Into the Light: Re-Emergence after Descent

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Descent and Re-Emergence form a unified theme found in many mythic and literary tales, as in our lives. Descending to the depths is healthy and constructive; re-emerging renewed to apply the insights gained is extremely valuable. Out of the Darkness, Into the Light is therefore a cyclic process for personal growth and development.

Since we are in the final week of November, Month of the DESCENDER Archetype, it is appropriate to focus on the theme of Re-Emergence. Of course, this is also a Better Endings theme of itself, as Descent needs a resolution, a surfacing or a transcendence, in order to bear its cornucopia forward into mindful awareness and change.

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There is a plethora of mythic and literary examples to choose from to represent the sort of Re-Emergence you can bring about in your own mythic life’s journey.  Theseus’ descent into the Labyrinth to defeat the Minotaur at Crete and rescue his captured compatriots is a Classical example.  Ariadne, daughter of King Minos who has contained the Minotaur and feeds him with captives from Theseus’s home of Athens, gifts Theseus with a sword and a skein of thread so he can defeat the Minotaur (half-man/ half-bull) and then follow the thread back OUT from the labyrinth to lead his compatriots to safety.  Heroic Theseus, son of King Aegeus, thus succeeds quickly—after some deft storyline complications in his return voyage—to become a worthy King of Athens himself.

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The story, though, that most comes to mind for me as an example of Re-Emergence from Descent this week is the historic and spiritual tale of the life and death of Joan of Arc. I have been thinking of the recently late Leonard Cohen’s lyrics all week in his tribute song to La Pucelle (“the Maid”), “Joan of Arc.”  Jennifer Warnes does a wonderful rendition of this song on her “Famous Blue Raincoat” album, itself a tribute to Leonard Cohen; I will link you to a YouTube version that includes both Jennifer Warnes and Leonard Cohen singing this  excellent song below. As the Universe or Spirit would have it, when I asked inwardly if this is the example I should share, last night a version of Jeanne d’Arc’s biography showed up on late night TV. That was my confirmation.

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Of course, Joan of Arc’s Descent occurred in two ways: first, spiritually, by her accepting and listening to the voices she attributed to St. Michael, St. Catherine and St. Margaret. It took an unusually receptive consciousness and deep faith for Joan to accept the mission she felt called to undertake based on these voices. Then after several successful campaigns leading troops to deliver France from British control, Joan’s physical world Descent came with her imprisonment, with her trial in which she did not recant her spiritual calling, and ultimately with her being burned at the stake as a heretic.

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Leonard Cohen, who passed away earlier this month, penned his “Joan of Arc” lyrics around the final descent and the Ascension of St. Joan from the unusual point of view of the Fire that consumed her.  One might read Cohen’s protagonist as simultaneously the Holy Flame of her enduring faith and the physically voracious Fire at the pyre that consumed only her physical shell so to release and liberate her Spirit.  In both senses, the burning at the stake of Saint Joan constituted her Ascension, her ultimate Re-Emergence into the Light and Truth of the Divine via the action of Holy Spirit. Many accounts of her death report that witnesses saw a White Dove rise out of the mixed ashes of Jeanne d’Arc’s body and the wood of the fuel that claimed it.

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JOAN OF ARC (by Leonard Cohen)

http://www.leonardcohensite.com/songs/joan.htm

Now the flames they followed Joan of Arc
as she came riding through the dark;
no moon to keep her armour bright,
no man to get her through this very smoky night.
She said, “I’m tired of the war,
I want the kind of work I had before,
a wedding dress or something white
to wear upon my swollen appetite.”

Well, I’m glad to hear you talk this way,
you know I’ve watched you riding every day
and something in me yearns to win
such a cold and lonesome heroine.
“And who are you?” she sternly spoke
to the one beneath the smoke.
“Why, I’m fire,” he replied,
“And I love your solitude, I love your pride.”

“Then fire, make your body cold,
I’m going to give you mine to hold,”
saying this she climbed inside
to be his one, to be his only bride.
And deep into his fiery heart
he took the dust of Joan of Arc,
and high above the wedding guests
he hung the ashes of her wedding dress.

