Partnership Between the Lover and Beloved: The Healer November 2, 2012
The archetype that represents the union between the Lover and Beloved is the Healer. Healers are strong enough to address their own pain and the pain of others without trying to ignore it or escape. Their love can be tough. They can confront and forgive others without becoming victims or seeking revenge. They understand the use of love’s energy, conserving their own by not giving too much, and respecting the energy of others by not taking too much.
The love of the Healer is a great and mysterious paradox. One part (we can think of it as the drive for species-preservation) gives out love—a great, powerful surging of caring and compassion—freely and unconditionally. Yet, knowing that the gift can easily be refused, and recognizing the need to protect his or her own energies, the Healer keeps another part (the drive for self-preservation) to her- or himself, remaining unattached to the outcome. Thus the Healer’s heart is open, free-flowing, joyful, and generous at the same time that it is calm, objective, balanced, and detached.
This is not an easy condition to attain. Indeed, it is usually found only in those who have been initiated into their proper relationship with the Self through an experience of suffering for the sake of love and then been healed by it. Because Healers know they are totally loved, they can love totally; having been healed by love, they can heal with love. This is the meaning of the term, “wounded healer.” Their healing can be physical, social, mental, emotional, or spiritual. Or it can be all of these at once.
Authentic Healers do not heal to satisfy their egos or impress others. They do not make elaborate plans to heal, nor do they strain and struggle to make it happen. Their healing is rarely obvious and never flashy. They simply go about their business of being emotionally present to others without worrying about the past moment or planning for the next. Simply by caring and being real, by listening with understanding hearts, forgiving thoughts and generous spirits, by responding to all with interest and compassion, they attract the wounded and bless them gently, subtly, spontaneously, just by being themselves. Authentic Healers heal because they feel. Because they care. Because they love.
When love is the only rule, there is no need for other rules. For instance, Healers are not interested in your religious beliefs as long as you love. They have no need to legislate your sexuality, to confine it to relationships between particular kinds of people who have received certain kinds of sanctions via specified rituals, as long as you never use sex to cause pain. For Authentic Healers, religions and sexual practices are not sources of status or self-esteem, bids for acceptance, ways to escape suffering, or means to acquire power over others. They are simply ways to connect with and express our love: for the Self, for the Other, for the miracle of Life. This love doesn’t come easy. You have to want it with all your heart, ask for it, and be willing to work for it.
When do you withdraw love from yourself and your Beloved? What secret fear and pain prevents you from giving it? What are you prepared to do to become a Healer?
Understanding Archetypes October 30, 2012
After my last post, a reader asked me some questions about the Lover and Beloved archetypes. Before I answer them I want to remind you that the whole concept of archetypes was only introduced to the West about 90 years ago and for everything we think we understand about them, there’s much more we don’t. Here’s what I think right now.
Q: “What is the difference between the Beloved and the true self? Is the Beloved the true self?”
A: As I wrote in my new book, the term Beloved connotes many different things. In your physical life it can mean the person you love above all others and with whom you enjoy sexual intimacy. Psychologically the Beloved is the beautiful, soulful, feeling, emotional, magnetic feminine aspects of our true selves that attract and inspire our masculine ego/Lover to undertake the search for love, pleasure and union. In Christianity it often refers to Jesus, or the Church, the body of Christ which is God’s beloved. Beloved can also be an encompassing term for the soul, or for all the feminine archetypes making up the feminine side of the Self, or it can mean the Self itself: our spiritual essence, the sacred Other with whom we wish to unite, our true self, the Christ within, and so on.
Q: “Is the Lover the one loving and the Beloved the one loved?”
A: Essentially, yes. The Lover is the part of us that pursues love and pleasure, (physical, and spiritual), and the Beloved is the part that receives, accepts and deserves love and pleasure.
A: Either or both can be unawakened, which means that we will have trouble feeling and/or accepting the positive emotions of love and pleasure and will tend to look for them in the wrong places. Until our Lover is awakened—which usually occurs when we have traumatic conflicts or experiences that compel us to acknowledge and work with our honest feelings—he will not have the passion to search for love and awaken our Beloved’s positive and tender feelings. Until he does, she will still be asleep, carrying all our unacknowledged feelings in our unconscious, and we will not have access to them.
