Viewing Old Stories with New Eyes~

moonman edited

I have read in a variety of places about how we have lost the ancient feminine knowledge, the initiatory traditions, and instead have stories of women as victims, harlots, or as having naively caused the fall. The suggestion is that we need to figure it all out again for ourselves with only snippets of information here and there to guide us. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

We have been enculturated to read literally. Searching for documents that spell out the old traditions for us like a recipe in a cook book. The feminine does not speak with a literal tongue, but a symbolic one. If what came to us was literal, it probably would not have survived the cultural devaluation of the feminine, and so the search must be through symbolism and there we discover a treasure trove of information.

The Divine Feminine never stopped speaking. She was always finding her way to those with eyes to see and ears to hear. The alchemists hid the truth in the symbolism of their images and wrote nonsense. They knew they were dismissed as crazy and their desire to transform lead into gold was thought to be impossible. It was Jung who discovered the psychological meaning of the alchemical work and their heretical attempts at inner transformation.

Then there are the stories, and poetry, from legends, and myths, to fairy tales, old and new. There’s Arthur and the Round Table who found themselves living in a wasteland. The only way out of their predicament? To find the inner grail castle and drink from that cup. The Iliad, The Odyssey, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Dante’s Inferno, Descent to the Goddess, Apuleius’ story in The Golden Ass of Psyche and Amour, Demeter and Persephone, Isis and Osiris, The Handless Maiden, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Adam and Eve, the Biblical Job, Mary and Jesus, and The Wizard of Oz, to name just a few we are familiar with in the West.

When we read symbolically, tossing out what we have been told about these stories, we discover their deeper meanings. The story of the feminine is embedded within them for those who can perceive it.

The initiatory tradition hasn’t stopped either. We assume, as some scholars suggest, that human beings are in charge of initiations. What if we aren’t? What if the Goddess, like in Amor and Psyche, and many subsequent fairy tales, or Adam and Eve, is initiating us? What if our lives are the initiations? If we stop perceiving life literally, from the personal to the collective, we might realize they are happening to us now.

The princesses in fairy tales aren’t passively waiting for the prince to rescue them, they are doing the hard work. They are courageously facing the inner demons most of us are running away from. What if, every day, from our dreams to our encounters with nature and others, we are being initiated by the Goddess of Love, whether we see it or not? What then?

What if nothing has been lost? If we look at life and literature symbolically, we discover the way is here and always was. Women aren’t being devalued in literature just because that’s what others say. We must discover the truth for ourselves.

Mary Magdalene, we have been told by those in the know, was a prostitute. We can rail against the church or ask, “What does it mean symbolically?” If she has given herself to the physical material world, as almost all of us have, we see her as a symbol of the soul that was co-opted by the world of form. At the end of the story, she sees the truth, essentially is enlightened. She recognizes her soul isn’t the material, which is temporary, but the spiritual, which is eternal. It isn’t a rejection of the world, as some say, but she embraces it, fearlessly and totally. Her soul always had come from spirit, she just didn’t recognize it, until the moment when she encounter’s the “Teacher.” Hmmmm, who might the teacher be?

We only need to open our eyes and ears to a new way of perceiving, and stop accepting literal interpretations. The suggestion that any of it was ever lost would mean that humans are more powerful than the Divine Feminine or Love. Quite frankly, that is impossible.

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Follow the Yellow Brick Road from Old Stories to New Insights

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Follow the yellow brick road… This phrase is so familiar that it’s become a part of our modern day conversation. We all know what it means. All we need to do is follow the obvious path, which will lead to the desired destination.

The Wizard of Oz story is about following the yellow brick road home. It’s a symbolic map of an unfamiliar inner terrain. The destination is the heart. This old story provides fresh opportunities to generate new insights and to help us navigate challenges with greater ease and grace.

I did my practicum for a counseling degree in suburban Philadelphia. The alcohol and drug rehab center was located in an upscale neighborhood. It was a nondescript red brick building, surrounded by lush green lawns, trees, and landscaped with shrubs and flowers. It was the kind of place you might drive by a hundred times and not even notice it was there.

My supervisor handed me two books on my first day. I glanced at the covers. The books on drug and alcohol abuse looked less than interesting. You might keep them on the shelf as a reference, but not actually read them. They were the kind of books with statistics, names of drugs, and how they are abused. I thanked her and quietly put them in my bag. She gave me a tour of the place and then left me into a big room to hear the daily “talk” given by one of the counselors.

