Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

Message To America From a White Horse November 7, 2016

lone_ranger_and_tonto_with_silver_1960I’ve always been proud of my country. As a child, I thought the Lone Ranger, Tonto and Silver symbolized everything good about the U.S.A.: respect for human rights, individuality and diversity, strength of character, integrity, commitment to our civic responsibility to protect the weak, the helpless, the innocent and poor. But if there were any vestiges of that naïveté left in me before this presidential race, they’re gone now.

Never have I ever felt so disillusioned about America. Never have I, like award-winning novelist Barbara Kingsolver, taken a political race so personally. The constant reminders of our collective shadow have been monumentally toxic and I’m sick of it. But I didn’t realize how sick until last week’s dream of a white horse.

Dream #4792:  I’m in a house (my psyche) where several people (inner characters) are attending a retreat. Two persistent and annoying women (parts of my shadow) want my attention and feel sorry for themselves when I don’t give it.  An elder white-haired man summons me outdoors where I’m given responsibility for a white horse (powerful unconscious emotions). Its owner (aspect of my animus) is in the house. He has neglected it so badly that it’s ill. The old man leaves the horse with me. Annoyed at the owner’s negligence, worried and sad about the horse’s condition, I caress it lovingly. When I turn my back on it to go and notify the owner, it crumples behind me and lies there, pitiful, sad, and listless.

That morning the sad feelings lingered so I searched Google and found this blog post from 2009.

Jung & Horse

Mark Wallinger's White Horse Sculpture

Mark Wallinger’s White Horse Sculpture

“There has been a massive outpouring of love for Mark Wallinger’s white horse, the 165 foot sculpture which will be placed at the new International Rail Terminal at Ebbsfleet, Kent. This is interesting for many reasons, not least because public art isn’t usually enjoyed by the lay person, ironic and upside down as that may sound. The iconic white horse has captured something in the collective consciousness, something primal and English to its core. Today, I stumbled upon this piece of an essay by equine behaviourist Chris Irwin:

“Clearly, some link between horses and the human psyche was surfacing. I’ve since learned that there is a branch of psychoanalysis, pioneered by Carl Jung, that tries to weave a balance between the outer world of action and events and the inner world of dream, fantasy and symbolism. A distinguishing feature of Jungian analysis is the concept of archetypes, symbols rising from the dark, deep psychic pool of the collective unconscious where humanity’s common experience is stored.

“Archetypes express a complex of images and emotions that surround the defining experiences of human life. Examples include the Hero, the Divine Child, the Great Mother, Transformation, Death and Rebirth. They are the same for us all, no matter who we are or where we come from. It’s as if they are built into the wiring of our brains. And one of the most commonly recurring archetypes is – you guessed it – the Horse.

Some of my horse books.

Some of my horse books.

“The Horse archetype throughout the ages has been closely linked with our instinctive, primal drives. Jung thought the Horse’s appearance could signify instincts out of control. The horse evokes intense feelings and unbridled passion instead of cool, collected thought.

“In many different situations and in many different ways, horses were enabling people to make contact with feelings they’d buried deep inside their shadow. There didn’t seem to be any doubt that equine-assisted therapy worked. The question was, why?

“Horses, by embodying one of the deepest archetypes in our consciousness, most definitely stir us up. All those things that are buried away or girdled safely up start swirling around in our psyches. Horses can be a direct connection into the unconscious. When we look at a horse, and especially when there’s a horse strutting across the pen in front of us, we see the flesh-and-blood incarnation of powerful forces bottled up within us that we wish we had the guts to saddle and ride.

More horse books.

More of my horse books.

“These are the forces that Jung called the shadow self. We know those forces could take us to our dreams and turn us into our best selves. We also know those forces could destroy us. That’s why we bottle them up in the first place. And when feelings are stirred-up and agitated, that’s when we have the chance to work with them and learn to control them. Horses give us this opportunity. They do this to us whether we’re aware of it or not. But what a powerful tool to be able to use consciously!

