Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

When Women Tell The Truth April 27, 2012

Some of my posts come from the heart, some from the head. This one comes from the gut. It’s difficult to write because I’m swamped with strong emotions I don’t quite know how to express. So I’ll simply tell you the truth. I’ve recently come across three troubling blogs. One is written by a woman who describes the sad and dangerous life she lived as a prostitute in New York City for ten years.  A second expresses a woman’s disenchantment with her religion because of the oppression she’s experienced. A third is by a woman who is regularly abused by her husband and wishes she lived in America. None of these women make excuses or plead for sympathy. They simply tell the truth about their lives. And the truth is shocking, painful, and scary.

It’s shocking to know how many women suffer at the hands of men who fear and hate them. Shocking to know how often the authorities responsible for protecting women feel justified in not doing their jobs. Painful to know that so many women in today’s world are mistreated simply because they’re female. Painful to realize I’d rather turn away than face this truth. Scary because it reminds me how vulnerable I am…because I’m a female.

I started this post a few hours ago and was almost finished when I accidentally deleted it. So I had a little inner discussion that went like this:  “Oh, darn! It’ll take too long to try to rewrite it. I should just start over with another topic that’s easier to write about.”

My conscience responded with,  “Are you sure you didn’t unconsciously delete it accidentally on purpose so you’d have an excuse not to post it? Are you perhaps feeling a wee tad cowardly?”

Oops. We bandied this about until the doorbell rang. It was my daughter, granddaughters and granddog who’d dropped by for a brief visit. I told my daughter  how I didn’t know if I wanted to re-create the post and she said, “Why don’t you just write another one about how conflicted you’re feeling?  Wouldn’t that be appropriate for your blog?” Yes, indeedy it would! How’d she get so smart?

So I’ve decided to tell the truth I don’t want to think or write about. A web site called Archetype in Action has been publishing posts of mine for several months in the hope of raising psychological awareness about the unconscious forces in ourselves and society that perpetuate the abuse of women. Last week they posted an older one about the feminine principle in men and women, only to have their site hacked. Someone deleted my article and replaced it with a formal-looking notice saying it was inappropriate! The site manager provided another link and the problem was solved. But is the real problem solved?

This morning’s e-mail contained the latest post from the blogger who’s experienced oppression by her religion and culture. In it she expressed her anger at the hypocrisy of a religion that makes scholarly pronouncements emphasizing women’s rights while dismissing the women who do not experience these rights. After I read it I clicked on the link to her site so I could make a comment.  Guess what. The post was gone and there was a notice that said: “Not Found, Error 404. The page you are looking for no longer exists.”

Here I am, a well-intentioned, well-loved, well-treated woman in 21st century America, afraid to express my anger about injustices against women for fear of becoming a target for misogyny. Is a world where women are afraid to tell the truth the kind of world in which we want our daughters and granddaughters to grow up?


Which Feminine Archetypes Are Strongest In You? April 24, 2012

In my system, the feminine archetypes are the Queen, Mother, Wisewoman and Beloved. These images of our basic instincts serve our “feminine” drive for species-preservation and relationship. The ways we see and use their energies are transformed over time as our egos mature through three “feminine” phases: the innocent Maiden, the life-giving Mother, and the wise Crone.

In the first phase we unconsciously serve the drive to preserve our species; in the second the cycles of life force us us to become more aware of our individual needs; in the third, honoring our inner, spiritual selves becomes as important as meeting the needs of others.

Our Queen is a culture mother and the feminine sovereign of the psyche. Like the goddess Hera, a Queen in the Maiden phase automatically honors her duty to society without reflection. Her growth is usually instigated by some sort of crisis —rape or love, parenthood, illness, divorce, or loss of a loved one—which destroys the Maiden’s virgin innocence and instigates the Mother’s suffering. If she develops a conscience and learns moral responsibility she becomes a caring Crone/Queen of personal sovereignty, moral virtue, and social leadership.

The Mother archetype represents our instinct for physically serving the birth/death/rebirth life cycle.  In our unreflective Maiden phase our Mother is, like the warrior goddess Artemis and Mother Nature herself, as capable of destroying life as mothering it. In our Mother phase our Mother archetype struggles to understand and serve the needs of individuals as much as the activity of the impersonal Great Mother who gives and takes all  life. As our egos mature, the Crone Mother helps us value the life in our bodies and souls as much as life outside ourselves.

