Neither For Nor Against

We live in a dualistic universe and, these days, I would say we in America and in several other societies have created a binary society.  I like to think in terms of the outer reality being a reflection of internal states of consciousness, so if my outer world is polarized, politically or otherwise, and if I align with one ‘side’ to the point of feeling negative about or toward people or points of view from an ‘other/opposite’ side, I may question my own internal state as being itself conflicted or in a state of emotional or attitudinal imbalance.

How to resolve this? It would be false of me to claim or to defend neutrality in terms of values or beliefs. I do accept some values that–necessarily in this dualistic world–are opposed in principle to other, opposite points of view. I am a citizeb and vote according to my best understanding of positive values and policies that are, I assume, for the good of the Who;le.

However, I am old enough to not want to create or perpetuate conflict. Like Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce who chose to migrate his tribe into Canada rather than face another bloody battle or to have them be herded onto a restrictive reservation:

“I Will Fight No More Forever.”

images are from pixabay.com

My goal, spiritually, is to be “neither for nor against,” while at the same time not sacrificing what I hold to be true and good. With this I recognize how my values come largely from what I have been exposed to and/or conditioned by, as do everyone else’s.

To be neither for nor against while maintaining integrity means, to me, not to be attached to outcomes and to be willing to listen and to allow viewpoints other than my own. There are ideas and facts I will stand up for, even march for or represent in open forums, But having expressed my sense of truth, I must allow that others have too theire own truths and the right to express those as well in a peaceful assembly.

Let justice and the laws and moral fiber of a just society handle the rest.

Inwardly, I aim to resolve internal conflicts as they may arise. Listening, not closing off or closing out competing ideas or interests, can help bring my archetypal sub-selves to the Roundtable in search of a dynamic, harmonious solution to any apparent quandary.

If only we could agree to do this outwardly: to listen with deep care to one another and to aim to incorporate each other’s best founded ideas and viewpoints to serve the higher interests of the Whole.

Eagle with Snake

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While driving in my car via a new route for me, from Ithaca to finally settle in at my new lakeside community retirement house, I watched as a Golden Eagle carried its living prey: a snake, dangling from its beak. The eagle with snake flew in front of my car in my same direction for a long while, weaving back and forth like blazing my trail forward; then it veered off to the northwest, precisely in the direction of my new home.

I certainly accepted this unusual experience as a waking dream, and one that relates greatly to my June question: ‘Why Am I Here?’

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My initial personal associations with this sign include that the Eagle could be understood as an Animus (a masculine energy form) in Jungian terms, with keen vision, sharp talons to provide for its young; also as positive purpose and clear directionality.

Online some of the information I discovered about this image revealed:

  •  Eagles and hawks have the keenest vision of all birds; therefore they are symbols of visionaries and messengers;
  • eagle with snake, in mythology, represents the conflict of opposites (a dialectical, dynamic fusion);
  • the Mexican flag contains the image of a golden eagle on top of a cactus, grasping a snake: “the very image the people had been promised would direct them to the place they would make their new home.”
  • Golden eagles do eat snakes but only as 2.9% of their usual prey; this has not even been reported to occur in New York state.

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images are from pixabay.com

I am grateful for this sign which feels like a blessing for my purpose in my new home. May I serve Life here in whatever capacity I am able.

I welcome YOUR Story and Comments!

Thank You! And… The Value of a Vocation

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Dear Readers:

I want to add a few words  as a sort of preface to this blog post. It is all about GRATITUDE.  I thank each and every one of you for reading Better Endings when you do, and especially I am grateful for every Comment shared.

This week I am particularly GRATEFUL to every one of you linked to this blog or from Facebook  who took the time to come to the launch of my new personal growth & development book, Your Life Path (see side panel for ordering info and to read an interview about the author; the book is now available through all major outlets). Friday and Saturday nights March 9/10 were well attended and I got to see some of my best friends and closest colleagues along with several former students! To see you all before I move to NY after retiring this summer was such a blessing; you can only imagine how wonderful it was for me to touch base with each of you.

My Thanks also to all of you who have ordered this book, Your Life Path. It is a labor of love for over 12 years and provides the best techniques I can offer to you for engaging in the Art of Life Mapping. I have seen how the approach that has emerged with the Life Path Mapping Process embedded as a self discovery toolkit with this book has helped many people already to reflect on their lives and go forward with greater clarity and passion.

AND FURTHER GRATITUDE YET: to my Super Agent, Linda Langton and to the team of publicists Paula Kalamaras and Paul Kraly of Scribes Unlimited, without whose inspiration and expertise this book would certainly not have been manifested. (Further thanks are of course in the Acknowledgements to the book.)

A word to you ALL from the Zuni language, which I have been blessed with myself through the years:

ELAHKWA ! (Thank You!)

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The Value of a Vocation

We are multi-dimensional beings. Within our core Identity we house several sub-identities, formed somewhat distinctly depending on the roles and statuses we “take on” in our lives. Jung called these sub-identities archetypal members of our personal unconscious domain of the Psyche.

Elder Leader, Lover, Warrior, Nourisher, Artist, Idealist Golden Child, Descender, Teacher, Communicator, Healer and Mystic :  these are twelve universal or “primordial” personal archetypes recognized by the archetypal psychologist Dr. Charles Bebeau, founder of the former Avalon Archetype Institute in Boulder, Colorado.  All of these are latent or active component sub-identities we may develop in relation to our relationships, our jobs, our hobbies or other activity roles and identities.

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Most of us develop a few of these archetypal personas more than the rest. Some even become over-balanced in one or another of these ‘dimensions’ of the Psyche. A strongly developed or rigidly enacted ELDER LEADER mode, for example, may lead one to downplay their more nurturing or playful ‘sides’.

Vacations (I am about to step into Spring Break mode!–may not blog again until April) are good times to step away from primary workaday roles to expand or exercise other facets of your Self. The IDEALIST, for instance, is often associated with travel, and on vacation you can give yourself more freedom to enjoy your more idealistic nature as “a breath of fresh air.”

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VOCATIONS also allow us to express a more balanced and integrated Self and Psyche. Hobbies, artistic practices and “callings” bring greater harmony of our “cast of sub-selves” into our core Identity. We benefit by expressing our full multi-dimensional capacities.

I value Julia Cameron’s invitation in THE ARTIST’S WAY for us to give ourselves an “Artist’s Day” at least once per week. Do something ‘out of the box.’ Take a new way home, go to a museum, walk by a lake or river, dream, journal, try some new food; anything to shake you out of any ruts you may be in.

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images are from pixabay.com

Forge new pathways of thought and emotion. Expand your horizons.  Let a part of you that you may usually submerge or repress “out.” Experience the FREEDOM to BE all that you are, not just your “responsible” or “dutiful” persona.

I welcome YOUR Comments and STORY!

