The 7 deadly disaffectors or separators: That which separates us from our better selves and the Spirit within

 

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The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things– attributed to Hieronymus Bosch (1500)

 

 

This is another in a series of posts on developing a peace within in order to be a Peacemaker.

As a result of a nightmare my granddaughter and I were discussing, of all things, the so-called Seven Deadly Sins. First of all we had trouble naming them and then ran into the difficulty associated with the word, “Sin”. When you look at their definition you can see that they each have a little of each other in their character and a case can be made that there is a positive embedded within each as well.

Lust- desire, longing, gluttony

Greed- craving, longing, ambitious

Envy- resentment, lusting, longing, ambitious

Gluttony- greed, lust, longing, ambitious

Sloth-idleness, indifference

Pride-self-regard, ambitious

Wrath- anger, indignation, displeasure.

All are extremes of self-regard i.e. self-centeredness, and of the ego-self. When the focus is on the self it has less room for others, and one becomes exclusive rather than inclusive, disconnected rather than connected, and separated versus belonging.

She and I came to the conclusion that short of becoming an ascetic monk each in moderation would bring about greater spiritual, emotional, and psychological harmony than would be available if one were to allow any of them to take one over.

Each of us has an ego, that part of us that we identify as being our self, and each ego is dedicated to the emotional and psychological survival of the self. Notice that I don’t include the spiritual survival of the self for that is of the greater Self, that which includes everything and everyone and that which is not of the body, but transcends the body. To the degree that one walls themselves off from this greater Self through the ego-sustaining activities of the “seven deadly sins” is the degree to which one separates them from the greater Self.

We also decided that when we looked at these so-called “sins” in this way, when we defined them in moderation, that achieving their opposite character was much more attainable.

But then she asked what does one do when they notice that they have been taken over by any of the seven?

My answer comes from having worked for over 30+ years with children and families in a therapeutic environment as well as the work I’ve done on and for myself. To try and eradicate any so-called sin from your behavior only gives it more energy and thus more power over you. In short, abstinence and resistance doesn’t work in the long run because this only suppresses i.e. hides them and allows them to rise once again, usually at the least opportune time. Ultimately these behaviors are but symptoms of inadequately dealt with unmet needs.

Bottom line: Being negative with a symptom only adds to the negativity of the symptom.

The trick is to not try to eradicate them but to get through them. Looking for the motivation behind the “sin” will help you work with it. For example, if you’re feeling lonely and want to feel more connected you might experience anger or envy or greed or even lust when what you really want is to feel connected and cared for. This adds a more positive spin and uses the negative experience of the “sin” as an indicator for ones needs that need to be better met.

In short, sorting out the positives from the negatives is the best way of dealing with the darker aspects of our natures. Rather than fighting with the negatives, walk into them and explore. If the negative comes up a lot, look to see what from the past may have generated it and what from the present has triggered its return.

For example, certain people’s (male or female) will trigger great annoyance in me. “Annoyance” in this case becomes my indicator that a ‘complex’ associated with my mother’s hypercritical nature has been triggered and that I’m responding to the feeling of being unaccepted. This feeling of insufficiency or “less than” often triggers a version of one or more of the “sins”, usually pride or wrath. I suggest that the trigger for all of the sins is some experience of insufficiency and the need to bring balance or equilibrium to that.

Blessed are the Peacemakers: Be the change you want.

 

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From Deviantart.com

I had a very restless night recently. There was lots of conflict and judgment, demeaning putdowns and threats that had me waking up every couple of hours. Definitely my soul was not at peace this night and it continued into my next meeting of the morning.

“Blessed are the Peacemakers.” What is Peace? Is it something without conflict? Is it something outside ourselves that can be attained if certain actions are taken? Can you be an effective Peacemaker if you yourself are not at peace? Can there be any peace within you if you are without forgiveness? If you are conflicted with parts of yourself warring with each other, can you be at peace? Do you need to be at peace with all parts of yourself in order to be a Peace Maker?

These are pretty heady questions and came up during a recent men’s group discussing the Beatitudes of the Christian New Testament. I think that the consensus was that the degree to which one could be at peace with their own shadows, their own demons and struggles–the degree to which one has been able to reconcile with ones inner conflicts–is the degree to which one can be an effective Peace-maker.

