Dreams & Discussions September 1998
From: Helen Frances
Mike's dream in Paris and the talk of labyrinths reminded me of the French "Jeu de l'oie" - literally "Game of the Goose". It is an old labyrinth game that engages the heroic players in the peaks and pitfalls of life - the Work. Paris itself spirals out from the centre with its 20 arrondissements interconnected by a web of tiny twisting streets and long, wide boulevards. The original inhabitants, the Parisii, lived on the 2 islands in the Seine from 3C BC. Notre Dame "Our Lady" of the Web sits in the middle and Quasimodo swings from her long tresses playing Tarzan to Esmeralda's Jane.
There is a "detective" film set in Paris during which the characters journey, play, stumble and chase each other around the maze of streets, spiralling out towards the perimeter where they encounter the Dragon. Along the way they meet the same sort of obstacles as in the "Jeu" - prison, well etc. The film is "Le Gard du Nord"- the North Bridge by Jacques Rivette who also directed "Celine et Julie vont en bateau" - Celine and Julie go boating.
I have read that the goose is a Celtic symbol for the Holy Spirit and is also an animal shamans ride. As a migratory animal it must have an inbuilt compass that isn't affected by the wanderings of magnetic North - a trusty guide!
From: Maureen R.
I've been reading Rupert Sheldrake's essay - mentioned by Matthew and commented on usefully by Kurt recently. (Kurt, as I recall, noted the role of the puer and spirit archetypes in Sheldrake's general attitude). It might be worth discussing the essay further, if anyone else is game(?)
My own comment:
Sheldrake's controversial 'morphic resonance' theory isn't new to workers in the shamanic arena, where it's been axiomatic for yonks, hence a lot of shamanic healing involves detecting resonance patterns of various organs and cells etc., and realigning or readjusting them using drumming rhythms and other resonance rituals (some of which transcend space-time boundaries, as do Sheldrake's 'fields').
Secondly, Sheldrake misrepresents Jung's hypothesis of the collective unconscious in several ways. Firstly, since it is the atemporal realm of archetypes, it 'operates' via synchronicity, or acausally rather than (as S proposes) through causal influence, or transmission. Secondly, Jung does not confine it to the realm of human psychology but extends it to include the entire unus mundus or unitary ground of being underlying all phenomena - hence, for example mandalas - as expressions of the Self - occur just as readily in non-human Nature - atoms, crystals, fractals, snowflakes, starfish etc. (Ironically, Sheldrake suggests that Jung diverges from him in confining the c.u. to humans, whereas Jung's broad view is precisely where he's close to Sheldrake's similarly all-embracing angle). Thirdly, the collective unconscious is (in Jung's view) a spectrum, or continuum ranging from matter through to spirit, not exclusively an immaterial field (as S seems to suggest it is). Hence Jung's comment that matter has a psychic aspect, psyche a material one. Still, I like most of Sheldrake's ideas on holographics in their own right - but I think he's in places stretching the connection to link them so closely with Jung (pardon the contradictory metaphors).
This was my biggest objection as well. Oddly, Sheldrake seems to overlook or reject the possibility that the complexities of form could be inherent properties of matter. He requires his Fields (Spirit Archetype, flight-Puer) as causal explanation, which will always raise Occam's Razor.
Despite all these criticisms of him, he really is on to something - science has no good explanation for the issues he brings up (embryonic form, etc.) IMHO however, he has omitted one from his list: why has life on Earth chosen only one path of chemistry, one incarnation in matter? All life that we know of is based on the same DNA chemistry. If there wasn't something special about the qualities, the "personality" of that chemistry then we would expect to see many different chemistries and genetic codes. But this gets back to Sheldrake's rejection of matter as cause, of archetypal spectra extending down into the essence of matter itself.
From: Robert Champ
I remember reading of a privately owned labyrinth in England whose owner, on fete days, would open it up to the public. Those who managed to reach the centre found a chair there and an invitation to be seated. Ensconced on the chair, the maze walkers, looking ahead, discovered themselves peering into a mirror - thus beholding in their own faces the features of the Minotaur! An interesting lesson for a fete day, I think.
From: Maureen R.
Hi there fire-sitters
A couple of weeks back, I had a dream in which I was enjoying a time of sharing with the Dalai Lama. We were in a small tent (in India, I think), sharing a cup of Indian tea around a small round table, while outside monks in their usual dark red attire were wandering about on the lawns. The dream was intensely vivid; the Dalai Lama had his reading glasses on and, as I recall, there was a lot of laughter rather than serious discussion. At one point a monk came into the tent with a wrapped parcel to deliver to me.
From its shape and feeling tone, I could tell at once that it was a deerskin shamanic drum. I opened it and to my delight discovered that it was a heart-shaped drum, not the usual circular or octahedral shape. Reflecing on this later, I felt it was on one level a reminder of the heart-centred consciousness and Buddhic compassion of the Dalai Lama, and on another level a suggestion of one way I can personally help the plight of Tibet: by doing heart-healing drumming for them, the Chinese, the World Soul.
