Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

The Six C’s of the Silver Queen May 12, 2015

alchemicalmoonTwo weeks ago I wrote about a very damaging manifestation of the feminine principle sometimes called the Death Mother or Evil Queen.  Often clothed in black, this force in us represents parts of our feminine sides that have been so devalued, wounded and abused by patriarchal excesses that they are repressed into the dark, unconscious regions of our psyches.  There they become twisted, cold, vengeful and self-destructive.

In this post I want to bring some balance to our understanding of the feminine principle by addressing some of its positive qualities. But first, a few relevant words about alchemy and Greek mythology.

ALCHEMY

Dismissed by some left-brained literalists as pseudo-science, alchemy was, in fact, like mythology, a profoundly wise symbol system that sought to heal humanity’s dangerous tendency toward obsessive one-sidedness.  Employing both languages of the brain, logic and imagination, its practitioners described their work as a lengthy process of refining and uniting the King (the masculine principle symbolized by the fiery gold light of the sun), and the Queen (the feminine principle represented by the silvery watery light of the moon) in a Sacred Marriage.

The result of their union was the creation of a rare and precious form of new life called the Philosopher’s Stone. This symbolized the fullest and maturest wisdom and consciousness of which humanity is capable. Unfortunately, we are still so far from this goal that it would be laughable were it not so depressing.

MYTHOLOGY

In ancient Greece the feminine principle was celebrated in three aspects of Goddess. These can be represented by colors. The Maiden (green), Mother (red), and Crone (gray or black), represented the mysterious circle of life–birth, maturity, death and regeneration–celebrated in Lunar Mythology.  These were the dominant themes of humanity’s spirituality until the sun god’s Solar Mythology about the battle between good and evil replaced it. Today, many students of psychology, anthropology, religion, spirituality, myth and alchemy personify a missing fourth aspect between the Mother and Crone as the fully empowered Queen. I associate her with the color silver.

AnumatiIn the outer world of work, the Silver Queen is the most visible manifestation of healthy feminine authority. We see her in socially aware leaders and authorities of all kinds; for example, enterprising founders of innovative business practices that weaken the stranglehold of one-sided logic and linearity, or bold and balanced, firm and fair champions of healthy change in any group, movement, or organization.

Individuals (male or female) with well-developed Queen energy can be effective within the confines of the kingly Solar Mythology that still dominates our culture. However, they do not imitate, limit themselves to, or promote obsessively one-sided patriarchal values. Instead, they consistently facilitate the re-emergence of the Silver Queen’s Lunar Mythology.

My description of her values and way of being in the world is based on Jung’s observation, borne out in traditional literature throughout history, that the feminine foundation of the psyche–aka Sophia, Anima or Soul–is the source of our nourishing and transforming energies. It is only when we disown these energies that she turns her dark face to us in the form of Death Mother.

THE SIX C’S OF THE SILVER QUEEN

  • As Carer, she is there for her true self and others: she feels, gives, listens, encourages, intuits, confronts, affirms. When necessary and appropriate, she sacrifices.

  • As Container she holds and tolerates tension, conflicts, suffering, uncertainty and change without breaking or giving up.

  • As Connecter she mentors, guides and networks with other people and respects other perspectives.

  • As Communicator she speaks her truths, listens to others’ truths, and seeks to integrate otherness.

  • As Cooperator she shares her knowledge and authority without greed, prejudice, envy, abuse, or expectation of reward.

  • As Changer she trusts the transformative process and flows with evolutionary energy.

Honey's Shadow Dancer

Honey’s Shadow Dancer

Our alchemical transformation undergoes continuous refinement throughout our Croning years.  At 56 I fulfilled a lifelong dream of owning and training a horse. At two and-a-half, Honey’s Shadow Dancer was the color of dark steel with a few white dapples, but within a year he was turning a beautiful silvery gray.

Shadow’s color was significant to me. As a child I’d loved Walter Farley’s Black Stallion and the Lone Ranger’s white horse, Silver. Gifting myself with a silver gray horse in the fall of my life was a choice to continue learning while celebrating the overlapping path between black and white.

The Silver Queen in each of us has the power to bring healing balance to all of us.  May we resurrect her before Death Mother destroys us.

Image Credits:  Alchemical moon and Goddess of the Moon:  Google Images

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.

 

The Sacred Laws of Psyche May 5, 2015

The inner universe

The inner univers

My friends: last week’s post about the new book, Into the Heart of the Feminine, by Jungian analysts Drs. Bud and Massimilla Harris, addressed a lesson that must be learned if we want to heal ourselves and the world. This is the importance of recapturing our ability to think psychologically and symbolically. This I know:  learning the two languages of One Mind is the only lasting remedy for the devastation that our cultural mentality of one-sided rational, verbal and literal thinking has wrought.