To protest with a placard, stump for money and believe in the goal of Peace-making does not alone a Peace Maker make. One needs to work on their own shadow nature, their own inner animal.This is not to say that one cannot be a Peace Maker until they’ve handled all their issues, we wouldn’t have anybody working toward peace if that were true. It is just so much easier when we don’t have ourselves as an obstacle to peace i.e., when we are able to identify in ourselves that which keeps conflict stuck in the world.

One of the advantages of the dreamtime is that it will present our hidden shadows without protection, just the raw demon in all its scales and warts. Once one has committed to dealing honestly with these parts of themselves in a compassionate way it is surprising how their negative energy that worked against them can be integrated toward a greater personality less run by fear and more through true free-will.

My wife and I have worked with elementary school children in conflict resolution i.e., how to deal with bullies on the playgrounds of life but we don’t work with the children on how to deal with their inner bully. Failure, off-handed parental negatives, and mean comments on the playground all take their toll and help to create an inner bully that can wreak havoc on a child’s self-image.

We try to build up a child’s self-image but all children notice when one child is favored over another or that some children appear to be gifted with one talent or another. We want to reward the child who does well but doesn’t this also reinforce comparison i.e. “look at what you are not” or “You could be like Johnny or Sarah if you just worked hard enough”. But the child knows that’s not always true and another chink is gouged out of their esteem.

And what about the lie that all of us can be anything we want to be? What happens when we discover that we aren’t good enough or don’t have the requisite talents to be what we want to be and what about those who don’t live in the right neighborhood?

It’s inevitable that life will chip away at our esteem and help create an inner image of self that is less than our ideal or doesn’t stand up to the promise that society presents us. These failure images eventually take on a darkness that is hard to shine a light on so most of us won’t bother and relegate these shadows to the hidden reaches of our minds. But although hidden that doesn’t mean that they don’t continue to affect our lives.

Now I’m not suggesting that we open these cans of worms with young children but teaching them how to handle their own fears and anger and inner right and wrong conflicts, and personal failures and negatives might help them to be more at peace with themselves and perhaps be more peaceful adults. To have peace in the world requires that we work on ourselves that is, to work on where peace really resides.

A true Peace Maker I believe needs to work on being peaceful within themselves as well as doing what they can outside themselves to create a more peaceful world. This adds more meaning to the phrase, “Be the change you want”.

As Above, So Below

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As above, so below is a maxim in ancient Hermeticism and modern Wicca. For me it is a reminder that I reside between two worlds, the unconscious and the conscious both reflections of the one world. It is also a statement that the spirit is not something separate from myself i.e. something “out there” but something that is within and without and not something that I necessarily need to go looking for because I already have it.

I’ve always been fascinated by images of trees and the mythological images of Trees of Life or what Carl Jung called the “Philosophical Tree” in that they have their heads in heaven and their roots in the Earth thus metaphorically representing the binding of the higher and lower aspects of the human psyche i.e. the spiritual and the mundane or the body and the soul. Many of these trees have visited my dreams over the years.

This image has taught me that there is psychic and spiritual nourishment to be gained from both.

But not all of these “Heaven and Earth” symbols come in the form of trees. I once had a dream where a “Blue Lady” visited me while angels walked up and down stairs from sky to Earth much like the image seen by Jacob in his prophetic dream related in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible.

This staircase represented my own struggle with my polarities– those aspects of myself that I accept and those that I reject.

In the dream that I labeled “The Blue Fresco” the female figure was inviting me to leave the everyday comfort of the known world and to take a road less traveled that lead into the mountains. The invitation was to integrate the lower plains with the lofty mountain tops- a journey that must be taken in order to achieve wholeness.

And it was no accident that it was a feminine image inviting me on this journey because it’s the masculine and feminine traits in all of us that need balance as well. It is the above-ground sky action of the masculine that is energized, no, powered by, the feminine from the below-ground Earth that will move us toward our wholeness.

This dream was also encouraging me to accept both the basal aspects, the dark side of myself, as well as those aspects that I find acceptable.

The tree and the staircase, the plains and the mountains, and the roots and crown of the tree suggest that I need to live in and/or seek the center– I need to live my life as though bound to both. And bound I am for the Earth and I are connected, the soul of both the Earth and myself are inextricably linked.

