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.

Look for the light of your inner candle and be merely what you are and give the rest of what you think of yourself away.

 

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Look for that place between your naval and your solar plexus and you’ll find where the soul of the child resides. It is here that you’ll find the Self you have hidden from your ego self. It is here where the light still burns.

 

Look for the light of your inner candle and be merely what you are and give the rest of what you think of yourself away.

I read somewhere that every human being contains within his or her self the whole universe that the All is in each person and the All is each. But there’s always a “but” attached to these aphorisms. In this case the but takes the form of “but” the awareness or experience of this reality cannot arise when our minds are chained to anything such as a belief, tradition, sacred text, the body or its senses and ego i.e. mind stuff and mind stuff closes off the receptive heart.

As long as there is a craving for separateness, a desire for the individual, we are stuck in the illusion and its companion ignorance. It is only in the most central part of the soul, the heart of the mandala that the wordless, imageless, ageless, and soundless expression of Self resides. It cannot be perceived or understood through any of the bodily senses or the mind that these body things feed into and yet every one of us knows it’s there.

We know it when we stop looking and we know it when we give up becoming and just be. All other reality is just relative because it is of the personal ego. The reality of which I speak is that of the eternal ground of our being and as said cannot be found through the body but only through its transcendence. As long as you and I pretend to be what we are not we cut ourselves off from the reality of what we are.

And yet… there are those who through no energy issued from themselves have been graced the experience of the divine and forever changed by it.

What they saw was that they were bigger than their images of themselves but they were never bigger than they were. There is no pretense of being ‘more’ when one has dissolved into the ground of their being for they are merely what they are and no one can be bigger than that.

But how do we be what we really are when we don’t know what that is?

And there’s the rub but first one might entertain the notion of giving themselves away that is to give up the image and idea of a separate self from the bigger Self that holds the secret of who and what we are. Giving up that self that thinks it knows what it’s doing and what it thinks it should be allows the bigger Self to be heard. To hold on to that little self is to place a barrier to seeing and hearing the bigger Self and acts as a chain that holds us bound to the earth and unable to fly.

The shaman Don Juan summed it up for Carlos Castaneda when he said, “To seek freedom is the only driving force I know. Freedom to fly off into that infinity out there. Freedom to dissolve; to lift off; to be like the flame of a candle, which, in spite of being up against the light of a billion stars, remains intact, because it never pretended to be more than what it is: a mere candle.”

Look for the light of your candle.

Be merely what you are and give the rest of what you think of yourself away.

Of Two Minds

 

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“I’m of two minds” is a phrase often heard when someone has not made up their mind about something or believe that something is neither this or that but perhaps a melding of both. But this phrase also describes perfectly the relationship between dreams and waking life.

We know today that the brain functions in a unified way but that its two hemispheres have somewhat different inputs to that functioning. Various modern technologies have shown us that dreaming often takes place in the right hemisphere of the brain, though there are inputs from the left. During REM sleep the rational left hemisphere becomes less dominant and the more metaphorical right side of the brain comes to the forefront.

During wakefulness the left side is involved in language presentation and interpretation while the right brain is more involved in the emotional interpretation of sensory input and the right brain also has language input through the emotions evoked by words e.g. intonation (pitch, rhythm and tone)1.

The left side tends to be linear and concrete in its interpretation of sensory input while the right tends2 to be as I said earlier to be more metaphorical and thus uses images of everyday objects in a different way that often leads to a different perspective on things and provides new and perhaps heretofore unknown information.

Training the brain to interpret sensory information in only one way, such as what we do in our schools, can actually limit the brain’s overall functioning and thus its ultimate usefulness. The logical and often concrete thinking process of the left brain frequently ignores the personal meaning and importance of objects, words and experiences of the individual, the right brain information that often affects our decisions in our waking life, though unconsciously for we tend to be ignorant of their existence in a left-brain dominant world.

Attention to dreams and the openness to their contribution can be transformational to the individual and produce incredible results toward the success of everyday living.

As a diagnostician my work with children in a therapeutic setting literally took off when I started adding their dream material to the mix of standardized psychological testing in my tool-kit. My understanding of what was affecting the kids from their personal perspective of their world took on a whole new dimension that was quite useful in their therapeutic intervention.

