A Chi Rho Synchronicity

A mosaic of Constantine’s Shield 

At lunch one day I ordered my meal, then started to read from a book that I’d brought with me about a dream that the Emperor Constantine had in the early 4th century just before he went into an important battle. Early in the day he had witnessed in the clouds of the sky the letters X and P, or the Greek letters Chi and Rho that stood for the Christ, or Kristos. That night he dreamed again of the letters and knew that God was with him. So he placed Chi and Rho upon his helmet and ordered his legions to place it on their shields and then he went into battle. He won that battle and many more after that. It was then, so it is said, that he embraced Christianity for all of the empire. Before the dream he was the persecutor of all Christians and after he became their friend and benefactor.

I thought this an interesting story regarding the conversion experience of a Roman Emperor, but was also aware that his conversion was only the beginning of his process toward a greater understanding. As a psychologist I viewed it, if the story were true, as his process of Individuation e.g. his development toward wholeness, nothing more or less than that. The letters in his dream and in his vision were symbolic of a developing awareness perhaps orchestrated by his unconscious mind. Humans are always looking for meaning and because Constantine was looking for a divine sign regarding the impending battle, an ordeal without an assured positive outcome, his unconscious psyche may have served him up one.

I closed the book and finished my meal, paid, said goodbye to my favorite waitress, and walked out into a cloudy day toward the car. Halfway across the parking lot my attention was drawn to a piece of plastic half buried in the dirty silt of a drying puddle. What prompted my next move I do not know but I bent down and picked it up, scraped off the muck, and took a closer look. There on what appeared to be an ordinary plastic cap were emblazoned the letters X and P.

Stunned by the synchronicity I looked about as though to see if something else might happen, or to see if anyone noticed what I was doing for now I was tearing up and felt a little embarrassed by it. Seeing no one around I carefully put the cap into my pocket and climbed into the car.

That night I had a nightmarish dream where I was taken to the top of an impossibly tall building where I was forced to eat a half dead pigeon and a nearly dead rat. I felt helpless and coerced and felt sorry for the animals and not wanting to cause them any pain. What I wanted to do was to just get through the ordeal. I’m also struck by the image of me “eating crow” (even though it’s a pigeon), i.e. to experience humiliation by admitting my wrongness and arrogance about something e.g. that Constantine’s dream was merely a psychological process vs. a divine message?

This dream may have also reflected my recent experience with an activity that I found to be quite difficult, physically and emotionally, and there too I just wanted to get through it. I felt coerced, not by another, but by my own inner drives for recognition and the fatigue and emotional drain were consuming me. The experience that I forced myself to endure was perhaps unhealthy and damaging to the soul. Perhaps I needed to pay greater attention to the needs of the soul and less to the instincts of the animal within. Perhaps I needed to be more compassionate with myself.

There was also the sense that even as I had attained the heights my ego was being brought back down through the act of something very basal.

Compassion and balance seemed to be competing messages in this dream and as I looked closer I wondered if that was not so for Constantine as well. He too was behaving in a manner unhealthy to his soul through the brutal persecution of a people. He too was looking for a sign that would help him through an ordeal, to help him see that there is something bigger than he and his way of viewing the world.

I am of course not sure that the synchronistic event of finding the cap with the very same letters that showed up in a story whose veracity I earlier scoffed at, had anything but coincidental meaning, but it did make me stop and think about what I was doing in my own life. It also pointed to how I had made ego-importance superior to that of my soul. 

Finally, it has made me pause to wonder yet again if the reality that I believe to be true is indeed true. Perhaps I’m not as much in control of what happens around and within me as I would like to believe. If synchronicities are not just meaningless coincidences, then what is it that creates these seemingly connected and yet acausal realities?

I also wonder if these synchronicities are not there to aid us in opening our minds to a broader reality than the one we’re conditioned to or the one our ego creates so as to be the star of the show?

The alchemy of the soul: Who we really are.

The alchemy of the soul: Who we really are

Within each of us resides a dichotomy that of the masculine and that of the feminine. Fundamentally at our essence we are androgenous. It is our gender and response to culture that tends to pull the persona towards being of one way or the other.

The psychiatrist Carl Jung suggested that in the dreams of a woman the image of a man represented her animus, her masculine aspect while in a man’s dream the image of a female is his anima or feminine aspect.

