Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

Affordable. Health. Care. Part I January 12, 2016

024.Jacob_Wrestles_with_the_Angel

Nothing can exist without its opposite;  the two were one in the beginning and will be one again in the end. Consciousness can only exist through continual recognition of the unconscious, just as everything that lives must pass through many deaths.  ~Carl Jung CW Vol. 9i  par. 178

There’s a battle going on in my head.  I hate fights.  I hate conflict of any kind.  But I’ve been witnessing this battle every day for six weeks and I’ve decided to give you a ringside seat. First I need to set the scene so you’ll know where I am and what the fight’s about it and who the antagonists are.

The setting is the political arena as seen from the perspective of my philosophical, introverted, sensitive, non-political mind.  The issue is Affordable Health Care.  The antagonists are various aspects of my Ego, Shadow, and Higher Self. Sometimes I know who’s speaking, sometimes I don’t.

For six weeks now, ever since I had an emotionally-charged conversation with a friend after I attended a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton, some of my inner characters have been having a dicey dialogue.  I wake up to their arguments. They make points throughout the day. Their themes populate my dreams and interrupt my sleep.

So why am I inviting you to view this inner drama? Here are a few of the reasons I recognize at the moment:

  1. To clarify my thoughts.

  2. To ease my conscience.

  3. To heal my conflicts.

  4. To get some sleep.

  5. To show you the kinds of challenges people face when they’re committed to self-knowledge, thinking psychologically, and living spiritually. After all, that’s the theme of this blog.

  6. Because I want to make a difference in individual and collective thinking and living.

I realize the last reason may sound a bit grandiose, but wouldn’t everyone like to think that maybe their lives made a positive difference, if only a very tiny one? In fact, isn’t there an inner archetypal force, a mysterious ‘transcendent function’ that pushes all of us, no matter how craven, to better ourselves, to rise above our ignorance and selfishness?

What but a personal experience of this function could motivate me to write a book called Healing the Sacred Divide:  Making Peace with Ourselves, Each Other, and the World? What but a taste of the joy that comes from heeding its call would cause any of us to do our best at our work and build loving, intimate relationships? Would we be fully human if we cared about nothing but ourselves?  I believe we wouldn’t. Yet sometimes I still fight my mysterious task master.

imagesSo here’s what’s been going on in my head:

“But I’m a philosopher, not an activist.”

“How’s that working for you? And how’s the view from your Ivory Tower?” (Pretty sure this latter comment came from my Spiritual Bully, not the Self.)

“But I abhor politics.  What possible good is there in self-serving rants and self-righteous blame games motivated by power and greed?”

“Don’t be so cynical. You know that’s human nature. We all react instinctively to fear, and the less awareness we have, the more we project our shadows onto others to take the heat off ourselves.”

“I know. But the fear and projection seem to be getting worse. And so few people seem to see it or care, and my psychologizing can’t change that. People have to want to change.”

“So if you really care, what can you do?”

“The only thing I know how to do is write, but I know absolutely zero about this issue and the factors involved.”

“You could find out. Do some research.  Ask around.”

“I’m not interested in that kind of research.  I want to understand how our minds work and why we behave the way we do. I don’t want to read thousands of pages of boring details, know who lobbies whom to get bills vetoed or passed, or learn the depressing facts about the twisted, depressing lies politicians tell to push their personal agendas through. None of it makes any lasting difference in the end. Meanwhile, it hurts to be constantly reminded that some people who are supposedly devoted to serving our country care more about getting re-elected than easing people’s pain and suffering. That they would rather distort the truth and blame the other party than be true to their consciences.  That they may not even have consciences.”

“Hmmm.  I’m hearing some powerful anger and resistance here.  What are you really afraid of.”

“Venturing into this new arena is difficult for me. My position is unusual and I don’t want to be misunderstood or scorned. What if I can’t present my case with clarity and objectivity?  What if people hate me or think I’m arrogant or frivolous?  It’s hard enough to see and deal with my own crap. Do I have to heap more coals on my head?”

“I see. Pooor baby. You think you shouldn’t have to suffer any more. After all, look how hard you’ve worked to become a more conscious, ‘spiritual’ person! (That had to be my Spiritual Bully again.) So if that’s how you feel, why keep agonizing about whether to write about this? Why not let people with thicker skins and extroverted personalities enter this particular fray?”

