Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

The Unseen Partner September 6, 2016

51JQhuqU2cL._SY401_BO1,204,203,200_“The time is ripe for the unconscious and conscious dominants to meet each other.  The death of the old dominant is indicated by the fact that the king is about to die.  This corresponds to the fact that the God-image, the collective dominant of the Western psyche, is moribund.  In preparation for its death, it opens up an ancient tomb;  in other words it opens up the unconscious.  This activates the feminine principle, which had been dead and buried in the very same tomb, in the unconscious.  As the tomb is opened, the unconscious is penetrated by consciousness . . . and a revitalization occurs.” ~ Edward Edinger

With this opening quote a beautiful new book, The Unseen Partner: Love & Longing in the Unconscious, prepares the reader for a unique experience of a universal story: the hero’s journey to individuation. Unique, because this personal account shared in a mythical, poetic voice is utterly original and will impact each reader differently. Universal, because beneath the art, poetry, and expertly-crafted prose is the mythic story of Everyman. Two decades in the making and released this Labor Day weekend, Diane Croft’s The Unseen Partner is a most refreshing and artful contribution to the literature on Jungian psychology.  I absolutely loved it!

By midlife, Croft had taken a predictable path to a comfortable life and successful career. Educated at Wittenberg and Harvard Universities, she became a publisher at National Braille Press. And then an unknown force invaded her conscious psyche and set her on a new path. As her press release notes, this force pulled her “into an energy field—the sacred temple at the center of the psyche—” (called the “Self” by Jung), where she captured the poetic voice she heard by means of automatic writing.

Croft explains:

“In the summer of 1996, I fell into an experience of automatic writing.  I was seated at my computer getting ready to compose a budget narrative.  Instead I wrote a few lines of verse that appeared without thinking or intention.  ‘Born in a cataclysm of cosmic violence/the lunar birth of daughter moon.’ And then a second poetry fragment appeared . . . and so it continued for three years, at roughly the same time each morning, until there were more than seven hundred odd verses.  People ask me if I heard voices.  No, I say, I just took dictation. The fingers moved and the words were typed.”

The Unseen Partner is based on 55 of these verses. Each is accompanied by an artful image that symbolizes an aspect of the individuation process. Croft’s commentary on the meaning she gleaned from the poetry and imagery is the third factor that weaves everything together into a remarkable book which is itself a creative work of art.

Here’s an example. This poem titled “Holy Ghost” features the symbolism of “the third.”  The accompanying image and commentary illustrate how these three factors work together.

Who is this three of thee and me

a holy ghost in daylight calling

stirring in my bed this night

cauldron for my troubled soul,

reminding me again and again

of the living power it holds

over my dominion.

Croft’s commentary:

Unknown“Since I was baptized Lutheran, the image of the Holy Ghost was not foreign to me, though I understood nothing of its meaning.  Since I now believe this collection is about the relationship between my conscious ego and the larger archetypal Self, then I can only say that that relationship involves a third.  Who is this three of thee and me?  In Mythology of the Soul, Baynes writes, ‘The number three is specifically associated with the creative process. . . . Every function of energy in nature has, indeed, the form of a pair of opposites, united by a third factor, their product.’ Jung identified “the third” as one of the stages of individuation: ‘The advance to the third stage means something like the recognition of the unconscious, if not actual subordination to it. . . .’  So, as I understand it, stage one equals the original state of wholeness (the pre-conscious totality), stage two represents separation and the emergence of opposites (ego consciousness), and stage three would be the union of the opposites through the agency of the Holy Ghost, now contained within the human vessel.”

This was particularly resonant to me. I don’t remember ever reading this quote by Jung before, but in Healing the Sacred Divide (2012), I used the symbolism of “the third” to illustrate the three epochs of the development of consciousness. Each of my epochs corresponds with Croft’s description of the stages of individuation. This synchronicity comes as no real surprise, for “the third,” like all the symbols treated in this marvelous book, represents an archetypal pattern residing in every psyche. Nonetheless, I had so many delicious “Aha” moments in reading it that the overall experience took on the flavor of meditating on, and with, a sacred unseen partner.

As Rumi warned, (and as Croft writes in the last line of her epilogue), “‘Don’t go back to sleep.’ Wake up and dip your cup into the living waters.”  I could not recommend The Unseen Partner more highly, and I’ll be returning to it again and again, for in it I recognize a reliable companion and guide to the living waters within me.

The Unseen Partner can be found at Amazon

Image Credits:  Book cover, Amazon.  “Friendship,” 1907, Mikalojus Konstantinos Ciurlionis, Lithuania, Wikimedia Commons.

Jean’s newest book, Healing the Sacred Divide, can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc. Ebook versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are also at Amazon as well as KoboBarnes And Noble, and Smashwords.

