Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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Learning about archetypes has taught me to look at life more closely, and free myself of some old restrictive self images. We all play different parts in our own lives. As we age our desires naturally change and our personalities become more complex. In our history we can discern times when one role has been the dominant one, giving way to another as time passed. Some of us never outgrow our rebel, and some are artists whose latent talent is not discovered until a ripe old age. We all have within our psyches a child, a victim, a saboteur, and a prostitute that are brought to the spotlight by different circumstances.
Plato called this phenomena forms. Carl Jung coined the phrase and defined basic archetypes. He taught that these pure images arise in dreams and in reality as a result of the collective consciousness. Carolyn Myss has evolved the work to include many more archetypes, and has created books, cards, and courses to teach the concepts. It is a powerful practice to draw a timeline of your own life and remember when you encountered strong archetypes in yourself and other people, and how that may have been repeated. All religions use archetypes to teach lessons because they are memorable. The archetype in my first house is the hedonist. When that hedonist is good she is very very good, and when she is bad she is horrid. Such is the case with all of these eternal and universal roles. They have both a light and a dark side. The possibilities are endless. Do you have a strong dominant role you have played throughout your life?
Carl Jung, Leo Swiss shrink and alchemist, invited his patients to record their own visions as he did in his Red Book. He councils patients to record their visions in order to interpret the voice of the soul:
“Think of it in your imagination and try to paint it. Then when these things are in some precious book you can go to the book & turn over the pages & for you it will be your church-your cathedral-the silent places of your spirit where you will find renewal. If anyone tells you that it is morbid or neurotic and you listen to them-then you will
lose your soul-for in that book is your soul. ~Red Book; Page 216.
Today we have digital means of making art which I enjoy as self expression. What Carl is talking about here, however, is hand on paper. He tells the patient to use good paper and art supplies to document all visions. He explains that by drawing the vision the magnetism it contains is neutralized. He suggests that the expression of the detail is an important way to build self understanding. I will continue to enjoy my digital art making, but think it is time to spend more time with hand on paper. I love to draw mandalas and other geometric patterns. I wonder if I begin now if I can produce a Red Book worth saving. Have you started your Red Book?
Rita Hayworth embodied the ultimate femme fatale in her movie role of Gilda. She was the pin-up goddess that excited WWII soldiers with her sexy alluring figure. Classic dangerous women come in a few formats. In literature this woman can be everything from a succubus, destroying men in their sleep, to a sexy helpless woman hiring a private eye. She differs from the Vamp in her indirect approach. She uses manipulative behavior to acquire money and men without investing any personal emotion. In some stories, she also kills her victim. When she is rejected, like Scarlett O’Hara is in Gone with the Wind, she may experience an opening of the heart, and a change. Is this woman totally a myth, or do we see her in our lives? Are there public femme fatales?
Your dreams are personal and they arise from the collective unconscious as well as your own. We all share a foundation of unknown mythology that our ancestors built into our beliefs. We share, and sometimes rebel against, cultural practices and teachings. To deeply analyze our own psychological types dream work is necessary. The setting and the characters portrayed in dreams are metaphorical players in our spiritual lives. Deeper understanding of our own unconscious leads to better understanding and appreciation for all of life.
There has been an attempt to hijack the word dream and turn it into a house or a car, or that illusive American Dream. The big consumer consciousness promotes purchases of certain items in order to fulfill a dream. It also spotlights outer image as the key to dreaminess. I think it is important to note that marketing experts use the personality types to design ad campaigns and sales persons use them to craft the appropriate pitch for the prospect. The archetype technique is being used strategically to manipulate you and your dreams. If you submit willingly you will buy a lot of stuff with dubious dream fulfillment. Take the reigns, gentle reader. Design your own dreamscapes and accept no substitutes.
One of Carl Jung’s most controversial theories was his view of the God within. He was drastically disappointed in his first communion at the Swiss Reform Church. His father was the pastor and Carl was a faithful member of his church. He expected something more, or different, when he attended that communion. He basically never stopped pursuing that ecstasy he had wanted through religion for the rest of his life.
His later years were consumed with individuation, which he considered to be the meaning of existence. He used artistic expression, dream journaling, and isolation in a primitive tower built by his own hand to achieve his own individuation. He studied ancient alchemy and philosophy. His belief that symbols contain the most direct and deep meaning lead him to study ancient texts and charts. To Jung individuation was not a substitute for God, but a deep search for the divine nature of self.