Consciousness-opposites“Aaarrgh! Because nobody else seems to care what’s happening to him and it’s not fair! I can’t stand to see him suffering over this injustice. And I couldn’t forgive myself if I didn’t try to help.”

“Well alright.  Let’s get on with it then, shall we?”

So that’s it. Next time, the full story from my friend.

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.

Image credits:  Google Images. Gustav Dore’.  Jacob Wrestles with the Angel. Vincent van Gogh.  The Starry Night.

 

 

 

Dream Symbols of the Beloved August 4, 2015

The Self is our Beloved, the core energy in every psyche that compels us to grow into loveable, empowered, authentic, enlightened beings. Our egos often reject the Self’s guidance but it never gives up on us. In its aspect as Dream Mother it reveals itself in symbols and actions based on six basic attributes: wholeness, centrality, unity, love, pattern, and the life-giving force.

Wholeness: Jung associated this with quaternity, or four-ness, because of the way we and our world are created. There are four directions and four winds. Christianity has four evangelists, a cross has four arms, there are four cardinal virtues, and mandalas — the intricate circular sacred symbols produced by many religions — have four sections. Also, humanity has four basic ways of experiencing life: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. So whenever a circular object (a coin, table, bowl, sphere, etc.) or four-ness (four people, four flowers in a vase, four walls, the numeral 4, etc.) appear in a dream, I always consider their implications for my growth into wholeness.

Centrality: The Self is our psyche’s source of energy and the point from which every psycho-spiritual event proceeds. It is often represented by things with centers; for example, the heart (a vital central organ), the circle with a dot in the center (the central hole in the Chinese jade disk opens to heaven), and ancient symbols for the center of the world, including a cosmic tree (Jung saw the vertically growing form of a palm tree as a symbol of the soul) or sacred mountain.

Unity: Since the Self’s creative energy is constantly being renewed by the ongoing tension between our masculine and feminine drives, it is often symbolized by the balanced union of opposites — i.e. pairs of things, a Couple, reciprocal actions, the Divine Androgyne (suggested by having attributes of the opposite gender), twins, crosses, two interlocking circles making a mandorla, the hexagram or double triangle, the yin-yang symbol, weddings and wedding rings, sex, and bridges — and also through images of the unity in multiplicity, i.e. a pearl necklace or mandala.

Love: Deity’s primary characteristic is love. As our god-image, the Self can be represented in dreams via depictions of people engaged in loving actions such as kissing, hugging, forgiving, helping others, gift-giving, or making sacrifices. When our dream egos feel and demonstrate love for others, or when others make us feel loved, we are being shown something about our capacity for love and the Self’s love for us. Of course, the heart is also a symbol of love.

Pattern: Since we think of God as the creator and sustainer of the underlying patterns that support life, the Self is suggested by patterned walkways, lattices, mathematical arrays, music, webs, grids, the Diamond Net of Indra, holograms, intricately patterned mandalas or jewelry, and so on.

Life-Giving Force: All symbols or acts of insemination, creativity, initiation, birth, growth (i.e. growing babies or blooming plants), transformation (the butterfly), or movement and change (a snake shedding its skin, the double-stranded DNA spiral, spinning wheels), refer to the miracle of our life and the forces that sustain it.

More next time.  Meanwhile, pay attention to your dreams tonight. You might just have one that features the Self. If you do, I hope you’ll let me know!

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.

 

Blog Tour for Tuesday, April 9, 2013 April 9, 2013

Hello again.  Does it feel weird to get two different posts from me for two days straight?  Don’t get used to it.  I can’t keep this up forever!

If you haven’t read yesterday’s post yet, I suggest you check it out before you read this one, as it explains why I’m doing things differently this week.

Today, Tuesday, April 9, 2013, I’ll be a guest blogger at Feminism and Religion, hosted by Gina Messina-Dysert.  The title of my post is Incarnating the Mystery with Psychological Awareness. Click here for the link.  Here’s the address in case there’s a glitch in the system: http://feminismandreligion.com/

Remember, don’t get discouraged if my post isn’t up when you go there. Just try again later.  Time zones are obviously an issue so we asked the blog hosts to try to publish by 8 A.M. Eastern Standard Time (US). Some may get an earlier start, however.

