Listen to the Sophia her wisdom will save you

 

 

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Sophia–The divine feminine or the female aspect of God. If God is a wholeness then he is not just masculine in nature. If we wish to be whole ourselves then we also need to embrace our opposites.

I’ve been visited by the image of the Sophia again. What do I mean by that? There is an aspect of compassion and caring and nurturing in all of us male or female that reflects a deeper wisdom than is expressed by the every day ego-self of fear, greed, anger, aggression, self-interest, and hatred. This wisdom comes from that part of our psychology that some call the Sophia, the feminine aspect in us all. Sophia is the feminine counterpart to a patriarchal God. It’s the expression of love not only for ourselves and a limited number of people around us but for our neighbors near and far here or in another part of the world.

Sophia is that part of us that urges unification and wholeness and is the mother of and to us all. She has shown up in my life in the form of my mother and grandmothers, my wife, daughters and granddaughters. She has shown up in my dreams to help lead me toward a new way of being and is showing up everywhere in the #MeToo movement and in politics as politicians and political operatives.

What they all have in common is the desire to stand up to the bullying of the overly aggressive masculine aspect that all too often thinks only in the binary language of win or lose, dominate or be dominated, control or be controlled, and deal-closers and patsies. The Sophia aspects also encourage the desire for inclusiveness and the integration of all voices and ideas. In a rabidly divided world the power of the Sophia is sorely needed for without her we will surely fall into another abyss of our own making. The abyss of which I speak is the dark night of our soul a soul that cannot be salvaged or enlivened through the building of walls or by demeaning others. These are the actions of fearful people consumed by their small and frightened minds. Actions within a context of fear cannot build new ideas or new ways of being because fear separates and doesn’t unite it isolates us from others and also from our deeper more meaningful selves.

Fear causes us to crawl back into our box and causes all our creative energy to be used toward self-protection. But the energy used to build the walls of our box to keep that which we fear at bay eventually becomes less than the creative energy to grow and be free of the box’s limits and that’s when the Sophia comes into our lives to show us the way to a greater and more balanced way of being.

Listen to all her forms because they are urging us into a new world a new world in how we think of ourselves and how we can be with each other. It’s a world that transcends the traditional world of us/them or we/they and is so much more powerful and richer than the world we’ve created thus far.

To hold tight to the traditional world is death let it go and live what we were intended to live.

Dreams are emotional in nature

 

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The Artist’s Dream by John Fitzgerald (1857) 

Okay, time to get a little ‘academic’ here, yes I know that I’m about to lose half my audience with that word, but read on for I’m about to talk about the ‘emotional’ side of dreams and dream recall.

According to Rosenberg (1998) emotions can be thought of on both state and trait levels that is on the ‘state’ level emotions are temporary and frequently related to what’s happening in and around a moment or period of time whereas at the trait level we’re talking about individual differences such as with mood tendencies i.e. how one generally reacts to emotional stimuli.

Our dreams are generally emotional in nature and interact with emotional oscillations in our waking state and both state and trait emotions affect our dream content and narratives. This is why I encourage those who send their dreams to me for analysis to include the emotional content of the dream as well as what is happening in their waking world circumstances.

Interestingly those people who’s typical response to emotional material is to repress it or deny its existence or that it has any effect on them are those that have trouble recalling their dreams. This may be due to the fact that the personality tendency to repress during wakefulness shows up in their ability to recall e.g. some part of the overall psyche of the individual inhibits the recall because of its emotional content (Kai & Yu, 2013). These so-called repressors also tend to disavow negative social experiences and negative emotions in general.

Research done by Wegner, Wenzlaff, and Kozak (2004) also suggested that thoughts suppressed prior to sleeping and dreaming would tend to show up in one’s dreams. This idea that suppressed material relegated to the unconscious would revisited us in our dreams has been a theme in many of my writings on the subject over the years. Kohler and Prinzleves (2007) also suggested that “dream memories that elicit more unpleasant feelings and stronger skin conductance responses (as one might find in a lie detector test) are more likely to be forgotten.” This might explain why some can’t recall their dreams especially when they have a high emotional content.”

Though emotional repression tends to protect from immediate emotional disturbance, research shows that those with a repressive or denial coping style tend to have higher anxiety traits than those who don’t i.e. than those who tend to deal more directly with their emotions (Weinberger et al, 1979).

