Alone one morning last week I sat outside under the broad canopied and cascading Elm that’s taking on new leaf as Spring brings warmer days, though the morning’s are still chilly so I was bundled in my favorite throw blanket across my legs. As I do virtually every morning I was playing around with words and concepts on my laptop hoping for some inspiration to visit and this poem made itself known and demanded that I write it down.
Hidden deep in my heart I hear a plaintive cry, find me, I am here, can you not see?”
What you are looking for is also looking for you. It has always been there waiting for you to show up.
What is it that binds us all together it asks? Surely it is not your illusions of separateness.
What would happen if you were not so interested in your own personality and were grateful for all who come your way for they are your teachers and mirrors to your Self.
You were born of love in a space where there are no boundaries. It is the head that knows boundaries. Not so for the heart. That magic knows no boundaries.
I look closer at the ideas visiting me and see that magic is always my companion if I had but the eyes to see it and the heart to walk with it.
When I see the magic in another person I know that it is my own magic as well that I am seeing.
Tolerance, compassion, and patience are doors into this magic and this magic is never loud for it dwells in the silent places within my heart.
But I struggle to see the magic let alone to be it. And sometimes it is just so hard, and I tire of the scuffle and my body slides down into the chair losing the energy to sit upright.
But then that bossy Spirit that never lets me stay in a good slide for very long pulls me up and I find myself saying that I need embrace the struggle for it is like a fire to the metal beaten by the blacksmith’s hammer and anvil. It makes me pliable to change. The change I need to see the magic.
When the goal is to be open to all the magic that is around and within me, in time I will hear what I am ready to hear and see what I am ready to see. And I whisper to myself,
My most important lesson in life I learned from Pinocchio
In this time of seeming unreality I was reminded of the story of Pinocchio where a wooden puppet dreamed of becoming a real boy. The Blue Fairy promises him that if he is good and his heart is true and honest he will become a real boy. Of course he suffers all the wrong turns in his journey toward realness and many characters and circumstances try to steal parts of his soul along the way. He becomes lost, abused and alone at times but eventually he finds his way home by taking the ultimate risk to his life to protect his mentor and creator, the loveable old toy maker Geppetto, by being willing to sacrifice himself for love.
The story is a mirror of the path we are all on as we grow toward wholeness and self-actualization. I believe that at our core our hearts are true and that we can only experience this when we are willing to let go of our ego selves, to sacrifice our self-centeredness by the giving of our heart and mind to something other than our self and when we are willing to open to love.
Pinocchio is an allegorical tale of the Heroes Journey that we are all on, a journey toward reality and wholeness, awareness and redemption where we struggle, die to our old self, and are then resurrected anew. Nearly every story worth its salt has a hero, or heroine, striving for something of great value e.g. life, justice, a golden fleece, freedom, transformation, and/or redemption. Each is tried in the crucible of what life has to throw at them and all are convinced that to attain the goal will bring them wholeness and make them real.
We are all on Pinocchio’s Journey, all trying to find the gold of our core being. As we set out we look into all the nooks and crannies of life, down all its dark alleys, or pray to all its gods and Blue Fairies hoping that somewhere out there are the answers to becoming real. But with some luck and perseverance we can learn that the answer to becoming real has always been within us– that reality is a function of what’s in our hearts and not what is in some temple. Life can steal the parts of our self that we have given up to others so that we can feel safe, but Life cannot steal our heart for it is immutable.
The real you lies at your core being and is available to you when you give up your need for ego survival. This is the lesson of Pinocchio.
How often I’ve heard those discounting accusations leveled at children as though the creative imagination were something less real, therefore less important than what hard thinking adults have. The imagination often gets a bad rap, especially from mechanical-thinking, or concrete–thinking personalities. It’s often assigned the same low respectability as fantasy. Dreams and their meaning have also been folded into this heap of what many consider to be unimportant and distracting ephemera and yet…
Yet, all children interact with and learn about the so-called shared reality through exercising their imagination and fantasy. The pretend play, or narratives of children are their practices for being a healthy functioning adult. It is said that we all use the imagery of fantasy and imagination to create our own individual myth, or world-view. And many psychologists say that imagination and fantasy help to unite our “real world” experiences into an interconnected whole.
