In the land where the Faery Lantern and Jabberwocky Play

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In a potted plant sitting obscurely in a corner of the patio behind our house sits a lamp that when night falls begins to glow an eerie blue. White crystals at its base fracture the light and send it helter-skelter across the garden floor eventually being absorbed into the dense forest of green across the miniature meadow. “What is that Grandpa?” Said my Granddaughter one warm spring evening while we sat in the dark before the moon took over the sky and dispelled the eerie shadows of the night.

“Ah yes, that’s a Fairy Lamp” I explained. “Ohh, what is that?” she whispered.

“A Faery Lantern, the link between two worlds (or the link between worlds) is like what the dream is to those who sleep and leave the world of light for the world of the night, the world of bright consciousness to the world of dark shadows.”

“The faeries are those images that reside within the dream and guide the dream body through the labyrinth of the inner psyche. Like Dickens’ ghosts of the Christmas Carol they cross through time and solid walls as though they didn’t exist. They are of the intuitive and imaginal world beholding to nothing of the material and rational and yet, and yet, hold the very secret of life, the cradle of our soul.”

“Light the lantern and sleep will overtake you and the fairies will come, dancing and flitting, soaring and buzzing through the air with an invitation to follow deeper into the night realm, deeper into the shadows of the unknown.”

“It’s mostly a curious world, a mad hatters craziness that can turn on the moment to either the sublime or upon a nightmarish Jabberwocky” I growled and clawed the air menacingly while my granddaughter recoiled in mock fear.

“It’s a place of wizards, wisdom keepers and great ladies, heroes, lovers, martyrs, tricksters, devils and death. It is a world where unicorns still forage and people can take wing over vast green meadows. Here the archetypal male in us all holds his hand to the female we all share and rejoices in the union that eludes us in the waking world.”

“As we travel through the world of the night the shape-shifting creatures of the dark will lure us into the Neverseen, the Land of Faery and introduce us to our true self. Once met and understood we can never ever be the same.”

“What do you think of that?? I queried and looked over at her, but the faeries had already come and taken her through the light of the lamp. I smiled and pulled my jacket against the encroaching cold.

 

 

My conversation with the night

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I walked with you tonight and asked again why is it I have to learn lessons if I can’t take them with me when I die? And you answered…”the lessons you’ve learned were never meant for you…they were meant for me”.

“I learn through form”, you said, “with each specific form designed for a specific lesson. You have taught me and continue to teach me well. For this I shall be eternally grateful.”

For a moment I paused in the dark near an old sycamore and let in the words. Am I not more than your teacher? I said.

“You are”, he said.

Who am I then?

“Me”, he said.

I don’t feel as though I am you. It feels separate. Do you mind?

 

“Not at all, he said. When the lesson comes to an end we will continue to the next. There are infinite lessons for you and I, but we have all eternity to study them.”

Archetypal memes in our stories and our dreams

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For several years now I’ve been slowly adding to my personal encyclopedia of dream images. After a particularly numinous dream the other day I thumbed through my collection to the archetype section and found what I was looking for. It was a comment on the archetypal images that often show up in fictional and fantasy stories.

Stories thrive on archetypal characters. There are the heroes such as Odysseus of Homer’s work, or Hercules in Greek mythology. Characters like Puck and Lady Macbeth, Othello and King Lear along with a whole host of others in the works of Shakespeare are also archetypal memes.

The White Rabbit and the Cheshire cat lead us into our inner realm, as do all animals in our dreams and music such as Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker shows evidence of characters like the trickster and shadow. The psychic archetypes portrayed within this work show up in the form of the Trickster-magician Drosselmeyer, the Shadow creature portrayed by the Mouse King and his minions and the various goddess images envisioned as the Sugar Plum and Snow fairies.

The Nutcracker itself transforms from one state of being to another, becoming human in the process, a nice metaphor for Carl Jung’s Individuation Process and not unlike the transformative performance experienced by Pinocchio who morphed from being a puppet to a real boy. Both represent the magic-like development of the human psyche as it transmutes toward wholeness and realness.

As with anything in the imaginal world of the psychic archetypes, they are more metaphor than actual. We can’t touch them, only point toward their attributes. They represent the patterns of the psychic function.

The Depth Psychologist James Hillman said that they were the root of the soul. He went on to say that because of this imaginal description of archetype we are lead “to envision the basic nature and structure of the soul in an imaginative way and to approach the basic questions of psychology first of all by means of the imagination.” (Hillman, J., A Blue Fire, Harper Perennial, 1989, pg.23)

Imagination is the faculty of imagining, or of forming mental images or concepts of what is not actually present to the senses. A Psychologist might say that it is the power of reproducing images stored in the memory under the suggestion of associated images or of recombining former experiences in the creation of new images that aid in the solution of problems or that are directed at a specific goal.

The archetypal imagination of our soul has the ability to create unreal or whimsical imagery and the decorative detail that we experience in our poetry, dramas, stories and art.