How do I know this? I did not find it in some book and no pulpit would have uttered such magic, for meaning is not found in the studying and memorizing and trying to figure out what somebody else is trying to say from some great books. Meaning cannot be found in things, meaning comes from encountering ones self both in the dream and in the awakened state.

I know when I’ve touched my inner self, that space between Heaven and Earth, when the reality around me changes for I’ve learned that the world that I see is a reflection of the development of my own psyche, as it shifts, the world I experience shifts.

_________________

Picture found on– https://samissomarspace.wordpress.com/2015/05/25/as-above-so-below-6/

 

The Alchemy of Dreams: Hello darkness my internal light

 

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The Black Sun from the Splendor Solis (1535) representing the nigredo or the beginning of the alchemical work i.e., the first step on the path to the philosopher’s stone from chaos to enlightenment.

 

Pushing, pushing ever harder, transcending belief and going beyond the known I discover another me, not the me of the sunlight world with all its fears but the hidden me of the darkness that fears nothing.

The light above mirrored by the dark below and I find that I am but a dream and do not just live in the light but am lived by the darkness.

In that darkness all becomes clear and as I yield great strength comes to me and for one brief moment I glimpse eternity. Aye and for one brief moment there is only one.

And what say you to that?

The Alchemy of Dreams: My mythopoetic self

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Mythopoetic Symbols of my Psyche

There is a place, a realm, a fancy, a state of mind, sense, country, and experience that exists within the imaginal spaces within my being.

It is a soulful place where reality is nurtured and the mysterious grows dense and tangled as an aggressive vine weaving its branches into every corner of my consciousness.

It’s a place where time is measured in experience not finite number. It’s the place where the dream of my conscious and unconscious selves meet and share what is real.

Death and the Dead in Dreams

 

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Death images in dreams are probably the most frequent of all the dreams I receive, making up easily 30%. Some are simply an image of a dead person, or a visit from a beloved family member, a killing or being killed but some dreams are much more complex and speak to a much broader spectrum of issues dealing with death. Such is the dream I share below.

The following is a dream sent to me with names and places redacted. For flow, I’ve also made some grammatical changes.

The Dream:

Hi Bob, let’s just get straight to the Dream…I had this dream that my eldest Daughter (31 yrs) died. I was working in some kind of huge factory type job and anytime something big happened that ends-up on the front page of the newspaper, my job showed it on a very large screen, it showed my daughters name in French, then slowly the picture came of my daughter, a side view picture of her, dead. Her hair was tied up in a bun and she was wearing a blue denim jacket. She wasn’t lying down in the picture but kind of propped-up and entangled in ropes, no cuts or bruises, nothing, and her eyes were closed. She seemed to be in a container of some sort with a glass front lid, and either my other daughter ____________ or her own daughter _______ was with her but I couldn’t see them, I just knew that she wasn’t alone. There was no talking at all in this dream either. I saw her being lifted up out of the water in this container and could see the water pouring down over her face even though she was in this container, then someone’s voice which sounded strong and demanding said to me ”_________ never under-estimate the power of your Psychic abilities”. End of dream…I woke myself up from the dream by my own screaming and crying-out for my Daughter at 6:19am Friday morning last. When I tried to go back to sleep later-on the same dream just started off again same as before, I stayed awake, didn’t want to sleep then.  Most of that day I felt really distressed about it all and cried a lot.  I really felt in some way that I should have been mourning!!! Even though this was just a dream. I felt drained all day and real upset. My Daughter lives in __________. we talk often on the phone. I phoned her that Friday night and she was fine. In the past I have been known to dream of events that have actually happened to non-family and family members in real life!!!!  My relationship with my Partner is strained, he almost died 2 years ago, and was in hospital for 3 months, I looked after him 24/7, he is 58 yrs old, and seems happy he never has to work again in his life, he has no zest for life at all… four months before this,  my Sister died in hospital, and the 8 years before that again was a very difficult time too with deaths and cancer in my family. My Daughter __________ (25 yrs old) is talking about leaving to live in ___________, she works hard in a tough job. That’s it Bob, please fill me in on it all, I await eagerly.