With the synchronistic help of Elaine Mansfield, a dear friend and sister writer, I was reminded of this post I published in the wake of the Newtown tragedy over three years ago. If any act epitomizes the evil impact of the one-sided patriarchal culture that has activated the Death Mother archetype in our culture, that did! With this repost I extend my condolences to include the families and friends of those who lost their lives in last week’s devastating earthquake in Nepal.

The inner universe of the mind is, like the physical world, a living organism that functions according to natural laws.  Deciphering them has been the work of holy fools, for who can presume to understand the sacred inner workings of creation? Yet we do try to understand these autonomous patterns of energy (archetypes) in our individual minds (the psyche) and in the mystery of the One Mind beyond ordinary consciousness (the psychoid) because we feel their profound influence.

Our brains know two languages: logic and imagination. Separately, each has limits, but an individual who respects both can make brilliant inroads into the Mysteries. Einstein was one such person. He said,

“Logic will take you from A to B.  Imagination will take you everywhere.”

Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell were others. Jung explored his inner life and that of his clients with the help of myths and symbols from various wisdom traditions. Campbell developed some of Jung’s themes in his own extensive research. Together, their imaginative work shed much-needed light into the darkness of our current collective unconscious. Following are some natural laws they midwifed into our awareness.

1. The Law of Correspondence: The outer universe is a reflection of the inner universe. This intuition gave rise to the ancient adages, “As above, so below,” and “As without, so within.” Humanity has expressed this relationship in diverse symbol systems such as mythology, religion, tarot, alchemy, astrology and magic.

2. The Law of Synchronicity: Meaningful coincidences between our inner and outer universes occur more frequently with self-reflective practices like dreamwork and active imagination. Synchronicities are not products of “cause and effect,” but of an imaginative, heartfelt search for personal meaning which eventually produces what Jungian Monika Wikman calls, “a psychology of synchronicity instead of linearity.”

3. The Law of Opposites: For everything we know about ourselves (beliefs, values, attitudes, emotions), there is a corresponding unconscious opposite. In our psychological immaturity we see things dualistically, (in terms of either-or, good-bad), and automatically repress or disown that which our egos consider the less desirable options.

One Mind
One Mind

4. The Law of Oneness Beneath all apparent dualities lies a fundamental connectedness with All That Is.  We can tap into this One Mind by integrating pairs of opposites to create partnerships which see, think, and behave holistically.

5. The Law of Entropy: When opposites remain isolated from one another, any disorders within them remain constant or increase.

6. The Law of Change:  Energies in both universes are constantly circulating. Change toward stasis and polarization increases disorder and chaos. Change toward communication and integration increases movement toward perfection and completion.

7. The Law of Love: Love is the most powerful healing and unifying force in Life. It has its roots in the heart, i.e. honest feeling and valuing, not the head, or logic and reason.

8. The Law of Choice: Our ego, the organizing center of our conscious selves, can choose to serve or fight these laws, and our personal choices influence ours and the world’s welfare. For example, if we serve the Law of Love, we respect and integrate ours and others’ religions, making space in ourselves and the world for both. If we fight this law we are choosing love’s opposite, hatred.

We can cultivate our imagination or bury it. View ourselves as separate or as connected. Integrate otherness or fight it. Nurture love or hate. Trust or fear. How can our beloved country serve these sacred laws at this point in history?  How can you and I?

My heartfelt condolences go out to the families and friends of the innocents whose physical lives were tragically snuffed out in Newtown. Together, may we find a solution to this senseless tragedy.

Image Credits:  Google Images.

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.

 

Into the Heart of the Feminine April 28, 2015

Medusa-Caravaggio_(Uffizi)There is a thinking in primordial images, in symbols which are older than the historical man, which are inborn in him from the earliest times, eternally living, outlasting all generations, still making up the groundwork of the human psyche. It is only possible to live the fullest life when we are in harmony with these symbols; wisdom is a return to them.
– Carl Jung

This blog is based on my passion for self-knowledge and understanding the two great archetypal foundations of life: the feminine and masculine principles. My research, writing and inner work have shed a great deal of light on these mysteries. They’ve also shown me how much I don’t know. Luckily, I have many opportunities to learn.  One recently appeared in the form of a book I was asked to review. I’m delighted to share its deep wisdom about the feminine principle with you.

