow this blog, thank you, too, for being part of it.

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


America’s Dream of Our Emerging Queen January 25, 2011

A new American conscience has been emerging for some time now. For my generation it began in the 60’s with President Kennedy who worked with Sargent Shriver to develop the Peace Corps because he dreamed of eliminating poverty and creating world peace. It hasn’t happened yet, but many lives have been changed for the better.

Dr. King had a dream about universal justice and tried to establish it through tolerance and non-violence. Many were inspired by his dream, and after the chaotic time during which his life was taken we began to realize it, especially in our schools and places of work. Sure, tolerance and justice and still don’t always prevail, but hey, when have they ever? Personally, I see promising signs. Look at the legal shows on television. Many of them treat complex issues about justice in very responsible, intelligent ways. As I see it, our collective vision of a more just society is getting clearer and we’re working harder to make it a reality.

The tragedy of Sept.11 brought out the soft sides of New Yorkers. A year later my husband and I were stuck in a New York traffic jam. Amazingly, no horns were blaring. Most amazing of all, our taxi driver apologized for the traffic. I couldn’t believe it. “You’re apologizing for the traffic?” I said. “You realize you’ve just trashed a national stereotype don’t you?” He said with utmost sincerity, “It’s because of 9/11. Mayor Bloomberg told us taxi drivers we’re ambassadors for America and we can change the world’s opinion of us by being more respectful to our fares and each other.” This guy and his crusty peers were dreaming about being nice!

Enter the tragedy in Tucson and the ensuing outpouring of compassion. We all have it in us, you know. It’s because of the Queen archetype which motivates us to bring about lawful order and moral virtue through caring. And our most conscious leaders, like Pres. Kennedy and Sargent Shriver and Dr. King and Pres. Obama and even that taxi driver who saw himself as an ambassador of kindness, have responded to our crises over the last 50 years by birthing her into our collective awareness.

Many of you are cynical about how long this will last, but the truth is, when humanity dreams of a better way we dig in our heels and go for it. It’s a law of nature, the way we’re made. Look at the worldwide changes since King John signed the Magna Charta. Sure, that was 800 years ago and a lot of truly nasty stuff has happened since, but once the seeds of democracy were sown they sprouted and flowered and spread around the globe like kudzu. They’re still spreading.

Humans are not irredeemably bad. We each have the capacity for good and evil, and sure, we can go either way. But beneath the messes our egos keep making, the Self, archetype of wholeness, prods us to keep growing, to become more conscious and morally mature. This urge bubbles up when crises lower our resistance to psychological realities. It’s why we create religions. Nobody makes us do that; we do it because we must. Nobody made Pres. Kennedy create the Peace Corps, or Dr. King advocate non-violence, or that taxi driver be nice. The Self gave these people dreams and they activated their Queens to manifest them.

And therein lies our hope: We can kill our leaders, but we can’t kill our Queen. Long may she reign.

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


Dream Symbol: The King January 22, 2011

Did you ever dream about a king or other powerful leader and wonder why? Throughout history kings and queens in the outer world have represented the mysterious force that creates and sustains life. This force has two basic drives: self-preservation (masculine) and species preservation (feminine).

The drive for self-preservation compels us to promote our individuality, protect our physical lives, and guarantee the prosperity of the “tribe” on which we depend for survival.  The King archetype is a symbol of this drive. In terms of our inner growth, Jung saw the King as a symbol of individuation, or becoming differentiated from our social groups.  Together, the King and Queen represent the masculine and feminine authorities of the psyche.

We enhance our chances for survival when everyone agrees to certain guidelines and standards that encourage orderly, responsible behavior. To that end we look to leaders with strong King archetypes to devise, enact, and enforce rules. Healthy King energy uses clear and logical  thinking to create fair and just rules in systems of hierarchical authority. Unhealthy King energy is either too obsessive or passive to truly care about others and therefore wreaks havoc in families, schools, businesses, churches, and nations.

Examples of men upon whom we project the King archetype include leaders at the top of social hierarchies such as fathers, school principals, CEO’s, generals, presidents, ministers, priests, and popes; historical kings such as Caesar, Louis XIV, and Henry VIII; mythical god-images associated with kingly authority like Zeus, Thor, Hades, and King Neptune; and kings in stories and legends like King Midas, King Arthur, The Fisher King, The Lion King and his negative counterpart Scar.