Training kids at an early level to be conscious of all the available inputs to their experience and understanding of the world they live in ought to be part of any educational curriculum i.e. there is more internal wisdom in each of us than can be found in a dictionary or on-line encyclopedia or Google search. Standard educational approaches are needed and most useful but sorely limited when an entire resource uniquely individual is ignored.

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1This is not necessarily true for all languages in that some do not use pitch to distinguish words.

2I use “tend” because neither side of the brain is all of one way of functioning.

In a Dream: The Divine Feminine– The Sophia, Shekinah, Magdalene, Virgin Mary

 

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Shekinah.– Found on– http://shekinah.elysiumgates.com/

I had an interesting, nay mysterious, dream this week. At a church study group the other night was the final discussion of the Gospel of Mary Magdalene whom for me is someone who represents the feminine aspect of the Gospels of Jesus and a Gnostic balance to the masculine depiction of God. That night I had the following dream: I heard a chant repeated over and over until I awoke that went like this– “Mahdi Mahdi Mahdi padhi am (um)

At first I thought it to be Hindi because of my interest in Hindu chants and a recent class I presented on the power of chanting however, it turned out to be Arabic (I know nothing of Arabic). Roughly translated it means the “Mahdi (the Guided one or messianic successor to Mohammad), ‘read on’, and ‘the mother’.” So I looked up the Mahdi associated with women in general and mothers specifically. In the Quran it is said that a successor to Mohammad named the Mahdi will among other things restore women to their equal place among men. This is a particularly poignant message in this era of #me too and the evolving worldwide awareness of feminine power and the need for equality.

I reached out to a female friend and Depth Psychologist and shared the dream and she encouraged me to look where the inner feminine was attempting expression in myself.

It was then that I suspected the chant could also have been a form of “Om Mani Padme Hum” that refers to blessings for the embodiment of compassion in a Tibetan chant (a chant I have often used in my own meditations). So this dream could be speaking to my lack of compassion towards certain types of people who don’t meet my expectations for appropriate behavior (that was part of the discussion at the church study that centered around the ability to forgive and promote unconditional love as representing part of the Magdalene persona).

I knew it was significant because even in the dream I could see it was important though some of the repeating chant was I trying to commit it to memory as I awoke. It also had the quality of the numinous, not strongly but insistent.

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Sophia

The Sophia (a feminine wisdom image) has visited me often over the years as a spirit guide (a soul image) in the form of a woman looking very much like Mary Mother of Jesus (it was a therapist in Santa Barbara who pointed out that my journal drawing of her was the Sophia), as a Black Madonna, and also as a white she-wolf named Onoma. As a preteen (10 through 12) she showed up in visions that I now believe to have been hypnogogic in nature as Wonder Woman in her transparent airplane swooping down in the street before me as I lay out on our front lawn on lazy summer evenings and offering a ride though I’ll admit that this character could also have reflected nothing more than a prepubescent boy’s fantasy of a really “hot” female character.

However, all my feminine spirit guides seem to show up when I am most open to transition– when I’m ready to let go of something e.g. a way of being, thinking or behaving. They all seem to offer me a hand i.e. an invitation and a way of letting go and moving on. All of these feminine images appear archetypal of the Great Mother or the Divine Feminine.

Interestingly there’s always “music” as background in these dreams, in this case the chant was the music. The “music” for me seems to be the intuition of the child when everything is in harmony with everything else and what the Mother invites me to follow. That “intuition” has always seemed to say, “Walk away. This here is not for you. This is not why you’re here”.

My second level of interpretation of the chant I heard i.e. “Om Mani Padme Hum” speaks to compassion and it is here where I may be invited to grow and to express the feminine in myself. I can suffer with those I deem innocent or most like me but don’t readily see the suffering of those I deem evil or most unlike me (notwithstanding my own darker qualities reflected in them).

It may be the feminine quality of compassion I need to expand upon but how to do that through the ego me, the me that protects from the hurt and suffering? Compassion means to suffer with another and yet that is the very thing I fear i.e. that suffering that I so readily defend against.

Given my penchant for merciless self-criticism the dream could also be encouraging compassion for myself a compassion that sometimes I seem to be in short supply of.

