Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

Understanding Archetypes October 30, 2012

After my last post, a reader asked me some questions about the Lover and Beloved archetypes.  Before I answer them I want to remind you that the whole concept of archetypes was only introduced to the West about 90 years ago and for everything we think we understand about them, there’s much more we don’t.  Here’s what I think right now.

Q:  “What is the difference between the Beloved and the true self?  Is the Beloved the true self?”

A:   As I wrote in my new book, the term Beloved connotes many different things. In your physical life it can mean the person you love above all others and with whom you enjoy sexual intimacy. Psychologically the Beloved is the beautiful, soulful, feeling, emotional, magnetic feminine aspects of our true selves that attract and inspire our masculine ego/Lover to undertake the search for love, pleasure and union. In Christianity it often refers to Jesus, or the Church, the body of Christ which is God’s beloved. Beloved can also be an encompassing term for the soul, or for all the feminine archetypes making up the feminine side of the Self, or it can mean the Self itself: our spiritual essence, the sacred Other with whom we wish to unite,  our true self, the Christ within, and so on.

Q:  “Is the Lover the one loving and the Beloved the one loved?”

A:  Essentially, yes. The Lover is the part of us that pursues love and pleasure,  (physical, and spiritual), and the Beloved is the part that receives, accepts and deserves love and pleasure.

Q:  “If our Beloved is unawakened, or not loved by our Lover, is that why the Beloved carries around all the unacknowledged feelings?”

A:   Either or both can be unawakened, which means that we will have trouble feeling and/or accepting the positive emotions of love and pleasure and will tend to look for them in the wrong places.  Until our Lover is awakened—which usually occurs when we have traumatic conflicts or experiences that compel us to acknowledge and work with our honest feelings—he will not have the passion to search for love and awaken our Beloved’s positive and tender feelings. Until he does, she will still be asleep, carrying all our unacknowledged feelings in our unconscious, and we will not have access to them.

Q:  “I thought the Shadow carried the unacknowledged feelings.”

A:  Our Shadow does include the unacknowledged feelings of the Lover and Beloved,  but it also contains unacknowledged qualities other than emotions. Some are mental, like the dogmatic Scholar’s calcified, childlike, one-sided ideas, opinions and attitudes and the immature Wisewoman’s tendency to be too gullible, receptive and permissive;  others are a combination of social, mental and behavioral, like the shadow King’s dominating, authoritarian manner.

Many who are fascinated with the psyche have tried to draw clear boundaries around the archetypes. I’ve worked for years to devise a framework that could help me understand myself, and I’m passing on what’s been useful; however, nobody knows for sure how closely our descriptions fit reality. In truth, it’s not possible to fully understand. Archetypes are unconscious patterns that we only become aware of when we project them onto Gods and Goddesses and portray in myths. The most fruitful thing we can do is observe how their energies move in us, then express them in imaginative ways. If naming them helps, good. But if writing, painting or dancing them helps more, even better! Theories can guide, but only personal experiences can heal.

Something to think about:  What does your Halloween costume this year say about your archetypal energy?  Happy Halloween!

You can purchase Healing the Sacred Divide at Amazon and www.larsonpublications.com.

 

Partnership With The Beloved October 26, 2012

Sometimes we mistrust our instincts so much that we can only like ourselves to the extent that others esteem us. Sometimes we’re so afraid of our hidden emotions that we try to escape through intellectualizations or addictions that divert our attention.  Sometimes we shield ourselves by conforming to the letter of the law, or by letting conventional wisdom be our guide, thereby allowing others to define reality for us.  And sometimes, because we do not recognize our own deeply submerged beauty, we go to great extremes to manufacture surface beauty or become unhealthily attached to people who personify the beauty we believe we lack.

These behaviors are symptomatic of an unawakened Beloved. Insofar as she personifies the instincts, feelings, values and emotions we have forgotten, disowned, or not permitted ourselves to experience, awakening her is the last thing many egos want to do. Unfortunately, our shadows are powerful obstacles that prevent us from taking the heroic journey. As long as we ignore them to protect ourselves from pain we will remain separated from our true destinies: becoming the powerful and fulfilled individuals we were created to be.

