Archive for the ‘Initiation’ category

Initiation Dream Series: Healing Splits, Flying, Swimming, & Singing Dawn Songs

September 28, 2019

The following dream is the first of three I want to interpret as a series at some point. The second in the series, the Three Crones Receive the Knife dream posted below, jumped into getting posted first because I was discussing the issue of how/why encapsulated trauma requires special handling, eg: piercing prior to working through. I will be posting the third and writing about how dreams can anticipate or foreshadow future developments.

This one opens with a seminar discussion in which I am concerned with how best to describe the conditions conducive to healing splits. I then have this experience which I would describe as reflective of Borderland Consciousness as formulated by Jerome Bernstein.

11-23-12 Friday AM (after Thanksgiving Gathering): I’m at a conference/seminar/training of some kind, coastal, sprawled out hotel/campus like, with descending levels, when moving from north to south, along the beach to the immediate west. A woman presenter, analyst type, is discussing a case, and makes a conclusion. It is about a young man with a split problem of some kind; I want to carry the dialogue further, as in my mind I picture asking the group to reflect on what each person senses is the essence of what will help heal this state/condition? What would each of us say about our way into this scenario? After weighing the possibility of engaging the presenter and suggesting such an exercise, I decided not to break into the real time possibility, rather I spontaneously pictured asking the group and then, in my turn, offering the vivid, clear guidance which came to me, something like: all that is required is that one who has the experience of both (parts of the split), to be the split, to be in the split, and to be whole, also; that one, that one, in simply being present, creates the container, the energetic field, for the other, the split one, to begin to orient to what is all around, inner/outer, and the wholeness begins to flow in, and where there was/were split(s), the tension goes out, dissipates, and there is first then the bridge between all facets, and then the filling in, and now oneness in diversity. Something like that.

Then, I was separate from the group, making my way from one end of the campus to the other, mostly inside, as if long multi-level hotel, and working down, south, with the ocean to my right, and I started to realize I could fly/lift off/hover my way in negotiating a narrow staircase, and that I like to do this; this took the form of a certain feeling I get when trying this in dreams; I concentrate, and sort of begin by intentionally, when I can feel it, slowly lifting my feet off the ground, and find, yes, I can hang, free from gravity, suspended for a moment, and establishing my feeling of connection to the air and my ability to float/fly, I can then begin to slowly, in this instance, steer/guide myself, through arm gesturing, guiding up, over, back and forth, around and down. I begin to do this with awareness of others possibly taking notice – it is very striking in its quietness and impossibility – but let that go, the issue of calling attention to myself with risk for distracting my process, as I was primarily concentrating intensely on the descent through the narrow staircase, a bit spirally, and was noticing how I thought I should be falling, but instead, I had to work at dropping; pulling with my arms, twisting my body a bit, slowly, quite slowly, with patience and total focus, winding my way down the channel; after this I decided to continue with the flying/hovering, and move up and over a wall, which was open at the top, to the next room/hall over; I was concentrating intensely; effort-full but relaxed, until finally, I was outside, standing on the street at the end of the complex, and I saw a man, one of the event organizers, watching me approach. He said “Chuck?” I said ”You are Patrick?” “Yes, yes.” He said the others had already moved through, and we will join them now for the closing; first we stop and sit at the banquet table (it seems), with evidence of the others having been there. Patrick is to my right, and another man sits down to my left, and introduces himself as “Endrick.” I say I am Chuck. I see the remains of the feast; in front of me are my servings, a number of tasty looking morsels, including a miniature hamburger like roll/ food bite, with a purple berry like “patty” filling. We look at each other; and I say to them “This is a little like the wizard of Oz, when we’re back, and I recognize the two of you from our long journey….” I woke up feeling very amazed and thinking “Endrick?”.

