The Dark Night of the Soul revisited (yet again)

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I was listening to NPR recently and heard someone during an interview use a phrase that stopped me in my tracks. It went something like this: “Sometimes people use violence to revitalize their souls.”

“Is that true? I thought. Can violence revitalize the soul? I know that love, art, music and dance can bring the soul to life, but anger and hate? Up to this moment I’ve always imagined hate, anger, and fear as emotions that bury the soul. Though it’s true that they are emotions that energize, I usually think of their energy as negative and that they produce more negative. Then I remembered the phrase, “The dark night of the soul” that refers to a deep sense of meaninglessness, when nothing makes sense and there’s no purpose in life– when all the activity, dreams, and achievements just aren’t important anymore.

I can remember being there after my Dad unexpectedly died and I recall hurting so much that I became numb and wishing I could get some feeling, any feeling, back. I found myself doing risky things to just charge up my life, I became quick to anger and started to entertain dark thoughts, my dreams became full of darkness and nightmares, that I hadn’t had in ages. It was as though the soul were trying to crawl out from under a heavy damp blanket of meaninglessness that had covered my world. But instead it seemed to only bury its self ever deeper.

So, perhaps violence at least is an attempt to bring meaning back although it’s a short-lived and unsatisfying way of doing it.

As people close to me age and die and as the country that seemed so stable and united in purpose appears to be crumbling I’m finding that I’ve fallen into that dark night once again and all the meaning appears to be draining from me and my carefully engineered life seems to wobble once again. It’s as though the darkness is crying out for more light.

But for now I think I’ll treat this as a time of rebooting, so to speak, because as all the made up meaning that I’ve added to my life washes away hopefully it will allow for something different, or something new instead of the compulsive, conditioned meaning I’ve always given things over the years. Perhaps what will show up will be even deeper– and hopefully there will be some aliveness in that. Perhaps the darkness itself speaks to a need for more light and makes room for it where there had been little before.

Fighting Dragons

 

 

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St. George slaying the dragon by.- Hans Von Aachen late 16th c.

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.

–David Icke

Soul Work: Life is not an empty dream

 

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Carl Jung imagined that as a general rule the soul comes in two forms the Anima and the Animus. These are archetypal personifications of the soul in each of us. I use a feminine image above because I think of a man’s soul as being associated with the feminine (Anima) in nature in both its positive and negative aspects. The dove for me represents that which is freeing my soul from the captivity (chain) of the ego-body.

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).

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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.

The Mystic’s Journey: A voice in the darkness can lead into the light

 

walk-dark-light-5.jpgWalking in darkness, unseen for he had never beheld the light. He didn’t know it was there because for him there had been only the night.

Walking, walking, a forest path, a city sidewalk, a sandy beach, a mountain trail, then down a slippery slope toward the parking lot something reached in and gripped his heart and stole his mind, turned it inside out and twisted his reality.

And it’s never looked the same, sounded the same, felt the same since.

In each a voice overran the mindless chatter and filled him with a sound so complete, so beautiful, and so loving that he found it hard to breathe and the world gave promise to a way of being beyond all its pretty words.

But as time passed the promise of those extraordinary moments seemed to fade into the darkening mist of the every day.

“What now?” said he, and the voice was still and his heart became darker and the black crept back into his world.

Then a soft and loving breeze came upon him and swirled about and within leaving him with barely heard but solidly felt words of assurance, “You’re on your own now. You have what was once secret but now visible to you no matter where you turn your head. But don’t hold for too long for it’s only yours so long as you keep giving it away.”

At that moment everything changed for everything became an opportunity to give it away and the promise came out of the mist and pointed the way. Giving became getting, letting go was an act of love and he walked out of the darkness and into the sunlight.

What is this darkness of which the young man spoke and what of the light that dispels it?

It is the darkness of unknowing, of the unconscious and of not wanting to know what is beyond the horizon of your mind.

The light is of the flash of knowing, and facing the legions of bogey men that hide in the dark alleys of the unexplored. It is the brilliance that dispels all dark things that go bump in the night. It is your beautiful face long unseen because you turned away too soon, listening to others and to the voice implanted by those who knew only the blackness as well. Alas, we embrace ignorance too easily you and I because it feels safer hiding here in this cave, this waking dream of a frightened mind.