Interestingly and unknown to me at the time, a group of Gyuto Tibetan monks were due to arrive the following week in Adelaide for a 9 day visit, based at Adelaide Uni, so I1ve been trotting along to their marvellous program of teaching, meditation chanting, sand mandala-building, and bright altars. Amidst the constrast of their culture and ours, Western soul loss is painfully, tragically apparent. The Westerners: (for the most at the opening ceremony) incessantly chattering and whispering hurriedly (the academics nattering, ironically enough, about their busy 'teaching' schedules), restless and off-centre, glancing at watches and fidgeting, gazing outwardly, eyes roaming about the Hall and along the straight line of goal-oriented, measured time, drably unimaginative in colourless attire (expressing the absence of both vibrant soul and the rainbow range of freed Tantric energies), hungry for spiritual sustainance, flocking to the temporary oasis. Vs the Tibetans: calm and focused, smiles welling up from deep mischief and compassion (i.e. not externally persona-applied), unfearing of the still voice of silence and the inward gaze, egos displaced by the gentle power of core divinity (= the Singularity), totally present to the present (hence simultaneously to the eternal), totally at peace with themselves and Nature, attuned not to linear but to cyclic/mandalic timeless time. Fascinating stuff.
A mandala painting I bought there bears this inscription:
Experiencing the pure nature of reality
Manifesting wrathfully to pacify evil influences
With the compassion of the mother of all deities
Giver of bliss, I pay homage
What intrigues me with this mandala is the stark contrast between its circumferential focus on death, destruction, fire, dismemberment, being torn apart by wild animals, and the 8-fold harmonious tranquillity of the centre. Wrath is, in other words, as much part of the divine fullness of life as is centred bliss, hence the need to own one1s demons (or learn to consciously direct, not unconsciously project the shadow in creative and healing ways; the former is vital in shamanic work, since illness is often a result of the neglect of the infernal sacred powers.) Stay tuned for more accounts of adventures with the Monks!
Maureen, I was especially touched by your post about the mandala and the rightful wrath. (I once had the honour of being in the Presence of the Dalai Lama. It's true what everyone says - and I felt what you referred to the sort of deep mischief one feels in the presence of the Tibetian monks. "Mischief" was the word I was looking for.)
In my own journeyings, I seem to be constantly confronting the idea of wrath - of violence. And I am also always working it out both dreaming and in my waking life. I did a vision quest last year that changed my life, and since then have found any number of ways to continue to explore the contradiction I feel in my inner life. I am a peaceful person yet have had several serious encounters with violence; I am a conciliator, often in fact called upon to be just that in one of my life-works (environmental activism), and yet there is always a threat to behold and confront. More than once the peace-maker finds herself a warrior.
I have just begun to explore the value of rightful wrath. I am no longer ashamed of it when I see it in myself, and recognize it as different from mere anger. But of course it is a perilous path. Rightful wrath fairly trembles with ego. Much work to be done here. I also appreciated, Maureen, your words about being in the Darkness. I seem to spend much time there, too, but it is not a fearful place for me. Uncomfortable sometimes, a tad scary sometimes, but I go to it willingly because I learn so much.
From: Helen Frances
Hello Maureen and others,
Joy and delight are feelings and memories that your dream evoked for me. I saw the Dalai Lama when he visited Wellington a couple of years ago. He looked very comfortable in his body, smiling and rubbing his arms from time to time. He works tirelessly to assist his people in their suffering. He is someone I look to as is Jung, whose writings have accompanied me through my own pain. Following a time of depression I remember noticing that my mouth was curving upwards at the corners. Later when I was returning to dancing - rock and roll, basic ballroom - I felt a new sense of myself in my body. I dreamed I was Shiva dancing and this felt quite normal and everyday. So can we shadow dance to the beat of your heart-shaped drum and tell jokes and make puns and laugh until our ribs crack out their sides? This foreign chappy with the glasses may have a thing or two to teach us . . .
My current interest is in various views of the shadow, how to recognise, face and own it, so the last few posts have been interesting. I grapple with understanding whether many Jungians are talking of integrating the shadow by bringing it into inner or outer reality, probably confused by Jung himself who once said "what you don't bring into consciousness appears in your life as fate." I still puzzle over that one.
My own current formulative position is that owning the shadow is an inner experience rather than an outer one. I keep thinking that if in my shadow there is a propensity to be an axe murderer, would I bring that into outer reality? No, I don't think so. But if I integrate that with my conscious love of fire, maybe I would be warm all winter? The log pile would look good anyway.
Looking forward to reading, and hopefully understanding your various posts.
From: Maureen R.
. . . I found myself thinking about the fascination I had for a short time with the Alien movies, while reading Maureen on her "Dark" Hades inhabiting side. I thought you sounded threatening. Quite scary really. And at the same time, we can fall victims to inflation from the underside of the pedestal.