It’s no wonder our poor ego is afraid. As the sleeping repository of unacknowledged feeling, the unawakened Beloved contains all the rage, resentment, and hatred we repress when we are abused or devalued;  all the sadness, self-pity, self-hatred, grief, loneliness, and despair we try to ignore when we are rejected or abandoned;  all the fear, dread, and terror of everything unknown and potentially harmful;  all the pain and conflict we want to avoid;  all the attraction to forbidden fruit we want to deny; all the contempt and revulsion, shame, humiliation, and remorse we would rather forget.

What our Lover needs to learn is that accepting and forgiving our true selves is the key to experiencing all the love and acceptance, kindness and compassion, friendliness and trust, forgiveness and devotion we have the potential to feel. Choosing to face and feel our fear and pain brings the joy and happiness, amusement, delight, bliss, sensual pleasure, rapture, and ecstasy for which we yearn. As the fairy tales tell us, when the Lover courageously persists in seeking the Beloved and awakens her with a kiss, the two can finally unite in a healing marriage characterized by deep intimacy, affection, and honesty.

Above all, this union is characterized by love, the great healing power in the universe. I do not mean intellectualized love, where we say loving words without having benevolent feelings.  Nor am I talking about that condition of lust and infatuation we call “being in love” in which we project our inner Beloved onto another and think we must physically have that other or die.  And I don’t mean the sentimental love that causes us to cry at the thought of animal cruelty or starving children “over there” when we can’t feel compassion for our own hunger, pain and suffering “in here.”

This love is active, not passive. It is a real passion for nurturing the psychological and spiritual development of ourselves as much as others.  Most of all, it is an emotional and physical reality, not just an intellectual ideal.  One who truly loves and knows s/he is loved learns to love from the heart and body, not just the head and mind. To love this way involves our breath, guts, hands, energy, the very cells out of which we are made.

What parts of yourself and your life do you love this way?  What parts do you find impossible to love?  Can you imagine loving these too?

You can purchase Healing the Sacred Divide at Amazon and www.larsonpublications.com.

 

Partnership Between the Lover and Beloved October 23, 2012

Marc Chagall
The Lovers

Our goal in the emotional domain is to feel and sustain the positive emotions of love and pleasure. This need arises from the instinct for sex. For primitive humans whose struggle for survival must have consumed almost every waking moment, sex was one of the few activities that took them away from the daily grind of work and provided emotional satisfaction, if only briefly.  Even today, most people still find it extremely difficult to separate their desire for love and pleasure from their desire to have sex with another human being.

Interestingly, the two parts of the brain responsible for emotions and instincts adjoin one another.  The so-called reptilian brain at the top of the spinal cord is the bottommost portion of the brain. This brain stem appears to be the source of our instincts.  The limbic system, the portion of the brain that processes emotions, is the next higher level which flares out and over the brain stem.

These two parts appear to have developed very early in our evolution at a time when the primary task of the human species was to survive. The cerebral cortex is a more recent addition. This is a wider, double-hemispheric mass that rises above the brain stem and limbic system. Psychologically, we can say that the two lower parts of the brain contain the most basic and deeply unconscious aspects of our mental functioning and correspond with the unconscious self, or other.  Likewise, the cerebral cortex is the realm of conscious selfhood, or ego. Because our emotions and instincts “lie beneath” our conscious awareness, it is extremely difficult for us to understand or deal with them in controlled, rational ways.

The emotional energy of our instinct for sex fuels not only sexual passion but also spiritual passion.  The archetypes which represent it are the Lover and the Beloved. One way to see them is as personifications of self and other, our conscious and unconscious emotional lives.  From this perspective, the Lover represents our ego’s sense of selfhood and concerns about self-preservation:  our desire for self-development, our longing for fulfillment, our passion to become individuated and enlightened.

Lover and Beloved
Image from a Greek Vase

A strong, heroic Lover feels great passion;  a weak one fears and represses emotions, especially tender ones.  A brave Lover recognizes his desires and honors his powerful appetite;  a deeply wounded one barely allows himself to want anything at all.  A mature Lover understands the dangers of excesses and maintains some discipline and self-control;  an immature one cannot control his emotional life, develops addictions, or swings from one emotional extreme to the other.

The Beloved can likewise be awake or asleep, strong or weak, brave or cowardly.  An immature Beloved is not open, authentic, or intimate with Otherness, including the Great Mystery, other people, our shadows, or our contrasexual opposites of anima or animus. In this unconnected state we project our disowned emotions onto people and activities that we expect to satisfy our deepest emotional needs, and when things go wrong we blame them. But the true culprit in dysfunctional relationships is our fear of opening emotionally to Otherness, both human and divine. It is our ego’s lack of feeling that creates problems with the very people in whom we invest our hope for love and pleasure. The antidote is to know and feel compassion for our rejected selves.

