Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

Creativity: The X Factor December 9, 2014

The Birth of New Spiritual Life

The Birth of New Spiritual Life

The unconscious is a repository of infinite properties which are unknown to our conscious egos. A recent dream vividly highlights this reality:

Dream #4592.  The Root Cellar: I’m looking through a window into the old root cellar carved from the base of the mountain on our North Carolina property.  The large, light-filled room contains peacefully meditating people.  Where the back wall used to be is a wide lit hallway extending far into the mountain with passageways on either side.  Where the wall to the right of the window used to be is another opening into another generous space of warm light and more meditating people.  Someone tells me that somewhere inside there is a portal to an underground system of rooms underlying the entire property. I’m thrilled and can’t wait to explore it.

After my last post, Five Links to Creativity, was published I realized I had failed to address a crucial source of creativity. This dream which came two nights later, showed me what was missing and inspired this post.

The “me” standing at the window represents my ego. The cave in the mountain represents my inner life which my ego observes. In waking life, the stone root cellar has no window and the entire structure measures maybe 12′ X 12′; but in the dream it’s much larger and filled with light and people.  The areas I can see represent the aspects of my inner life of which my ego is conscious. I am unaware of the left wall, i.e. the parts of my personal unconscious I have yet to “see” into. The dream tells me that my inner work has brought light into many formerly unknown parts of myself. But there’s far more, both in my personal unconscious and the collective unconscious below, about which I know nothing.

The X Factor of creativity is one of these things. Why have I always felt compelled to create?  Why did I draw pictures of horses throughout elementary school, start a novel at the age of ten, write a serial story for the 5th grade monthly newspaper?  Why make my own clothes, keep a diary, write plays and poems throughout Jr. High and High School? Why the college art class and pencil drawn portraits?  Why the urge to write stories and essays in my 20’s and 30’s?  Why the pottery classes? The Christmas card linoleum prints? The hand-made quilts? I have no idea.

There’s an X Factor I can’t explain that may have far more to do with creativity than anything we can know. It’s that unknown component in Mozart that made him a child prodigy who performed throughout Europe at the age of six. Can we credit his creativity to self-knowledge? Certainly not as a child.  What about psychological balance? Not really. In his own words he suffered from “black thoughts” and deep depression, leading some historians to believe he may have had some form of bipolar disorder. He also had periods of hysteria and spells of hectic creativity. Yet he was an innovative genius whose creative daemon expressed itself in some of the most beautiful, violent and sensual music the world has ever known.

Vincent Van Gogh was deeply frustrated by the inactivity and incoherence brought about by his bouts of mental illness including a nervous collapse, an acute psychotic episode, and a hospital diagnosis of generalized delirium.  Yet, during his worst years his daemon expressed itself in some of his best work.

What is this daemon that drives us to create no matter how balanced, turbulent or comfortable our inner or outer lives may be?  The term “daemon” derives from a Greek word meaning “godlike power, fate, god.”  In classical mythology daemons were benevolent nature spirits similar to spirit guides who dispense riches, guidance, protection and good fortune to humans.  It was believed that every individual had its own spirit, daemon, or genius which was the source of their exceptional creativity in certain areas of their lives.

According to the Dictionary of Creativity: Terms, Concepts, Theories & Findings in Creativity Research, “the concept of genius still holds some mystical connotations suggesting inspiration from the supernatural powers, the unconscious or the higher states of consciousness.” And in terms of our psychological development, “The ideology of genius as an exceptional personality possessing some extraordinary qualities assumes that the function of genius is to eliminate alienation (of the self and the world from themselves), and to establish “a higher order in which unity is achieved or restored, and in which humanity is fully realized.”

Psychological alienation and spiritual inspiration can both be components of creativity. Certainly alienation played an important role in mine. Perhaps that’s why I’ve been stressing the psychological aspects:  how the ego’s search for greater consciousness and balance can activate our creativity.

But a few nights ago my dream reminded me of the existence of a vast realm beyond the knowable psyche. To ignore the X Factor of the collective unconscious wherein the spirits dwell is a great mistake. It gives too much credit to the ego and conscious mind and not enough to the Great Mystery of life, our source, essence and reason for Being.

Have you found creative inspiration from your dreams?  How does your daemon manifest?


Image:  The Birth of New Spiritual Life.  A linoleum print I made in the early 70’s. 

Quote:  From Carl Jung Depth Psychology, a web site moderated by Lewis Lafontaine.

Ebook versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.  Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.


