Sophia’s Royal Origins ~

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The king and queen rejoiced at her birth, it was the moment when Heaven kissed Earth.

Once upon a time, on a lovely day in early summer, the King and Queen welcomed their long-awaited child into the world. They named their beautiful daughter Sophia. The day was perfect in all regards, except that with the descent of the sun, as the day transitioned from evening to night, the Queen took her final breath and left the world. The King was overjoyed at the birth of his daughter, but equally distressed about the loss of the Queen.

The King dreamt that very night of his dear departed wife. She told him to give their daughter to the nursemaid to secretly raise as her own. No one was to know the King and Queen’s child survived, because Sophia might not be safe if she remained with the King. Those with ill-intent could try to manipulate her and use her for their own gain, since she was the heir to the throne. He was so moved by the earnestness of the Queen that as soon as he woke up, he summoned the nursemaid, told her of the dream, and she took the child home.

The nursemaid and her husband, the cobbler, were such honest and upstanding people, that when they told the townspeople the child came from the nursemaid’s sister in a distant town who had died suddenly in childbirth, the townspeople had no cause to question it. They were mourning the loss of the Queen and her baby, so they never gave it a second thought. The couple raised Sophia as if she was their own.

She was a beautiful child. The girl was humble and adopted the ways of her poor kindly loving parents. They had a simple life in which she worked hard, like they did, and accepted their beliefs as her own, as most children do. Although, her parents didn’t tell her who she really was, to protect her, she occasionally woke from her dreams with a feeling of having been home, but it wasn’t the one that she knew. Those dreams evoked a sense of belonging elsewhere. She never told her mother or father because she didn’t want to hurt their feelings.

Sophia dreamt of her origins on her fifteenth birthday. When she awoke that lovely summer day, she was perplexed. It was the same old familiar dream of being in a home that wasn’t the one she lived in with the nursemaid and cobbler, but this time, a Queen told Sophia that she was the daughter of the King and Queen. There were servants in the dream that helped Sophia put on beautiful clothes of sumptuous fabrics. She knew that she was their daughter and the dream was true. Upon arising, she went to her mother.

When the nursemaid heard the dream, she told Sophia to sit. With tears streaming down her face, she told Sophia the whole story. She said they kept the secret to protect the princess until she was old enough to understand and act with integrity.

Sophia thanked her mother for her honesty and went for a walk in the woods to take it all in. As she ambled along the path, she realized that many of the things she had come to believe, weren’t true. The nursemaid and cobbler weren’t her true parents. She grew up simply and in relative poverty, never wanting for anything, but always with just enough. Now, she understood that she would not only inherit a throne, a castle and all that goes with it, but the entire Kingdom as well. She would eventually rule over all of it. Her future had changed in an instant. She learned the truth of her origins from the dream and wondered who she was without her old story.

Sophia said to herself, “The parents that raised the me I thought was me, are not my real parents. My true parents are those who awakened me in a dream to the me that I truly am. They are not of the world I am familiar with. Abundance is my birthright, the gifts which I have now realized are an everlasting source of wealth. The Queen in the dream castle, my true mother, told me of my real inheritance.”

Sophia had to choose which story she was going to live. When she looked up, she saw that she had walked to the castle. The nursemaid and King were waiting for her. They cried tears of joy as they welcomed her back to her true home.

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What Happened to the Tinman?

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The Tinman in The Wizard of Oz is a wood chopper, just like his father was. He is a flesh and blood man who lives in the forest alone, since his parents died. He’s lonely until the day he meets a Munchkin girl and falls in love. He wants to marry her, but she wants him to build a bigger house first. He sets out to build that house.

The Munchkin girl lives with and cares for an old woman. She does all of the chores. When the woman hears about the plans of the Munchkin girl and the wood chopper, she asks the local witch to intervene. The woman doesn’t want to lose the girl, because then she would have to do all of her work herself.

The witch put a spell on the ax of the wood chopper. The ax slips as he chops wood for the house and his leg is cut off. That is unfortunate, until the tinsmith says he can make the wood chopper a new leg out of tin. The wood chopper continues building the house.

The old woman discovers the wood chopper is still at it. She goes back to the witch, which means another spell, the ax slips again, and the wood chopper loses another leg. The wood chopper has the tinsmith fix him up again and continues working. The whole cycle repeats, until the wood shopper chops his torso right in half, and loses his heart.

This last slip of the ax means he can’t feel anything and no longer loves the Munchkin girl.

Once he is all tin, he must carry an oil can with him, since he gets stuck whenever it rains.

The wood chopper followed in his father’s footsteps and lived in his parent’s house. This indicates to us that he lives in an old family consciousness. Did he ever ask himself if that was what he wanted? Was it his heart’s desire? To be a wood chopper and live in his parent’s house?

He meets the Munchkin Girl and starts to build a bigger house to get her to marry him. Did he want a bigger house? This Girl represents an out of touch feminine energy, who says things are inadequate as they are and wants more. This is also evident from his behavior as well. Why? Because he doesn’t know when to say “it’s enough” either. He just continues going along, chopping off his own limbs, and never stops to look at what he is doing. The Tinman doesn’t ask himself if the price of this house, or Munchkin Girl, is too high. He is sacrificing himself.

