Bring your shadow self into the light

“The persona is the mask we wear in relation to the world and others. It is created through a combination of socialization, societal expectations, one’s experience of the world, and the natural attributes and tendencies of the individual. It combines elements of how we want to see ourselves, ideally, and how we want the world to see us, as well as how the world does see us and wants us to be. Our persona defines our social identity; it is constructed in relation to the roles we play in our lives and in our world, how we want to look and be seen. It is the face we wear to be presentable and acceptable to our society. It is not necessarily who we really are, but who we want and pretend to be to others and, many times, to ourselves.”

War of the Gods in Addiction, David Schoen

Often our truth lies hidden beneath a self-imposed exile because it doesn’t fit the ego-self’s image. Recognize your own truth and stop lying to yourself. Many tell themselves that something is okay when it actually is not. Sometimes we even try to enroll others in our self-deception by trying to convince them of our veracity or to even enroll them in the lie by taking it on for themselves. Children often tell themselves the lie that they are loved by a parent when in their heart that for whatever reason they do not feel loved. Both women and men not in relationship sometimes try to convince themselves that they are just fine without one. Not that they aren’t right but some take on the lie that they are when in fact they are not. It is most likely fear that keeps these lies in place and in so doing lock the experience of love away in the cellars of their minds.

“The most intense conflicts, if overcome, leave behind a sense of security and calm that is not easily disturbed” –Carl Jung

The inner lie is a coping skill often told so that we can fit into what the society expects of us or what we expect of ourselves and in the short run can be reasonably effective. The lie helps to create our outward and inner persona designed to meet the expectations of families and cultural norms. 

However, self-deception has a limited shelf life. How do we know that? Ever notice how past hurts or fears, angers or things we try to avoid keep reappearing? What’s that about? The psyche never forgets. We may shove certain events, memories, or feelings onto the back burners of our mind and develop a presentation that looks good to ourselves and others so as to be accepted and cope with the present so as to move forward in our lives but these undealt with experiences don’t just disappear. Out of sight is never out of mind. They wait in hiding like coiled snakes beneath the outcroppings of our unconscious mind until something disturbs them and they strike out blindly and wreak havoc once again with our emotions and once again poisoning the moment and our sense of well-being.

These demons or shadows of our unconscious selves do not ever disappear but gain energy in the darkness. This energy is often projected outward onto others politically, religiously and through our prejudices of others. It’s only when we confront them and bring them into the light, acknowledge that they are a part of who we are, and that we can own them rather than project them and work with them to negotiate a peace and compromise that we can then become whole once again and be the “captains of our soul”.

“Out of the night that covers me
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance,
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeoning’s of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.”

Invictus–William Ernest Henley

A Gratefulness Meditation 

I’ve often said that dreams can be useful in the waking life. Frequently patterns in a dream reflect the same patterns in our waking life e.g. behaviors, problems, and emotions that show up in dreams show up our waking lives as well. 

When we find ourselves being chased in a dream it often refers to our avoiding something in our waking lives such as the avoidance of some communication or at looking at some hurt, or some loss, or in making a change in our behavior that is probably long overdue, or even a change in jobs.

But because it’s often too painful to confront our weaknesses we stuff these upsets into our subconscious mind, just hoping that out of sight will lead to out of mind and that maybe they will magically go away. 

But they don’t do they? 

They keep coming back to haunt us and even when they haven’t stormed their way back into our conscious mind they’re hiding in the background making it hard for us to be true to the moment.

And it is difficult to be true to the experience of the moment, the here and now, when the past is influencing our responses. Not that past experiences can’t be of value, but we need to know the difference of when they are of value and when we need to let them go.

In the book, The Archipelago of Dreams Robert confronts a Medusa-like creature* and is initially reactive by struggling mightily against its power over him only to overcome it by accepting it as it is and that it was only a reflection of a part of himself.

“Reactive” is the key word in that little confrontation with one of Robert’s shadows–the shadow of the fear of having done something wrong. 

His usual reaction was to try and avoid the issue by ignoring or running from it. Past experience had taught him that he’ll only lose if he stayed to fight. 

Over many years he had made up his mind that avoiding the fight at all costs was his only chance at survival. But running away had only made the shadow more rigid and he was no longer in control of the moment and letting the past control his present.

Like Robert, we get stuck in parts of our pasts because instead of acknowledging them we reject them by trying to hide from them. 

This morning I’d like to offer another meditation to help soothe the fearful side of yourselves so that you can bring in your own light to heal. When in fear it is hard to experience love or to give it and it impedes the body’s ability to heal. Learning ways to open the door to love can be an important life skill.