 

 

What Principles Do You Live By? February 2, 2016

Unknown-1This past weekend I attended a symposium featuring the internationally renowned poet, David Whyte. As the subtle beauty of his words and images—and even more, the silence behind them—washed through me, an intense inner resonance asked to be heard. “This is a fellow traveler,” it said. “Pay attention,” it said.  “You can learn from this one,” it said.

He told stories, he recited poems, and over and over the same three threads ran through.  One was “the conversational nature of reality.”  This reminded me of an observation from the American Buddhist, Jack Kornfield,

“All of spiritual practice is a matter of relationship:  to ourselves, to others, to life’s situations…Whether we like it or not, we are always in relationship, always interconnected.” ~Jack Kornfield

David Whyte would no doubt add, “…always having a conversation.” Everything we see, hear, touch, taste, smell, think or feel initiates a relationship, a conversation with otherness. Otherness that sparks our imagination.  Otherness that provides clues, if we’re observant, to who we really are.  Our ongoing conversations—sometimes between ourself and another, sometimes between Inner Ego and Inner Other—motivate us to reflect, form questions, discover new insights, and ultimately, act on what we know to be true.

Which brings me to a second thread that colors his poems:  the importance of asking “beautiful questions.” Again, not just of other people, but of all hidden otherness everywhere. For example, while sharing a story about the thoughts and feelings that an ancient stone carving of a woman’s face evoked, he said, “We stand on the threshold of what has not yet occurred…a possible future.  What is the invitation?” What is the invitation of this joy? These tears? That yearning?

A question like this invites us to take a new step, in a new direction, to a newer, truer reality.  Toward my growth. My truth. My reality. Toward the life I was born to live.

A third thread binds the others into the artful fabric of a life:  “Beauty is the harvest of presence.” It’s true. The seeds of our beauty are sown with our presence.  The bud of our beauty opens petal by petal as we practice presence moment by moment, day by day, year by year.

 “Start close in.  Don’t take a second or third step.  Start with the first thing close in, the step you don’t want to take. Take a small step you can call your own. Start with your own question.” ~David Whyte

If we’re not listening to the Other right now there will be no conversations worth having. If we’re unaware of standing on the threshold of what has not yet occurred, of a possible future, we will never ask the beautiful question, “What would it mean for me to be the ancestor of my future self?” If we don’t stay present long enough to see and take the step we don’t want to take, the fabric of our lives will never flower into a work of art.

Inspired by the beautiful poem that is David Whyte, I have a beautiful question for you: “What threads run through your life?” Or as my friend Rachelle Mayers, a gifted videographer and media consultant, asked me three months ago:  “What principles do you live by?”

Here was my response:

 

Image Credit:  Pinterest, unknown.

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.

 

Birth of a Poet? November 5, 2014

SearchingforHummingbirdsI’ve been feeling a bit estranged from myself for awhile.  This might seem odd coming from one who’s made a profession of self-discovery. Yet, the fact is that since my last book came out, I’ve been beset by a restless discomfort and confounding dreams.

A part of me is not surprised.  I can’t count the times I’ve undergone similar transitions after leaving an outworn psychological house behind. And I know I’ll experience more as long as I’m alive and growing. But another part of me expected this move to be shorter and easier.  Shouldn’t I be getting better at adjusting to change?

Actually, I am getting better.  I trust the processes of my psyche. I know my yearning for closure comes from an impatient ego longing for an end to the questions:  What’s going on with me?  What next?  And I know closure will come when I’ve stayed present with the questions for as long as it takes.

Nonetheless, to give my unconscious a little nudge, last year during a ritual at Maeve’s tomb on the summit of a limestone hill in Ireland I asked the Celtic Queen of the fairies for a clearer understanding of the recurring symbolism of excrement in my dreams.  Then last month in Greece, after a year of numerous dreams featuring the color orange, new babies, and feelings of being helpless and overwhelmed, I asked the Oracle at Delphi for direction in my life and writing.

So yesterday morning I wrote what may be my first real poem!

I’ve tried poetry off and on for years, but even the published few wouldn’t get air time on Amateur Hour.  This is not false humility but an honest assessment of my limitations. I’m wordy. I tend to ramble. I have lacked a proper appreciation for subtlety; a true understanding of the power of imagery;  and the patience to condense wimpy words and loose thoughts into a coherent idea with emotional impact.

This summer I received a book of poetry titled “Searching for Hummingbirds” from Betsy Holleman. I met her years ago at a writing conference led by novelist Rosellen Brown and poetess Dorianne Laux.  I hadn’t written any poems since the conference, but Betsy’s book inspired me to write a memorial poem for my mother.  I’m not happy with the result, but the process filled several enormously pleasurable hours.