How do you deal with that temptation Maureen? And this comment, may well come partially primed from a shadowy sniper sitting on my right shoulder.>
I'm reminded here of Jo Campbell chatting about his Catholic upbringing, the teaching that he had an angel sitting on his right shoulder and a devil on his (sinister) left, so perhaps your devil has decided to switch camps? Jo linked this 'being stuck in the middle' with the Grail myth, the idea that the Grail was brought to Earth not by the good angels, nor by the devils, but by the 'neutral angels', i.e. those who (psychologically) had transcended rigid morality by embracing the opposites. This, it seems to me, is precisely what individuation - as the quest for the Grail of divine Self - is about, hence the presiding of ambivalent Mercurius over this Circle. (In this sense, it was sort of amusing - to me anyway - when several folk jumped ship when the shadow made a timely appearance in July. In my experience (with group work, psychotherapy etc.), folk who have not come to terms with their own shadows inevitably find it threatening, or scary when the shadow drops in, or down (if one recalls Jung's vision of God dropping the Holy Turd on the Church), such that their solution is more often than not to drop out, or otherwise run away. (Remember those dreams of being pursued by the threatening stranger - and not being able to get away?)
The test of psychological maturity, in my books at least, is to be able - consciously and with detachment - to hold the opposites in creative tension, precisely what I see the Tibetans doing in their acknowledgment of the wrathful face of the Divine (and what Jung attempted in Answer to Job). As the Tibetans understand all too well, it is life's capacity to manifest its wrathful side that keeps the genuinely 'evil', or destructive forces at bay (a principle behind effective shamanic 'soul retrieval' work, in which one is often called upon to angrily repel, or - with the help of powerful Underworld guides - battle with spiritual intrusions, or other hostile powers). Of course, one can hold the opposites in tension only if the centre of one's consciousness is Self, not one-sided and small-minded ego. Sadly, many Westerners (incl. some 'Jungians') assume that the only way the shadow can out is destructively, i.e. via unconscious projection; hence they assume that if folk are disagreeing, or kicking one another gently up the bum, they must be projecting the shadow on one another. All too often I've had to remind such folk that this need not be the only agenda. There is another, and I call it 'the Self's disinterested passion for truth at all costs'.
Folk such as Covert demonstrate that this mature quality, rather than the kind of petty egoic bickering that has undermined other Jung groups, is indeed possible; even more so, that it strengthens the sense of trust and mutual respect around the fire. Being real and whole, again in my books, counts for far more than 'being a nice person', or otherwise assuming that Mercurius is always safe, tame, respectable, or otherwise unwilling to rock the boat.
On the theme of inflation; Jung reminds us that the dark side of the Self = the terrible temptation of power, and we've all seen where that road leads (Nazi Germany, Charles Manson and other false Messiahs). How to avoid it: maintain a sense of humour; keep a sense of proportion (i.e. remind ourselves that none of us can singlehandedly save the world, that the Cosmos does not revolve around any of us and needs none of us to continue its great Dance); let everything you do be an outflowing of the heart's Tao (i.e. Divine Centre), which always gives top priority to Nature, compassion, anchorage to the present and eternal, and disinterested trust in the power of truth to eventually triumph over ignorance and lies.
PS: What, lil ol' me 'scary'? Have you seen the pic of me on my shamanic healing page? How could anyone be scared of that demure little slip of a thing . . . ; Today, by the way (at a teaching session on Tantric yoga led by reincarnated Lama Rinpoche), I saw another Tibetan mandala with this line included beneath: "Appearing in supremely frightening aspect" . . .
Anahata (under a Dead Hekate Moon)
Maureen/"The Dark" Nathair
So refreshing to see the inevitable balancing of the forces stated so forthrightly. The universal pendulum struggling for balance will not be denied. Throughout history we have witnessed (and personally experienced, painfully, I trust), the ceremonial "dropping of the Holy Turd" of society's (one's) shadow as a result of ignoring or rejecting it.
What would come of the human race if all acknowledged and/or dare I say honoured our shadow parts? (Neutral Angels? What would the Jung Circle address? How to venture off centre? Abandon Zero?) At the extreme, can we be unattached while truly acknowledging that we personally/collectively nailed Christ to the cross and gassed Jews by the hundreds of thousands? Or currently and relatively trivial - demanded that the most spicy details of Clinton's affairs in the White House be made globally available?
As conscious beings struggling to integrate the culmination of our potentials and embrace the totality of our being, particularly our 'nasty' parts, we can find the proper stages to honour and recognize those disowned parts of ourselves through meditation, art, music, body movement, ritual, life, etc. If we stop for a moment to recognize that we, in large part, owe our existence to raw instinctual primal aggression, and to raw instinctual primal sexuality, how can we think of denying the parts that lie at our core? It is both satisfying and rewarding to give permission for those ancient forces to flow freely.....on their proper stage of course. (And thanking them for their part in my ability to pay my cable bill in this modern day!)