The counselor was a big burly man. He looked more like a boy’s high school football coach than a counselor. He talked about probabilities. How slim the chances were that any of them would succeed in finding a way out of their addictions. I remember that talk from the first day of college. “Look to your left and right, only one of you will graduate.” I guess it’s supposed to inspire you to work hard, but I walked out of the talk and felt disheartened for the residents. It seemed like the counselors had lost faith. My advisor informed me that afternoon that I would give the talk on my next day of work.

Most of the people in the center were not from the area. They lived in places where crime and poverty were a way of life. They spoke of rape, murder, and the loss of their children in group sessions. They believed what they heard in the talk because that was their reality.

I did not read the book, because I wanted to remain optimistic about their future, and picked the Wizard of Oz for a topic.

I first discussed symbolism and gave them a general sense of how to understand the story  symbolically. Then, I wrote the four main character names on the board, asked what each was searching for, and had them pick a character they most identified with. Each group went into a different corner of the room to talk about what their character would say about their addictions.

I stood in the middle of the room at the podium with about fifty people scattered around the room. I looked at the groups and realized each character group was similar in appearance. The Lion group was soft and a bit heavier. You could imagine talking to one of them for a few minutes and then wanting to give them a hug. They were more interested in feelings. The Tin Men were the work out guys, all muscle, with rolled up sleeves, and trim haircuts. They were the tough guys and their interest was action. The Scarecrow group was taller and thinner. They were more likely to be wearing glasses and focused on insights. Then there was the Dorothy group of two. One young guy was an African American of medium build. The other was a young slim white woman in her early twenties. I found them to be the most fascinating and hardest to categorize.

Each group picked a spokesperson, returned to their seats, and presented their findings. It’s been too many years since this happened to remember the details of what was said, but I remember the excitement in their applause. The Tin Men hurried out, the Scarecrows continued talking among themselves, a few of the Lions came up for a hug and thanked me. The two Dorothy’s were lost in the crowd.

I hoped that the people were able to connect with their character in the story and leave the talk with more faith in themselves and their future. I didn’t want them to believe they were statistics from a worn out alcohol and drug rehab book, but were living breathing characters in a fascinating story, able to generate fresh new insights into their situations. I hoped they saw that the home they were searching for in a bottle or pill was right there inside them all along.

Which character would you choose? What insights would that character offer to you about your situation? Your life? Are you living the fascinating story that is your life? Have you made the journey to discover your inner home? Or are you still looking for it in the world?

 

 

 

A Radical Shift: Seeing Women as Powerful.

Eve-Mother of All

We turned CNN on when the women were marching in Washington. I wasn’t interested in going until my friend Teresa texted me. She said, “Do you see what’s happening in Washington? The feminine is rising.” As I read her text, my hair stood on end. I was surprised I hadn’t seen it myself, since almost all of my work is with symbolism. Within an hour my bag was packed and we were on our way to Washington…

The Wonder Woman movie is doing incredibly well at the box office. The comment I have seen most frequently is that of moviegoers who are perplexed about their own tears during the battle scenes. The sight of a woman in that situation has been an emotional experience for many…

In Arrival, the main female character is the one who learns how to communicate with what is unknown. This is from the blog I wrote on December 6, 2016:

I sat in the theater watching the new movie Arrival with tears streaming down my face. I had been thinking since working on my dissertation about the birth of a new world. I knew it required a new language, but couldn’t seem to get beyond just knowing that, to understanding what it meant. In the movie they said when you immerse yourself in a new language you take on a new world view. The language in the movie was universal and not based in duality.

Arrival’s main character is female and she is the one that learns a new language and takes on an entirely new world view that is not masculine oriented. The starring roles were women in the recent movie Hidden Figures. They were always a part of the American space story, but many of us just didn’t know about them. They played critical roles in space exploration…

Those of us in Depth Psychology are rejoicing. Our founders have been referring to the necessity of reclaiming and revaluing the feminine for many years. Films and stories are indications of what is happening in the collective unconscious. The success of these movies suggests that there may be a deep shift taking place.

In addition to these movies, there is the statue of the defiant little girl on Wall Street that has created quite a controversial stir. This little girl, may be perceived symbolically as the new feminine standing up to patriarchal materialism, the “bull in the china shop,” saying, “Stop!”

We are seeing the feminine in a new light and as an important part of the transformation under way.