Basically these aspects are there to bring balance to the imbalance that culture and the persona have created. It is presumed that when out of balance humans are much less of what they could be if they were to embrace both aspects of themselves.

This idea is nothing new for one doesn’t have to look too far to see that the deities Shiva and Shakti within the Hindu religion one of the world’s oldest represented the masculine and feminine aspects that when joined brought wholeness and oneness. In Ancient Greek and Roman philosophies both goddess and god needed to work in harmony or it meant trouble for humans.

Actually there are many stories where the feminine and masculine come together to create wholeness. Most fairy tales and fantasy stories include the coming together of males and females to bring about success in some endeavor. It’s the extraordinary power of relatedness and the bringing together of our personal and collective unconsciousness’s that often drive our actions e.g., the hard working narrow focus of the seven dwarves having their lives expanded by the compassionate beauty of Snow White or the wisdom shared by Dorothy of OZ with her three male companions which leads them to embracing their true selves. There’s also the necessary male and female joining in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series that made it possible to overcome the evil of Voldemort and save the magical world from his terror, that was to bring balance to their world.

On a more current level and what could be called the waking dream one might say that a new leadership of male and female relationship in the United States will bring back balance and harmony in the way the U.S. does its business. The former leadership was so psychically skewed that it created a destructive imbalance that drastically weakened the power of the whole.

The masculine and feminine non gender influenced aspects of our archetypal selves transcend our individual psyches and if we are open to them can provide us with a way of becoming whole and complete and much more effective in our lives. 

These aspects are reflections of our soul and it has been said by many that the soul of a man is feminine while the soul of a woman is masculine. So when they show up in your dreams, that road to the soul, pay close attention to what they are saying or doing for they may be there to show you the way to who you really are.

Dreams and hypnosis

Not too long ago someone asked about the relationship between dreams and hypnosis.

Did you know that dreaming and hypnosis have a lot in common? Both tap into what the subconscious is observing and has stored. Both place the conscious mind in a state that allows for access to the unconscious. Neurologically these frequency wave states are called alpha and theta (8-13 Hz and 4-7 Hz respectively. A Hz being a “Hertz,” which is the name for a cycle per second).

Sometimes hypnosis can help you to recall a forgotten dream, or it can be used to go back into a favorite dream so that you can finish it up (don’t you hate it when you’re in a great dream and you wake up in the middle of it?).

Hypnosis can also be used to generate dreams (dream incubation) or be used in the technique called “Active Imagining” when you take a dream theme and imagine it evolving beyond the reality of the actual dream. For example, one can take an image or a person from the dream and imagine it into the room during a meditation and then interact with it by asking questions of it to get greater insight as to its meaning. This is sort of like Gestalt therapy when the client imagines a theme or an outcome or places themselves in another’s shoes by acting it out.

There are several states of consciousness with the mind crossing in an out of all three–Beta, Alpha, Theta and even a fourth, Delta, though this last one would be very momentary for this is the state of deep sleep. Each state has its own breadth and depth of consciousness and unconsciousness. Thoughts (what we laughingly call consciousness) is quite broad, but has very little depth, whereas the dream state isn’t very broad in that it is more focused but is very deep and then there’s hypnosis which has a lot of focused consciousness and a much larger depth of unconsciousness.

To incubate a dream, or to set the stage for what is known as a “Lucid Dream” (one where you are aware that you are dreaming when in the dream, which allows you to orchestrate it), suggestions are placed during a hypnosis session. These sessions can use cultural ideas, values, or behavior patterns (called memes) in the form of suggestions that are “planted” into the unconscious and which can be brought to consciousness by attaching a cue to them in the form of a word, phrase, sound, or visual stimulus that when expressed will activate the meme. For example, “When you see your hand in the dream you will become lucid.” These are good for the short term, so are effective in dream incubation and recall. 

The mind is a fascinating and often mysterious thing!

My shadow

In good times and bad you are always there. You’re not a fair-weather friend like Mr. Good Guy Feeling Good About Himself because when I start to feel like I’m him you’re always there to remind me of why I shouldn’t but when the going gets rough Mr. Good Guy will often throw me under the bus and run and hide.

