Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

Insights from Ireland: Getting the Human Thing Down May 24, 2013

A snake/dragon for Maeve

A snake/dragon for Maeve

I love the humanness of the dream I’ve been sharing. It’s so “lower chakra” with its symbolism of a possum and its excrement. Why do I love that? Andi sent me this quote in which Catholic priest Richard Rohr explains: “History has revealed too many people who have tried to be spiritual before they have learned how to be human! It is a major problem. Maybe this is why Jesus came to model humanity for us—much more than divinity….Get the ordinary human thing down, and you will have all the spirituality that you can handle.”

Kundalini yoga and Jung say the same thing. The colors of the rainbow represent the entire spectrum of human experience, from the infra-red of instinct and emotion to the ultraviolet of spiritual transcendence. We can devote our lives to spiritual strivings in the heady, upper chakra realms, but if we ignore our earthy roots we’ll still be plagued by issues related to self-esteem, security, physical identity, survival, fear, power, sex, pleasure, anxiety and relationships.

Ideally, the first half of life is for getting the human thing down, but life is rarely ideal. My parents were ill-suited to each other and when I was born my hard-working mother’s emotional health was precarious. Mom had just learned of my father’s infidelity and her mother-in-law blamed her for his moral lapse. Only now do the puzzle pieces, vague hints about family secrets, fall into place.  Deeply sensitive and intuitive from birth, I absorbed the crisis-laden atmosphere into which I was born. I see it now. My mother’s deep pain. The profound anxiety of a little girl who did not receive the nurturing she needed and assumed the fault was hers. The shameful secret I have borne since childhood:

I am unlovable.

Seeing this belief at the root of my personality is the biggest insight of all. So this is why I’ve always been so hard on myself!  Guided by the high-minded spirituality of my family, I responded to my unworthiness with self-consciousness, perfectionism and self-blame. I hid my anxiety beneath a smooth persona of stoic calm and poise. I tried to kill strong emotions. I played dead.  X, the shadow animus in my dream who also has a deep mother wound, wants me to maintain this persona. Acting reasonable, calm and cool can be a survival strategy for an insecure child who fears the emotional abandonment of its mother.

At the start of the conference the strain of playing dead was wearing me down. Dream Mother wanted me to know I’ve grown strong enough to deal with my lower chakra realities. So she let the possum out from her hiding place and she let my dream ego have the temper tantrum I was never secure enough to have as a child: “I’m not cleaning up this shit!” I yelled with no trace of a perfectionist persona in sight.

The alchemical detail of electric blue possum excrement suggests spiritual transformation. Am I getting the human thing down? The dream said I knew cleaning up after the possum was my responsibility and I would deal with it. Dream Mother was right. I’m cooking my inner contents in a sturdy golden vessel of writing and dreamwork. And now I have a new shadow to learn to love.

Hi, Little Possum. Welcome to my conscious world. Your mother may not have been able to carry you, but I can. You won’t need to play dead any more.

About the picture: On Monday’s hike I found a stick that looked half-dragon, half-snake. Meaningful symbols are keys to hidden chambers of the unconscious. Dragon represents difficulties that must be overcome before an important goal can be reached; snake is a symbol of transformation. I brought my stick to Maeve’s Tomb on Tuesday to leave as an offering on her special hazel bush. When Fred found a swatch of red (root chakra and Maeve’s color) cloth, I tied it to the dragon-snake’s back with dental floss. The red scarf tied to the trunk below is Monika’s.

You can find Healing the Sacred Divide at this Amazon site or at Larson Publications, Inc.

 

Insights from Ireland: My Associations to the Dream May 17, 2013

opossumNow that I’ve related my dream from the night we arrived at the Jungian conference in Ireland, I’d like to use it to demonstrate how I work on my dreams.

Every year I start a new file on my computer and write out dreams in the order of their arrival, giving each one a number, date, and title. I try to include every detail, image, event, color, plot change, behavior, thought and emotion I can remember.

Next, I go through the actions and symbols and record my personal, cultural, and archetypal associations to them. I also note my dream ego’s emotions throughout the dream.