Q: “I thought the Shadow carried the unacknowledged feelings.”
A: Our Shadow does include the unacknowledged feelings of the Lover and Beloved, but it also contains unacknowledged qualities other than emotions. Some are mental, like the dogmatic Scholar’s calcified, childlike, one-sided ideas, opinions and attitudes and the immature Wisewoman’s tendency to be too gullible, receptive and permissive; others are a combination of social, mental and behavioral, like the shadow King’s dominating, authoritarian manner.
Many who are fascinated with the psyche have tried to draw clear boundaries around the archetypes. I’ve worked for years to devise a framework that could help me understand myself, and I’m passing on what’s been useful; however, nobody knows for sure how closely our descriptions fit reality. In truth, it’s not possible to fully understand. Archetypes are unconscious patterns that we only become aware of when we project them onto Gods and Goddesses and portray in myths. The most fruitful thing we can do is observe how their energies move in us, then express them in imaginative ways. If naming them helps, good. But if writing, painting or dancing them helps more, even better! Theories can guide, but only personal experiences can heal.
Something to think about: What does your Halloween costume this year say about your archetypal energy? Happy Halloween!
Partnership Between the Lover and Beloved October 23, 2012
Our goal in the emotional domain is to feel and sustain the positive emotions of love and pleasure. This need arises from the instinct for sex. For primitive humans whose struggle for survival must have consumed almost every waking moment, sex was one of the few activities that took them away from the daily grind of work and provided emotional satisfaction, if only briefly. Even today, most people still find it extremely difficult to separate their desire for love and pleasure from their desire to have sex with another human being.
Interestingly, the two parts of the brain responsible for emotions and instincts adjoin one another. The so-called reptilian brain at the top of the spinal cord is the bottommost portion of the brain. This brain stem appears to be the source of our instincts. The limbic system, the portion of the brain that processes emotions, is the next higher level which flares out and over the brain stem.
These two parts appear to have developed very early in our evolution at a time when the primary task of the human species was to survive. The cerebral cortex is a more recent addition. This is a wider, double-hemispheric mass that rises above the brain stem and limbic system. Psychologically, we can say that the two lower parts of the brain contain the most basic and deeply unconscious aspects of our mental functioning and correspond with the unconscious self, or other. Likewise, the cerebral cortex is the realm of conscious selfhood, or ego. Because our emotions and instincts “lie beneath” our conscious awareness, it is extremely difficult for us to understand or deal with them in controlled, rational ways.
The emotional energy of our instinct for sex fuels not only sexual passion but also spiritual passion. The archetypes which represent it are the Lover and the Beloved. One way to see them is as personifications of self and other, our conscious and unconscious emotional lives. From this perspective, the Lover represents our ego’s sense of selfhood and concerns about self-preservation: our desire for self-development, our longing for fulfillment, our passion to become individuated and enlightened.
A strong, heroic Lover feels great passion; a weak one fears and represses emotions, especially tender ones. A brave Lover recognizes his desires and honors his powerful appetite; a deeply wounded one barely allows himself to want anything at all. A mature Lover understands the dangers of excesses and maintains some discipline and self-control; an immature one cannot control his emotional life, develops addictions, or swings from one emotional extreme to the other.
The Beloved can likewise be awake or asleep, strong or weak, brave or cowardly. An immature Beloved is not open, authentic, or intimate with Otherness, including the Great Mystery, other people, our shadows, or our contrasexual opposites of anima or animus. In this unconnected state we project our disowned emotions onto people and activities that we expect to satisfy our deepest emotional needs, and when things go wrong we blame them. But the true culprit in dysfunctional relationships is our fear of opening emotionally to Otherness, both human and divine. It is our ego’s lack of feeling that creates problems with the very people in whom we invest our hope for love and pleasure. The antidote is to know and feel compassion for our rejected selves.
How are you doing in the emotional realm? When do you fail to feel love for yourself?
Please note: Syndicated talk show host Al Cole is airing a radio interview with me about my new book, Healing the Sacred Divide, on his show “People of Distinction.” You can listen in at this link. I hope you enjoy it.