Jungian Re-integration: Gathering Wholeness

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Allow me to share two difficult stories around the theme of re-integration this week. Carl Jung recognized three stages in the process of psychological individuation that are closely tied with the three phases of the hero cycle or the three stages of rites of passage cycles. For Jung these three stages of individuation include: integration, disintegration, and reintegration. The story of Isis descending to retrieve and reassemble the dismembered parts of her brother-husband Osiris well illustrates this process.

We may feel as if we are whole until some disruptive experience  dismembers us and we feel we have  “fallen to pieces.” Then we must “pick up the pieces” and “put ourselves back together again,” resulting in a new self with regard to difficulties we have faced.

On NPR on Saturday, I listened to a story that reminded me of this theme of Jungian reintegration. A mother, Sarah, was dealt the worst blow life has to offer: one of her two twin sons, Caleb, died from a genetic illness. Sarah donated Caleb’s body to science. Yet she found she could not leave it at that; two years later Sarah followed up on where various body parts of her beloved son were delivered and to what use they were being put.  She found that Caleb’s cornea was still in use in studies of infant blindness; DNA studies comparing her two twins’ blood samples had revealed thousands of discrepancies of an epigenetic nature; and Caleb’s retina was a valuable resource in a Philadelphia study of infant illnesses.

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In tracing what had happened with her son’s donated parts, Sarah was re-integrating her very memory of Caleb. He had not died without purpose or consequence, and Sarah’s decision to donate his young body to science had served more than to alleviate her own suffering. Sarah summed it up nicely:

“The choices you make affect others.”

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images are from pixabay.com

The second story I wish to share is as grim as Sarah’s.  Just yesterday while driving on an interstate highway to Denver, I passed a male deer which had just been struck by a vehicle. It was terrible. The deer had been impacted at its rear so that both of its rear legs were broken. I pulled off The highway to call the state police. That poor deer was scraping itself off from the highway shoulder, in terrible agony. He could not survive for long in that condition. The state troopers would euthanize this Soul’s mortal body. I knew this was the only way for this Deer Soul to return to wholeness spiritually, though it could never return to its physical family. I stayed until the troopers arrived, sending what peace and love I could to the struggling animal.

Reintegration is a reassembling of parts of the Self which may have been lost or dismembered through crisis.  As we pick up the pieces we go forward with what we have left, hopefully contributing to others from the lessons we have gained from our ordeals, so that others may suffer less down the road.

These stories are grim indeed.  But they remind us of how life may also deal harsh experience. Yet, the hero cycle or rites of passage allow the process of individuation to be always an upward spiral of growth and purpose.

I welcome always your comments and stories.

Alchemy’s Mysterium Coniunctionis: Union of Opposites

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Carl G. Jung found that his archetypal studies–whereby he personally engaged in active imagination to engage with his ‘persona archetype’ figures within his own personal unconscious domain–could be linked to Alchemy.  Just as alchemists aimed to combine or mix chemical elements to produce a higher order of integration metaphorically described as the process of creating gold out of lead, archetypal psychology or Depth Psychology as Jung referred to his process aims to explore the character or properties of one’s internalized archetypal persona forms so as to integrate them into a greater harmony within the mature, individuated Self (or, Soul). Jung called the ‘sacred marriage’ of integrated archetypes within the Self, or more ultimately, of Self with ‘Divinity’ , a Mysterium Conjunctionis:

Likewise Joseph Cambpell, writing of the Hero Cycle we all undergo time and again as we work through our self-developmental passages within our individual Story, speaks of the ‘sacred marriage’ as “the Ultimate Boon” (in The Hero with A Thousand Faces ([Bollingen, MJF Books, 1949], pg 190) :

“The agony of breaking through personal limitations is the agony of spiritual growth. Art, literature, myth and cult, philosophy, and ascetic disciplines are instruments to help the individual past his limiting horizons into spheres of ever-expanding realization. As he crosses threshold after threshold, conquering dragon after dragon, the stature of the divinity that he summons to his highest wish increases, until it subsumes the cosmos.”

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I would say that self-transcendence is a universal goal of any healthy, life affirming spiritual being (human, animal, and really ALL life forms).  We seek GROWTH, greater wisdom, maturity, and higher degrees of integration as we face our ‘dragons’ or challenges.  Life brings this opportunity, time after time, to expand our consciousness through more and more purified forms.

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Of course, this self-growth can become stunted or aberrated; that is when we may seek a depth analysis to ‘sort out’ the difficulties and resolve them.  Archetypal psychology can be highly effective in helping us come to know ourselves better and to identify and resolve inner conflicts.  I will be presenting some simple techniques anyone can use in this pursuit in my upcoming book, Your Life Path, including an Archetype Dialogue Practice.  (See my sample PRACTICE technique, below!)

Can YOU relate to the principle of a ‘sacred marriage’ of opposites or of how unifying otherwise disparate  elements of your own personality characteristics has helped you sometimes to transcend inner conflicts or to resolve difficult choices? Think of the Devil-on-one-shoulder-and-Angel-on-the-other metaphor; have you ever become aware of such a duality in your consciousness? Which ‘side’ did you most listen to or act upon?

What would happen if you were to hear both nudges and put them in conversation with one another and with your higher Self? You can actually do this, quite naturally:

PRACTICE: A Dynamic Archetype Dialogue Technique

Think of a situation about which you feel a “divide” in your feelings or thoughts about that choice or situation. With active imagination, visualize each ‘side’ of your opposing internal perspectives as persons (personify them within your imagination).  Then let them speak with one another, and you as Self can either observe or take part in the conversation. Then (or as it is happening), journal about or write out this dialogue directly.  Aim for your opposing Parts-of-Self to arrive at some degree of mutual understanding and agreement to find a compromise that may help you to move forward and make a better decision than you might have had you acted on only one or another side of this polarity.

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images are from pixabay.com

I welcome YOUR Comments and Stories!

The Sacred Marriage

 

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This month let’s focus on the stage of the Hero’s Cycle known as the Sacred Marriage.    To Joseph Campbell, drawing from Jung, this is that stage by which the masculine and feminine energies of the Hero are merged, allowing the Hero to go forth as a more integrated Whole Self as s/he continues to pursue their Quest.

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To Jung more directly, this is a union of the Animus and Anima and brings about a major transformation of character.  If it represents the actual goal of the individual, it can even be seen as an alchemical achievement of the highest magnitude: Mysterium Conjunctionus!   Masculine + feminine (both energies coexisting within both men and women), or Soul + Spirit, or even Earth + Heaven/ Human + Divine: this is the apex of integrated unity, gold out of lead.

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While the Sacred Marriage is often depicted via an actual Marriage of two characters, ultimately it is an internal achievement, as the individual attains a balance within of their animus and anima traits. Because of this, it can occur within anyone as a solo accomplishment or it could manifest as a relationship union.

Integration or even fusion as the Sacred Marriage represents is a significant spiritual development for it allows the Self to emerge as fully formed, as an expression of Soul.