Some say that the senses present the “real” world while the imagination presents only a facsimile (read as unreal). Though an imaginary experience is indeed a facsimile, it may not be any the less real than that of the cognitive projections of our biased minds (read as beliefs).
Imagination can be defined as the ability to “see” what the senses cannot see e.g. to see all sides of a three-dimensional cube. It’s what the “cubists” were trying to do in their art i.e. depict all sides of something simultaneously.
Imagination is not limited by physical rules i.e. it can stop a Nova, enter a black hole, or go faster than the speed of light. Einstein used imagination to see into the secrets of the relative universe. Often the imagination serves as proof of what the senses tell us, or uncover what the senses cannot.
“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
Aristotle thought that imagination existed within a specific place in the mind, and in fact 2300 years later there is MRI research evidence that memory and imagination travel identical blood routes and are linked to the neocortex and Thalamus.
Deductive reasoning requires the imagination in order to see all sides of an issue so as to deduce a solution.
Without the imagination there would be no awareness of the possibilities of higher truths, or even higher order thinking. Without imagination man would not explore the seas, search for other lands, wonder how to communicate across vast distances, harness the power of the wind, or sun, discover how the body works, or explore the vastness of space. Without imagination, man would not know about himself.
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”
-Antoine de Saint Exupery
Without fantasy we cannot imagine what can be and thus have no dreams to aspire to. Without imagination and fantasy we become prey to the dictator, the theocrat, the oligarch, the tyrant.
“Fantasy, abandoned by reason, produces impossible monsters; united with it, she is the mother of the arts and the origin of marvels.
Without imagination there would be boredom. Imagination provides meaning, interest and magic. It is the main ingredient to creativity and invention.
Without imagination there would be no United States of America, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, no industry, no agriculture, no wheel, no clothing. Can anything be named that wasn’t originally the dream, an imagining by someone? Even God dreamed of the world before he commanded its formation.
“To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.”
Imagination allows the individual mind to stretch out and enfold all the rest of reality. We would be trapped in the dark emptiness of our minds without it. Without imagination we could not look into the infinite, and be forever trapped in the finite. We could not see into a heaven for it would not exist for us.
“To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.”
A dream becomes so much more when you can embody it through the active imagination. It becomes something more real that can be interacted with so as to reveal so much more information about you in your world than a cold forensic application of a traditional interpretation.
“Dreams connect me to an intelligence that is beyond anything I learned in school. The dream images themselves come with an “intelligence” that opens us to insights and perspectives that are often outside the box.”
So what is imagination and fantasy, but maybe the very spark for the meaning of our lives? Are we even human without it? It seems to me that it stimulates faith and understanding, discovery and ambition, knowledge and learning, love and romance, possibilities and options, even reading and storytelling. We should be doing whatever it takes to cultivate it, not depreciate it.
“Without the playing with fantasy no creative work has ever yet come to birth. The debt we owe to the play of imagination is incalculable…All the works of man have their origin in creative fantasy. What right have we then to depreciate imagination?”
Even when the use of fantasy and imagination is used as an escape from the stress of shared reality of the world you live in and assuming you have conscious control regarding when and how often you enter it, fantasy and imagination serves ones health and well being.
“Imagination is the eye of the soul.”
“The soul without imagination is what an observatory would be without a telescope.”
–Henry Ward Beecher
Finally, I’ve presented an overview of the imagination in support of its usefulness, but I’ve only alluded to where the images of our imagination come from i.e. what is the source of these images? Ahh, you might say that they are rooted in the images of our senses and you’d be right, partially, mechanistically, but it’s what we do with these source images–their processing that makes the difference.
However, are there not some images that seem to come from something, or somewhere, or even somewhen else? What’s that all about? It’s part of the mystery that is life. Part of the mystery that we all must regain and explore in our lives.
That’s the fodder of the mystics, the shaman, prophets, or the Depth Psychologist but also for us and that’s for a future discussion.