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The Divine Marriage

So why does she keep showing up? Well, I suspect it’s because my psyche is still in the process of integrating her with the masculine so as to regain the wholeness of the spiritual birthright. She is the balance to every man’s psyche as is the masculine the balance to every woman’s. I wonder what that looks like, “wholeness” I mean.

Metaphor in the sky: Stars, planets, and the Moon can talk to us in our dreams

 

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I bought myself a new Moon Calendar for 2019. I stick this on the refrigerator both as a means of tracking the moon’s phases but also to add a little of the mysterious and anticipation to the every day.

I’ve always been fascinated by the Moon as it waxes and wanes across the sky. It shows up in my dreams and I’ve even marked special occasions and special people in my life with phases of the Moon. But the Moon has even more meaning than meets the eye.

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In the photo at left is Selene the Greek Moon goddess and guardian of the night. She was, according to legend, daughter of Hyperion–the lord of light– and sibling of Eos the goddess of the dawn. She’s also known as Luna, a Roman Titan.

A character in the Archipelago of Dreams, Eo is named after the Celtic goddess for rebirth. She is cast as a Phoenix bush– that which burns, but does not die, becoming reborn anew. In the book she plays a role as a healer of souls and guides Robert in the processes of healing. A star in the East also shows up in the Archipelago of Dreams and represents the deeper self of the book’s hero.

An eclipse of the Moon can suggest that ones feminine side is being overshadowed, or that some hidden aspect is about to be revealed. The moon eclipsing the Sun could very well be a union of the feminine and masculine aspects of ones self. The new light peeking from behind the Moon as the eclipse passes could be a new light, knowledge, or a new perspective.

The moon is often a symbol for the Priestess, or Goddess who may in a man’s dream be about second-sight, or insight, the intuitive, and a messenger guide (this was so for me in the dream, The Blue Fresco) from the unconscious mind.

The full Moon may represents wholeness while the crescent can represent transformation (Shiva in Hinduism is the god of transformation and is represented by the crescent), openness and resurrection (as with the middle eastern crescent of Islam). A waning Moon, can symbolize letting go, whereas the waxing Moon can be about growing insight and awareness.

Sometimes there can be a month when there is no full moon. This is known amongst Astrologists as a “Black Moon” month. For me if this were to present itself in a dream it might signify that something is missing in my life or that I’m not feeling whole and complete or that my inner light is somewhat diminished i.e. that I’m not reflecting the full light of God or the Spirit.

A red Moon can be about violence, disaster and strife, while a blue Moon can represent rarity. The moon also represents the receptive and wisdom. The Virgin Mary and Sophia were likened to The Moon of the Church, the reflector of the light of the Christ (often symbolized by the Sun).

The full Moon in the book The Archipelago of Dreams represented wholeness and completion and a goddess messenger for success. Viewing it helped the hero, Robert, to calm himself and get to sleep before battling the shadows of the Dark Lords.

angels-stars.jpgStars in ones dream can represent knowledge (universal and self) and the divine. Sometimes a star can be like an angel, a messenger from the divine spirit. In some Native American tribes the stars in the sky are the campfires of dead ancestors with their spirits forever looking down upon you. Here too the star played a prominent role in Robert’s transformation while in the Archipelago of Dreams.

 

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Photo by Greg Hogan

The morning star (Venus the goddess of persuasive feminine charm and for the Romans, the mother of them all) heralds the rise of the Sun (the Moon’s male counterpart). This was a good sign for a new beginning and for enlightenment. However, some early Christians saw the same symbol in opposition when they determined that this star represented the devil Lucifer that means “Morning Star” in Latin. Interestingly enough the archetypal image of the devil usually refers to a dark and unwanted side of our own nature that can only be dealt with in the direct light of day e.g. through conscious awareness.

 

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The five-pointed star called a pentacle shows up in many Christian churches as a symbol to ward off evil, though in opposition, or inverted, the star represents evil. The European Roma call it the Star of Knowledge. When an apple is cut in half across the core a pentacle becomes evident–no wonder the apple gets such a bad rap.

The six-pointed Star of David can signify the union of Heaven and Earth–body and spirit.

Shooting stars are often seen as a divine sign, or as a messenger from God, hence the ancient ritual of asking (praying) for some intervention as it shoots across the sky.

Generally, stars in ones dream can represent success i.e. fame and fortune, aspirations and high ideals.  Or you could be putting your fortunes into the hands of the stars e.g. luck. A star can also refer to the dreamer, the star of his or her own life.