How are you doing in the emotional realm?  When do you fail to feel love for yourself?

Please note:  Syndicated talk show host Al Cole is airing a radio interview with me about my new book, Healing the Sacred Divide, on his show “People of Distinction.”  You can listen in at this link.  I hope you enjoy it.

 

Partnership Between the Scholar and Wisewoman October 19, 2012

In my last post I wrote about the Warrior and Mother archetypes. This time we’ll look at the Scholar and Wisewoman. The instinct for reflection is about the basic human “end” to be released from delusion.  There is something in all of us that wants to know and understand. Children want to see, feel, touch, taste, and smell everything.  As we grow older, if our curiosity is not stifled by too many rules and inhibitions, we want to understand why and how things work. Later still our curiosity about the world extends to the inner universe.  We just naturally feel good about ourselves when we acquire helpful new insights into our behavior because self-knowledge is its own fine reward.

The instinct for reflection is symbolized by the archetypes of Scholar and Wisewoman. The clear, piercing focus of the Scholar is motivated by the drive for self-preservation. He believes the key to our survival and self-fulfillment is the ability to reflect on life, study, acquire knowledge, and learn the secrets that will release us from our delusions. In the mandorla symbol of interlocked circles, our Scholar is the circle representing the left hemisphere of the brain, the logos that primarily processes information with focused consciousness and logical thinking by means of linear, rational, verbal thoughts and ideas. With his preference for clear discrimination and knowledge of objective phenomena, the Scholar’s specialty is the thinking of science and technology.

His archetypal partner, the part of us motivated by the drive for species-preservation, is the Wisewoman, our all-knowing mistress of the hidden arts.  Her specialties are the brain’s poorly understood right-hemisphere qualities of mythos.  The primary functions of mythos are diffuse awareness and analogical thinking. These spawn several ways of knowing: body awareness, spiritual awareness (knowledge of, and connection with, the Other), the ability to synthesize paradoxical messages from diverse sources, and the ability to create meaning from subjective experience, emotions, relationships,  intuition, gnosis, imagination, and symbols.

When the Scholar’s focus, clarity and objectivity are intentionally employed in service to exploring our unconscious depths, the Wisewoman’s intuitive connectedness, self-awareness and openness to otherness are unearthed and activated. Empowering both of these poles of the instinct for reflection strengthens our mindfulness and leads to expanding consciousness. This is a mental state of heightened awareness and receptivity to information coming to us from both the exterior and interior worlds.  Being open to both is the hallmark of partnership in the mental domain. The result of this inner marriage is the activation of the Sage archetype. Other names for this energy include mage, magician, philosopher, prophet/ess, sorcerer/ess, shaman, wizard, medicine woman/man, and wise old woman/man.

This form of archetypal energy can be identified by several specific skills. They include truth-seeker, mental juggler, light-bearer, lifelong learner, wall-wrecker (breaking through our resistance to otherness), chain-breaker (losing old habits and releasing attachments to outcomes), choice-maker, namer (of truth and reality), clown (or life-changing trickster), connector, and problem-solver.

Archetypal psychologist Carol S. Pearson says Sages have little or no need to control or change the world; they just want to understand it.  The Sage’s path is the journey to find out the truth—about ourselves, our world, and the universe.  At its highest levels, it is not simply about finding knowledge, but about becoming wise.  It is our Sage within who, like Wisdom People from every tradition in every age, resonates to the adages, “Know thyself,” “To thine own self be true,” and “That ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”

The more free you feel to seek the truth, regardless of societal consequences, the more mature your Sage will be.  How badly do you want to know the truth? How powerful is your Sage?

Find Healing the Sacred Divide at www.amazon.com and http://www.larsonpublications.com

 

Partnership Between the Warrior and Mother October 16, 2012

Archetypes, a concept introduced to Western psychology by Carl Jung, can be especially problematic. Jung said they are mental images of our physical instincts, but “So what?” people wonder. “What do they have to do with me and my life?”  My answer is, “Everything!” In this and future posts I’ll explain.