Finally, I look for connections between the dream and what’s happening in waking life. When I don’t understand something, I jot down questions. Sometimes this is enough to give me a sense of closure. Other times I’m left wanting more. When this happens I might think about the dream for days or even weeks, watching for more insights and adding them to my journal so I won’t forget them.

Following are my associations. Next time I’ll share what I think the dream was saying about my inner and outer life at the time I had it.

  • Fred: My husband. He often appears in my dreams. Sometimes as himself, sometimes as my animus, sometimes both. I associate my positive animus with qualities like self-discipline, ambitious goal-oriented activity, clear logical thinking, and persistence in heroic striving for psycho-spiritual growth. I’m annoyed at him for creating this mess.
  • Interior designer: An aspect of my animus that’s helping my ego re-design the interior of my psyche.
  • House: Me, my psyche, my personality: the place where I’m living now.
  • Golden urn: An alchemical vessel, container for my inner work.
  • Dining Room: A place to take in nourishing food so it can be transformed into useful energy.
  • Filling in holes on the pin board: The pinboard was like a household bulletin board that holds notes, schedules, lists and reminders. Smoothing out my persona, my outer social personality.
  • X doesn’t want me to see what lies beneath the list: X is an intense person I know whose extreme attitudes and behaviors sometimes make me uncomfortable. A shadow aspect of my animus.
  • The other designer arranges antiques into a still life on the right side of the mantel: An aspect of my animus which sees some older parts of me as valuable qualities that should be displayed in a prominent place. He arranges them above the hearth/heart, the center of my body and its chakras, the source of compassion and inner fire. I like many of my older qualities too, and think this is the right place for them. I assume that once they’re arranged they’ll be still and I won’t have to make any more changes. Hah! Joke’s on me!
  • Possum: A primitive, instinctual, and very alive aspect of me that’s been hidden from my ego’s awareness. My ego doesn’t want it messing up my psyche and I don’t want to clean up after it.
  • Excrement: Alchemy’s prima materia: raw, disowned, instincts and emotions.
  • Electric blue zig-zagged lines: Spiritually transforming energy like lightning bolts and electricity.
  • Beautiful patterned carpet: The underlying pattern of life; archetype of the Self; my god-image. I want my spirituality to be clean and pure, not marred with possum excrement (my flawed, human, physical, instinctual self.)
  • I know it’s my job to clean this mess up: Like it or not, I’ve accepted the responsibility to deal with this situation.

Any more thoughts?

 

The Re-Union of Mind and Matter March 8, 2011

The concept of the Kundalini serpent’s transforming evolutionary energy is based on the experiences of countless Spirit Warriors from many religious traditions including Taoism, Hinduism, Sufism, Tibetan Buddhism, and Hermeticism. Although its existence has not been confirmed to the satisfaction of mainstream Western science, (nor has the existence of God, for that matter), it is nonetheless a useful explanation for many otherwise unexplainable and seemingly unrelated phenomena: for example, the effectiveness of acupuncture, the unusual experiences and abilities of some spirit persons, and even the “missing link” that separates primitive hominids from today’s Homo Sapiens.

The intuitive understanding is that evolution in consciousness and spirituality is not solely the result of mental striving, but of cooperative interactions between mental and physical energies. The Kundalini life force, a combination of both, moves through seven chakras (the number varies in different traditions) or invisible focal points in the body which are connected by channels. The invisibility of these entities does not disprove their existence: think of electromagnetic radiation such as radio waves, microwaves, X-rays and gamma rays.

Each chakra represents the confluence of a specific mode of physical and psychological energy. The three lower ones — Earth, Sexual, and Power — govern the basic needs for survival, procreation and will. The upper four — Heart, Communication, Intuition, and Crown — influence more advanced psychological and spiritual activity. The Crown is our connection to sacred Unified Consciousness, and the Heart is the centerpoint, or bridge, which connects and integrates the upper and lower chakras by means of empathy, understanding and compassion.