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Planets in dreams may be about creativity, exploration and adventure. Each planet has its own particular meaning e.g. Jupiter may be about success and extravagance, while Venus may represent desire, beauty and feminine power, whereas Mars may be energy, drive, passion, and masculine power.

The Zodiac is a system of explaining the universe through the movements of the stars, around the ecliptic path of the Sun, Moon and planets. To see the zodiac in your dreams is to see a representation of the various traits and aspects that one uses to connect with their universe. For those who are familiar with the signs, a particular sign may point to a particular trait or aspect in the dreamer. The zodiac can also be a metaphor for the passage of time, or the mysteries of life as well as being a metaphor for destiny e.g. something over which you have little or no control.

Flowers have a special place in our dreams

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My last blog of the year is on flowers and their meaning in dreams.

 

 

OPHELIA:

“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies, that’s for thoughts. There’s fennel for you, and columbines—There’s rue for you, and here’s some for me. We may call it “herb of grace” o’ Sundays—Oh, you must wear your rue with a difference—There’s a daisy. I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died. “

–In Shakespeare’s Hamlet

 

On a walk with my wife early this summer I was admiring all the gardens along our route, not just the quality of the landscaping but the profusion of flowers as well. While bending down to take in the fragrance of a rose I recalled an earlier dream where a rose played a prominent part. This got me to thinking about flowers in general and the special place they have in all our lives and dreams.

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Poinsettia-not actually a flower because the red flower-like top are leaves called bracts.

We adorn our church sanctuaries with flowers, brides carry a bouquet of flowers as they walk down the aisle and the space is often covered in flowers. The poinsettia shows up at Christmas, the lily makes an entrance at the Christian celebration of Easter, and the Lotus is divine, symbolic of creation. Gods and goddesses sit upon the Lotus that symbolizes purity and raising them above the common, muddy existence of desire and attachment.

Flowers are at our funerals, our graves, our love affairs, our weddings, on national and regional flags, significant celebrations, and we even name our children after them is it any wonder that they also show up in our dreams?

Though today flowers tend to be just pretty emblems of occasion they once had great social and spiritual meaning.

Though Roses may mean a declaration of love today, Marigolds once held that position. Basil is pretty much an aromatic herb for many of us, but for many Indians it is the symbol for the god Vishnu and can be found in a place of honor in their family gardens. Forget-me-nots are the flower of Pisces from the Zodiac, the Yellow Wattle is symbolic of Australia, Tulips are symbolic of Sagittarius and heralds of Spring, and Daisies perfectly symbolize young innocence.

 

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All mandalas have concentric circles to represent layers of consciousness as it moves from outer to inner i.e. from the world to the soul.

Carl Jung, the 20th century Swiss psychiatrist and guru of dreams saw the rose as representing the Mandala, a symbol of the unconscious self. He thought that dreams with roses were very spiritual in nature and that they were the equivalent of the lotus signifying transformation.

Across the millennia people have assigned mythical and religious meaning to flowers. For example, Lilies might represent the Trinity or the Virgin Mary, Easter, rebirth, or royalty (as in the fleur di lis).

The morning-glory is appropriately named, because the flower blooms in the morning and dies by the afternoon. Georgia O’Keeffe brought the calla lily to prominence with her series of close-up paintings of single calla lily flowers. She wanted the viewer to look closely at the fundamental form of the flower without any preconceived notions. Many of her paintings are considered by some to be spiritual in nature, though some see many of them as sexual so I’m not sure how successful she was at having people see her paintings without preconceived notions. However, the concept of “seeing” something with no preconceived notions is often the Eastern way of seeing a thing’s true nature.

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Calla Lily by.- Georgia O’Keeffe 

 

Continue reading Flowers have a special place in our dreams

A waking dream experience of a very, very bad day: what happens when one lives in the narrow world of expectations.

 

a_chair_in_an_empty_room_by_ondrejzapletal-dbfnsa5.jpgI couldn’t get a break today. But I should have “expected” it because I was in a bad mood from the start of when my feet hit the floor from a fitful nights sleep of very odd and incoherent dreams. At every turn of events I felt thwarted, frustrated, impatient, and intolerant. What…in my dream or in my waking life? Precisely!