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images are from pixabay.com

A CONTEMPLATION AND JOURNALING PROMPT:

Can you relate to the topic of the Sacred Marriage?

Do you feel you have achieved this INTERNALLY, whether or not you are partnered with your spouse or a significant other?

If so, what does this open up for you in terms of pursuing your greater goals? If not, how shall you achieve this; again, internally?

I welcome your Comments and Stories!

Checking In With Your-Selves!

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Are you engaged in some process that takes a long time yet brings a personal goal to fruition?  School can be like that, or now for me, writing for mainstream publication. I find this activity proceeds necessarily sometimes in fits and starts. During the fits or slow slog periods of editing yet one more time, I find it helpful to check in with my internal selves: those archetypal persona character modes that each have their own perspectives on our shared as well as their distinctive goals with regard to the project at hand. For it may be one or more of these Archetype Allies that has slowed the progress as a way to call attention to an opportunity for improvement before I can move forward more productively again.

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Mindfulness is a popular term these days for this sort of checking in with your Self–or, more accurately for my purposes, your selves!  I like using an Archetype Dialogue Practice to help integrate conflicting internal viewpoints. I use an active imagination technique, such as Jung recommended, to “sink” into a subconscious level of awareness where I can make contact with my internally diverse viewpoints or parts of Self.

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You can think of these archetypal personas as being associated with the various roles (or, masks) you occupy in life, as all of us develop somewhat distinctive points of view from the perspectives of each of our role types (e.g. Parent, Teacher, Lover, Nourisher, Idealist, etcetera).   You can have a conversation inwardly and/or journal a dialogue while you are imagining connecting with these internal parts of Self.  Just allow the interaction or conversation to proceed naturally. This is actually a level of subconscious interaction we take part in unconsciously much of the time, as we weigh a decision or an action.

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Below is an excerpt from a journaling form of Archetype Dialogue I engaged with just a few days ago about the slow process of editing for publication:

ELDER LEADER     You need to finish the edit and begin taping for the webinar. Time is waning on our sabbatical.

NOURISHER.     Let her be, Marshall. She knows what she needs to be doing.

 LW:  Well I could use all of your input, actually. The editing feels too mechanical now. Taking stuff out is not so much fun as putting ideas into the book. It pains me to have to be removing the lined journaling pages, stripping down to only providing the instructions for library readers to do the techniques externally.

ELDER LEADER.    Yes we understand but that is what you need to do, so library readers will not be tempted to write in the books. That’s the editor’s decision. Why are you balking so much?

ARTIST    I know what you really want to be doing…and it is what I want to help you with… to redesign the Toolkit as a separate aid that readers will be able to download or receive directly as a workbook companion to the book.  The cover art your cousin has provided will fit beautifully with the Toolkit.

LW: Yes but then I also need to get rolling with the webinar production. And a larger than usual docket of classes looms just around the corner in August. Argh!

TEACHER.    One step at a time, dear. That is the best way forward. What is the ONE THING, as you tell people to consider with their own life mapping, that YOU need to be doing, Now?

MYSTIC.   Yes, dear Soul, what is your ONE THING, NOW?

LW:  Well, I want to have a clearer overview of the Whole–of where all this is heading, really. So much work for so many years, and yes we have a publication date, but the whole process feels like it is starting to get away from me, you know? Master, can you help me to re-center, to regain a stronger focus at this interval as I need to deliver these products in full strength and beauty, to best serve the Whole?

MYSTIC    Go within to find your answer, dear. What is your ONE THING, Now?

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As I continued with this internal musing (a fine expression, by the way!), I did arrive at answers. My new process is to produce both the edit my publisher needs and, concurrently, I will generate the Toolkit from the extracted material. So I do not have to lose any of the vitality I want for the book to contain. As well, this contemplation led me to write a full draft script of the opening webinar sessions, so I feel back on track now!

I invite you to develop your own Archetype Dialogue Practice.  I will be sharing a full process for this approach with my upcoming book (March 2018), Your Life Path.

What are some of your own archetypal “parts of Self”? Allow them to present themselves to you. Just offer them a safe, open space for communicating with you. Keep in mind that these are not external “voices” or entities, at all. (If they feel as such ever, then it could be helpful for you to discontinue the exchange! ) These are simply your own INTERNAL points of view that much too often we tend to ignore. So, lend an ear!

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images are from pixabay.com

I welcome your comments and stories!

Liminality: The Betwixt and Between

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Why is it that after a hero has crossed the initial threshold of adventure, there is always a descent to undergo before the adventure can be pursued to the point of true fulfillment? An adventure story worth its salt, so to speak,—fictional or yours—is first and foremost a Rite of Passage.

Anthropologists recognize that a complete Rites of Passage/ Hero Cycle adventure occurs over three ritual or Hero Cycle stages. The adventure proceeds from:

(Stage 1)  Separation–whereby the hero(es) remove themselves from their normal state of affairs in order to pursue a personally meaningful and collectively beneficial Quest–; to

 (Stage 2) the Transition Zone–wherein they meet themselves and encounter obstacles in the form of trials and tribulations–; to

(Stage 3, when or if the Quest is successfully fulfilled), their Return and Reincorporation–whereby the more mature and better individuated Self benefits others as well as themselves from their positive transformation of values and the maturity they have brought back from their ritual passage.

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The Transition Zone (Stage Two of a complete Rites of Passage/ Hero Cycle odyssey) is where a Descent—sometimes metaphorically depicted as being swallowed up or in the Belly of the Whale—must occur in order for the Quester(s) to develop and strengthen their depth of character quite literally, as in what Jung would call a more integrated and thereby a better balanced unconscious-with-conscious Self. 

In the Transition Zone of a Rites of Passage cycle, the Quester encounters liminality: the experience of feeling as if they are “betwixt and between” normal spheres of reality or society.  As both Victor Turner and Anthony Wallace have described rites of passage, this sense of liminality—whether for an individual or sometimes for an entire society when a revitalization movement occurs—places the person (or social group) in an experience of marginality. They are no longer in the status or role they had before embarking on their adventure, yet they have not yet accomplished or fulfilled their quest whereby they could claim a new, greater role or their successful social-psychological adjustment. I love Anthony Wallace’s description of this (when successfully achieved) process as a Mazeway Resynthesis: a psychological/cognitive reorganization of values and behavior according to an adjustive, fulfilling new Vision of (individual and/or cultural) reality as a whole!

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images are from pixabay.com

Here are just a few examples of popular literary/ fictional stories that include prominent LIMINAL ZONE sub-plots or scenes:

Harry Potter: especially in his feelings of isolation from even his closest allies and in his nightmarish dreams of Voldemort from episodes 4-7;

Lord of the Rings: in Frodo’s passage, with Samway and the devious trickster Gollum as companions in liminality, to Mordor to destroy the One Ring in Return of the King;

The Wizard of Oz: e.g. in the Forbidden Forest, the Poppy Fields, and the Wicked Witch’s castle; and

The Bucket List: in the main characters’ unsuccessful outer quest to climb Mt. Everest,  during which they come to realize the true value of love and family.