Women with well-developed King energy include Maat, Egypt’s goddess of justice, truth, and law; Themis, the Greek goddess of equity, law, and peace; the Cherokee’s Grandmother Spider; Japan’s Sun Goddess Amaterasu; and human women like Cleopatra, Catherine de’ Medici, Catherine the Great, Mary Queen of Scots, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meir, Janet Reno, Hillary Clinton, Judge Judy, and decisive, authoritarian, rule-oriented mothers.

Dream themes associated with our King address rules, crimes, morality, authority, order, leadership, and individuation. Two King dreams are especially auspicious.  An old King dying to make way for a new one says we’ve outgrown our childish dependence on outer authorities and are assuming our personal authority.  A wedding between a King and Queen suggests the conscious integration of our inner opposites.

Dream symbols that refer to our King include all the examples above plus other powerful authorities like dictators, governors, prison guards, police men and women, judges, lions (the king of beasts) and stallions. We learn more about the strength and health of our King energy by noticing the way these dream figures treat us and others, and by how our dream ego feels and behaves when we are in their presence or in positions of leadership ourselves.

In waking life, the problems we experience as leaders and the way we feel about and respond to those with authority over us can be traced directly to the maturity of our personal King and Queen. It is important to integrate both forms of energy into our awareness so we can choose the best possible leaders,and so we ourselves can live, speak and lead with wisdom and benevolence.

Has a King ever showed up in your dreams?  I’d love to hear about it.


The Queen: Lioness of the Psyche January 18, 2011

The Queen archetype is the  feminine authority of the psyche whose natural instinct is to create lawful order and moral virtue by nurturing caring relationships. Most of us would like to empower our Queens but how do we go about it? Essentially, it is a four-step process of listening to our conscience and obeying its advice, questioning outworn morality, acquiring self-knowledge, and developing an authentic personal ethic rooted in humility and love.

Step 1: Listening. Consideration and respect for others tend to develop naturally in children who are well-loved by responsible parents. Of course, social learning backfires when a child’s models are unkind and anti-social. But most of us can learn to listen to our conscience which, like a good mother, tells us when we’ve done something wrong. Have you ever felt guilty for lying or saying something hurtful? Or betrayed a value you cherished and then felt ashamed for being a hypocrite? If so, your ego has listened to your Queen. But the Queen is not just the voice of society’s conscience. She is also a leader who urges us to “put our money where our mouth is.” At some point we need to choose our battles and act on her advice. Have you ever confronted a bully at the risk of being publically ridiculed? Or withdrawn your loyalty from a politician, media personality or religious leader who acts out of their own self-interest and lust for power? If so, you have followed the Queen’s guidance. You’re still not finished, though!

Step 2: Questioning. Life is about change; so is the feminine principle. When we start noticing that we and others are suffering, it gets harder to tell the difference between right and wrong. This leads to a time of questioning and challenging the old Queen’s ethic to make way for improvements. The inner force that urges us to change is, in fact, our evolving Queen.

Step 3: Searching. The thing that makes us evolve is self-knowledge. Journaling, dreamwork, therapy, study and meditation all help. Why is this step important? Because until your ego grows roots deep into the unconscious where it meets its savage twin, your virtue will be shallow and your choices will be influenced by every passing breeze. An ego that has not met its shadow feels self-righteous and morally superior. Sociopaths feel the same way. Sometimes the only way to learn the truth about ourselves is to face an intolerable moral dilemma that pits us against the Self. Either way we choose will feel wrong and right at the same time. This time of suffering and searching in the dark is our initiation into authenticity.

Step 4: Being. If we can tolerate the tension until we see our capacity for evil and if we are truly contrite, we will bow to the Self’s authority and our dilemma will be resolved without any help from our ego. Then we will acknowledge the Queen’s sovereignty as the feminine half of the Self, the lioness of the psyche. Then she will bless us with humility and compassion. Then the old need to appear virtuous will be replaced by simple, natural caring, which is all we need to be virtuous.

When one ego breaks through the shell of unconsciousness, everyone benefits. Here are some questions you can ask about your Queen. Where in my life is my queen strong? How is she changing? Where could I use more work? What form of inner work am I most drawn to? Why? What have I learned from it?