It was deep into his fiery heart
he took the dust of Joan of Arc,
and then she clearly understood
if he was fire, oh then she must be wood.
I saw her wince, I saw her cry,
I saw the glory in her eye.
Myself I long for love and light,
but must it come so cruel, and oh so bright?

 

DESCENDER Dreams, Part Two: Messages from the Deep

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With the last post, I invited you to recall and reflect upon dreams in which your DESCENDER part of Self (persona archetype) reveals itself to You. Often such figures show up in lower or deep spaces and they can represent feelings that you have “submerged” or aspects of You that simply feel more comfortable in the shadows or quiet recesses of your Self.  When such images show up in memorable dreams, take notice! They may illuminate for you how that “part of You” is feeling with regard to some current situation in your life. They have Deep Messages for You; your DESCENDER can be your Ally in bringing ‘buried’ perspectives and feelings to your attention.

This week, as I have been reflecting on some of my own DESCENDER dreams, one of them—a very dramatic dream experience—makes sense to me now in a different way than I understood before.

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The Dream: “I Can’t Believe My Life Has Been about This!”

(Dreamwork Tips:  Give a title to a significant dream in your dream journal or when telling it to bring forth its Message to you more clearly.  Also, write your dream in first person, present tense so you can be more present in the experience; this can help you better feel its import.)

Background:  I experienced this dream while I was traveling in Ireland.  I traveled there in part because I had had another significant dream a couple years earlier which had felt like a “past life” dream.  In that earlier dream I saw I had endured abuse, but the dream encounter I had while in Ireland, while also appearing to relate to a past life, turned that earlier experience on its head!

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I am in a lower level area of some structure; the flooring either is made of or has alot of dirt on it and there is dark wood all around. I am being shown this place by a familiar, masculine Spiritual Guide who is with me. As we walk through the space it feels very familiar to me. I say to my Dream Guide:

“I know this place; I have been here before.”

My Guide says nothing, waiting for me to remember more.

“People died here,” I say slowly. Then it hits me hard: “I had something to do with that; I was responsible for their deaths!”

My Guide remains silent but I feel his support. I know there is a reason I must be here.

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Then a group of people come down from a stairway into this semi-darkened, lower level place. It is a group of rural Irish peasant folk. “Salt of the Earth,” I think to myself as they come into the area accompanied by a Priest. The Priest sets up a table and puts a candle on it, so I know he will conduct some sort of ritual. (I sense it is to be a cleansing.)  Two of the peasants are a brother and sister; suddenly I know these are people who had lost loved ones because of my action that had resulted in their loved ones’ deaths.

The peasant sister (in her early 30’s or so) and I approach one another intently.

I say to her:

“I am so sorry for your loss.”

She says to me:

“I am so sorry for what you have had to endure because of this.”

Then I wake up, but in the process of awakening I say three times out loud, each time with more force of awareness:

“I can’t believe my life has been about this!”

I called a friend in the U.S. as soon as I was awoke (early AM her time):

“Jan, I’m a murderer! I mean it really, I am a murderer, many times over!”

My friend helped me to realize this had been “a dream.” I knew intuitively though that it was a very real encounter, relating to a deeply buried memory.

Message:  This dream event occurred around five or six years ago, yet I remember it as if it were this morning.  In processing the meaning of the dream, I have felt it had something to do with the experience of personal loss or separation in this life from relationship partners of various sorts: friends, romantic partners, family, and pet companions. My strongest desire in all my relations has been for permanence and “continuity,” yet some of the closest relations I have shared, I have had to let go of for the sake of that Soul moving on in their lives or journey.

But this week, while reflecting on this poignant DESCENDER Dream, I am understanding the message in a more holistic way. My whole life HAS “been about this.” The personal growth book I have written, a manual for life mapping that will be published in a matter of months now after nearly fifteen years of development (Your Life Path), aims to help readers to COMPLETE their Life Path with a conscious focus of intention to fully Realize their Life Dream!  Perhaps after my action in the past life ordeal had prevented some people from fulfilling their  dreams, this time I must give back this opportunity.

