Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

Horse Crazy Part II: How to Heal the Separations October 20, 2015

My sweet Shadow.

My sweet Shadow.

While writing my first book, The Bridge to Wholeness, I had a dream.

I’m in the kitchen with a woman who personifies motherhood to me.  We’re standing before a low, double-doored freezer in the middle of the room.  As we open and close the doors, getting things out for a dinner party, my friend accidentally bumps the head of a dark-haired boy between ten and twelve standing between us.  He starts to cry.  I think she should kiss his head where she bumped him. But I realize she knows how to handle this, so I say to the boy, “She has children of her own.”  He looks up and stares deeply into my eyes and says, “Yes, but does she have a stallion?”

Like the woman in my dream, I grew up believing relationships with my husband and children would fulfill me.  So I gave up my passion for horses. Perhaps my friend’s passion for her family was enough.  Maybe she never heard the compelling call of the Self.  But the little boy whose eyes pierced my soul is my own inner boy and he knew that once I was horse crazy.  That I was the kind of woman who needed more than relationships:  I needed my stallion, too.

One might assume that because passion is such a powerful emotion it must be associated with the active masculine principle.  But this is not so. The word passion comes from the Latin passio, which means suffering, or being acted upon.  Thus it is associated with the passive feminine principle. (I’m not talking about men and women, but the feminine principle in all of us.) When one has a passion, one is acted upon—e.g. the passion of Jesus Christ—by a calling from or to some unknown power that cannot be ignored without endangering one’s very soul. Moreover, passion is an emotion, and emotion is associated with the dark, feminine, dangerous animal side of our natures, as distinguished from reason and light, which are associated with the masculine.

“I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid…If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else.”― Joseph Campbell

I knew what bliss was.  I felt it every time I was around horses. Obviously I had a passion for them.  What I didn’t know was that a spiritual passion was also stirring. When I heard the call of the Self at a Billy Graham crusade at 17, I tasted a new kind of bliss, and I believed it could best be served by sacrificing myself in service to others. So from then on I used religious beliefs and ideals to fortify the wall I’d been building to separate me from my shadow side.

By 37 my wall was developing cracks. Despite my stoic self-discipline I could no longer ignore the dangerous new feelings and uncomfortable questions stirring behind it. Something was wrong. One night, torn by an agonizing inner conflict, I prayed the most authentic, heartfelt prayer I had ever prayed: Help me. Please, please teach me to love.

Thus began a ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ spiritual crisis. For the next nine years I consciously and painfully tolerated the tension between the life I had chosen and the life of joy I hoped was waiting for me. All that while I managed to ‘hold my horses,’ i.e. avoid rash actions that might betray my soul or hurt someone else.  Was this love?  I didn’t know.

This vigilant waiting, this alchemical tending of the fire, of keeping the passions in the crucible of my soul at a simmer…this was magical. Despite my mental suffering, I knew it even then. What I was doing felt important, right somehow. Sure enough. Beneath my conscious awareness, powerful transformations were occurring. Old dysfunctional attitudes and habits were dissolving. Tenuous new insights and connections were coalescing.  My wall was crumbling to ash.

“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.”― Joseph Campbell

With the joyful discovery of Jungian psychology at 47, a door in my mind opened. My suffering exited as my latent passions for self-discovery, dreamwork, and writing strode in. Since then doors have continued to open. The Bridge to Wholeness was published. Invitations to speak and teach about what I loved arrived. Dream Theatres of the Soul was published. Healing the Sacred Divide won the 2013 Wilbur Award.

UnknownAt 57 I fulfilled my childhood passion and bought a horse to train. Honey’s Shadow Dancer was neither black nor white like the horses I loved in my youth, but gray, the color that results from blending these opposites.  Shadow symbolized my choice to stop living in an either/or way and start embracing and living my truths. At 2 and 1/2 years old, he was ripe for training.  So was I. It was time to get out of my head and into my body and the physical world, and I knew he’d teach me how to do that.

I had learned I didn’t have to choose between Heaven and Earth, Spirit and Soul, others and self, head and heart, mind and body, safety and passion, meaning and duty, or masculine and feminine. I could find a middle way that integrated all the opposites: with consciousness.