In the morning my wife and I thought we’d take a pleasant bike ride to breakfast. But we kept taking different routes that lead away from each other, and when we eventually met up her cautiousness on the busy streets caused her to frequently dismount from her bike and walk, which according to my expectation made us late (not that we had reservations mind you). To add to my frustration a cross walk light chose that morning to malfunction. After three cycles of malfunction it dawned on us that it wasn’t going to light, so we walked across, keeping a wary eye on the traffic.

My frustration built up like an ungoverned steam engine until it needed to find something, or in this case someone, to vent on. I mumbled, fumed, blamed in my head, and struggled mightily not to take it out on the nearest person at hand, poor Fran. I had made the reality of the ride an unhappy burden in my imagination. Once again my imaginary expectations made a mess in the reality. Breakfast, however, was quite pleasant and I started to relax a little.

Later in the day, a granddaughter came over and we went out to Starbucks at the mall for treats and grandpa/granddaughter time, but I couldn’t find a parking space, “ah there’s one!” I’d say and I’d step on the gas arriving just as someone else would pull in to the empty space. Damn! I said in my head again and again as around and around we went until my patience wore thin and the veiled expletives became less shrouded, “There’s one, oh fu…, funny, how “fu…nny” I choked so as to not upset the innocence in the back seat as yet another car slipped in before I arrived and I took yet another round of frustration. “I can’t get a break today!” I exclaimed. “Poor grandpa! We could go to the one near our house.” She said helpfully, probably sensing that grandpa was not a happy rider on this not-so-merry-go-round.

Finally, on a side street a lone parking space appeared out of nowhere, far from our destination, “but it’ll have to do,” I thought resignedly. After a long wait in line at the coffee shop the clerk didn’t seem to understand my order, “A large non-fat hot chocolate.” I said wearily, but somehow she heard, “A chai latte, please.” I don’t even know what that is, but on discovering the mistake after waiting for several orders that had been taken after mine, they put the correction in the queue several more orders behind that. Then the difference in cost had to be worked out and that took several more minutes and signatures on a reimbursement chit only to receive a 30 cent refund and the wrong sized hot chocolate.

A simple trip to the coffee shop started to feel as though it had taken most of the afternoon. Not wanting to prolong my self-induced agony I took the smaller cup, grunted a not so sincere, “thank you,” and numbly walked out the door and plopped into an outside chair to stare at the passers-by and sip my now cold hot chocolate.

For a moment I felt dead inside, kind of numb, then I forced my self to chuckle. This was definitely not my day! I mused. But my granddaughter was happy as a lark with her chocolate milk, a pumpkin scone and some other little girl to befriend on the nearby play-scape. I couldn’t help but smile and this tamed the weary beast inside me.

My older granddaughter called from her cellphone and asked me to pick her up at a friend’s house and to take her home. This of course was located several miles from our current position. “Where’s your Mom?” I croaked. “Out with Grandmother.” She said as though I were being just too stupid for asking. So I wrote down the directions on a slightly damp napkin (you ever try to do that?). Of course the directions of a thirteen year old were less than ideal and forced me to consult a map at every stop light while she amused herself in texting me every five minutes or so with a “Where are U?” This of course buoyed my spirits, NOT.

I finally picked her up and dropped her at her front door. Out she bolted and disappeared into the house, no goodbye, no thank you. I left the younger one with her mother who had barely escaped being knocked over by the thirteen year old bent on texting while running toward her room without once looking up, lost somewhere between narrow focus and complete obliviousness. “How do they do that?” I wondered silently. Also the six year old had in mind that she and I were going watch the Barbie at Princess Charm School video, but when Mommy showed up early there were tears of disappointment (hers, not mine)–yet another thwarted expectation.

Soon it was dinner and my wife was off playing bridge at the church so I thought I’d try a rib place I hadn’t been to before. Inside and sitting next to the window I looked out on the traffic moving down the Avenue. Something disturbing intruded– A rumble that I could feel in my chest and inside my head. The ground felt unstable here as it shook with each car that passed, the guy behind me made odd grunting noises, and the ribs smelled dead, uninviting. Nothing seemed in balance. Everything was off just a bit, nothing was quite right. Even the air felt as though it were heavier than usual and pressed down around me. Nothing seemed fully real. Perhaps, I pondered, it was the Paulo Coelho book I was reading? No, this had been going on all day, before I’d had a chance to even read the first page.

