Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

Seeing Through the Mist August 25, 2015

I spent the first half of my life in a mist, blind to all that is truly sacred. A spiritual seeker from the age of 17, I had plenty of ideas about what was sacred, but they came from other people. Only very rarely did I actually experience the sacred for myself. Then I discovered the symbolic meaning in dreams and myths.

Myths are cultural expressions of humanity’s relationship to the gods. While not necessarily literally true on the outside, myths are always true on the inside because they address the truths of the soul. Dreams are personal myths. Imaginatively exploring the symbols and themes of our dreams to gain insights into our personal issues, then seeing how they are addressed and resolved in cultural myths, can help us grow our spirits and recover our souls.

In A History of God, former nun Karen Armstrong says, “The only way we can conceive of God, who remains imperceptible to the senses and to logical proof, is by means of symbols, which it is the chief function of the imaginative mind to interpret.” And in The Holy Longing, Jungian analyst Connie Zweig writes, “In effect, the life of the imagination is the spiritual life.”

Three months after I began to practice regular dreamwork I was staying at the beach when I had dream #46. I called it “Temple in the Wilderness.”

I walk through woods on a path cut through the earth. I’m seeking a stream I know to be at the bottom end of the path. I find it where it spills into the sea and follow it to a mist-shrouded garden. In it are ruins of a Greek temple; one column remains upright. In awe, I kneel to examine some creamy-white flowers. Near the bottom of the plant is a pyramid-shaped arrangement of four glowing, waxy white horses facing the four directions. Surrounding them are blossoms so beautiful I can hardly take them in. A puppy named Prince playfully grabs my hand, inviting me to follow him. A young woman asks his name and is pleased to hear it. Two other people bring food for the puppy. After seeing a couple walking hand-in-hand through the distant mist I awaken.

This dream fascinated me so I worked through the plot by exploring my associations for the symbols: path, woods, stream, sea, garden, Greek temple, column, mist, kneeling, white flowers, glowing horses, the four directions, the puppy Prince who wants to guide me somewhere, the people who feed him, and the couple walking through the mist.  Then I explored cultural and archetypal associations for the symbols I wanted more information about.

The final result was a mythical narrative with an underlying theme of compassion and love. Deeply moved, I felt as if a cold, hard place in my heart was softening, melting down, and warming up.

The body remembers. To honor this feeling so I would never forget it I made a ritual that morning of walking down to the beach with an ice cube in my hand. Kneeling in the sand, I held it in the warm salty water until it melted.

After that I deepened my study of symbolism and myths. Two years later I redesigned my dining room to remind me of the misty temple in the woods, resigned from my job, and began writing a manuscript which became The Bridge to Wholeness. That first book about the inner life opens with an original myth that is a metaphor for my spiritual journey.

As author and spirit warrior William Horden has said, “to those of us attuned to the one psyche, no one can fool us into thinking we are just indulging in our ‘imagination’. We have had a taste of the ever-new bubbling fountain of creation…from that point on, for the intoxicated soul thirsty for more of the gods’ nectar, there is only the creative act…the ‘making’ that reveals the artist within each of us.”

This is holy work. With each creative act we make to honor the truths bubbling up from our source, we re-myth our lives and enter the sacred realm that has always awaited us beyond the mist.

Image credit:  Google Free Images

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.

 

On Interrelatedness: No Beginning, No End March 21, 2014

Shrivatsa

Shrivatsa

Yesterday I met with my writer’s group, The Purple Pros, at the Barnes and Noble Café.   As is our custom in this group which has met for over twenty years, one of us brings a meditative reading;  another brings a topic we write about for five minutes.  Despite the fact that these activities are randomly chosen, their themes are almost always remarkably similar, if not identical.  Moreover, the same themes inevitably crop up again during our touch-in ritual. We never fail to be awed by the mystery of this synchronicity.