What about you in your own unique LIFE STORY? Can you identify with a time in your life when you have experienced (or have yet to) LIMINALITY?  I invite you to journal about this experience or prospect. What did or have you to GAIN?

I welcome your Comments and Story!

 

 

Descent–Into the Belly of the Whale

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For this month of May let’s explore here the stage of the Hero’s Adventure which requires Descent and Re-emergence.  Once an adventurer set upon their glorious Quest crosses the (first) threshold to enter into the domain of their field of action to achieve fulfillment, they are often initially “swallowed up” or they descend into a “forbidden (verboten) zone” of a sort that accords with their needs.  Descent signifies allowing oneself to explore the fertile realms of archetypal unconscious potential. Descent is a necessary process to undertake before you can claim any true progress in attaining your most worthy purpose or goal.

Many an epic narrative illuminates the rich though challenging encounter with ‘denizens of the Deep’, such as is represented by the biblical story of Jonah and the Whale. This is a descent into the “dynamism of the Unconscious” according to archetypal psychologists including Carl Jung, James Hillman and Joseph Campbell.

Your unconscious psychological Innerscapes that you may feel are “below” or ‘beneath’ your surface level of conscious awareness are vital like rich loam, oozing with multiple, too often “buried” perceptions, feelings and insights.

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Halloween, for example, is a time of year set aside to release and engage with such a ‘dark,’ shadowy level of consciousness that may actually represent your own unconscious, ‘inner’ worlds. Who do you like to dress up as on Halloween? What might that say about your own archetypal ‘shadow’ selves?

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This month I invite you to “step down,” to accept and listen more closely to your own subconscious and deeper unconscious–often called “gut”–voices. They are YOU; facets of your own total consciousness that derive in part from the various roles and lived experiences you have accumulated and enacted in your life, including those usually more ‘hidden’ parts of Self that might feel stunted, silenced or in “Shadow”.

Sink Into Deep Waters: A Creative Visualization Activity

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As a self-discovery, active imagination technique that you can use to facilitate the psychologically energizing experience of Descent, I invite you to imagine sinking deeply into a body of water. Remember the scene from The Graduate when Ben Braddock (the title character played by Dustin Hoffman) is overwhelmed by his conflicting feelings and relationships, so he dives into a backyard pool and lets himself sink to the bottom? He stays there as long as he can in this depth domain, performing a sort of soul searching.

Try this in a bathtub.  You can fill your tub with bath bubbles (if you wish), with time apart from family or others, and sink back (not really putting your head under the water for so long!).  Imagine sinking to the bottom of a pool or of a lake or even of an Ocean. You can breathe, though; do make sure you give yourself this ability.

Now explore: what is ‘on your mind’ or heart?  What deep questions or decisions are you contemplating, do you need answers about from your own inner parts of Self or inner guidance?

I just did this exercise myself about an hour ago and loved it. When I asked my Self what I needed to better understand I found it is my fear of being alone in my retirement.  My dog Sophie was at the bathroom door and I knew she and my cats will be with me, but I do have a fear of leaving all my friends and outer spiritual community behind me in Colorado when I move in just over a year across country.

So I stayed in the tub, continuing to imagine being underwater like Ben in The Graduate. (Actually this turns out for me to be a very apt fictional analog, as I conceptualize retirement as a graduation from Academia as a professor.) I found my inner selves piping up about the various aspects of Self I could connect with in seeking new friends at my new location. I can connect with writers, and readers, and retired teachers; with pet lovers, Scrabble or other game players, hikers, neighbors and of course my family will mostly be closer, plus a highschool friend still there. Even further, the thought arose that through today’s social media, I don’t have to wait until I make this Big Move before connecting to seek out some like minded others.  I can find online networks and begin connecting even before I leave. I have a full year left to do so before I leave. This last awareness felt very liberating to me; an idea I had not focussed on very ‘deeply’ before now!

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pictures are from pixabay.com

And so, dear fellows, Go For It! I invite you to try this creative visualization technique, either in the tub or in any environment that allows you to engage in an active contemplation session.

I invite and welcome your comments and story!

Contemplative Hopping (Internal Threshold Crossing)

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Story 1:  Yogic Flying

Sometime in the late 1970’s, a group of Transcendental Meditation practitioners first stunned the world with their release of video (before the Web even!) demonstrating “yogic flying” or “hopping” while in a deep meditation state of consciousness. They would levitate and shift position on their mats apparently as an exercise of Mind over Body.

Yogic Fliers reveal that we are capable of controlling the body directly through thought or Mind. What else can we take away from their example?

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Story 2:  Conscious vs. “Unconscious” States of Consciousness

For a graduate school assignment in linguistic semantics one week, our professor asked us to compose better semantic accounts than standard dictionary references for a related set of terms.  I chose CONSCIOUS and UNCONSCIOUS and compiled a wide range of definitions in order to sort these out and arrive at a holistic semantic analysis. What I discovered was that any state of consciousness that is not “conscious” or a “waking state” perception or experience people tend to lump together under the very large umbrella of “unconscious” in American English parlance.

Included under the far-reaching semantic domain of “unconscious”: unconscious, subconscious, dream state, daydreams, ‘other side’, Mind, (unconscious) thought, brain synapses, Self, soul, precognition, memory, lack of awareness. What I noticed about this wide range of concepts is that, simply put, Americans comprehend on the whole very little about anything they cannot directly See, Hear, Taste, Smell or Touch. All the rest, which in my view is the whole-enchilada iceberg under that tiny tip of “conscious” sense awareness, is lumped together as “unconscious.”

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As one who has engaged in daily, active contemplation and dreamwork for at least 44 years, I have discovered that the “Inner” is much more vast and is much more open to exploration and freedom of experience than the “Outer” realm of matter and conscious awareness.  There are many (perhaps infinite) levels of consciousness beyond the outer physical senses and body, and you are free to explore this diverse multiplicity of states and levels of consciousness through various modes of meditation, contemplation, active imagination, dreamwork, prayer, paranormal investigation and/or mindfulness techniques.

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That which is BEYOND the physical body states is neither defined by the mind nor contained or controlled by the Brain.

Implications for Contemplative Hopping—Internal Threshold Crossing

Using Jung’s approach of active imagination, a mode of contemplative envisioning and inner action, I encourage you to try your beyond-the-physical wings!  You do have them, at least figuratively speaking.  Dreams of flying (with or without wings as they are usually not needed!) are a very common early mode of inner travel or shifting of attention inwardly.  Explore an inner landscape, for instance, of an outer place you will soon be visiting “out here.”  Or actively contemplate the results or consequences of some anticipated move or action by yourself or others.

