Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

My Animus is Afraid to Trust My Instincts June 30, 2015

puppy-pic2Two nights before my keynote speech to the 2015 International Association for the Study of Dreams I had this dream.

#4,642: My Animus is Afraid to Trust My Instincts:  Old friends have visited us for two days. I’ve just realized they left their dog alone at home. I’m worried about this. Will it have enough food?  I say to the husband, “Won’t it poop and pee all over the house?” He says with a shrug, “Maybe. We’ll see.” I can’t believe he’s so casual about this. It feels wrong.

We drive to their house in another town and go inside. As we approach the sliding glass door to the backyard, he points out little piles of poop that make a trail to the open door. I see their dog sticking its cute brown and white head out from some green undergrowth at back of the cement patio. It moves into the open looking wobbly and weak, as if it’s about to drop.

I go to it, sit on the ground, and pet it. It wags its tail happily and climbs into my lap, growing excited and playful. Another little black dog who looks like Peri [our son’s dog as a child] runs to me, jumps all over me, licks me, and wiggles around in my arms. The husband is watching us from the stoop of the open door. With an ironic smile he looks pointedly at his brown and white dog and says, “I’m afraid of you.” He turns away as if he’s lost interest.

My associations:  I associate the husband with the part of my animus that identifies with the Scholar archetype.  In waking life this man is an intelligent, creative former college professor. The dogs represent my animal, instinctual self, especially my instincts for nurturance and activity. My dream ego enjoys and trusts my instincts, but my animus neglects them and admits he’s afraid of his dog. Why?

The key to understanding this dream is the context. Anxiety about my upcoming speech had dominated my waking hours for over a month. The previous day, an artist friend who used to attend my classes at the Jung Center called and asked if I was ready. When I told her about my concerns she said, as other friends had been saying, “Relax.  You’re going to be great. You always are. Just trust your instincts.”

Bingo! My animus was afraid to trust my instincts. As a college professor, my instincts were of no importance. Nothing but an abstract concept. What was important was task-oriented, single-minded attention to texts written by outer authorities. We (my animus and ego) saw this as the only way to comprehend and express the course material clearly and correctly. This was how a good teacher prepared to teach.

When I quit teaching and began writing over 25 years ago, this habit persisted. By then my reading, studying and writing were focused on Jungian psychology and understanding my dreams.  But as I persisted in this inner work, something changed. I began to rely more on my dreams and instincts and less on outer authorities to guide the direction of my thinking and writing.

Following some inner compass I didn’t know I had, I spent mornings listening to my anima—my creative, feminine, instinctual self—by meditating and working on my dreams. When a dream image, emotion or theme felt unusually fascinating, I’d spend the afternoon—time reserved for my animus to manifest my anima’s creativity—incorporating it into my current manuscript. In respecting the needs of my feminine and masculine sides I was unknowingly activating the Self, the central authority of my psyche, and learning to trust it.

This transformation awakened my passion and creativity and informed my books. Dream Theatres of the Soul:  Empowering the Feminine Through Jungian Dream Work is the book on which my speech for the IASD was based. I knew this material. It had come from listening to my feminine instincts. Yet, in preparing for my speech I’d neglected Her in favor of His traditional, single-minded, outer-referential ego-mode.  And like the puppies in my dream, She was starved for attention, nurturance, and love.

Understanding this inner reality had a magical, mystical impact. With no mental effort other than a 30 minute meditation/ritual during which I thanked Dream Mother for this dream and reassured my animus that he could relax now, my concerns simply fell away.  For the next several days I was wrapped in a cocoon of calm and trust. Never have I been more relaxed before or after a presentation.

Yes, after 25 years of inner work, my animus’s fear of my instincts occasionally still floods me with anxiety, but so far this tension has served me well. Tolerating the interaction between the different perspectives of my masculine and feminine sides has not only insured my survival and thriving, but created and birthed self-knowledge, consciousness, and spiritual meaning.

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.

 

Summer Surprises June 23, 2015

We’re back in our beloved Smokey Mountains and we brought our granddaughters and granddog with us. The kids are gone now, and I miss them terribly, but for the last 11 days we’ve had a marvelous time. There’s a lot to do here and the weather is glorious, so we took advantage of it. Here are a few of the fun things we experienced.

Izzy's first venture into the pond.  Do I really want to do this?

Izzy’s first venture into the pond. Do I really want to do this?

