Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

Meeting the Mistress of the Forest July 10, 2012

Once I read about a horse that lived in the same pasture for over 30 years, eating the same old tired grass, trying to find shade in the noonday heat under the same scrawny tree. After many years of neglect, the fence that separated this pasture from a lush, grassy meadow studded with beautiful leafy trees crumbled and eventually fell. Stepping over the fallen wood would have been a very simple matter for the horse, yet it stood at the border where it had always stood, looking longingly over at the grass as it had always looked.

I feel so sorry for that horse. It had become so accustomed to its old boundaries that it never noticed when they were outworn. I wish someone from the other side had called it over so it could have spent its final years grazing in a greener, fresher, infinitely more satisfying space.

Many of us have felt our spirits quicken through glimpses of something ineffable in the mist beyond normal awareness and longed to pursue it. But habitual assumptions are not easy to overcome. Moreover, the daily demands of life are so compelling that we usually defer our journey into the deeply alluring recesses of the forest until another day.

What are we to do if we do not want to end up like that horse? Luckily we humans have a special someone who beckons to us from beyond our outworn boundaries: she is the wisdom of the Deep Feminine traditionally called Sophia. But to hear her call we need to turn off the constant flow of words and listen with our hearts and bodies.

Her voice is very soft; her call, though compelling, is quiet. She speaks to us in urges, needs, wishes, emotions, feelings, synchronicities, yearnings, physical symptoms, accidents, instincts, nature, meaningful insights, joyful experiences, bursts of unexpected pleasure, creative ideas, images, symbols, dreams: all the things we have learned to ignore so we can perform with utmost efficiency in the rat race of daily life.

The message in her communiques seems so subversive that we have learned to ignore it too. Do not fear the unknown, she says when we are tempted to risk exploring the wilderness of our souls. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Do not be content with the half life that comes from avoiding your fears. Feel your fears, follow your passions, experience your life with all your being. Open yourself and go deeper, for great treasures lie buried in your depths.

Following Sophia does not result in a quick fix, but if we will go boldly and persevere, the mansion doors to the eternal sacred that lies within will open unto us. The inhabitant of that mansion is the Self, our inner Beloved. Made of equal parts masculine and feminine energy, the Self is often symbolized by the King and Queen. Here in the West we project our King onto the distant Sky God and remain relatively ignorant of his feminine partner, Sophia, the Mistress of the Forest who is as close to us as our own breath and blood. Thus do we deny ourselves the opportunity to learn from her wisdom and cross over into her sacred space.

So how, exactly, are we different from that old horse?

How has the Mistress of the Forest been speaking to you lately? What is she saying?

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21 Responses to “Meeting the Mistress of the Forest”

  1. Jenna Ludwig Says:

    Dear Jeanie,

    I woke this morning to words in my mind that were left over from a dream I could not recall, “Rethink, re-imagine, and reinvent your life!” Your post about the way Sophia speaks in synchronicities, creative ideas, and dreams is very relevant to how I’m processing that message. I also woke up several years ago – before I was familiar with the wisdom of Sophia – to another message that I have learned over the years to honor: “Gaia is the body; Sophia is the Spirit.”

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts about the ever beckoning Feminine Principle of sacred wisdom that never gives up us and is forever teaching us through the language of symbol and metaphor to search for the deepest treasures within ourselves.

    Much love,

    Jenna

    • jeanraffa Says:

      Good morning, Jenna. Thank you for sharing what and how Sophia communicates to you. I, too, have been most receptive to messages from my dreams. More recently I’ve gotten better at hearing her in subtle feelings that tell me what is meaningful to me and what is not. In my younger years, these were covered by a thick blanket of “shoulds” and “oughts” that muffled her voice, but now I can usually hear her loud and clear. Love and blessings to you on your journey, Jeanie

  2. I had a symbolic dream last week. In it there was a verticle support pole, with a diagonal ramp leading to the top. Beneath this triagle was a circular coil of barbed wire, in the shape of a Mandala, but viewed askew, so that the circle was not viewed from above as a perfect circular Mandala, but rather from the side, as an oblique circle. I took it to mean that the ramp was my proper path, and that the Mandala must wait for a future time. For me, the Mandala represents my wholeness and comfy space, where I can confortably fulfill all of my desiderata in my avocation, while the ramp represents the path I must follow in my conscious realm, to make the later path to the center of the barbed wire possible–from the top of the ramp I will be able to see the center of the Mandala as circular, and pass through it without worrying about getting caught on the barbs. Therefore, I am in Dubai at the moment, pursuing my conscious vocation. Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and all that …

    • jeanraffa Says:

      Good morning, Skip. (It’s morning here; I have no idea what time of day it is in Dubai!)

      This certainly is an extremely symbolic dream, isn’t it? Did you know that the upward pointing triangle is an ancient symbol of the masculine principle? It represents our upward-striving toward God and spirit and individuation and heroic achievement and consciousness, etc.

      Obviously then, the downward pointing triangle represents the feminine: the deep inner wisdom of Sophia with her soul concerns, the body and its instincts, the unconscious aspects of the psyche including, of course, the archetypal patterns that guide us all, our emotional and relational selves, and, as Jung said, the Anima, which is the archetype of Life itself.

      I’m sure you’ve also noticed that the combination of the upward pointing and downward pointing triangles is the symbol of Judaism: the Star of David.

      I find it interesting that when you compare the Star of David to Taoism’s yin/yang symbol, which is the East’s way of representing the same energies, the two images have a striking difference. The Star of David seems more “prickly” to me, the yin/yang symbol more “organic.” I associate that prickly-ness with swords and arrows, a more masculine way of striving for wholeness and spirit, and Taoism’s organic imagery with a more feminine, related way.