The Interpretation:

You have certainly experienced a number of deaths over time! Death of those close to us is very traumatic and often forces us to confront the reality of death head on, especially our own. Death tends to focus the mind as does anything associated with it.

Parents tend to worry a lot about their children and their safety regardless of their age (I have a daughter who is 47 and I still worry). When recent death is still being worked through in the psyche, the fear associated with it can get attached to events and people in the waking world.

There is also a sense of loss, great loss, or potential loss, and/or huge change associated with death, so it can also represent the loss of someone, especially if they are moving far away from us. Death can also represent a traumatic change in circumstances or relationship, or an ending.

Essentially, I’m detecting great emotions of fear and anxiety in this dream, fear of endings, of being out of control over what happens based upon recent and past events. I think that you are probably still working through and dealing with the death of your loved ones, even the severe trauma experienced by your boyfriend and the toll that sickness always takes on the caretaker (which is immense because you have to give up so much of yourself to give to them).

Because people in dreams are most often representative of the dreamer themselves, it is possible that there are aspects of your daughters (or their lives) that you recognize in yourself, or wish you had for yourself. Being in a box could be a metaphor for feeling ‘boxed in’ with some relationship or circumstance, while entangled in ropes could also be a metaphor for being ‘all tied up’, or entangled (trapped).

I am not a believer (but not a hard and fast disbeliever as well) in precognition (it kind of turns the whole concept of cause and effect on its head), though I do believe that the subconscious sees a lot that our conscious mind does not and as it puts two and two together during the dreaming process it can “see” what the waking mind cannot. Some people are very good at this. Your quote, ”_________ never under-estimate the power of your Psychic abilities” may be saying what it says, but it could also be telling you to trust in your feelings, or trust in your intuitive sense. The dream itself is of the Psyche (from which the word psychic comes), which includes the larger unconscious part of the Psyche and thus the quote can be an enjoinder to trust in this part of your self as well.

There is a nightmare dreaming itself onto the land

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There is a nightmare dreaming itself into our world, sucking the blood from our minds, and eating the vitality of our souls. It spreads itself through ignorance, fear, and arrogance endarkening the land and withering all that grows upon it.

Certain elements of villainy from various religious faiths describe certain acts, images and words as being blasphemous to their religion and then feel the need to retaliate with death and destruction and with the greatest blasphemy to their faith possible– that of turning a loving religion into one of hate.

These are clearly people who are in touch with only the shallowest aspect of their being i.e. their egocentric-self. Their mental chatter is so loud that it has cut them off from the divine and led them deep into the darkness of their own fearful, angry, and rejected soul. The princes’ of darkness believe that they shine light upon evil but one cannot bring light to anything with a torch of blackness.

It is their own darkness that they project onto others, their own pain and fear that they spew blindly across the landscape. I say ‘blind’ because for them there is no light only the blackness of a soul cut off from the divine. They are a symptom of the spiritual and political crises that are spreading across the globe– a symbol of the polarized mind and disconnected soul.

Stop them we must but only by spreading the light that animates us all without falling into the black hole of evil that they have become. Banish the darkness by speaking in love, not hate, have fear but not be consumed by it, quiet the mind so you can see the divine in everyone. Stand up to those who have lost their real soul, those who have replaced it with the false idols of their egos.

The shadows of these false idols are cast upon us all and all but make it impossible to see the light.

Remain steadfast in the light of the knowledge of who you really are. Don’t ignore the nightmare but deal with it in the light. Reach for your enlightened self and not your gun for your gun slays both the “other” and yourself.

Confront the nightmare that is dreaming itself into our world, but let it not take you with it into the hell it has created. Remain steadfast in the light of the knowledge of who you really are and cast your light upon their darkness.

Curator of lost dreams

 

My wife and I have often traveled the Pacific Northwest and one time pulled into a little town lined with antique stores, old fashioned news stands and funky little restaurants catering to the meat and potato crowd–sushi, are you kidding? After nosing around the town for a few hours the following missive came to me the next morning on the veranda of our lodgings:

Driving through town I pass beneath an ancient steel archway, a portal marker for a city hanging on to its past. Traffic is sparse and all moving in a single direction, much like, I imagine, most of the denizens of this little outpost bordering America’s past and future–pretty much all aligned in belief and values.