When I  was to make a big move from Buffalo (East) to Arizona (‘Out West”)  some 38 years ago, every night I asked to be shown something about the life I was about to embark upon plus I asked questions to trouble shoot this grand adventure. I was shown four people I would later meet (independently of one another) along with some glimpse of their role in my upcoming life.  I was also shown that  the experience would not be without its hardships but they would be necessary (karmic, let’s say), and when I later experienced what was foretold in these dreams very directly, I had been forewarned so was better prepared to meet the challenges.

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images are from pixabay.com

Let’s call your active inner explorations (past, present or future) to be forms of inner Threshold Crossing. I like to say, you don’t have to die or nearly die in order to explore the Heavens as well as really anything/ any state your Heart desires. Sages like the poet Rumi, actually, encourage us to “die daily.” This means you have the spiritual freedom to explore and investigate beyond the limited reaches of brain-mind or body.

See? I welcome your comments and stories!

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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images are from pixabay.com

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

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?

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When I was young, I remember asking my sister this question one day. We were in the kitchen. I was about 10 and she was 6.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

(pause, deep thought, and then) “I know! A Bunnyrabbit!”

What a great image! And do you know, my sister did grow up to be a bunny rabbit, in her way. She is very active and holds a lot of responsibility that helps a lot of people. Plus she has a tremendous group of very active friends, and most of all for the last several years she has been our family’s primary caregiver for our 89 year old mother who suffers from late stage Parkinsons at a nursing home near to my sister’s home.  My sister’s home has become, because so near to Mom, the nucleus for our family visits. So, she is always hopping!

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How did or might you have answered this question while you were young:

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP? (You may print this out and use the space below to journal in.)

 

 

Now  then, WHY (did/would you have answered this way)?

 

 

 

 

 

I have found an interesting pattern from asking this question, and then following it with: “How would you answer that same question today/ What do you want to be now when you ‘grow up’ (and, ‘Is there a difference between how you would have answered as a child and now/ Why?'”).

The way people answer this question reveals something about the dominant ARCHETYPE influences they identify with. Here’s a list of The Twelve primordial persona archetypes identified by the late Dr. Charles Bebeau of the Avalon Archetype Institute (as adapted by Debra Breazzano, MA/LPC) :

ELDER LEADER  ARTIST  TEACHER

LOVER  IDEALIST  COMMUNICATOR

WARRIOR  GOLDEN CHILD  HEALER

NURTURER  DESCENDER  MYSTIC

For example, I have found that people holding a childhood dream of becoming an Aviator or an Astronaut show when they complete the life mapping process I offer that they have a strong IDEALIST archetype orientation.  People who say they wanted to be a Superhero (a common childhood ‘fantasy’) later often show a strong WARRIOR archetypal persona. And those who wanted to become a veterinarian, for instance, tend to embody and gravitate to the HEALER mode, etcetera.

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Which of these twelve persona archetype figures do you recognize as primary personas within yourself?

People (Adults) often say the difference in how they would have answered this question as a child, and now, is that now they have “matured” to accept more “realistic” limitations. To the extent that some of these early archetypal influences may be less strong in later life (many are still present but expressing in more subdued form), some of these archetypal impulses could be suppressed or repressed. That is why it is good to renew this question and see how you FEEL about pursuing your ‘childlike’ Dream from here forward.

You can still BE that Superhero; you still ARE that airy-fairy inner Explorer/ IDEALIST. It can help to get in touch with all of your inner “parts of Self” that relate especially to the significant Themes in your life (e.g. Parent / Teacher/ Lover/ Spirituality oriented/ Artist, etcetera).  Jung would say it benefits us all to attend to and to INTEGRATE these various sub-selves, to orchestrate them, I would add, in pursuit of our Life Mission and goals.

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images are from pixabay.com

This month, October, is associated astrologically with Libra and the LOVER Archetype.  This is an opportunity to call your own LOVER forward to partner with you this month.  Get to know your LOVER persona. How does S/HE express in your life? Is S/HE in Strength mode (positive outlet) or in Shadow (if so how/ why?) What does S/HE, your Inner LOVER part-of-Self, want of you or for itself? How can you include your Inner LOVER in your outer life more fully? These are some questions you might explore.

I invite your comments and stories!

 

“Let’s Meet on the Inner”: An Internal Dialogue Practice

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For this month of the archetypal Communicator, I offer you a method for working with a challenging relationship conflict in a positive, constructive way.

For a difficult situation involving communication challenges, you can “go Within” to engage with the person(s) involved, or alternately, you can meet with an Inner Guide and have a conversation with him or her about a snaggly situation. This is a form of what Carl Jung would call Active Imagination.

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If you are having troubles communicating with someone because of a personality conflict or in relation to a sticky situation, you can set some quiet, private time aside. Go into a light contemplative/ meditative ‘zone’ (eyes closed in a semi-darkened space or in a natural setting) and imagine that the person or persons you’ve been having trouble with are present in a conference room (or create your own internal environment that is appropriate for your visit).

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Start a conversation. It can be very simple and does not have to be directly about the challenging situation you are facing. What is important is that this is a positive exchange. Allow the internal conversation with your ‘alter’ to proceed naturally, as if you and this person or persons are meeting Soul-to-Soul with a shared intention to move beyond your snaggles and to arrive at a positive, win-win solution.

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As an example to demonstrate the approach, around 15 years ago I faced a difficult situation with a workplace colleague. Coming from polarized theoretical approaches for teaching, the impasse between us reached the point—very uncomfortable for me—that we would avoid contact with each other altogether.

Then one morning I woke from a lucid dream encounter with this person (let’s call him Carl). In this dream encounter, I simply met Carl in passing. I beamed a positive smile, made Soul-to-Soul eye contact, and said, “Hello Carl!”. That was it. But it had the most amazing effect! That very morning at work, I was in the mail room when Carl walked in. Seeing we were ‘stuck’ alone in the mail room together, we made eye contact for the first time in several months.

               “Hello Carl!” I beamed, smiling.

               “Hi Linda,” Carl replied also with a smile.

That was our entire conversation, just as in the morning’s lucid dream. Somehow, it set into motion an immediate, significant thawing of our relationship. We no longer avoided one another, and in fact shortly after this encounter, Carl applied for and received an out-of-state position that would allow him to advance in his career. (I had put the job notification in his mailbox!) Within 3-4 months, Carl left, with the two of us in a much improved relation, as I even organized, as department Chair, a farewell party for Carl.

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free images are from pixabay.com

I invite you to try this technique for yourself. Imagine an internal conversation with someone you seek to have a better relationship with. You are not trying to change this person, but you are simply allowing a Soul-to-Soul encounter that may be difficult to engage in “out Here.”

I welcome your Comments and Stories.

(P.S. I will be on a road trip for the next month, so blog posts may be on a less than regular schedule.)