With the conscious release and integration of these disowned parts, perhaps the doors to consciousness may swing open wider revealing more as the behavioral pendulum slows toward centre.
"If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you." - Jesus, Gnostic Gospel
"Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual's conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. At all counts, it forms an unconscious snag, thwarting our most well-meant intentions" - C.G. Jung
This is a great topic. Maureen, I absolutely agree with you about the "Self's disinterested passion for truth at all costs." Truly, when we are aware of our shadow, in all its ugliness and beauty, the truth does not hurt as badly. One of my first questions over a year ago to my analyst was in fact about shadows. I had read much on the topic and listened to many. I wondered why we had to own every negative judgement we made of another. I wondered what was the difference between discernment and projection. I don't believe he ever gave me an answer... I am still discovering the answer for myself and it is ever changing. I have found that I can own the potential for just about anything, but I do not have to own another's wrong actions.
I believe that intuitives may very well be closer to their shadows and this is where both the empathy and the detachment comes from - when they are operating from the centre of the poles. There is a certain tolerance we all develop through this process and best of all, a peace of spirit. We cannot let the spirit take us flying off from soulful truths - we can let the soul reside in the ambiguity and calm of the storm and the spirit gather frequent flyer miles.
Since we are talking numbers, I would like to see if I can stimulate a discussion on one of my favorite topics. One of the most numinous of symbols is the Pentagram (5-pointed star). The inverted (shadow) pentagram is said to resemble a goat. Since Deborah has been quoting Goethe, I should mention that this symbol appears as a "Druid's Foot" over Faust's door. Anyway, I wonder what a Wiccan, a Jungian, or better yet a Wiccan Jungian sees when they contemplate the Pentagram? What visions, what associations does this archetypal image of five-ness engender? When we doodle in our notebooks making little "stars", what inner need are we expressing? I would be interested in anyone's thoughts and feelings.
From: Jeffrey Anderson
Greetings to all noetic beings gathered round the fire,
With regard to the shadow, and its relevancy: for some of us, in a moment not of our choosing, our life stops working the way it once worked, and stops reflecting back to us meaning and value as it once was experienced as reflecting. What are we to make of this declination into apparent meaninglessness? What are we to do as the crisis grows and threatens to overwhelm all our prior, hard-won conscious values? The tawdry remnants of prior presuppositions bleed through this transitional phase - we presume that we are doing anything, that we can do anything; we presume that what we know means more than the passage of electrons through a cloud chamber. But shock of shocks, what if a greater reality is calling us to unfold, to grow out, to individuate? The shock is that 'individuate' does not mean what we think it means when we were thirteen. It means to become "undivided", integrated, well articulated, differentiatedly, well put together.
But I have almost compulsively felt I had to validate what I knew and what seemed to be happening to me. That is where Alchemy and "the work" has come to mean so much for me. To validate the validated we circumambulate the hermeneutic vessel, the Pelican, we do "the work" as we are currently given to know the work when we have no means of knowing what work is done and what, where, why and how is being transformed. We focus, we surrender, we participate, we share the stories of our journey of experience (literally: out through which); and we keep moving and we grow.
"The second half" has come to mean a whole constellation of things to me; but one important metaphor is that of life as "a journey up the mountain" When I was young, I could only do what I could see to do: I had to be somebody; I had to get a grip on myself; I had to fit it; I had to be an American, because that seemed to be the only possibility available to me. I climbed the mountain; I honed my climbing skills, I learned how to hold on, to gain leverage, to tighten my grip on the important things; I learned the value of leverage of people, places and things and God, I climbed, and I climbed and I climbed as best as I could. I got my ticket punched in all the right places; what could possibly go wrong?
Something did happen; my quintessential pattern shifted, though it would have been hard to fix a moment in time. There was now undeniable proof, even to me, which said I was "losing my grip", losing my stuff, screwing up ...I was on the other side of the mountain but I had no concept of the mountain. On the upward segment of the journey, winning is all about holding, getting, guiding, gripping, pushing, stepping on, stepping out, stepping up. On the downward segment going down is a victory, a major accomplishment - but a disaster on the 1st half. The only thing you can be sure of is that the old ways are not working; and you cannot make them work; and even if you could, it does not mean to you what it meant to you in the beginning.
Here is where I understand the Shadow playing out in my life as a more conscious ally to my continued personal growth. My shadow, the carrier of my personal unconscious, is the repository of all those losses and self-abandonments which I inflicted upon myself on the journey up the mountain. On the 1st half, I could not do it all; I had to compromise or be overwhelmed and so I made choices which culminated in a well-honed figure who, I believed for a very long time, was factually me. Well it turns out that 'me' is not me, it is only persona and/or ego. And that the hermeneutic journey of discovery, firstly encourages me to reacquaint my consciousness with aspects of me which have already been but with which I have lost conscious contact. The parts of me which I long ago denied are still filled with juice and are waiting to be squeezed.
