Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

Partnership Between the Scholar and Wisewoman October 19, 2012

In my last post I wrote about the Warrior and Mother archetypes. This time we’ll look at the Scholar and Wisewoman. The instinct for reflection is about the basic human “end” to be released from delusion.  There is something in all of us that wants to know and understand. Children want to see, feel, touch, taste, and smell everything.  As we grow older, if our curiosity is not stifled by too many rules and inhibitions, we want to understand why and how things work. Later still our curiosity about the world extends to the inner universe.  We just naturally feel good about ourselves when we acquire helpful new insights into our behavior because self-knowledge is its own fine reward.

The instinct for reflection is symbolized by the archetypes of Scholar and Wisewoman. The clear, piercing focus of the Scholar is motivated by the drive for self-preservation. He believes the key to our survival and self-fulfillment is the ability to reflect on life, study, acquire knowledge, and learn the secrets that will release us from our delusions. In the mandorla symbol of interlocked circles, our Scholar is the circle representing the left hemisphere of the brain, the logos that primarily processes information with focused consciousness and logical thinking by means of linear, rational, verbal thoughts and ideas. With his preference for clear discrimination and knowledge of objective phenomena, the Scholar’s specialty is the thinking of science and technology.

His archetypal partner, the part of us motivated by the drive for species-preservation, is the Wisewoman, our all-knowing mistress of the hidden arts.  Her specialties are the brain’s poorly understood right-hemisphere qualities of mythos.  The primary functions of mythos are diffuse awareness and analogical thinking. These spawn several ways of knowing: body awareness, spiritual awareness (knowledge of, and connection with, the Other), the ability to synthesize paradoxical messages from diverse sources, and the ability to create meaning from subjective experience, emotions, relationships,  intuition, gnosis, imagination, and symbols.

When the Scholar’s focus, clarity and objectivity are intentionally employed in service to exploring our unconscious depths, the Wisewoman’s intuitive connectedness, self-awareness and openness to otherness are unearthed and activated. Empowering both of these poles of the instinct for reflection strengthens our mindfulness and leads to expanding consciousness. This is a mental state of heightened awareness and receptivity to information coming to us from both the exterior and interior worlds.  Being open to both is the hallmark of partnership in the mental domain. The result of this inner marriage is the activation of the Sage archetype. Other names for this energy include mage, magician, philosopher, prophet/ess, sorcerer/ess, shaman, wizard, medicine woman/man, and wise old woman/man.

This form of archetypal energy can be identified by several specific skills. They include truth-seeker, mental juggler, light-bearer, lifelong learner, wall-wrecker (breaking through our resistance to otherness), chain-breaker (losing old habits and releasing attachments to outcomes), choice-maker, namer (of truth and reality), clown (or life-changing trickster), connector, and problem-solver.

Archetypal psychologist Carol S. Pearson says Sages have little or no need to control or change the world; they just want to understand it.  The Sage’s path is the journey to find out the truth—about ourselves, our world, and the universe.  At its highest levels, it is not simply about finding knowledge, but about becoming wise.  It is our Sage within who, like Wisdom People from every tradition in every age, resonates to the adages, “Know thyself,” “To thine own self be true,” and “That ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”

The more free you feel to seek the truth, regardless of societal consequences, the more mature your Sage will be.  How badly do you want to know the truth? How powerful is your Sage?

Find Healing the Sacred Divide at and


Partnership Between the Warrior and Mother October 16, 2012

Archetypes, a concept introduced to Western psychology by Carl Jung, can be especially problematic. Jung said they are mental images of our physical instincts, but “So what?” people wonder. “What do they have to do with me and my life?”  My answer is, “Everything!” In this and future posts I’ll explain.

In The Masks of God:  Oriental Mythology, Joseph Campbell notes that one of humanity’s four primary goals or “ends” is to attain power and success. We measure this through the things we do with and to our bodies and material objects like money, food, books, houses, weapons, geographical boundaries, natural elements, offices, cars, courtrooms, places of worship.  It makes no difference whether we seek power and success primarily in the universe without or the universe within;  as long as we inhabit physical bodies achieving our goals is directly tied to our interaction with the physical material world.  This is the province of our instinct for activity.