Don’t forget about the give-away at my website at http://www.jeanraffa.com.  You’ll find an explanation and description of the “prizes” there!

I hope you enjoyed my guest post at Cheryl’s Jung at Heart blog yesterday.  If you haven’t stopped by yet, you can probably go today and for several days to come. But if she moves it to the archives, just check the address from yesterday’s post and you’ll still be able to find it.  Enjoy.

 

 

To Be or Not To Be a Zombie: Part I January 29, 2013

dinosaursA life that is being truly lived is constantly burning away the veils of illusion, gradually revealing the essence of who we are.” ~Marion Woodman

The key is to stay awake, to listen to what comes into consciousness and to open to it.” ~Monika Wikman

Whether we grow or wither in this encounter depends on whether we cling to our ego’s rigid standpoint, or whether we choose to trust the Self and leap into the unknown.” ~Monika Wikman

These quotes summarize what I think two recent dreams want me to know. In this and the next post I’ll share them and tell you what I’m learning.

Dream #4400: X Wants Me to Meet a Man Who Speaks About Consciousness
I’m pleased to see my friend, X, at a gathering. She looks lovely in a black and white patterned dress. She tells me about a man who speaks about consciousness. She wants me to hear him so we go to his presentation. Afterwards I introduce myself and tell him I’m thrilled to meet someone else who addresses this important topic.

Associations: X is a waking-life friend who represents my light shadow. I admire her self-confidence, down-to-earth good sense, communication and mothering skills, creative abilities, poise and naturalness. She’s attractive, yet doesn’t define herself by her looks. She’s sociable enough to attend functions when necessary, but at heart she’s a homebody who’d usually rather be doing her own thing.

I suspect her appearance in this dream was triggered in part by my recent post about the light shadow. After 24 years of dreamwork I’m pretty good at accepting my dark shadow, although I tend to dwell on it too much. I suppose that’s my ego’s way of punishing itself for its pride, the dark shadow of forced humility. Ouch!  So being honest about what I like about X feels good.  Knowing and enjoying our strengths is not vain, proud, self-congratulatory or self-indulgent.  And accepting our weaknesses doesn’t make us weak or unduly flawed.

Do you see how this works? I’m burning away some illusions. I’ve learned I’m not perfect but I’m not awful either. I’m comfortable wearing black and white at the same time, and this makes me more open to what enters my consciousness.

But the black and white dress also highlights a basic difference between X and me. Whereas I’m an Intuitive, she’s a Sensation Type who focuses on basic information about everyday life. As far as I know, she’s never been very interested in inner life matters like interpreting information, finding meaning, or becoming more conscious.  So why would she know about a man who speaks about consciousness? And why would she take me to meet him?

This oddity is a clue to the dream’s meaning.  Jung said the ego has to go through the shadow to meet our contra-sexual opposite (anima or animus) who is, in turn, the gatekeeper to the Self.  My light shadow wanted to connect me with an animus image.  Why? Because his very vocation is a message for me from the Self.  This man physically goes out into the world to teach about consciousness, and I think this is a suggestion for me to consider doing more of this myself!

Here’s the big question this dream poses for me: Will I wither by clinging to my ego’s preference to work from home or will I trust the Self and leap into the sensate world I prefer to avoid? More next time.

My newest book, Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at this Amazon link or at Larson Publications, Inc.

Cartoon used with permission of Ryan North at www.qwantz.com.

 

Creative Interactions With The Shadow January 18, 2013

creative-activityVessels we create via creativity, dream work, shamanism, and so on, are of value to us and the world soul to the degree that they give form to the religious instinct that connects us with the original spirit, the mediator of the opposites, the god of change and renewal.” Monika Wikman

I absolutely love this quote and think it’s one of the wisest things I’ve read in a long time. When our egos cooperate with our imagination to give creative shape and form to our inner contents, the latent Self (the archetype of our religious instinct or god-image) incarnates. In turn, the incarnated Self connects our egos with the sacred realm beyond the personal psyche (Jung called it the psychoid) whose energies stimulate uniting, renewing changes in us and the world.