Waking reflections and dreaming the dream onward: When I woke up the owls were calling; I thought about the long sequence and realized it was an interesting and important dream to record right then. I got up, put on my robe and slippers and headed downstairs to I grab my journal; I decided to pass on turning on any lights and keep going down to the daylight basement level and use my newly installed Walter Pelton Bender memorial bathroom to move my bowels. I liked the idea I could turn on the wall heater and relax with the images. I turned on the overhead light on super low and listened to the owls; thought about the fun yesterday, and how much I enjoyed the family, my grand kids, and everyone; as my attention turned to the dream “flying” sequence, I was struck with how those sensations mimicked a salmon negotiating a narrow stream passage; the way I was as if floating, seemed practically identical with swimming, pulling my self through the waters in my descent on the stairway, a carefully negotiated hard work effort, almost in slow motion, that worked. It took the time and concentration it took. I thought about the salmon dream last week; and all the others, and thought about all of this as from view of recognizing a deep initiation into connecting with the salmon peoples, and this dream as contributing to my understanding of this ancient connection, awareness now accomplished at some breakthrough level, and wept with gratitude and wonderful feeling of more wholeness; then I walked outside and approached the trail in the direction of the owls.

They sounded right overhead, with one to my left, one ahead, and one a bit away to my right. I stood quietly, listening, and then moved slowly ahead; I crouched down, doing what I could to get into an owl-like position; the owl to my left flew ahead, above the tree tops, and landed on the very top of a tree within my direct line of site. I thought “this is their dawn song.” I quietly began to call back, joining into their call/response song. The other close in owl flew ahead, and landed in a nearby treetop, also now revealed to me from where I was crouching. I could see both moving as they called back and forth, we, with the third calling from a bit farther south, out of my view. I guess I made the fourth. This went on for a few minutes before the two closest, one and then the other, flew back towards what I imagined to be their nest at the back of our acreage in a very large Douglas Fir tree. By now it was about 7 AM. I recognized this was their dawn song, and I was blessed too be able to sing with them this morning. I slowly walked in the direction of the back acreage and found myself in a spontaneous prayer: thank you brothers…thank you sisters…from nature, to nature, in nature…thank you.

Curiously, along with several other associations to Endrick, when I tried Googling the name Endrick, I found references to Endrick Water, or the River Endrick, a river which flows into the eastern end of Loch Lomond, Scotland. I enjoyed the association I was connecting with an ancient salmon run. On this note, “Magic Words“, a Netsilik Eskimo Poem comes to mind.

Comment on Three Crones Dream Below

September 19, 2019

In a comment from below, Anarkali offered: “As an archetypal astrologer, I see you have noted the date and time of this dream. Be interesting to study the transit chart to see what was caught in your dream.”

I find this suggestion fascinating, as it seems the option of checking the stars on that now remote time and space would be a wonderful way to think about the collective influences, as reflected in/through the dreamer’s (me) consciousness. In the interest of this being a dialogue, I have reached out via email to Anarkali about a consultation.

The opening dream setting and imagery suggests the archetypal layer of consciousness: three crones in a space that is both ancient and contemporary in some parts of the world, the curved knives indicating iron age or more recent. The consciousness reflected in “we understand we are dead, or have died, and its not a problem for us” is an other worldly, dream time consciousness. The ritual with intention aspect offered during this current time of such global turmoil, with sacrifices being suffered in so many unconscious ways, pull for some witnessing consciousness. What are we to make of the onslaught of violence against others and all of nature? The initiated choose to suffer these symbolic deaths with consciousness and meaning. What might the stars tell us? I am open.

Piercing Encapsulated Trauma: Three Crones Receive the Knife

August 14, 2019

I want to offer this dream in support of recognizing the issue of how to access encapsulated trauma complexes. Healing requires the dismantling of the defenses which were our survival; one must first cure the partial cure.