Once in a while after much running in the opposite direction the light blows in and disrupts all our best intentions that often produce the worst results and shakes us to our core, scrambling the carefully built fantasy and opening us to the fearsome reality of real love. Once in a while someone awakes from the dream and can never return to the land of the dark. It is called a mystical experience and those who walk into the light of the experience can never fully return to the cave and become obligated to be of the world instead of just in it.

These are the children of the ecstatic, the modern-day mystics if you will. Often the light is thrust upon them in that they weren’t seeking it, reluctant really, but once enlightened, becoming obligated to share it.

But many times it’s the seeker that finds at their darkest moment, the moment when they have given up the search, the light will grab them and shake them awake.

May the light grab you and shake you awake before it’s too late and you have to do it all over again.

An answered prayer for change

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In response to a prayer not too long ago regarding an entreaty to help with turning around the negativity in the world especially as it relates to the current dark aspects of the American political climate I had a dream.

In the dream I was trying to change the attitude of a dark man who was being very skeptical. I was trying to get him to turn away from his criminality. Later I was told to clean up old washing machines lying helter-skelter in some field.

Basically the dream was presenting me with my own dark side, or shadow, and suggesting that I needed to deal with it as well, that the problem lay also with me and not just the outside world. What I needed to do was to clean up old and no longer useful machinery i.e. ways of being and thinking.

There were other parts of the dream where I was looking for ways to not take the blame for things, in other words ducking responsibility. This made me look to where I was not willing to be responsible for my less desirable and unhelpful traits.

Though I was praying for an answer to my feelings of helplessness, the dream turned that around by empowering me to deal with my own negative contributions to what was being manifest in the greater world.

This dream is an example of the mirror aspect of dreams in that a dream is like standing before a mirror and seeing yourself more directly and clearly. So too the world about us is a mirror to ourselves both in what we admire and what we reject, in what makes us proud and in what we fear.

Often the outside world reflects our own growth or need for growth. We tend to ignore our own flaws by projecting them onto others. By being outwardly critical we may also be passive aggressively self-critical.

 

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”

C.G. Jung

 

I believe that Jung’s statement is especially true in our dreams. Essentially I believe that we are not what happens to us but what we have chosen to become and that to some degree the outside world reflects that. To varying degrees the world we see and react to reflects some part of ourselves admired or rejected. In short, we can do little to change the outside if we aren’t willing or ready to change the inside.

As I wrote this and shared it with a friend they pointed out to me that this may also be the message from Mathew 7: 3-5:

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

 

Always good advice I thought but though they sound similar, the difference in the motivation behind each may give some insight into their usefulness in that the biblical entreaty uses a key word i.e. “hypocrite” that suggests a liar and deceiver, a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings implying a wrong doing that needs to be corrected in order to meet a religious expectation or to change the behavior of someone outside oneself. This is not the motivation behind Jung’s quote where he believes that we can use our prejudices and judgments of others to better understand ourselves and not as a means of changing something outside ourselves that you can’t do anyway.

Saturn’s Child

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Eat your heart out by– Brandon Henning (devientart.com)

On occasion I have written about the phenomenon I call “eating the heart”–self-judgment and depression. Most of the time I can see that there is no real cause for this mood–no real reason to feel depressed, or reason for self-flagellation, so I just let it be. Some of the time I resist it because it robs me of feeling good about myself and being happy in the world. And all of the time I don’t much care for it. What I haven’t done is to embrace it.

What the ancients called “coming into Saturn,” or being Saturn’s Child is an expression of soul as much as is happiness. For me, depression and self-judgment has provided the energy to look deeper into the meaning of my life and to explore what it means to be fully human. I don’t want to make my shadow a friend, but I don’t want to ignore, or deny it either. Being whole and complete means to embrace (and accept responsibility for) everything that you are and are not. I don’t want to be a shallow personality, but this has a price in that more often than I care to I fall under Saturn’s spell.