The Wisewoman is diffusely aware of, and deeply sensitive to, the maternal depths of the unconscious.  In our unreflective phase she is like Greece’s Persephone, Stephen King’s Carrie, and Walt Disnery’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice.  Because we lack the experience and logical thought to handle the vast unknown, our Maiden can get us into trouble with archetypal powers we don’t understand and can’t control. Our transformation into the Mother phase begins when our mistakes force us to distinguish between objective facts and subjective symbols in the inner and outer worlds. Our Crone Wisewoman integrates logos with mythos to see the big picture, understand how the parts connect, and create personal meaning.

The Beloved is the magnetic principle in relationships. Our Maiden Beloved is like Aphrodite: an innocent, unconscious seductress driven to attract sexual, emotional, and spiritual fulfillment by attracting and pleasing others. Our Mother phase begins when we suffer the conflict between wanting to please our lovers and wanting to discard them when they no longer please us. Our Crone Beloved is like a hospitable, emotionally authentic hostess who lives in beauty, inspires others, and gives what we could only hint at in our youthful phase: full sensory and emotional intimacy with fully respected and loved otherness.

Whereas shadow masculinity destroys otherness, shadow femininity is self-destructive. A compulsive Queen can burn us out if we give too much of ourselves. Our Mother can sabotage our relationships by being too receptive/or smothering. An obsessive Wisewoman can cause us to be depressed and overwhelmed by the unconscious. And if our egos obsess over the outer appearance of beauty, our Beloved can compel us to sacrifice the true beauty of our souls. But as we accept our feminine sides and partner them with our masculine sides, their union can give birth to a Spirit Warrior of perfected selfhood and completed relationships.

What does your attitude toward the feminine archetypes say about your ego’s maturity? How are your relationships and service to our species evolving in ways that benefit all?


Which Masculine Archetypes Are Strongest In You? April 20, 2012

Nobody can describe the archetypes with any certainty because they are deeply unconscious. However, there are many theories based on research and careful observation of human nature.  Mine is largely based on Jungian psychology.  I see four main masculine archetypes—King, Warrior, Magician/Scholar and Lover—which serve our “masculine” drive for self-preservation and individuation. While the basic patterns of energy they represent are the same in every soul, their details differ across cultures. The way we see and manifest them matures as our egos grow through three phases of self-awareness and self-knowledge.

In the first phase we see our King as a cultural Father figure, protector, and preserver of law and virtue who leads us with clear thinking and hierarchical order. He is authoritarian and tradition-bound and questioning his law is taboo. If we keep growing, he becomes a restless, searching, ego-driven Son/Prince who challenges outdated standards and risks breaking old rules. In turn, the Prince can become a mature and wise masculine sovereign of the psyche who, like the legendary King Arthur, actively promotes healing change, order, virtue and justice in himself and society.

Our unreflective Warrior proves himself and acquires power and success by influencing others without concern for their feelings or questioning his motives, methods, employers or personal values. In the Son phase he struggles to channel his dynamic manifesting activity into work that uses his real talents and ideals. And in his final phase he is like a Hercules, Samurai Warrior, or Star Wars Jedi master who uses his expertise, self-discipline, courage, caring, and moral maturity to heal the broken, protect the vulnerable, defend human rights, and preserve every form of life.

The unreflective Magician/Scholar seeks release from delusion by processing information with focused consciousness and logical thinking. He prefers the objective to the subjective and the known to the unknown and keeps the two sharply separated. In his Son phase he questions tribal wisdom and pursues unorthodox ideas and ways of thinking. The mature Magician/Scholar is a reflective Wise Man like Hermes or Professor Dumbledore whose “magical” understanding of the visible and invisible forces of life enables him to be an effective thought leader who can transcend boundaries between people and worlds.

Finally, the Lover is the idealistic and passionate dynamic principle in relationships. In his unreflective phase he seeks emotional release and physical love and pleasure with little compassion or moral responsibility. As Son he treats his Beloved with less selfishness and moodiness and more responsiveness to her needs. The mature Lover is a playful, romantic, aesthetically aware and psychologically balanced lover of life. Like Dionysus, Lord Byron or William Blake he appreciates the beauty, worth and inspiration of femininity and honors it in himself and his partner.