Into the Heart of the Feminine: An Archetypal Journey to Renew Strength, Love, and Creativity, is co-authored by Jungian analysts Massimilla and Bud Harris. In this outstanding and groundbreaking book, the Harrises use the myth of the Greek Gorgon Medusa to demonstrate the timeless reality of a profoundly destructive complex of images, symbols and themes known as the Death Mother.

Myths are born whenever a culture evolves into a new stage of psychological awareness. Exploring them provides healing and understanding of these developments that are trying to become conscious. Medusa’s myth emerged in Greece during a time when patriarchal gods were trying to assimilate and control the transformative aspects of the feminine principle. The Harrises have uncovered traces of this myth countless times in themselves and their clients.

Medusa was a ravishingly beautiful maiden raped by the god Poseidon in Athena‘s temple. The angry goddess transformed Medusa’s beautiful hair to serpents and made her face so terrible that the mere sight of it would turn onlookers to stone. This is a perfect symbol for the devastating psychological impact of patriarchy’s wounding and devaluing of the feminine archetype.

To quote the Harrises, the Death Mother “paralyzes our initiative, spirit, creativity, and vitality.” Her negativity “affects our culture in general, mothering in particular, and our ability to like, nourish, and take loving care of ourselves.” Unfortunately, it also cripples our ability to meet the emotional needs of our children. Thus do many of us, women and men alike, grow up feeling so unloved, unlovable, depressed, and deeply disappointed in life that we pass on the same curse to them. What’s more, “When the feminine principle is repressed into our unconscious, it becomes part of our collective shadow, and this shadow projects itself as a longing, or even a demand, for power.” Many of us experience the negative consequences of that particular beast every day.

UnknownWith Medusa’s story as guide, the Harrises demonstrate that to bring the feminine into our world, we must begin in a personal way. Only by taking the time to reconnect with the wholeness of who we are—and dreamwork is a primary way—can we learn to value the feminine and have it become reborn within us. This point is illustrated throughout the book in stories about clients who have experienced healing by following the map for the journey outlined in Medusa’s myth.

This requires us to recognize our denial and face our fear of inadequacy, shame, rejection, and belittlement along with the underlying rage, grief and woundedness that give rise to these debilitating fears. With reflection we accept “the reality that we have been damaged by some of the primary attitudes and values in our culture.” This realization strengthens us to confront our personal Death Mother.  In the final phase of healing we learn to pay attention to our lives so that we can celebrate the transformation taking place by living a fuller, richer life.

I love this book.  You’d get a good idea how much if you could see the underlines and comments on practically every page. One of my favorite things about it, apart from the many “Ahas” I acquired about my own Death Mother complex, is the Harrises’ clear grasp of our current cultural mentality. We’ve become so rational, verbal and literal that we’ve forgotten how symbols and images carry a deeper reality than words.  We’ve lost the art of thinking symbolically. And as the authors say, “To lose this art is to lose the kind of grounding that enables us to experience the beautiful depths of love and the Divine presence that is potentially within our capacities.”

What greater loss could there be than that?

You can see Massimilla Harris speaking about the Death Mother at this link:   

Image Credits:  Medusa, Caravaggio.  Wikimedia Commons.  Cover Design of Into the Heart of the Feminine: Courtney Tiberio.  Cover Photo:  Anthony Cave

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.

 

New Dreams About My Animus April 14, 2015

I’ve just had a pretty mind-blowing synchronicity I need to tell you about!  As I write these words, it’s early Monday evening, April 13, 2015.  This afternoon we returned from the beach having spent the weekend with two couples who traveled several hundred miles to attend an annual fund-raising event for the Atlantic Center for the Arts. They’ve left now, so I’m at my computer preparing tomorrow’s post.

A few moments ago I remembered a note I put on my calendar several months back.  It says:  “Repost the post from April 30, 2011, ‘Dreams of the Animus,’ this April.” Thinking that was a good idea since I didn’t have a day ahead of me to write a new one, I copied the older post below.

Reading the first paragraph reminded me about the two dreams I had last night. Afraid I’d forget them, I stopped to record and work on them first.  That finished, I returned here to read the rest of the 4-year old post and schedule it for publication tomorrow.

I’m still stunned by what I read. Because last night’s dreams are a disturbing update on my dreams from this time 4 years ago! To understand why this synchronicity is especially uncomfortable, you need to read the older dreams first.

DREAMS OF THE ANIMUS:  A Re-Post from April 30, 2011.