Last summer we restocked the pond with a couple dozen baby trout!  The ride from the trout farm to our place must have been unusually traumatic because they hid and refused to come out for feedings.  After a week we gave up, assuming they were all dead, or had been eaten by critters (we have bears, otters, and great blue herons here, and they all love trout), or slipped through the high water pipe and headed downstream.

But when our kids came back over spring break, the trout were not only there, but eager to eat!  By the time we got here last week we had several at least a foot long, several more around 8 inches, and even a few that looked only 4 or 5 inches long! Where were they last summer? Why do we have 3 different sizes of trout in our pond now? Can those little ones be new babies?  We’ve heard trout don’t breed in captivity.  What’s up? It’s a mystery.

Where'd they go?

Where’d they go?

Our girls love horses, so naturally we went horseback riding. There they are in front of me in their personally designed tie dyed t-shirts. That’s the tips of my horse’s ears at the bottom of the picture.

Heading off for a grand adventure!

Heading off for a grand adventure!

We actually did have a bit of a surprising adventure. One horse had a wardrobe mishap and ran off without his rider.  He was caught, but someone else rode him after that. Then a little girl couldn’t control her young horse who kept insisting on being first, to the consternation of the guide’s horse, so she and I traded horses.  The little girl finished the trip on my horse, the biggest and calmest horse in the herd, and I, a rather tall person, rode the smallest feistiest horse home!  I don’t think my knees will ever be the same!

The girls discovered a surprise:  a marble tic tac toe game embedded in a stump!  And Izzy discovered a stick!!!

The girls discovered a surprise: a marble tic tac toe game embedded in a stump! And Izzy discovered a stick!!!

Then there was the first hike on our property. It was sad and depressing to see the stumps of the beautiful old hemlocks that had to be cut down because of a deadly infestation of the wooly adelgid pest that’s destroying the Smokey Mountains’ grand old ladies. It’s devastated some parts of our property, but we’re making the best of it.

Our friend and neighbor, Algie, made us a gorgeous long table for the screened porch out of some of the timber, and he gave away truckloads of it to neighbors who depend on firewood to heat their cabins in the winter.  Tony, my brother-in-law, found a novel use for some of the stumps. Without our knowledge, he had a marble tic tac toe game embedded into a particularly large one and installed two smaller ones for seats! What a lovely surprise to stumble upon in the middle of the woods. Thanks, Tony!  You’re the best!

Izzy wanted to play too!

Izzy wanted to play too!

Last summer I talked to Herminio, our handy man who can do anything–and always with extraordinary beauty and skill–about forging a new hiking trail in a part of the property that’s been a dumping ground for dead trees because it’s too overgrown with thick rhododendron in some places and too wet in others to use. We came up with what looked like a good starting point off the main trail, but it looked terribly difficult and I pretty much gave up dreaming about it over the winter.

But when we took our first hike last week, I was thrilled to see beautiful log steps at the entry to the new trail. Soph, Izz and I hiked it and it’s perfect! Herminio used tree trunks to fortify steps and steep sides of the trail, and brought in flat rocks for stepping stones over the marshy areas! And it was just so cool and suddenly I was ten years old again, the little girl who loved trees and woods and was fascinated by natural sanctuaries where I felt the presence of God!

Izzy loves the new trail too.  Notice the rhododendron blossom in the upper right?

Izzy loves the new trail too. Notice the rhododendron blossom in the upper right?

This mud wallow was probably Izzy's favorite part of the hike! She is one happy dog!

This mud wallow was probably Izzy’s favorite part of the hike! She is one happy dog!

Seeing this sanctuary through the eyes of my granddaughters and Izzy has brought back wonderful memories of a childhood when being out in nature was an adventure, when walking down a sunny dirt road or through a shadowy forest, or playing in the sand by the ocean filled me with delight and wonder.

I lost that feeling for a long time.  Way too long.  But it’s back now. And I think I may know why. I’ve spent my adult life looking for the numinous and now I’m finding it in the most unlikely of places: myself. This has been the most amazing and delightful surprise of all!

Note: If you liked this post, you might enjoy  Re-Stocking and Moving On, written in the summer of 2012.

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 the Sacred Divide: A Video Interview June 16, 2015

A few weeks ago, Susanne Van Doorn, a blogger from the Netherlands, interviewed me on Skype. The subject of our talk was my newest book, Healing the Sacred Divide. After her husband did a bit of editing, she posted it last weekend while I was in Virginia Beach.

Susanne wanted to know things like, “What does the title mean?” and “Would you tell us about the Big Dream that got you interested in dreamwork?,” “Why are there 9 gifts of an integrated God-image,” and “Why did you write the Cosmic Dialogues between God and Goddess?”