Is it possible that depression is not always an evil neurosis to be mechanically controlled through medication and/or counseling? It is possible that the soul is more than just goodness and purity, that it is dark fantasy as well. It is also possible that the process of depression is similar to an alchemist’s crucible where what you are becomes ground and reduced into the essence of being.

Sometimes people need a dark and shaded place to withdraw to and allow the perfectly legitimate feelings of depression to have free reign. Sometimes the act of resisting this natural element of what we are can entrench it and over time cause it to become pathological.

Depression can be a gift in that it causes one to evaluate the life they’re living–it causes them to go deeper and to begin to ask the fundamental questions of, “who am I and what is my purpose?”

What happens when we resist Saturn?

In our society we spend a lot of time and money entertaining ourselves so to not experience this part of our soul, our humanity, our essence. I think when we suppress anything for too long it begins to express itself in aberrant ways. Denying a part of the soul causes it to ‘act out’ in order to be expressed. We can see this acting out all around us through violence, both verbal and physical.

Religious zealots who’ve mistakenly assumed that one is either good or evil become evil themselves through resistance to the reality that each of us is both Christ and Satan, spirit and ego. Denying a part of oneself is being less than whole and this leads one to fear, and fear can lead us to act in small ways such as to hate or kill what we fear. We see the results of this misunderstanding of how big we really are and the denial of the shadow in the violence sewn by Muslim fanatics such as al-Qaeda, ISIS, and Christian hate mongers such as the Westboro Baptist Church people. As with the denied, or unconscious aspects of ourselves, rigid dichotomies frequently lead us to all kinds of intolerant and aberrant behaviors.

If God is indeed the unlimited source of all there is, then any limitation becomes a sin– a missing the mark. Fear is a limited perspective also and is seldom a positive emotion to act out of. It may have served us well when we huddled in our caves, but it often gets in the way in the modern age. Defining God too narrowly is also a sin of limited perspective, as is doing hateful things in his name. All of this misses the point of the fundamental unity that a broader perspective generates.

 

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Saturn Devouring one of his Children (1821-23) by– Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes. Currently hanging in the Prado Madrid, Spain.

Adam’s recollections as a wizard’s apprentice: Finding unexpected jewels in unexpected places.

 

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Hidden jewels of the divine (RJ Cole)

Remember the story of the novice magus who trained with an old wizard and learned about a reality beyond his wildest dreams (Do you believe in magic? 1/11/17) ?

I had a visit from the young man yesterday and we sat down at a local coffee shop to catch up and reminisce.

Ordering our coffees we picked them up and sat down in a private corner of the shop. As we pulled up chairs and sat the young man, Adam, began the conversation.

“I remember a spiritual teacher once sharing with me that enlightenment could be found in the yellow pages of the phone book that is, to turn to any page and there it is. I also learned of the technique of problem solving by opening any book to a random page and searching for the answer. In those early days I was always asking some form of the question, “How can I be enlightened?” as though the answer to that question would enable me to live happily ever after like in some magical fantasy story.

“Enlightenment is not an end unto itself, it’s an ongoing process.” The teacher would say and then he might add, “Just when you think you’re enlightened, you’re not.”

“It all seemed so simple, but no matter how many pages in the phone book that I’d turn to or how many pages in my favorite novel, or even in random pages of the Bible I couldn’t find any answers to the questions I posed– it all seemed like one big non sequitur. I could practice all the suggested rituals and study all the world’s philosophies, or focus my complete attention on paradoxical Koans1 that usually only twisted and contorted my mind into knots. But I couldn’t force anything to happen. Annoyingly the teacher would remind me, “It’s not about force, my boy. The power is not in force.”

“I had not yet learned how to intend a jewel or how to recognize one when it presented itself. It was only after a number of years did I learn to trust that an answer could be found in unexpected places if I expected to find it there. I learned to prime the pump by praying on it or in asking the source for guidance regarding it. I learned that the answer would show up in an unexpected way or from an unexpected source if I were to remain patient enough and quiet enough to see it or hear it.“

“I’ve learned that enlightenment can’t be forced, it doesn’t operate on the ego’s time table or its perception and it doesn’t come in a form that the ego imagines it wants or needs for the ego has no idea what it needs and what it wants is irrelevant to the universe.” I added.