It’s called a Gratefulness Meditation

The beautiful magic about this meditation is that gratefulness and our fearful ego-self cannot exist at the same time. The fear and the pain vanish when exposed to the light of our true being.

Gratefulness banishes the ego because one cannot be grateful without being vulnerable and Ego cannot stand to be helpless, unprotected, or unsafe.

So once again find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed for a few minutes. You may want to light a candle to help the mind focus and as a welcoming ritual to the spirit of the meditation.

Focus your attention on the flickering flame. When you are ready, slowly close your eyes and shift your attention to your breathing. Notice your breath going in and out, in then out. 

Become aware of your body and move down from your head to your shoulders and arms, across your chest and down through your stomach looking for tensions, tensions that you can release through your next exhale of your breath. Breathe in deeply and then slowly letting the air out and taking with it any tension. Empty any stiffness in the back, your legs and feet with each breath in and then out. Breathing in, breathing out.

Think for a moment, is there someone in your life for whom you feel much gratitude for what they have meant in your life? 

Imagine that they are sitting with you in this very room and look into your heart for what it is that you are grateful for that they are in your life. 

Gaze into their eyes for a moment and let them know how much they have meant to you and how much difference they have made in your life. As you do this notice the peace and compassion that gratefulness brings into your heart. 

(Count 2 breaths)

Thank them once again and let them go. Now sit for a moment in the beauty of that feeling.

Now, imagine someone whom, or some event, that has caused you some pain or difficulty. Something you know that you are not grateful for. 

Take a deep breath and hold it for a second and as you breathe out, let the stress of that event or person go out with the air. 

Now, for just this moment look to see what contribution that pain or adversity may have brought you. Has it taught you how to set appropriate boundaries for yourself and others, helped you to seek clarity in your relationships, or helped you start on your path of inner exploration? Did it lead you to something better, or to seek something better? Did it move you in a different direction in your life? What positive affect can you find that may have resulted from the pain caused?

Though you may not be able to appreciate the pain, is there something about the event that helps you appreciate who you are becoming and the positive aspects of the path you find yourself on right now? How did they or did that event help you to find the good things that are in your life right now? 

Will you be grateful for that? Be with that experience for a moment.

Now, slowly bring your attention back to your body.

When you are ready slowly open your eyes and come back into the room.

In closing this morning I offer these three activities between now and the next time we meet.

One: Is there someone today that you want to appreciate? Tell them today, call them, e-mail or text them or just set up a date to meet face to face if that’s possible.

Two: You might also want to list that which you are grateful for include everything–the good, bad, and the ugly as they say. Also list why.

Three: Over the next week start noticing all the things you are grateful for as they happen and begin a collection of appreciations.

Good day and peace be with you.

_____________________________________

*The Archipelago of Dreams, pg.22

United we stand divided we fall

I had a dream early last week that showed me being bullied by others and excluding me and others in my group. While trying to decode the dream and apply it to my life a number of thoughts presented themselves. The following is a distillation of these thoughts.

Anyone or anything that shuts out the inclusion of that which is other than itself kills off part of its soul individually or collectively.

The idea that we are all part of a greater whole is a philosophical and religious concept as old as religion itself. Wholeness whether on Earth or in some concept of heaven has been what most religions strive for at some level. Psychologically, meaning that which affects, or arises in the mind and is related to the mental and emotional state of a person, humans spend a certain part of their conscious energy trying to attain a certain equilibrium by trying to balance between its natural tendency to be separate and the natural need to belong. When one of the factors outweighs the other the individual or group loses their equilibrium and become unbalanced and the soul expression becomes compromised.

Outwitted


He drew a circle that shut me out
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout
But love and I had the wit to win
We drew a circle that took him in.”

–Edwin Markham

This poem epitomizes for me not only the power of inclusion but the power of the unfettered soul. It reflects a psyche that has grown beyond it own ego needs into something more inclusive. The God of the Christian New Testament seems to be an example of Oneness and perhaps the maturing ego through the example of the inclusive Christ while the Old Testament seemed to reflect a much more immature ego in that separateness, revenge, and survival were projected onto their god more often than not.

In fact, many religions who believe in a prime deity or God imagine their God as having many facets some of which are turned into subordinate gods or aspects of the One deity but all representing the prime aspect of Oneness or wholeness.

It would thus seem to me that our attempt to create separateness here on Earth, in our nations, and neighborhoods is the antithesis of the God we believe in. Why the need for some people to insist upon the separateness of people seems to exist to support the egoic need to think of themselves as unique, dominant, better than, and righteous.  What if God’s Will is for us to be inclusive and strive for wholeness and Oneness even if that may not be achievable by the psyche of most of us or any of us for that matter? 