Jean Raffa’s The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. E-book versions are also at KoboBarnes And Noble and Smashwords. Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.





Healing Arizona: Embodying the Queen’s Light January 15, 2011

The tragedy in Arizona last weekend has us all wondering. Why did this happen? Why were good, innocent people victimized by this senseless violence? How could it have been prevented ? As one who always looks for a psychological reason, I’d like to share what I know about the King and Queen archetypes. As symbols of humanity’s universal striving for lawful order and moral virtue, they hold the answers to these questions.

The King sees justice as the highest good and believes it can be achieved with logical thinking and hierarchical authority. Leaders with well-developed King archetypes devise, enact, and enforce rules with orderly chains of command. In history, literature and lore, a strong and wise king blesses the land with safety, peace, and prosperity whereas a weak and ignorant one ruins it.

The Queen’s highest priority is to establish caring relationships. She values compassion, harmony, peace, flexibility, understanding, mercy and forgiveness. She promotes charity, tolerates diversity, and supports the creative arts. She nurtures communities in which authority is shared by all and decisions are based on the particulars of each situation and best interests of each individual.

These two approaches to building a fair and orderly society produce different leadership styles and forms of government. King energy generates authoritarian systems like monarchies, plutocracies, theocracies and dictatorships. Queen energy nurtures the authority of individuals and creates democracies in which everyone has a voice and a vote.  Leaders with this preference work one-on-one with people in the trenches — like Rep. Gabrielle Giffords who was meeting her constituents in a grocery store when she was shot. The key to personal and societal health is integration and balance between both leadership styles. When either one is undeveloped or obsessive the result is polarization, prejudice, hatred, fanaticism, violence, terrorism, chaos.

Throughout history humanity has obsessed over the King’s priorities and neglected the Queen’s. Jesus challenged Roman imperialism by promoting love and equality for all and was killed for it. Lincoln, Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King did the same with the same consequence. What meaning can we draw from this regarding recent events in Arizona? I do not believe the people in Arizona died in vain. I believe that in this world where everything is connected, everything that happens has meaning. The meaning is not that God causes or even allows atrocities, but that we humans cause and allow them because of our psycho-spiritual ignorance and unconsciousness.

Like all martyrs, those who lost their lives last weekend gave the ultimate gift of love by showing us our collective blindness to the Queen’s values, our deafness to her voice, and the fear and hatred in our hearts. An overwhelming surge of consciousness has been raised by this tragedy, and it will create more compassion. You and I can add to it by fanning Queen Sophia’s flame in the dark caverns of our souls so that we become guiding lights for a wounded world. May we all look deeper to see how we contribute to the chaos and suffering that always precedes new life, and may we grow wiser and more compassionate in the process. My deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the fallen.


Healing Arizona: Sophia’s Communication Style January 11, 2011

As I write this the shooting spree in Arizona which resulted in the deaths of six people, including a federal judge, and the wounding of several others — among them congressional Representative Gabrielle Giffords who apparently was the primary target — is very much on my mind. Practically everyone is wondering whether America’s recent vitriolic political environment might have contributed to this tragedy.

In an October post titled, “No More Toxic Air Waves, Please,” I worried about what effect the hate-filled, divisive political rhetoric would have on the youngest and most vulnerable among us. Early reports say the suspect is a mentally unstable young man with a known grudge against the government. Perhaps he would have done something like this regardless of the political climate. But factors like the deliberate ‘targeting’ of political ‘enemies’on Sarah Palin’s website, (Rep. Giffords was among those pictured in the crosshairs), and the media’s recent movement from informing to inciting have to be considered as potential influences.

One psychological explanation for this situation has to do with the differences between left-brained and right-brained communication styles. If you’ve been following this blog you know the left-hemisphere of the brain specializes in logos — logical, objective, focused reasoning — which is associated with the masculine principle. The right hemisphere prefers mythos, i.e. analogical thinking, subjective feeling, and diffuse awareness, and is associated with the feminine principle. I’m not talking about gender. This is about the masculine and feminine in all of us.