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I don’t know exactly what the memory could have been about. Perhaps I was an officer on a ship taking people to emigrate after the potato famine and for some reason I did not allow lower berth peoples to surface for food or shelter (maybe rations were low and some could not survive, so I chose to only let the more privileged passengers have the rations). Or maybe I was an officer who shut off access to an upper level in a castle against servant class folks while we were being attacked. Either way, “I was responsible for their deaths.”

Whatever the “real life” validity, dreams DO matter; they have a substance and vital meaning all their own. Writing your dream recall in a Dream Journal is very helpful. Especially the most significant dreams will then linger with you, revealing several layers of meaning over time.

Have you had a significant DESCENDER Dream? Have you fathomed its message? Feel free to share, here or with a loved one. Honor your DESCENDER by listening, attending, and ACTING on the Message received.

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I welcome  and invite YOUR Comments and Stories!

P.S. to All: HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

 

 

DESCENDER Dreams, Part One

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Have you had significant, memorable dreams where either you are in a dark or “lower” space such as in a basement or valley or the lower level of some house or structure, or where someone else who is a main character in your dream is in such a “lower” or “deep” space? This may be your DESCENDER Persona archetype (part-of-Self). Pay attention and you may learn something important from this often ‘submerged’ facet or energy within your Psyche.

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My DESCENDER dreams often include a young girl, around 10 or 12, who inhabits a lower level of a tri-level house (interestingly my favorite kind of home; I live in one now and sleep in the lower level!).  I have learned to tune in to engage in conversation with my Little Linda part-of-Self, as I call Her.  She embodies my quiet side that would rather stay in the lower, shaded regions rather than have too much concourse with the public or other people in formal sorts of situations. She may be that facet of my Self that most suffers situational anxiety when it comes to ‘professional’ social gatherings.  I embrace this part of myself as a vital and important aspect of my identity. I go to Her in active imagination for  ‘Archetype dialogue’ conversation rather than requiring Her to come to the surface, though sometimes She does reveal Herself in our more conscious experience. She loves to walk along a lake or through a path in the woods, and she is a great companion when I am otherwise alone with my dog Sophie and feline Loki and Emily Friends.

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Please be assured, I am not encouraging nor will recognizing your Archetypal Personas stimulate any sort of dissociative mental or psychological condition such as schizophrenia or Multiple Personality Disorder.  In fact, as William James wrote about at the turn of the 20th Century, we are indeed all of us “multiple” as an archetypal assembly of sub-identities integrated by the superordinate Self, and in fact it is those who have not allowed their diverse archetypal character modes to be well attended to or integrated who may be more susceptible to ‘splits.’ You can easily tell the difference between an archetypal part-of-Self persona and a dissociated “voice”: archetypal elements within your Total Self System ARE YOU and feel naturally to be a point of view that is part of your Self perspective or outlook, though they may represent various sub-selves or distinct outlooks, see?  Jung, Hillman, Myss, Houston, Pearson, Campbell and many other archetypal psychologists have well described the archetypal landscape of the archetypal Unconscious.

So, Dream! Allow your various parts-of-Self Personas including your DESCENDER to manifest in your dreams so you can encounter and engage with them. You will learn more about your Self from understanding their viewpoints and feelings.

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I welcome and invite your comments and stories. Have you had a DESCENDER dream?

Digging Out

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“The unexamined life is not worth living.” (Socrates)

I am in a reflective mood this November, month of the DESCENDER Archetype.  I am contemplating the last 24 year period of my life (two twelve year cycles).

It has not been all roses, yet it has been lesson bearing, gradually progressive and illuminating in many respects.

How much to share? (This piece derives from a journaling exploration rather than being a direct blog post per se, so I will cull from the larger journaling reflections to share what I can).

I encourage you to similarly “sink into reflection” this month, to ALLOW your Descender to show you a way to DIG OUT from encrusted patterns or routines.