I’m no expert in these matters but I’ve read that in the majority of people the lower chakras are activated first and the Crown and Heart Chakras are usually the last to be completed. However, in extremely cerebral and spiritually oriented people, it is possible for the upper chakras to be awakened before the lower ones. In either case, no one gets from zero to one hundred in an instant! Evolutionary growth is a slow process, not a quick-fix product.

Thus, someone with a partial Kundalini awakening can acquire great compassion and intuition and still experience difficulty with intimate relationships because of unhealed issues concerning family of origin, sexuality, or power. Another could be a brilliant communicator but out of touch with physical realities like nurturing the body or monitoring what energizes the body and what depletes it.

The point is not literal belief in Kundalini energy and the chakras, but whether or not these symbols give spiritual meaning to personal experience and promote soul-making. Although this is what religions are supposed to do, there came a time when my religion no longer did this for me. But experiencing the reality that “masculine” mind and spirit have no priority over “feminine” physical sensation and emotion was a major breakthrough that got me growing again.

By reuniting our minds and bodies, Serpent Mother returns us to the magical childhood mystery of living in the here and now, but with an important difference.  This time we know the place for the first time and experience appreciation and gratitude for what Jungian analyst Marion Woodman calls “the eroticization of all of life.”

You can find Healing the Sacred Divide at this Amazon link and at Larson Publications, Inc.

 

Snake Symbolism March 1, 2011

 

Snakes fascinate and terrify most of us. Because of this near universal reaction, and because snakes have played such important roles in the mythology of just about every religion, we know they have relevance to the psycho-spiritual life of every human being.

Throughout history the connection between the snake and the feminine principle has been profound and intimate: from Eve to the Serpent Lady of Ashtoreth and Kadesh; from Ishtar, the Babylonian Lady of Vision to the Serpent Goddess of Crete; from Kebhut, the goddess of freshness who played a part in Egyptian funerary ceremonies to the asp that transported Cleopatra to the afterlife; from Greece’s ancient Earth Mother Gaea to the Golden Age’s Queen, Hera, and her step-daughter Athena, goddess of wisdom; from east to west, serpents have always tempted, personified, accompanied, awakened, transformed, and empowered women and goddesses.

A snake is one of the most versatile of all creatures. It can live in the ground or in a tree, in the desert or in the water, but it is primarily considered a chthonic creature, i.e. as pertaining to the earth and the spirits of the underworld. This accounts for its association with the physical death of the body; however, because it periodically sheds its skin and emerges as if reborn, it is also seen as a symbol of transformation and the perpetual capacity for renewal.

Psychologically, because of its phallic form, it is a masculine sexual symbol; yet, at the same time, because of its devouring nature, it also suggests feminine sexuality as well as extremely powerful unconscious feminine energies. In this latter regard, Jung noted that distressing dreams about snakes are symptomatic of anguish over a reactivation of the destructive potential of the unconscious. It is no wonder they are almost universally feared.

Snakes are also associated with divine revelation. Evidence from shrines and oracular sites of the Goddess in Babylon, Sumer, Anatolia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome suggests that sacred serpents were kept and fed by priestesses who were consulted for prophecy. Perhaps it is this association that led Philo of Alexandria to believe that the snake was the most spiritual of animals.

In sum, Cirlot’s A Dictionary of Symbols notes: “If all symbols are really functions and signs of things imbued with energy, then the serpent or snake is, by analogy, symbolic of energy itself — of force pure and simple…” Thus is Hinduism’s Shakti personified as Kundalini, a Sanskrit word meaning “circular power.” It is said the sleeping serpent-goddess is coiled in the pelvis and can be awakened through spiritual exercises, especially yoga. When aroused, she rises up through the spinal chakras until she reaches the head, completely transforming the individual along the way.

Whatever we call this energy, spirit persons from every religion have reported powerful and often very distressing physical and psychological symptoms consistent with this symbolism. Like Indra’s diamond net which intuitively prefigured Jung’s collective unconscious, quantum physics’ holographic universe, and the worldwide internet thousands of years ago, the Kundalini goddess may well be an ancient expression of a scientific reality: to wit, the very painful but ultimately healing transformation of consciousness we see taking place all around us in the world today.

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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