I saw signs of this feminine emergence in my own evolving work. In one project I am writing symbolic interpretations of fairy tales. Through this work, I discovered that what had been seen as the passive heroine waiting for the prince, was her taking back her own masculine power. What had been interpreted as the devouring, evil, Negative (Step) Mother (or Witch) was an initiatory Goddess bringing her daughters, or the young feminine in all of us, to consciousness. Her intention wasn’t to kill us, it was, it is, to free us.

This emerging feminine appeared also in my dissertation. I wasn’t expecting it, but was intuitively guided to the Nag Hammadi and the Bible to symbolically interpret the Christian story in a new way. An example was the story of Lot’s wife. I have always heard it said that she was punished for “not listening.” As I re-interpreted the story symbolically, like a dream, through a depth psychological lens, I saw it very differently. She wasn’t punished, but became a powerful woman. A pillar, standing strong and firm on her own. Enlightened. Lot’s wife.

My dissertation research revealed that the feminine that was hidden, misinterpreted, or omitted all together. Let’s just say, I kind of put the powerful feminine back into the story.

We are seeing old stories in a new way, bringing what was hidden out into the open, and revaluing our own feminine as she emerges into consciousness.

I love the symbol of the Statue of Liberty. She stands tall on Staten Island and welcomed immigrants to American shores. She was a gift from the French as they felt a kinship with our revolutionary spirit. They knew and wanted us to remember as well that freedom was not to be found at the point of the sword. Lady Liberty holds her torch aloft, welcoming all as she carries the declaration of independence. The feminine is the way to freedom. We are seeing her rise now.

Initiatory Experiences to Awaken the Soul.

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A little girl

Sad downcast eyes

Peers from behind

The bars of her cage

 

Be small

Don’t breathe

Don’t move

They said

 

She was good

So she crumpled

Into a heap

Upon the floor

 

This is Cinderella. When her Good Mother was on her deathbed, she told Cinderella, “Be a good girl.” And so she was.

 

One day

She could be

Small no more

And raised her eyes

 

 

From that place

Hands together

With deep earnestness

She began

 

Dear Spirit

Up in the sky

Please send help

I need to fly

 

Her prayer was heard and answered. They sent the mean Stepmother and two ugly Stepsisters to Cinderella. We might think that this is when Cinderella’s life took a turn for the worse, but there is another way to see this. We can perceive the Stepmother as Cinderella’s initiator.

Cinderella is a more modern version of an older story. If we go back to the myths, we find Psyche (Greek for soul) being initiated by Aphrodite (Goddess of Love). Why would the Goddess of Love wish to initiate the soul? Well, the myth tells us it was because the people of the time had lost touch with the Goddess, Her temples were neglected, and She was forgotten. Instead, people looked to a human as Her replacement and worshiped a mere mortal as an incarnation of the Divine.

The myth tells us Aphrodite was angry about this and wanted to take Her anger out on the innocent and helpless Psyche by giving her tasks to complete. Some versions of the story say She is trying to kill Psyche, but it’s not the soul She is attempting to obliterate. It is the ego.

Psyche felt overwhelmed by every task, until that is, she came to the final task. She had to retrieve a box of beauty from Persephone in the Underworld and take it to Aphrodite. This symbolizes bringing the unconscious beauty that is in the care of the Goddess into the light of day, or to consciousness. In order to complete the task, Psyche was told not to look into the box. She couldn’t resist though and decided to take just a bit of the Goddess’s beauty ointment for herself. She thought it might help her win back her husband Eros, the God of Love.

When she opened the box, she fell into a death like sleep. This has been interpreted as Psyche making a mistake, which caused her to fall unconscious, but I don’t see it that way. She finally stepped into her power, looked in the box and saw her full beauty, which was unconscious. She dared to take what she wanted. She saw the truth of who she was, saw her value and Divine origins, in the light of day. It’s brought to consciousness. She did not fall into a state of unconsciousness, as some believe, but her ego was realized as an illusion and what she discovered was her own Divinity.

She realized in that moment that she, Psyche, the soul, was not a mortal, but a Goddess. She understood that she was an equal to her husband, who was a God. She recognized in her wholeness that nothing was missing, or needed to be added. She saw her inner hidden beauty. She opened the box, and He (Eros) emerged from hiding, wiped the sleep from Her now Divine eyes, and married her on Olympus surrounded by the Gods and Goddesses. The only way they could have been married was if they were equal, the soul and the God of Love.