What are we doing then when we strive for exclusiveness, polarization, and separation? It’s hardly a mature and grownup let alone enlightened response to the world. What if  “growing up” means to become more responsible for our actions, more reliable in our dealings with others, more compassionate, less self-serving, and honest not only with others but with ourselves as well? What if our egoic maturity depends on thinking of others and not just ourselves and learning when we are projecting our faults and weaknesses onto the actions of others? What if growing up depends on us owning these faults so that we can thus be responsible for them and then move toward their correction or acceptance without acting them out? Could all this be part of our purpose for being here i.e., to learn how to do that?

There is no one answer to our purpose for being though it is possible that most aspects of all the so-called meaning of life philosophies can be included with the singular exception that most seem not to advocate the creation of greater separateness and entropy, that most do not employ evil to meet evil or to manipulate what constitutes evil in order to commit evil and thus defend the separateness. It also seems to me that an ends justifies the means or an evil for evil, hurt for hurt, and polarized philosophy is a consequence of separateness and exclusivity and rarely if ever brings about fulfillment in the long term even if that term lives beyond the individual or group. It also seems to me that the awareness that declares the experience that the kingdom of heaven is here now is a place you come from not go to is an awareness that knows no separation not between God and us or between each of us. This awareness reflects a nondual consciousness i.e., a consciousness of unity.

In this way of seeing the world the concept of ‘united we stand and divided we fall’ is a truism i.e., a reality that throughout history has proven itself every time we challenge it, allow it to decay, or ignore it. Empires have been destroyed when they’ve lost this unifying principle and they enter the Dark Night of the Soul that spirals into decay. How arrogant are we to think that that truism is for others and not us because somehow we are more special and can do without the input from other than ourselves? How self-indulgent, self-centered and elitist are we? 

In a state of non-binary awareness we dwell within the very same spirit that dwells within us. Fundamentally at our deepest most profound level we are united. When we deny this basic truth we become functioning cripples in that we are vastly less powerful and effective. 

When we allow our divided and egoic nature to grow up and see that we are all connected and that this is connected to something vastly bigger than ourselves we will see that we are part of a gigantic interconnected and coherent system that includes everyone and everything around us. As we now looking at ourselves we have become incoherent in our relationships and are rapidly compromising our ability to survive as a species. We don’t know what our destiny as a conscious species is but surely our penchant for separation and division within a context that exists as a function of its unity jeopardizes that destiny.

Bronze plaque on SJSU Tower Hall

A short dream analysis for the Easter season.*

Easter

To dream about Easter, suggests that perhaps the worst of your problems are over. After the darkness and sadness you’ll experience joy. Alternatively, the dream symbolizes resurrection and spiritual rebirth.

The Cross

This can represent in a dream the difficulties and tribulations you carry–all the pain, guilt of perceived wrong doing, and the burden of being wronged, or unjustly accused, but it can also represent wholeness, or sacrifice, or the act of letting go. The cross can also be a symbol for death, rebirth, personal salvation, transformation and resurrection (similar to the Egyptian ankh). If witnessing a crucifixion or being crucified in a dream you may be punishing yourself for some perceived guilt.

Christ

In a dream seeing a Christ-like figure can speak to those aspects in you e.g. higher consciousness, or soulfulness, goodness and the connection with a greater source. As an archetypal symbol, the Christ can represent powerful influences acting on your personality e.g. familial, social and political forces (read as beliefs). For some, Christ represents the cosmic mystery that each of has been born as and into–he is the best of yourself and from this perspective you can observe the quality of your life. Have you sacrificed this part of yourself in your day-to-day living? A Christ figure in your dream may represent your own soul and the essence of who you really are.

Eggs

To see or eat eggs in your dream, symbolizes fertility, birth and your creative potential–something new might be on the verge of happening. It is also in some cultures a symbol for a new life, new beginnings, and rebirth, or resurrection.

A nest filled with eggs might mean some financial gain; the more, or bigger, the eggs, the greater the gain.  To see cracked or broken eggs in your dream, might represent feelings of vulnerability or a fragile state in your life. Alternatively, you may be breaking out of your shell and being comfortable with who you are. 


To see bright colored eggs in your dream can symbolize celebration of a happy event. 
To dream of rotten eggs might mean loss, or you may have allowed some situation to take a turn for the worse. 


To see Easter eggs in your dream can symbolize potential and wonder. You need to recognize that potential and unleash it. 

In Greek Orthodox Christianity, there is a legend that after Christ’s death on the cross, Mary Magdalene went to the emperor of Rome, and told him of Jesus’ resurrection. The emperor’s response was along the lines of “Oh, yeah, right, and those eggs over there are red, too.” Suddenly, the bowl of eggs turned red, and Mary Magdalene joyfully began preaching Christianity to the emperor.