For example, I might see power and success in terms of attaining wholeness and spiritual enlightenment, but even though this is a psycho-spiritual matter I cannot separate it from my physical behavior. I might meditate, write, pray, study scriptures, attend my place of worship, write down my dreams and discuss them with others, take classes in yoga, make a pilgrimage to a holy place, or enter an ashram or nunnery.The Warrior and Mother are the workhorses who embody our instinct for activity. Through their tireless labors, they craft our bodies and souls and effectuate our successful development into our fullest empowerment.

Jaimie Cahlil: “Warrior with a Paintbrush”
(Spiritual Warrior Archetype)

Our Warrior is the motivating force that moves us physically outward into the world, ideologically forward into the future, and spiritually upward toward the heights.  He is a diligent worker and a high flyer with the commitment, determination, and perseverance to enter the world, conquer the dragons, and make our own unique mark, therein fulfilling our destinies.

Jaimie Cahlil: “Loved into Life”
(Mother Archetype – Child Archetype)

The Mother is the motivating force that moves us into the universe within and down to the depths in a determined effort to excavate our core truths and fully experience our realities.  She is an observer, a listener, a digger, an artist, and a befriender of dragons.  She is the one who hears our calling and honors our creative genius.  In her aspect as Earth Mother she is the fully present, fully alive Earth-dweller who appreciates and relates to life’s mysteries, the marvels of nature and matter, especially our own bodies, and the wonder of being alive.

Separately, neither Warrior nor Mother energy is capable of fulfilling us, but when these twins are mature, reflective, and integrated they comprise the Creator archetype. As the Creator awakens we acquire a profound desire to become powerful and successful at creating our soul’s magnum opus: an authentic life in which we claim our destinies.

Archetypal psychologist Carol S. Pearson says in her book Awakening the Heroes Within (p. 171) that when this happens we are as consumed with the need to create a life as artists are with the need to paint, or poets with the need to write.  Just as great painters and poets will be willing to give up money and power and status to create their art, when the Creator is active in our lives, we are pushed to decide to be ourselves, even if it means that we will die unknown, poor, and alone.

Usually, of course, people who empower their authentic selves do not pay this price—indeed many are well known, wealthy, and surrounded with friends and loved ones.But whether it lives in rich or poor, the Creator archetype is a physical reality that empowers us to successfully contribute to healing the world Soul and co-creating the universe. How successful have you been so far in creating and manifesting your individuality?

My newest book, Healing the Sacred Divide, can be purchased at and

Thank you to Mr. Cahlil for allowing me to illustrate this post with his exquisite art!


A Solitary Dance July 24, 2012

Dream #4360:  A Solitary Dance

I’m in a large room that feels like a living room or study in an old house.  Three men around my age are in here with me. They are somehow familiar and it feels comforting that they’re here. They’re doing a slow, solitary dance around the room, each in his own way, in a counter-clockwise circle.  One man passes in front of me wearing a dark gray robe with a sash and a hood or floppy hat.  He’s holding an open manuscript in his hands and seems to be reading it as he glides gracefully by.

He makes a slow turn and I see that he’s extremely stiff. He pulls something out of his robes that looks like a long pen and tucks it vertically behind the sash, as if to brace his spine.  I feel sorry for him and turn to the blonde-haired man on my right to say, “He’s in pain!” but realize he’s looking at the man in gray with compassion and understanding. He knows. So does the silent man I sense behind me.

I wonder why these men are doing this. It’s like a ritual or contest they’ve been involved in for a long time and still feel they must do. Why, especially, does the man in gray keep doing it if it causes him such pain?  How important could this be if he is risking injury?  He approaches the silent man and they confer about their training and strategy for an upcoming event. I am impressed by their dedication and somehow grateful that they intend to pursue their goal, as if their continuing is important to me, will somehow be in my best interest.


Oh, my. I almost didn’t write this snippet down this morning as it seemed so unimportant, but now I find it deeply moving. The clothing of the man in gray (the color I almost always wear to honor the overlap of black and white), the fact that he carries a manuscript, and the pen he uses to brace his spine, all point to my writer animus: my WiseMan/Warrior/Magician/Scholar! The fact that he’s in this slow dance, always moving to the left, counterclockwise, points to committed inner work.