Cinderella was initiated by the Mean Stepmother in order to experience her true nature and find the Divine within. The only way she could have married a Prince and become a Princess was if she had found the inner truth first. Cinderella represents the soul that discovers it is not the human story of the ego, but something else entirely. The soul is and always was untouched by the world of form. The Prince is the God of Love and husband of the soul. When the soul remembers its Divine origin, the two are united as One.

The experiences that are the most trying can be looked at as opportunities to see beyond our limitations and move beyond ideas of being good. Stories and dreams can be road maps for the journey that reveal deeper meanings to us. They guide us to the Truth of our being. We are being initiated by the Goddess to look inside and awaken our souls to their Divine origins.

 

 

Reaching for the Ineffable

3-2 FishEye

The inhalation begins, as the eye unfolds, opening, a lifting of the lid, and the winged fish emerges from the ocean’s depths with the rising sun. The winged fish reaches its apex, it turns to begin its descent, as the eyelid slides down across the eye, the exhalation releases, and a gentle splash is heard as the winged fish leads the sun into the still, silent depths of the Unknown.

Reaching for the Ineffable

This post is a duplicate because I could not get the photo in this one to post when the blog was shared….

3-2 FishEye

The inhalation begins, as the eye unfolds, opening, a lifting of the lid, and the winged fish emerges from the ocean’s depths with the rising sun. The winged fish reaches its apex, it turns to begin its descent, as the eyelid slides down across the eye, the exhalation releases, and a gentle splash is heard as the winged fish leads the sun into the still, silent depths of the Unknown.

The Poetic Language of the Soul

Bird-Egg-Fish

I had the following dream in my twenties:

A group of us are being held hostage by several men. We all lay on the deck at the front of a cottage in the middle of a field. The men sit inside watching us. We have to jump up and catch a transistor flying through the air when no one is looking to gain our freedom. I do this and am released. I walk toward the woods.

Dreams come for the benefit of the soul, not the mind. They speak in the soul’s symbolic language and not the mind’s literal language. This is also true for myth, fairy tales, stories, and the things related to the life of the soul.

There is usually one literal meaning to something, but several possible meanings when symbolism is involved.

One possible meaning of the above dream is that the mind was holding me hostage. That I needed to be still until I received information that wasn’t coming from a material source to win my freedom. I had to catch the information floating on the airwaves, which could mean intuition. The masculine says, “This is what you need to do to win your freedom,” be still, wait until the right time, listen, and make your move. Listen for the still, quiet voice to learn something essential to our freedom.

What appears on the surface as being held hostage by someone or something, can take on a deeper meaning when we see that what seems to be one thing is something else entirely. More specifically, we interpret the situation as being held against my will, but in the end I win my freedom. If I hadn’t been held, I might not have opened myself to intuition and won my freedom from the patriarchy, mind, or however it might be interpreted.

Dreams are like fairy tales. This dream theme appears repeatedly in fairy tales. Dorothy is held hostage by the Wicked Witch, Cinderella by her Stepmother, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty by the Beast, Rapunzel by the Old Woman, the mythic Psyche by Eros (then Venus) and Persephone by Hades, Hansel and Gretel by the Witch. None of these characters are free at some point in their story.

When we look at stories literally, we miss the deeper meaning. If the stories were about young women who were in these situations, then we would say this is about the poor heroine as a victim who waits for the prince (in some stories) to set her free. As you may have noticed by the range of stories I have included, they aren’t all rescued by a prince. If we look at them symbolically, none are.

If we read about Dorothy talking to the Tin Man, we don’t say, “She’s psychotic.” We often say it’s pretend, a story, entertainment. What if this is Dorothy conversing with the part of herself that has lost touch with her heart? The part of her that says, “Work, work, work, more, harder, faster, to get what you want.” In the process, she got stuck, and lost contact with her own heart, love, and her soul.

What if the stories weren’t meant to be taken literally? What if they were not intended for the mind but for the soul? What if the stories, like dreams, were in the language of the soul and were about the soul’s freedom from the conditioning of the patriarchal culture?

The soul thrives on depth. Deeper meaning, being, interaction with nature that comes from open and aware engagement. It is nourished by poetry, beauty, and love. Not superficial beauty, love, and stories, but stories, love, and beauty that does not conform to the culture’s ideas of what has value. They reach through the doorway of symbolic language to a deeper truth and meaning to nourish and assist in the growth of the soul.