It happened again yesterday.  Margie lost her beloved husband several years ago. To the great joy of those who love her, she’s found love again and will soon marry a wonderful man.  To celebrate this happy occasion, I light a small candle in a sparkly gold container and read a blessing from John O’Donohue titled “For a New Beginning.”  Margie tears up as I read.  Afterwards she tells us of a synchronicity that makes this blessing especially meaningful.

Since I’ll be out of the country the day of her wedding, and since she and her fiancé are both patrons of the arts, I give her a carved wooden Endless Knot that was hand-painted by the young students at an art school we support in Bhutan, a country whose economic development is based on “gross national happiness.” I bought it there several years ago.  The tears continue to roll down her cheeks as she tells us the paint is the exact colors of her wedding!  Enclosed is this description: “In the endless knot all the lines are interrelated to each other and the knot has no beginning and no end. It symbolizes the infinite knowledge and love of Buddha to all sentient beings.  It is good to give as gift to your dear ones as an expression of your eternal love and compassion.”

Lenny’s writing assignment is to write a scene that depicts happiness that is meaningful and true to us.  Here we go again. First we celebrated Margie’s upcoming marriage ritual which is all about love and happiness; then I give her a gift from a country whose official goal is to promote happiness; now we are to write about what brings us happiness.  Usually I need time to think before I start writing; occasionally I never even get started.  This time my scene arrives immediately and fully formed. I can’t write fast enough. Only after I’m finished do I connect all the dots:  it’s about the interconnection between happiness and ritual, relationship, meaning and love.

This is what I wrote. It makes me happy just to think about it!

My granddaughters are excited about tonight’s sleepover.  They ring the doorbell then run and hide, a ritual they started in early childhood and still enjoy. I loudly lament their absence until they race from their hiding places and give me hugs and kisses.

After depositing their backpacks their first stop is my bedroom.  Sophia sorts through the makeup in my vanity drawer and picks out something to take home while Alex tries on my shoes. When she falls in love with an old pair that fit perfectly, I give them to her.

Dinner is delivery pizza consumed over a favorite video.  Dessert is freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, still warm.

The rituals continue at bedtime.  They bathe in the spa tub with bubble bath crystals and fragrant lotions. Sophia pulls the pillow cases off her favorite Swedish foam pillow. Alex asks for her glass of water.

I tuck them in and kiss them goodnight then sit at my desk on the balcony outside the same room their mother once occupied, my presence a reassurance they still crave.  Their door swings open and Sophia comes to me clutching the large furry rabbit hand-puppet I brought her from a trip to the Grand Canyon a few years ago.

“You forgot to say goodnight to Snuggle Bunny!” she says with questioning eyes as she tentatively holds out her beloved bedtime friend.  Will I still want to enact a ritual that means so much to her?  I receive Snuggle Bunny with infinite tenderness. As my fingers animate her head and arms in gestures of shy love, we three murmur our goodnights.

Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, IncEbook versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and Diesel Ebooks 

Image Source = Wikipedia:  Zeskanowana praca ręcznie wykonanej kopia ogólnie dostępnej grafiki

 

Seeing Through the Mist July 6, 2012

I spent the first half of my life in a mist, blind to all that is sacred. A spiritual seeker from the age of 17, my ideas about what was sacred came from other people. Only very rarely did I actually experience the sacred. But then I discovered the symbolic meaning in dreams and myths. Myths are cultural expressions of humanity’s relationship to the gods. While not necessarily true on the outside, myths are always true on the inside because they address the truths of the soul. Dreams are personal myths. Allowing ourselves to be led by mythos thinking helps us grow our spirits and recover our souls.

In A History of God, former nun Karen Armstrong says, “The only way we can conceive of God, who remains imperceptible to the senses and to logical proof, is by means of symbols, which it is the chief function of the imaginative mind to interpret.” And in The Holy Longing, Jungian analyst Connie Zweig writes, “In effect, the life of the imagination is the spiritual life.”

