Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Thoughts on the animus/anima

I always thought the animus (or anima, if you're a man) was the archetype of the opposite sex that you expressed the most. Now I wonder...

I figured my animus was Hermes because I have several Hermes-like traits, even though I feel nothing for him and he never appears in any active visualizations. By contrast, I have done a LOT of work with my inner Hades (who has a deep connection to my archetype, Persephone). So now I'm thinking... maybe our animus is actually the archetype, or archetypes, that our own archetype matches with romantically? Which would make sense, as those are the people with whom we can do the most spiritual work, and grow the most with. Perhaps we seek a romantic partner who is a manifestation of that inner animus to carry on the work with on a different level.

It just doesn't make sense that our animus would be so completely non-existent in our inner world. And now that I think of it, when I read romances, this is the kind of story I'm the most drawn to. Although I can appreciate any well written story that has engaging characters, it's stories about weak, diffuse, lost women and chthonic men that I find the most compelling. So, like everything else in our lives, our reading habits can help us understand what's going on inside us.

... One further note: For someone who used to read, and watch movies, as much as I did, I'm finding it almost impossible to do so now. It might be because I'm finally living what I used to read about, but I don't think that's actually it. My Persephone has a very strong will - I used to think she (and I) was lazy, or incapable of getting work done. I realize it's because she needed to find her true work, her life's labor. And now that she's found it, she isn't interested in anything else. If I could do this from the time I woke up to the time I collapsed into bed, I think it wouldn't be enough for her.

I'm not sure how long this is going to last. While I struggle to get my basic needs done (like cleaning my apartment... or keeping my job!) it's exciting to have all this energy and focus.



Also... if I'm right and this is the case, then gay people would be "double souled" - they have both a male and female archetype... and matching animus/anima's. Pretty busy in there!



Why I still consider myself an atheist

And why it matters. What it boils down to is what I said in How do archetypes heal us: The gods don't want to be worshipped. They want to be manifested.

I've been thinking about religion and soul work and whether or not I would still say I'm an atheist, and if it even matters and I've come to the conclusion that yes, I'm still and atheist. And yes, it matters.

As I've stressed again and again, it's vital to keep these two worlds separate. They can interpenetrate, and they certainly influence each other, but they are two separate worlds, and to mush them together is to invite disaster. First off, the objective world does exist. There are natural laws, they exist, and they determine what will happen. Everyone should have a grounding in rational thought because we are all citizens of the world; our fellow human beings, and even the Earth itself, are relying on all of us to be as clear thinking as possible. Whether it's in politics or with issues of global warming and peak oil, we need to understand clearly what are the causes of our problems, and what we can do to solve those problems, and then go out and do them. And quite honestly? The world is in too deep a pile of shit for us to get out of it without bringing to bear ALL of our resources.

That being said, we must make room for magic and mystery in our lives. Without it our souls will whither and starve... and, ironically, we will actually be far less effective than we could have been if we'd connected to that part of ourselves. I spent the last ten years of my life completely immersed in the world of reason and politics. I could have made much more of a difference if I had healed myself before that. But even more than that... we need soul in our lives, just as much as we need love, purpose, and connection. We can't even have any of those things if we haven't connected with our deep selves and released the garbage that's covering it up.

Finally, blindly clinging to comforting religious dogmas is actually completely antithetical to true soul work. If you are hiding from your fears of the big, bad world - or, even worse, your own inadequacies - behind the shield of a Big Daddy, or a willful determination that nothing bad ever exists, or whatever your spiritual pacifier of choice is, then you have actually cut yourself off from your soul. Religion can be used by the ego to protect itself just like anything else can, whether it's working for high status, or to look sexually attractive to others, or to be smarter or more accomplished than others, all of that is just the ego trying to protect itself. This is not to say that there's nothing to be learned by people's religious belief, even when it's part of a psyche-pathology. In fact, as we know from our soul work, our defenses are the very place we need to go to learn and grow. And we can explore these religious stories for the goldmines of soul stories that they are.

True depth work requires that we face life fully - face ourselves and life itself - stare right into the face of our fear and inadequacy and powerlessness. To strip away from the ego all of the ways it protects itself from what it fears. This is the only way we can become whole... and the only way we can live in this life to the fullest. We need compassion for ourselves and others; an embracing, kind, affectionate interest. And when the "inner god" asks us to let go of our protective self deception, we need to be kind to ourselves, too. But we must let them go if we are to become whole.


As usual, this is a work in progress. Although my fundamental beliefs haven't changed, even with this recent descent into the underworld, things could always change. They'll certainly evolve.



Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Life as art

I've been poking around Depth Psychology Alliance's website - amazing source of information and inspiration - and was struck by the following blog post by C.Victor Posing:


Tension and Release

All great music has the pattern of “tension and release.”  This process creates a main theme, and then starts to intensify by adding intervals (scale music notes) to reach a state of tension,  and then gives a release.  This creates interest and complexity in the composition.

Likewise,  in our spiritual path there are added obstacles to create a feeling of tension in the form of uneasiness, or abandonment, which causes us to seek and search out the reason for this feeling.  Then, we build up a desire once again for that closeness, and oneness with the Divine, and the feeling of “bliss” returns.  This is the natural process of transformation
On the one hand, it's vital that we see difficult times - those times of "tension" - as good friends who bring us the gifts we need to grow. Every obstacle, both inner and outer, is an opportunity to learn and grow. But recently, even beyond the need to grow, I've been feeling more and more as if our lives are like art. In a post from a couple of days ago Wrestling with angels, I wrote the following, which I felt was so meaningful that I changed this blog's subheader to include it.
The point isn't the having or the getting, but the wanting, the feeling. It's like making great art... or appreciating it. What matters are the feelings you experience, and the way that experience alters you; deepens your connection to yourself, to others, and to life. So one can say that our lives themselves are a great art.
The soul is not the ego - in many ways it stands opposed to the ego. The purpose of the ego is to protect the self. The purpose of the soul is to live, to experience, to feel deeply. While we need the ego to survive, if it gains control of our mind, our lives are reduced to small, petty, fear filled things. The ego is a great servant, but a terrible master - we need it to survive, but it must be subordinate to the parts of us that have a larger picture of life.

Times of difficulty are both opportunities for us to release ego fear and ego defensiveness, unburying true inner selves... but they are also of value in and of themselves. We go to great art to be moved - all of our feelings, not just the pretty ones. When an art form shies away from the painful feelings, we call it "saccharine," "artificial," "shallow." In order for our lives to be rich, full of meaning and depth, we need the difficult times as well as the easy ones, the pain as well as the joy. That pain not only makes our joy more intense, it is itself something our soul craves, as the soul desires above all to live a full, human life.


Edit:

Something else I thought of that follows tension and then release patterns: sneezing. And sex. Actually, many things related to the body follow that pattern.



Sunday, August 28, 2011

Tarot musings: Journey through the major arcana

Something just occurred to me as I was organizing the tarot into suits (I wanted to go back to some older readings and see if I had any further insights with hindsight)... It's something that should be obvious but I never really thought of it before... Each card of the ten card cycle has some relationship to the corresponding card(s) of the next cycle(s) (0 and 1 have three corresponding cards, while the rest have only two.)

Each cycle is goes around a life once, then comes back and goes through the same cycle, but at a higher level: first 0 to 10 o 20, 1 to 11 to 21, then 2 to 12 and so on. Each series can be seen as a progression from lower to higher levels of growth. Combined with the Tree of Life numbers:


0: Malkuth/"The Kingdom"

The end of all roads, the return to the realm of the spirit. It is the true, spiritual result of the journey, if you only have the Wisdom to understand it.

The Fool, the beginning of all journeys - leads to the Wheel of Fortune, the endless cycle of reincarnation - finally ends at Judgment, when all past sins are washed clean and we begin again. At the first stage, we only see beginnings, knowing nothing. The first time we go through the cycle, we come to understand that it is endless, beginning leading to ending, then back again. But as we gain spiritual understanding, we realize that karma doesn't exist - we can get off the endless cycle and be truly reborn.

Brought down to the mundane level: at first we don't know why we do things, then we realize we're making the same stupid mistakes over and over, perhaps generationally. If we can gain wisdom and understanding, we can stop that cycle and be reborn into someone new, someone cleansed of that compulsion


1: Keter/"Crown"

The point beyond which our comprehension of the Nothingness cannot go, the First Thing which explodes into being from the Nothingness, the primordial energy from which all things are created. In life, it is promise, potential, premonitions.

The magician, channeling power from the world of the spirit to the mundane world - to Justice, the laws of Karma - to The World, wholeness and completion. At first, we come to realize our power, how we have the great forces within our grasp. Then we realize the natural constraints placed upon us, particularly as encapsulated by the adage "You reap what you sow." Finally, you realize that all is one, you step back from your struggles and realize that you are already whole.

The mundane world version is close to the spiritual one: First, you must realize your own power. Then, that your actions have consequences. Finally, that it was all for the good - all that happened to you, all that you did, has made you who you are. It's all part of you.