But why, you might ask, do we need imaginative inner work to do this? Why not use logic, reason, intelligence and will power to renew ourselves and the world? The answer should be painfully obvious to anyone who has peered through the veil of cultural conditioning. For thousands of years cultures throughout the world have insisted that “we”, with our heroic egos, brilliant philosophies, and correct religions, know how to create the best of all possible worlds.

Golem, by Philippe Semeria

Golem, by Philippe Semeria

If we know how, why haven’t we succeeded? Because, my dear friends, we have individual and cultural shadows which interfere with our best intentions. These cannot be kept in check until we see them for what they are, and we can’t see them if they don’t have recognizable forms. I’m not dismissing the value of ego, reason, or willpower. I’m just saying we need to partner these left-brained strengths with our right-brained powers of mythos: imagination, creativity, emotion, symbolism, feeling, personal meaning, and myth-making. This is the soul’s language, and without positive change at the soul level, we cannot effect lasting positive change in the world.

In my last post I explained how we might discover a shadow of self-critical thinking by noticing our body language, emotions, and thoughts and then reflecting on them. Highlighting a shadow is essential, but it’s not enough. Once we know we have a shadow complex we need to work with it in imaginative ways that will make it easier to recognize in the future. Since the Self is our core and circumference, it contains unconscious shadows as well as conscious egos. Giving form to a shadow is therefore a way to incarnate another aspect of the Self. (If you don’t understand what the religious instinct has to do with dark shadows, think demons and devils.)

You can start giving form to a shadow by naming it. Dr. Jekyll called his shadow Mr. Hyde. Mary Shelley called hers Frankenstein. Organized religion calls its shadow Satan. In mythology and folk tales our shadows take such imaginative forms as dragons, ogres, witches, wicked step-mothers, wolves, vampires, monsters, golems, zombies and so on. I call my self-critical shadow Spiritual Bully. Now that s/he has a name, I can identify him more quickly in my habitual self-criticism and critical attitudes. Seeing him makes it easier to rein him in before he does any damage.

Monika Wikman notes other ways to incarnate the Self: “We can learn to draw forth the light in our life through individually-honed media (for example, dance, poetry, art, play, chant, active imagination, meditation, music, nature, sports and sexuality) that encourage spontaneous relationship with the Self and the numinosum [a term for the concept of “holy“].”

I hope you’ll share how you’ve used creative interactions with your shadow or other inner contents. We who are committed to self-knowledge need all the help we can get!

My newest book, Healing the Sacred Divide, can be found at this Amazon link or at Larson Publications, Inc.

 

 

Dream Symbols of the Beloved June 29, 2012

The Self is our Beloved, the core energy in every psyche that compels us to grow into loveable, empowered, authentic, enlightened beings. Our egos often reject the Self’s guidance but it never gives up on us. In its aspect as Dream Mother it reveals itself in symbols and actions based on six basic attributes: wholeness, centrality, unity, love, pattern, and the life-giving force.

Wholeness: Jung associated this with quaternity, or four-ness, because of the way we and our world are created. There are four directions and four winds. Christianity has four evangelists, a cross has four arms, there are four cardinal virtues, and mandalas — the intricate circular sacred symbols produced by many religions — have four sections. Also, humanity has four basic ways of experiencing life: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. So whenever a circular object (a coin, table, bowl, sphere, etc.) or four-ness (four people, four flowers in a vase, four walls, the numeral 4, etc.) appear in a dream, I always consider their implications for my growth into wholeness.

Centrality: The Self is our psyche’s source of energy and the point from which every psycho-spiritual event proceeds. It is often represented by things with centers; for example, the heart (a vital central organ), the circle with a dot in the center (the central hole in the Chinese jade disk opens to heaven), and ancient symbols for the center of the world, including a cosmic tree (Jung saw the vertically growing form of a palm tree as a symbol of the soul) or sacred mountain.

Unity: Since the Self’s creative energy is constantly being renewed by the ongoing tension between our masculine and feminine drives, it is often symbolized by the balanced union of opposites — i.e. pairs of things, a Couple, reciprocal actions, the Divine Androgyne (suggested by having attributes of the opposite gender), twins, crosses, two interlocking circles making a mandorla, the hexagram or double triangle, the yin-yang symbol, weddings and wedding rings, sex, and bridges — and also through images of the unity in multiplicity, i.e. a pearl necklace or mandala.