“ Yes, learn to expect the unexpected jewels from unexpected places. My teacher used to say” exclaimed Adam.

“I also remember him saying, “It’s like that with making a difference too, and you never know when you’re going to, but with the intention of doing so in everything that you do, unexpected positive things happen. Intend on making a difference and you will even if you’re never aware of it.”

“Are you making a difference?” I asked.

“Oh yes in so many small ways. Ways that may take some time to be noticed if noticed at all.”

“Yes, I’ve noticed that wanting to be noticed for what you do gets in the way of making a difference. Hard lesson that…” I said “learning to let go of what the ego craves.”

Adam nodded wistfully as though the memory of needing acknowledgment was still a struggling desire in his present life.

Finally he asked, “Does it ever end, this desire for recognition?”

“It’s a struggle I admit but it’s amazing what gets done when you don’t care who gets the credit.” I said. “There’s something deep within us that represents true awareness and knows who we are. It’s a divine force that urges us towards creation. It is from that force that each of us was created and it’s through us that we become extensions of it when we learn to release it into our lives.”

Adam nodded and smiled, pushed back his chair and we headed out the door walking arm on shoulder into the morning sun and promising not to let the time between us be so long we headed into our separate Moirai 2.

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1Koans such as “the sound of one hand clapping”, or “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it”, or “Resist not evil.”

2 Moirai: Meaning fate, or shared fates, destiny or futures. The Moirai were ancient Greek goddesses of fate.

The Gift of the Dark Dream

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The Dark Dream by.–jbrown67.deviantart.com

 

Dreams of being a child have come into my sleep along with being wrong and making mistakes, feeling shame and powerlessness and falling. When my waking dream becomes too stressful, when I find that I can’t stay in the here and now because I’m caught up in worries about the future, or guilt from the past, I find my dreams full of powerlessness and fear. Hurricanes, storms, titanic waves, and floods wash through my dreams and add even greater stress to a psyche overburdening itself. If the dreams shared with me on-line are any indication, I’d say this might be true for many of you.

Though I did not measure up to my personal expectations, to the image of myself that I thought I should be, I realized something much greater. The Black Dream where I found myself in the waking world had been giving way to something new.

When facing the darkness one can receive images much grander than their limited images of self. For me I saw that I never gave up, though the way looked impossible; that I always strove to become better than either my own judgments, or the judgments of others. Somehow I found the courage to stand up to the feelings of failure and rejection and to face what I judged to be humiliation with my head held high. I allowed myself to feel the fool and to grow from its presence, to go beyond the fears and become bigger than my estimate of myself.

The experience of recent events and the consciousness they brought in their wake have helped me to realize some of how big I really am. I may not be what I think I should be, an ego-self desire, but once again I’ve discovered that I’m really so much more.

Until I was willing to truly accept the darkness and honor its value, I couldn’t see the ever so small light flickering in the corner. I’ve been fighting the darkness ever so long, but the truth is that rejecting the darkness also rejects the light. This morning, I saw the barest glow and reached for it and it warmed and filled the space that dispelled the darkness before it. Hanging onto the light often seems harder than living in the darkness. But I think it’s a miracle that the light is there at all.

And that’s the gift of the Black Dream, the Shadow, the darkness; it highlights the flicker of light that is our true self. I can also see that to keep it burning I need to share it and it’s in that vein that I do so now. As I’ve said earlier, love is the cure for our nightmares; it’s the light within our darkness.

Nightmares

 

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I had a nightmare the other night, you know one of those where the narrative takes you right up to the most awful part of the horror and then…you wake up. Whew, thank goodness!

Well, not always. Usually I try to get back to sleep so as to resolve the outcome, to finish the story so to speak. In that way I have some control over the outcome, or get more information on the meaning of the dream.

If you were to consider the point where you wake up as the climax of a story then perhaps asking yourself “what happens next?” Or  “How might the story end?” might be a good technique for exploring the nightmare further.