2: Chokmah/"Wisdom"

Singularity expands forth into space and time, pure dynamic energy forever expanding forth. It is generation, the coming into being.

The division of Singularity into Duality - the division of the world into night and day, down and up, female and male. The High Priestess, the mysteries of the universe that are dependent on keeping - The Hanged Man, voluntary releasing one's ego to comprehend those mysteries and let them act on you.

Not quite sure what it translates to in the mundane world. Both are internal and contemplative, but the High Priestess seems passive, or at least she doesn't care to apply what she knows. She's just happy with knowing it. whereas the Hanged Man is definitely seeking something, even if he seems as passive as the High Priestess - he's made an active choice to be inactive, allowing wisdom to come to him in his stillness. Maybe in one you know but don't know, where in the second you have to make the choice to be still?


3: Binah/"Understanding"

Primordial feminine energy, the Great Mother of the Universe, cooling and nourishing the primordial fire into a multitude of forms. It is the fruition of the generation of Chokmah.

Birth and death - 3, The Empress to 13, Death. In most older religions, Death was a Goddess - the mother was seen as the Source of all life and the Devourer, and we know that one cannot be without the other.

In our lives, this is clear as one leads to the other - we become, then we let go of those selves so that something new can come into being.


4: Chesed/"Mercy"

Solidification, materialization. Things have begun to manifest. It is the end of the first stage and the first result, when what up to now was just idea has become reality.

The Emperor, making things come into being through the application of your will - to Temperance, balance in all things.

This is a very Tao concept - at the first stage, you learn to apply your will to the world, to shape it. But a wise ruler, whether or a kingdom or only the kingdom of the self, learns to apply their will in concert with the rhythm of life. Like a martial arts practitioner, they learn to harness their opponent's energy, thereby creating the greatest effect with the least effort.


5: Geburah/"Strength"

Upset of a stable system, the appearance of storm and stress, the potency and vigor of the feminine principle. The primoridal generative power of Binah in the material plane. In life it is reversal, the turning of the wheel that instigates change and growth.

The Hierophant, the power of the tradition to keep society together - to The Devil, the power of the instinct. It's interesting that The Devil is at a higher level than the Hierophant - first we need the conservative influence that keeps society united, but at a higher level is the need to keep the channel open to the primitive, passionate instinct. What's also interesting is that these are both in the place of destabilization - 5 in the tarot is always the place where the solidity of 4 breaks downs. It's a generative number, connected to the "primordial generative power of Binah," number 3. Still not 100% sure of what it all means...

Our own lives often follow this sequence - we live our lives according to what society tells us we should, and then something in us rebels and we connect to the deep reservoirs of passion within us.


6: Tiphareth/"Beauty"

Consciousness in it's most harmonized and balanced form (and it is in form, not idea), the four elements at their practical best. The center of the system and the only physically manifesting sephiroth that is directly connected to Kether, the First Cause, and can easily rule over the rest of the sephiroth. It's the number of Aphrodite and her union of opposites; male and female, spiritual and physical. It is harmony. In life, it is movement from the reversal of Geburah.

The Lovers, the harmonious union of opposites - to The Tower, the violent upheaval that creates at the same time as it destroys. Seen in relation to the upheaval of 5, The Lovers is the passionate desire for union that's the result of, and antidote for, the concern with the stability of society of the Hierophant and the Tower is cleansing that often comes from the eruptions from the Id of the Devil.

Love has a disrupting influence - it can destroy lives, but even when it does, it usually does so by clearing away what was actually dead and clearing the space for new life, and new hope.


7: Netzach/"Victory"

Unbalanced, taking a great risk and doing it by frantic struggle. In life, it is the effect of the movement of Tipareth.

The Chariot, control of one's emotions by feeling them - to The Star, hope in the darkness. Again, both of these naturally lead from the previous cards, The Lovers and The Tower, but both are connected to each other - in the first cycle, we learn to control our feelings, but in the higher cycle, we learn to have faith, no matter what our feelings are doing, whether we're speaking spiritually or in the mundane world.


8: Hod/"Splendor"

Chokmah on the earthly plane. Bringing into being rather than coming into being, it is the work that must be done to grow.

Another set of cards that's related to previous cards, this time the Emperor and Temperance. Strength, inner strength and persistence necessary to tame the inner beast - The Moon, going into the beast itself, into it's darkness, without any light, not even inner light. Surviving through the dark night of the soul through nothing less than persistence. The work needed to bring about either material or spiritual results.

In the first cycle, we learn to control our passions through patience and persistence. In the second, we learn to survive in the belly of the beast through patience and persistence.