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Many Good Times

With the freedom I have had at work and in my personal life as a single professional, writer, cleric, sister/daughter, and friend/ pet companion, I have accomplished much of what I have set my goals to manifest. I truly am Living My Dream, Now! in the process of preparing my book for the public, a work of love (Your Life Path), finally for publication. I realize that Living Your Dream IS a PROCESS, not a single snapshot sort of destination. I have been able to do this “my way” in most respects, so I am deeply grateful for the freedom and for the inspiration of those who most understand and have supported my work and feelings through the years.

Some Not So Good Times

I have no regrets though a deep sadness regarding relationships that have not been sustained over time. Loss has affected me more deeply than I outwardly acknowledge, and physical ailments are beginning to crop up that reflect my submerged feelings. Stress is a byproduct of living in this day and age, it seems, though I am grateful for spiritual practices and inner spiritual guidance I have been fortunate to have learned  to tune into and receive that have sustained my optimism despite necessary setbacks along the way.

Abundant Life Lessons

My life has been Sooo rich and abundant in lessons: daily, over time, and in the Moment. While developing a self-discovery, personal growth program (to be shared soon with the upcoming book), I have piloted first for myself every self-help technique or Tool that I will share there, so I have benefitted greatly every step of the way.

I have gained many life Lessons about service. Leadership does not come without personality conflicts and sometimes having to take steps I would personally rather not have to have taken that have affected other peoples’ lives. But I have been learning about the Law of Balance and about the importance of Patience and Detachment.

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COMING FULL CIRCLE

As I prepare to shift soon away from my professional academic job into a sabbatical this Spring and then “retirement” (read, graduation from Academe!) just one year later, I feel excited and am ready to launch a promotion campaign for the book and initiate a next Life Chapter as an author and workshop presenter, and to return to my Home base nearer my family to live in a lovely lakeside community.

It seems most of the big shifts throughout my life have come with “Crossing the Great Waters” or relocating. This goes back to early family life as my father relocated many times from job transfers. I guess I learned then that growth comes with change. I learned as a youth to anticipate a Big Move by reflecting on current conditions and planning positive change to implement with the move; so, this truly does represent one more stage of Coming Full Circle.

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I am grateful for ALL, and TO all who have been friends and family and coworkers along the way. Life EXPANDS as we do in states of consciousness, so I welcome this expansion and wish everyone else the same freedom, sense of responsibility, and love as I have been blessed to enjoy.

The DESCENDER Rising, Part II: Protest Marchers of the Night (Waxing Poetic)

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Why is it that protesters such as now occupy the streets of many American cities for anti-Trump rallies often choose the Night to stage their marches? I propose this may not simply be due to their daytime work schedules, especially on weekends. These protests are an outcry from the collective archetypal DESCENDER, whose domain of expression and action is a Deep, often submerged realm, in what James Hillman called the “underworld” of the dynamic Unconscious.

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A “call in the Night” embodies a passionate, ardent outcry for all concerned. Protesters in America are often not even well organized; the nighttime rallies are organic, spontaneous. Much is being brought to the surface at this time in America and in much of the world in this and recent times of economic and political uncertainty. Black Lives Matter marches over the past summer; anti-Trump rallies that began during the terribly bitter campaign in protest of bigoted statements and threats by the candidate; raucous campaign rallies themselves: all of these demonstrate the frustrations and divisive polarization occurring in the world perhaps since the 2008 Great Recession and subsequent Occupy Wallstreet movement in America.  Many have not yet recovered lost jobs or feel disenfranchised either from the experience of enormous economic disparities or from becoming the target of racial, religious, or gender and sexuality coded attacks.

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Things fall apart,

The Center cannot hold”

… echoes W. B. Yeats from his grave (warning of an impending Anti-Christ).  Yeats also penned in “The Nineteenth Century and After”:

“Though the Great Song return no more,

There’s keen delight in what we have;

The rattle of pebbles on the shore

Under the receding Wave.”

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I like Yeats (can you tell?)–as I once memorized virtually an entire Collected Works of Yeats volume late in high school thanks to a dear mentor (D/M)–, and I find myself returning to Yeats’s sage, deeply reflective poetry often this past week.  Yeats’s poetry and the theosophical philosophy underlying his poetic vision (read his book, A Vision) reminds me of the cyclical nature of life and politics in this world of appearances, this phantasm:

“Once, while on the old grey stone I sat,

Under the old windbroken tree,

I knew that One is animate.