Last weekend was special. I was born two days before Easter on Good Friday; but since Easter’s date is always changing, this year my birthday was the day before. April is glorious in Florida, so part of the specialness was getting to spend both holidays with my family in one long weekend at the beach. Another thing making it special was the dreams I had there. Of the two I recall, both featured my masculine side, or animus. Since one of my goals for this blog is to make Jungian psychology as relevant and helpful to others as it has been to me, I’d like to share these dreams in the hope of raising your awareness of your own inner resources.

Dream #4319: Passing Through a Threshold With My Animus. I’m entering an open doorway. A dear male friend (no one I know in waking life) is immediately behind me. His arms are wrapped around me, holding me gently. Our movements are so synchronized and easy that I can’t tell if he’s guiding or following me. Either way, it feels wonderful to be so close.

I awoke from this dream on my birthday. It was my first gift of the day. It said I am not alone as I move forward in my journey. Yes, I know I’m profoundly blessed to have a loving family, but the truth is, not one of them will ever feel my passions and emotions, understand my conflicts and yearnings, or experience my awakenings. It is my job to know and grow myself, not theirs. They have their own souls to make.

That’s okay, says this dream. Because my animus has always been with me he knows me completely; and because I have honored and empowered him, he will support me at the crossing of every threshold, even the one that opens to death. The comforting feeling of knowing my back is covered by this loving inner reality lingered all day.

Dream #4320: Dancing With My Animus. I’m on a small stage in an intimate room that feels like a chapel. I’m the female lead in a play; an attractive man is the male lead. We’re both feeling unsure of ourselves as we demonstrate a phase of a developing relationship in which neither partner completely trusts each other or their own feelings. We dance around the stage then he bends me over backwards and leans over me. We hold this pose and wait for the audience’s response so we’ll know what to do next. This play is an improvisation requiring spontaneous interaction and cooperation between the players as well as between the players and audience.

My birthday dream depicts one reward of accepting my masculine side. My Easter dream says this work is not over. The presence of an audience suggests that my other inner characters are interested in my soul-making drama. It could also refer to an outer audience which is watching and helping. Both interpretations feel right to me.

My ego’s passion is to know and relate to my whole Self; my animus’s passion is to help me manifest what I know in writing. The dream says we’re both still feeling our way in this partnership. The religious setting means our work together is sacred and archetypal. And the presence of an audience tells me the purpose of the dance between everyone’s masculine and feminine sides is twofold: to unite the opposites in our own souls, and to help all humanity birth this Sacred Marriage in the world.

Next week: So Is My Animus Doing His Job?

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.

 

Imagine a Dreamer March 3, 2015

Unknown-1This weekend I was honored by a fellow writer, aficionado of Jungian psychology, and advocate for social change. Skip Conover, founder of the website Archetype in Action, notified me that he had started a new Facebook page with the engaging title “The Rabbi, the Novelist, the Dreamer, the Revolutionary and the Marine Walked into a Bar…” And he had made me an administrator.

That’s cool, I thought. I wonder what this page is about.  But I didn’t have time to pursue it until last night.  That’s when I discovered that the Dreamer he was referring to was me! When I got over my surprise, I read the page description and discovered it was about our mutual passions for writing, self-knowledge, and social change.

In my response to him I noted that I had never thought to call myself a Dreamer in the sense he obviously meant: i.e., as a person who is passionate about promoting her vision for a more conscious and enlightened world. But then these lyrics from my favorite John Lennon song, Imagine, popped into my head:  “You may say I’m a dreamer/But I’m not the only one/I hope someday you’ll join us/And the world will be as one.”

Yup.  That’s me, alright. Why did I never realize this before?

After reflecting on this last night and this morning, I think I know the answer.  In the world, era and cultural group in which I was raised, the term “dreamer” was used in a slightly superior and disparaging way. Dreamers didn’t have their feet on the ground.  They were impractical and overly idealistic. They were into hippy stuff like sit-ins and free love and eating organic foods. When they weren’t tripping on pot or singing folk songs, dreamers felt so strongly and cared so deeply that they were an embarrassment to ordinary folk. Worst of all, they didn’t seem to care about the chaos they created with their shocking efforts to “save the world!”

Caught between the naively optimistic post-war spirit that characterized the late 40’s and 50’s, and a new generation’s awakening to the intolerable injustices that precipitated the civil rights movement and Viet Nam war protests, I didn’t know where I belonged.  As a young wife and mother I sided with my elders and took the easy way of conforming to their conventional wisdom. This non-solution suited me fine well into my thirties.