It has been said that the egg was a sacred symbol among the Babylonians. They believed an old fable about an egg of wondrous size that had fallen from heaven into the Euphrates River. According to an ancient story, the Goddess Astarte (Easter) was hatched. And so the egg came to symbolize the Goddess Easter. 

The idea of a mystic egg spread from Babylon to many parts of the world. In Rome, the mystic egg preceded processions in honor of the Mother Goddess of the Romans. The Druids used the egg as their sacred emblem and in Northern Europe, China and Japan the eggs were colored for their sacred festivals.

The egg is still a symbol for the Cosmic Egg–that which gave birth to all that exists.

Easter egg hunt

This game for kids actually has a darker side in that Pagans were forced to hide their religion from the Christian authorities. The eggs were a symbol for fertility and the celebration of spring (the Ostara, or Eostre, festival), but they could not be displayed for fear that the pagan practitioners would be punished, or killed, if they were found out, so they would hide them and have children find them as part of a game.

Also at Ostara, it was customary to leave something sweet (honey, mead, or candy) for the fairies of the meadow so that they would not work their mischief. Perhaps this is the origin of the Easter basket tradition?

Rabbits

To see a rabbit in your dream, could mean luck, magical power, or success. Alternatively, rabbits can symbolize abundance, fertility and sexual activity. The dream can also be associated with Easter time and your own personal memories of Easter. 

In the first century Europe there may have been a goddess called Eostre, whose name gives us both Ostara and Easter. The Venerable Bede described Eostre as a goddess with fertility associations, which loosely connects her to both rabbits and eggs. Author Jacob Grimm (of Grimm’s fairy tales) suggested that eggs were a symbol of early European Paganism. 

The nocturnal hare was actually considered a symbol of the moon. In addition to feeding at night, the hare’s gestation period is approximately 28 days — the same as a full lunar cycle.

In pagan, pre-Christian European folklore, the rabbit connection to eggs is based on a confusion. In the wild, hares nest in what is known as a “form” – a nest for bunnies. When the hares abandoned a form, it was sometimes taken over by plovers, that would then lay their eggs in it. The locals would then find eggs in the hare’s nest.

The “Easter bunny” first appeared in 16th-century German writings, that said that if well-behaved children were to build a nest out of their hats or bonnets, they would be rewarded with colored eggs. This legend became part of American folklore in the 18th century when German immigrants settled in the eastern U.S.

Spring

To dream of the season of spring, suggests new beginnings and creative endeavors. It is also a symbol for warmth, virility and fruitfulness. This can also represent the birth of something new or some growth in your life or within yourself (spiritual, social, emotional or psychological).

Flowers

To dream of flowers might symbolize compassion, beauty, and/or pleasure. A bouquet might suggest acknowledgment reward or admiration. The type of flower also has symbolic meaning. For example, Jung thought of the rose in a dream as representing a mandala, a symbol of the unconscious self and also very spiritual in nature. To Christians the Lily might represent the triune aspects of the one God i.e., the Trinity and sometimes symbolize the virgin Mary, Easter, and rebirth.

Withered, drooping, or damaged flowers might reflect disappointments, sorrow, or hurt feelings. 

_____________________________________

*Be sure to look up and earlier blog from 2017: https://thebookofdreamsblog.wordpress.com/2017/04/11/everything-you-wanted-to-know-about-easter/

Deserts and wind in dreams

Shiprock on the New Mexico side of four corners
region. In Navajo: Tsé Bitʼaʼí, “rock with wings” or
“winged rock”.

I have loved the stories by Tony Hillerman that took place in the desert towns and villages of the Navaho Nation near the four corners area where Zuni and Hopi tribes also come together. They are stories about two tribal policemen Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee who are involved in many mysteries of this deserted and sacred land. I’ve spent many a happy hour immersing myself into the culture albeit in a second-hand way.

However, it was the desert and Hillerman’s description of it that often drew me into the story.

I have stood in the middle of the Winnemucca Desert in Nevada and felt the wind talking to me and knelt before the winds of the Peruvian Andes feeling the spirits of the place flowing through me. I have meditated in the cold, dry, arid Himalayas of Tibet listening to the flapping (some say, galloping) Windhorse prayer flags sending their entreaties toward heaven and slept on the sands of the Mojave with the universe spread out above me. 

Winnemuca desert

All the spirits of these places spoke to and through me and left me feeling awestruck and energized. They were also some of the few places on Earth where I felt as though I belonged.