9: Yesod/"The Foundation"

Stability, crystallization of the journey. It is the temporal, earthly final result.

The Hermit, learning that that which we are seeking is within us - The Sun, learning that that which we seek is what we already are. The "inner light" which lights our way is our inner Sun, which is the God Within, or we ourselves.

In our lives, it's first learning that everything we're doing is really about something inside of us. Then that it's what's inside of us that is what we're seeking.


I'm not 100% sure of any of these - they're just early thoughts - but I have a definite feeling that they're connected to each other. As always, this is a work in progress.


Wrestling with angels

Lately, I've been struggling and struggling with my feelings. On the one hand, I really want to let them go. I hate feeling needy, especially when I think my feelings aren't returned. Quite honestly, it's humiliating.

On the other hand, I keep getting signs that I'm not supposed to let these feelings go. Dammit.

Then, as I was poking through Amazon for books on Jungian and archetypal psychology, I found Edward F. Edinger's book Ego and Archetype. One of the reviewers, Richard Borkow, had the following to say:
"Ego and Archetype emphasizes that (1) God is directly experienced within, at the core of the human psyche, that (2) spiritual maturation requires a radical shift away from narrow ego focus and towards subordination of the ego to God-within and that (3) maturation is accomplished only if the individual squarely faces and confesses the almost unbearable inadequacies, pretensions and selfishness of the unguided ego."  
Reading this struck a chord in me. I've been pondering it since last night when I read the above and realized that this is what I've been struggling with. It's my ego that's worried about being humiliated. And I realized that my desire to shed myself of my "neediness" is really just another way of avoiding feeling what I need to feel. Instead of running away from my feelings, I need to move through them.

I've also come to a realization about another thing that's really been bothering me (besides my Persephone longing for a soulmate connection with another); feeling like this is a one sided relationship. Not that I feel more for him than he feels for me, but that I've made this into a huge thing when he feels nothing for me. It makes me feel like I'm one of those delusional crazy people who think they have a deep, personal relationship with [fill in the name of your favorite movie star]. This is probably the most humiliating thing. But something just popped into my head about this - it doesn't matter. Not the being deluded about their feelings (that would definitely be a problem, and a sign of some sort of seriously distorted thinking.) But having a one-sided relationship isn't a problem. The point is to grow through whatever it is that you're supposed to grow through.

Even in a two sided relationship this happens, it just happens both ways. Or at least one hopes it does! Any relationship which is dynamic and real will be opportunities for the people to go through this angel wrestling and grow. Whether it actually is two sided or not, or how equal it is or not, has nothing to do with our need to pass through it... except insofar as the experience allows us to transcend our need for it to be equal.

I know that this is a large part of the reason I've cut myself off from relationships, this fear of humiliation and desire to protect my fragile ego. So now my worst fear has come true and I find myself in exactly that predicament. My Archetype (not sure who, Persephone or Hades) is asking me to do just that, and the question is, can I? Do I believe that we get exactly what we need at a particular time to grow, including the relationships we need? Can I really do what is required of me to grow to the next stage? Can I?

The image of Jacob wrestling with an angel comes to mind - Jacob as the Ego, the self, which, blind to the spiritual realm, fights with the Archetype, the angel, god. From the New International Version:
That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, "Let me go, for it is daybreak."

But Jacob replied, "I will not let you go unless you bless me."
 

The man asked him, "What is your name?"
 

"Jacob," he answered.
 

Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome."
 

Jacob said, "Please tell me your name." But he replied, "Why do you ask my name?" Then he blessed him there.
 

So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, "It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared."
Some thoughts on the story: The angel struggles with him - the learning opportunity comes to you, out of the blue, while you're just minding your own business, traveling on your life's journey. And it comes to you when you are your most vulnerable; alone, with nothing. In the course of the struggle, he was wounded - you're not going to come out of this unchanged. It is only through persistence that you can overcome, persistence through the dark night - but when you have, you will be reborn, a new person. Your life will be fertile, and you will be able to accomplish great things. This is the struggle between your Ego, which is concerned with "looking good," and your Archetype, your inner god, who wants you to grow and deepen. It's only by submitting your Ego to your Archetype, freeing yourself from the small, petty, inward looking self, that you can live fully. This is freedom from the fear of ego death.

These are just some early thoughts, and I haven't actually gone through my own struggle with the angel. I still feel these feelings inside me. But at least I have some idea of what needs to be done.

... If this isn't "exotic nourishment," hated by the controlling Inner Cop, then I don't know what is.