I parked along the curb across from a local antiquarian–a dealer in “the lost dreams of the dead” as the proprietor described himself to me before I wandered toward the back of his shop piled high with the bones of these dreams. I wandered narrow aisles displaying the technological wonders of a golden age where art and function united to create objects of magical beauty whose purpose have been lost to antiquity anticipating a Magus to caste just the right spell to animate them once again.

 

th-2.jpgI wandered past objects in fine wooden cases, or Bakelite boxes, some with oddly shaped glass tubes–the instruments of a former alchemist’s dreams–ready to spring to life once more.

And there it was, center stage in a locked glass cabinet, the object of my quest, a century old device once used by student wizards to peer into a Lilliputian universe. It had a golden tube that seemed to glow with a fire of it’s own. It was to the rational mind a brass microscope, a beautifully machined tool of exploration and wonder. Excitedly I called to my wife who also marveled at the find and immediately offered to purchase it as a birthday gift.

As the proprietor dismantled the lenses from the scope and wrapped them in tissue and butcher paper for their protection, he shared some of his own past. As an engineer by training and vocation he spent a lifetime wielding the modern instruments of his trade and watched in despair as the world became more and more functional and plastic and losing it’s beauty to practicality. “Something had to be done.” He said almost pleadingly. “So today I’m here as a curator of the past, a preserver of history, if you will” he added with a look of hopefulness that I would understand and honor his purpose.

“Many who enter here don’t understand, they see pretty things that briefly hold interest, just as with anything else in this world of small attention spans and equally small ambitions. Some come here to steal so as to feed their habits, or their addiction to excitement. Others come to sell and bury their loved ones in a place they know will honor their memory.”

So, like the oarsman who ferried the dead across the river Styx, this man tends to the ghosts of human ingenuity, preserving and honoring their former meaning and the dreams they once represented. “There seems to be a soul attached to these things. The souls of their former owners I think.” He says as he ties the last string around the larger package. “Or perhaps the souls of their inventor, or maker.” I suggest while hefting the package that somehow seemed heavier. It was as though the item were emphasizing the new import of the dream I now took as my own. “Perhaps.” He said his eyes glistening as he carefully handed me the smaller package of lenses.

I thanked him, turned to go, and as I did so he rounded the counter so as to escort me through the door. “Thanks for caring.” He said and I walked out of the shop of wondrous visions and onto the streets of empty eyes–the unseeing eyes blinded to the magic all around, to the dream we are all living, and to the past that informs it’s future through the world of our present.

The Chaos Dark: A Waking Dream alchemy of the deeper psyche

 

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The gate with many locks

On my walk I met an old man sitting cross-legged in his stall and stirring some concoction in an iron pot.

“What ho?” I inquired but he did not answer and continued to stir.

“Can I see what is in your pot?” I asked as he continued to stir.

Not waiting for an answer I leaned forward to gain a glimpse of what was stirring and all went black. Indiscriminate images whirled and whorled about taking and losing form as I tried to focus upon them. All moved like thickened liquid and climbed the sides of the pot only to be pulled back into its muck.

“What is this place so dark and of undefined form?” I moaned as I was being drawn into its depths.

It was then that the old man spoke. “It is of thee, the hidden thee, the thee of many generations and many worlds.”

“Why do you speak in riddles old man?” I gasped.

“Because your kind cannot understand when confronted directly with the truth.” He said bluntly. “You seek an answer to a question you have not fully understood. Because of this its answer will sit in secret at your core until you are ready to open the gate with its many locks. Meanwhile the secret lies within the chaos dark. Understand your question and the key that will open all the locks will reveal itself to you and of the chaos you will know and the darkness will be no more.”

“Tell me Alchemist about this key of which you speak.” I demanded gently.

“Learn the true secret of the three that are one and dispel the myth of the priests who know not any secrets and the key will be revealed.” Intoned the old man as he very deliberately kept stirring the pot.

“But once I have it how will I know which lock it fits for it cannot fit all of them can it?”