11-29-12 Thursday 4:56: Very vivid, short dream with three of us, all women. I’m one of the them, and I am also myself, observing my woman-self as if standing behind and looking over my crone self’s shoulder. We are standing together in a kitchen and we understand we are dead, or have died, and its not a problem for us. The focus turns to the idea, the recognition of the timing being right, for giving and receiving the knife. This is a ritual process we are in charge of doing periodically. It is somehow vitally important we attend to this for the sake of the community. The woman opposite me pulls out several ancient, long curved bladed knives and with great intention brings one forward towards the belly of the woman on my left, making contact and slowly plunging it into her; the movement is a bit downward; I/we can all feel it going in deeply. Then, slowly withdrawing the blade, she turns to see me, signaling now it will be my turn to receive the knife. I seem to ready myself for this by involuntarily shuddering and leaning first forward, leading with my head/chin pulling up and back, offering my belly, and then, intensely anticipating the knife finding my belly, I can’t help flinching and pulling slightly back. I am struck by how deeply I can feel this wounding, penetrating me to my core, opening me up completely; there is a moment of tremendous surrender and release of pitiful grief as I fully experience receiving the knife. Coming out of this deep practicing of having been pierced, I am silently, through my tears, attentive to what will happen immediately, my turn… I am thinking, yes, this is what we do; this is what it is like, it happens like this to all of us. It is painful. This is the way it is.”

At the time I had this dream, my sense was it was a compensatory dream pointing to my ongoing vulnerability to inflation; this offered a radical image of deflation. The intensity and directness of the action suggested I was/am experienced in the giving and receiving of this primary wound. The ritual, anchored by ritual elders, crones in this instance, seemed to be in the service of supporting the community/collective to be continuously aware of the reality of ongoing sacrifices, both conscious, in this case, but also unconscious. A contemporary example of this would be government actions which seem completely removed from the profound impact on the children separated from their parents, without notice.

My analyst offered what seemed to me to be a very helpful interpretation. He suggested the crone on my left represented the opening of encapsulated trauma. While I have been able to grasp the conceptual meaning of this dynamic in this regard, the dream provided a direct experience of the relationship between role of the encapsulation in defending against previously unbearable trauma, in contrast to gaining direct access in the service healing: this piercing of the encapsulation is necessary for one to access the original wound directly.

From this perspective, this sequence signals progress on the continuum of my personal work to “cure the cure”.

In order to access our wounds directly for purposes of healing the split one must both suffer and bear witness to an immersion into the original affects. As Donald Kalsched has observed, for this to occur, a deconstruction of the partial cure defenses is required.

One more comment for now: We clearly have problems with inflation at the collective level. At this level, it seems the three crones are keeping the vigil for all who may not be able to choose deflation. At the human, personal and couple work level, how often do we put our partner in the position of delivering a necessarily deflating message? What might be going on here for you?

Making a Case for Trauma Complexes: Mending the Tear that Always shows…

June 12, 2019

I just decided to open this with a Neal Young lyric from Round and Round.

“Round and round and round we spin,
To weave a wall to hem us in,
It won’t be long, it won’t be long
How slow and slow and slow it goes,
To mend the tear that always shows.
It won’t be long, it won’t be long.”

What is with mending the tear that always shows? I am thinking this tear that always shows captures symbolically the universal experience of the time we encountered something beyond our emotional breaking point. Then, something has to give; symbolically, a tear accommodates this unbearable strain. Stein and Stein, in their discussion of Psychotherapy, Initiation and the Midlife Transition, suggest that these days, in the absence of formal rights of passage rituals for most westerners, the therapy setting can provide the container for transformative ritual processes. They reference the art and science of maieutics – midwifery – as an image for containing and supporting psyche in what is essentially a birthing process: the ego suffers a symbolic death in the process of getting more deeply connected to the guiding Self. The greater consciousness (Self) can not come through the lessor (ego) without a death.

I have suggested that in the absence of good enough ritual elders, traumas can be lived through, but remain essentially incomplete intitiatory experiences. At some point, in the midlife or later, we need to open up this encapsulated, episodic memory centered trauma complex in order to re-integrate the split off material and thereby gain conscious wisdom in the ways of the world.

Had an elder been present at the time of the original insult/injury, something like an episiotomy might have been indicated and offered, to mange the inevitability of the tear, in the service of enabling the birth of the greater awareness, while minimizing the scar tissue.

Here, below, I am trying on the idea that our universal challenge is each of us has suffered a tear somewhere along the way. For me, this tear points to the reality one has suffered through, survived, a core wound; this is a wound of disconnect. We then put in place all manner of workarounds.  Might we just accept and support, together, recognizing any and all lost and/or rejected parts of ourselves? (see not-me (Bromberg) For me the Bromberg frame recognizes all kinds of highly individualized modules of being,waiting to be invited back in; what I am talking about here is the idea that there is indeed a primary, ground zero tear that is the tear that always shows.