When I start to think that I may actually have a talent you’re always there to tell me that I don’t really at least not any more than most others.

I used to think that you were not very helpful that I’d just as soon you were gone, dead, and buried but you never take a hint because you’re always in the shadows and waiting to pounce.

I’ve read once that you are a part of me and that I cannot ever get rid of you or even train you to behave yourself and that in order to lessen your power over me I need to bring you out into the light because as everyone knows shadows can’t exist in the light. But you and I know that’s not true because just as light needs the darkness the darkness needs the light. To have one is to have both.

So, because you’re always going to be there, how do I accept you in all your warty glory?

How if I cannot get rid of you do I learn to hold you as a friend because I’d much rather have an agreeable relationship than one that is not.

I suppose that if it were not for you I would not know where it is that I would need to grow to be a better person, like where I need to be less arrogant, more accepting of differing points of view, less reactionary to fear and hurt, more giving, more understanding, more open, more loving, and less judgmental.

I also need you to point out that I am no different to those people I hate and judge to be less than and that my attitude about THEM also contributes to what is not working in the world.

You can also help me get my needs met by pointing out what they are through their absence like belonging, being accepted as I am, being useful to others, and being acknowledged. It’s as though I’m always trying to BE that is, to exist and to have me be acknowledged for that. Somehow acknowledgement makes me feel real and you in all your incessant critique makes me at least feel real. You are always there to tell me that I leave a lot to be desired but that I am at least here making that negative difference. 

I really do need you because you seem to care that I am here and care what it is that I do and don’t do while I am here. How can you not love something that cares that much about you and something that is constantly kicking you in the pants to be better and more than you are being?

Okay, I guess you can stay because I think that after all this time I don’t really know what I would do without you because you really are an important part of me, the part of me that makes me strive to learn, to accept, to act outside of my safety zone, to challenge my inherent laziness, to identify and strengthen my weaknesses and to care for others. You do all that by never letting me rest on my laurels or by never really letting me have any to rest on. So, the Good Me reluctantly accepts your friendship but don’t get all mushy about it.

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*For more on the shadow self type in the word shadow in the search box near the bottom of this page.

Another word on the art of magic

Beginning in January of 2017 I began a series of stories and articles about real magic. This article is a continuation of that series all of which are leading up to the publication of the book “Psyche’s Dream: A Dragon’s Tale”.

Webster’s Dictionary defines magic in this way:

1a: the use of means (as charms or spells) believed to have supernatural power over natural forces

1b: magic rites or incantations

2a: an extraordinary power or influence seemingly from a supernatural source

2b: something that seems to cast a spell : enchantment

3: the art of producing illusions by sleight of hand

In all three definitions we’re talking about manipulation. Real magic on the other hand isn’t about manipulation. It’s about getting yourself out of the way to allow the magic that is there to manifest. Though that’s also a form of manipulation, but only of the self. 

Because what you see is only a projection of your inner thoughts, anxieties, emotions, memories, and beliefs the real world isn’t available to you. But when you get yourself out of the way your vision of the world shifts. Every religion teaches this, every enlightened teacher has embraced it. 

Magic can only happen in the real world, not in “your” creation, but in “the” creation. Spell casting is about trying to change what is. Stop casting spells on the creation and it will flow for you much better. But first you need to be open to “what is” and the first step in that is to acknowledge it isn’t what you think it is.

“If one has done ones best to steer the chariot, and one then notices that a greater other is actually steering it, then magical operation takes place.”

– CG Jung, Lieber Novus

Another step is to watch where you’re stepping e.g. step too far into what’s good also means moving too far into what’s bad–super good creates super bad. Good requires that there be a bad and vice versa. You need to learn how to keep them together rather than to separate them. You need to learn to balance.

He who knows the darkest error knows what light is.”

–CG Jung

In everything I’ve discussed so far the Soul plays a central role in the redefining of ones self as a magical being. We are all trapped in the cocoon of the mind, the ego-self. It is here that we wander aimlessly through the cold landscapes of the material world–separated from the divine. We are only partially ourselves when all we see is mind. Finding and nourishing our soul again can make us more whole.