On occasion an archetypal image will visit a dream and deliver a luminous or what has been dubbed a numinous (i.e. holy or sacred) quality to the dream that can stimulate an emotional state that brings transformational meaning and purpose to ones life.

The emotion can be of deep sweetness, ecstasy or of terror and dread but definitely a wholly other experience of astonishment and wonder.

Whether the experience is “real” or not in terms of whether one has been visited by some spirit isn’t all that important because it’s the effect that it has on ones psyche and resulting behavior that is of consequence.

 

Working Against Myself

th.jpegI woke up with most of this poem still relatively intact. With a few tweaks here and there I’m presenting it as an example of what can happen when you go to sleep asking your dreams for some input to some vexing problem e.g. “Why do I keep working against myself?”.

 

 

There’s a war going on within.

A disdain for the male and distrust of the female

Leaves me lost in between.

Stuck to father figures

Like burs stuck to my socks

Walking the dry dense fields of my youth.

Annoying, scratchy, sometimes painful

Chaffing my soul restricting movement forward

Burs hard to let go of, the fathers hold fast.

Each with promise of heroism

But having only the capacity to be human.

Leaving me ever lost.

I know how to be a human self

It’s my soul self that I crave

Can I cross this field having learned something, anything?

Recognizing a holy dream: An interpretation

 

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“Vocatus atque, non vocatus, deus aderit.”

 

This saying is carved above the door of Carl Jung’s house near Zurich and translates as “Bidden or not bidden God is always there”. It was the message that the Oracle at Delphi gave to the Lacedemonians as they were planning their war against ancient Athens. This was also the message to Jacob in his dream of angels descending and ascending a staircase or ladder to heaven.

The spirit is always there whether you are conscious of it or not was the message I got one evening long ago. At that time I was in graduate school and full of all kinds of ideas that were heretical to not only my upbringing but also the prevailing social and culture acceptance of the day. When I felt alone in my growing awareness, when I felt lost and had trouble finding my way because I had allowed myself to walk far outside the boundaries of my culture I discovered that all I had to do was to look within to find my core self– the spirit that was always with me. It got me through a lot of tough times.

Before I was even aware of the old-testament story of Jacob and his dream I had a dream where a woman dressed in blue and hovering above a road beckoned me to follow her into the mountains beyond. As I stood there in the dream debating whether I should go

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Jacob’s Ladder by RJ Cole from The Book of Dreams

I noticed that to my left were a group of angels going up and down a ladder into the sky. The dream was one of those that I knew was important, a sort of special dream aka a ‘holy or sacred dream’ even though I didn’t know what it meant at the time. It wasn’t until years later when I started to write my dreams and try to interpret them that the Jacob’s Ladder image dream came back into my life and took on immense importance.

In dreams this kind of image often represents the symbolic path between heaven and earth– the connection between your physical and spiritual aspects. It can also represent the connection between your conscious and unconscious self. Some envision the spiral of a strand of DNA as a Jacob’s ladder. In my old dream of a ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ the staircase seemed to represent my own struggle with the polarities within me (we all have conflicting aspects and personalities, desires and urges)– those aspects of myself that I either accepted or rejected.

As with the tree with its roots in the physical ground and its branches touching the heavens the staircase in Jacob’s ladder reminds me that we are bound both soul and body and is encouraging us to accept all of ourselves i.e. the dark as well as the light, the intellect and heart, body and spirit.

Also in my dream the “blue lady” who beckoned me turned out to be my feminine aspect, the intuitive wisdom aspect reflecting my soul and was encouraging me to take the road less traveled that would take me into the spiritual heights represented by the mountains in the distance. It was a long road representing a long journey that disappeared into the unknown, perhaps the land of my unconscious mind. She also was implying that I was not to fear the journey for she would be with me all the way. This was of course my first conscious experience of the spirit being at my side i.e. the manifestation of the oracles’ verbal missive, Vocatus atque, non vocatus, deus aderit.

 

My Friend the Dragon–a Riddler by Nature

 

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Found on http://stuffpoint.com/dragons/image/128196/old-dragon-reads-book-picture/

 

I was doing some research this morning for my website when I came across a reference for the symbol of the Dragon in a dream. I’ve recorded several symbols for the dragon (see Dragon Symbols in the Dreaming Wizard website ), but was not aware that they are often seen as riddle makers as well. Given my run in with a Riddlegnome in the book The Archipelago of dreams (see Books by Author on right hand column), I wondered what part a riddle played in fantasy stories, or dreams for that matter.

Frequently riddles are a collection of opposing characteristics describing a single person, place or thing and yet it is the essence of the answer that reconciles the opposites into a single correct answer.

Riddles are often found at the entrance to all kinds of things and are presented as a means of opening the doors to something such as a cave, lair, or bridge and as such aid in the protection of these things. The riddle’s solution is thus the answer to an achievement of something valuable and nothing worth achieving is won without struggle. So it’s no wonder that the Dragon that is often seen as the protector of human treasure is affiliated with the riddle.