I believe Robert Johnson has describe this as the Fisher King wound; the wound which never heals, experienced/received at the time we first registered an emotional overwhelm which our consciousness at the time could not contain.

Walking it through:

You know, we’ve all had our troubles.

Something comes along, at some point, that you just can’t hold; consciousness is ruptured, overwhelmed; one becomes two.

Blessed psyche – blessed as in life saving – comes in and facilitates, manages, finesses this tear; we get split, disconnected, separated within our self. Symbolically, this psychological dismemberment is recorded as a death.

New defenses arise, support workarounds, adaptations. We get through, or not.

These wound-generated defenses form the basis of the partial cure. Partial in that it employs dissociation to cover up the reality of the now-buried-to-consciousness disconnect. Amnesia assists, amnesia for the amnesia enables. We go about our business.

For some, perhaps many or even most, this partial cure may be enough.

But, the fact is, until we can gain access, debride and bring healing into the primary wound, we will be characterologically challenged. Incapable of risking vulnerability, self-self and self-other communications will be burdened by an unseen constraint/constriction.

The partial cure at best functions as kind of governor on one’s ability to feel the feelings which inform emotional intimacy.

Healing this split requires we bridge this divide with consciousness.

Bridging the divide starts with bearing witness to the reality of the chasm.

Creating, embracing a mature consciousness which can priortize staying grounded enough, connected enough, safe enough, to hold the energies of the original split without splitting, is a big first step. This is the place of bearing witness. We recognize the importance of learning to open and hold steady, as we can, in the experience of an immersion into the images and affects which required the split at the time of the overwhelm. Rilke’s image of A Man Watching comes to mind here:

“I can tell by the way the trees beat, after
so many dull days, on my worried windowpanes
that a storm is coming,
and I hear the far-off fields say things
I can’t bear without a friend,
I can’t love without a sister.”

How can we hear, bear, love, in the face of such distress?

Our work is with the partial cure until such time as we can gain access to the hidden disconnect. I am thinking Jung and Donald Kalsched’s work with the divided self complex frame* is about this issue at a radical level. Perhaps it will be helpful to think about a hierarchical short list of events/episodes/scenes contributing to the composite divided self complex.

Accessing the split off trauma complex, suffering an affective immersion into the dissociated experience, heals the split. (See Sandner/Beebe on healing splits)

Understanding conceptually that increasing consciousness and well being puts one in the position to surface one’s inventory of split off episodes of trauma, one by one, sounds daunting. Really? Must I/we go there?

Gaining access to original, encapsulated scenes requires a shift in the defenses that have been deployed to maintain the encapsulation. In his discussions about the nature of Sacred Space, Robert Moore observed when sacred space is present, that which is a source of conflict for the individual or group will come in; sacred space pulls for the de-structuring of the ego, which in turn then allows for contact with that which is seeking to come into awareness. See Eliade.

With the piercing of the encapsulation, a direct, re-experiencing of the wounding becomes possible; the image and affect scene/picture of the whole-body-being-torn-in-two, the primary split, comes into view.

The experience of the relaxing of the typically decades long defense against re-membering the reality of the wound already suffered, is usually accompanied by a profound sense of relief, as one finally gets to consciously know what one has always known. This coming home to one’s self is the felt experience of re-establishing the connection with one’s lost self.

It is the completion of the incomplete initiatory experience.

*This link connects to a short essay I wrote about my divided self complex and includes references to Kalsched’s work in Trauma and the Soul, Kalsched, D. (2013) London: Routledge.

Luminous Wolf, Shared Piercing Dream

January 18, 2019

January 26, 2009 Dream: “My friends are giving me a medal, to be ‘pinned’ on my left flank, belly. I’m apprehensive, say ‘are you going to use rubbing alcohol on that large pin?’