Because I love playing with archetypal images I’ll end this with the Magician of the tarot, the real wielder of the magic so to speak. According to Wikipedia it is the Magician [that] “guides The Fool through the first step out of the cave of childhood into the sunlight of consciousness, just as Hermes guides Persephone out of the Underworld every year (see picture at left).”

It has been said that all created things are the expression of the interrelationship between God and humans. In my mind The Magician represents the wholeness of this relationship. He, or she, (because the Magician has both female and male aspects) represents the dissolution of the separate personality and the reintegration of its opposites. When we resolve our dualities (see #8 in last weeks Blog posting “The 12 laws of Magic”) we become whole again. Psychologically, the Magician represents this resolution and magic happens when our wholeness expresses itself, if only temporarily.

From a psychological perspective let me pose an example: when a woman comes to terms with her inner male she will be able to express her opinions more critically by penetrating more deeply into their origins. When a male comes to terms with his feminine he will be able to express his compassion more readily by accepting the nurturing aspect of his core self. 

She may be able to deal more effectively with any unresolved issues with her father, or any other male figure that may have helped her to develop her attitudes about males in general and more specifically about those masculine aspects within herself. He may be able to deal more effectively with any unresolved issues with his mother or any other female figure that has helped to form his attitudes about those feminine aspects within himself.

Each sex is imprinted with culturally mediated material about gender. This material until dealt with at its origin in the individual psyche will negatively affect, or limit, or determine an individual’s relationship with the opposite sex and/or globally with all people.

So it may be imperative that we begin the work of integrating our gender opposites if only to make life easier on ourselves and with those around us.

Males and females are more than anatomically different, they are psychologically different, and it is these differences that when allowed to remain in conflict within us that keep us separated within ourselves and thus becomes the main impediment to the experience and wielding of magic.

“Magic is dangerous since what accords with unreason confuses, allures and provokes; and I am always its first victim.”

–Carl Jung

In my experience magic can happen when I am willing to allow it to happen in the way it wants to happen and not in my way. It establishes the when and the how, not I. When I allow, or to put it another way, when I get myself out of the way, the universe will work its magic. The power of wielding magic is to not wield it at all.

Now I feel compelled to try and make myself clear at this point regarding some of the things I’ve been talking about such as “ego”, the “shadow”, “gender opposition”, “Self”, “spirit”, and “magic”. First of all these are not things that have any reality in that they are words that symbolize something without form, they are only concepts. You can’t find the ego anywhere in the body for it is an affect of the body, its name and definition is but a construct to help one get a handle on the affect. And “Self”” is but a concept for something contextual. And “spirit” is a name for the ephemeral motivator of life. 

All these words are just metaphors and have no real substance. All are unknown in their true nature and most likely unknowable. They are ultimately imaginary. But something imagines them, don’t you think? It is that “imagining” (as verb, noun, adverb and adjective) that I refer to with all the linguistic metaphors of the philosopher, psychologist, and scientist. It would be a mistake to reify them i.e. to give them substance for to do so would only limit them through some mental objectification–it’s why I don’t bother to describe God. And to limit something is as we have seen to limit its magic. 

The shadows that bring light

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Below is an excerpt from a story about a young man whose life was opened up to him in a very mysterious way. This part of the story speaks of an aspect of all of us that seems very dark but can have the most enlightening affect if one knows how to work with it.

 

“There is an ancient invocation that goes ‘As it is above, so it is below, as within, so without’” he said as he once again patted the green book next to him. “This is more a reminder than an invocation really because it tells us that we can find out what is inside by looking closely at the outside. This is because we are always projecting ourselves onto the outside world. For example, if we want to see our shadow, look to see what or whom disturbs us, or what we reject. This is easier to do if you can place yourself somewhere between the two worlds of the conscious and unconscious that are both reflections of the one world.

 It is like a tree that has its roots in the underworld and its branches in the heavens. To do this you must accept that you do not know what you do not know. You do this by not letting what you think you know get in the way of what there is to know. This will place you between the known and unknown, the conscious and unconscious and allow you to be open to discovery.

 Shadows can be your fears, disgust, rejections, feelings of abandonment, prejudices, judgments, repressions of memories, biases, negative thoughts and all your personal madness that can then be projected onto others that you meet or onto objects and events. You can see yourself, see your shadows, madness, and level of enlightenment through what you see in others. Even the goodness in others can point to that unconscious aspect in yourself. What is inside is inextricably connected to what is outside in a very profound way. When not separated from the rest of reality you become all of it, what is labeled good and what is labeled bad. The turbulent winds out there in the world that buffet you are the winds generated from within you.”