My experience of my shadow(s) is a kind of dark, fundamental energy, but more than that in a way I can't describe, because there is a friendship element in it that doesn't exactly make sense. My idea of The Shadow is that it won't take any form until it is fed or matched with an unconsciously chosen random object or idea to create a symbol. This symbol is our way to consciously, but inaccurately, "see" the shadow. If you try to disown the whole affair, because the black energy is scary at first, you are asking for unpleasant projections of fate, which can present in the form of an ax murderer, a run-of-the-mill jerk, or someone who thinks everyone else is a jerk.
It was only in the last few days, from the fireside posts, that I remembered back when I believe I started to make friends with my shadow. My dreams still had the usual nasty thugs chasing me in order to kill me, but I started running into the woods and the picture would turn to night. Then a warm, mischievous, powerful, and pleasurable feeling would wash over me as I thought about how the thugs were now in my bailiwick and I would take great pleasure in killing them one by one. After getting this kid stuff out of the way, I think the shadow starts generating some more advanced and pretty wonderful shows (I won't mention eros until I have thought this through more). All the nasty stuff might just be an adolescent phase of growing up, down, & 'round with the help of "me and my shadow."
If I'm gonna deny it, I'm gonna deny it deep (aside to my friend, the Shadowcatcher).
. . .Hmm Parsival, a myth based on the scribblings of 11th century writers doesn't seem to me to carry much weight. And the Grail legend? Maybe a quick look at Celtic myth may suggest that its based on an older myth, Ceridwen's cauldron, or maybe even the Dagda's cauldron.. . . .
Are you seriously (or not so seriously?) suggesting that myth (per se, or per Percevale) is of no value or relevance to us - as either example, metaphor, archetypal quest pattern, or whatever?
Hummy: No, of course I wasn't suggesting it has no relevance. As I recall, Jung called the Grail legend the last great Western archetype". However a la Joseph Campbell, and Jung, myth expresses itself in different cultural symbols. Just a gentle nudge from me that there are other mythic realities. No one mythos has hegemony over another. You sit in a land where the mythic realities of the Dreaming, powerful as they are, are totally neglected by most Australians. Maybe it's a good thing that they remain within the palingenetic group wherein they arose(?)
From: Stephanie Ericsson
One never knows what effect one has on another. To give voice to your Self is half of the job. The other half is to speak the naked truth as you know it. Once that is done, it becomes a living thing, caught only by those ready to hear it, when they are ready. If you give voice to yourself with the expectation that it would have effect and understanding, it is being a control freak.
Example: 25 years ago, I was walking to work, hung over from too much drink. I was indulging too much, and feeling lost because I couldn't stop drinking, once I started. I was ashamed of what I might have done the night before, and ashamed that I might be an alcoholic. I walked past a derelict on a bench, who slurred, "Hey, you know where I can get some socks?" I stopped, being 'polite' and said, "Yes, I do, sir. Many shops on this street carry men's socks" (like he could walk into Armani and drop 20 bucks on a pair of cashmere socks!) He stood up and swaying, leaned forward, and said, "You're full of shit." It struck me like a bolt of lightning. It never left my mind, not as an offense, but as the truth. I was full of shit. I looked at him with pity, condescended to him, pretended courtesy when I felt disgust. He was there to tell me that he WAS me. It took a mere three years for me to be that derelict on the bench in the wee early mornings, speaking to squeeky clean people going to work, trying to find some 'socks'. To this day, I am grateful to that fellow drunk.
Regarding dying, whether it be consciously or not, no one can ever know, nor judge if it was a good death or not. We are simply observers. Hair and nails continue to grow after death, and who knows why? (If anyone here does know the biological explaination I'd like to know!) Once I was there at the door of death. It was not my own, it was my husband's. The searing truth hit me that NO ONE can ever know what happens, until they are present at their own death. We have no researchers who have made it to the final journey's end and sent back a report. 'Near-death' experiences are interesting, but that, and a buck 25 will get you a cafe latte. Death means Gone, at that point. Irreversibly gone. The rest is cocktail conversation. After he died, as I wrote in my book, Companion Through the Darkness, Inner Dialogues on Grief, it was repelling to listen to the living talking about death, where we go, what we do, etc. ad nauseum. I wanted to scream at them all, "Stop pretending you know ANYTHING!"
It awakened me to how truly small I am, how ignorant! How arrogant to assume anything, about death, about life, about anything. I saw how I had staved off my own confrontation with a mighty force, so much grander than I could ever imagine being, pushed away the terrifying experience (not knowledge, mind you) of how absolutely meaningless I am in the great scheme. It was in this vortex that I surrendered to the awareness I was totally ignorant. And when the funnel spit me back out, I began to hear the most unlikely wisdom within me, surely not my own. This humiliation (and to lose someone you deeply love IS humiliating, in a twisted way), led me to an understanding of humility. I only know that this humility has brought me profound peace and opened up my true purpose to make use of me, as an instrument, to carry the message. I also know that since I cannot possibly conceive the enormity of it, I can relax into the humble state of 'not knowing' and the result of that is a gnostic experience of 'knowing'.