My experience in the interpretation of people’s dreams has shown across the thousands of dreams that I have worked with that females tend to share more of the emotional content of a dream as well as their waking life emotional content that may affect their dreams. This gender difference has been generally supported by studies that show that women tend to share dreams more often than men (see Schredl & Shwainski, 2010 overview) and have a higher dream recall than men. Women tend to recall and share nightmare material more than men as well. This of course would be consistent with the general tendency of people exhibiting the feminine orientation toward the social-emotional versus the masculine attribute of being action oriented. These gender differences might also explain why most of the dream groups I’ve been associated with as a participant or tangentially as an observer or researcher have been overwhelmingly female.

Dream recall can also be affected by one’s attitude to dreams i.e. the willingness to express one’s dreams affects recall (Schredl et al, 2013).

None of this of course suggests a direct relationship to why people in general tend not recall their dreams. I think that most of us could increase our dream recall with greater focus, attention, and interest in the usefulness of our dreams to problem solving, self-understanding, and self-development. But that’s a subject for a later day.

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Kai, C., Yu, Ching, (2013). Superego and the repression of affective and dream experiences. Dreaming, 23, 4, 266-276.

Kohler, T. & Prinzleve, M. (2007) “Is forgetting dreams due to repression?” Swiss Journal of Psychology, 66, 33-40.

Rosenberg, E.L. (1998). Levels of analysis and the organization of affect. Review of General Psychology, 2, 247-270.

Schredl, M. , Kim, E., Labudek, S and Schadler, A. (2013). Gender, Sex role orientation, and dreaming, Dreaming, 23, 4, 277-286.

Schredl, M. & Schwainski, J.A. (2010) Frequency of dream sharing: The effects of gender and personality. The American Journal of Psychology, 123, 93-101.

Wegner, D.M., Wenzlaff, R.M. and Kozak, M. (2004) Dream rebound: The return of repressed thoughts in dreams. Psychological Science, 15, 232-236.

Winberger, D.A. ,Schwartz, G.E. & Davidson, R.J. (1979). Low anxious, high anxious, and repressive coping styles: Psychometric patterns and behavioral and physiological responses to stress. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 88, 369-380.

 

Significance and magic of Sigils

 

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A dream dictionary is basically a book of symbols to aide a dreamer in interpreting a dream. I say “aide” because symbolic meaning is fundamentally unique to the dreamer i.e. the dreamer projects subjective meaning onto the dream images.

A dictionary can help with meaning, but it is not the ultimate meaning because as with any dictionary the author of the material attaches various emotions, memories, and cultural significance to a word in such a way that every word takes on several layers of meaning beyond that which is included in the dictionary. So the symbols in a dictionary can help, but they can’t ultimately define for the individual exact meaning.

Not too long ago I came across a number of dreams that included symbolic drawings that defied definitive meaning, so I decided to experiment with these “dream sigils” to see what they could reveal.

What’s a sigil? Essentially, they are symbols of ones “intentions” and in the process of creating a sigil the “will” of the person creating it is infused into the drawing thus reinforcing the intention. It is a “thought form” designed to giving “being” to an idea.

Before going any further, intentionality should be distinguished from intention because in intentionality the thought creates a reality within itself–a representation of something that has objective existence vs. intention that is the purpose or anticipated outcome of some action.

A sigil can be both in that it can represent an objective reality while it also can be used for some specific outcome.

In the mystic tradition of the Tibetan Buddhists it was thought that one could bring an object or being into reality through sheer will i.e. a materialized thought (the Tulpa). These thoughts could summon into existence a demon, or object of desire if delivered into reality in the appropriate manner.

For modern use the sigil may be similar in purpose to a mandala that may focus the mind, or in the development of a trance state. Some Buddhists suggest that certain deities live within a mandala and can be communicated with when focused upon.

This idea is not altogether unlike the reanimation technique used with dream material as a means of broadening the work and meaning of a specific dream. The dream itself becomes the mandala whose meandering designs pull the dreamers consciousness into its center. Carl Jung labeled the technique Active Imagining where the images of the dream can be brought back to life and interacted with within the context of the therapy session.

As with all things brought to consciousness their reality is pretty much a function of the material projected upon them by the observer. Thus in the creation of a sigil one can observe the associations that present themselves during the process.

 

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Spirit Sigil

For example, note the sigil on the left that I created for the word “Spirit”. In this representation I removed the vowels and left the remaining unduplicated consonants “SPRT”. The drawing took no time at all to produce, seeming to flow from the pen without much thinking on the part of the brain. I felt excitement laced with a happy feeling and a sense of success while producing it. The result exhibited a bold strength combined with a sense of purpose and confidence. For me, when I’m in touch with the Spirit, everything just flows.