Five A’s of Inventive Aging May 20, 2014

The Snail 1953 by Henri Matisse 1869-1954The latest meeting of my writer’s group, The Purple Pros, was rich with splendid conversation about art, poetry, literature and theatre. In my update I mentioned how after 24 years of  passionate—one might almost say obsessive—writing, teaching and speaking, I’ve been in a semi-fallow period since my last book came out. Little green shoots are popping up here and there, but as yet I have no clear direction. Lenny spoke of how various challenges and life changes leave her with little time to work on her long play and the four short ones she wants to start.  What with Margie newly remarried after years of non-stop writing, speaking, and presenting, it quickly became apparent that we had found our theme for the meeting: the transition from our highly productive and creative middle years into the autumns of our lives.

For her writing activity, Margie had synchronistically chosen the same theme.  She told us about visiting the Tate Museum’s exhibition of the cut-out art of Henri Matisse on her honeymoon. Bedridden and wheelchair-bound in the last decade of his life, Matisse was too frail to stand up or hold a brush for long.  So, still driven to create by his daemon—in classical mythology a daemon was a benevolent semi-divine nature spirit who drives humans forward and upward—his new medium became colored paper and his tool, scissors.  Margie shared some questions she’s been pondering since then and suggested we address any that appealed to us.

Two questions interested me: “Why is it important to re-invent myself at this stage of life?” and “What qualities would enable the reinvention of my craft?”  Since crossroads and transitions are common to all at crucial times in our lives, I decided to share my musings here. A thought:  If our daemons drive us to pursue and perfect our passions, our musings/muses infuse them with inspiration and creativity.  After all, my musings on Margie’s incisive questions inspired this new post at a time when I’ve been writing less than usual.

So, “Why is it important to reinvent myself at this stage of life?”  Because I may have completed my previous stage, but I’m not finished for good.  My life is a miraculous gift, a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I’m not ready to sit on the riverbank watching the rest of it flow past. I don’t want to leave without having made all the contributions that my driven daemon, creative muse and unique soul can make. I may not be Henri Matisse or Virginia Woolfe but I am Jean Raffa!

“What qualities would enable the reinvention of my craft?”  Yes, writing is my craft, but so is my life. My ultimate mission is to make of myself and my life a work of art: something beautiful, original and meaningful, something that nourishes the growth not only of my soul but of others.  As I wrote my answer to this question I recognized five qualities that have helped me reinvent myself and will continue to do so:

  1. Attention:  Staying aware of my inner and outer life—what I’m feeling, sensing, intuiting, doing, and finding fulfilling and meaningful—in service to self-knowledge, authenticity and consciousness.
  2. Acceptance:  Releasing my resistance to things I can’t control or change.
  3. Appreciation:  Being grateful for whatever happens inside and outside of me, not just what I consider positive, but also what I’m inclined to view as negative, in the knowledge that every particle of life is valuable, necessary and instructive to my soul.
  4. Assimilation:  Consciously integrating my experiences and perceptions into a growing and changing life stream of creative energy that keeps me moving forward.
  5. Action:  Manifesting my soul’s creativity in my writing, loving and living so that my offerings will make a healing difference.

So far I’ve chosen to be a friend, wife, teacher, mother, Episcopal church-goer, homemaker, carpool driver, community volunteer, television producer, graduate student, college professor, vision quester, dream worker, shadow-tamer, author, workshop leader, social media networker, and music maker. Lately I hear the call to reinvent myself again. I don’t know what choices I’ll make or how they’ll turn out, but then I never did.  What I do know is that my daemon, muse, soul and I intend to keep reinventing our life until this one ends and the next begins.

Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc. Ebook versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and Diesel Ebooks 




The Choice: A Story About a Boy and His Dog July 29, 2011

Dear friends: In the last few months, Joseph Anthony, author of TheWonderChildBlog, has became a treasured new internet friend. Joseph is a gifted writer, blogger, teacher, musician, husband and father whose enormous courage has transformed a difficult past of abuse and addiction into a creative outpouring which celebrates psychological healing and spiritual living. You may have seen his thoughtful comments here and know he published one of my posts, Dragon Lady: Shadow of the Queen, on his own blog.

Joseph and I enjoyed our collaboration so much that we’re doing it again. Today I’m sharing a story he wrote that was inspired by my last post, Another Dog Story. Joseph dedicated his story to me, and I’m dedicating this post to my son, Matt, who raised our golden retriever, Bear, from a puppy and was his primary owner until the last two years of our beloved friend’s life.  Enjoy.

The Choice

The child walked through the fields of light looking for his dog. He hadn’t seen it in what seemed like forever. He began to cry, brushing the tops of the radiant grass as he walked, when suddenly he heard the soft beating of wings and an angel alighted at his side. For a long time they said nothing. She walked with her hands cupped at her belly, looking straight ahead. He swiped a stick around them as they went.

