Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

Joy Harjo: Crazy Brave October 22, 2019

“The story matrix is all energy & music. There is a luminosity that connects all of us – everything. Even the worst of us are luminous beings. We are all stories. No such thing as time. We are each other’s stories.” ~Joy Harjo

“Harjo is a magician and a master of the English language.” ~Jonah Raskin, San Francisco Chronicle 

If you’ve been following Matrignosis you know that at the age of ten I had a Big dream about the Lone Ranger, Tonto, and Silver. Years later when I discovered Jungian psychology, I began to understand Tonto’s role in that dream. Now I believe he symbolized my inner shaman, my  instinctual native intelligence that eventually led me to my passions for writing and dreamwork.

Had I not taken that dream and the intense feelings it aroused in me seriously; had I not respected my inner realities and conducted years of inner work to understand them; had I not eventually overcome my fear of putting myself out there in my writing, I would never have tapped into my creative potential, never made the contribution that only I could make.

Every psyche contains a deep well of native intelligence and creative power. We all contain an archetypal guide — Carl Jung called it the Hierophant — who can lead us there. Hierophant is a Greek word for a wise person who brings people into the presence of wholeness and holiness by interpreting universal principles and sacred mysteries. In your psyche your Hierophant equates to a form of metacognition that taps into the specialties of both hemispheres of your brain — logos and mythos — and weaves them together into a bigger, more complete perspective on life than either side alone can imagine.

To awaken your Hierophant and the destiny to which it can lead you, you have to overcome all manner of enemies and obstacles. Some — like fear, lethargy, self-criticism, self-doubt, ignorance, and pride lie within you. Others — poverty, racism, family dysfunction, social pressure to conform, lack of education, and abuse — are forced on you from without. The way to find the whole and holy place within you that is guarded by your dragons is to acquire the courage to face them all full on. You have to be brave. Crazy Brave.

Joy Harjo is a Crazy Brave Hierophant. On June 19, 2019, this internationally known award-winning poet, storyteller, activist, saxophone player, performer, author, and playwright was appointed the 23rd United States Poet Laureate. She is the first Native American to hold this position. Born into the Mvskoke/Creek Nation in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the final destination of the Trail of Tears, she has captured America’s imagination and respect by following her inner shaman past her personal dragons to her creative well.

Listen with your heart to these words from her inaugural reading as U.S. Poet Laureate:

“…when you go into the place of poetry, as a writer or a reader of poetry, you go into that place beyond time, you go into that place beyond words…and you find things there, you find yourself, you can find ancestors, you find out that those stones out there can speak, and the trees have their own language. Now the scientists are coming out with all kinds of books about this, but this is part of our old knowledge.”

Shaman knowledge. Hierophant knowledge.

Harjo’s genius lies in her ability to weave both sides of her whole and holy Self — her soul’s twins — into one creative tapestry that contains the world without and the world within, past and present, soul and spirit, logos and mythos, literal fact and gut instinct, masculine and feminine, bright side and dark shadow.

As the Judges Citation of the 2019 Jackson Prize from the Poetry Society of America declares,

“Harjo’s work speaks not only to the world we live in, but to the unseen world that moves through us, the thread that has connected us all from the start…. Harjo’s poems embody a rich physicality and movement; they begin in the ear and the eye, they go on to live and hum inside the body…. Throughout her luminous and substantial body of work, there is a sense of timelessness, of ongoingness, of history repeating; these are poems that hold us up to the truth and insist we pay attention.”

This crazy brave woman’s ability to hold both worlds together and manifest them in her work has resulted in nine books of poetry, a memoir, five CD’s of music and poetry, a one-woman show, and several plays and children’s books. You can read about her many honors and awards at the links below.

I met Joy Harjo last Thursday night when she and two other artists — multidisciplinary artist, Sook Jin Jo, and composer/performer/producer, Larry Mitchell (who also plays guitar with Joy’s band) — were introduced to local members of the Atlantic Center for the Arts, where they are currently master artists in residency.