Three months after I began to practice dreamwork I was staying at the beach when I had dream #46. I called it “Temple in the Wilderness.”

I walk through woods on a path cut through the earth. I’m seeking a stream I know to be at the bottom. I find it where it spills into the sea and follow it to a mist-shrouded garden. In it are ruins of a Greek temple; one column remains upright. In awe, I kneel to examine some creamy-white flowers. Near the bottom of the plant is a pyramid-shaped arrangement of four glowing, waxy white horses facing the four directions. Surrounding them are blossoms so beautiful I can hardly take them in. A puppy named Prince playfully grabs my hand, inviting me to follow him. A young woman asks his name and is pleased to hear it. Two other people bring food for the puppy. After seeing a couple walking hand-in-hand through the distant mist I awaken.

I found this dream profoundly moving, which is how I knew it was important. I won’t go into my associations for the symbols of path, woods, stream, sea, garden, Greek temple, column, mist, kneeling, white flowers, glowing horses, the four directions, the puppy Prince who wants to guide me, the people who feed him, or the couple walking through the mist. But when I awoke I felt as if a cold, hard place in my heart was softening, melting down, and warming up.

The body remembers. To honor this feeling so I would never forget it I made a ritual that morning of walking down to the beach with an ice cube in my hand. Kneeling in the sand, I held it in the warm salty water until it melted. After that I deepened my study of symbolism and myths. Two years later I redesigned my dining room to remind me of the misty temple in the woods and began working on a manuscript which became The Bridge to Wholeness. That first book about the inner life opens with an original myth that is a metaphor for my spiritual journey.

As author and spirit warrior William Horden has said, “to those of us attuned to the one psyche, no one can fool us into thinking we are just indulging in our ‘imagination’. We have had a taste of the ever-new bubbling fountain of creation…from that point on, for the intoxicated soul thirsty for more of the gods’ nectar, there is only the creative act…the ‘making’ that reveals the artist within each of us.”

With each imaginative, creative act we make to honor the truths bubbling up from our source we re-myth our lives. To live our own myth is the authentic, soul-satisfying sacredness awaiting us beyond the mist.

 

Flowering Feeling May 18, 2010

When I dreamed about the “Temple In the Wilderness” I was puzzled by my dream ego’s fascination with the beautiful waxy white flowers. I loved flowers, but in those days I saw nothing particularly meaningful about them. I do now. Here’s why.

In response to my second post, Dream Along With Me, William Horden wrote, “For the ancients of Mexico, the height of their Lifeway was expressed in the philosophy called ‘Flower-And-Song.’ By ‘Flower’ they meant the ability to perceive that everything is perfect as a flower, yet passing before our eyes. This boils down to grasping the emotional reality that everything I know and love is both perfect as it is and already dying. To be a warrior meant the ability to hold these two profound emotions in the heart-mind at the same time.”

At the heart of this enlightened philosophy is a deep reverence for feeling. The ancients of Mexico, like spirit persons everywhere, knew that living a full life was about more than being rational and clear-headed. It’s fine and good for me to work out an elegant theory about the meaning of life, but thoughts are abstractions, not concrete realities. Like dead flowers, they are dry, useless things when cut off from the juicy life of our bodies. The point is to merge our mental and physical lives in a sacred union of opposites.

In theory, this makes perfect sense to most of us, but it’s quite another thing to actually live and relate to others with this kind of balance. Some of us get so swamped with strong emotions at the least provocation that we become impervious to reason.  Others habitually repress our feelings to the point you would swear we had no hearts at all. And of course, most of us vacillate between these two extremes, here overly emotional, there all business, forever buffeted about by unconscious compulsions we don’t understand and can’t seem to control no matter how hard we try.