Diffuse awareness has four primary components: listening (as opposed to influencing), appreciating (as opposed to criticizing or judging), empathizing (as opposed to unfeeling analyzing and reasoning), and questioning (as opposed to blind acceptance and/or authoritarian telling). All four qualities enhance communication, contribute to wisdom and help unveil the sacred. All are associated with the feminine.

Diffuse listening occurs when we open ourselves to otherness by relaxing our needs to be heard, admired, one-up and right. Receptivity to whatever comes our way leads us straight through appearances and preconceived notions into the heart and soul of matters. Appreciating respects differences, sees similarities, and enjoys meaningful connections. Empathy, the ability to see through another’s eyes and unite with him or her in a communion of shared understanding and caring, is born when we shift our focus from differentiating ourselves to establishing intimacy. Finally, questioning is an open, thoughtful approach to otherness — other ideas and opinions, other belief systems, and other ways of perceiving — that is not defensive, rebellious, or confrontational, but truly interested in understanding, learning and growing.

The shocking violence in Arizona has multiple causes, but I have absolutely no doubt that our cultural obsession with left-brained values is one of the most influential. Fortunately, humanity is riding a mounting tidal wave that is heading for a new level of consciousness which balances and integrates opposites. Sophia of the wise and understanding heart is entering our awareness in a very big way, and adopting her modes of thinking and communicating cannot help but bring healing changes. I can’t wait to witness their unfolding in the new decade.


Being Spiritual January 8, 2011

For years I unconsciously equated being “spiritual” with being perfect: believing in the “right” God and creeds, learning rules, observing traditions, heeding authorities, behaving “correctly.” I thought you had to embody St. Paul’s Fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. All the time! I thought feeling angry, sad, hurt, anxious or hopeless was weak and dangerous. By the time I knew better my addiction to spiritual perfection was so deeply ingrained it was nearly impossible to stop.

Now I know spirituality is about compassion, reverence for life, being true to yourself, and making healthy choices that arise from a genuine desire to be of benefit.  But without self-knowledge our unconscious emotions, needs, compulsions, and unhealed wounds separate our egos from the Self and prevent us from living authentically from our spiritual Source. Until this internal connection is forged, the best we can do is put on a convincing act.

In this blog I strive to be honest about my everyday experience of the spiritual journey. My most important discovery is that in repressing our true selves we repress Spirit. I tried to convey this in my Christmas post: “The Winter Holy Days From A Cosmic Perspective.” In my New Year’s post, “Visiting Old Dreams: Visioning a New Year” I shared one way I use dreamwork to connect with Spirit. And in my last post, “Welcome to the House of Chaos,” my goal was to show you a part of myself which, while often hidden and denied by “spiritual” people, is nonetheless real for all of us. I’d like to thank everyone who responded privately and publically to these, my holiday gifts to you, with understanding and gratitude, and I’d like to pass on a few words of wisdom some of them shared with me. Enjoy.

Beth sent this quote from the I CHING #3: “Just as the tumultuous chaos of a thunderstorm brings nurturing rain that allows life to flourish, so too in human affairs times of advancement are preceded by times of disorder. Success comes to those who can weather the storm.” These ancient words of wisdom speak directly to me today.  Thank you, Beth.

From a Facebook friend I received a link to the Dalai Lama’s end-of year message, “Countering Stress and Depression.”  What a relief to know he is human too.  He writes, “…we may sometimes feel that our whole lives are unsatisfactory, we feel on the point of being overwhelmed by the difficulties that confront us. This happens to us all in varying degrees from time to time. When this occurs, it is vital that we make every effort to find a way of lifting our spirits. We can do this by recollecting our good fortune. We may, for example, be loved by someone; we may have certain talents; we may have received a good education; we may have our basic needs provided for – food to eat, clothes to wear, somewhere to live – we may have performed certain altruistic deeds in the past. We must take into consideration even the slightest positive aspect of our lives. For if we fail to find some way of uplifting ourselves, there is every danger of sinking further into our sense of powerlessness. This can lead us to believe that we have no capacity for doing good whatsoever. Thus we create the conditions of despair itself.”

Finally, here’s a link to an  inspiring post from wisewoman Dr. Judith Rich who says the collective human story is on the verge of a revolutionary rewrite. The new version will be about authentic spirituality.  May you and I contribute to it.


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