Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

Reflections on Refuge July 7, 2015

porch1In his magical book, The Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard writes,

“…in the world of inanimate objects, extraordinary significance is attached to nests.  We want them to be perfect, to bear the mark of a very sure instinct.  We ourselves marvel at this instinct, and a nest is generally considered to be one of the marvels of animal life.”

I sit in my rocker grooming Izzy.  She’s unnaturally still. I follow her intense gaze.  A Carolina wren sits on the porch railing, a worm dangling from its beak. It looks left and right, up and down, hops closer.  A flower box is attached halfway up the wall to my left. When we arrived for the summer I was delighted to discover it contained a nest. How did the birds know how to build it? Now the eggs have hatched.

Izzy and I are only a few feet away. I sit very still, willing the parent to reach the nest before we scare it off. Izzy whips her body around hoping the brush in my hand will scratch the itchy space where her tail and back meet. Startled, the wren flies away. I release my breath slowly, regret having alarmed it, feel like an intruder on my own porch, wish the birds weren’t afraid of us. Izzy noses my hand. I brush her obligingly.

Can you see the wren sitting on the chair?

Can you see the wren on the closest chair?

The Smokeys are filled with sources of fresh emotions that remind me of my own instincts. This morning when Fred went out to the porch to enjoy his coffee, a squirrel jumped off the chaise lounge. The yellow wool throw at the end of it was churned into a lumpy mass. Apparently the squirrel had used my cozy wrap for a nest.

It’s been cool and rainy for the past two weeks. When misty drizzles swell into weightier drops the birds desert our feeders. I feel sorry for them, worry about how they’re keeping dry.

Luckily, the wrens’ nest is high and dry under a covered porch. I’m comforted by this when I watch the rain from my rocking chair. Yet, there’s a down side to this location. How were Mama and Papa Wren to know their refuge in this mountain valley is also our nest, and that it would soon be invaded by a four-legged, waggy-tailed, creature as well as some giant two-leggeds?

porch2As living near man-made habitats can be problematic for birds and other wild creatures, so Nature’s sanctuaries can have down sides for humans. On our first walk last summer, Izzy and I were in a narrow space bordered by dense undergrowth when she raced ahead of me past a lethal timber rattler less than 3 feet away. I was both frightened and fascinated, and have avoided that spot ever since. The next day our neighbor came over with his rifle and stalked it. But we never saw it again. Perhaps its instinct for survival compelled it to find a safer haven in a deeper, darker part of the forest. The same instinct makes me wary of such places!

Bachelard writes,

“It is striking that even in our homes, where there is light, our consciousness of well-being should call for comparison with animals in their shelters. An example may be found in the following lines by the painter, Vlaminck, who, when he wrote them, was living quietly in the country:  ‘The well-being I feel, seated in front of my fire, while bad weather rages out-of-doors, is entirely animal.  A rat in its hole, a rabbit in its burrow, cows in the stable, must all feel the same contentment that I feel.’ Thus, well-being takes us back to the primitiveness of the refuge. Physically, the creature endowed with a sense of refuge, huddles up to itself, takes to cover, hides away, lies snug, concealed.”

Refuge at last!

Refuge at last!

When we first arrived, Izzy slept as close to our bed as she could when it stormed outside.  Sometimes her need for concealment was so strong that she’d push herself too far under and get stuck. Meanwhile, I’d be listening to the rain snuggled in a nest of soft pillows and a thick, bunched-up comforter. Our need for refuge was the same. We just expressed it differently.

Our relationships with our instincts are as paradoxical as our relationships with wilderness creatures. We love and indulge them when we’re secure in our safety and comfort. We cage and kill them when we’re not. What animal in us seeks refuge from life’s storms and feels such well-being in our nests? What cringing creature experiences terror when otherness intrudes? What inner observer sees our fear and challenges us to overcome it?

Thank you to my poet friend, Brian Carlin, for recommending Bachelard’s wonderful book.  I can see why you love it.

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.

 

Does Belief in Jungian Psychology Influence Your Dreams? January 14, 2014

dreamtheatres2Over the Christmas holidays Brian Carlin, an internet poet friend whose blog I follow, retreated to an island where he read an e-book form of Dream Theatres of the Soul. Shortly afterwards he published a few poems he called “Dream book 1” and “Dream book 2.”

Delighted to see these poems which were apparently based on his dreams, I responded: “I love it! I’m looking forward to more dream book poetry in the new year and smiling at my ego’s self-indulgent fantasy that my book might have made some sort of contribution to it!”

He replied: “One of those occasions where fantasy IS reality, Jeanie. Your books have lead to some re-assessing of long-held assumptions about myself and my childhood, and, as I said to you before, they read like the words of a friend telling me long-forgotten but known truths. As for reading of dreams I had always read dreams in a simple, wish-fulfillment/fear kind of way. Now you open up the Jungian tool-kit for me and I begin to see them in the full kaleidoscope of mystery they hint at. A naive question for you… as you familiarize yourself with meanings of archetypes etc, do they appear more readily in your dreams? What I suppose I mean is, the more you learn, do your dreams become more Jungian in nature?”

I answered his question but immediately thought of more I wished I’d said. Here it is:

After years of studying thousands of dreams, Jung discovered five principles that have revolutionized modern psychology:

  • Your unconscious self is a very real, powerful and influential part of yourself that influences your waking behavior without your awareness.
  • Your unconscious shows you things you don’t know about yourself by way of your dreams.
  • Your unconscious communicates with a symbolic language of images, metaphors and mythic (archetypal) themes and motifs.
  • This material is about you: your Ego (center of consciousness), Persona (social mask), Shadow (disowned qualities), Animus (unconscious masculine) and Anima (unconscious feminine), and Self (religious function and God-image).
  • The self-knowledge you gain from analyzing your dreams brings you into more balance, health, and wholeness.

Your dreams do change in direct proportion to your study of Jungian psychology. But this does not mean you’re being brainwashed by a theory that may or may not be true or helpful. The fact is, everything you learn and experience is absorbed into your unconscious and some of it is reflected in your dreams.  If you watch violent films, your dreams will incorporate violent images;  if you’re into politics, your dreams will feature political themes and people:  if this material can shed some light on your inner self.

Imagine you were reading a Jungian book about archetypes yesterday and learned about the Wild Woman.  Then last night you dreamed of a strangely fascinating old gypsy woman.  This is more than coincidence. The Wild Woman must be an important factor in your psychological makeup or she wouldn’t have appeared in your dream;  and your ego’s new awareness of this symbol makes this a perfect time for the unconscious to teach you something about her. If you ask yourself what’s happening in your life right now and what your associations are to the old gypsy woman, you’ll find there’s something about her that’s like a part of you.

For example, if you liked her because she reminds you of a woman you admire, the message may be that you’re developing qualities similar to hers.  If she reminds you of a woman you don’t like, the dream could be showing you a disowned part of yourself that occasionally behaves that way. Either way, whether you are a man or a woman, the gypsy represents an aspect of your feminine side.  By acknowledging that she is part of you,  you will have a better chance of recognizing her and altering your behavior in appropriate ways the next time she shows up in your waking life.

The more attention you pay to your dreams, the more growth and healing you experience.  Creative work like recording your associations to symbols,  writing poetry, or drawing helps you communicate with the Self. The Self responds by re-using meaningful symbols and creating new ones that apply to new life situations.  In this way, your ego and Self develop a shared language. Continuing this dialogue on a regular basis is a spiritual practice that not only influences your dreams, but transforms you into a more whole being.

I welcome any other questions.

My books can be found at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Diesel Ebooks and Larson Publications, Inc.

 

 
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