In The Masks of God:  Oriental Mythology, Joseph Campbell notes that one of humanity’s four primary goals or “ends” is to attain power and success. We measure this through the things we do with and to our bodies and material objects like money, food, books, houses, weapons, geographical boundaries, natural elements, offices, cars, courtrooms, places of worship.  It makes no difference whether we seek power and success primarily in the universe without or the universe within;  as long as we inhabit physical bodies achieving our goals is directly tied to our interaction with the physical material world.  This is the province of our instinct for activity.

For example, I might see power and success in terms of attaining wholeness and spiritual enlightenment, but even though this is a psycho-spiritual matter I cannot separate it from my physical behavior. I might meditate, write, pray, study scriptures, attend my place of worship, write down my dreams and discuss them with others, take classes in yoga, make a pilgrimage to a holy place, or enter an ashram or nunnery.The Warrior and Mother are the workhorses who embody our instinct for activity. Through their tireless labors, they craft our bodies and souls and effectuate our successful development into our fullest empowerment.

Jaimie Cahlil: “Warrior with a Paintbrush”
(Spiritual Warrior Archetype)

Our Warrior is the motivating force that moves us physically outward into the world, ideologically forward into the future, and spiritually upward toward the heights.  He is a diligent worker and a high flyer with the commitment, determination, and perseverance to enter the world, conquer the dragons, and make our own unique mark, therein fulfilling our destinies.

Jaimie Cahlil: “Loved into Life”
(Mother Archetype – Child Archetype)

The Mother is the motivating force that moves us into the universe within and down to the depths in a determined effort to excavate our core truths and fully experience our realities.  She is an observer, a listener, a digger, an artist, and a befriender of dragons.  She is the one who hears our calling and honors our creative genius.  In her aspect as Earth Mother she is the fully present, fully alive Earth-dweller who appreciates and relates to life’s mysteries, the marvels of nature and matter, especially our own bodies, and the wonder of being alive.

Separately, neither Warrior nor Mother energy is capable of fulfilling us, but when these twins are mature, reflective, and integrated they comprise the Creator archetype. As the Creator awakens we acquire a profound desire to become powerful and successful at creating our soul’s magnum opus: an authentic life in which we claim our destinies.

Archetypal psychologist Carol S. Pearson says in her book Awakening the Heroes Within (p. 171) that when this happens we are as consumed with the need to create a life as artists are with the need to paint, or poets with the need to write.  Just as great painters and poets will be willing to give up money and power and status to create their art, when the Creator is active in our lives, we are pushed to decide to be ourselves, even if it means that we will die unknown, poor, and alone.

Usually, of course, people who empower their authentic selves do not pay this price—indeed many are well known, wealthy, and surrounded with friends and loved ones.But whether it lives in rich or poor, the Creator archetype is a physical reality that empowers us to successfully contribute to healing the world Soul and co-creating the universe. How successful have you been so far in creating and manifesting your individuality?

My newest book, Healing the Sacred Divide, can be purchased at www.amazon.com and http://www.larsonpublications.com.

Thank you to Mr. Cahlil for allowing me to illustrate this post with his exquisite art!

 

Cultivating Our Sensitive Side October 12, 2012

Douglas Dunn and His Troupe

“We can’t be complete if our sensitive side is not cultivated.” On hearing these words last weekend I touched the Notes icon on my iphone and wrote them down before I lost them. I was sitting in the studio of dancer and choreographer Douglas Dunn with about 25 fellow travelers who had come for a long weekend of immersion in New York’s vibrant art scene. We were visiting galleries, studios and museums and attending concerts and presentations by some of the outstanding artists who had worked at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, Florida at one time or another.

On this Saturday morning we had just witnessed a rehearsal of Cassations, an hour-long piece for 13 dancers that was to be presented at the 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Center that night. Douglas was talking about how as a youth he had been an athlete, but when he decided to be a dancer his father had rigidly resisted and never truly accepted his decision. Since arriving in New York two days earlier I had been searching for a theme for the post I intended to write about this trip and there it was.

Call it what you will—“sensitive side,” “feminine side,” “soft, tender, vulnerable feelings,” “disowned emotions,” “creative instinct,” “love of grace, beauty and harmony,” appreciation for the arts,” “receptivity to otherness”—Douglas had touched on an archetypal truth with profound relevance in today’s world. Everywhere we look today—in politics, the family, education, business, religion, international affairs, and individual lives—we see a deeply entrenched intolerance for qualities like this which have long been associated with the feminine half of creation.