I really enjoyed doing this interview and am pleased with the results.  It was fun having a conversation about things I love with someone who’s as interested in them as I am. Much as I love to write, when you’re writing you’re all alone and you don’t get the give and take, the immediate feedback, the nod or smile or question that can trigger new insights and inspire new thoughts.  That’s why writing a blog is the next best thing:  because sometimes you make comments, and getting your feedback is my reward for having done the initial writing.

I posted the link to this at the end of last week’s post, but some of you might have missed it.  Plus, I haven’t had much spare time to do any writing lately. I’ve had a crazy busy week in which we returned to Orlando from Virginia Beach, had a visit from my dearest friend and her husband for two fun days, packed and moved to our summer home in the mountains, enjoyed my granddaughters and granddog who came with us,  and put out about a dozen metaphorical fires in the house and property, including computer problems. So I’ve decided to post it again.

I hope you enjoy 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.

 

Confessions of a Right-Brained Writer June 9, 2015

Speaking at the 2015 IASD conference about Dream Theatres of the Soul. Don't you love my

Speaking at the 2015 IASD conference about Dream Theatres of the Soul. Don’t you love my “shadow” in the background?
Photo Credit: Walter Berry

“The last big speech I gave was a year ago this March.  What if I’m rusty?”

“I’m terrible at memorizing! I could forget something important.”

“I talk with my hands. People might find that annoying.”

“I don’t notice the physical world around me.  I could trip over an extension cord.”

“I don’t want to say ‘Um’ all the time. If I don’t practice, I’ll forget.”

“I’m not worried about talking to a big audience, but technology is really hard.  I need to be sure I know how to use the remote to my powerpoint presentation and when to click it.”

“I’m afraid I’ll leave out something important.”

These are just some of the responses I made to my husband when he asked why I was constantly revising, practicing, and generally fretting over my upcoming speech for the annual gathering of the International Association for the Study of Dreams.

Fred is a brilliant man with a photographic memory.  As a forensic economist, he can read through a 100-page file over breakfast and testify about it in a trial or deposition two hours later without forgetting one detail.

It took me a year to write my dissertation. I needed hours of uninterrupted solitude, usually at night when Fred and the kids were asleep. Even then, selecting and pulling together relevant thoughts from among the myriad impressions flooding my mind, not to mention writing them down in a logical, clear, and organized way, was a constant struggle.  The next night I spent half my writing time omitting or revising whole sections of what I wrote the night before. Initially it was hard, but by the end of that year I realized I’d never had so much fun in my life.  By then, the revising was as much fun as the creating.

In the early years of our marriage I thought there must be something wrong with him; like maybe he was lazy, or a procrastinator, or had ADD. I mean, how could he possibly be ready to defend his dissertation in a month when he’d only written fifteen pages and was constantly distracted?  Later on, I realized 20 minutes at a time was all he needed to do something it took me hours to do.  Then I thought there must be something wrong with me.

The truth is in between.  There’s nothing wrong with either of us.  We just have different ways of thinking about, processing and expressing information. His way is considered far superior to mine in our Western, academically oriented culture.  And for many years, I bought into that perspective.

Yet we were both excellent students, which tells me we each had access to both ways. Just as he can think in ways that present difficulties for me, I can think in ways that are difficult for him. My subjective perspective is associated with sensitive, receptive, reflective and inner-directed artists, advisors, sages and Queens. His objective way is associated with with tough, logical, assertive outer-directed scientists, warriors, and Kings. Is one better than the other?  Of course not!

Dinner with Fred and sister dreamer Justina Lasley the night before my speech in Virginia Beach.

Dinner with Fred and sister dreamer Justina Lasley the night before my speech in Virginia Beach.

That couldn’t have been more clear at last weekend’s IASD conference.  Fred took care of our travel arrangements and got us to the hotel easily and efficiently. When I walked out of our hotel room and turned the wrong way, he guided me in the right direction.

He found things I misplaced in our room, remembered what time breakfast was served, where the next presentation was, and when it would start.  I had to have a schedule with me at all times. He took pictures of special times with friends when I forgot to bring or use my cell phone.

Having him with me turned what could have been a frustrating ordeal into a joyous experience. Yet, he usually only sees the trees when my ability to see the forest is more helpful. And I often sense underlying currents in situations that need to be addressed when he doesn’t have a clue.