The following dream and comments were sent a while ago from a frequent dream-sender. I present it here in its entirety along with my edited and amended comments in hopes that it will aid you the reader in interpreting your own dreams and to illustrate the power of your dreams to inform your waking world experience.
“Comments: Hi, Coming across your website is such a beautiful event in my life. i have been going thru a crisis and have been asking “why my son? why did this happen to me? etc kind of questions… I meditate regularly but I guess had a breakthrough last night. I had the following dream which I request you to interpret hoping that your wisdom would give me the guidance that the dream intended to give. This is how it goes: I write three “my life” questions on an A4 size paper with the intention of them getting answered (I guess i am sitting there waiting for an old lady to read the questions and give me the answers) . But after writing 3 questions, i start sketching/painting beautiful designs on the paper with red color so much that i lose sight of the questions and I have forgotten the questions. I unable to see the ques.. Some time later, same night, I have another dream that I have written the same ques.. but I made a boat and I have left the paper sailing on water – the water drains the ink and I again lose the ques.. I realize that i have forgotten the ques.. and then another dream same night, I write the ques. but i again lose the paper. At the end , I try to rmmbr but i am not able to recollect what was i asking… I know this dream holds a profound message to me. Can you please let me know as to what it could be? Thank you for giving your time and wisdom… Regards, _____________”
I wish that I had come to this dream a little quicker if only to help relieve a little stress.
The questions may be symbolic of your own self-doubts, or reflect your quest for a spiritual answer to what’s going on in your life right now. Each time you are distracted before you can get the answer and I wonder if this is because 1) you are easily distracted through worry about the answer, or 2) your not asking the right questions.
The asking of questions also reflects the idea of answers and perhaps they have come to you and you may not have heard them? If you are looking for answers re: why me? then you might also be restricting the answer (or solution) because you’re looking for something specifically to solve your dilemma. You might want to ask your questions more open-ended.
A suggestion: You might try a meditation where you ask the universe, “What do I need to know?” and/or “How can I respond to what’s happening?” You might also bring the “old woman” into your meditation and ask her “Why have you visited me?”
Painting and drawing can have numerous meanings (painting can even be a metaphor for covering something up), but often they represent expressions of the soul. If your questions come only from the head, you may need to look deeper and ask from the soul. Red is almost always a passion color and a danger color, it is also the color of blood–that which gives life and energy and enlivens one. I also wonder if the “beautiful designs” aspect of the first dream may also suggest that all is going as designed and though you try to control the outcome, you do not and cannot.
Both dreams may have a “let-go” aspect to them.
The water in the dream may represent your emotional state while the paper boat may say something about how well you are navigating your emotions–in this case it is sinking and being overwhelmed and the boat itself (representative of how you’re doing) is pretty fragile.
Because the “ink” is draining away I’m reminded that ink can represent creativity–perhaps you need to adopt a more creative approach to what’s going on before you lose it?
The old lady in the dream is no doubt an inner wisdom symbol.
In a later communication that also included a dream I added the following to the flow of dreams that this person was sharing.
I recall when a good friend, who is an accomplished artist, went through a period of soul searching that often left her feeling disconnected and sad, and began to draw and paint her sadness onto canvas. I recall how many of these drawings drew you the observer into her melancholy and how over time and healing the paintings became brighter in feel. For her it was the only way she could express what was going on for her–a way of bringing her shadows into the light so that they could be dealt with.
A suggestion: Try painting (or whatever your medium is) your feelings, don’t resist them, but express them. They are part of your soul as well and will often point you to what is wanted and needed in terms of nourishing your life right now.
I too suspect your “Questions” are really judgments i.e. rhetorical in nature that you may not even want an answer (that’s part of the spiral in depression). They can also be distractions that are keeping you from what’s really important to you i.e. what we call “red herrings”. Does all that make some sense? Note also that the ego likes to maintain control and there’s no better way than to keep you depressed because it robs you of your energy and shifts away your focus on what is really needed, thus making you dependent on the ego-self instead of your bigger self.
A suggestion: Along with your healing routines this may be a good time to express what’s going on within you in as many ways as possible e.g. through song (make it up and sing it to whatever tune moves you), poetry (the soul loves poetry and doesn’t care if you follow the rules or even rhyme), art, dance (a silly shake-off-the-spiders dance can be helpful here), and journaling (not as a chore but as a joy–don’t do it if it’s a chore, to hell with chores!).
I suspect that often depression results when one is unable or perhaps even unwilling in some cases to express their soul freely, when they are limited or restrained by past experiences, thoughts, beliefs, or by circumstances surrounding their lives. Because the dream is where the soul can express itself without editing, dreams such as the above can come to us in the service of our renewed health and well-being. Sometimes our inner wisdom can be a good physician and healer.
Express yourself in as many ways as possible, be playful
Be as much in the world as you can possibly be, don’t hide
Give of yourself to something you know to be worthwhile
Work on sharing what is behind the mask that you wear not only with the world but with your self as well. Try for consistency between the two worlds of your inner and outer self.
I just spent an interesting, stressful, scary and embarrassing week with my shadow.
Recently I wrote an article promoting an alternate view to our current politics and deliberately posted it to those regions in the country that I was pretty sure had the opposite view. I was expecting pushback and thought that the dialog might prove interesting maybe even transforming. Though to be honest there was also a need to make them wrong for what I perceived was a very dangerous politic.
What I got was the most negative vitriol I’ve ever read. The things I was called and likened to couldn’t possibly exist in one person even if I were as evil and worthless as my detractors believed me to be.
Eventually the negative rhetoric got to me and I took down the posting.
After some thought I tried to apologize for what I’d done to stir up so much emotion. One detractor however, noted, correctly, that I was still attacking others points-of-view even with the apology. How embarrassing to be called out like that. It was a very negative experience.
The whole episode did have some positive for me in that it forced me to look at my original motivation for the article i.e., an ill disguised and dishonest put down of a very different point of view. The rejection that came my way was immediate and hostile.
Though embarrassment is often a shadow that follows me wherever I go, rejection is my greatest bogeyman and threat to my sense of well-being and yet I am continually rejecting myself or putting myself in the space of rejection.
When threatened or when not feeling safe for whatever reason I bellow, flail, reject and dominate. When I hurt I withdraw. When at peace and feeling safe I am open and accepting. When feeling accepted and at peace I am able to give of myself instead of trying to hurt others.
I suspect that this reaction to my shadow is not uncommon with others though it may take different forms in different folks.
So what’s the name of this particular shadow? Why do I react so strongly to something when I feel it’s trying to make me feel less than? Why is it I get so frightened and angry at being rejected?
In asking this shadow those questions it reminds me that I have always been angry at myself for not being better than I am. And yet what is this “better” that I am comparing myself to? How is it I know of it if it’s not already in me? And if it’s in me, why am I not accessing it? What do I put in the way of being this better version? Why all the clutter around the better me and why did I put it there? What do I gain?
As I muse on these questions it occurs to me that the question of what am I gaining might be better put as, “What do I stand to lose?” At that exact point I realize what is the “me” I’m operating out of, it’s the “me” that’s asking the questions, and the “me” who’s been reactive all along and at this point a new answer to the revised question makes itself known.
It’s the ego-‘me’ the ‘me’ I so often think of as the real me that stands to lose. It stands to lose power and control. It is the pretender to the real me, the deeper me, the soul and deeper Self who fears loss of control and its belief that it should be the heir to the throne of my life. Loss of this control through domination looks like death. No wonder it fights so hard to keep me in the dark. From it’s limited perspective it’s about survival i.e., life and death.
In short, when not being me the shadow me takes over.
There are things going on inside of us to be felt or grieved or communicated, things that affect all that we do or think and all that we see or hear. Within us are the nutrients for psycho-spiritual growth and also the poisons for its death.
But the vast majority of people are imprisoned by the rational, concrete patriarchal world and unreceptive to guidance of the inner world. The world that most people live in is a severely contracted, emotionally, and spiritually stunted reality that leaves them unfulfilled and pining away from the promises of their childhood where everything was possible and potential could be experienced as real.
The world of the symbolic, the worlds of myth, fables and dreams can provide doors to what is missing in our lives but the patriarchal system that we have given our practical allegiance to has severed our connection with the imagination, the nurturing, caring, loving and compassionate aspect of the feminine.
“Only the symbolic life can express the needs of the soul”
The dominant masculine thinks concretely and demeans the symbolic world as being silly, touchy-feely, soft-headed, and impractical. Just do as your told, work hard, be practical and it will all work out, only all too often it doesn’t. Oh, we may make a lot of money, drive nice cars, have nice houses, a TV in every bedroom, good schools and summers in the Hamptons and it all looks good and very successful, but inside we’re not happy– it’s one big so-what, one big lie, because now we know this ain’t it. Of course we could reject all that “goodness” as being superficial and posh and live the middle class life of proud struggle, or better yet forsake most everything and live with barely nothing, but that ain’t it either. We don’t feel any more fulfilled with everything or with nothing. Why? Because that’s not where fulfillment lies!
In most of our societies we try to nurture only the material i.e. the ego world. We forget about our core being, our soul. So we try to fill this void with more materiality by reading and memorizing and practicing the aphorisms of our holy books usually without the understanding that their messages are symbolic in nature because it is that that feeds the soul not the literal meaning of words.
Or we turn on the radio or TV and listen to so-called talk shows as though the talking heads of these shows know something we don’t. But they only bring sensations to our banal lives and provide nothing of any meaning to the soul. Other shows provide us with even more sensationalism through murder and violence, promiscuity, and empty, meaningless competitions. They are ego generated and ego directed, bound to the superficial and as Shakespeare would have said, “Full of sound and fury signifying nothing.”
But a few people, alas very few, leave the physical safety of the material patriarchy to search for something deeper, not something different, for that’s only more ego, but something beyond the outer experience of reality, something found only inside ones self.
This is a hard journey fraught with fearsome and difficult trial because in the inner world the concrete language of the outer world is of little to no use. This is because the inner world, the world of the soul, is a symbolic world and speaks in the tongue of the myth, the fairy tale and the dream. It is a world where the feminine rules and can guide one to their real potential. The masculine can only enter if it is willing to share its power with the feminine.
I remember that in graduate school we used to dissect fairy tales as a way of understanding the inner psyche the inner psychology of the mind. I always chose the story of the Wizard of Oz because I felt that its symbolism best reflected my outer journey and the effects that that had on my inner life. You see the four characters, the tin woodsman with no heart (self-compassion), the scarecrow without a brain (doubtful intellectual prowess), the cowardly lion (who could not stand up for himself) and Dorothy Gale who was lost and just wanted to go back home (to the nurturing safety of the inner feminine) were all facets of myself and my own journey through life.
The Great and Wonderful OZ was the hollow promise of the patriarchal society I grew up in that turned out to be a fraud who could give nothing but what you already had had you just looked within. Each of these characters were played by my parents and modeled the way in which I viewed myself. It wasn’t until I told the story as my own that I was able to confront the story and begin to deal with its results.
The Great Oz is the society within which we all live but when we deliberately or accidentally look behind the curtain and discover that it’s all a fraud, it’s all made up, we lose trust in the wisdom we were told was inviolable. I lost trust in my inner OZ for a number of reasons 1) because the father image was weak and 2) the patriarchy of the society never really delivered and still isn’t.
Emotionally abandoned it lead to my trying to find my way home by looking outside myself for something that looked like home. But like Dorothy I couldn’t find my way because I was looking in the wrong place. It was the inner feminine i.e. the Good Mother archetype in the symbolic form of Glinda the Good Witch who was able to guide Dorothy to where she had been all along had she known that she had the power.
Want to go home? What’s your inner fairy tale, the myth that tells your story? What are the symbols of your dreams trying to tell you? You may have been let down by the outer feminine, but she of the inner world can guide you to what you’re missing out here but only if you’ll listen to her and learn to read her message.
Cabinets of Wonder, Cabinets of Curiosity, Wunderkammer, and Chambers of Art were sort of the first museums and often served their owners as a place for retreat and reflection, which is how I use my section of the Den where I do my writing and have my own cabinet.
They’ve been around in one form or the other (as whole rooms, warehouses, or in a piece of furniture) since about the 16th century. Click on this Wikipedia link (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabinet_of_curiosities ) and you can scroll through a number of different Cabinets and read a little background on the subject.
I also include this link to the Idols of the Cave that as it says in its introduction is, “a site devoted to the experience of Wonder, cultivated according to Renaissance rite and custom.” http://idolsofthecave.com/about-this-site/
Over the years I’ve collected objects that move my imagination in some way and have placed many of them on display that I frequently just gaze at and let whatever thoughts, memories, or feelings surface as a result. They also seem to serve as food for the soul and help me enter into the imaginal realm. To that end I have collected poems and quotes that inspire and transport me into this realm as well.
The cabinet includes such items as Bismuth (the modern Philosophers Stone), Merlinite, Galena, Aragonite, Lapis, Amethyst, Ruby, Hematite, and translucent slices of agate. Fossils of Ammonites, trilobites, and orthoceras share the dishes of a brass apothecary scale with old compasses, sundials, antique pocket watches and a bronze hourglass crowding the corners.
There’s a Theodolite surveyors instrument, an 1890s microscope, an armillary and orrerary (planetary models), a brass scale and assorted dragons including a bat skeleton that I’ve relabeled as “Draco Infantia (Latin for ‘baby dragon’). North American butterflies, dragonflies. Bats, a flying Dragon Lizard, and shells from the deepest regions of the ocean adorn the walls while some vintage laboratory glassware sits on a bookcase full of old books and artifacts that have caught my imagination over the years. A taxidermist’s black crow stands watch over a sculpture of old magnifying glasses that serves to remind me that it is the realm of the hardly noticed that can open a whole new world if one were to look more closely at life.
I believe that anything that opens a link between our soul and us is worth exploring and experimenting with and our own expression of that can be immensely fulfilling.
Books that I’ve collected include the research of alchemists, psychotherapists, shaman, mystics, artists, poets, mythologists, physicists, theologians, fantasists, and holy books, collected dreams, and journals also share the crowded space along the wall and stacked upon the floor all representing a lifetime of interests.
I’ve been having dreams of people and things where there are parts or aspects missing and dreams of my childhood and childhood home where I see things and people I haven’t seen in years. There’s a common meaning between these kinds of dreams, that of something lost, something that used to be there but is no longer.
There’s an ‘energy’ in each of the images of a dream, an energy associated with each of the aspects of ourselves. Sometimes when something is lost or missing or that was associated with some part of our childhood but no longer present our deeper self longs for the missing part. What’s lost could be an admired aspect such as hope, or a dream of the future, or a feeling of excitement, or love, or of peace, acceptance, potential, possibilities, esteem, or meaning.
The list can be endless for when young, everything is possible and then life happens and the possibilities get whittled away and we learn to let go of more and more of our dreams. All these energies of the self that have been filed away or shoved down into the unconscious want to be recognized, reenergized if you will, and brought back into the self that is you.
For me it is enchantment, awe, and significance that has been carved away from my core, the suppressed expressions of my soul. My dreams serve as healers to the wounds suffered by my soul self and reminders of who I am. A dream of my eleven year old self has an energy that I gave up over time and sometimes this aspect will return in the form of my childhood bedroom or a beloved, but now gone, family member or pet and serve as a guide to regaining the lost energy.
The process is often called “soul recovery”. We may have lost some part of ourselves due to some pain or abuse, some trauma or heartbreak but for whatever the reason we cannot feel complete until we have learned to bring home the missing aspects. They’re still there, these missing parts of ourselves, they’re still part of us.
The eleven year old is still in there with the same dream for his or her life and the essence of the dream can still be expressed only now we have tools and opportunities gained through age and hard fought for wisdom that can help us to harness our missing energies and express the basic core of the dream. But first we have to recall the messages of our inner self through the medium of our sleeping dreams for it is in these dreams that the soul is trying desperately to communicate with us what we are really here for.
Don’t give up on your soul dreams. Listen to that small quiet voice from within that wants you to know who and what you really are.
As I finished writing I pushed away from my desk and took a break, pulled on a jacket and stepped outside into a brightly crisp morning and bid the just rising sun a good day. As per my morning ritual I closed my eyes and welcomed my part of the earth into its new course– standing before each of the cardinal directions and whispering a heart-filled gratefulness. With each breath in and out I chanted the morning’s mantra, “Earth am I, air am I, fire and water and spirit am I. Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us”
I opened my eyes once again to the east and the sky was ablaze with gold, the distant trees dark silhouettes against its slowly strengthening glow. Turning to the North again and preparing to turn through the compass once more I was stopped in my tracks, for this morning the Earth had given me a new gift. Rising before me stood a brightly colored and full-arced rainbow with one foot planted near a Sycamore at the end of the street and the other stretching off to the south as though challenging me to follow.
The crows were flying out of the northwest on their morning pilgrimage and flew through the multicolored arc, winged black caricatures of the magical arts transformed into soaring messengers of joy. This is going to be a soul dream of a day.
As I sat working on a workshop on poetry I’m developing I began to list answers to the question, “What is poetry?”
When I came to the end of my list I wrote down, “Everything, and every event in life is poetry. The soul of our being is a poet!”
Poetry speaks of and from the imaginal. When it “speaks of” it’s the soul trying to understand itself and in the “speaking from” it is talking about a nonlinear, non-rational, imaginal, and animating force behind the human quest and thirst for meaning.
Poetry for me is an imaginative activity that encompasses everything in life. Imagination is at the root of all poetry and may very well be the essence of our souls as well. It seems that when my soul desires to break free of my egoistic rational and literal interpretation of reality it speaks to me through poetry and metaphor in my dreams and the events and people in the world around me.
Poetry is about images not literalisms or naturalisms. It is about alternative ways of seeing the world and ourselves. Poetry helps us reconnect with our soul.I say “reconnect” because our society seems to be suffering a loss of soul where it has lost its connections with others and with self. This affects those within the society by robbing them of their sense of belonging and communion.
Our personal myth has also gotten lost, as has that of the larger myth of the greater society. Meaning has become blurred, as has our reason for living.
The current social situation infecting the country and the world is a symptom of our loss of soul. Radical and violent approaches to regaining what is lost reflect the unrecognized panic people are feeling associated with this loss. But this panic is also a symptom of the loss of soul and trying to treat symptoms is futile; It may temporarily relieve the pain but doesn’t cure the cause. Addressing the loss behind the symptoms is critical.
It’s the imaginal needs of the soul that are missing and this has separated us from that which gives life meaning. We see some attempts to address these imaginal needs of the soul in the growth of interest in astrology, divination, magic and fantasy. Even poetry is experiencing a revival. But the society in general is trying to deal with the loss through literal thinking e.g. more jobs, better wages, better medical care, and walls and laws. These may have their merits but are not what the soul is crying out for. Achievement of these goals might temporarily satisfy the ego, a voracious consumer of temporary satisfactions, but will do little or nothing for the soul.
We seem to have lost our excited and loving connection to life. We are in survival mode and this abuse of our souls that we have tolerated for so long has led to the symptoms of disconnection that we see in our communities and greater society. This disconnect is the herald of our greater loss of soul.
Humans are being treated as commodities, objects to be manipulated, and subservient to the power and greed of others. People have become just a means to and end for producing ever-increasing capital. To that end they (we) only have one purpose until they are no longer needed. There is no soul in this and that has stripped people of their own soul expression, their raison d’etre. Modern society implies that a human’s meaning is in what they can produce outside itself. It ignores the inside meaning and demeans the experience of spirit, humanness, individuality, essence, purpose, emotion, mercy, morality, wisdom, and God. Our soul has become secondary to our utility and with this shift in our meaning is the loss of meaning in life.
Are we just cogs in the machine or plug-ins to the corporation god or do we have greater meaning than that? I know that you know the answer. So what are you going to do about it? Hint: the answer is already in the text of this post.