And what about my prayer for love?  Did that work?  I’ll tell you next time.

Image credits:  Mandorla, Cicero Greathouse

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.

 

Viewing Your Life through Mythic Eyes September 16, 2014

Celebrating my 10th birthday in my childhood home

Celebrating my 10th birthday in my childhood home

A few weeks ago my brother Jim and sister-in-law Mary came over for dinner.  Jim brought me copies of some old photographs he’d found stashed away in a closet. Among them were two taken in the dining room of our childhood home.  As I was preparing to publish last week’s post, The Interior Designer Within, which was about a recent dream, I realized the old photos might make good illustrations so I added them. In the week since then I’ve been flooded with many meaningful connections between the pictures and the dream. In this and the next post I’d like to share them with you.

The spate of insights was triggered by a comment Steven made. In the dream I’m sitting at a white table in the new dining room of my remodeled childhood home.  Steven wrote, “I’ve only scanned the article and will return but have to say that photograph with the double-candle gateway is simply beautiful. I like the second one also, very much, but the first one is not only rich and warm but also loaded with symbolism. A child looking into the future…it could be a European film.”

I reviewed the pictures to check out the symbols and what I saw was mind-boggling.

We’re celebrating my tenth birthday. A round birthday cake sits in the center of the table. In Jungian psychology centrality and circles are primary symbols of the Self, the archetype of wholeness and our religious function. So Steven’s association of the double-candle gateway on either side of it struck a very deep chord, indeed. The Self has been the ultimate object of my search since way before I had any idea of what I yearned for:  Enlightenment!

Moreover, this child looking into the future is leaning toward her father on the opposite side of the table. Daddy was my hero, and he died only 20 months after this picture was taken. So it’s no surprise that a major impetus for my psycho-spiritual journey has been a powerful desire to connect not only with a masculine God who would never die, but also with my inner opposite, my masculine Animus for whom Daddy is most certainly a symbol.

birthday2I’d already noticed the round picture above the center of the buffet and the circular glass bowl (alchemical vessel) beneath it, but now I saw another circular object (Self) on the left (unconscious) side of the buffet. Positioned precisely between the flames of the two candles (conscious and unconscious?), a cup and saucer (chalice and paten) were on display.

In the same photo I saw my shadow on the wall. Then I saw it again in the second photo, this time just over my left (unconscious) shoulder.  (I’m pretty sure all that darkness isn’t just my hair.) If you’ve followed my blog for a while you know that befriending my Shadow has been another major impetus for my explorations into the unconscious.

Now here’s where it gets mind-blowing. In the first photo I suddenly noticed the book under the round object on the left side of the buffet.   Since I’ve written four books, it’s especially meaningful to see a book in the only two pictures I have of the dining room in my childhood home.  But then I saw that in the second picture my right hand is resting on what looks like another book!  On the table! What was so wild was that in my recent dream, the white dining room table was where I did my writing!

Then the full force of these coincidences hit me.  When my grandparents came for Sunday dinner or special occasions we always read a chapter from the Bible before we ate. On this occasion my father’s deeply religious mother was there. She had traveled from Michigan to help take care of Daddy after his second heart attack.  Since his birthday was only 13 days before mine, she had made the cake and arranged this celebration for both of us. The fact that the Bible was beside me meant that I had been invited to read. Whenever this happened I invariably chose the 23rd or 91st Psalm. Here are the verses I loved best:

Psalm 23; Verse 4: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil;  for thou art with me…” Verse 5: “Thou preparest a table before me…my cup runneth over.”  Death. Shadow. Table. Cup. They’re all foreshadowed in the photographs!

Psalm 91; Verse 1:  “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”  There it is again:  Shadow.

Two photographs taken sixty years ago.  An unremarkable dream from two weeks ago. Two incidents that occurred almost a lifetime apart. Yet, when I put them together into one blog post, an alchemical reaction transformed them into a powerful testament to the interconnectivity of life.  The Mystery is everywhere, within and around us. And we can see it when we view our life through mythic eyes. Can you see it?

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.

 

 
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