He doesn’t know when to stop, sit down, and look inside at what he is doing, or how he is living. Work, work, work without question. Chop, chop, chop the emotions get repressed. Contact is lost with the body. Go, at all cost, without realizing the price is too high. He is slowly losing too much. Eventually, he cannot even access his heart and love. The body becomes rigid and there isn’t any feeling.

He’s a wood chopper cutting down trees for a living. Trees represent the connection between Heaven and Earth, above and below, the seen and unseen, which he is severing. His activity disconnects him from the below, body, and the above, spirit. The inner and outer life is separate. He is not present or aware.

The fateful rain, which is emotion, when it does come, freezes him up. He gets stuck and is unable to move. It forces him to stop. The Tinman is mired in rigid thinking and predictable patterns of response. He has to be still in order to access the lubricant that will get him moving again.

In order to free him and the heart, the Wicked Witch, who is afraid of water like the Tinman, has to be melted by the waters of emotion. When she takes Dorothy hostage, she puts her to work in the kitchen, which is associated with the heart. Dorothy must learn to tend the fires of her heart and love.

When we sit in stillness, we discover what we feel about what we are doing and how we are living. Wisdom is gained through silence. Things are going so quickly today that it is easy to forget to check in to ask important questions. Are we following the heart? Feel in the body and connected to spirit? Taking time to be quiet, feelings our feelings, linking the inner and outer life through awareness? Or stuck in rigid outmoded beliefs and patterns of response? Is the Wicked Witch alive or has she been melted? Are you free and living from the heart?

Beauty and Freedom~

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The heroine in “Beauty and the Beast” could have easily believed she was a victim. Beauty’s mother died when she was young. When her father lost all of his fortune they left the city, where she was free to read and do as she pleased all day, and moved to the country. Beauty then had to do all of the housework, cooking, and cleaning, while her sisters did nothing, but torment her. Then, her father sacrificed her to the Beast to save his own neck and for financial gain. It would be easy for us to believe she was a victim, but she wasn’t.

The Beast represents an instinctual masculine energy that values the feminine. He is asleep in the unconscious until Beauty’s Father stumbles across him. The Beast awakens because the Father is out of touch and isn’t instinctually aware of what to do when he faces a challenge. He discovers the Beast’s castle on a dark stormy night as he wanders alone deep in the forest, which symbolizes the unconscious. He is lost, in more ways than one.

Beauty selflessly cares for her family. She plans to live with her Father forever, and has no intention of leaving home, which means her instinct is off as well. She should want to grow up and leave home, but is content to stay right where she is, in a limited consciousness, taking care of her siblings and Father.

Since Beauty doesn’t plan to leave home, life circumstances eventually force her to leave her Father’s house, and move into the Beast’s. The Beast represents an instinctual knowing neither she, nor her Father, have. Both the Father and Beauty think the Beast will kill her, but on the first night she discovers an apartment with her name over the door. She finds all of her favorite things inside. Why would the Beast do this if he planned to eat her? Obviously, he doesn’t.

He knows what she loves and who she is, before he even meets her.

The Beast sets the ground rules at the very beginning of their relationship. First, he wants honesty. He doesn’t want her to tell him what she thinks he wants to hear, but the truth. That was an issue he had with her Father. He wants to trust what she says. The Beast wants her to speak up about what she feels and wants fearlessly.

He tells her she can do anything she wants. She thought she would have to obey his every command, but he tells her she doesn’t. Initially, she is afraid of his anger, rage, and that he will hurt her, but she speaks up anyway. He asks her to marry him each night at dinner, and she says no. She finally tells him one night that she enjoys his company, but she will not ever marry him. He accepts what she says, but asks her to promise to never leave him.

Beauty wants to go home to see her Father. The Beast agrees, but wants her word that she will return within ten days. She says she will, but doesn’t. Her sisters distract her and she stays longer than she said she would. She has a dream on the tenth night that the Beast is dying of a broken heart and realizes she’s made a mistake.

She wakes up knowing what to do and what she wants. She doesn’t want to remain a child in her Father’s house, at that level of consciousness, and returns to the Beast. Now she knows she wants to marry him, the instinctual masculine who loves, values her, and insists she is free.

He is a new inner masculine. The Beast speaks loudly and angrily with the Father in the beginning, because he has been ignored, dismissed, and overlooked. He was the rejected masculine voice in the unconscious. He was frustrated with actions that didn’t value the feminine. He wanted to be heard, to get Beauty’s attention as a part of her psyche. He may shout in dreams and through intuition to get her listen and act. Once she begins to respond to him, he won’t have to take such drastic measures.

He is the inner masculine who values the feminine, beauty, love, and the soul. She is free and he wants her to stand up for herself, which she finally does.

Beauty is free. She always was free, she just didn’t realize it, until he showed her that she was. She had to believe it for herself. She eventually realizes she loves him, this part of her that cherishes her and believes in her. This transforms the Beast into a Prince and they live happily ever after.

We all want to be free. When beginning to step out as ourselves, after having not been seen, heard, or valued, the inner masculine can seem like a Beast. Shouting to be heard, angry at gifts being devalued, and feeling overlooked. He eventually calms down as we continue to do what we want and say what needs to be said, regardless of what others think. Through inner listening, we learn to instinctively know when to act and what to do. If we persist, he will be transformed and we will be free to be ourselves.

 

Viewing Old Stories with New Eyes~

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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.

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.

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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.