Archetypal Alchemy

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Carl Jung’s recognition of the value of encountering unconscious archetypical aspects of Self through active imagination leads to his understanding that this is a process leading to the “integration” of archetypal energies within the overall, individual identity of one’s Self. James Hillman further recognized that there is value in experiencing the dynamic vitality of usually submerged unconscious archetypal persona aspects, not necessarily to ‘raise them to conscious’ habitation but to explore the dynamics of their own field of influence within the Depth levels of Self.

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Each archetypical mode or energy complex within our overall human consciousness formation has Its own nature and can be a staunch Ally in Its most positive (Strength, to me) mode— or an impediment if repressed or in Shadow. To me, as with Jung, Hillman, and Jean Houston, the forming of an Archetype Council— what I like to call your Ensemble Cast of Mystic Archetype Characters— is an important process that facilitates the integration and mobilization of your dynamic archetypal energies in the most positive way. I think in terms of Archetype Pairings and Archetype Constellations within your Total Self System.

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Allying with your Warrior nature can be a good opportunity to forge an Archetypal Constellation in working toward a specific life goal or addressing a situation in your life that seems to call for your Warrior— at least in one aspect— to step forward. By Itself in full force, Warrior can lead the charge, when needed, to bring about a major shift in a situation. But Warrior also combines well with any of the other 11 universal archetypes (and/or their sub-modal, individualized forms), especially when you desire to establish a more tempered, balanced approach to a situation.

Combining archetypal modes or ‘guises’ normally happens unconsciously, but as an “alchemical” practice, the individual can choose consciously to enlist and combine specific archetypal elements in order to facilitate a specific objective. By the way, if this is not done, and as Joseph Campbell has reminded us, in some situations you might feel ‘dissociated’ or ‘split’: one part of you thinking or acting in one manner, another feeling or speaking from a very different ‘location’ within your Self. This is represented by the classic “angel on one shoulder, devil on the other” motif.

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One technique I offer to you for forging an archetypal Constellation to explore how best to approach a specific goal or deal with a difficult situation, is what I’ll call the Roundtable Room technique (based on the symbol of King Arthur’s Roundtable):

  1. FRAME a question or a situation;
  2. State your goal in relation to this situation or decision;
  3. On the picture below, circle those persona archetype characters you feel might be helpful to enlist to help you realize your goal or arrive at your decision:

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4. Enter into an Active Imagination (imaginative contemplation) session and Descend to the Roundtable Room where these selected Archetype characters have been assembled. Now invite each of these Archetypical personas to offer how they can help your overall Self with the situation or decision. Have an open conversation with these parts of your Self, seeking their input and asking to draw upon each of their Strengths in a team-based, collaborative manner.

5. Emerge from your Active Imagination contemplation and write down all that transpired (you can also journal this conversation as it occurs if that works better for you).

Below are some spaces where you may print this post and  record which archetype modes you have invited to help you work with the situation you have focused on with your active imagination.

 

SITUATION:

Ensemble Cast Allies/Strengths to Draw Upon:

Warrior  /  (e.g. resolve)

___________________________

___________________________

___________________________

___________________________

___________________________

 

So, choose a situation for which your inner Warrior would be one ‘part’ of your Self that it feels appropriate for you to recruit in the Roundtable Room. What does your Warrior want for you and of you in the situation? How can he/she help you to deal with the situation and achieve your goal? What other parts of your Self have something to add to this? What Strengths can these Archetype Allies each contribute to help you implement this plan and manifest your goal?

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images from pixabay.com

I welcome your comments and stories!

 

A Mystic Better Ending

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Some stories have better endings as their theme. Transformational storylines in general are often of this nature: faced with dire adversity and challenged to the depths, a protagonist overcomes  their own inherent flaws to triumph for the better interests of all concerned.

The Arthurian legend is of this nature, even though King Arthur himself is killed in battle at the end of the saga. Yet, he has triumphed in his very effort to rekindle knightly chivalry in a context of surrounding chicanery. The Roundtable itself symbolizes a Mystic ideal of shared heroic camaraderie and courage to offset and overcome the forces of Darkness or selfish greed.

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Arthur’s own mentor, of course, is the Mystic Wizard Merlin, who has tutored Arthur from childhood to use his intuitive understanding, his Heart, in becoming the greatest, fairest Leader he can be. Camelot represents something like a Shangri La utopian Kingdom set in a practical feudalistic society.

Arthur overcomes internal adversity in mastering the duality presented by his beloved Guenevere and his similarly beloved Lancelot finding each other in kismet despite their deep respect for and loyalty to Arthur. This situation challenges King Arthur to the core. He must oust Lancelot and pass sentence on his Queen because that is the law of the land to which he is bound by his own chivalrous nature. Various accounts hint at Arthur’s inward forgiveness and acceptance of the star-crossed lovers despite his necessary actions in the human realm.

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I believe the resolution of the story of Arthur highlights the depths and heights—the duality–of the human condition. We are each of us Soul, having a human experience, yet our nature is of divine love as eternal, in-dwelling Soul. Our Outer lives often call for action that our Inner natures resolve better, deeper than may be possible to realize or to express directly. As such, we learn our lessons and unfold,/ moving on to continue to face ourselves and set new goals. Relationships ‘end,’ yet if they have fulfilled their purpose, then moving on is for the better interests of all concerned.

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images from pixabay.com

The Mystic archetype is that part of each of us that can embrace duality or paradox and achieve what Jung calls the Mysterium Conjunctionus: the Sacred Marriage of Opposite natures, united as One. This is an INNER marriage, of Spirit/Self with Body/Emotion/Mind.  This is the Better-est Ending of all, Always.

Your Descender and Shadow Archetypes

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The Descender archetype as part of your Total Self System is not quite the same as what Jung referred to as your Shadow. In the system of twelve universal archetypes I am representing with the Life Maps Process, based on the system of archetypal therapy developed by Dr. Charles and Nin Bebeau and Debra Breazzano at the former Avalon Archetype Institute, all twelve archetypes, including Descender, each have both positive or Strength qualities as well as negative Shadow potentials.

Your Descender is associated with Descent, a part of you that is more comfortable in reclusive, reflective spaces or moods.

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This often submerged unconscious persona digs deeply into the lower layers of life experience and may often bring forth pearls or gems in the process.

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Shadow traits of any archetype are repressed or inhibited modalities. They may result from injuries or express inhibited, fearful aspects related to negative life conditions or from traumatic experiences from the past or present.

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The Lone Wolf animus figure I wrote about in my last post (Friday) has a Descender aspect to it. It stands apart and ventures where others may not dare to tread; this is its nature and it has been of great value to me as a writer, yet now I am seeking to reintegrate my Lone Wolf nature back into its wider community of Archetype Allies as it is time to go forth in a more external, service oriented  manner of sharing and communicating widely.

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Embrace your Descender as one who can show you the depths of any situation or relationship. Also acknowledge your Shadow expressions, as these may lead you to recognize sources of discomfort that can lead you to make positive adjustments and change. Explore the depths, then bring up the gold that can illuminate your passage to reach your desired goals.