While reading through the medical books in my libary, including the text books on Psychology, I saw too many cases of women who had been hurt by men, beginning with their fathers, but equally represented were men who were hurt by women, beginning with their mothers, and it was stated that this tragic cycle continues generation after generation. I have been a victim of it, but I found a means to step away from this cycle in A.A. late in my life. Where did it all begin? Who do we blame? Everyone or no-one? I was wondering if any one else can relate to this.
I can certainly relate to what you say. I have also been a victim. I've come to believe that blame is not the route to take - not because blame can't legitimately be assigned but because it is simply useless. What helps me? Grief seems to be helpful, as does anger. And then the work has been to hold all of those injured and abusive parts - especially the self-abusive ones, who have learned their lessons well, because those characters keep the cycle going. It needs many kinds of holding - holding in consciousness, holding gently, holding together, holding in my arms, holding at arms length, holding wonderingly in the palm of my hand. Holding patiently (I don't do this part easily!) and waiting for what the psyche will do, in its own good time, to use all of those parts to remake the old deadly cycle into something of its own new creation.
It seems to me that part of the entire problem itself here is in thinking that "placing blame" accomplishes anything in the first place. Better to recognize the existing situation for what it is and take positive steps to constructively correct it. Realizing "where it all began" gives us knowledge to work with to ensure that it doesn't continue or happen again, but "placing blame" is merely an attempt to escape from taking responsibility for one's own actions, don't you think?
From: Helen Frances
Dear Stephanie and Circle,
You wrote: . . . Being more of earth, I continually want to say, 'Cut the crap.' Too much intellectualizing can seduce us into thinking that we are doing what we are talking about. Sometimes it appears that there is a intellectual competition - who can out-think another. It is never a replacement for real experience, and I have found, being one who has done this very thing in the past, it is a dangerous, even life-threatening occupation.. . . .
I enjoy your and hum's more earthy approach too which has been quite unusual for me until recently. Making connections with materialised reality (oh no, another abstract statement). Re your post about being so close to your husband's dying - an experience and emotional intensity that maybe changes a person - like bearing children does? Some experiences seem to set people apart for a while - that in between time - and they return changed with another perspective. I also see that it's a natural thing for humans to wonder and talk about death and dying and this may seem like lightweight chatter to someone who is really close to it. If as you say you are an earthy kind of person, such conjecture may seem irrelevant fluff anyway?
<Hah! I was gifted by a patient Creator, with the lesson that my best thinking amounted to a gnat's turd, in the big scheme of things. How old was Jung again when he dreamed his gigantic turd?>
He seems to me to have been pretty much down to earth himself and did a number of things to keep a foothold on terra firma, e.g. carving stone. Keeping the mix of spirit and matter in the right balance can be tricky and something I'm intermittently aware of - like, hokey pokey biscuits are ghastly when there's too much soda - although some cooking mistakes can be fortuitous with other dishes. I love cooking dreams.
Jung was above all a scholar and a philosopher. Not just a counselor, but a researcher and theorist. What a debt we owe him. His work would mean nothing without his scholarship. I don't think there need be criticism about intellectualizing here. What's the use of that? These blurts and rambles are all just attempts at grokking. One comes here whole, even intuitive introverts.
It's difficult to speak about what is big and broad and deep in our conceptual expanded reality without the understandings that began as a communion with the ideas drawn from our readings, and later our dreams, via Jung. We're well aware of the man's earthly history and could give the blow by blows I bet, but they are not what interests us. Thus, it becomes a matter of having to fill in what you don't know about what you don't know. And that is up to you to do. In spite of Noll and other traditions, we still believe in the collective unconscious. We bring our experiences here. It is the mythic realities very neglect that weighs so heavily in the shadow's content. As for knowing your shadow, that's a contradiction in terms. This sort of reminds of The Stand, all of us showing up at the old one's house. All: What brings you here, o Pilgrim?
From: humungus [to Deborah]
You are coming at that expanded reality from the basis of studying Jung. I come to the same place from studying and reflecting on my belief system, a very syncretic process. It's what attracts me to Jung, his intuitive grasp of what to me are inner realities. Given that similar conclusions are reached via different modes of thought, I think it interesting and worthwhile to continue to listen to other voices.
. . . it becomes a matter of having to fill in what you don't know about what you don't know. And that is up to you to do.. . . .
What I don't know would fill many Encyclopedia Brittanicas, rather I would prefer to continue to develop, adapt, modify and even alter positions, or attitudes. Maybe along the track I can perhaps contribute to the same process for you? Understanding was what I referred to in regards to the shadow. Slightly different to knowing, I also believe that if the shadow comes into consciousness, it is no longer the shadow. Understanding how it operates, when it arises, and why, is more important to me.
