Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

A Dialogue with the Self August 2, 2016

serpentine_fire_81Carl Jung said the Self is both our core and our circumference. Some think of it as our soul, the totality of who we are and who we have the potential to become. Jung called it the archetype of wholeness. In later years he referred to it as our god-image and connection to the Mystery some call God. Composed of the twin drives for self-preservation (i.e. masculine logos, represented in alchemy by the King archetype) and species preservation (feminine mythos/eros symbolized by the Queen), the Self shapes our ideas about what is sacred.

As the source of our irresistible compulsion to grow into our true selves and express our unique creativity, the Self is an ongoing, never-ending process.  I see it as the psychological equivalent of the physical exchange of energy and information constantly occurring at the quantum level between the molecules of our bodies and between us and our environments. As I understand Jung, he suspected that the energies of both processes, inner and outer, are united in one intelligent, purposeful, evolving collective unconscious, Force (as George Lucas named it), or Zero Point Field (as some physicists now call it), which promotes increasing order, health, and wholeness.

We associate the Self with six attributes: wholeness, centrality, unity, love, pattern, and the life-giving force. We grow conscious of its guidance by noticing these themes in the symbols and synchronistic events of our dreams and waking life.  Benevolent by nature, the Self calls our egos to their heroic destiny of merging with the indwelling Mystery. Our egos often reject its guidance, but it never gives up on us. The more we notice and respond to it, the more it responds to us.

The following story from one of my earliest blog posts illustrates the loving interaction that can take place between ego and Self:

I’ve just arrived at my soul’s home in the mountains of North Carolina where I will spend the remainder of the summer. I’ve often wondered why I love this place so dearly, why it makes me feel so loved and connected and alive and grateful for my life. My answer came last night and this morning.

spider-web-with-dew11I’m at my desk looking out an east-facing window. The morning sun enters my backyard late because it has to rise above the mountain before its rays filter down through a thick tree canopy. Most of what I see is in shade but a patch of sun has highlighted the brilliant silver threads of a spider web between two branches of a buckeye tree. Grandmother Spider is busily checking connections, tightening threads, and hunting for tasty morsels that got trapped during the night.

Pursuing the threads of last night’s thoughts, this morning I picked up Aion, Volume 9, ii, of Jung’s Collected Works, in search of symbols of the Self. In paragraph #356 he writes:

“The commonest of these images in modern dreams are, in my experience, the elephant, horse, bull, bear, white and black birds, fishes, and snakes. Occasionally one comes across tortoises, snails, spiders, and beetles. The principal plant symbols are the flower and the tree. Of all the inorganic products, the commonest are the mountain and lake.”

Spiders. Mountains. Trees.

When I entered the gravel road last night my arrival was heralded by a cawing black crow who flapped off toward the house. The first thing I did was feed the rainbow trout in our pond. Black birds. Fish. Lake. (Do you think a pond counts?)

Then I walked around the garden to check out the flowers. My treasured peonies are already spent, but the pink New Dawn roses and purple clematis are a-riot on the trellis, the hydrangeas look like giant blue and white powder puffs, the hostas are sending up tall bud-laden spikes, the astilbe have myriad pointed white cotton candy tufts, the golden daylilies are in full bloom, and there’s a  mound of pink petunias by the kitchen door. I don’t garden in Florida. It’s just too hot. But here I can have my flowers. Flowers.

Below Bear Pond and Shadow Brook there’s a small pasture and stable where my horse, Shadow, used to spend his summers. I’ve always had a thing for horses. And Shadow, well, he’s a subject for another post. Horses. By the way, bears are the theme of this mountain home.  They’re all over the house.  But that’s another story too. Bears.

bear-grandfather-mtn-tim-floyd-7796081Speaking of bears, every summer for ten years I’ve come here with my sweet friend, a handsome golden retriever whose name was Bear. He passed on last August, but his ashes are in a white box with a label that says “Bear Raffa:  Forever Faithful” in a cabinet four feet to the right of where I sit. I cried when I entered the house without him last night. But this morning when I was still in that borderland between sleeping and waking, I heard his joyous booming bark. Twice. He’s glad I’m back. I’m glad I’m back.

Do I need any further reminders of how loved I am and why I love this place so? Not really, but such is the nature of the Self that I’ll probably continue to get them every day anyway. And night, too. Sweet dreams of the Self, my friends.

 

The Idea of Love February 14, 2012

As I write this I’ve just finished unwrapping, trimming, and arranging the three dozen red roses I received from my husband for Valentine’s Day. This set me to musing about love. As is my habit, I immediately went for the symbolism of flowers and recalled a comment my internet friend, William Horden, made in response to an early post. I had written that my goal in writing this blog is to raise psychological and spiritual consciousness and here’s what he said:

“For the ancients of Mexico, the height of their Lifeway was expressed in the philosophy called ‘Flower-And-Song.’ By ‘Flower’ they meant the ability to perceive that everything is perfect as a flower, yet passing before our eyes. This boils down to grasping the emotional reality that everything I know and love is both perfect as it is and already dying. To be a warrior meant the ability to hold these two profound emotions in the heart-mind at the same time. By ‘Song’ they meant that the only types of self-expression that really matter are those that give expression to the subjective experience of the ‘Flower.’ It’s so nice to see a modern-day practitioner of the ancient art of ‘Flower And Song!’

I love that image and have never forgotten it because it’s a perfect description of the way I try to live my life. So here I was, remembering this inspiring concept while I was standing at the kitchen sink, mechanically trimming and arranging these gorgeous flowers without paying the slightest bit of attention to where I was, what I was doing, or how I was feeling!

Was I savoring my subjective experience in that moment?  Was I handling each rose with loving attention? Was I fully appreciating the fact that neither these flowers nor moments like this — perfect moments when I’ve just received a gift of flowers from my lover, when my body is strong and healthy and free of pain, when I have the strength in my legs to stand at the sink, the flexibility in my hands to hold the roses and trim their stems, the sensitivity in my skin to enjoy the cool water running from the tap, and the ability to see and touch the sturdy green stems and velvety petals — will last forever?

I wish! But no. I was off in some mental la-la land enjoying an abstract theory. I hadn’t even stopped thinking long enough to smell the roses! I was as far as one can get from being what William had said I was: a modern-day practitioner of the ancient art of ‘Flower And Song.’

I have to tell you, that’s annoying! And embarrassing. Especially for an idealistic perfectionist like me who wants to practice what she preaches. I was making the exact same mistake as every misguided seeker who has ever gone before me:  I was worshiping the words and ideas of the scriptures while ignoring the physical reality to which they point.

I truly appreciate the idea of love. Everything in me aspires to loving myself and others and every moment of my life with all my mind and heart. But here’s the thing. Mostly I still love ideas more than realities. Because, let’s face it, practicing the art of seeing and loving the fleeting perfection in everything and everyone is hard!  It’s a whole lot easier to escape into fantasies that have nothing to do with the way I actually live my life.

Happy Valentine’s Day everybody. On this day at least, I plan to practice more appreciating and less wishful thinking.

 

 
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