His investigations were deep and lengthy. He stated that he only studied of God as a psychological archetype and not as religious doctrine. His idea of the collective unconscious is that images and symbols are primordial. We absorb symbolic messages but do not analyze their meaning. That is why Jungian therapy can include sand box drawing, word association, and art to discover archetypes. Dream work is a pivotal part of Jungian analysis. In his tower, reading about ancient alchemists, living without modern conveniences, Jung came close to living in a dream. Most cannot afford such an extravagant personal quest for the divine, but we can all do a little dream investigation. Does God enter your dreams?
“My friends, it is wise to nourish the soul, otherwise you will breed dragons and devils in your heart.” ~Carl Jung, Red Book, Page-232.
Carl Jung changed the history and the practice of psychiatry. His work is used today by some who are not even aware of his influence or the story of his life. The Red Book was published posthumously after being locked in a bank vault in Switzerland for many years. Finally out of the shadows itself, the book serves as a deep reference as well as an artistic guide to the underworld. How would the Red Book of your soul look? When do you plan to create it?
Toni Wolfe, colleague and lover of Carl Jung, identified 4 feminine archetypes. These cardinal qualities divide feminine characters into power centers, or capabilities. Toni understood when she created this foursome as a guide that no individual is purely one archetype on the stage of life. These are ways of looking at personality and talent, not so different from fairy tales and mythological tales.
Life is circular and the core, or center of the circle, is essentially a seed from which the rest of the circle sprouts. Our DNA, birthplace and time, our circumstances at birth are at the center. We contain unique combinations of archetypal power and symbology, both in waking life and in dreams. We begin in the middle of a complex mandala, and work our way out to the edges of consciousness. Limitations are imposed for our education and edification. Dream images give us hints to our own potential as well as to danger. Fairy, Wise Woman, Lover and Queen existed in most cultures before Toni Wolfe mapped out her quadruple qualities. These can be divided, in turn, into variations on a theme.
All people have both male and female archetypes, anima and animus. These might be thought of as north and south, visible and invisible, cardinal points that must also be balanced in the fully realized being. No individual is completely masculine or feminine, good or evil, right or wrong. Tyrants represent an imbalance, a shadow or hidden quality of power, a failure to employ wisdom. Wisdom was historically embodied in the Titan goddess Hekate, guardian of the crossroads. She has three faces, looking in three directions. She carries, along with three torches, a key, a rope, and a knife. She meets you at the crossroads of life and has the power to both assist and punish humans. If she didn’t have three heads, a polecat and a pack of hounds she would resemble the Virgin of Guadalupe, and have similar intercessional powers. Her ancient symbol is a wheel with three parts.
When we identify ourselves we use memory and words to describe our personalities. We play different roles in our lives, which can be broken down into archetypes. Understanding the ancient pantheon or modern breakdown of archetypes at work will reveal your true motives and those of others. The use of astrology in art is a way to place different aspects of life in alignment with different personality traits. In the Renaissance it was suggested that by painting the gods and goddesses that rule each planet of the birth horoscope on the bedroom ceiling as a reminder of the many forces at work, a student of magic/medicine would be well served. The plants and medicines were ruled by planets, and the maladies each had a planetary influence as well. To practice medicine was to be in tune with all that science could offer and all that folk medicine could prove empirically. Symbols work directly in the healing arts just as they do in religion. Beyond words, meaning conveyed through amulets, talismans, astrological paintings, and other magic objects goes to work at a subconscious level. What is your environment saying to you?
To unplug from our own daily delusions through meditation and retreat is healthy. Carl Jung built his stone tower to surround his soul with art that directly symbolizes his inner being. To be fully individuated was the intention behind building the tower by hand in Bollingen and living/decorating it with the symbols that had meaning to him. Living off the grid, and on the water Jung was able to create a retreat that embodied his own psyche. Using his own nature combined with the spirit of the place Jung built a living evolving hermitage. He was interested in alchemy at the end of his career. He was an esteemed shrink with many followers, yet when he went symbolic alchemical on them they did not appreciate the work he had decided to pursue. He was in a position to do as he pleased. The publication of The Red Book after his death has revealed how much he did exactly that.
If you had a place on the water with funds devoted to your building of a retreat what kind of temple would you construct? If you had your choice of materials and colors how would you design your surroundings? If there is no lakeside property in your holdings, do you have a corner of a room, or a space on your window sill to set aside as your own altar or sacred reminder? Is there an inherited item that belongs in the spot, or does it need some art created by and for you? Do you successfully use your gifts as they arrive, while always developing a deeper, more confident, content sense of yourself in this world? Do you have a big backlog of inherited symbols that do not belong with you at all, but are still hanging around in your life? How much of your environment feeds your soul? Can you find a place for personal art and meditation, whatever that means to you? Do you have a few minutes each day to be still and know? These small steps can be a change in direction toward a full happy life. Find a space and a few minutes. See what you can do with them.