I have written about my relationship with moist verdant forests, dark woods, and many species of trees both in the sleeping and waking dream but find the spirits of place and objects in the dry hot deserts as well.

In my dreams I’ve found myself walking across a desert and determined that it referred to a sense of barrenness or loneliness and isolation that I was feeling at the time. Like many of the Native Americans in Hillerman’s stories I was feeling abandoned and deserted by the greater  society around me. Much of what I was feeling at the time was blah and unexciting so my dreams reflected an unmet need.

There were also times in my desert dreams where I was parched and without water that suggested to me that I was not in touch with my feelings and that I was actually feeling a lack of love and belonging.

Windhorse prayer flags

However, my desert dreams more often than not would speak to the deeper psyche and its spiritual aspects. The winds experienced of both the sleeping and waking dreams were like communing with the soul and deeper self.

Because most of my desert dreams include wind, I’d like to make a comment about this aspect within a dream. They often tell me what is moving me or influencing me in my waking life. Very windy dreams often speak of overwhelming emotions i.e., frustrations or out of control feelings buffeting me and sometimes holding me back from some personal goal. I’ve also experienced these winds as being symbolic of my own spirit, and greater self, blowing me in certain directions. In my waking life I’ve experienced a breeze or gathering wind as being almost corporeal and greeting me as though family and welcoming me back into the fold from the often disconnect that everyday living can cause.

In the Old testament of the Christian Bible and the even older words of the Jewish Talmud the wind was often portrayed as the spirit of God, the Ruach (meaning breath or spirit in Hebrew) or Holy Spirit and for me would often call forth my spirit guide, Sophia, the feminine aspect of God. The desert often showed up in these old testaments to the spirit of God as a place of trials and learning the deeper realities of who we are. The spirits are often either feminine or masculine in nature depending on the aspects being communicated.

*The interpretations of deserts and wind are taken from the book Morpheus Speaks: The Encyclopedia of Dream Interpreting. See books section in right hand column.

Trees in our dreams

Rowan. One of the most sacred trees amongst the druids in the
Scottish folk tradition. Associated with St Brighid, patroness of
the arts and healing in the Celtic tradition.

I conversation with our pastor I started obsessing on my relationship with trees again. The following is an excerpt from the book Morpheus Speaks: The Encyclopedia of Dream Interpreting.

Beginning on Pg 448:

trees: These can represent the structure of your inner being, your self-portrait, and how you see yourself psychologically (e .g ., your connection with the family and your roots) . 

Dead roots could signal a disconnection or an unresolved issue with some childhood experience . Dead trees could be about dashed hopes or dreams . 

The branches become your aspirations but also your vulnerabilities . Consider the phrase “out on a limb .” Dead branches might suggest a loss of your ability to achieve your dreams or to seek satisfaction in some aspect of life . It can also mean the end to a familial line . Bare trees can be about lost vitality . 

Trees can represent your personal growth or the stages of your life . Many believe that the roots and trunk represent the divine nature of man, the branches representing the separate parts of this nature . Because of their temporary nature, leaves might correspond to one’s personality. 

Fallen or missing leaves might indicate a sense of losing your ability to hide your feelings or thoughts. Scars on the trunk might reveal traumatic physical or psychic experiences . 

A falling tree can represent a feeling of imbalance . (See also roots and individual trees such as hazel, holly, oak, pine, redwood, rowan, willow, or yew  in the book Morpheus Speaks). 

insight: To the Hindu, trees often serve as images of the Axis Mundi, the world center . Their sacred tree, the Ashwath Vriksha, a banyan tree, represents eternal life because of its ever-expanding branches. 

Throughout history many of the world’s religions referenced a cosmic tree with its branches reaching into the sky, its trunk steadfast on the earth, and its roots imbedded into the underworld . 

The Celts believed trees to be representations of deities and mediators between the world of the sky and the earth they lived on . Sometimes trees were seen as entrances into the Otherworld . It has been said that the Cornish King Arthur entered Avalon after he died through an opening in a tree . 

The oak has often figured in my dreams, but it did not always have the same meaning. I have watched many majestic oaks succumb to what is called “sudden oak death” and despair every time that I see the initial signs that yet another oak has fallen prey to this deadly blight . Once the tree is infected, there is no hope . 

The phrase “For how the mighty have fallen” comes to mind as I think about what is happening with the oak . Dreams about sadness, loss, hopelessness, and inevitability show up as oaks in my dreams these days, even though in some dreams the oak still represents the majestic, the noble, and the powerful . 

In the Celtic world, one of the most magical trees was the hawthorn, which one could find in a witch’s garden . It was said to guard the entrance to a fairy portal . 