Mankind inanimate phantasy.”

But here’s one I am reminded of this week as I struggle to come to terms, to find a balance of acceptance while yet feeling protective of my liberal values of appreciating diversity and freedom of religion (implying due separation of Church and State):

Outworn heart, in a time outworn,

Come clear the nets of wrong or right;

Laugh, heart, again, in the grey twilight;

Sigh heart, again, in the dew of the morn.”

Paired with (in Those Images) one of my favorite of all Yeats phrases through the years:

“What if I bade you leave

The cavern of your mind;

There’s better exercise

in the sunlight and wind.”

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images are from pixabay.com

It is time for a change to rattle the pebbles on the shore; a time for poets and mystics to descend to their Core and to reemerge in the Light.  

May we all be Torchbearers for one another when that is needed.

May you and I everywhere find ways to exercise our God given, inherent freedom and delight to go forth, again, to play in the Sun!

The DESCENDER Rising (Part One: My Descender-Prompted Letter to the President-Elect)

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To the U.S. President-Elect from My DESCENDER:

I have read about your first 100 day priorities. They along with most of your agenda threaten everything I have taken for granted as progressive and helpful for the planet and for this country over which you aim to preside.

Look into the matters you are targeting with conservative policies carefully before you act, please!

  • There are REASONS for the regulations against fracking. They should be increased, not eliminated. Near surface earthquakes are already occurring. Carcinogens are in the emissions, polluting the air and water and endangering wildlife and humans. The super volcano at Yellowstone, for one example, is overdue to erupt, threatening to destroy at very least two thirds of the US (as per National Geographic and a slew of other studies). Fracking increases the probability of that eruption occurring sooner rather than later.   Native American conservationists are wise in calling for resource stewardship in Balance with Nature.                             earthquake-1665892__180
  • Whether climate change is cyclic and/or exacerbated by rapacious human use of natural resources, it poses real and immanent dangers to the continuation of life on this planet.                                                                                                                                                                                 
  • Black lives DO matter, and uniquely, as do Mexican-American and Muslim American as well as Native and White American lives and rights or dreams of citizenship.  You will not abate domestic terrorism or “fix the inner cities” (which BTW are diverse in themselves; not all or only African Americans live there) by profiling and deporting or frisking law abiding citizens. There would be a backlash; we have seen this already and you would be responsible. Work instead to improve citizen cooperation, police and community relations and policing techniques.                                                                                                                                                                                                                     stock-photo-team-teamwork-togetherness-collaboration-concept-343048862
  • Marriage equality and gay rights in general should not even need to be legislated, but to protect civil rights, they must be; also Trans rights should be a given in the Land of the Free. (Freedom is not just for those you agree with or aim to mollify for having voted for you; Freedom requires respecting others’ freedoms!)
  • Abortion is a right and a choice that government has no place tampering with. People of VARIOUS faiths (we are NOT a “Christian country”!!!) always consider their beliefs and are free to exercise their own values. To me, as I believe in reincarnation, God or Divine Consciousness is neither so capricious nor so limited as to bestow only one lifetime or one opportunity to experience life in a body; Soul may enter with the first breath and can choose another body if conditions are not favorable for a mother.

Freedom of belief and practices that do not impinge negatively upon the wellbeing and rights of others are a mainstay of the American Way and must be safeguarded and protected.

DIALOGUE leads to progress; FIAT leads to unfortunate despair for ALL.

If you truly aim to “Make America Great,” do so with great care and deep respect for ALL Americans and for all of Life Itself!

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(This statement is from my DESCENDER, an archetypal ‘part of Self’  embedded within the collective consciousness of all humans.  It rises to express itself from the depths of the Psyche when it perceives a challenge to health and happiness of the individual or the collective Self or Soul. I encourage all readers to tap into the wellspring of the DESCENDER in your own Self; it is a healthy way to “touch base” with your core feelings and values.)