The negative poles of the masculine archetypes can be as contemptible as the positive are commendable. The shadow side of the masculine drive for self-preservation abuses and destroys otherness. Whether in a male or female, a negative King is a morally rigid, biased, rule-oriented and uncaring tyrant; a Warrior is an abusive invader and wanton destroyer; the Magician/Scholar is a manipulative, duplicitous, and critical know-it-all; and the Lover, a perverted, hedonistic addict.  But when all four are fully developed and partnered with equally mature feminine archetypes, the result is a profoundly powerful, uniquely creative, psychologically whole and spiritually enlightened being.

Next time I’ll address the basic feminine archetypes.  Meanwhile, if you’re in the mood for a little inner work you might reflect on which of the masculine archetypes are more fully developed in you and which ones could use some growing.


A Link to the Huffington Post Article! April 17, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — jeanraffa @ 12:39 am

Here’s the link for my e-mail followers to the Huffington Post article I forgot to include when it was first published! Sorry! It’s been a very busy day!  Jeanie


Is Arianna Huffington the New Steve Jobs of Journalism?

I’ve been following the online newspaper, Huffington Post, for almost two years now and have been very impressed with the breadth and depth of its offerings. Most of all I love the positive motivations I sense coming from its writers. I have yet to run across a single mean-spirited columnist who seems more interested in creating sensation and pointing fingers than providing helpful information or offering thoughtful solutions. This is my kind of journalism, my kind of communication.

Arianna Huffington’s most recent post (April 16, 2012) is an outstanding example of what I mean.  I’d like to quote the first paragraph here.

“Just over two years ago, on March 16, 2010, to be precise, I spoke at a conference commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Internet designation “.com.” The panel I was on was asked to “gaze into the crystal ball” and predict what the game-changing inventions would be during the next 25 years of the Internet. One of mine was less of a prediction than a hope — that one day someone would create an app that would gauge the state of your mind, body, and spirit, then automatically offer the exact steps you would need to take to realign all three aspects of your being.”

What a stunning idea! And guess what?  She’s making it happen! She’s come up with an app called “GPS for the Soul” that’s projected to launch in June. As I was reading her article it occurred to me that she could be the new Steve Jobs of journalism:  a person whose commitment to improving her product, combined with her tireless energy in manifesting it in the most creative and helpful ways possible, and to the widest audience possible, may one day become the standard against which all other forms of journalism will be measured.

And the best news of all? She’s doing it to help us all reconnect to our physical surroundings, our loved ones, and ourselves.  In other words, her goal is to heal the disconnects in psyche and spirit that are of epidemic proportions in today’s world. As you know if you’ve been following my blog for long, this is my goal too. And it is the topic of my new book, “Healing the Sacred Divide: Making Peace With Ourselves, Each Other, and the World.”

I’m thrilled that Arianna Huffington is addressing the challenge to heal our divides. I’m grateful that she’s come up with a novel, practical way that will have more appeal to, and a potentially healthier impact on, the average person than any one book or blog could ever do. And I’m feeling very relieved to know I’ve not been overly naive in believing that enough of us have acquired enough consciousness to effect a life-changing shift from a very long age of darkness into a new world filled with increasing enlightenment and light.

Thank you, Ms Huffington.  May your contribution help us all grow in awareness so that someday we can become the people we’ve always wanted to be.


A Dream With Meaningful Symbols April 13, 2012

Has it ever happened to you that an ordinary symbol or image from everyday life suddenly feels significant? Perhaps it happens after a synchronicity like falling in love with a painting then finding the same image on the cover of a fascinating new book. Or maybe you have no idea why an image moves you deeply.

Either way, your heightened awareness of a symbol tells you you’ve connected with an unknown aspect of your unconscious self that is bringing more meaning to your life. You can ignore this, which is what most of us do, and life will go on as usual. But if you want to understand yourself better and feel more spiritually connected, you can take these inner awakenings seriously and look into the meaning of the symbols that elicit them. In doing so, you create a new story for yourself: you remyth your life.

Once I got serious about self-knowledge and began to pay attention to my dreams, things like this happened quite often. At first I hid my growing fascination with certain symbols for fear people would think I was weird and make fun of me. But after a few years a special dream gave me more confidence to be myself.

Dream #860: Acquiring the Courage to Be Real. I’m walking through an underground corridor lined with narrow but beautiful rooms decorated with elegant antiques. It is the mansion of an older, reclusive, hardworking woman. I live here too. The doorbell rings, telling me my friend has arrived. The older woman asks me to buy her some lemonade while I’m out. To be polite, she asks if my friend wants to come in. When I say no she is relieved.