Rowan (mountain ash) and yew were also sacred trees to the Celts. A hazel tree was associated with fairies, and in Ireland, it was called the “tree of wrath” or a fairy fort . If you stirred your preserves with a hazel stick, it would prevent the fairies from stealing it . 

In the Celtic tradition, the Welsh word for druid is derwydd and translates to “oak man .” Trees in general were often seen as entrances to the Otherworld as well . 

Trees offer power, strength, patience, steadfastness, and quiet centeredness, and I admire and desire all of these . 

But the trees also reveal a darker side, especially when I wander too far into the tangled forest of the unconscious . They can come to me in my dreams in many dark shapes—some recognizable, others amorphous in form . But I have learned that they always come on behalf of my well-being . 

“I frequently tramped eight or ten miles through the deepest snow to keep an appointment with a beech-tree, or a yellow birch, or an old acquaintance among the pines.“

—Henry David Thoreau, 1817–62

tree house: Are you trying to escape from your everyday problems and just climb above it all? The dream of building one could reflect self-development and the attempt to maximize potential . 

insight: Tree dwellings can incorporate both elements of the house and the tree . The tree itself can be a symbol for one’s inner structure, the structure of one’s life .

The roots can represent the family background and influence . The trunk may represent how one directs his or her energy and growth, while the branches can be about the directions taken in life, members of one’s family, or one’s many abilities . Whether large or small, canopies can say something about one’s ambitions . 

The type of tree can say something about your inner attributes . For example, the banyan tree might represent shelter or a connection between the earthly and the spiritual . It is said to be the resting place of the god Krishna . In Hong Kong, the banyan are called wishing trees . In many Asian cultures, this tree is symbolic of eternal life . 

The redwood tree may also symbolize longevity or continuity . The bay can also represent this concept of longevity and immortality . 

Another sacred fig tree worshipped in various Asian cultures is the bodhi tree . This was the tree that Siddhartha Gautama was reported to have been sitting under when he attained enlightenment and became the Buddha . 

To sit under any tree may be about seeking refuge from life’s struggles . 

A Christmas tree might be about family celebrations as well as looming stress and anxiety . It can also be symbolic of your spirituality. 

There is so much more about trees, dark woods, and forests that I’d like to share but you can find out for yourself in the book “Morpheus Speaks: The Encyclopedia of Dream Interpreting”.

My mythopoetic self

Edward Burne Jones “The Beguiling of Merlin- Merlin and Vivien” 1874 Reproduction Print Enchanter Wizard & Seductress to gain knowledge power

Mythopoetic

adjective

  1. relating to the making of a myth or myths. Giving rise to the creation of myths. 2. relating to or denoting a movement for men that uses activities such as storytelling and poetry reading as a means of self-understanding. Often attached to such authors as Robert Bly and Joseph Campbell and often referring to the archetypes drawn from Jungian analytical psychology. Fantasy writers such as J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and Lewis Carroll were all well known mythopoeic authors whose characters were archetypes of the human psyche. Myth in this context is a reflection of the self and not to be mistaken as fantasy even though fantasy is often used to bring this part of the human psyche into consciousness.

There is a place, a realm, a fancy, a state of mind, sense, country, and experience that exists within the imaginal spaces within my being. It is a soulful place where reality is nurtured and the mysterious grows dense and tangled as an aggressive vine weaving its branches into every corner of my consciousness. It’s a place where time is measured in experience not finite number. It’s the place where the dream of my conscious and unconscious selves meet and share what is real.

An example of this was posted in this blog in March of 2017: 

However, I believe that in everything I see I project a part of myself and it is this that creates the myth that is myself the part of the real self that is being continuously created. We are more poetry than we imagine, the archetypal hero of the journey we find ourselves on. Our connection with each other and with all that we see or seem is the gift that sustains us. Whether male or female, to reconnect with our poetic selves and to strive to become whole again will open us to all those unconscious aspects of who we really are.

The Alchemy of Love

February is often labeled the month of love and romance where many in the world celebrate what used to be called the feast of St. Valentine but for Christians so is March and April and according to Tennyson this is when, “In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love…!” but what is love I asked in this blog some time ago and then proceeded to add my thoughts to that complicated question.

A friend later told me that he didn’t think I’d gone far enough and reminded me of the Greek (old and new) concept of love. They used four words that each spoke to a different aspect of the meaning of love–Agape, Eros, Philia, and Storge. The first is unconditional love, true love. This is a love that is not subject to environment, or personal perception and is based on the commitment of a decision, not a reaction to how someone looks, behaves, or seems to behave based on our own projections. With Agape one is actively seeking the well-being of the other person, it is not self-directed, but other-directed.