Edit:

One more thing that just occurred to me; The point isn't the having or the getting, but the wanting, the feeling. It's like making great art... or appreciating it. What matters are the feelings you experience, and the way that experience alters you; deepens your connection to yourself, to others, and to life. So one can say that our lives themselves are a great art.



Thursday, August 25, 2011

Two ways of looking at archetypes

And other "underworld" work.


1. The rational way

"Underworld" is another way of saying "subconscious." Basically, what Jung said (and yes, even Freud, as much as I dislike him.) Very little of our consciousness is actually conscious - icebergs, with their 10% visible, 90% submerged are a useful analogy. And speaking of analogies, the subconscious doesn't deal with facts and figures and logic. It's language is myth and poetry and dreams. But the vast subconscious is powerful, and it can either destroy us or gives meaning and beauty to our lives.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that personal growth is the only source of meaning or beauty in our lives. Science is full of amazing, awe inspiring beauty. And there's nothing more meaningful to a mature person than living for something larger than yourself, living for others. But when we've straightened out the knots and blockages in our subconscious, we no longer have violent eruptions of rage or fear hamstringing us and keeping us from living our lives fully. Believe me, I've been there and done that. I spent the last ten years of my life doing activism, and, while I'm proud of it and glad I did it, I know I could have done so much more if I'd been emotionally healthy. But the only way to do that is to work through your emotional issues through your subconscious.

There are many ways to do that; dreams, divination, meditation, etc. All of these are ways to send a line down into the depths of the subconscious, to set up a two way communication. You can figure out why you're doing or feeling what you're doing and feeling, and start releasing the pain and fear that's holding you back. Your subconscious mind will pick out the things and make the interpretations you need to understand consciously to progress to the next stage of your work.


2. The Dreaming Way

The other way to look at this is to take everything at face value: the gods do exist, the tarot and your dreams are speaking to you. Yes YOU. The universe is full of magic, and it's got a message for you if you only open your ears to hear it. This is the way your subconscious self is seeing things, and it's weird the way things seem to work out.

In this way of seeing things, there are two worlds: the "real" world, where the laws of physics works and things have a cause and an effect. And then there's the mythic world, a larger than life world where Platonic archetypes can actively affect your life in the  real world.

There's something about human beings that allows these two worlds to meet - there are two sides to our natures that can hook into these two worlds, and we become the place where they join.


Why both ways of seeing are useful

The first way is obvious, but any rational person would ask, why deliberately delude yourself?

The short answer is because it's useful. It works. So long as you don't forget you're dealing with myths and metaphors in order to access your subconscious, its a very powerful tool to straighten out your issues and become a fuller, more whole and healthy human being.

We do have this non-rational side to ourselves. And if it wasn't the source of so much suffering I'd say, fine, let it be. But we often can't release the really bad stuff without going to that part of ourselves, and in order to work with it we have to be non-rational as well. And if it wasn't the source of so much joy I'd say let it be. But it is. When we have these channels cleared and freed from all the garbage, we find we're no longer afraid of others, or of living. We like ourselves. And we like other people. We're hopeful and optimistic, but not blindly so.

This is an important part of ourselves. At least as important as our rational selves, at least to our personal well being. But even to others - how can you possibly help others if you're a complete basket case? How can you even love others or be friends if you're reactive and full of rage, or controlling, or fearful? We can't get stuck mucking about our personal Underworlds - to do so would be self absorbed and, quite honestly, pathetic - but we can't live fully in the "real" world without having done some work there.

The question is: Are we free? Are we living fully, and loving without reservation? If not, then we have some work to do in the Underworld.


Are manic pixies always evil?

There's a common trope beloved by sensitive boy directors looking to be saved by true, bubbly love and she's called "Manic Pixie Dream Girl." Some movies referred to in a Sociological Images article about her are:

Garden State (Natalie Portman)
Elizabethtown (Kirstin Dunst)
500 Days of Summer (Zooey Deschanel)

I think it's pretty clear the kind of character MPDG refers to: on the up side, she's up. REALLY, up - she's perky and fun and playful and usually succeeds at getting our depressed hero out of the doldrums where he can learn many valuable life lessons and be a happier, better person in the end. On the down side, since the MPDG is basically a tool where the writer or director gets rescued by some cute, fun, hot chick, she's has as much depth as a very thin crepe.

I've been feeling conflicted because I feel like I'm my Hades guy's MPDG and I haven't been sure that that's a good thing. But after some thought, I've come to the conclusion that there's nothing wrong with the trope itself - in fact, tropes are our modern day archetypes. Obviously, no one is just a single trope, anymore than they're a single archetype - we're too multifaceted to be compressed into something so one dimensional. But they do speak to things that are true.

