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

 

Functioning from Source, the nonlocal “I”

 

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For the past two weeks I’ve been writing about intention, practical magic, and the universal soul.

I’ve suggested that intention is the basis of all creation because it is ones intent that comes before all learning, reasoning, inference, recall, and action. I’ve tried to show that we are all our deepest intent– our deepest desire. Down in our center we intend that which will ultimately fulfill us e.g. what will make us happy at our spiritual level.

There seem to be two levels to this spiritual level– this soul level. One is our personal soul that which makes up all our personal desires, holds our individual egos (the “I” that we think we are), our experiences and conditioned behaviors. It’s that part of us that operates within the world of space/time, what might be considered our local mind.

Outside of the local mind is the universal soul where the nonlocal or superlocal mind resides. Our “I” self is but a reference point from which we view the greater Self that is the place where together the observer and the observed, the “seer” and the “seen” experience and create. It is in this place where everything is possible because at this level everything already exists. But when we trap ourselves in the box of the local mind, the limited mind of the ego and its conditioned behaviors, we cannot imagine anything from the universal and thus are limited in what we can create.

In short, that part of us that you and I believe is the real us, that part we call “I” is the ultimate limiter of the extraordinary beings that we really are. It is this limited local “I” that needs to be transcended, laid aside, before the real magic of our being can be practiced. The individual “I”s need to cooperate i.e. as Deepak Chopra said, “the trees must breathe so I can breathe” so that the illusion of separation can be transcended and we can collectively move beyond our constricted awareness.

We do this by asking ourselves a very simple question when attempting to manifest our intentions, 1) How will attainment of this intention serve me and how will it serve everyone else around me?

If the answer is about fulfillment and happiness for all concerned, i.e. for the universal “I” versus the individual “I”, then we begin to create the extraordinary and magical world about us.

 

There be magic in one’s soul

 

 

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From deviant art.com

 

Some years ago I wrote a short story highlighting a young man’s adventure into magic, the kind of magic that we all can administer if we knew but how. It is 9:30 am here where I live and the first of the seven chapters will appear in The Dark Knight of the Soul blog this evening. Why the time-delay? Because this story can only be told when the sun has set and the mind leaves the illusions of the day and begins its journey toward sleep. Each chapter opens the heart to a place found only in ones dreams and for that reason I highly recommend that after reading you be open to the dreams of the nights following for they will magically add depth to the experience and take you further into the story than reading alone.

But first I present a little groundwork for the story.

I’ve written about magic on several occasions. You know, the kind of magic of the every day, a gorgeous sunrise, an airplane with outstretched arms leaping into the air and defying gravity, the silence of a redwood forest, fireflies darting through the branches, the birth of a child, falling in love, the gift of forgiveness, or a prayer answered are all forms of magic. There are also remarkable coincidences that transform life, graces that should never have happened, epiphanies, and miracles. There are moments when somehow you know that you are connected to everyone and everything else and that life is not just about survival.

That’s all magic, but sometimes, just sometimes, I ache for the magic of faeries, wizards and unicorns, potions, spells, and charms. I want to go where the shaman goes in his trance or to raise my magic staff and vanquish all the evildoers. I want to fly, ride dragons and hunt with Elves in a forest.

But when I look more closely I find that what I really want is the energy, the wonder, and awe that lie deep within my heart, my core, and my immortal soul. This is why I search, question and dig into the unknown. It’s all there hidden beneath the conscious images of life.

There is a glowing orb in the darkness that I sense more than see and that when touched it transforms all that I see. It is the other me whom I knew as a child but somehow lost touch with along the way to being grown up. It’s the magic of the child you were and still are, and when in his or her space you remember whom you are and are once again drawn to explore anything and everything because it’s there. And again you remember that you chose this because that’s what souls want to do– explore and express themselves fully.

The process of growing up often leaves a void in one’s soul and only the magical can fill it up. I think we all long for that place of never ending imagination where everything was possible and you were the true hero of your own story. There’s a certain safety and peacefulness in a world of faeries, dragons and unicorns, because there’s always a personal wizard that can make it so. We have lost touch with that personal wizard and thus feel lost in the world of man where no one can protect us from the evil.