There is Agape love the kind of love that Rumi, Gibran, and Jesus talk about. Agape has the power to rise above everything else as well as create a context for the next three examples of love, Eros, Philia and Storge. Treating someone with Agape is to create the kind of environment where romance and friendship can flourish.

Eros shows itself in the statement “I’m in love!” But Eros is a weak kind of love in that it evaporates with harsh words, or a relationship doesn’t meet one’s expectations. In short, Eros, unlike Agape, is subject to the vagaries of circumstance and environment. It is so fickle that it literally depends on perception. For example, as long as people are enjoying a romantic situation they experience Eros, but as soon as it ends due to some intervening circumstances, it quickly ends and is difficult to recapture. Even though it can be exhilarating, it can be easily destroyed. It’s usually the first kind of love to suffer after the relationship has hit the point of disillusionment, which all relationships must hit in order to grow deeper.

Philia is the love of friendship, community, country, party affiliation, family and loyalty, but it too is subject to the circumstances of life e.g. time, distance, hurtful actions, and harsh words can severely strain or end Philia love.

Storge refers to affection as with members of the extended family, or even colleagues , neighbors or what a teacher has for their students. Storge also represents acceptance or putting-up-with someone or thing that’s stressful, or annoying.

As you can see there are many types of and barriers to loving, but the greatest of the barriers in my opinion is “anger” and self-centeredness. What many of us do when we grow to anger because of some perceived rudeness or criticism toward us is we become hurt and defensive , aggressive or insular, we shut-out the offender, cutting off communication and therefore understanding beyond the hurt. Sometimes just sitting down with the alleged offender to find out what they meant can be helpful. But so too does releasing the ‘offender’ from any wrongdoing–this is called “forgiveness.” Contrary to popular opinion, “Forgiveness” is not for the offender, but the offended. It releases you from your anger thus removing the prime obstacle to loving. 

It is as Buddha said, “Forgiveness doesn’t excuse their behavior. Forgiveness prevents their behavior from destroying your heart.” 

Finding the lesson, or silver lining in the situation is always helpful and assists you in then reaching out.

Embracing anger and justifying it with your “rightness” and thus feeling justified in it, perpetuates it i.e. it reinforces the continued negative perceptions. It has been suggested by some sages that in order to change the world around you, change your perceptions of it.

Basically, real love is patient, kind, trusting and hopeful. It does not keep a record of “wrongs” and is never abandoned in favor of maintaining your individual “rightness”. The powerful ego-driven need to be right is often death to love and relationship.

In most arguments one can use the old phrase, “You can either be right, or be in relationship”, choose. Also one cannot be open to love or give it if they are filled up with themselves. Like any chemical reaction i.e., atomic bonding something needs to have space for electrons to relate and have parity in order to achieve bonding. When it’s all about you you’re full of only yourself and nothing is free to bond with another person or persons. Relationships and marriages seem to exist for you and I to learn about our selves and most especially to learn how to love ourselves. If we are are too filled up we can learn nothing and never experience the meaning of love. Relationships of all kinds are powerful seminars and workshops on the nature of the human soul and definitely not for the narcissist, faint of heart or the self-serving.

A midafternoon reverie nap straddling the line between two worlds.

Transcending the veil of reality

Prior to the sleep I had been in a rip roaring argument with my God about the messy way it, He/She had created us humans. We are a totally illogical if not cynical creation I thought and why didn’t they just take pity and clean it up and fix the mistakes?

In the reverie I was meditating on the experience of the divine without, I confess, really knowing what that is. However, my experiences over the years have given me some clues.  For example, the divine is not rational, not bound by pattern or belief and can only be seen by the irrational mind that has given itself over to the nonlinear, non-thinking, non-intellectual and seemingly chaotic and illogical. The divine cannot be heard or seen or touched through the mind, the brain, the intellect or what we call consciousness. It follows no pattern or dogma and is completely dissociated from what we call normal. In fact, it cannot exist in the “normal”. It also can neither confirm nor deny our sanity but certainly has all the earmarks of insanity.

One can only have a “conversation” with the divine when not in their rational, logical, and sane mind. But to hear this essence of reality one must take a leap of faith and give up their sanity without knowing that they can ever return to it when the conversation is finished or to know for sure whether the experience was or is just a function of a dysfunctional mind i.e., a hallucination. And once the leap has been made there’s no guarantee that they are right or wrong about what they are doing. For the religious mind they may be leaping into either heaven or hell and not be able to tell the difference.