I think the only real problem with the MPDG is with the way she's been written. NO ONE is that happy all the time. And no one exists only in relation to one person. Why not show the Pixie while she's at home, washing her hair, or arguing with her mom over her latest tattoo. Or show her unsure and angry, or sad, or scared - not even Manic Pixies are manic all the time. In fact, if Manic Pixies are Persephone's, as I think they are, then you're going to have some crazy emotional crap going on on a regular basis. Which may scare emotionally immature boy writers who want to be rescued and not have to deal with a real human being, but it would make for a much more interesting, and more powerful, story. Maybe they can rescue each other. Or help each other rescue themselves!

So now I don't feel so bad about being a Manic Pixie Dream Girl to my dour (or so he thinks) Mr. H.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

One random Persephone thing... I think

I've also become obsessed with these sugar free Altoid Smalls, these teeny but REALLY STRONG peppermints.

One of the rare times Hades' eye roved involved the nymph Minthe. Persephone crushed her underfoot and turned her into the mint plant.

... Any possible connection? Hmmmm...


On feelng derrrrr

I've always been articulate. Words always came easily to me, and I could express myself verbally or, even more, in writing. It felt like water flowing from my brain to my hands and out to whatever I was writing with. But lately I've really been struggling with putting things into words - to the point where I'm remembering all the signs of Alzheimer's and becoming worried. But it just occurred to me - maybe this is a part of Hecate losing her place as the main archetype I relied on and Persephone becoming more dominant?

Persephone is often characterized by her difficulty with the world of the mind - while I still love science, I'm not as absorbed while listening to science podcasts... and I'm really struggling with reading about it. I'm also finding that I express myself more in metaphors while, at the same time, I'm really struggling to find exact vocabulary words. Goddess Power talks about this in her description of Persephone:
Musing and intuitive nature rather than intellectual mind - difficulty ‘explaining’ her reasoning as it is an intuitive perception.

Persephone type has difficulty discriminating and has difficulty putting her impressions into words.
At the same time, she's very comfortable in the spiritual realm:
Keen ability to cross over into other realms of psychic consciousness - very at home in the world beyond the physical senses

Strong connection to spirit - deep ambivalence toward outer world & her sense of being misunderstood & alienated from conventional society
When I first read this I felt this was completely different from who I was, but it's a pretty accurate description of who I am becoming. When I first started working with archetypes, not only was Persephone incredibly young (like 10 years old), she was completely silent. Almost non-existent! I didn't even recognize her as one of my archetypes until I took Goddess Power's quiz, let alone know she was my primary archetype! And now she's so powerful she's changing my personality... She's grown so much!

So maybe I'm not going senile! I'm just becoming more Persephone. Which is fine - if I had to choose between the personal growth I've gained, or the ability to express myself clearly and with ease, I'd definitely go for the former!



Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Soulmates

Cards about "soulmates" have been coming up with regularity in the readings, and I've been doing some pondering over what exactly I think of this idea. And I have to say... I think believe in soulmates. With caveats, of course.

Normally, when you think of soulmates you think of a love that "transcends time." One love that transcends time. While I do think we have soulmates, I think we have many soulmates; when you have a lesson to learn, certain kinds of people are brought into your life, over and over again. If you fail with one, at some point another will enter, until you either learn that particular lesson or die whichever comes first. This probably comes from an idea in psychology that we are attracted to people who are similar to problematic parental figures - we are unconsciously drawn to people who have the same issues as a difficult parent because we're unconsciously trying to resolve our issues with that parent. I realize I've had several Hades that have passed through my life, and each one was an opportunity to learn the particular lessons that I've been struggling with the last few months. This idea is so much richer and more rewarding than the "one true love" fantasy promoted by our culture - there is no "one right person" for us. There are many right people, and each one presents us with an opportunity to live and grow.

The other thing people normally associate with the idea of soulmates is that it's a romantic relationship, which seems too limited to me. I think the term applies to any truly heart to heart relationship - romanctic love is just one kind of love. So many people pass in and out of our lives, and yet we connect with so very few. There's something almost magical about it when we make that special connection - there's definitely a sense of souls touching. And that's what I think a soulmate relationship really is when you boil it down to its essence.

As with so many things, people try to make soulmates out to be this fake, larger than life thing, when the real thing is more magical than its Hollywood imaginary shadow could ever be.