My stories are designed to help regain the lost wizard. In the Archipelago of Dreams (2011) Robert regains what he had lost, though it took him many pains to do so. Hidden within the story is a word map that if understood and followed can lead one back to their core self and the lost wizard of their soul. In The Dragon’s Treasure (2009) the reader is lead back to the magic within them that waits patiently to be released once again and the skills of the wizard that resides in all of us are slowly revealed– it is a book that every Wizard’s Apprentice should have on their bookshelf.

Over the next few weeks I’ll explore this nearly lost art both in story and research, through the shaman’s mind and pieces of fact and lore that have been passed down through the ages. Tonight jump into the Dark Knight’s link to begin the story of a young apprentice’s awakening and his journey into the light. Tread carefully through all the pages to come for buried there is magic beyond your dreams.

The Boy on the mountain

 

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I met the boy on the mountain

There with his drum

Tapping out the rhythms of his soul.

 

Hello, said I

Having forgotten his name

And he looked up and he smiled.

 

Then he fixed me with his gaze

And pulled me into the source.

I know the secret, he said.

 

The secret? said I.

The secret to life, he said

And turned back to his drum

 

Will you tell me? I asked.

You already know, he said

You already know

 

But I’ve forgotten, I pleaded.

We all forget, he said

Then we remember all over again,

 

Again and again,

Again and again,

And again, each time new.

 

It’s funny that way

The forgetting and remembering,

But that’s the way He wants it.

 

RJC ’14

The Archetypal Dream Visitor

 

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Adoration of the Sheperds by Gerard van Honthorst

 

At this time of year most* Christians celebrate the birth of the Christ Child, the light of the world, the inner counselor.

Children show up a lot in our dreams and most reflect our own ambitions, or feelings of dependence and/or vulnerability.

But some children take on the aura of the Holy Child or the Christ that often symbolizes spiritual truth or transition– self-fulfillment through love. To have a visit from this child may suggest an important transition regarding some aspect of your being or your life.

As the Christ Child he represents a new beginning so in this way almost any child or baby in a dream can represent new beginnings–something new developing, or a fresh start or the need for one.

The child within is often the cosmic mystery that we all are. He is also anything that is having a powerful influence on the dreamer. Including the need for togetherness, forgiveness, peace, generosity and celebration.

When the Christ child shows up as the trickster in a dream he’s there to shake up your understanding of the world– this will no doubt create some havoc– go with it and see where he takes you.

The Christ Child can also represent the Hero archetype. To dream that you or that someone else is a hero might signify your inner strengths and weaknesses. The dream may refer to your abilities, determination and confidence that you have the power to face the secrets of your unconscious mind and confront life’s challenges.

 

Merry Christmas to all!

 

 

“Rejoice and be merry,
set sorrow aside,
Christ Jesus our Savior,
was born at this tide:

In Bethlehem City,
in Jury it was,
For Joseph and Mary
together did pass:

And therefore be merry,
set sorrow aside,
Christ Jesus our Savior,
was born at this Tide.”

–First verse of In Bethlehem City (1661)

 

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*

  • Eastern Orthodox Christians (Russian) celebrate on Jan 7
  • The Coptic Church in Egypt follows the old calendar and celebrates Jesus’ birth on January 6
  • There is no evidence of when he was born but Christians took on the celebration of the sun in winter from earlier so-called Pagan religions.

 

 

 

 

 

A spiritual path

 

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I’ve used a number of Christian references in my Blogs over the last four plus years and have been asked if I am a Christian.

I never really understood Christianity until I studied the Tao. That’s a hell of a statement! But the way that Christianity seemed to be preached, taught, and presented was all unintelligible, nonsensical, flawed and depended on a mindless acceptance of someone else’s interpretation. There seemed to be no soul in it, no spirit, just a lot of meaningless words signifying nothing, shame and punishment all punctuated with the phrase, “Thanks be to God”. And most of all, none of it matched my personal experience. So I ignored it for over thirty years. I continued a spiritual search, but without a clue as to what I was searching for. All I had was the irrational inner knowledge that I would know what it was when I saw it.

As I wandered down this meandering path I met many teachers, some religious, some spiritual, some fitting neither category such as my Marine Corps Drill Instructor. Hell, I didn’t even know where the path was sometimes, but I always managed to stumble back on after tramping through the brambles for a while.