Artist Will Cotton

Consider, for example, the current political debates.  In an October 10th article in the Huffington Post, Brenda Peterson wrote about Romney and Obama’s different styles. In her words, “Romney’s masculine skills were on full display, but his feminine skills were sorely lacking. The pundits loudly credit Romney for his combative style, his aggressive, in-your-face energy and his hyper-attack mode. They applaud these debate tactics as if this was not a presidential debate, but a bloody prizefight…Is this what our uncivil union has come to — a prizefight?”

I’m not writing this post to push a candidate; the last thing I want is to fuel the fight. I just want us to see the real culprit: the “other” candidate or party won’t ruin this country, but our inability to respect humanity’s sensitive side, our sensitive side, will. At bottom, the “gender gap” is not about the sexes, but the differences between the two basic drives common to all: our “masculine” drive for self-preservation and our “feminine” drive for species-preservation.

For the last 5,000 years our species has been so obsessed with the masculine drive and made so much progress as a result, that males and females alike are conditioned to see its qualities as somehow “superior” to those associated with the feminine drive. This blinds us to the connection between our psychological one-sidedness and the terrible problems it has caused.

Our inner divisiveness is the true reason for the ugly and dangerous outer-world symptoms plaguing us today. Blaming, fighting and resisting otherness (whether disowned personal qualities, or other people, ideals, beliefs, parties or nations) will never solve our problems. Ms Peterson’s conclusion that “we all win with a civil discourse, a civil union” is psychologically and spiritually sound. As individuals and as a nation, the best contribution we can make to creating a healthier world is to model balance and completion by cultivating our sensitive sides.

You can purchase my new book, Healing the Sacred Divide, at www.amazon.com or www.larsonpublications.com.

 

For the Crones October 9, 2012

The powers most capable of halting the escalation of hatred and chaos are not political.  They are psychological and spiritual. These powers are activated in individuals whose minds are committed to seeking justice for all, whose hearts are filled with caring and compassion, and whose behavior is directed toward connecting and healing. When everything we say and do originates from that core of love, it spreads through Indra’s diamond net and quickens the sacred spark that lives in every soul. Each of us can make this contribution to healing the separations within and between the peoples of the world.

Throughout history mothers and grandmothers have dedicated most of their energy, and often their lives, to nurturing and preserving life. Of course, many fathers and grandfathers have done the same. But women’s contributions have been educationally, financially, politically and spiritually restricted, vastly underrated, and largely taken for granted except for occasional lip service.

It doesn’t have to be this way. In a world splitting apart to birth a more evolved consciousness, the most important work we can do is to consciously respect and courageously share the blessings we’ve received from the other side of the Divide.  To that end I offer these questions for reflection: “How have my female ancestors enriched and improved my life?  Am I as caring toward others as the benevolent women in my life were and are to me? How can I use my unique skills in original and authentic ways that will justify their belief in me and benefit all beings?”

One of my responses to these questions is this song to the elder women who’ve made a difference in my life.  I dedicate it to crones everywhere.

THE YOUNG WOMEN AND MEN ADDRESS THE CRONES

To the Queens:

Sovereign and brave, you stand firm against those who would abuse power

and labor tirelessly to bring justice to the voiceless and downtrodden.

You protect all that is vulnerable and foster culture and creativity.

You nourish seeds of hope and new life in our hearts.

Help me lead with caring and integrity.

To the Mothers:

Wild and free-spirited, you have raced the wind like Horse.

Like Lioness you have fearlessly forged new trails to feed your children.

Like Bear you bear your solitude by boldly entering the dark winter wilderness,

yet you always return to the world in Spring with love honed fierce by sacrifice and birthing.

Great Mother of all that exists, teach us to love our bodies and trust the cycles of our lives.

To the Wisewomen:

Understanding, intuitive and trusting, you have aided birth and befriended death.

You have borne and survived intolerable suffering on paths of deep descending;

yet, aware, authentic, and free, here you are! Still dancing among the living.

You release your attachments to desire as you weave strands of meaning.

Show me how to joyfully participate in the sorrows of the world.

To the Beloveds:

Attractive and magnetic, you receive your lovers passionately

and share the truths of your souls with honesty and intimacy.

Your acceptance and encouragement inspire heroic striving.

Your beauty and endless generosity inspire artful living.

Bless me with gracious hospitality to otherness.

To all the Crones:

You are the Wisdom Women.

We are watching you.

Please help!

 

 
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