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Most importantly, I encourage you to LISTEN to your Descender and Shadow forms, whether they appear in your dreams, your emotional attitudes, or in your outer waking world interactions. They bear important messages for you to learn and grow from. They are your Allies, too!

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I welcome your comments or stories!

Re-Member Your Golden Child

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I initially misread my own weekly topics agenda for this past month. The Golden Child archetype is associated with Leo, yes, but really this Leonine Ally is more associated in the Avalon Archetype Institute framework which I am utilizing here with August rather than July. The NOURISHER (or, Nurturer as I prefer) archetype is more directly connected with July Cancerian energy. (Being a late June Cancerian myself, I can verify this!) Still, it has worked rather well to pair the Golden Child Ally with our monthly postulate of Life is a Bowl of Cherries! So, I guess there was a method in the madness of Synchronicity!

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Before leaving this ‘conjunction’ of Golden Child archetype with the Bowl of Cherries postulate, I want to encourage you as you proceed forth from here to “re-member” your inner Golden Child as an Archetype Ally persona.  Re-membering (I got this from a spiritual passage long ago from ECK Master Paul Twitchell) means to put back together again or to reassemble elements of the Self into a new, holistic, synergistic Whole.

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GOLDEN CHILD is a strong, vital, generally outgoing and, at its best, a charismatic persona as a member of your archetypal ensemble. All of the members of your inner Council or Assembly or Cast of archetype character allies remain in the background of your conscious awareness once you have integrated them through identification and active dialogue. They remain available to be enlisted and may choose on their own as well to ‘step up’ in any given situation.  Dorothy, when leaving OZ to return to Kansas (or to ‘Conscious’, as  Jean Houston has aptly noted in her book THE WIZARD OF US) knew that her archetypal Allies of Tin Man, Scarecrow and (no longer a cowardly) Lion would remain available as mature  energies within her own Self long after her dream adventures in the Land of OZ. So too, you have accessible within you all twelve of the universal Archetype persona figures that comprise the architecture of human role-based consciousness which this year’s monthly blog themes are presenting.

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After identifying and exploring any archetypal facet of your Self, it is helpful to “ground” your connection and awareness of this internalized figure with a Symbol: an active TOTEM that will remind you of your treasured Ally. Carl Jung used the artistic vehicle of a Mandala to center and totemically ground his own archetypally integrated parts of Self. After engaging in “active imagination” episodes with his unconscious archetypal persona enrergies to the degree of achieving an integral awareness of their purpose and role in his life, Jung would paint (see his original RED BOOK/ Liber Novus) a mandala picture symbolically representing the archetypal awareness or persona in the Center, with meaningful images and/ or words surrounding the central figure to depict qualities, lessons or insights he connected perceptually with this persona aspect.

I invite you to compose a Mandala picture that represents your own GOLDEN CHILD part of Self along with qualities s/he brings forth within your integrated Self.

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An easy method for composing a mantra—unless you prefer to exercise your artistic talent ‘by hand’ with any artistic medium you choose, which I encourage!—is to select online graphic images such as clip-art icons and simply cut and paste them into a basic circle shape.  Let the central image represent yourself as the Golden Child persona, and place other images artistically around this central image to represent qualities you associate with this Ally in your life.

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 Place your mandala somewhere where you will remember its significance of representing your own Golden Child qualities. This archetype is one that sometimes is hidden or subdued in a culture that values humility over self-assertion. Yet it is a vital energy which in a balanced form empowers us to pursue and to claim our talents in service to life.

Forging an Archetype Ally

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As one of twelve primordial archetype character modes, the Teacher is associated with the element of Earth, with a Dissolving energy mode, and with Sagittarius (hence, December).  A Teacher perspective usually involves practicalities or facts rooted in solid foundations, revealing in that sense an earthy nature.   Teacher also brings a dissolving or resolving energy, allowing questions to be answered and transitions forged. And Teacher may cut to the heart of a matter with constructive critique like the Sagittarian archer.

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Regarding our archetypal aspects of Self as potential Allies, Teacher is a very positive ally to cultivate in its Strength mode.  If in Shadow, Teacher can be overly didactic or attached to a rigid point of view. But in its positive nature, Teacher can be a transformative Ally, showing the way to new vistas or a more flexible, new way of being.

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In order to harness the positive strengths of your inner Teacher potentials, it is necessary first to get to know yourself in this dimension.  In my personal development book and Handbook, LIFE PATHS, I will be presenting a complete Archetype Dialogue process to facilitate your “alliance building” in this respect. For now, I invite you to start an “active imagination” form of conversation with your Teacher energy.

I invite you to simply seat yourself in a comfortable armchair or lie prone on a couch or bed. You might chant a favorite mantra or a prayer, or breathe deeply several times and release your breath to relax into a mindful or aware state. Focus inwardly on that spot between your eyebrows, gently expecting to encounter a part of your Self that has a Teacher aspect to him or her. Imagine this inner Teacher energy; it could be someone who has been a teacher for you or a fictional character or your inner Teacher may take her or his own unique personal form.  Allow yourself to spend some time with this inner character. Allow your experience to unfold in its own way. Meanwhile you can have a conversation with your Teacher figure. Ask whom s/he is and what s/he would like for you to know about him or her. Continue the encounter as long as it naturally unfolds.

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When you return from your active imagination session with your Teacher part of Self, you may either continue the dialogue before opening your eyes, then record in your journal all that you remember; or, you might open your eyes after your main interaction and then start journaling an immediate dialogue in your journal.

When Jung returned from an active imagination experience–as described in his THE RED BOOK–,he would first journal about what he had experienced, then he would often draw a painting  or create a mandala to represent the lesson he had learned.

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 What does your Teacher archetype look like? Does s/he have a name? Now that you have shared an encounter with him or her, do you feel a little differently for having included your inner Teacher energy more consciously within your Awareness?

Inwardly you can invite this figure to remain part of your consciousness from now on! You can offer to be more attentive and caring about his/her interests and concerns. You can work together to help achieve your common goals.

I welcome your insights and stories!

What is “BetterEndingsNow!” to Me?, by Dr. Joshua Bertetta

{Dear Readers: Here is a treat (for me especially!). Joshua Bertetta of the intriguing blog The Story of the Four  has taken time to reflect on BetterEndings Now which he has been graciously following. Joshua is a scholar of comparative religion, mythology and archetypal psychology, and I am always grateful to have him “Watching,” as I am also grateful for every one of you who reads this blog whether or not you comment. You are always welcome to share your own insights and stories. So here is a guest perspective, from Joshua Bertetta. I will add some graphics because that is always fun to try to be synchronistic with GraphicStock images…}-Linda

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Dr. Linda Watts’s BetterEndingsNow! and its companion, Life Paths for Better Endings, rooted in C.G. Jung’s theory of the archetypes and James Hillman’s archetypal psychology, is a program, which, as much as it offers guidance toward discovering and manifesting one’s dream, is, to me, as much about the process as it is the final goal.