I climb the stairs and open the door into a big, dark, dusty warehouse. I follow a narrow path through broken pieces of junk to a door which opens onto the street. It’s opened by my beautiful, young, black-haired friend who wears a white trench coat and is bathed in brilliant white light. We walk through a rundown, weedy front yard onto a busy street. The passersby do not suspect there is an elegant, but somewhat narrow mansion below the ground behind this junky facade.  The older woman is afraid of people knowing she is there or how she lives.

This dream told me I had a fearful shadow (older woman) who was hiding the best parts of herself—my richer, fuller spiritual nature (mansion)—deep inside (underground) behind a neglected persona (warehouse, weeds, front yard). That she wanted some lemon “aid”  (in Judaism the lemon symbolizes the human heart), said that she lacked the compassion to give more of herself and the courage to be real.

It was very heartening to know that my ego had grown enough spiritually (walking up stairs) to step through my barrier of fear (doorway) and enter life in the outer world more fully. And to know that the feminine aspect of the Self (friend, the opposites of black and white, white light) wanted to help me obtain what I needed (lemonade) felt absolutely wonderful. This was when I  finally understood that the sacred feminine is real, that she lives in me, and that she’s a helpful friend!

Understanding the symbols of this breakthrough dream emboldened me to reveal more of my true self to family, friends, and in my writing in a way that nothing else had the power to do. And yes, I am now aware of levels of spiritual meaning in many things I never thought twice about before, including narrow mansions, lemons, doors, stairs, warehouses, white light, and even junky yards!


Remything Our Lives With Our Own Symbols April 10, 2012

The symbols and themes of dreams, legends, fairy tales and myths address realities that the soul understands, even if the conscious mind does not. For example, the legend of King Arthur features a walled city. We might be tempted to think that Camelot’s walls are nothing more than an incidental detail. So what if Camelot was surrounded by walls?  Lots of ancient cities were fortified by walls.  But as I’ve said before: Everything has meaning. Our symbols are clues to sacred mysteries.

If we look at the walled city as an important clue, we find the underlying meaning of Arthur’s story as it applied to the souls of those who lived in the place and time when it was written.  Cirlot’s Dictionary of symbols says, “Jung sees the city as a mother symbol and as a symbol of the feminine principle in general:  that is, he interprets the City as a woman who shelters her inhabitants as if they were her children…”

In the Old Testament of the Bible, cities are often spoken of as women, and in the Middle Ages, a city was one way of representing the Virgin Mary in art and architecture.  The walls that encircled cities were seen to have magical powers to protect the citizens in the same way that a mother’s womb protects her child or the enfolding branches of a tree protect a baby bear.

The walled city is no mere incidental detail in King Arthur’s story, and it ended in the only way it could.  The destruction of Camelot’s protective walls was inevitable given that this story emerged within a culture which, after a few hundred years of Roman rule, had begun to fear and scorn the Great Mother. Here is the symbolic message of this story: Not even the wisest and most benevolent King that any story teller could ever imagine could save a civilization that was systematically demolishing its feminine spiritual roots!

The negative elements of public and private myths speak to negative realities within the collective and individual psyche. What is the antidote to these powerful poisons? In his book The Mythic Imagination, psychotherapist Stephen Larsen says that conscious mythmaking is healthy and healing because it helps our egos relate to unconscious aspects of ourselves.

I think of the Wisewoman archetype as the part of us who knows when old stories that once worked for us have gone on too long, and who sends us new symbols that can ease us through the transition of change. But all the symbols in the world cannot help us if we will not help ourselves. It is up to us to notice symbols and themes that resonate, and to reshape them into new myths that will support and sustain the necessary changes. As theologian Matthew Fox has said: “Healthy people base their lives on healing, authentic stories.  Empowerment comes through the process of telling those stories.”

We cannot live the fullest meaning of our life by basing it on someone else’s story about who we are or what we should be.  Only our experiences, only our choices, only our own imagination and symbols have transforming power for us. To that end you might ask yourself these questions:  What stories have I lived by? How have they had a negative influence on me?  How have they been positive? What new symbols and themes is the Wisewoman sending my way? What emerging strengths would I want to feature in my new myth? What images might best symbolize these strengths?


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