Monday, August 22, 2011

When you're feeling blocked

These are some things I've learned as I've worked my way through layers and layers of issues on this journey:
  1. Is your god trying to speak but you're not listening? The more blocked you are, or the more you resist, the harder they're going to push. Figure out who it is who's trying to manifest in your life. Look at their story... and how amazing their manifestation can be when the channel is clean and clear. Once you take the first step they will come running towards you - they want to connect with you. That's what all that pathology is about - they're just trying to get your attention. And if you don't pay attention to their whisper, they're going to be forced to pull out the two by four. But once they start to be heard, amazing things will begin unfolding in your life. (How do archetypes heal us?)
  2. Are you trying to block out any of your feelings? This one hit after I'd made the breakthrough to the goddess - all of the sudden, the joy I'd been flooded with drained away and I was emotionally flat. I realized I wasn't letting myself feel some painful and ugly feelings. Alternatively, you might be thinking that some of your feelings are "wrong," for whatever reason. The point is not to judge yourself or your feelings. The point is to experience them, and move through them. It's going to be ok - you're never given anything you can't handle. So, the next time you feel compelled to do something, instead of caving into the compulsion stop for a moment. Feel those feelings instead - feel them, let them wash over you, and then let them go. (What's up with my energy? and Wrestling with angels)
  3. Or are you getting stuck in your "ugly" feelings? Do not fear "the crazies" - and everyone's got them. Every archetype has their own version: for Persephone it's her neediness and violent emotional eruptions; for Hera, her jealousy; Demeter, her passive-aggressive neediness. Everyone has the crazies, but our crazies are our friends - it is in our wound itself that we find our cure. It's only by traveling through those difficult, usually self-made emotional crises - consciously, and with compassion and presence - that we finally find that we've come out the other side. In truth, our craziness is itself the path... and that path leads to the gifts that are pushing for expression in our lives. If you find yourself repeated the same, sad, sorry mistakes over and over again, see if it isn't your archetype offering you the opportunity to grow. (Picking up after the hurricane)
  4. Are you using others? Or connecting with them? Another lesson I've learned - to hold onto others in my life as if I was holding a small, delicate bird, or a butterfly. Gently, with complete presence, and awe and wonder at its beauty. To grasp onto people possessively is not only wrong - people are beautiful fellow travelers, not possessions - but kills your soul and something in theirs as well. Go out into the world with a heart open to all the connections and the joy of those connections. Go out and be moved to reach out to connect... and perhaps to help them. Go out of yourself and out into the world, where you belong, and live out your story. (Working in the world... in a spiritual way)
  5. Is it time to go out into the world with what you've learned? There's a time for navel gazing, and a time to take all that hard won wisdom and live your life. Scientists know that understanding grows through the endless cycle of theory and practice - go inside yourself to learn what it is you need to learn, then go out in the world to practice what you've learned... and to experience more things that you can take back inside yourself to advance your learning. (Quick reading: feeling anxious again)
Listen to your feelings - when necessary, they will let you know if you need to stop, listen and learn a vital lesson. If you're feeling "negative" emotions - anxious or emotionally flat - that's a sign that there's something you need to learn. The same if the universe is hitting you upside the head with the metaphorical 2 x 4 (although if you've learned to pay close attention to your feelings you should be able to avoid that, by and large.)

Do whatever it is you need to to connect with your avatar, spirit guide, God(dess), subconscious, whoever - using the tarot, I-Ching, runes, whatever. Personally, I think that getting that wisdom from something external, like the tarot, is preferable because it creates a sense of distance, of wisdom coming from outside of yourself. This way you can avoid having your feelings and possibly faulty understanding prevent you from getting clarity on the issue. Other than that, just do whatever works for you, whatever you find you have an affinity for. And don't forget - sometimes messages come from unexpected places; something you read, or something that someone says. So long as you listen to your heart, and the universe, and keep the channel open, you will be okay.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Musings on Ares

Ares represents the instinctual, animal sides of our nature, as represented by the Wiccan Horned Lord, or in Freudian terms, the Id:

From Wikipedia

The id comprises of the unorganised part of the personality structure that contains the basic drives. The id acts according to the "pleasure principle", seeking to avoid pain or unpleasure aroused by increases in instinctual tension. The id is unconscious [ie. instinctive, and non-rational] by definition:

"It is the dark, inaccessible part of our personality... We approach the id with analogies: we call it a chaos, a cauldron full of seething excitations... It is filled with energy reaching it from the instincts, but it has no organisation, produces no collective will, but only a striving to bring about the satisfaction of the instinctual needs subject to the observance of the pleasure principle"

In the id, "contrary impulses exist side by side, without cancelling each other out... [T]he the id... contains everything that is inherited, that is present at birth, is laid down in the constitution — above all, therefore, the instincts..."