This is the frightening aspect of touching the face of the divine and never being able to return. To take this road to where you cannot know, where the very real possibility exists that you’ll never find your way back is a terrifying concept. Why would anyone who really understood the ramifications be willing to do it? Why embrace something that looks and is by all normal standards and belief insane, irrational and illogical and where the possibility of being trapped in the abyss it creates is the most likely outcome? Why take the chance that you may actually be embracing insanity?

Even to be writing about it seems to border on this no-person’s land and places me precariously at the cliff’s edge. What’s on the other side of the leap, oblivion? But oblivion to what? What’s to be gained by giving up the rational mind if only for a moment? Why take the chance?

I’ve stood at this precipice before and followed its rabbit hole into the darkness. But there was some part of me that knew that I needed to leap and would be safe in doing so. Foolhardy? Perhaps. I think that I came out of it unscathed but who really knows for it did irretrievably change me! How? I don’t know really as it was more a sense of change than a physical knowing because to follow the rabbit down the hole will change not only who you’re being but also who you were so there’s no benchmark from which to see yourself or compare. The ground of being shifts and this can be very disconcerting. And the logical, rational mind does not like disconcerting because it’s an unbalanced feeling and the psyche can’t deal with imbalance wanting always to strive for some kind of equilibrium. Imbalance looks like irreversible chaos and entropy with the potential for never being able to make it whole again (something Humpty Dumpty should have thought about before sitting on the wall). 

But this is where we must go, what we need to leap into in order to get a glimpse of the other side of the veil, whether that veil is what separates one person from another or our true self from our illusory self that is, the reality matrix we’ve all been conned into thinking is the real and only reality. It’s a leap with no idea that there is anything there or any guarantees that we can return to the reality that we’re used to. How crazy is that? Pretty crazy I’d say and for most I imagine will result in a crazy mental breakdown that they can never return from.

I can imagine, but don’t know’ that there may be many a mind afflicted with such things as schizophrenia or dissociative disorder where they have lost their identity and connection with this reality who made the leap for whatever reason (pushed, fell or jumped) and who may be struggling to get back. It may be impossible (or at least damn difficult) to straddle both realties at the same time in that we don’t seem to be made for it at least not in the physical reality. Imagine what it would be like if your psyche were trapped in a different reality than your body i.e., if your “dream body” were to have simultaneous existence with your physical body and you couldn’t get them to rejoin into one! Who or better yet, what, would you be then I asked?

And then I woke up.

5 keys to dream interpretation

These aren’t all of the keys necessary to make your dreams work for you, but they can help to unlock your imaginal and spiritual aspects and begin the process of opening the doors to a whole new world of experience.

1) Realize that dreams are the road to increased awareness, personal growth, and transformation. They can also open us to the magic and the mystical of life that surrounds us and that is within us.

At some level, you already know the meaning of your dreams i.e. the information is there, but you’re unconscious of it. You just haven’t learned to ask the right questions of them.

There is a pearl of deeper wisdom in all of us that can be tapped through the understanding of images in our dreams. Dreams reveal the inner alchemy of the human psyche that speaks to our greater meaning and purpose. Is this just vacuous hyperbole or a real and proven source of information about the world? Once one embraces the realm of their dreams and begins the work of interpreting and applying their meaning dreams move from the profane to the sublime and for some from the secular to the divine.

Learn why they can be important to you e.g. what value they have for you. Without that knowledge, it is difficult to establish an intention to remember them. People don’t remember their dreams when they don’t seem to be of any use.

2) Dream dictionaries and analysts can be helpful, but don’t depend on them.

You have the innate ability to intuit the meaning of your dreams, but the aid of a good dictionary, or dream analyst, or dream group can help to point you in the right direction, or help you open to different possibilities.

3) You are the ultimate arbiter of your dream. Others can only tell what your dream would mean to them if it were their dream.

Regardless of what the analyst, or dictionary says, meaning depends on whether the interpretation resonates, rings true, with you. You are the author of your life’s story, you establish its meaning.

4) Another key to dream interpretation is self-honesty.

Self-deception is a huge obstacle to self-awareness. You need to be honest about your feelings/emotions, beliefs, prejudices, and judgments. You need to stop hiding behind your self-deceptions e.g. your lies and your mask that you wear so that folks don’t see who you really are (or worry you really are) or the mask you wear turned inward that reflects who you want to be but are not yet. This means that you need to be open to change no matter how uncomfortable that may be. Remember, you wouldn’t be on this quest if deep down you thought the deceptions were in your best interest.

5) Focusing on your feelings in a dream can be the key to their interpretation.

Images, people, and events have symbolic significance, but it’s how you feel about them that often provides a doorway to the dreams usefulness in your life.

            •How did the dream leave you feeling?

            •Where do you have these feelings in your waking life?

            •How did you feel about the person, object, or situation in the dream?