What is so puzzling and unexpected is that he’s obviously in pain, yet he persists as if it hasn’t occurred to him to quit. He will see the dance through no matter the cost. Yes, he is like that. A Warrior, for sure. Oh, how I love him, yet I feel very sad for him too, as if he’s making the utmost sacrifice for his cause. It gives me comfort to know he has faithful companions to give him help and encouragement. Even more comforting is the knowledge they’re doing this for me.

But why this dance? What is their goal? What’s the pain about?  How does this dream pertain to me and where I am now? Tears spill onto my cheeks as I write this. They are my body’s evidence of a bone-deep, abiding pain which my ego usually prefers to ignore. I know the costs of going within, of carrying the burden of a strong sense of responsibility to my cause. It is a lonely way. I sense the misunderstanding and barely disguised boredom, feel the silent criticism and rejection in the shoulder shrugs and exasperated sighs of strangers or casual acquaintances, sometimes even friends. These come with the territory.

But the man in the gray robe does not let this deter him, nor will I. The way of individuation may be a solitary dance, but he and I are not alone.

You can order my new book, Healing the Sacred Divide, at


Meeting the Mistress of the Forest July 10, 2012

Once I read about a horse that lived in the same pasture for over 30 years, eating the same old tired grass, trying to find shade in the noonday heat under the same scrawny tree. After many years of neglect, the fence that separated this pasture from a lush, grassy meadow studded with beautiful leafy trees crumbled and eventually fell. Stepping over the fallen wood would have been a very simple matter for the horse, yet it stood at the border where it had always stood, looking longingly over at the grass as it had always looked.

I feel so sorry for that horse. It had become so accustomed to its old boundaries that it never noticed when they were outworn. I wish someone from the other side had called it over so it could have spent its final years grazing in a greener, fresher, infinitely more satisfying space.

Many of us have felt our spirits quicken through glimpses of something ineffable in the mist beyond normal awareness and longed to pursue it. But habitual assumptions are not easy to overcome. Moreover, the daily demands of life are so compelling that we usually defer our journey into the deeply alluring recesses of the forest until another day.

What are we to do if we do not want to end up like that horse? Luckily we humans have a special someone who beckons to us from beyond our outworn boundaries: she is the wisdom of the Deep Feminine traditionally called Sophia. But to hear her call we need to turn off the constant flow of words and listen with our hearts and bodies.

Her voice is very soft; her call, though compelling, is quiet. She speaks to us in urges, needs, wishes, emotions, feelings, synchronicities, yearnings, physical symptoms, accidents, instincts, nature, meaningful insights, joyful experiences, bursts of unexpected pleasure, creative ideas, images, symbols, dreams: all the things we have learned to ignore so we can perform with utmost efficiency in the rat race of daily life.

The message in her communiques seems so subversive that we have learned to ignore it too. Do not fear the unknown, she says when we are tempted to risk exploring the wilderness of our souls. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Do not be content with the half life that comes from avoiding your fears. Feel your fears, follow your passions, experience your life with all your being. Open yourself and go deeper, for great treasures lie buried in your depths.

Following Sophia does not result in a quick fix, but if we will go boldly and persevere, the mansion doors to the eternal sacred that lies within will open unto us. The inhabitant of that mansion is the Self, our inner Beloved. Made of equal parts masculine and feminine energy, the Self is often symbolized by the King and Queen. Here in the West we project our King onto the distant Sky God and remain relatively ignorant of his feminine partner, Sophia, the Mistress of the Forest who is as close to us as our own breath and blood. Thus do we deny ourselves the opportunity to learn from her wisdom and cross over into her sacred space.

So how, exactly, are we different from that old horse?

How has the Mistress of the Forest been speaking to you lately? What is she saying?