Every person and every event in the world speaks to us if we have the ears to listen. Everything is a guide into our deeper and most essential self if we are willing to take the journey.

 

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A broken hallelujah

This poem came to me out of a nightmare that I had a couple of nights ago.

 

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No one behind the mask

Open him up and there’s no one there.

No one to love

No one to care.

 

Something is missing

No one to come home to when alone

Where did he go?

When did he leave?

 

Born a hallelujah

But the mask lost him early on

Early on, early on the mask he did don

And he disappeared.

 

He cannot help you

Because he can’t even help himself

Do not go looking for he isn’t there

He isn’t there, he just isn’t there.

 

No one to laugh, no one to cry

But with every word you can hear him scream

Hear his pain

Hear him lie about what he could have been.

 

But he is asleep to this world

And asleep to himself.

He doesn’t even see us, you and I

For the eyes of his mask are empty.

 

Empty because there’s no one behind

No one behind

Behind the mask he wears

But just another broken hallelujah.

 

Lost at sea

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A sad and very dark dream filled my sleeping space not too many nights ago. When I awoke I jotted down the essence of its feeling, the images having become but wisps in the light of day.

Water, symbolic of my emotional state. When I just stuff my unhappiness under the rug or down deep into my hidden psyche because I feel helpless to it the unconscious will only let me get away with it for just so long then it bursts forth in an unsettling dream, demanding to be heard.

 

The dream (often my dreams read like a poem):

 

There’s a Sadness like dead matter floating down through the water deep

I’m enveloped by panic and struggling to regain the surface

Thrashing about but only treading

Until the weight of it all drags me under

 

 I can only distract for acceptance is not yet here

When will I know? Will happiness ever return or

Is all I’m doing is just giving in? Trying to let go brings depression

Is letting go just giving up?

 

 I wonder if there’s a bottom?

Maybe it’s like a black hole, never ending

Until you’re crushed beyond recognition.

Or will I just sit at the bottom and be eaten up by the darkness?

 

 How did I fall off the boat?

Was I pushed, did I jump?

Was I careless or too awkward?

When did I realize that I was never going to get home?

 

Home, I don’t know what it looks like anymore.

It’s been so long I don’t really remember it.

Was it peaceful? Was it happy?

Did I love? Was I loved? Did it matter?

 

I really want to go home!

Maybe if I just stopped struggling

and let it

sink…

 

 

 

 

Another Pandemic Dream

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In a recent post I talked about the vivid dreams people seem to be having during the Coronavirus lockdown. Several people have shared their dreams and experiences during the lock down and I thought I’d share an example of what many people are experiencing along with my response to them.

The dream:

 Hi , thank you for reading this! Last night I had 2 very distinct dreams: 1st dream: I watched 3 tornados form in my back field (NE), and a bolt of lightening nearly struck my 7 year old, standing on the back porch. I was able to get my son and 2 dogs into our safe spot. We were fine. 2nd dream : Real life -I have 5 cats (we live on 10 acres). My cats are inside/outside . I fear that I will loose them but I also know they are willing to take the risk and are very happy. Dream: I watched 3 large coyotes move in and surround The house/the back porch once again; where the cats love to hang out. I made eye contact with the largest coyote and held its gaze, walk past all of the coyotes and was able to have all the kitties come into the garage and lock it down. No harm came to anyone. I know there was a 3rd and I can’t recall it. I know it’s there though. Honestly it was odd feeling when I woke up, curious and not fearful or worried. In an odd way it was very reassuring that I will be able to keep my loved ones safe. I do believe there will be 3 waves of the virus. Recently I have been connecting on a spiritual side with Gaia and embracing those beliefs. We have started celebrating pagan holidays as well. Thoughts?

Interpretation: I use the image suggestions from the book Morpheus Speaks to assist in the interpretation.