“There is but one lock for all. It is for you to look truly and it will reveal. You cannot distill what is needed while you live in the above ground. You must enter the chaos of the darkness to do that. The answer is not to be found in the nonsense of your wakened state for it only comes in the dark to be then congealed and carried into the light. You must dissolve the hardness of the waking mind through the softness of the darkness only then will the question become clear enough for you to see the key and the lock it opens. Only then can you pass through the gate and find the stone of eternity promised by the divine philosophers.”

My mind began to swim like the stirring liquid of his pot and I swam desperately for its surface. Breaking free of his spell I stood wetted and dripping there before him and his pot but before I could yet speak he smiled and dissolved before me and I awoke. Had I been sleeping? I had not been in my bed for I was sure that I had been walking and yet my eyes seemed opened to something new and I could see then that I needed to find and enter this chaos dark with the question, “What is in there that is for me to find?”

_____________________________

The phrase”Chaos Dark” comes from the 1652 book by Elias Ashmole, Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum. My copy is in the original Middle English and was published by Ouroboros Press in 2011. It’s definition of the phrase was found between pages 318 and 341 and was an apt description for the Unconscious Mind and generated this waking dream.

 

 

The soul’s dark night dream

 

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After several weeks of inanities spewing from the mouths of the Lords of Political and Economic Darkness, inflated egotistical bombasts of the small minded ultra right, several killings by people who should never have had access to guns, rabid “Orc soldiers of ISIS” killing, pillaging, and destroying all in their path in the name of a twisted understanding of their religion or maybe it was just the greed of wanting everything to be the way they think it should be, I had a nightmare that woke me panting and literally sweating in the darkness.

The story went like this:

The winged dark dragons were on the move swooping down on the villages of the world and laying waste to all hope and beauty. Their fiery breath spread fear even amongst the brave who stood their ground and paid with their lives. The land turned black with the dragon’s putrid breath of intolerance and hatred, even heroes cowered at the fierceness of their incessant destruction.

Soon the people in their helplessness turned on one another and the Dragon Lords laughed in delight for now their plan of death and destruction had turned inward causing the people to destroy themselves from within.

Fear ruled the heart of humankind and its unrelenting intensity withered and sapped the vitality of what was God’s experiment on Earth. This light of God began to flicker and sputter as the winds of many little wars, political onslaughts, false accusations, and intolerances caused a guttering of the candles of peace and threatened to blow their light out.

Who will lead the fractured peoples of the world into a new light? This time it cannot be just one man or woman, this time the collective wisdom of the many must be drawn upon. But how to martial them, how to wake the sleeping warriors of the True Peace?

No religion could save us for they all had been corrupted by the dragons of intolerance and no longer represented the love of God and humankind falling as they had into bastions of hatred, fear, intolerance, or massive indifference preferring to exclude what wasn’t them or making safe and minor moves toward some vague concept of peace but rarely putting their lives on the line in the name of love.

I woke up wondering what do we actually mean when we say we want peace? What does that look like? Is it the absence of conflict or a collaboration with it? Is it the rejection of that which seems un peaceful, but un peaceful by whose standard, whose definition?

This time the dragons of old cannot be slayed by just the swing of the sword. These dragons cannot be subdued at all for these dragons thrive on the cutting edge of the blade and the blood it spills upon the land. I believe that we need to learn a new way to be with this dragon that has always lived among us or we shall perish.

The dragons employ many a toady to spread their destruction. These parasites are trained to infect every ones heart with fear, hatred and misinformation e.g. that “guns are good, science is bad, my religion is good– theirs is bad, I’m right– they’re wrong, compromise is bad, it’s my way or the highway, and building walls against what we fear will protect us are just a few of the erroneous beliefs that the fifth columnists have snuck into the collective psyche through various political Trojan Horses and the people have welcomed the horse into the city.

We now have more than fear itself to fear for we have raised our ignorance to a whole new level by wrapping ourselves within its mind-numbing cocoon. The dragons rejoice in this because they know that when we embrace our ignorance with pride as we are beginning to do, we are near the end that they seek.

But my soul’s dark night provided another image, an image of hope amongst the despair for it also suggested that there will be a small number of brave souls who will seek, find and apply the answers needed to tame the dragons and that we will learn to live with them and use their immense energy toward the service of us all. Will you join this band of brothers and sisters and learn to wield what it will really take to subdue the human beast? It’s a quest fraught with danger and we might not make it home for quite some time, but if not us, who?