Alice, the Anima, and Anorexia February 21, 2012

I was pondering two questions this morning as we drove to the airport after a long family weekend away: What should I write about for this post? and How should I answer a recent e-mail from an Iranian student? She’s writing a thesis about the anima and animus archetypes in two of Virginia Woolfe’s books and wonders how to approach her task. Should she just look for images represented by the writer or should she study the characters or events as a Jungian analyst would?

When the pilot said we’d reached 10,000 feet, all five grandchildren, plus a few parents and one grandparent, whipped out their “electronic devices.” Having solved the airline magazine’s sudoku on the way up, I whipped out my kindle and settled in to enjoy Adventure in Archetype: Depth Psychology and the Humanities, by Jungian mythologist Mark Greene. And guess what!

You guessed it: Synchronicity was in action once again. Chapter 1 is about how Alice of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland can be seen as a projection of Charles Lutwidge Dodgeson’s (Lewis Carroll’s) anima complex. And Greene approaches this topic like a Jungian analyst! This was my answer for Maryam, the student, and now it is the topic for this post. This is especially fitting since my last post was also about the anima, even though I didn’t identify it as such. (Oh, how I love my job!)

For those who need a reminder, anima is Jung’s term for the unconscious feminine and animus is the unconscious masculine. When Jung was developing these theories privileged European men and women were still under enormous pressure to conform to strict gender stereotypes. Thus, Jung thought bringing the anima into conscious awareness was a task for men (because men had long been taught to repress their feeling function which was associated with women) and integrating the animus was for women (taught to repress their thinking function because intellectual matters were for men). But as role stereotypes began to crumble in the West during the 1960’s and both genders acquired more freedom to express the truths of their souls, it became apparent that this rule no longer held. Thus neo-Jungians (of which I am one) operate under the assumption that both genders contain both archetypes which need to be consciously accepted and integrated.

So I’d like to share a few of Greene’s conclusions here and in my next post, and tie them in with my last post about feminism. In Chapter 1 Greene notes that Alice is very uneasy throughout the story and most of her anxieties are connected with changes in her body and the problems she has whenever she wants to eat. Remember the empty jar of marmalade she seizes when falling down the rabbit hole? How she eats things that make her grow too big or too small? Or gets so frustrated at the Mad Hatter’s tea party? Greene suggests that Alice’s problems can be seen to reflect the state of  Dodgson’s undernourished and frustrated anima. Then Greene concludes with this remarkable statement:”His visceral treatment of the act of eating…may also be foreshadowing from the 19th century some of the contemporary angst surrounding the integration of food, in general, and anorexia and other eating disorders among teenage girls, in particular.”

Here are some questions I’m asking myself: What if repressing the anima is, indeed, the underlying reason for the dramatic increases in diabetes, obesity, anorexia, bulimia, and stress-related health problems? Could there be a connection with breast cancer? Autism? I don’t know, but wouldn’t it be wiser to spend our money educating the general populace to think psychologically than on knee-jerk band-aid solutions? Wouldn’t it be healthier to accept our feminine sides?


How’s Your Religion Working For You? December 9, 2011

As our species grew more aware of itself and its vulnerability in a dangerous world, we noticed we had some uncontrollable emotions, instincts, and behaviors that didn’t jibe with our conscious intentions. Suspecting that some remote, all-powerful forces must have created us and were still influencing us, we told stories about them and devised rituals to gain their favor so they’d protect us and help us thrive.

Our God-images originate in the psyche’s archetypal patterns.  For example, we’re all born with Mother/Queen and Father/King archetypes and every culture has attributed the qualities children associate with their parents to a Great Mother Creatrix and Great Father Creator. While their myths differed from culture to culture, the same characteristics of ultimate power, knowledge and authority always appeared. Likewise, every culture tells stories about Kings and Queens, Warriors and Monsters, Magicians and Wisewomen, Lovers and Beloveds. These show us how we see ourselves, each other, and the mysterious forces of life over which we have no control.

As our forebears acquired more self-awareness their ideas about their deities changed. Religions are still growing and changing. This is to be expected and welcomed, not resisted. A changing God-image does not negate God’s existence. Most of us see our parents very differently from the way we did as children, but this doesn’t mean we invented them, or that we have to keep believing the same things about them we used to, or that we’ve stopped loving them. It just means our perspective has changed with more experience and maturity.