Now I don’t mean for someone who is dreaming a reenactment of a literal horror that has happened in their waking life (such as for those who are suffering from PTSD), stay away from those nightmares, they may need more professional guidance*. I’m talking about those that are symbolic of something going on inside you, or that you are reacting to in your daily life, something psychically broader. You might ask yourself, “Does this dream remind me of something in my waking life?”

Nightmares can be a normal dream occurrence after a trauma, but most of the time they present material that you’ve kept hidden (e.g. threats to your self-esteem, loss of something, or someone important, or trouble coping with certain stresses, unconscious memories stimulated by some recent event, or scary emotions that you have avoided) and the unconscious mind, in the service of your health and well-being, is trying to bring them to consciousness so that you can deal with them appropriately. They literally demand attention.

I think that many of us with the standard unfinished nightmare event want to be able to master them, it’s probably why we like such authors as Stephen King, remember Carrie? Finishing the nightmare in a psychically satisfying manner is much better than ignoring it, because if you do …it’ll be baaack!

I’m also not talking “night terrors” here, in those there’s no plot just a lot of scary chaos**. On the other hand, nightmares have a plot, and often a fairly complicated one. You go from balance, or equilibrium, to extreme out of balance then wake up. When you awaken, the climax then dominates the story and this can truncate the meaning and leave you stuck. If you were to treat the nightmare as a narrative, you would then want the story to return to equilibrium i.e. resolution. I’m talking about the process of transformation, the psychic alchemical process of turning something base into something of value.

The kind of intervention to which I’m referring has the advantage of giving you some feedback i.e. if the nightmare has recurred and then after intervention disappears you’ve been successful, if not, try something else.

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*Those suffering from PTSD might use these nightmares as part of a treatment intervention. These nightmares may also be the mind’s way of treating the psychic injury, however,  one can get stuck in a constantly recurring nightmare that reintroduces the horror of the event over and over again. This kind of nightmare needs treatment with a professional trained to work with them.
** As an adult and if you get a lot of these night terrors where you are thrashing about in bed you may want to share this with your physician.

Are we only half ourselves?

 

 

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It is said that from blackness comes the light. As Massimilla Harris, a Jungian therapist reminds us, “keep in mind that birth comes out of darkness.” Many of us have some kind of hurt, some part of us that has sustained psychological, emotional, and spiritual injury that we have relegated to the darkness of our subconscious mind.

We all need healing to one degree or another and it is the guidance of the essentially positive Great Mother, the innate and archetypal feminine, who comes to us in our dreams and our darkest hours who can lead us into the light and healing. It is in our nature to seek change and if we let her, Psyche will show us the way.

Within us are a number of wounded negative complexes that serve as obstacles to our ultimate happiness. Our dreams offer us access to these wounds so that they can be treated. Love is at the core of our very nature but most of us I fear don’t really know what love really is. The on again/off again love from our childhoods has left many unsure, insecure untrusting, in scarcity, and anxious regarding the true nature of this love.

This leads many to cripple or ignore the inner feminine aspects of self-compassion and self-nurturance and make it difficult to forgive or even love ourselves let alone to forgive and truly love others.

Our environment doesn’t really support the value of the feminine either in that at least as far as the male gender is concerned compassion, nurturance, and intuition are signs of weakness. Women are demeaned when they show these attributes in the work place and further demeaned if they show masculine traits such assertiveness or decisiveness.

In my way of thinking this denial of the feminine aspect of the human psyche has caused a cultural neurosis– a feeling of incompleteness and unfulfillment by many. This may or may not be an obstacle to personal achievement but even amongst those who have achieved much there is quite often a hole in their lives that goes deeply and negatively affects their sense of happiness and well being.

Whether our culture is ruled by the matriarchal or the patriarchal­ i.e. whether we are relational or success and identity oriented to do so without compassion, and nurturance can cause all sorts of psychic damage to individuals and societies e.g. the guilt and/or shame of not living up to expectations of self or others that can result in the dubious safety of conformity which stifles creativity and joy or the loss of what our relationship values really are.

We are as a society out of touch with the feminine aspect, the other half of us that brings balance to our being.

Next time the feminine shows up in your dream pay attention to her and the message she brings, she may be your ticket toward greater love and happiness.