My first experience of my Hierophant appeared in the dream of a ten year-old girl who idolized a Hollywood characterization of a fictional Native American tracker named Tonto. But now that I’ve experienced Joy Harjo’s mystical, hauntingly courageous style, in my imaginarium I see her and Tonto, two bold and proud warriors — Mvskoke/Creek and Mohawk — standing together. My personal image of my soul’s twins feels complete.

Enjoy this blessing that opens her book, Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings. I dedicate it to the memory of Cicero Greathouse, my dear crazy brave artist friend who will be deeply missed by all who knew and loved him.

Bless the poets, the workers for justice,

the dancers of ceremony, the singers of heartache

the visionaries, all makers and carriers of fresh

meaning — We will all make it through,

despite politics and wars, despite failures

and misunderstandings. There is only love.

 

Joy Harjo’s website

Joy Harjo named first Native American poet laureate

Joy Harjo Becomes The 1st Native American U.S. Poet Laureate

Joy Harjo Becomes First Native American Writer to Be Named U.S. Poet Laureate 

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. Her new book, The Soul’s Twins, will be launched next year.

 

One More Thanksgiving Gift December 2, 2011

Before I leave Thanksgiving behind for the year and move on to Christmas—oh dear, I’m not sure I’m ready for that yet, although we did pick up a 7 foot tree at Costco last weekend—I have one more thing to share with you.

In the first five years after college I was a school teacher: I taught three years of third grade in a school that served a very rural, impoverished population, a year of pre-K at Florida State University’s parent cooperative nursery school while I got my master’s degree in early childhood education, and a year of fourth grade in a brand new pod-style school in Tallahassee’s first year of integration. Given my idealistic nature, introverted personality and esoteric interests, I found these jobs to be incredibly demanding, exhausting, and just plain hard.  How do teachers do it year after year? My admiration for them is boundless.

Anyway, my experiences during those years left an indelible impression about the crucial importance of a good education in the early years and the extreme difficulty of providing it. Ordinarily I’m a very tolerant person, but one thing I cannot tolerate is the ignorant attitudes of people—too often politicians, by the way—who cannot see beyond their narrow self-interests to face the reality that the future of our world rests on our success or failure to educate our children, all our children, as well as we possibly can.

Example: One of the first priorities of governor Rick Perry of Texas is education. He says the first thing he’d do as president is abolish the Department of Education because he thinks it’s redundant and he wants states to have block grants to use however they want. While this sounds good on the surface, reporter Joy Resmovits notes that in practice it means that without federal regulations, states would have fewer incentives to distribute federal dollars in ways that benefit children with special education needs, the poor, and minority students. These are the children I taught.  I know how desperately they and their families need all the help they can get, and I’m all too aware of the blinders worn by people who want to deny them this basic right. Overhaul the Department of Education? Sure! Abolish it? No way!

America is far behind China and other countries in student performance, yet as Resmovits notes, some people are so caught in the belief that federal government is evil that they want to cut its role in education regardless of the consequences. There are no simple answers to this problem, but really? Isn’t shutting down discourse at the federal level about education a bit extreme? Would it not be a step backwards into our cultural shadow of ignorance and prejudice? Is there no room for partnerships between federal and state governments? I’m not talking about partisan politics here. Many people in Perry’s own party disagree with him. I’m talking about setting aside our personal biases and agendas and instituting effective educational practices from the bottom up that will benefit all children and everyone’s future.

But enough about our shadows. What I really want to do with this post is look at the bright side of education. As I’ve noted before, my grandchildren are very fortunate to attend a truly excellent school that stresses the importance of diversity and puts its money where its values are in a variety of ways. The following video about a very special Thanksgiving celebration for the third-graders is one example. It features the people and customs of the Muscogee tribe of Native Americans. I hope you enjoy it. Oh, and thank you to all the teachers who show up every day and give so much of yourselves to our children. Your legacy will last long after most politicians are forgotten!

 

 

 
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