At the Brink of Descent: LIVE WELL

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Yesterday I lived in a country that felt inclusive and open to all. Religious freedom, racial and gender  and sexuality equality were all moving forward and there was a promise in the air of further growth and security. This morning I appear to live in a different world, a world that has descended to the dregs of petty protectionism, bigotry, and potential autocracy.

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Yes, I AM a liberal democrat and I want to stand up for this because my values embrace diversity and freedom for ALL.

So, I was walking, head bowed, in contemplation this morning of mourning that these values are being endangered. I asked inwardly and received an answer in the form of a waking dream, a poster across a bus:

“What Can We Do?”

LIVE WELL.

That does about say it all: Live Well!

No one can interfere with your values unless you let them. To be inclusive means to also dialogue across the divides.

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pictures are from pixabay.com

In a time of DESCENT, Live Well. Love one another, bless one another. Reach out to embrace those who are in fear and desperation. Hunker down. Go Within to gather Strength.

May You, May We ALL Live Well.

Ladybug, Ladybug, Fly Away Home!

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In this month of the DESCENDER Archetype, I’ve just had a wonderful Descender Moment.  As I was walking out from my institutional Cave (the university building I have an office within) I was thinking about my upcoming sabbatical and retirement one year later.

I was thinking about stepping OUT from the enclosed mental space of Academia into a more open, liberated way of life. Just as I was musing about that liberation (I call my upcoming retirement “my graduation” as it begins my next Life Chapter as an Author), I looked down to the floor in the space between the inside of the building and the outer glass door. As I was opening the door, I watched as a Little Ladybug saw the opening and scurried Across the Threshold from the interior space (where she would starve if she stayed there too long) and the Light and Nourishment outside, to the air and grass.

“Ladybug, Ladybug,

Fly Away HOME!”

This childhood nursery rhyme came to me as I watched Little Ladybug soar up into the open, fresh air.

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You know the old adage: “The (darkest) Night is always just before the Dawn.” This may refer to how it is in the proverbial (and often literal!)  Night that we dream, take stock, and envision our plans for the future or for the Daytime of vital expression.

Our DESCENDER works through the Night to deliver us into a greater Tomorrow.

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I welcome your Comments and Story!

Let’s Get to the Bottom of Things! (I invite you!)

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November is the month of the Archetypal DESCENDER.  It is interesting that this Archetype is associated with a phase preceding the onset of Winter, a time of hibernation either literally or figuratively for many. I love the DESCENDER Archetype part-of-Self; it is one of my own dominant  ensemble Cast members.

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Please don’t mistake the DESCENDER for Jung’s notion of a Shadow archetype. Any of the TWELVE UNIVERSAL ARCHETYPES (shown below) can manifest in either Strength (positive) or Shadow (negative) modes of expression.

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DESCENDER is s/he who Descends to the depths or to the Core/ Heart of matters. (Often it will be your MYSTIC part-of-Self who brings back UP or re-emerges with that which your Descender unearths or discovers.) Consider our use of language to convey our natural Descender impulses:

Dive Deeply into the Matter

Sink Down

Plunge to the Bottom

Plumb the Depths of a situation

“I need some Down Time”

“I feel Depressed/ Down”

Under the weather

“Let’s Get to the Bottom of this”

At Base Level

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This Month of the DESCENDER, I invite you to take time to reflect DEEPLY; to PLUNGE TO THE DEPTHS of one or more situations that deserve your DEEPEST focus and attention. Let’s start with ONE: print out this post and write into the blank space in the CAVE image below (do your own “Cave Art”) ONE THING you feel drawn to EXCAVATE or to inspect on a DEEP level. Journal this month about this topic. Dialogue with your DESCENDER Part of Self (I will give you a template later this month for that sort of Active Imagination Archetype Dialogue).

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And please, do not be afraid of your DESCENDER. It is not a ‘demon’ or even a ‘dragon,’ though if it has been repressed or denied it does deserve to be LISTENED TO and SEEN. To encounter your DESCENDER, you must only DESCEND; don’t expect It (Her/Him) to come to the Surface but you will find your DESCENDER in a cozy place of repose. Hint: Bring a Mystic Guide with you to encounter and learn from your DESCENDER.

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I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!