As though this day were partly within a dream, some aspect of me wasn’t fully here, but lost in some expectation, and I paid the price–perturbation, unbalance, alienation and a strong sense of separation all of which conspired to leave me rootless and not feeling quite welcome in the world. So, where was I? The truth is that I wasn’t fully there because I was mired in the way I “wanted it to be” rather than in the here and now of the way it was.

It seems to me that expectations, like my granddaughters cell phone texting, tend to narrow ones focus i.e. our vision of reality tends to narrow. It’s like sitting in the middle a room and looking out its one small window and assuming that everything within its frame is all that there is. I could get up from the chair and approach the window and stick my head outside which would of course expand that reality, but, no, I sit, fixed in my point-of-view, depending on the world to bring reality into that limited frame and disappointed when it isn’t what I wanted.

I used to tell my oldest daughter when she was much younger and talking about her image of God, “Be careful how you describe him, for if he is that leaf that just blew by and your image doesn’t include that, then you’ve missed him.”

I often complain that things aren’t the way I think they ought to be and then whine, sometimes bitterly, that someone ought to change the reality so as to better align with my expectations. No that’s not how I say it, it’s more like, “Why do they do that? They should do it like this.” Or some form of “I’m right, they’re wrong.” You’d be amazed at the lengths I’ll go to feel better about their being wrong.

For some people right now it may look as if I’ve wandered from expectancy into another restricting trait, point-of-view. But isn’t an expectation just another point-of-view and vice versa? Both require a vision of what is and a narrow vision at that. Both affect what is seen aka reality e.g. experienced and thus inform our actions, or how we feel about them.

In our waking life I think that many of us are standing in the room with the small, framed window. It isn’t until we enter the world of the dream that our frame widens, even disappears, and holds the potential of infinite possibilities. What would happen if we treated our waking lives in the same manner e.g. as a frame with infinite possibility? What would happen if we let go of what we think our life should be and embraced what it is?

What would happen if we were to get up off our tuchus and walk over to the window and stick our head out to get a broader and clearer view?

Well, there’s always tomorrow.

Crossroad to reality: Creation, time,dreaming

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For many years I’ve been fascinated by creation stories, probably because of my curiosity for how and why we got here.

It seems as though every culture, extinct or extant, has a creation story explaining how they and their world came to be. To me they all read like a dream. It’s my intention across a number of my Blog entries to touch on the dream states of cultures in some detail.

One of these cultures in particular is very much a “dream”. It’s even called the “Dreamtime” and comes to us from the Australian Aborigine. I choose this group to be first because they come from the land of my birth as well, though I am not Aborigine, but of the Europeans who invaded their land some 250 years ago.

These people have lived the vast land of the Australs* for some twenty-two thousand generations, that’s 40,000+ years. Before the arrival of the Europeans, some 200 different language groups existed. Though there are now only seventy groups remaining with each calling their land something different, they all tell a similar story of the creation of the world–the story of the Dreamtime.

From the Dreamtime, Rainbow Snake and others “Dreamed” the world into being. Areas in their world are named for the Dreaming of that part of creation that took place there. The word “Dreaming” symbolizes another aspect in that it represents the individual tribal beliefs and spiritual understandings. For example, one tribe might refer to themselves as having Kangaroo Dreaming or Honey Ant Dreaming. All that comes into the world such as a painting, or other object, or idea, is still dreamed and is claimed by the person or group that has produced it. To them everything comes from the Dreamtime. Individual lives come from those of the Dreamtime as well and return to it when the body dies. In all the people there is an eternal part borne through the mother in time from the originals of the Dreamtime.

The visions of the early Aborigine and to some extent today do not differentiate between men or their surroundings. They experience an undifferentiated state of mind that makes separation much less common among them than with modern man. I believe the western mans general lack of caring for the world and each other comes from this separation. In the Aborigine there was no separation between their daily living, eating, working, sexual, and religious lives. All were either dreams or waking visions. And all come from the “all-at-once time”** and are born into a “life in time.” In a way the Aborigine lives in a dream within a dream.

Through the waking dream (awake state) and the sleeping dream and various altered states, the Aborigine interacts with his reality–indeed with his soul. To him everything is connected.