Slowly I put together an image of reality, an inner map if you will, that would help me to make decisions when I encountered crossroads, forks, or dead ends. Slowly I began to see through the veil of misunderstanding propagated by most of the religious leaders and followers I’d encountered along the way. Slowly I began to trust my own internal guide, my own intuition, and my own sense of meaning. And though from time to time I continue to wander off the road feeling stupid and emotionally shut down my process of soul-making (now there’s a Jungian concept if ever there was one) goes on.

One night back in the 70’s while trying to decipher a section of Lao Tzu’s the Tao Te Ching and comparing it to H.B. Sharman’s Jesus as Teacher it dawned on me how much traditional Western thinking had screwed up the meaning and significance of Jesus’ words and how certain Christian mystics (read as Augustine) had sent the whole shebang running off in the wrong direction.

After that realization the teachers came rushing into my life, literally stumbling over each other to walk with me e.g. Thich Nhat Hanh, Krishnamurti, Deepak Chopra, Hermann Hesse, The Course in Miracles, Carlos Castaneda, Paolo Coelho, Carl Jung, Thomas Moore, the Gnostic Gospels, Marcus Borg, Thomas Merton, James Hillman, Ram Dass, Joseph Campbell, and Bishop Spong to name a very, very few. As I read and pondered, the words of the New Testament of the Christian bible started to make some sense. Through this growing filter of reality I began to see the path I was on and had an inkling of where it was taking me and the best part was that I now wanted to go. I now had a relationship with the God-of-the-path, walking side-by-side discovering as we went; It in I and I in it.

I attend a church because it’s a place in which to give of myself and it’s a place full of teachers when I’m open to them. It’s a place with a soul and it allows me to walk my path without shame. It’s also a place where I can plumb the depths of my own unconscious and find the gems of my being. For me the light that shines through the Mandala-like stained glass window embedded high in the stone wall above the altar is a metaphor for the light that’s growing in me.

My understanding of the life and meaning of Jesus may be quite different from most due to the influence of the path I’ve been trodding, but these folks seem not to care, content to walk a different path yet still willing to hold my hand as we go. For many, the dogma isn’t the purpose, nor is the history, ritual, or tradition the point. Like me they’re here to discover who they are, why they’re here and what to do about it.

And what about the Tao? The Tao loosely means “The Way,” not a specific way, not as in a rigid exclusivity, but as, in essence, the way of “what is”– the natural order. The Tao Te Ching is translated as “to become one with the Tao.” When I walk with God, I walk in the Tao. It is an experience, not to be found in words, or prescribed belief, or in translation by another other than through your own experience. It cannot be taught, though there are those who can point you into places where you might discover it and using tools that have been found by others to ready yourself for the discovery.

I can hear Jesus talking to me through the words of Lao Tzu. To me they are one in the same and they are leading me home. Thanks be to God.

Do you hear what I hear?

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So what is this inner voice of which I speak? Well, it really isn’t a voice at all–more something experienced, felt if you will. But once “heard” its truth is known. It’s not of you, but it is in you–a part of your inner firmament–the mother to all the arts.

In the Archipelago of Dreams Robert follows a mysterious star that shines where a star shouldn’t be and finds at the end of the story where the star actually lives. In scripture, Mathew says “ye are the lights of the world.” (Mathew 5:14, NIV)

The star seems to live within mankind. It’s what Paracelsus called the “lumen nature” or just astrum–the star within. According to Carl Jung it is this star that drives man toward great wisdom. He goes on to say that we are endowed at birth with this light of nature and it is through our dreams, meditations and prayers that we are able to give it a form.

“Said the nightwind to the little lamb…Do you hear what I hear?…A star, a star, dancing in the night… he will bring us goodness and light” 

                                                                           –Noel Regney, 1962

Though the song seems to refer to an external light, I contend that it is when this inner light, what some call the Christ light, is allowed the freedom to shine forth in the conscious world that it dresses itself in our creative projections. It ‘s when we are able to tap into this firmament that we allow the world-soul, the Anima Mundi that Jung referred to, to speak through us. Without going into too much detail this Anima Mundi may be the “multiple consciousness” that Jung transforms into what he called the “collective conscious” or the Hindu Purusha, or Cosmic Man. It is from this that introspective visions, or intuitions, arise. Together with the archetypal patterns of the unconscious and the conscious, the psyche is expressed and interpreted.

