Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

Portrait of a Jungian Analyst: Monika Wikman January 25, 2013

MonikaLast October I met many like-minded souls at a conference that addresses the interface between religion/spirituality and the work of Carl Jung. Monika Wikman was a major presenter. Drawn to her authenticity, integrity and vast wisdom, I bought her book, Pregnant Darkness.

Its impact on me was powerful and lasting. I wrote a review on Amazon and am sharing her quotes on my social media sites. These have been so well received that one internet friend, Stephanie Pope—a cultural mythologer and poet-essayist who publishes Mythopoetry Scholar Ezine—requested a post about Monika. This is for you, Stephanie, and all whose lives have been transformed by tending to the inner life of the soul. Here’s Monika’s extraordinary story in her own words.

“In the early 1980s my body was over-run with an aggressive stage IV ovarian cancer that had spread throughout various organs. After working with the illness for four years and seeing the illness rise and fall within a range in which I could just about eek out a life, suddenly the illness and its effects rocketed and I was told I had a few weeks to live. After years of working with the illness, and then being given the terrible two-week prognosis, I was entirely exhausted, and finally gave up. In the instant that I confessed my exhaustion to myself, and was ready to accept death, windows onto the psychoid (a transpersonal realm of autonomous energy beyond the personal psyche) spontaneously opened and I experienced a series of visions.

“Afterward, there was no sign of cancer anywhere in my body. I took medical tests the next day and for many consecutive weeks after in awe as the tests that measured for active ovarian cancer that were previously sky high, were now below the normal range. All the symptoms had vanished as well. ‘Spontaneous remission,’ the doctors said, and closed my file. Meanwhile, my heart, mind, and life were doing the opposite. They began to open, increasingly moved with gratitude and awe to the mysteries and the map and the grace between us and the autonomous energies living in the psyche and psychoid beyond ordinary consciousness. C.G. Jung’s work gave me the lens that enabled me to see these mysteries at work.”

Wikman, an embodiment of the Wisewoman archetype, went on to earn her Ph.D. from California School of Professional Psychology, San Diego, teach graduate school at California State University, Los Angeles, and graduate from the Jung-Von Franz Center for Depth Psychology in Zurich. She currently has a private practice in New Mexico as a Jungian analyst and part-time astrologer.

Wikman’s “imaginally archetypal language,” to use Stephanie’s phrase, is a particular delight to those who have experienced the transforming power of creative imagination, the hallmark of mythos thinking. With help from alchemical symbolism, she unpacks numerous examples from her dreams and those of clients and friends to demonstrate that, “Without experiences beyond the tiny mind, how isolated we become, how utterly dried up consciousness and culture become—cut off from the living root of our existence. Through reconnection with the numinosum, we can recover. It is up to us. These instinctual religious patterns living in us can search out the mysteries, find nourishment in the numinosum, and then replenish the soul, body, psyche, personality, relational life, and the planet itself.”

If you learn nothing else from Pregnant Darkness or my books and blog posts, it is my fervent wish that you learn this truth which motivates and guides my thinking, my writing, and my life: The numen—the holy, original spirit informing life—does exist. By tending to our souls we can experience it and heal the divides “between heaven and earth, human and divine, conscious and unconscious fields of awareness and between all polarities.”

It is up to us.

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


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.



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