SkinfulofDustI think that’s what motivated me to order “A Skinful of Dust” by Brian Carlin, an award-winning poet from Glasgow.  We’ve followed and commented on each other’s blog posts for a few years and often find inspiration in each others’ writing.  His book is a treasury of sturdy words and startling images that sparked a deeper resonance with poetry than I’ve ever felt before. And a book he recommended, Gaston Bachelard’s “The Poetics of Space,” is opening my mind to creative depths I never knew existed.

Then yesterday morning I was blown away by the latest post from poet/artist Steven McCabe.  His post “Autumn Morning,” is based on a poem by Pablo Neruda and complemented with original art and a vintage-looking video. It evoked such an unusually rich reverie that I set aside my morning Sudoku ritual to write a poem about it.

I’m not prepared to share it here yet.  The poem is too fresh, my emotions are too raw, and my baby is too vulnerable for mass exposure.  But I feel like I’m standing at the threshold of an exciting new adventure in creativity and I wanted to celebrate with you.

Ebook versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes 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.

 

Insights from Ireland: Following the Call to the Deep Heart’s Core May 3, 2013

View from a cave of Kesh

View from a cave of Kesh

With my 70th birthday coming up this year I’d been giving some thought to how I wanted to celebrate. Top on my list was to be with my family, but might there also be something a little unusual and special?

I was still considering possibilities this winter when I received an e-mail catalogue from the New York Center for Jungian Studies about their annual spring conferences in Ireland. Each lasts a week, takes place in a different location, and has a different theme. When I came to the third and last one, my heart quickened. “Jung, Yeats & the Creative Imagination” would take place during April 21 – 27. My birthday week.  As if this weren’t enough, one of the presenters was Jungian analyst Monika Wikman!

If you follow my blog you know I think very highly of Monika and her book, Pregnant Darkness.  And I’ve written posts about creative imagination. Moreover, although I’d never read the poetry of William Butler Yeats, several people have recommended it to me. One was the founder of Innisfree Press, the publisher  of my book, Dream Theatres of the Soul: Empowering the Feminine through Jungian Dream Work.” Innisfree’s motto was “A call to the deep heart’s core,” the last line of one of Yeats’ most beloved poems, “The Lake Isle of Innisfree.”

I felt the call. So with the full support of my husband—who, although not a lover of Jung or poetry, is a lover of travel and me—we signed up.  We have just returned and it was all I’d hoped for and much more. Since my way of processing experience is to write about it, I’d like to share a few of my thoughts in upcoming posts. I hope some will be meaningful to you.

Our group of 35 people checked into our lodge in rural County Sligo on Sunday afternoon. On Monday, the day before my birthday, we climbed up a steeeeep, hill to the Caves of Kesh. As the bird flies, it wasn’t that high or far, but as the human walks, this was no piece of birthday cake. There was no trail, so we each had to find our own way.

Survivors of the climb

Survivors of the climb

The first part of the hike featured a grove of scrubby trees, a locked gate that had to be scaled, thick black mud, and prickly undergrowth like heather and stinging nettle which we occasionally had to grab to keep from sliding and falling. Some fell anyway.  The next phase was up a deceptively innocent-looking pasture dotted with more quagmires, slippery grass, and a plethora of sheep poop, some of which ended up under our fingernails when grabbing grass was the only way to maintain balance. By the way, as you will learn in an upcoming post, poop steadily gained in importance that week until it became a defining symbol for the entire conference!

In Celtic mythology the Caves of Kesh were hiding places for two lovers pursued by an angry King/husband. But it was the climb that held significance for me. Not only have I had many dreams of ascending steep stairs only to find the way blocked at the top, but as a soon-to-be-70 elderwoman, I was on a mission to shatter stereotypes about aging and gray-haired women. Determined to prove to myself and all present that 70 is not synonymous with doddering, I kept going. As it turned out, Fred and I were two of only 14 people who enjoyed the stunning view from inside the caves. I’m proud of us!

So here are a few things I’ve been thinking about my visit to Ireland last week:

  • 70 is a number, not an excuse to forego adventure.
  • Inheriting healthy genes is not within my range of choices, but staying open, listening to myself, accepting challenges and doing my best are.
  • Most successes are the result of sheer determination and perseverance.
  • When viewed through the lens of creative imagination, everything—even the names of islands and publishing houses, climbing, caves, stinging nettle, mud and poop—has symbolic meaning for our soul’s journey.
  • No matter how difficult the climb may be, following the heart’s call is worth it.

You can find Healing the Sacred Divide at Amazon or Larson Publications, Inc.

Note:  I’ve just seen the ad that’s been placed on this post and I want you to know I have nothing to do with it and can’t figure out how to take it off. I apologize.  Please know it’s not authorized by me.

 

 
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