Which brings me back to my white flowers. White, the color of light, purity, and perfection, is often worn at rituals of transformation like baptisms, first communions, marriages, initiations, and for some people, death rites. Wearing white signifies respect for the logos/thinking/spiritual side of life. Conversely, flowers symbolize the mythos/feeling/soulful side of life. We send flowers on sad occasions to represent our feelings of grief and caring, and on joyful occasions they convey our love.

The moist, creamy white flowers in the wilderness temple filled my dream ego with awe, symbolizing that after years of living in my head and dismissing my feelings I was awakening to the life of my soul. Kneeling in reverence before the flowers indicated that a hard place in my wounded heart was softening and melting away. And because I was honoring honest feeling, a Prince appeared to be my guide. Where did he want to take me? For me, the couple walking hand-in-hand through the distant mist prefigured a sacred wedding of balance between the opposites, a potential future reward if I persisted with my journey to self-knowledge.

I’m here to tell you that dreams are not “just our imagination”. These messages from the mist are factual events with profound meaning for us, and our souls know it even if our egos do not.

 

Seeing Through the Mist May 4, 2010

I spent the first half of my life in a mist, blind to all that is sacred. A spiritual seeker from the age of 17, my ideas about what was sacred came from other people. Only very rarely did I actually experience the sacred. But then I discovered the spiritual meaning in dreams and myths. Myths are symbolic cultural expressions of humanity’s relationship to the gods. While not necessarily true on the outside, myths are always true on the inside. Dreams are personal myths. Allowing ourselves to be led by mythos thinking helps us grow our spirits and recover our souls.

In A History of God, former nun Karen Armstrong says, “The only way we can conceive of God, who remains imperceptible to the senses and to logical proof, is by means of symbols, which it is the chief function of the imaginative mind to interpret.” And in The Holy Longing, Jungian analyst Connie Zweig writes, “In effect, the life of the imagination is the spiritual life.”

Three months after I began to practice dreamwork I was staying at the beach when I had dream #46. I called it “Temple in the Wilderness.”

I walk through woods on a path cut through the earth. I’m seeking a stream I know to be at the bottom. I find it where it spills into the sea and follow it to a mist-shrouded garden. In it are ruins of a Greek temple; one column remains upright. In awe, I kneel to examine some creamy-white flowers. Near the bottom of the plant is a pyramid-shaped arrangement of four glowing, waxy white horses facing the four directions. Surrounding them are blossoms so beautiful I can hardly take them in. A puppy named Prince playfully grabs my hand, inviting me to follow him. A young woman asks his name and is pleased to hear it. Two other people bring food for the puppy. After seeing a couple walking hand-in-hand through the distant mist I awaken.

I found this dream profoundly moving, which is how I knew it was important. I won’t go into my associations for the symbols of path, woods, stream, sea, garden, Greek temple, column, mist, kneeling, white flowers, glowing horses, the four directions, the puppy Prince who wants to guide me, the people who feed him, or the couple walking through the mist. But when I awoke I felt as if a cold, hard place in my heart was, at last, softening, melting down, and warming up.

The body remembers. To honor this feeling so I would never forget it I made a ritual that morning of walking down to the shore with an ice cube in my hand. Kneeling in the sand, I held it in the warm salty water until it melted. After that I deepened my study of symbolism and myths. Two years later I redesigned my dining room to remind me of the misty temple in the woods, and began working on a manuscript which became The Bridge to Wholeness. That first book about the inner life opens with an original myth that is a metaphor for my spiritual journey.

As author and spirit warrior William Horden wrote in response to my recent post, Living Art, “to those of us attuned to the one psyche, no one can fool us into thinking we are just indulging in our ‘imagination’. We have had a taste of the ever-new bubbling fountain of creation…from that point on, for the intoxicated soul thirsty for more of the gods’ nectar, there is only the creative act…the ‘making’ that reveals the artist within each of us.”

With each creative act we make to honor the truths bubbling up from our source we re-myth our lives. To live our own myth is the true sacredness awaiting us beyond the mist.

 

 
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