Nice to have to actually think in replying to posts - it may become a habit.
From: Maureen R.
Some intriguing descriptions last night of the art of dying consciously. In Jungian circles, we stress living consciously, partly through the progressive integration of the 4-fold functions, astrological elements and associated humours. In Buddhist practice, death involves a reversal of this - the gradual 'dis-integration' and separarting of the four (and their distinctive modes of consciousness), commencing with the heavier elements leaving the body (earth, then water), followed by the loss of fire and (finally) air. With the last, breathing ceases and the body can be said to be clinically dead after a short time. Not so, says Lama Rimpoche! Consiousness can still remain and experience various other death visions in its non-dual state.
Rimpoche told us that the former tutor of the Dalai Lama died clinically 20 years ago, but his body is apparently self-mummified and undecayed - to the extent that they still have to give him regular haircuts! So what would all this do for the funeral trade, should Westerners start dying consciously? Would we have, instead of funeral parlours, transitional rest homes, where folk could remain until they'd finally decided to move on and leave their bodies once and for all? Sounds to me like a nobler idea than the euphemistic 'rest homes' we now have, where the aged are often put out to pasture in front of droning TV sets and along antiseptic corridors(?) What if instead they could, if they wished, choose to die (as elephants are said to do) when they knew it was their time to do so - and as an alternative to drug-induced voluntary euthanasia?
This dying consciously theme is very interesting and over the years I've experienced it both ways with my patients (I'm a doctor). I've witnessed some people die under heavy narcosis, confused etc. and also a few who were completely aware of the process going on (my own mother, for example, who died a year ago in our home). She knew she was dying and was very conscious about it, and the last night I heard her praying aloud. As I remember, the Tibetan Book of the Dead describes the transformation which occurs.
From: Maureen R.
Absolutely! Yes, we seem to be closer in spirit than I first assumed we were - thanks for your openness, shared wisdom and good ol' Aussie honesty. And yes, we are all doomed to tread on one another's toeses from time to time. As Deborah hinted, that comes with the limitations of the exclusively verbal territory we're confined to. Yet, as Deborah also suggested, how much can be accomplished by exploiting those limitations (Saturn factor - even a sacred 'temenos' must have boundaries!)
This story I now share, was beautifully written and spoke to me.... I hope it speaks to you as well. It is a Chinese story called 'The Rainmaker'. "In a remote village in China a long drought had parched the fields, the harvest was in danger of being lost and the people were facing starvation in the months to come. The villagers did everything they could. They prayed to their ancestors; their priests took the images from the temples and marched them around the stricken fields. But no rituals and no prayers brought rain. In despair they sent for the "Rainmaker". When the little old man arrived, they asked him what he needed to effect his magic and he replied, "Nothing, only a quite place where I can be alone." They gave him a little house and there he lived quietly doing the things one has to do in life, and on the third day the rain came."
The following is excerpts from the author about another author: "The little man speaks to us both as shaman and as Taoist. His task is to resolve a collective problem through attunement to the hidden causality of the universe. But he doesn't really do anything, he accomplishes what is needed in a most inconspicuous way." Castillejo says, "If only we could be rainmakers! I am thinking of those people (and I have met one or two) who go about their ordinary business with no fuss, not ostensibly helping others, not giving advice, not continuously and self-consciously praying for guidance, or striving for mystical union with God, not even especially noticeable, yet around whom things happen. Others seem to live more fully for their presence: possibilities of work appear unexpectedly, or people offer services unsought, houses fall vacant for the homeless, lovers meet. Life blossoms all around them without their lifting a finger and, as likely as not, without anyone attributing to them any credit for the happenings, least of all themselves. Rainmakers are inconspicuous. The Rainmaker does not cause, he ALLOWS the rain to fall."
Stephanie Ericsson wrote:
. . .I do not question at all that there is great sincerity and honesty going on in the Circle. I am not here to criticize it or drag it down in any way. I stand by what I said in the posting to Hummy, however. The point I am stressing here, is not that we shouldn't exchange ideas. We SHOULD talk, debate, share, and even fight - but that the danger in flexing our intellectual muscles is that we can be seduced into thinking that knowledge is a substitute for the experience, the gnosis of it.. . . .
Point taken, agreed with, and well-expressed on your part. Having been here right from the start (when I first rubbed the fire-sticks together) and having over time gotten to know, as I now do, many of the good folk around the fire (as trusted friends and respected colleagues), I assure you, however, that you can rest easy on this score. There's no-one here who - again in my view - is stupid, arrogant, or deluded enough to mistake head knowledge for the vastly more important gnosis of the heart (least of all Deborah). Take it from me, they wouldn't be here if they did - because I probably would have (reluctantly, but in order to safeguard the heart-centred 'vision' of this list) given them the boot by now.