“Carl Jung also talked a lot about life’s paradox, and how important the embrace of seeming contradictions is as we travel the never-ending journey towards becoming fully human. Horses, which can both free us or hurt us, embody this paradox. How we handle this paradox in the arena becomes a metaphor for how we handle it everywhere. Only in this case, it’s such a potent and direct metaphor, that we can use it to change our reality. Horses force us to face our shadow selves. Once we do that, we discover much greater freedom, exhilaration and inspiration as we go forward in life.” ~Chris Irwin, author of Horses Don’t Lie

14358643_1430859230264226_4748031632577132298_nDream Mother gave me the perfect image to get my attention. My white horse was suffering the consequences of intense bottled up feelings:  grief, empathy, agitation, worry and self-pity, plus concerns about my recent diminishment of life energy, my neglected need for self-love and care, and my country’s neglected need for self-love and care.

As I write this it’s the day before the election. If Hillary is elected, I’ll celebrate. Either way I’ll be facing my shadow as I get on with my life. I hope Uncle Sam will too. I won’t turn my back on either of us.

A final note: I’ve just read an extraordinary article by award-winning author Barbara Kingsolver on why Trump has not been called out for the horror show he’s put our country through.  If you’re still sitting on the fence about this election, I urge you to read 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.

Image Credits: The Lone Ranger, Tonto, and Silver; Mark Wallinger White Horse Sculpture, Wikimedia Commons.  Uncle Sam Cartoon, Facebook.


Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer May 2, 2010

This book by a passionate nature-lover is one of my all-time favorites. For me it is about how people who have unduly prolonged the promise of Spring ripen into fully evolved, wildly extravagant lovers of life. I see this as a spiritual task as well as a psychological one. Why? Consider Episcopal Bishop John Spong’s definition of God:

God is the Source of Life who is worshiped when we live fully.
God is the Source of Love who is worshiped when we love wastefully.
God is the Ground of Being who is worshiped when we have the courage to be.

By the end of the summer, this becomes a life-path for the main characters. For example, the middle-aged forest caretaker, Deanna, (aka Diana/Artemis, goddess of the moon and wilderness), eases up on her lone-wolf, tough-girl persona and takes a young lover. In return, she receives the gift of hopeful new life: not only in a physical baby but psychologically too. Before meeting Eddie she is a one-dimensional warrior-like Artemis; but he brings out her Aphrodite big time and soon she will develop her maternal Demeter as well. Even if the baby has Downs’ Syndrome because of her age, for her this will be a full-circle return to the love of her youth, Nannie’s wounded child, Rachel, (a nod to Rachel Carson?) who is forever lost to her.

When Lusa moves to Appalachia with her new husband Cole, then loses him shortly afterwards, (Lusa/Loser? Cole/Coal? — symbolizing his descent into the blackness of death and the treasure she will mine from this devastating loss?), this sophisticated city girl relaxes her grip on her old, patronizing attitudes. Befriending Little Rickie and Jewel brings undreamt riches: Jewel’s children, a goat farm, Garnett, and Nannie. Look at the symbolism in these names: a garnet is a semi-precious Jewel. Rickie/Richie/rich. Nannie/nanny goat. All part of the richness-to-come in the summer of Lusa’s life because she risks making original choices. Jung said, “The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” Lucky Lusa to learn this at such a young age.

Garnett, a spiritually rigid and psychologically repressed widower farmer, blossoms too. By embracing Nannie’s disturbing differences, he will be blessed with a whole new family. Even the mysterious Eddie Bondo (Eddie/eddy? — the whirlpool of passion into which he sucks Deanna? Bondo/bond? — their sexual bond releases them both from bondage to repression?) matures. With Deanna’s help, he questions his predatory instincts enough to see the significance of a creature he has heretofore viewed as prey. Might this include woman as well as coyote?

Improbable as it may seem, I see this beautiful youth as a Pan-like Jesus figure, just as Nannie represents the Divine Feminine. The nanny goat is associated with ancient fertility cults and in India is an embodiment of the primal mother. The male goat, besides symbolizing male sexual powers, is a sacrificial animal that takes on the sins of the people: When a scapegoat is banished into the wilderness, all are absolved of guilt. While Eddie is not directly associated with goats, he most certainly is associated with the wilderness and Pan’s goatish, guilt-free sex. More important, like Jesus, he transforms Deanna’s stark life into one filled with joy, authenticity, and love.

What could be more spiritual than that?


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