“I miss him,” the boy said.

“He was your daemon,” she said.

“But I thought daemons never left you. That’s what the other angels said.”

“They don’t leave you. But they’re spirits, just like you and me, and so sometimes – well, sometimes when the unexpected happens, they get lost, just like us.”

“The boy was quiet a moment. He knew what she meant by unexpected, for here he was walking the illuminated fields of heaven with an angel. “So Bear’s lost?” He asked.

“In a manner of speaking. But he’s looking for you. And he’ll find you, you can count on that. He’s a clever dog.”

“Do I have to just wait for him to find me? Couldn’t I look for him too?”

“Of course,” said the angel. “In fact, your love for him acts as a beacon. Through the hazy distances of memory and through the corridors of his love for you – he will find you. He will come.”

The angel placed her hand around his shoulder and pulled him closer.”Keep calling him,” she said. “He’s listening. And keep being you – for it is when you are being yourself that your daemon is most attracted to you.”

“Do you suppose he’s upset that I left him?” asked the boy, his voice catching in his throat.

“You must stop thinking about it like that,” the angel answered. “You didn’t leave him. You made a choice. After the accident, when the Great Light asked if you wanted to remain here, you said yes, that’s all.”

“But I should have never said yes. I was being selfish.”

“Selfish?” said the angel in a voice much louder than usual. “So you had the opportunity to stay here, away from the sickness that surrounded your home back there. And you call that selfish?”

“He’s there though. I left him there and you know how daddy treated him.”

“Your daddy is a different man after the accident. Your choice to stay here has changed him. His heart broke in just the perfect way as to let the Light in. He will never mistreat anyone or anything again. He is a new creation. And if you would have gone back, he would still be steeped in his disease, so no more talk of selfish.”

“But what about mother?” said the boy.

“You don’t think she’s been born again watching your father be born again? You don’t think she’s a better person too? Your choice to stay here has changed them both. There’s hope for them now. They are helping thousands of families with their project. Many, many lives will be saved as a result of their choice to build upon your choice.”

“OK, OK,” so I’m not selfish. I still want Bear.”

“Of course,” said the angel.

“I won’t stop calling for him until he finds me,” said the boy.

“Or you find him,” said the angel.

“I’ll keep praying too,” said the boy.

“You are praying,” she said. “With every step and tear and word you are praying; by just being you – living the way you are living here in this world of Light and Use – you are praying. Don’t ever worry about not praying. Everything you do is a prayer, Dear Brave Heart.” And with that there was a rustling of unfurling wings and she was gone.

He stood in the river of white, shining grass and started calling for Bear. He walked all day in bright field calling, calling. Then the angels began singing. He spun around. When the angels sing that song – the welcoming song – there is a new arrival. The last time he heard it his great Aunt Ivy appeared. He began running towards the sound, for when heaven rejoices at a homecoming, the sound is indescribably wonderful. As he ran he forgot about Bear and instead thought about how happy whoever it was would be to have returned home to their dearest love.

When he reached the center of heaven he stopped. He shook his head. He was stunned. The hosts of heaven, the Great Light, and every soul from every part of the celestial world had gathered around something sitting in their midst. It was a black and white shaggy dog.

“Bear!” He shouted. And at the sound of his name, Bear took off running – fairly galloping over the snowy white grass, and he leapt into the boy’s embrace. The boy held Bear, weeping on his neck. Bear panted happily, licking the boy’s face with big, sloppy kisses. His angel appeared before them. She smiled, still singing.

“I didn’t know they did that for animals too,” laughed the boy with his arms still around Bear.

“All souls,” she said. “We sing for all souls.”

“When will I start singing like that?” He asked.

“Now,” she said. “Now that Bear’s with you, you are complete.”

And that’s when he felt his shoulder blades painlessly change their shape. They extended out and up and back, and a certain, splendid heaviness sprouted in two directions. He had wings. He opened and closed them as he stood, keeping his hand on Bear’s head. He smiled at Bear and at the angel, and began laughing.


Kneeling by the side of the road, the police officer put his hand on the side of the big dog’s bleeding head. “He’s gone,” he said. “There was nothing you could do. Don’t blame yourself. It’s dark. Hard to see.”

“He just jumped in the middle of the road,” the teenage girl said, sniffling. “I didn’t see him until it was too late.”

“I understand,” said the policeman. “Are you sure you’re alright?”

“Yes,” she said, looking up at the stars. “Do you hear that?”

“Hear what?” asked the policeman.

“Singing,” she said. “I hear singing.”


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