All this is to say that my presentation is over and I couldn’t be more thrilled with it. And I can’t help but compare my new pleasure and confidence in myself with earlier times when I believed his way of being was superior to mine. My months of writing and revising and practicing, plus receiving support, suggestions and assurance from friends who cared, was of infinite value.  It eased my concerns, gave me confidence, and turned what could have been an average presentation into one that received a standing ovation and more compliments than I can count.

And here’s the biggest plus:  After 51 years of marriage (as of June 15), Fred and I have more understanding, respect, and gratitude for each other than ever before—a true partnership in which we have each learned to value the differences in ourselves and each other.

Thank you, Fred, and thank you to all of you who helped and supported me. I couldn’t have done it without you.

A video of my speech will be available in a few weeks.  I’ll tell you when and where as soon as I know.  Meanwhile, here’s a recent Skype interview of me about Healing the Sacred Divide that was coincidentally published just this weekend. I hope you enjoy it.  https://youtu.be/rEvrJGknFWw

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.

 

Dream About A Mother Complex June 2, 2015

Note:  The International Association for the study of Dreams will have its annual Conference in Virginia Beach this weekend. As some of you know, I’ll be presenting Friday night’s keynote speech. Since I’m still polishing it, I don’t have the time to write a new post, so this is one from a few years ago.  Interestingly, last month I wrote a post about the mother complex and several of you wanted to know more. Then last week I wrote about a friend’s dream of killing Lance Armstrong that received more comments than any other post I’ve written.  So it feels especially appropriate to repeat this one which features both themes.  I’m looking forward to meeting some of you at the conference this weekend.

A friend recently sent me this dream. I want to share it with you, as it brings to mind the very interesting topic of the mother complex.

An old lady is beating up a boy. She is beating him up really badly, he has a bloody face. When she is done, she comes towards me, moving to my right. I go to the left to see if the boy is still alive. I fear he is not. She comes at me, and I kick her in the stomach and she goes flying backwards, off a cliff.

She comments: “This was not a positive dream. Kind of freaked me out a bit, had a hard time going back to sleep. Was wondering what you thought, if you have time.”

My initial response: “Think of the waking life context a day or two before you had this dream. Did anything happen that gave you the same feeling you had in the dream? Were you angry or worried about something? An older woman in your life? An uncomfortable awareness of your own aging? A memory of something hurtful involving an older woman?”

She responded: “This dream came right before I played in my first big tennis tournament. In retrospect, I was the oldest lady on the courts I played, all my opponents were at least half my age. I think it had something to do with that, being something I was worried about. The older feminine who squelched my ambition and drive in waking life was my mom. Since her death I have finally come into my own. This dream seems like a significant one.”

Being the oldest woman on the courts may have triggered emotions which activated the ancient Great Mother. In her positive aspect this archetype creates and nurtures new life. In her negative aspect she smothers and destroys it. The way we see her depends to a certain degree on our experiences with our personal mothers although other factors can enter in as well.

In this dream she’s a mean old lady trying to kill a boy. I’d see him as my growing Animus, associated with my drive to individuate. He’s the part of me that wants to rise up from my unconscious bath in the maternal matrix wherein I just float along enjoying being taken care of and respond to discomfort by blaming outer circumstances while remaining innocent of all personal responsibility. He wants me to light my own fire, forge my own identity, prove myself through tests of my own choosing, accept responsibility for my own behavior, and assume my own authority.

The fact that the dreamer kicks the woman off the cliff suggests a mythical motif Jung called “The Sacrifice.” Jungian analyst June Singer writes about “the child’s sacrifice of the paradise of the early and rewarding unity with the mother” that “All children have to work it out with their own mothers or mother-surrogates in the process of moving toward maturity.” Why?  Because until they do, they will struggle with a host of debilitating issues and emotions which prevent the fuller development of their unique and creative selves. This is essentially what is meant by having “a negative mother complex.”

While the imagery of this dream may be shocking to a waking ego which does not see itself as a raging killer of little old ladies, there’s a deeper metaphorical meaning. In my projection, the mean old lady represents her negative mother complex:  the factors that have stood in the way of her individuation.

This dream seems to say that the dreamer has acquired the psychological strength and self-awareness to acknowledge the wounding she received from her mother.  No longer dependent on or controlled by her mother’s opinions of her, she is ready to empower herself, even if it means sacrificing her unrealistic fantasy of uniting with Mother in an innocent blissful paradise.  This creative and courageous act has freed her dammed-up libido, (the positive aspect of the Great Mother, the divine creative force of nature), to be used toward protecting and manifesting her truer, fuller self.

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.

 

 
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