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.

 

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

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

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 If we keep growing, he becomes a restless, searching, ego-driven Son/Prince who challenges outdated standards and risks breaking old rules.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

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

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

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

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

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

 

How’s Your God-Image Working For You? December 13, 2011

Our ideas about God come from us. For approximately the last 5,000 years the West and Near East have projected our masculine archetypes onto a male God who is a

1) King: superior, all-powerful and morally judgmental;

2) Warrior: partial to and protective of our particular tribe or culture while rejecting our enemies;

3) Magician/Scholar: supernatural and all-knowing; and

4) Lover: passionately in love with us, His Beloveds.

So what does this say about the status of the psyches and societies that envision God this way? An ego with a purely masculine God-image has rejected the sacred power of femininity because it is afraid of and hostile to the feminine side of the psyche.  Of course, this makes about as much sense as obsessing over the qualities of the left-hemisphere of our brains and repressing the equally valuable “God-given” qualities of the right-hemisphere.

Who in their right mind would deliberately do such a thing? This is the point, of course. The fact is, we’re not in our “right” mind because Western culture has essentially rejected the qualities of the right brain! Since the time of Aristotle, our egos have been so enamored of our left-hemisphere logos ability to process information with clear reason, discrimination of details, and logical, “objective” thinking that we’ve disdained the far more mysterious and uncontrollable processes of the right hemisphere.

The right hemisphere specializes in mythos. This analogical mode of thinking emphasizes seeing the whole picture instead of discriminating between details;  connecting instead of separating;  completing oneself through intimate relationships instead of proving oneself through perfected work;  finding meaning in images, symbols and intuitions instead of only words and provable facts; personal, subjective realities instead of objective ones;  inner events instead of outer ones; values and tender emotions instead of pure reason; and the physical, instinctual realities of our bodies instead of the traditional mental processes associated with intelligence.  As you may have guessed, right-brain attributes are generally associated with femininity.

But why does it have to be either/or for the ego? Why have we rejected these qualities—or at the very least seen them as “inferior” to left-brained qualities—for so long instead of simply accommodating both? It’s really very simple. Like all mammals, humans begin life as helpless, instinctual creatures. But we have egos, and our egos want to control our primitive instincts so we can stay safe and gain more control over the terrifying powers of Mother Nature. After all, if you can’t manage your hunger you’ll eat your entire fall harvest by Christmas; then what will you eat for the rest of the winter?

Poor little egos. We just want to be more conscious and in control so we can feel more safe in a terrifying world. The last thing we want is to fall back (backslide?) into unconsciousness and powerlessness. So we obsess over left-hemisphere (Western?) thinking and disown the more “primitive” right brain. We project masculinity onto a remote, separate, all-powerful spirit and project femininity onto physical women who we strip of as much power as we can. Thus have we created societies run by power-driven leaders who are afraid of their own shadows, can’t get along with each other, and use and abuse women and all who are weak, vulnerable or different from the things our egos identify with.

How conscious is that? How conscious are you? How integrated is your brain? How integrated is your God-image?

 

 
%d bloggers like this: