The following is a draft section of a new book to be published later this year, “Morpheus speaks: The Book of Dreams” (RJ Cole, 2018).
Insight: Being possessed is an archetype itself (symbolic meaning that is found across all cultures). Many years ago people would employ priests or even lay mediums to exorcise an individual’s devil that has “possessed” them. But even now the old version of the primitive possessor demon lives within an unexplored psychic phenomena and acts out behaviors that are contrary to a person’s best interest. One only needs to look at how many so-called fearful “conservatives” will vote for the very issues and people who only mean them harm, directly or indirectly, to see the truth of that statement. All too often when we deny our complexes, our demons so to speak, we become possessed by them, we allow another force and energy to take over our lives.
We all have a person who isn’t there. It’s a shadow that follows us everywhere we go even on the darkest night with no moon or streetlights’ glare. It hides behind a mask amongst the deepest caverns of our mind, lurking, stalking and waiting to strike. He or she are all the emotions and distasteful parts of ourselves that we just as soon not see during the daylight but often show up in our dreams at night.
We shun them for they are not who we want to be. We lock them up in our cages so deep hoping that they will never escape. We hide them in the dark, dank and stinking tunnels of our unconscious trying to forget the smell of them and hoping that eventually they’ll die. But they never die for you see they feed on our fear and the energy we use to keep them hidden. Occasionally they’ll escape to the upper realm and play havoc with our relationships, our emotions, our goals and plans. Like little gremlins they toy with us.
“When I came home last night at three,
The man was waiting there for me
But when I looked around the hall,
I couldn’t see him there at all!
Go away, go away, don’t you come back any more!
Go away, go away, and please don’t slam the door…”
The shadow is a universal archetype whose presence is felt by us all from time to time. We deny its existence but that won’t do any good. Why won’t he go away? Because he can’t, he’s part of us and if you could cut him away we wouldn’t be us any more.
His power and persistence in our lives lies in our resistance to him. When pretending he’s not there he can wheedle his way into everything we do and try to be often with disastrous results.
“Last night I saw upon the stair,
A little man who wasn’t there,
He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away.”
–Antagonish by William Hughes Mearns
There’s a paradox here in that he won’t go away until you ask him to stay.
Accepting all parts of the self both light and shadow is to honor your wholeness. Treating all aspects of yourself as equal will allow you to use all your energies in a direction of your choosing rather than moving to the hidden ghost’s bidding or wasting your energy trying to keep half of you caged.
The title of this blog is “Embracing the Individual Shadow” that suggests that there may be a Collective Shadow that we live in as well. Where is it? I’ll go into that at another time. Until then see if you can find it. It shouldn’t be too hard. Let me know what you find.
Sadness, depression, anguish, anger, chaos, nightmare, disillusionment are all aspects of the dark night of the soul.
One can see them as aspects to avoid, supplant with loving thoughts or religious practice, or distracting regimens
One can see these aspects as the dark side of the soul that brings to light its more positive aspects.
The soul represents all the spiritual aspects of our being, those that we like and those that we don’t. But regardless of our ego’s point-of-view about the soul’s values the soul will express itself, it will insist upon full participation in the world.
Our response to its activity will either enable its participation or hinder it and to hinder it is to limit our own growth and spiritual evolution.
To the believer who imagines that only love can bring spirit into being and thus pastes over or varnishes their darker aspects with thoughts of only loving gesture I say you will fail for even the power of love knows that it needs to make room for its darker cousin.
One must face the issues of life and death and the values existent within that life regardless of whether approved of in order to bring true love to their own being and the being of all else.
We are all tried in the crucible of the soul’s dark night. To seek consolation from without through religion, or rituals designed to eradicate the darkness often results in less than success. Facing the darkness and wrestling with it can be liberating from the constant struggle to eliminate it that is fruitless.
Many see the full expression of love as being divine in and a reflection of our true nature. This is true but the operative phrase here is, “full expression” not partial expression or only those expressions that we deem acceptable.
There is an inner wisdom being offered to the dreamer who dreams images of being threatened, attacked, killed, killing, or chased and hunted down by dark figures. All are shadows of the hidden self, the dark hidden soul wanting to be expressed and dealt with openly and honestly instead of suppressed and reviled.
Contrary to many so-called wisdom teachers the dark night is not necessarily something to be overcome but acknowledged and brought into the light and dealt with openly. Remember the old folk sayings that darkness comes before the light or the storm before the dawn? This is partly true in that it is often through personal struggle that ones true nature and purpose is revealed.
But even with the best of intentions to integrate and thus grow oneself one can find themselves so immersed in the darkness that they cannot find themselves. For those who find they are thus trapped they may need the guidance, partnership, and counseling of one who knows how to work with the darkness and its integration with the light. I have found these guides in dream groups, spiritual teachers, psychologists, and psychotherapists. All have helped in this journey to full expression of the soul.
“I am going to teach you the first step to power,” don Juan said, beginning his instruction in the art of dreaming. “I am going to teach you how to set up dreaming.”
“What does it mean to set up dreaming?”
“To set up dreaming means to have a precise and practical command over the general situation of a dream. For example, you may dream that you are in your classroom. To set up dreaming means that you do not let the dream slip into something else. You do not jump from the classroom to the mountains, for instance. In other words, you control the view of the classroom, and do not let it go until you want to.”
“But is it possible to do that?”
“Of course it is possible. This control is no different from the control we have over any situation in our daily lives. Sorcerers are used to it, and get it every time they want or need to. In order to get used to it yourself, you must start by doing something very simple. Tonight, in your dreams, you must look at your hands.”
–Don Juan to Carlos Castaneda in “The Art of Dreaming”
Of course the shaman (or sorcerer) Don Juan was alluding to the phenomenon of lucid dreaming i.e. becoming conscious within a dream and being aware that you’re still dreaming. In this state one can actually direct the events and outcome of the dream.
But he could just as easily have been talking about what you and I call the ‘waking state’ dream, the every day activity that we call reality.
Most Psychologists believe that we all project our thought images (ideas, desires, expectations, judgments, feelings, fears, etc.) onto the events and images of the world around us– there’s a world of objects and events and then there’s what we make of those, what meaning we give them and how we then respond to that meaning.
Basically we make up our own reality, it’s true! Research on the accuracy of witnesses has shown time and again that what was seen is often not what was actually there i.e. the mood, attention, and past experiences of the witness affects what is reported.
Even the choice of words to describe an event is affected by the witness’ past experience with those words. Ones experience about another persons ethnicity, age, size and physical features all contribute to the reality seen and the reality reported.
Unless properly trained in the art and science of observation we create our own reality and even then such things as unconscious motivations and undetected prejudices will affect the reality created.
Dreams are like this as well. They are the images, feelings, and symbols of our unconscious mind playing out in our unconscious sleep state and the unconscious attributes of ourselves that creates a reality within the dream. To interpret them in the waking state requires a conscious understanding of ones inner symbolism and how that is projected onto the outward reality. This is not an easy task and very often requires the aid of observers outside the mind.
Dreams are all about symbolism, the meaning projected onto each image, each event, and each person, or animal in the dream. This is also the reality of our waking state in that we almost never see reality for what it is.
In short, you and I “dream” our reality into existence. We may actually always be dreaming.
And just as with the lucid dream within the sleeping dream one can create ones meaning and outcomes beyond those that the waking dream seems to be presenting. For example, if you don’t like the current events of your waking dream life, then change them, create another reality, dream another response set to the reality about you. In other words, become lucid within your waking dream– start noticing that you are indeed asleep, then wake up!
By thinking about what each dream element means to you or reminds you of, by looking for parallels between these associations and what is happening in your waking life, and by being patient and persistent, you can learn to understand your dreams.
Nightmares are very common among children and fairly common among adults. Stress, traumatic experiences, emotional difficulties, drugs, medication, or illness often cause nightmares. However, some people have frequent nightmares that seem unrelated to their waking lives. Recent studies suggest that these people tend to be more open, sensitive, trusting, and emotional than average.
Recurrent dreams or nightmares, that can continue for years, may be treated as any other dream. That is, one may look for parallels between the dream and the thoughts, feelings, behavior, and motives of the dreamer. Understanding the meaning of the recurrent dream sometimes can help the dreamer resolve an issue that he or she has been struggling with for years.
Some people experience extreme feelings of fear in their sleep. As opposed to nightmares, which happen during REM sleep, night terrors or ‘incubus attacks’ occur during stage four of sleep. Unlike nightmares, which we often remember as movie-like dreams, those who suffer from night terrors can rarely explain what they were dreaming of, other than that they experienced an extreme sense of fear.
However, when they do remember, spiders, snakes, animals, people, paralysis, or an evil presence in the room are often featured.
Some sufferers continue to hallucinate when they wake, which can cause some to become violent, either as a response to their dreams, or in an attempt to run away. The cause of night terrors is thought to be increased brain activity, or a chemical reaction that makes the brain ‘misfire’. For many, medical treatment is necessary to help them cope.
Note that in children any night terrors tend to dissipate over time with most children no longer experiencing by the time they reach their preteens.
For more on nightmares you might want to consult the following link:
If interested in exploring this further go to this blog’s “search” box (to be found at the bottom of any posting page after clicking on the title of any posting) and type in “Nightmares” and several posts dealing with dark dreams will come up.
Gunmen in dreams, people shooting at you or others in dreams, killing or being killed in dreams all very scary, what’s it mean?
Simply put these images suggest anger, fear, aggression, conflict (inner and outer), confrontation, hate, the forcing of ones views/opinions/beliefs and/or feelings of being targeted, or victimized.
Not so coincidentally the same actions and images in ones waking life have the same meaning. The ultimate meaning, however is that the perpetrator(s) are neither expressing or feeling love, or self-worth…no, harassing, hurting, oppressing, enslaving, or killing someone does not enhance self-worth, importance or Godliness. Quite the contrary, it diminishes it. Forcing your ideas on another diminishes you. Living in a society that narrowly defines self-worth by how much money you have, how thin, smart, young, talented and beautiful you are also diminishes the vast majority of its citizens.
Limiting someone’s ability to express their divine self diminishes you, controlling someone for your own gain or to some imagined gain of religious meaning, or political meaning diminishes you. Bottom line, anything that limits the free expression of ones soul diminishes them and no God would ever ask any one to do this, only a confused ego-self would attempt such an affront, only a confused and frightened ego-self would do anything but love.
Love is not a feeling of being gaga over someone or something, it’s an action born of knowing that we are all connected, all children of one God, one Earth, with different ways of worshipping and praying, but all equal and the same in our divinity. Anything else is not love and anything else is not of the soul or the one spirit that enliven us all. Anything else is ONLY of the self-involved, self-serving, greedy, simple-minded, and self-centered ego-self…period!
What you lose when you ‘hate’ is your own self, your own soul, and your own connection with God regardless of what name you give to him or what religion or ideology you follow.
The killing that you see in the world is not love, it is not of God, or the greater spirit of humankind…it is pure and simple fear, hate and an expression of the loss of our connection with the divine and each other and can never bring peace or enhance the well-being of anyone or anything and all the revenge and retribution and misguided religious, or nationalistic, fervor will only drive us deeper into despair and further away from our universal inheritance and this is not just my opinion.
You only need to look at what non-love produces to know that I am right. You only need to look into your own unlimited soul to know it’s right! You don’t need some politician, leader, priest, rabbi, or Imam to tell you what is and isn’t love and what is of the divine and what isn’t.
We can only pray for those stuck in hate and fear that they will wake up from their dream before that hate consumes them, that they will cease to follow the small ‘g’ god of their limited ego-selves and open up to the bigger ‘G’ God that loves us all.
When death is seen in dreams it is often a metaphor for bringing an end to some negative behavior or ineffective way of being. Take heed, your soul is trying to tell you something.
“The tragedy of life is not death but what we let die inside of us while we live.”
Sorry I’ve not been writing much lately, but you see I’ve been fighting dragons again for the last few days. Dragons, that’s what I call the depression that sometimes charges from its cave and overwhelms me. He takes on a number of forms, right now he looks like the giant “I’m no good” dragon where everything is better than, smarter than, more creative than.
I’ll be walking the paths of the kingdom feeling pretty good about myself when suddenly I feel his blast of hot breath reducing my fragile armor to ashes. I stand there naked and vulnerable suffering blow after blow of his acid tongue, his maniacal laughter seeming to come from all around me as though the very universe is laughing at my insignificance.
Nothing I do is of any consequence– I pull out my “I am bigger than this” sword and it melts to the beasts fire. I wrap myself in “I am worthy’s” but these are easily stripped from my body and again I am naked before him.
I get so wrapped up in fighting this demon creature of the psychic world that I quite lose myself, and forget the wisdom of the inner wizard. Somewhere in the acrid clouds of smoke and burning ego a little voice struggles to be heard. “Create!” says he and the tears begin to flow, washing away the helplessness and fear. And I begin once again the acts of creation. There is where wholeness lay, there the spirit plays and the soul expresses itself freely.
When I am in the act of creating, the dragon vanishes and it matters not what smallish images of self have been conjured for the real self is engaged in the expansive act of creation– the soul freely expresses during the alchemical process of creating and the universe expands to infinity– no room is left for the little knight and his demons.
So what the hell am I talking about? When I have nothing else to do my mind will conjure up all kinds of stuff to grab my attention and that’s when I start feeling depressed and begin to beat myself up. My ego-self can swing radically between noble grandeur and street urchin, from self-love to self-loathing.
I’ve learned what old spells from the past can cause these swings, but ultimately the knowledge doesn’t present me much succor. But I have learned that when I am in the process of creating, whether in the discovery phase or the expression phase, the ego-self is quieted and the overwhelming emotions, thoughts and judgments that flow in and around me from time to time just vanish. In the moments of creation these seemingly unconquerable personal demons cannot exist.
When I’m in the creative zone I don’t give a s%@t what the ego-self has to say. It’s as though I am transported back to the place before the personal mind was created– a place where I can just be me. A place that doesn’t compare, a place where all opposites are in union, a place where wholeness is king– the quiet place of creation.
But creation looks chaotic, noisy, frantic, frustrating, anything but quiet you might say. But that’s only to the outside observer because when we’re in the space of creating all of the noise is muted and every frustration points to another path to be taken toward the ultimate goal.
How do I create? When I write, when I draw, when I’m focused on the needs of someone or something else. I also create when I’m in the process of discovery, when I’m ‘doing’ and when I’m being. I am in the creative space when I take arduous climbs up mountains and when I embrace difficult tasks and then enjoy the process of achieving them. I frequently go to the world of the imaginal for it is there I can not only create my best self but also discover how to create the best world.
When I create I discover who I really am and it’s not the creature that is trying to look good or feel good or maintain the illusion that he’s in control. When I create I’m no longer in the limited space of my ego-self, my conditioned self. It’s a much happier place in here.
“When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Do you see the real you, or what you have been conditioned to believe is you? The two are so, so different. One is an infinite consciousness capable of being and creating whatever it chooses, the other is an illusion imprisoned by its own perceived and programmed limitations.”
a dove. Don’t even open your mouth for even a coo.”
From Soul of Rumi by Coleman Barks
Deep within the hidden reaches of your unconscious mind and in the place between your thoughts there lays a stillness that when embraced opens the door to your true nature.
Carl Jung believed that we all have aspects of both light and shadow within us and that the process, some would say goal, of life is to integrate the two into one whole thus reconciling both good and evil. The shadow or dark sides of ourselves cannot be merely hidden, shoved down into the caves of our unconscious mind for they don’t disappear just because they are no longer seen. They will have their say in everything that we do and if repressed long enough they will rise to the surface causing chaos in our dreams and in our waking lives. The energy of the shadow is always there and can be used for good or evil.
Not too long ago I read an article in the New York Times. It was a story about the museums of death found in many places around the world. I was surprised by the title for I thought all museums were about death aka Natural History museums with all its carefully displayed dead animals, Art museums where most of the painters have been dead for such a long time, The National Funeral museum in Houston, Tex., antique auctions museums where you can find really old furniture from the houses of dead people, well you get the idea.
And what’s the fascination with cemeteries and skulls and horror stories?
I think that we dwell in awe and fear at the world’s greatest mystery, death. It’s that part of life that terrifies most of us because it portends something we can know nothing about, non-life, specifically our own. What is non-life? We know it’s the opposite of what we have now, but what is the opposite of life really? And why do we even ask the question? Fear? Fear of the unknown, fear of what is dark to us? Our unconscious mind is dark to us but as long as we are alive we have potential access even though we’d rather not, but death? Now there’s a darkness and unknown we can’t even begin to fathom. It’s a bottomless abyss that goes on forever.
For some it’s not death that is feared but the process of getting there because it can be so frighteningly painful and mostly uncomfortable or so it looks. We humans will enter into almost anything if we truly believe there’s a pot of gold at the end of it– something better than what we have though we’re never satisfied with what we have. But not to know? Too scary.
The promise of no pain and eternal peacefulness seems a pretty good draw for letting go of life so as to enter some kind of heaven, but the “Great Decider” determines whether we wind up there or in the burning cauldron’s of hell, or so we’ve been told, though I’m pretty sure those stories come from the same type of folk that wrote the stories for the Brothers Grimm and for the same reason, to keep the children in line, whether they be little children or adult children. This reflects the belief that left to their own devices people won’t do the right thing. That is of course a pretty cynical view of humanity usually portrayed by the “fearful ones” who don’t know who they really are and by extension who we are. In the United States we call them Republicans or the Alt-right.
Some folks have solace in the belief that they, body and all, pass into another realm. But the ego part of us is of the flesh, that 3lb squishy thing inside our head that some of us occasionally think with and that decays and shrivels and turns to dust– we like with everything else in life can’t take it with us. So what is it that goes on to wherever we imagine consciousness continues on to?
“The soul! The soul goes on” cry still others. But what is that? Have you ever seen it? How often have you been aware of it? Do you actually identify with it? How many of us truly know of that invisible, ephemeral ghost in the machine that we imagine to be us, after all aren’t we the thinking, feeling, frightened, pain wracked, opinionated, memory-filled, squealing thing with a name and social security number?
So what is the soul? Is it a living thing? Well if it is living within the body wouldn’t it be subject to the same decaying effects after death? Ahh, so it’s not alive, it’s, what, a spirit? What’s that? And why does it need us as a host to visit the world? And if it loses its host where is it, what does it experience then? Is it conscious? Was it our consciousness all along only we became duped by the not so long lasting ego that convinced us that we were actually the ego?
Recent research has shown that even after a person has been pronounced brain dead, usually a no-turning-back step beyond clinical death when the heart stops, that “consciousness” may in some cases continue beyond the functioning body1. This is known as an OBE or Out of Body Experience. What that consciousness is however, that appears to be separate from the brain has scientists stumped.
This soul thing probably has no fear of death because death isn’t part of its life but the ego is a jealous thing and envies and fears the soul because of its non-death. It dreams of being like its opposite and creates a myth of everlasting life. There is everlasting life, but probably not like the life we currently experience, but the ego doesn’t want to hear that, so let’s just keep that between us.
Still others see the soul as a transmitter of the spirit into the receiver of the brain that then allows it to be manifest in the world making us sort of like a TV with arms and legs.
“Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.”
The Psalm of Life
by– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I go into greater depth with the exploration of death in the Chapter from the “Dragon’s Treasure”titled Death, Yours, Mine, Ours (pg. 168).
1 Life after death? Largest-ever study provides evidence that ‘out of body’ and ‘near-death’ experiences may be real, independent.co.uk/news/science/life, 7 Oct. 2014.
Q: Do you think there is something like a magical person, Bob? Are some people really magical or is it an illusion we create?
A: There are mystics, who seem moved by the spirit of something ineffable and there are those who are so integrated with the world around them that they seem to make things happen. There are also those who have the unexplainable* show up in their lives at a greater frequency than normal. There are those people who seem to exude magic as though there is some unseen source of energy about them as well. There are yogis, gurus, shaman and just ordinary people who can do phenomenal and extra-ordinary things. I don’t think there are Harry Potter wizards and witches with wands and broom sticks, but there are those who seem to wield a form of magic.
One of my favorite writers of this kind of magic is Carlos Castaneda who wrote about a Yaqui shaman named Don Juan who I believed after three books was a real magician. Though the character was fictional, Castaneda wrote from what he knew and what he knew was truly magical and extra-ordinary. I have tried a number of the lessons taught in these books (they are novels not self-development books) and have found them useful both in my practice and in everyday life.
And this would be my definition of “magical”, the ability to produce and perform the extra-ordinary. Some people are very adept at that. Some are able to see things that the rest of us do not and are able to use what they see in extraordinary ways. Some have phenomenal talents that they are able to boggle the mind with. As you know I believe that within all of us there is a magic waiting to be unleashed. Some are closer to it than others, meaning they have fewer obstacles to its expression. What I write about is how to deal with and overcome some of the obstacles.
Keeping in mind my definitions and caveats, in my nonprofessional opinion my answer to your question is “yes” there are probably magical people e.g. people who wield magic.
*I use this word whenever I come up against a phenomenon that appears real, but is without any scientific corroboration, or explanation.