Energized by this success I tried another and chose the word “Dreams” (what else?). Eliminating the “e” and the “a” and combining the DRMS I started to draw, but after several iterations I became frustrated, yet determined and wondering why there was such a difference. Then I realized that for the last two nights my dreams had been confusing and frustrating with me failing to get ahold of enough material to extract any meaning. This sigil also reflected the chaos and vulnerability experienced in my former nights dreams.

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Dreams Sigil

The very act of creation was a projection of myself in relation to the symbols! In both cases my attention was brought to focus on my real world experiences with the concepts being represented. It had been my intention to use this process to gain insight to the meaning these words implied and indeed they did just that–the subjective intention was realized in the objective creation. Hooha!

Though my sigil may not have charmed something or brought a demon into existence it did objectify an inner demon (my tendency to easily frustrate) and enable me to broaden the experience of the former night’s dreams. And again, by bringing the demon shadow into the light of consciousness I was able to deal with it and thus banish it. Now that’s magic!

A modern day Narcissus

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Caravaggio– painted circa 1597–1599
In this painting he is gazing at his own distorted image in the water, a metaphor for what a true narcissist is doing with his own self-image.

While working on the Book of Dreams I came to an image where a dreamer once shared a dream about a bully in a schoolyard. This got me to thinking about bullies and narcissists. Both seem to think only of themselves and when they look as though they are thinking of others they are only play acting for, you guessed it, themselves.

A true narcissist is someone who gets gratification through vanity and ego admiration. In the DSM V it is considered a personality disorder. It was originally designated as megalomania.

If ones focus is predominately a self-focus with a strong lack of empathy, psychological awareness, a haughty, or arrogant, body language and hypersensitivity to insults real or imagined this might be designated as narcissistic.

People with this type of personality tend to exaggerate their achievements and importance and detest and demean those who do not admire them. They also seem to exhibit a kind of magical thinking that isn’t connected to any rational understanding of reality.

The bully part of their behavior comes from a lack of or incomplete boundaries with a sense of entitlement and willingness to exploit others regardless of their feelings or interests. They will say anything if they think that it will secure the admiration of others. Often when not recognized for being better than others they will fly into an abusive rage i.e. tantrum. Many are exhibitionistic.

We all have a little of this in us especially if we are feeling down on ourselves and many politicians seem to have a little more of this than the rest of us. But the self-interest of narcissism can also be healthy in a balanced individual. However, there are those who express this kind of behavior on a regular and often grandiose scale.

Normally people with this kind of personality are only a danger to themselves and maybe to those closest to them but once in a while they get themselves into a position of power that can negatively affect vast numbers of people. These people are all too often raised to the level of leadership and can cause much damage and havoc.

The true narcissist will do anything to achieve their distorted image of themselves. ANYTHING! Can you imagine desperately trying to have the world around and within you be the way it is not and can never be? How trapped, frightened, and out of control would you feel? What a nightmare! And if this were a dream we are all living in we would be caught up in this nightmare as well.

Though it wouldn’t be appropriate to make a formal diagnosis, you may have noticed that the current president of the United States presents many if not most of the diagnostic indicators of this kind of personality disorder. I shudder to think the damage such a personality will ultimately wreak upon not only the U.S. but also the world if they are not held in check. But isn’t that what the U.S. system does well and pride itself in i.e. it’s ability to keep its negative aspects checked and in balance? Let us pray that this is so.

Other famous narcissists include Saddam Hussein, Napoleon, Henry the VIII, Adolph Hitler, Heinrich Himmler of Gestapo fame, Rasputin, Joseph Stalin, Vlad the Impaler and so on. Not a very empowering or enlightened group.

The fact that such a personality has gained such traction in American politics is worrisome for it suggests that fear has become the all-consuming emotion of the electorate and where there is great fear there is little rationality. In fact, rational thinking is the first victim of a fear-based individual or society. There are those in this country who seem ready to throw away everything good for which they stood for the illusions and fantasies perpetrated by a psychologically dysfunctional individual.

Interestingly in the Greek Myth of Narcissus his followers would also do what was contrary to their best interests in order to support him or to curry his favor. And there are those who know better but who are giving up their right to vote or resist out of disgust, disappointment, and disillusionment and laying bare the field for this being’s success.

Some of the side effects of being around a true Narcissist who can cleverly distort the reality around them is a feeling of having been abused, brutalized, and asking if it is they who are crazy. Has the current political environment become so distorted that we have become a nation of fearful, self-indulgent and self-serving narcissists? We’ll see. But bringing back a balancing agent to our politics and our rhetoric is a first step in the national therapy our country needs for we have seen what happens to a society that is unable to heal itself and deal with its fears it becomes insular, delusional, domineering, dictatorial, and aggressive toward others and towards itself.