This Circle was - as its 'vision statement' expressly states - started precisely as an alternative to other more 'cerebral' Jung lists. I also wish to clarify that no-one here - yourself included - need feel that they have to apologise for simply being who they are. And that goes for the thinking types, as well. You mention that you are a grounded bod. Good for you - we need more of it. Grounded folk (and I'd hope we all fit, at least to a healthy extent, into that camp) are more than welcome here, but no more welcome than the dreamers, or the theorists, or the poets, or the candlestick-makers and chartered accountants. The reason I chose a 'Circle centred with Fire' as the guiding symbol of this list is that around a Circle, all are equal; and into a fire, all who wish to may toss their sticks and logs (while others may simply wish to enjoy warming their hands and toes). The central fire here, as you know, is Mercurius (who is the wholeness of God/Self); not ego, or shadow, both of which are always doomed to be one-sided and self-defeating if unwilling to embrace their opposites.
. . . No conflict (no shadow) means no progress.. . . .
Well, yes and no. As with most life situations, it isn't, I gently suggest, necessarily a case of either this or that (extreme); sometimes there's a Third option, or Middle Way that avoids either shadow-boxing or shadow-denying - in this case an attempt (doomed to sporadic failure, I admit) to de-centralize ego, along with an unwillingness to foster or encourage either hostile shadow projectiles, or the fake niceness (and phoney back-patting you mention) that denies the shadow's reality, power and creative possibilities. As I've suggested before, it is possible for the shadow to 'out' in creative, rather than destructive ways - if and only if we remain centred in Self and so maintain that 'disinterested passion for truth' which shuns purely personal nastiness, or aggression in favour of expressing what the overall Tao of the moment seems to require.
Conflict can only be creative, surely, when personal animosity, or negative judgment of character, or questioning of personal integrity are not on the agenda(?) Sadly, the notion of everyone's 'right' to express an 'honest opinion' is in this sense all too often a euphemism and excuse for shadow projection. It was no doubt Hitler's 'honest opinion' that the Jews are the scum of the Earth; no doubt C. Manson's 'honest opinion' that Sharon Tate and her unborn child should be butchered. Shocking and extreme examples, I know, but perhaps they bring home the sobering reminder that - for all of us - there's no such thing as objectivity.
We all tote the baggage of our conscious typologies, hence their shadows, into any arena of discussion; we're all tempted (at least I know I have been!) to judge other types as deviant, inferior, lacking in integrity, or whatever. I think you get what I'm hinting at here; no-one need apologise here for using their minds, bodies, imaginations, feelings, whatever, if that is how they feel they best express and enjoy being who they are. What you have (negatively) judged to be mere 'intellectualizing', I would call positively 'Sophia's playful and heart-fired juggling of imaginal possibilities'. (And this from someone who is not predominantly a thinking type . . .)
. . . However, I am not a pussyfooter of any sort. I am, however, well intended, and don't mind it if others step on my toes as well. Wherever I am full of crap, I welcome someone else pointing it out, as long as it isn't a personal attack, or even if it is. I normally can benefit from it no matter what.. . . .
Again, I hear you loud and clear Stephanie - and I enjoy, welcome and admire your gutsy spirit, honesty and shrewd insight. And yes, most of us also lead 'very busy lives' and have numerous other personal and creative commitments, so it perhaps says something about the importance of the list (to some of us) that we are willing to put so much thought and care into keeping the fire going, hence the welcoming Circle warm. Personally, I'd like more time to devote to other matters (including writing and shamanic work) and have welcomed the unplanned silence on this list (specially after the recent blaze of posts!) This rather mischievous black-out is a sure sign, I'd say, that Mercurius indeed reigns - dimly glowing coals have spontaneously compensated for the more intense heat!
Pussyfootingly (i.e. with my Tiger power animal)
Maureen/"The Dark" Nathair
. . . You must accept some Truth, and that Truth is the important thing, not you, not everyone. Yet, the real truth is as Jung says: no one knows. The Dalai Lama smiles: love is better.. . . .
Interesting juxtaposition, Deborah. One of Jung's principles I have been meditating on lately is: "Where love is lacking, the Will to Power rushes in". Religion "clubs" that require you to accept some Truth are often concerned primarily with the Will to Power. It is interesting that in ancient Mesopotamia the God(dess) projected onto Venus had two roles: Inanna was the goddess of war (power) as the morning/eastern star, and the goddess of love as the evening/western star. The Greeks screwed things up and didn't figure out until late that it was the same darn planet, so we ended up with Athena and Aphrodite - a split in Western consciousness.
Just a tidbit which came to mind last night: the Native Americans who have been known to lie down in the forest and "decide" to die - the Eskimo who sets off on a raft or kayak. I also once saw a wonderful movie with Dustin Hoffman called "Little Big Man" in which the old Indian decides to lie down and die, but it doesn't happen. So he's kind of disgusted but hungry, so he gets up and goes on living . . .
[Individual posts are automatically c. 1998. Jung Circle Archives edited by Maureen B. Roberts]
updated 26 Nov 98 Deborahr