Years later I felt guilty about not participating in the revolutionary spirit of those history-making times. But now I realize it made an indelible impression on me anyway.  I wanted to care and love as much as those students and intellectuals did. And occasionally I’d catch a glimpse of the rebel without a cause in me who hoped that one day I’d be brave enough to speak out about issues that were important to me and society.

I don’t feel guilty any more, because my rebel found a cause. But it wasn’t until I saw Skip’s new Facebook page that I realized how my early conditioning had kept me from openly claiming the tag of Dreamer.  I’m ready to claim it now.

I was destined to be a Dreamer in both senses: 1) someone who loves herself enough to pay attention to her nightly dreams, and 2) someone who loves the Mystery of life enough to promote her waking dream of a more conscious and caring world. I think those seeds were planted in my soul’s code from the beginning; but my soul had a timing of its own and I had a lot of growing to do before they would bear fruit. I grew by listening to the promptings of my soul as she spoke to me in my dreams.

 You may say I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one

I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world will live as one.

Image credit: Google Images, Unknown

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.

 

Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places? February 24, 2015

Unknown-1Have you ever put yourself in a relationship or situation that filled a deep need and seemed totally harmless?  And then suddenly something happened that made you aware of an unsuspected dark side of what you were doing? And it got so out of hand that you couldn’t control it and were swamped with anxiety and dread?  

Most of us have experienced something like this at some point in our lives. So what do you do?  Ignore it?  Keep plugging away and hope for the best? Pray? Fantasize?  Wait for a prince to ride up on a white horse and rescue you? Lay the blame on someone else while denying your part in it?  Ask for help then get angry when it doesn’t come? Run away?  Carry your guilt, fear, hurt and anxiety in a secret compartment and refuse to visit it while telling yourself you’re just fine?  Only to put yourself in another situation somewhere down the road that’s just as bad as, or even worse than the first? Then go through the whole thing again?

These are the responses of an immature ego with limited self-awareness. When we see this happening to someone we know, it’s obvious that whatever they’re doing isn’t working.  Yet, like a hamster on a wheel, some people keep traveling the same old path without getting anywhere no matter how good their intentions or wise their counsel.  I’ve been there.  Maybe you have too. Old habits and attitudes have strangleholds on our egos, regardless of how toxic the consequences. So how do we break free?

“To live fully, we have to…bring back to life the deepest levels of the psyche from which our present consciousness has evolved.” Carl Jung

images-2But how do we follow Jung’s advice?  Ask your unconscious for a dream. Dreams compensate for our conscious attitudes by showing us different ways of viewing our issues, especially problematic ones. The unconscious contains everything about ourselves of which we are unaware, including hidden potentials we haven’t yet discovered or alternative ways of being we’ve disowned. Situations like the above are invitations to bring them into our awareness so we can move forward.

This is not easy for an ego that’s oblivious to the inner life and thinks dreams and fantasies are “just our imagination.”  Plus, few of us welcome the effort it takes to reflect on them. Most difficult of all is giving up our illusion of being in control and trusting some unknown part of ourselves to help us out. We experience the power of these archetypal entities all the time in strong emotions, urges that seem to come from nowhere, and synchronicities, yet we rarely “waste” much time trying to understand them. But it’s the only way to go if we really want to grow. Consider this:

“The essential thing is to differentiate oneself from these unconscious contents by personifying them, and at the same time to bring them into relationship with consciousness. That is the technique for stripping them of their power.  It is not too difficult to personify them, as they always possess a certain degree of autonomy, a separate identity of their own. Their autonomy is a most uncomfortable thing to reconcile oneself to, and yet the very fact that the unconscious presents itself in that way gives us the best means of handling it.”  Jung: Memories, Dreams and Reflections, pp. 185-188.

images-1If we’re dead serious about wanting out of our ruts—and it usually takes desperation to bring us to this point—asking the unconscious for a dream about our situation will trigger an immediate response.  Within a night or two we’ll get one or more dreams. We won’t understand their symbolic language or meaning right away, but, if we persist step by step the rewards will come. My certainty of this comes from 26 years of treating my dreams “as if” they have objective meaning. Once I chose this path, it wasn’t long before I realized they actually do!

Our highest purpose is to grow more conscious and accepting of the benevolent otherness within and without so that we might live in love instead of fear. We can’t will ourselves to manufacture love or consciousness with mental effort alone.  These and other rewards only come with personal experience and a regular practice like dreamwork. With time, our toxic fears, shadows, habits and attitudes lose their power and are replaced with trust, peace and overflowing gratitude and compassion.

If you’re looking for love, I promise:  you can find it in your dreams.

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.

 

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,110 other followers

%d bloggers like this: