Like Peter Pan each of us need to find our own internal Wendy to reattach the shadow we’ve become separated from.

One of the paradoxes of being human is that we hold within us both the dark and the light.

Carl Jung the Swiss psychiatrist described how each of us has that part of us that we identify with and present to the world and that part of us that we keep hidden, the dark and unbearable characteristics of ourselves. This shadow, or dark, side of our nature is kept cut off from the rest of our being but is still attached through the unconscious part of our selves.

 

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Jung went on to say that our growth into wholeness required that we come to terms with our unacceptable aspects– our desires, hidden impulses, hostility, greed, and selfishness. What he believed was that we all long for the essence of ourselves, what some might call the soul, that part of us that is connected to the divine.

Prior to being born we may have been fully integrated with the wholeness of the universe and only after acquiring a body and by extension an ego did we become separated from this whole. It is then thought that each of us in our own unique way is going through a process of reintegration from the incomplete status of a separated body and soul toward the harmonious fullness of a being integrated with all other beings.

Thus the process of integrating our shadow parts is a major goal of spiritual growth, but how to do this?

It’s a little like Peter Pan trying to get Wendy to help him reconnect with his shadow by having her sew it back on. The way we do this is to reacquaint ourselves with what we’ve cut off from ourselves. What keeps us from doing this is fear.

We know that this part of us has a negative charm attached to it and whenever we get too close it will invalidate and make wrong any of the good in you. This extends to the world as well. Have you ever noticed how anger, fear, and negativity comes up whenever it looks as though peace is about to break out?

While the lower thought forms of our unconscious mind control us we are stuck until we learn to transcend the forces that lay there. We can only do that by bringing to light what is hidden in the darkness.

We can’t overcome the shadow by hating it for hate is of the shadow itself. The shadow is only the wounded part of ourselves that needs to be reunited with the rest of us much like Peter needed. And it was only through the love of Wendy that this could be accomplished, which is why he came to visit in the first place. The answer to dealing with the shadow is through love, compassion, and forgiveness. This is true for both the individual and the society in which he lives.

It’s our own individual and collective arrogance that disallows the points-of-view of others and won’t give deference to the spiritual views of others. On an individual level this is a person who runs rough shod over the beliefs of others. On a collective level like the United States for example (and I only use this example because it is where I call home) the great American shadow through capitalism and its powerful defender, militarism, tends to take whatever it wants and disallows the spiritual principles of anyone and everyone.

It goes on to display an arrogant disregard for the effects on others and the environment that it too often exploits. Corporate America affects more than the other countries it shares the world with it also disenfranchises the people of its own country. This will only get worse because America refuses to acknowledge its shadow and wields its heavy hand all over the world.

Oh it has better angels within itself and these do a lot of good in the world, but its unacknowledged dark side causes it much self-inflicted grief and prevents the outbreak of peace.

Now, America is not the only country that ignores its shadow and the effects it has on the world, arrogance is not limited to only one country, or one people, there are many, many other perpetrators of this kind of grief– its part of the human condition to be arrogant and dismissive of what one thinks is not them.

But the transformation needed to reintegrate the fragmented self begins with the individual– you and I and what we support in ourselves and in others around us. Do we support what brings joy and healing or do we continue to maintain the separateness through our own self-righteousness? It’s up to us– you, me.

Like Peter Pan each of us need to find our own internal Wendy to reattach what we’ve become separated from and become whole again.

 

 

The Never-Never

 

“The second star to the right and then straight on ‘til morning.”

 

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A metaphor for our Unconscious Mind?

In several blog articles I’ve explored how myth reflects the workings of the human psyche. Though not myths in and of themselves there are also popular fantasy stories that have added to our cultural mythology that themselves are allegories to the workings of the psyche. I’ve looked at such stories and poems as Shakespeare’s Mid Summer Nights Dream, Louis Carroll’s’ Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

Today I thought I’d tackle yet another of the English-speaking world’s favorite fantasy stories, Peter Pan.

“The second star to the right and then straight on ‘til morning.

But, Peter, how do we get to Never Land?

Fly, of course.

Fly?

It’s easy! All you have to do is to… is to… is to… Ha! That’s funny.

What’s the matter? Don’t you know?

Oh, sure. It’s… It’s just that I never thought about it before. Say, that’s it! You think of a wonderful thought. “

 

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From Disney movie Peter Pan

And thus began one of fantasy’s most incredible magical journeys, Peter Pan by J.M Barrie.

What is this Never Land of which he spoke?

Barrie thought of this land as a place found in the minds of children. Each land is as different as each child, though there are some basic similarities as it is between children as well. This seems not unlike the archetypal images of which Jung spoke which would make Never Land an archetype for the psyche’s imaginal realm.

In this way Never Land might be likened to the dream world with the “mainland” of Wendy, John and Michael Darling representing the waking world.

Barrie’s Never Land was probably a reference to the popular name for the Australian Outback i.e. The “Never-Never” that was to be found in the deserts of the Northern Territory. This wouldn’t be too far fetched when one thinks of the Australs as the southern most land mass on the planet and thus analogous to the unconscious mind from whence all dreams are born.

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Never-Never National Park

Neverland can only be reached by flying and in the dream world, flying is a metaphor for freedom and independence, it’s also a central theme in Peter Pan’s world.

The star in the beginning of the story serves as a guide or map to the place of their desire; where they aspire to be i.e. Never Land. In dreams stars also relate to ones aspirations and desires. There’s also an aspect of fate or luck in the story because you’re encouraged to believe that you just have to follow “the 2nd star to the right and then straight on ‘til morning”, a star in ones dreams also symbolizes this same aspect of luck.

In the book The Archipelago of Dreams Robert also followed a star that drew him into the Spirit World of his deeper self where he also tempted fate.

Growing up in some way is also an aspect of many stories both in the desire and the resistance to it. We all want the seeming independence of being grown up and in charge of our fate, but how many times have we all, when overwhelmed with the responsibilities of our grown-up status, wished for the simpler days of our childhood? In our dreams this often shows up in images of our childhood home, friends, events, or family.

You see, our fantasy stories as well as our myths come from the same place as our dreams– they are projections of our deeper, and all too hidden, nature.

 

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The Dark Matter and energy of the universe

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I was reading an article on Dark Matter the other evening. This is the hypothetical matter that many astrophysicists believe may account for the majority of the total mass of the universe. It’s the matter that seems to be missing when we add up all the mass that we can see and deduce. They suggest that we can’t see it, but it’s there! It is in all of us, just as are the physical building blocks of the galaxies.

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Physicists also suggest that this matter is not like the matter we see, that it is comprised of something quite different than the usual protons and electrons whose conglomerates we see in the stars and our everyday world.

As I read I was reminded that the “dark matter” of the mind is what is known as the unconscious and that the unconscious as it is expressed in our dreams, visions, musings, and meditations is also not ordinary in form–it doesn’t seem to be cohesive or linear, appearing fragmented and unwilling to follow the conscious world’s physics i.e. it defies, or functions in opposition to, the physical realities of the waking world.

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The unconscious is a realm of all manner of magic where one can render objects to do any bidding without fear of failure e.g. where the dead can be resurrected, and we can breathe underwater, fly, and cause all manner of levitation. In the mind beneath our consciousness time itself can be without either cause or effect, be non-sequential, and even run in reverse. People and animals become interchangeable and often morph into one another.

In the waking world, this world at the bottom of Alice’s rabbit hole would seem irrational and chaotic and yet there’s just a hint of common sense that can lead us to make greater sense of the waking world at the top of the hole.

The dream world is I believe very much like the so-called Dark Matter that makes up most of the universe. Is it a coincidence that both the unconscious mind and dark matter account for approximately 70- 95% + of their respective totals e.g. for the total psyche* or the total physical universe?

 

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All of our myths, creation stories, fiction, poetry, art, and wondrous inventions are allegories of the observable universe. Anything that we find within ourselves may only reflect what is found in nature.

In the Hermetic  tradition of the druids, and Wiccans, there is a saying, “As above, so below”– that which is below corresponds to that which is above**. In this case the ‘above’ is represented by all that is conscious and seen while the ‘below’ is manifest in the unconscious or unseen. It would seem that both the physical and mental realities follow this dictum as well.

It also appears that there is movement toward bringing seeming opposites together to form a whole e.g. visible and dark matter, the conscious and unconscious mind. Both the physics world and the world of human psychology are working toward a Grand Unified Model of reality. Researchers such as James Hillman, Carl Jung, and other Depth Psychologists might also suggest that that’s what all humans are doing i.e. developing toward a unified whole–a process known as Individuation–the recognition of differences and then their reconciliation toward being fully human.

Like with Dark Matter, whether you know of it, or see it, the unconscious is there and a part of you.

 

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.

 –T. S. Eliot

 

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*The psyche is the individual’s perceived and perceivable universe and is comprised of both the conscious and unconscious.

**From the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus. It’s also preceded by a Vedic philosophy. The Hermetic philosophy portrays God as a transcendent God i.e. absolute in which we all participate.

Beginning work with consciousness

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Found on: Eddie Calz @ Deviantart

 

Beginning work with consciousness, dreams, or shadow work can often produce a disturbance in ones reality. Many people who aren’t ready for it just say it’s utter nonsense and refuse to even take a look. Looking into that part of oneself that is largely unconscious can be disconcerting, confusing, and sometimes frightening. It’s not something to be entered in on lightly because the journey will take you to places you didn’t even know were there and this will over time transform your life–it will literally shift your reality.

Because of my fascination with mirrors and the perspective on reality that they present, I have a device that I purchased some time ago called a Pseudoscope. When looking through it what is seen shifts with the right eye seeing what the left should and vice versa. In this way the background becomes the foreground, convex becomes concave and the brain begins to fight with the senses for a new reality and creating an uncomfortable disturbance. Typically the brain tries to suppress the new reality, the new interpretation of space that is revealed.

This has become my waking life metaphor for what can happen when exploring a new reality as it is revealed through the interpretation of dreams, meditation images, and mindful awareness.

Most people will make the shift and find that it enhances their experience of the world, but a few will experience great difficulty, especially those who have habitually resisted new input in their lives.

As with anything that you want to master, “practice makes perfect” or at least it makes you better at it. Many people who start to explore the usefulness of dreams find that they begin to remember more dreams. As one develops a greater understanding of symbols and metaphor they also begin to see the world as a much richer experience than they ever thought possible. As one expands their awareness input beyond the basic five senses a broadening transformation happens, subtle at first, but growing as one develops greater skill.

And transformation is an interesting phenomenon in that when it happens it spreads not only within the present moment but both forwards and backwards through time so that former understandings seem almost quaint in retrospect and are understood differently. This of course effects not only the present, but also the future relationship with reality as well.

In the novel, The Archipelago of Dreams* Robert experiences this transformation and expanded awareness and in the How-To book, The Dragon’s Treasure* one can learn the particulars of the transformation process.

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*See Books by Author in right hand column

What is a dream?

 

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So what is a dream? Fundamentally it’s all the event material from the day being processed through the filter of your particular psyche with its biases, points-of-view, beliefs, and ways of being. If the material is consistent with your particular bias or established world-view then it is processed into longer-term memory. When you remember a dream you are not recalling the exact dream but an abbreviated text of your waking psyche’s perception of it. There’s the raw experience of the dream, then there’s a translation of that into the language of your conscious mind. But buried in that waking narrative there are the “images” of the dream and their unconscious meaning.

It is that unconscious meaning that one mines when attempting to interpret a dream and in those cracks and crevices of the dark and deep there is gold to be found. We do that by understanding our psychological associations with the images. In essence the dream image of a table doesn’t necessarily mean anything except that it might be associated with a table you used to sit at as a child where your grandmother served you warm cookies and milk and you felt all loved and cared for or it was the table you were forced to sit at for hours staring at the wall when you were being punished and felt unloved and uncared for.

Both table images can reveal the current emotional circumstances of your life, e.g. feeling loved or not loved. Both images can reveal inner conflicts. For example, the former meaning of a grandmother’s table could be revealing a lack of love and caring in your life as can the latter meaning. Your grandmother’s table could reveal a need for love but so can the punishment table. Taking this in mind one needs to apply all the possible meanings of an image to ones life as it currently manifests itself. When doing this notice when one meaning seems to stand out or resonate from the others e.g. when it seems right. This will most likely be the meaning that resonates with your current psychological or emotional situation.

So how you might ask could a dictionary of dream meanings possibly define your own personal image? It can’t. What it can do is to get you thinking of and considering your own possible image meanings. It is like a menu that describes a meal but isn’t the meal itself. It can give you an idea of the meal but shouldn’t be mistaken for the actual food and its experience. In short, a good dream dictionary points to possible meanings rather than declaring a meaning. It allows you to explore the different directions you might go in to find a meaning to a particular image.

So enough about images, what about the dream narrative that I unceremoniously discounted in the beginning of this article? Though the narrative comes from the language of the conscious mind with all its biases, prejudices, and confusions it’s those very biases etc. that reveal hidden patterns of behavior that are affecting our lives. These same patterns can reveal solutions to vexing problems or the unseen behaviors of others that may be affecting us negatively. It is also this same unconscious material that influences our thoughts, our feelings, and our beliefs within the conscious world.

Simply put the material hidden within our dreams is all the stuff we unconsciously noticed while our conscious mind was busy with the events and worries of the day. It is from the unconscious mind that our dreams come to us and by understanding both that material and what our conscious mind does with it after waking we can access and process a much greater reality than just the surface material of the everyday.