The riddle also represents mystery and mans struggle to discover the truth of things. Its solution elicits many of the same feelings associated with the discovery of an unknown truth–the conquering of something heretofore bigger than oneself.

For me at least, any riddle always tries my patience and tests my wit. It is also a metaphor for something that makes me feel stupid and requiring usually a higher degree of analysis and synthesis skill than I think I have. It can often be seen as the prelude to failure and an obstruction to progress. But I must be in pretty good company, or it wouldn’t be used as a protective charm so often in stories of magic. However, I also suspect that they are used in most cases to strengthen one’s higher-order thinking skills and as such as a game to test, or hone, one’s mettle.

While researching, my own dragon entered the room and of course, true to form, posed its own riddle that I present to you now, but unlike my encounter with the Riddlegnome, I will not munch on your bones should you fail to answer correctly.

“It is as warm as a summer’s breeze, or as cold as a stone on a winters day.

It is brighter than a star, or as black as a moonless night.

It can be as hard as rock, or as malleable as clay.

It is of the flesh and of the spirit.

It opens itself up to the universe and yet it can close hard latched when vulnerable.

It is all-powerful and yet easily broken.”

 

                                                                     –RJC

What is it?

There is no reward, or punishment for a correct answer other than the one presented by your own ego. Is that not always so?

 

Heart and mind: A dichotomy?

 

struggle-between-the-brain-and-the-heart-artistic-hd-wallpaper-1920x1200-2305.jpgIn western cultures the heart and mind are seen as a conflicting dichotomy. In the west people generally identify the mind or brain as the main instrument of thought, rationality, and intelligence, whereas the heart represents the irrational or emotional aspect of ourselves. For efficiency decisions if they are to be rational, must be made from the mind and not the heart or so it is believed.

This may have caused the west to become a culture of doing and making as well as forcing and struggling to make things happen. In short, the western culture as represented by the conservative mindset has become very masculine in nature.

Insight: The word for heart and mind in Hebrew is the same word, “lebh”. This is also true in Chinese (xīn ). In these cultures heart and mind work in tandem or together as one as in heart/mind with regard to thought and intelligence.

It is said by many of the wisdom keepers that in order to grow one needs to open both the heart and the mind.

There are many stories from mystics through the ages of how the void within became filled via the heart versus the mind alone. One such story is as follows: Thomas Merton told the story of Saint Lutgarde a 13th century mystic from Belgium. In this story the Saint claimed to have been visited by Jesus in a vision offering whatever gift of grace she desired and she asked for a better understanding of Latin so that she could understand the word of God. At once her mind was flooded by the psalms and readings of the Bible. But still she felt a painful void and emptiness in her soul. She then asked the Christ for an exchange. “And what would you exchange it?” and she said “Your heart Lord”. He granted her wish and took her heart into his breast.

Had Lutgarde discovered that the heart filled the void where things of only the mind did not?

To the artist, poet and writer it is the heart that is manifest as the soul of creativity, but it takes the mind to translate it to the page or canvas. They must work in tandem or there is only emptiness– the void.

To be kind is more important than to be always right. Sometimes all what we need is not an intelligent mind that speaks but a patient heart that listens.

(from: http://www.searchquotes.com/search/Heart_Vs_Mind/)

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The balance between heart and mind

 

OM

 

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I was reading an article in Science Illustrated about a team of scientists translating the shock waves from a black hole into sound waves that you and I can hear. It was said to be a low Bb tone. There was also a link to this sound that one could listen to. When I went to the link and listened I knew that I’d heard that sound before. It was a low rumble sounding like an Australian didgeridoo, or Tibetan long horn. As I listened I recalled another sound the sound of AUM or OM, the sound of the universe that many meditators use to focus and quiet the mind.

This also seems to be the sound of our sun. Yes, I know one can’t hear sound in space because there’s no air for the vibrations to pass through but the waves of electrons that pass through ionized gas or plasma can be detected and translated into a sound that our ears can hear.

This is the sound that the ancient Hindus described in the Vedas thousands of years ago. This sent a chill up my spine and raised the hairs on the back of my neck. Ancient mystics could quiet the mind and tune into a sound that represented the cosmic sound of the universe. Some might even say it is the sound of God, ultimate reality, the essence of all life, and the self within.

This ancient mantra and spiritual icon is not just another man-made ritual sound but the actual sound of the universe around us. OM is the connection of humankind with God. OM is also referred to as Pranava i.e. something that pervades life and is the container for the supreme, God or Brahman. It wouldn’t be too difficult imagining the universe as the container for what we call God and all brought to a singular point through OM.

As explained in the Hindu Upanishads the sound represents the four states of consciousness. The A sound in AUM or OM represents the waking state; the U sound represents the dream state, and the M sound represents deep sleep. And the fourth state is what is called turiya that is the sound of silence that follows the mantra.

So it turns out that the sound of the universe is also the sound of our consciousness i.e. our waking and dreaming mind.

To hear this sound permeating the cosmos I realize that only now the world of science is beginning to catch up to and open us to the spiritual world– a reality beyond our imaginings.