      To me these ideas relate beautifully to your associations with your dream: i.e., you know yourself to be pursuing the outer, masculine way at the moment, which perhaps is why your symbol of wholeness has “barbs” on it!! Yet, you are also aware of Sophia’s way, which is why the mandala image appears in the first place!

      What a rich and deeply meaningful dream. I really appreciate your sharing it here!!

      I’m wishing you much good fortune and many blessings in your heroic journey to the Middle East! May much that is good for body, spirit, and soul come from it!

      Jeanie

  3. Viv Says:

    It’s what I needed to hear today. Maybe I ought to write myself a meditation about meeting Sophia. BTW, during a Greek Orthodox service (which is conducted entirely in ancient Greek) the name Sophia is called upon many many times.

    • jeanraffa Says:

      Good morning, Viv. I hope you’ll write that meditation about meeting Sophia, and I hope you’ll share it with me, or on your wonderful blog! I believe this is a message that humanity sorely needs to be reminded of at this point in our history!

      Yes, I understand Sophia is integral to the Greek Orthodox church. We saw the Hagia Sophia (Church of Holy Wisdom) in Istanbul a few years ago. It was first a Greek Orthodox church, then an Islamic mosque, and is now an extraordinarily beautiful museum. Ancients throughout the world have always revered Her; it’s only modern humanity that has largely forgotten our feminine foundation.

  4. asmuts Says:

    I just love your articles, thank you.

  5. Thanks so much Jean for this – like Viv above, it came just when I needed it during a spell of confusion and doubt and reminded me to return to the well of wisdom by listening to that inner voice. Am I correct in thinking that Sophia also equates with Athena? I’ve loved Athena since forever, after my first visit to Greece many years ago. Your writing is most inspiring and illuminates so brilliantly all these wonderful depths to enhance our human experience. Thank you :)

    • jeanraffa Says:

      Good morning, Roberta. Yes, Athena was the Greek virgin goddess of wisdom, strategy, the art of weaving (an apt metaphor for what wise people do with diverse and complex ideas), and, somewhat paradoxically, war. This is because as the patron goddess of Athens her wise advice was sought to protect the city from marauding tribes.

      In those days, Athena was seen as a defender of patriarchy, and there are many women today who still feel the need to defend patriarchy because they find success in pursuits that have traditionally been thought of as masculine and are still ruled by patriarchal hierarchies.

      But for many other women she represents the kind of strong, intelligent, and independent woman who dares to overcome feminine stereotypes and defines herself by developing her own strengths, both masculine and feminine, in ways that are true to her underlying nature. She does this by listening to her own internal wisdom, and not just the authoritarian voices from without.

      I’m glad you found this post meaningful. Thank you for your response!

      My best, Jeanie

  6. rwebb Says:

    What a fabulous synchronicity your post has been for me as I read it this morning! Thank you, Jean, for sharing what is on your heart. ~Rosanna

  7. ThreeKingsBooks Says:

    I feel deeply connected to Her, especially these days as I approach my 60th birthday. My next novel, THE RABBI’S MOTHER is, in the way of fiction, about mothering and the feminine divine, though it’s lose and light and funny. I know she is with me constantly, and I honor her as best I can.

    • jeanraffa Says:

      Your book sounds fascinating and brings up an interesting point. While it can be extremely difficult for hard-working Warriors of both genders to lighten up, I think it is a distinctive feature of healthy aging in many men and women. Letting go of an agenda, losing the need to control situations and people, relaxing into spontaneity and playfulness: these qualities all point to a more integrated, pleaceful, and mature ego that has come to terms with itself, the unconscious self, and the physical life/death/rebirth cycle. Indeed, I think playing and laughing are sacred gifts and a good way to honor Sophia! Thanks for your comments and good luck with your book. Jeanie

  8. katalina4 Says:

    Lovely, lovely post – am currently out in woodsy areas and working on a post (mostly photos) that speaks to exactly what you have articulated here. Thanks so much for your insightful, educated synchronistic post! :) Kath

  9. Sandy Says:

    Jeanie,

    “Do not fear the unknown, she says when we are tempted to risk exploring the wilderness of our souls. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Do not be content with the half life that comes from avoiding your fears. Feel your fears, follow your passions, experience your life with all your being. Open yourself and go deeper, for great treasures lie buried in your depths.”

    This is what I am doing both internally and externally. I am taking a trip next week to a place where I need to face some challenges – a statement of love I want my body, soul and spirit to feel, hear and communicate if possible. Although this is not just “inner work,” I am hoping for inner change. I am following an inner urge and even though I feel bouts of fear and doubt, I must go. I hope for a sacred experience, at least internally. My intention and goal is new life. I trust in the moment and my inner guidance (thoughts and feelings) as I take each step. We will see.

    It reminds me of what you wrote about in your last post about redecorating your dining room and going to the beach with your melting ice cube…physical representations of your inner work and experience. That was a beautiful post too by the way. I marinated in the images for several days. I also re-read some of your first book a few days ago (wonderful and heartwarming). I plan to take both your books with me on this trip. :)

    Thanks for sharing Jeanie. It is so amazing how your sharing/work resonates and brings such rich and nourishing gifts to my soul and spirit! Thank you! I am thinking of that dream I had of you and the cave! :)

    “Following Sophia does not result in a quick fix, but if we will go boldly and persevere, the mansion doors to the eternal sacred that lies within will open unto us.” —- That is what I am hoping for. Sandy

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