These all seem to be anxiety type dreams and probably reflect the inner emotional turmoil that you are experiencing right now. Bad weather dreams often reflect the state of ones emotions. Children often reflect the ambitions or future aspirations of the mother and in the dream this has been attacked (by the lightning). Note also that lightning can symbolize an inspiration or insight as well. The “safe spot’ could be your subconscious dealing with the ‘troubled waters’/situation/circumstances you see yourself in at the moment and your need to stay safe in order to protect your family.

The kittens can be about vulnerability, yours and your sons, to the wildness of the circumstances you are having to face down (the coyotes). Overall the dream is suggesting that you can face up to the threats you are encountering. The coyotes could also reflect your animal nature, your instinctual feelings. They can also come to us in our dreams as spirit guides and speak to our inner power and their symbolic energies (which yours does). You have it within you to face down whatever threatens you at this time.

Note also that in Native American lore the coyote is a trickster come to stir things up in one’s life and to test one’s mettle and to challenge one’s traditional way of looking at things (this is why some theologians think of Jesus as a trickster symbol). Consider also that the coyote may reflect an aspect of your own personality such as being clever and resourceful (the raven is also one of these animals).

Dreamer’s response (partially edited for privacy):

I felt it was a message that we would be safe, to trust myself and my instincts. I am capable of navigating and caring for my family during these times.  My son’s health is compromised and life for all of us in a bit challenging right now.

I didn’t pick up on my internal struggle until this weekend.  I see it clearly now, in the dreams about the tornados and in my most recent.   I have been on the fence about some very personal beliefs and how to accept the changes that I have undergone and the impact they may have on my relationships.  Yet I saw this weekend that I will become stagnant and unhealthy if I do not move forward. Plus, to trust my instinct regardless of how they materialize within the world at large.

Comments:

This dream is full of very vivid images that mostly relate to the dreamer’s emotional state and they reflect what is going on with them during their day. Note also that with most dreams there is new material or insights that one may not have focused on during the waking hours. The unconscious mind from whence dreams come picks up on what’s happening while the conscious mind is busy trying to survive and during the download process of dreaming can provide a wealth of information that the waking mind may not have noticed. This dream had the potential to create powerful change through new insight. Most dreams if not all come in the service of our health and well-being.

There were also archetypal symbols such as the coyote/trickster in this dream that have somewhat universal meanings beyond the unique meaning that the dreamer brings into the dream.

 

We are each other. What does that really mean?

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One of my dreams of this new year ended with these words, “We are each other”. This seemed profound of course, but then I have a tendency to make everything significant.

Okay, it’s a nice sentiment but physical and observational evidence suggests that I’m me and you’re you, I’m over here and you’re over there. We have individual bodies and personalities and I identify with mine and you identify with yours. When I refer to “me”, “mine” and “Bob” I’m pretty sure whom I’m referencing this body as I’m sure you are with regard to your self. Each of us holds the self as separate from other selves i.e. our reference point is located within ourselves.

And I will defend that reference point, its ideas, beliefs, points-of-view and the body that contains it all from anything and everything that is another reference point. In short, I will do whatever is needed to maintain the integrity of the separation between us.

This defense, both conscious and unconscious, uses up a lot of psychic and even physical energy. I spend a lot of time and energy trying to control the image that I have of myself and my world. There’s also the need for approval and maintaining a sense of importance. Most of the time I’m using up so much of what I call my ‘attentional energy’ on my own illusory grandeur that I have little awareness of the grandeur that resides in others or the rest of the universe that’s ‘not Bob”.

What keeps this in place are my judgments i.e. I either look at people in terms of how they are better or how they are worse than me. I also judge all events, situations and circumstances as either being “good” or “bad”. Instead of just accepting people and circumstances for what they are, for what they are being, I judge them and thus maintain the separation between us or I miss the value of the diversity by projecting my beliefs upon them.

Most of the time I do not see that people and moments are exactly as they should be and then I fret and worry and try to change them into my own vision. In short, I am always struggling against the moment. Actually I’m struggling against all existence i.e. the whole universe.

When I react to my feelings about who you are, I separate myself from you. In order to reconnect I need to take responsibility for the feelings that I project upon you.

When I let go of the projection as though it were reality and just let you be I get a glimpse of who you really are. When I also do that with myself, I get a glimpse of who I am as well and at that moment I get to see that at the level beyond our egos and beyond our bodies, we are each other.