As someone who holds a Ph.D. in Mythological Studies with a degree emphasis in depth psychology, I am well familiar with Jung and Hillman, as I reflect upon Dr. Watts’s work, the element I have come to most appreciate is its simplicity.

Now don’t get me wrong, this is not a simple program—it takes work, but the work, aside from enlightening, can also be fun (as well as scary, as any process of self-discovery can be). What I mean by simple is two-fold. One the one hand, BetterEndingsNow! is free from psychological jargon. Yes, a participant is introduced to archetypes, but anyone familiar with Jung and Hillman know each defines and uses terms like “soul” and “psyche” in specialized ways. You don’t need to know all that to participate in the Life Paths process. In other words, you don’t have to be a specialist in analytical or archetypal psychology.

All you have to do is follow the steps, beginning with “Your Origin Story,” along as they proceed—simple.

Looking at Dr. Watts’s program, I particularly appreciate her understanding of life as story—as myth. There is too much baggage associated with the word “myth” these days and in many respects this baggage makes me sad. “Myth,” from the Greek mythos, simple means story or, perhaps more accurately, plot.

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Stories have arcs; they have peaks and vales; they have climaxes, themes and conflicts as well as a whole cast of characters.

Is that not life?

Too much today, I think, is life perceived by many as a simple sequence of events. Freud (to whom Jung and Hillman are in debt) revolutionized psychology because he understood life is a story. Hence his “talking cure” was a means by which his patients could understand their lives as stories and thus initiate a process of self-understanding and healing.

Of course Jung and Hillman would continue their own projects much in the same trajectory and I think what Dr. Watts has done is to distill this process by offering insights into such a journey in addition to introducing us to a means by which to understand central themes of our lives and the characters we meet along the way. By this I mean those archetypal presences that are at work in us and through us our entire lives. Dr. Watts not only introduces us to such archetypes, but offers a means by which to enter into a relationship with such.

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Jung and Hillman located the source of modern humankind’s suffering in the loss of meaning and the loss of imagination, respectively. Dr. Watts’s work follows in the same trajectory in that though using our imaginal capacity to connect with archetypal figures and to see our lives as stories, as myths. This is a key component in Jung’s and Hillman’s psychological projects. I might even say the key component, for when one is connected to the depths of experience, which are archetypal in nature, meaning in life is restored.

In the end, as I look at Dr. Watts’s list of primary archetypes (see “Meet & Greet Your Archetype Cast of Characters”) I would not hesitate to say that the Teacher archetype is present in her work. Offering guidance as she does as well as teaching us along the way, so much is clear. She is a university professor after all. But there is more.

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What makes BetterEndingsNow! special is the presence of the Nurturer. The program Dr. Watt’s sets before one does take work, yes, and again, such work can be hard. But there is a gentleness to her approach, embedded in her language. Like a mother, I see BetterEndingsNow! as open hands, hands available for the taking, and like a good mother, there is a quiet care present. Like a mother watching her baby learn to walk, that after those first few wobbly steps, she stands back and watches her baby go; yet despite the separation, the mother is always there, there to offer her child care, love, and guidance.

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Thank you, Dr. Bertetta. You have read this blog well to understand its intent deeply. I find that many authors and bloggers such as yourself and several others whom I have discovered through putting this material “out there” (which somehow always feels like “In There”, somewhere we all share consciousness together) are converging to bring similar messages through. I love Joseph Campbell and Jung and Hillman, among others (e.g. also Gail Sheehy, Jean Houston, Carol Pearson, Mary Catherine Bateson, Fredric Hudson, Julia Cameron, and  Carolyn Myss),who all are helping us realize our lives AS Mythic and therefore we can explore our own narratives and develop these in the direction of fulfilling our Golden Quests. Thank you for your reflections! – L

 

 

Just Sit Right Back and You’ll Hear a Tale…

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Lately Gilligan’s Island reruns are back in my locale, and I’ve found myself tuning in now and then. As we’ve been focusing on television Better Endings all this week, I’ve come to realize something about Gilligan’s Island that I never understood before.

Like Dorothy of The Wizard of Oz, and Hawkeye Pierce of M.A.S.H. (as Brenda helped us realize this week), or any “central” protagonist within an ensemble cast of characters who regularly interact through a series of adventures, Gilligan is the SELF character of the archetypal ensemble marooned together on—after all—Gilligan’s Isle.  The rest of the characters he is marooned with represent archetypal aspects of Gilligan’s unindividuated Self, in Jungian terms; and the purpose of the castaways’ adventures is to help Gilligan to strengthen and integrate these projected shards of Self, to individuate as a more mature, responsible person. Then, presumably, he can go Home.

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So what is Gilligan needing to develop in himself? His intellect—the Professor; his leadership capacity—the Skipper; feminine traits of two Anima complexes—the graceful Movie Actress Ginger and the girlish, giggly Marianne; and the acquisitiveness and pomposity of the wealthy Howell’s, who represent the opposite of Gilligan’s rather lackadaisical lifestyle. Gilligan does come to manifest, over time through his dreams and island adventures with his ensemble cast, all of those qualities these projected other-than-Self characters exhibit. He often comes up with the “brilliant idea” that trumps even the Professor’s experiments. He plays the Howell’s son at times, benefitting from their largesse. He displays his own girliness at times, while interacting with the Women. And always, he lives in the Skipper’s rather corpulent shadow, hardly daring to assert himself but often being called upon by the Skipper energy itself to step up and step forward, learning greater responsibility along the way.

Working together, episode after episode, adventure after adventure and dream after dream, eventually Gilligan’s ensemble cast of castaways learn to better communicate and cooperate with one another, so that, with the season’s “Return to Gilligan’s Island” finale, they do return to their separate lives in Hawaii, each of them having been strengthened, especially Gilligan.  Ironically though, after each character experiences disorientation in modern society after 15 years away, the two-part finale actually ends with the group again taking a cruise together, again running into a tropical storm, and again becoming marooned, right at the same island they had left!

So here’s a fun exercise for you:

Fill in the following blank with YOUR first name:    _______________’s Island.

Who are you marooned with, that you interact with regularly, either at home or at work or in some other context? What archetypal QUALITIES do your individual castaway crew members represent to you or about you? Who among them expresses character traits you wish were stronger in yourself? Whose behavior do you distance yourself from, though secretly you might admire or else fear you in some ways resemble that person? Whom do you depend upon to do things you could be doing on your own; or conversely, do you allow someone to depend on you to do things they are capable of doing—and more—without you?

What are your own goals with respect to your ensemble cast situation? How can you get off the Island together?

(AFTER tvkapherr’s Comment: I neglected to add that of course just as our Other-alters are archetypal projected images as we interact with them, so are WE to them. And some would add this can also extend to all of us being projected images of the Divine.)

So this is all in good fun. Do feel quite welcome to Comment and share your insights and stories, if you feel so inspired!

Ahoy, Mateys!

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