The id is responsible for our basic drives, "knows no judgements of value: no good and evil, no morality...Instinctual cathexes seeking discharge — that, in our view, is all there is in the id." It is regarded as "the great reservoir of libido", the instinctive drive to create — the life instincts that are crucial to pleasurable survival. Alongside the life instincts came the death instincts — the death drive which Freud articulated relatively late in his career in "the hypothesis of a death instinct, the task of which is to lead organic life back into the inanimate state." For Freud, "the death instinct would thus seem to express itself — though probably only in part — as an instinct of destruction directed against the external world and other organisms": i.e., through aggression. Freud considered that "the id, the whole person... originally includes all the instinctual impulses... the destructive instinct as well as Eros or the life instincts.”

Positive aspects: Mighty heart, and father of victory. Helper of justice, leader of just men, carrier of the staff of manhood, dispenser of youth’s sweet courage.

Negative aspects: The grim spirit of slaughter and bloodshed, father of fear and panic. Mindless violence.

Neutral aspects: Acting from the heart rather than the head. Passion; amoral, instinctive sexuality. Living in the moment.



Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Musings on Aphrodite


Aphrodite & Relationships

Jean Shinoda Bolen divides goddeses into virginal (independent) and vulnerable (dependent on relationships) and alchemical (both relational and independent.) The three virginal goddesses are Athena, Artemis and Hestia. The three vulnerable goddesses are Demeter, Hera and Persephone. Aphrodite is the lone alchemical goddess. I think it would be more useful to divide them up into relational or independent. Relational goddesses turn to outwards to others, and mainly see themselves through their relationships: Demeter the Mother, Hera the Wife, Persephone the Daughter and Aphrodite the Lover. The independent goddesses are fundamentally independent of others and mainly see themselves in relation to their work: Artemis with Nature, Hestia her Home, Hecate her Studies and Athena her Success. However, Aphrodite and Athena are the two goddesses that can flip being relational/independent; although Aphrodite lives to love, she's independent at heart and never stays with one lover. And although Athena lives out in the world, mixing it up in the battle of success, inside she's always Daddy's Little Girl, seeking his approval.


Aphrodite and Persephone

Like Persephone, Aphrodite tends to make people uncomfortable with her passionate, unlimited feelings. Both tend to merge with their partners, like the waters of the ocean, but where Persephone often loses herself, Aphrodite doesn’t – she has a secure, queen core of strength that enables her to retain her sense of self. Unlike Persephone, Aphrodite's sexuality is of the daylight realm; intense but happy and joyful. Persephone's is darker but both are sexually intense.

Pomegranate Symbolism

The pomegranate was sacred to Aphrodite who was said to have first planted it on the island of Kypros. The fruit symbolised female fertility and the marital loss of virginity with the consumation of marriage (from both its red stains and rich seeds).

The pomegranate also evoked the presence of the Aegean Triple Goddess (who evolved into the Olympian Hera). The chambered pomegranate is also a surrogate for the poppy's narcotic capsule, with its comparable shape and chambered interior. On a Mycenaean seal the seated Goddess of the double-headed axe (the labrys) offers three poppy pods in her right hand and supports her breast with her left. She embodies both aspects of the dual goddess, life-giving and death-dealing at once.


Aphrodite and Libra

It's easy to associate Libra with Aphrodite - Libra is ruled by Venus, Aphrodite's star, and both are associated with pleasure and companionship. But one thing just occurred to me recently while re-reading "Archetypal relationships: Aphrodite, Ares & Hephaestus". In it the writer wrote the following: 
"Aphrodite is a combination of two emotional control systems: sexuality and homeostasis. No one has ever referred to Aphrodite as the "goddess of homeostasis" but this is the nature of pleasure: when our bodies are out of balance, we suffer. When we get, do, or consume what we need to return to homeostasis, we feel pleasure. E.g., when you're cold, nothing is so pleasurable as a hot drink. When an Aphrodite woman's body signals that it's out of balance, she looks for an opportunity to experience the pleasure of returning to homeostasis. E.g., jumping into a cool creek on a hot day. Her pains and pleasures are immediate, not some time in the future. Sexuality is a different emotional control system."
Suddenly, the link between Aphrodite and Libra jumped out at me. Libra is the scales - Librans are famous for being surprisingly fussy about things. They're so pleasant and easy going that their endless "yes, but" arguments seems completely out of character, but there's a reason for it. Libra/Aphrodite needs to find balance.



New blog!

In case you haven't noticed, QotN has been really, really (really!) quiet. This is because I've been doing some other stuff, like go...