Love: Deity’s primary characteristic is love. As our god-image, the Self can be represented in dreams via depictions of people engaged in loving actions such as kissing, hugging, forgiving, helping others, gift-giving, or making sacrifices. When our dream egos feel and demonstrate love for others, or when others make us feel loved, we are being shown something about our capacity for love and the Self’s love for us. Of course, the heart is also a symbol of love.

Pattern: Since we think of God as the creator and sustainer of the underlying patterns that support life, the Self is suggested by patterned walkways, lattices, mathematical arrays, music, webs, grids, the Diamond Net of Indra, holograms, intricately patterned mandalas or jewelry, and so on.

Life-Giving Force: All symbols or acts of insemination, creativity, initiation, birth, growth (i.e. growing babies or blooming plants), transformation (the butterfly), or movement and change (a snake shedding its skin, the double-stranded DNA spiral, spinning wheels), refer to the miracle of our life and the forces that sustain it.

Next time I’ll have some suggestions about how to work with your dreams. Meanwhile, pay attention to your dreams tonight. You might just have one that features the Self. If you do, I hope you’ll let me know!

You can order my newest book, Healing the Sacred Divide, at www.larsonpublications.com

 

Dreams About the Creative Instinct: Part II May 25, 2012

In my previous post I shared a dream from 22 years ago that dramatized a conflict between my career ambitions and the Self, the central archetype of my psyche that was “encouraging” me to trust my creative instinct. I didn’t understand the meaning of the dream because of my ego’s resistance to change. Like all children, I had been conditioned to conform to my tribe’s standards and God-image, and challenging these supreme authorities was terrifying to my immature ego.

Of course, I was still so psychologically ignorant that I didn’t know this either! About the only thing I did know from my Jungian studies was that if I continued to tolerate the tension of this conflict and if I persisted in working with my dreams, an answer would eventually come when the conditions were right.

So I accepted another teaching position at a nearby university.  That year I dreamed of moving to flimsy, unsuitable houses I hated. Two featured kitchens—rooms of nurturance and transformation—that had rigid rows of old-fashioned school desks nailed to the floors! Gradually I realized I was unhappy with the way I was living and at the end of the academic year I resigned from teaching to write the book that was simmering in my soul.

Three days after the term ended I dreamed another woman and I were escaping from a prison owned by her father. Her father! Patriarchy! That was when I finally understood how captive I had been to a rigid belief system so dominated by the masculine principle that it left little room for satisfying my creativity or feminine side. After a lovely summer in which I gave myself permission to rest, I began my book. Eighteen months later I signed a contract with a wonderful publisher. Never had I felt so fulfilled and happy with myself. The following dream came during the final editing.

Dream #1215: “The Beautiful Black Stallion.” I’m in the backseat of a moving car.  A dark-haired woman I know sits next to me. My wonderful, beautiful black stallion sits next to her and stretches his neck over her lap so his head is on my lap. He looks up at me adoringly and makes little kisses with his lips. I kiss him repeatedly and stroke his massive head, his ears, his nose.  It feels blissful to have him love me so much.

The black stallion, of course, was the same dark horse I had been so afraid of almost 3 years earlier. My dream showed that my ego had released control of my life and taken a backseat to the Self, trusting it to do the driving. As a result, I was enjoying a conscious relationship with my creative instinct (black stallion), who loved me because I had allowed him to manifest my soul’s creativity in ways that were exactly right for me/us. This had happened because I had befriended my ambitious, intense shadow, the dark-haired woman beside me. Accepting her was the key that provided access to my unconscious self. She was the same daughter of patriarchy with whom I had escaped from prison!  Neither of us felt compelled to drive, and we were both enjoying the ride.

When our creativity is free to make its natural contribution to our lives, it becomes a loving inner companion who travels with us wherever we go. Then we know the sacred Mystery is not separate from us, but dwells within. In the words of Brother Paul Quenon, “Creativity, as life iself, is grounded in and shares in the sacred.”

Order Jean’s newest book, Healing the Sacred Divide, at www.larsonpublications.com

 

 
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