To Jung, the psyche, our inner self, is a conscious and unconscious whole–both personal and non-personal. It is my contention that mankind is ever more cutting himself off from the unconscious aspects by rejecting any access to them. By doing so we leave ourselves vulnerable to the instinctual sphere and without the means of regulating it.

The collectively shared images of the unconscious often act as regulators and the conscious patterns that show up in our conscious creations are mediated, or shaped, in many respects by our unconscious. I have noted that when these shared archetypal images appear through dream or artistic creativity, there is a numinous, or spiritual, some might even say magical quality that shows up as well. These may be the stimulators of creative fantasy and imagination.

It has often fallen to the poet, artist and storyteller to maintain the balance of the psychic wholeness.

Often it is the artist’s vision that captures the light of the collective and then reflects the ongoing instinctual projections of the psyche. A perfect example of this for me was Pablo Picasso’s 1937 painting Guernica where he was able to capture the horror of the Spanish Civil War and bring it to the consciousness of the rest of the world. Another example is the photo of Trang Bang the naked girl who tore off her burning clothes after the South Vietnamese Air force napalmed a suspected village where Viet Cong were hiding. More than anything this image brought home what was happening within the world’s soul and arguably helped to bring about the end of U.S. involvement.

Images of reality are often amended by the conscious psyche so as to protect the ego-self either as individual or collective. I think that when we strive to only present a singular view that the balance of what is expressed as the whole of the world’s psyche, the Psyche Mundi as it were, tips toward something that is not in humanity’s health and well-being.

But we live in an age where the exterior life has gained greater importance than the inner, where the extrovert commands much greater attention than the introvert–where the quiet cannot be heard over the loud, where extremes are more alluring than the quiet center. In the center we have experience. As we move outward from experience we have metaphor, or a representation of that experience. But in our society we interpret yet again the metaphor until we have a metaphor of a metaphor and the experience is lost.

When we desert the center, all we have are the extremes and the balance of the world’s psyche tips toward chaos.

In this age the most common of beings are those who, as Jung suggested, “live without a shadow” that is that they think of themselves as only being what they care to imagine themselves as being. In this state, mankind cannot take responsibility for much of anything, and thus exercise any free will, because it’s always the anonymous “them” who’s responsible for the way things are. Until our unconscious shadow selves have been recognized and then assimilated they often run our conscious lives. This development process is known as “Individuation.”

A poorly developed consciousness has only its huge unconscious projections to inform itself and is highly vulnerable to concretisms in its politics, religion, and day-to-day living. This being doesn’t, or can’t, look inwardly to discover who’s really responsible.

How to overcome this? Simply by getting in touch with your inner wisdom and sharing it with others. Be the center, be the light that Jesus spoke of on the Sermon on the Mount. The light isn’t someone else’s, it is yours, you are the Astrum, the star. It’s your shining light that needs to happen on a day-to-day basis that will bring about the balance. But alas, although I use the word, “simply” it is not all that simple until of course it is. By that I mean we can struggle mightily to look within to find our real nature, but it’s not in the struggle that the discovery is made, it is in the intention that the struggle represents that cracks open the cosmic egg and allows the psyche to become whole once again. It is only at that moment of transformation that it appears so simple. I wish I knew how to do it easier, but it was not on the easy path that I found it, so I can’t guide you down it.

As Harry said to Robert as they parted company at the end of The Archipelago of Dreams,

“Up to now you have been following a star, where a star shouldn’t be, a star from a world outside yourself, but now you can follow a star, a star that shines from within, where a star should be.”

This speaks to a world-wide awakening where the consciousness of man becomes aligned with nature and aligned with his unconscious i.e. when there is a conscious awareness of the archetypal effects on conscious content. To be successful in this might very well propel the species to the next level of its evolution, or in failing, doom it to its inevitable extinction.

Worlds collide

 

 

lens2349037_1230185131dream_a_z.jpgAs I wake worlds collide melting into one another

Reality gives way to reality

One narrative ends beginning the other.

 

Sleeping dreams left behind giving way to waking dreams

Real giving in to real

The same story in another form.

 

While waking I am not sure where I am

Living within and between worlds

The arc of the same book.

 

As yet unfocused and unsure I am awake yet

Is it all just one?

Is it the same story?

 

When awake how will I know when I’m awake?

Is this real or that?

Can I turn the page?

 

                          –by R.J. Cole (2016)