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*Variously known as Australische by the Dutch and Terra Australis Incognita (The Southern Unknown Land) and Colloquially since the early 20th century as Oz.

**Known in quantum physics as the super temporal or in metaphysics as time transcendence.

Musings full of nothing significant: Do you believe in ghosts?

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During a meditation not too long ago I found my mind carried away by a quote that I heard during the new Cosmos series I had been watching the day before.

The quote in and of itself wasn’t particularly significant but it’s what it stimulated in my subconscious that then found its way to the surface the following day that caught my attention and dragged me away from a perfectly good meditation.

So what was the quote you may ask? It came from the son John of William Herschel, the 18th -19th century astronomer and composer, then a young boy when he asked his father, “Father do you believe in ghosts?”

His father said yes, but not in the human kind and then went on to explain how the light from many of the stars we see in the night sky has taken millions or even billions of years to reach our eyes and how those very stars may no longer exist because they have long since died. In this way he explained we really do see the “ghosts” of the dead, the ephemerae of the past.

The truth is that you and I are always seeing what was, that every event, every object that we see is but an image from the past. This is because it takes time for our brains to process a sensory input. Not very much time, granted i.e. 80milliseconds to be precise and we wouldn’t even notice except in those cases when there are two sensory inputs such as visual and auditory and if the object of the sound/vision stimulus takes more than 80 milliseconds to reach our eyes/ears. When this happens sound and vision are out of sync thus producing a lag between the two. Ever notice that during a fireworks display that there’s a lag between the flash and the bang? In this case the “ghost” is two fold i.e. the flash is 80 milliseconds dead while the bang is at least 160 milliseconds from the past. What we see and hear is but a ghost from the past. Fundamentally what we are conscious of doesn’t exist in the here and now. Consciousness is only of the past. Consciousness is but a ghost.

No wonder science has trouble with consciousness and try as they might scientists can’t even agree on what ”consciousness” is, they don’t seem to be able to account for it. They know a lot about ‘how’ the brain functions but can’t explain what consciousness is or how it works– science simply cannot measure it and if you can’t measure it, then you can’t do what science does, test it. We know it’s there because we’re all walking around with it, but how do we find out what it is if we can’t use the scientific method on it?

What do I mean by consciousness? It’s the ability to have mental experiences and we do that all the time whether awake or asleep (your dreams are part of your consciousness).

Some scientists and philosophers have wondered if at the atomic level of existence our consciousness may be like that of a photon of light i.e. massless. It seems as though neither light nor consciousness exist within the same time/space paradigm as we do, as our bodies do. “How is that so?” you may well ask. Our bodies have mass and can never attain the speed of light because, according to the Einsteinian equations, that would require that they become infinite in their mass. But light can travel at the speed of light (186,000 miles/second) because it has no mass. And from the point-of-view of a photon of light time has stopped– it “lives” within no time i.e. the present. If you look at consciousness closely it also seems to have no mass therefor not a part of the body. In a material world of bodies space and time exist as a single entity, space/time, but in the world of the photon and perhaps as I’m suggesting the world of mind, time doesn’t exist and thus nether does space. As Einstein suggested time/space may be only a function of the observer, the brain.

So let me get back to this hypothetical photon. This is the same as the light that left the body of a star and traveled across time. If this photon could think it wouldn’t know that its body may already be dead and that what it “sees” of itself is only its ghost.

This seems to be what happens at the event horizon of a black hole, that line of demarcation that defines what’s outside the hole and what’s inside. If you were to step across this line it would look to others outside as though you were forever trapped within the horizon itself when in reality you had early on been crushed and torn into atomic flotsam. All we see out here is the “ghost” of who you were.

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There are some theories that suggest that we ourselves are dead the moment we are born, that our light has traversed time and that like my make-believe photon we only see the ghost of ourselves and that it is always in the present moment. Light does funny things to time and because it helps to define existence we may see that our existence is relative to the observer as well. While in the ship of our bodies we see one reality but to an observer outside this reality quite another reality exists.

Now, I’m not suggesting that any of this proves my musings, but it does perhaps show that ghost images of what once was can far outlive their original existence especially from an observer (the brain) on the outside of consciousness.

Do you believe in ghosts? Perhaps we are one!