Moreover, since no two individuals are exactly the same, it makes no sense at all to expect everyone to have the same beliefs about God. What is the same, what is archetypal, is that, as Carl Jung realized, we all have a religious instinct, a compulsion to understand ourselves and transcend our destructive unconscious influences so we can be immersed in the great Mystery of Life. Calling the Mystery by different names or denying its existence doesn’t change it. It simply is what it is. As the ancient saying goes, “Called or not called, the God will be present.”

Jung named our religious instinct the Self, or God-image. This central archetype gives rise to all others. Most interesting to me are those which represent our feminine and masculine sides and inspire our ideas about gender. My goal is to differentiate between the gender-associations that are cultural stereotypes versus those which are universally accepted, and therefore archetypes.

Nobody knows the exact nature of the archetypes, but there are many theories based on the clusters of instinctual emotions and behaviors they represent. My system pairs four basic masculine archetypes (King, Warrior, Magician/Scholar, and Lover) with four feminine ones (Queen, Earth Mother, Wisewoman, and Beloved). Every psyche contains all eight and we each express them differently depending on our genetic and cultural inheritance, experiences, and psychological integration. We cannot control them any more than we can control the deities onto which we project them. But we can befriend them, forgive ourselves for being human, and treat others with compassion with the realization that they are struggling as much as we are.

It’s not correct belief, but compassion that makes a genuine spirit person. So how is your religion working for you? Is your caring real or is it a mask you wear in public and take off in private? If you really want to know, take an honest look at your closest relationships. No cheating. Your shadow knows!


Why Vampires? Why Now? November 18, 2011

When an archetype of which we’ve been unaware makes its way into collective consciousness its shadow often emerges first. The more strongly it’s been repressed the more negatively its shadow will express itself. The Androgyne is no exception.  If the healthy Androgyne gives equal respect to the masculine and feminine drives which are the psyche’s two basic forms of life-energy,  the unhealthy Androgyne disowns one or both.

Imagine a man who obsesses over his masculine side and completely represses his feminine side. In his outer life this shows up in rigid role stereotypes and extreme, sometimes violent, prejudice against women. Patriarchal societies still provide plenty of examples of this kind of one-sidedness.

An apt image of the shadow Androgyne entered collective consciousness in the early 18th century with the introduction of the vampire. In those days vampires were almost always macho males who victimized females, but now they have markedly androgynous characteristics. Why? Because we are becoming more aware of the Androgyne archetype and realizing that if healthy Androgynes honor both drives, shadow Androgynes — vampires — kill both.

Life is generated by the interaction between opposites. Without tension between the north and south poles there would be no electromagnetic field and life would not exist on Earth. Likewise, tension between pairs of psychological opposites creates our psyche’s life-energy. If we cannot tolerate this tension and if we take extreme measures to escape it, the result can be addictions which sap our life-energy. Then we are like the living dead, lethargically sucking the energy out of those who love us with deceit, blame, and irresponsible behavior.

During the day vampires sleep in coffins because sunlight will kill them. People with severely repressed life-energy are the same. Failure to develop one or both drives destroys our creativity and hope of enlightenment. Repression leads to depression. In the dark nights of our souls we function as though dead, unable to experience the sunny warmth of meaningful work or the pleasure of living, loving, being.

And a final example: In the novels of Anne Rice the flesh of vampires becomes harder and colder over time. Interestingly, Dr. Alexander Lowen, founder of bioenergetics, says in The Spirituality of the Body that stiffness and rigidity characterize the bodies of people who lack psychological integration.

Why are we so obsessed with vampires? Because our souls know the Androgyne archetype is re-awakening but our egos are having a very tough time accepting it. Why are we experiencing an epidemic of lethargy, depression, hopelessness and meaninglessness? Because our resistance to our inner opposites is wearing us down. Where’s the societal polarization, religious fanaticism, and political mean-spiritedness coming from? Society’s ignorance of its shadow and unconscious need to project it onto others.

Why can’t we get enough of vampires? Because focusing on their flaws takes the heat off us. Because we hope that if we can understand them, maybe we can understand ourselves.


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