Just then, a luminous wolf crosses from left to right in front of me. Hard to say how far, how close, her actual size, as she seems to be arriving from another dimension. Very healthy with a full silvery black coat, and surrounded by an incredible aura. She stops, turns her head over her right shoulder, to gaze at me. I notice, as part of her energetic aura, from her left flank, extending above her back, is a large arrow shaft, with feathers, suggesting she has an embedded arrow point in her left side, about where I am to be pierced. Her aura incorporates the arrow, as if she is living with it in vibrant health…”

WolfPiercedbyArrowDreamSelected

Waking Reflections: What struck me was how healthy she was, while still carrying the evidence of a likely mortal wound. Still, energetically, this arrow wasn’t limiting her presence and power.

In the dream it seems I am about to receive a blessing from the Spirit Brothers, a medal of some kind, in recognition of my relationship to my wound. (Unpublished back story) The pinning itself will be a flesh offering. At this moment the Wolf appears, affirming our work from the dream time. YES, she shows us, one’s wound need not be the death of one’s vitality. Something like that. Associations to the pelican piercing her own breast, the piercing of Jesus’ side on the cross, and the Sun Dance ceremony all come to mind.

And, we might ask, who is she, showing up with such vibrancy and generating such an incredible aura? An image of the Self? A transrational presence/being?

The Importance of Getting Triggered

September 15, 2018

Thinking about my conceptual frame Couple Experiential State Complex as Activated Threshold, I have been struck this week by the importance of focusing on tracking when we, self and others, get emotionally triggered.

By using the word triggered, I am hoping to tap into our collective, universal sense of knowing we are getting hijacked by something intensely emotional. As in getting one’s button(s) pushed.

A classic extreme example referenced in the early diagnostic manual for PTSD is if you were raped in an elevator, just seeing an elevator can evoke or trigger intense emotional and physiological reactions.

I have been making the case a spike in emotional intensity is the simplest indication we are activating/activated, announcing to all who can perceive, the presence of the blur.

From this perspective, if/when a microfracture in communication pulls us into a blur state, how can we recognize the conflict as meaningful? Might this really be an unbidden, spontaneous opportunity for healing? What if there is no such thing as fighting over little stuff?

Fred Kaufman has a post on LinkedIn Every Emotion Is A Love Story. I find this to be a great opener. If we can trust the emotion is right, but our consciousness of context and setting may be confused, we can turn our energies towards trying to drop into the deeper story. As Rumi advises in A Night Full of Talking: Everything has to do with loving and not loving. If we try on making the case the emotion is correct, how can we access the trauma complex driving the blur? Under what circumstances is this present overwhelming emotion appropriate?

Preparing oneself to enter into such a healing moment includes learning to see the power struggle as a co-created complex. From this perspective, the ritualistic elements reflect what we think of as repetition compulsions or re-enactments of the wounding. In alignment with Bromberg’s description of co-created dissociative enactments, these serve to bring the essence of the original wounding, with it’s associated transference and countertransference dance, palpably into the present moment.

In his discussion of the complexes, in their favorable aspect, John Perry observes: “The repetition compulsion, as has been pointed out so often, provides the ego the occasion again and again to encounter these rejected components of development in order finally to assimilate them in some happy moments….” My sense of what he means by “rejected components of development” is simply the recognition the absence of an elder presence allowed the violation to overwhelm the vulnerable child or adult, necessitating the activation of archetypal layer defenses, ie: a trauma complex. What was needed at the time to understand and work through the emotional overwhelm is still needed. I have played with this in thinking about the function  complexes serve in my Musing on Metamorphosis: the Complex as Chrysalis post. I have to confess for me, teleology is a big word! But, I believe it works!

In closing, I have included the graphic above to highlight the Participation Mystique &/or Trauma Portal detail.  We are all involved all of the time with some deeper level of consciousness, a multiplicity of self-states if you will, which wants to inform us about what more is going on. Because I tend to think about getting hijacked into negative emotion enactments, I find the idea getting triggered serves the blur’s function in opening a portal into the associated trauma. The repetitive couple complex enactments do seem to provide a portal into our most painful relationship failings.

Clearly, we need each other to approach going there. What is needed may be as simple, and as difficult, as dropping into the original scene, so that we may feel all of it, within relationship, bear witness together, and get the story told. (See Sandner and Beebe for an articulation of what it takes to heal a split.) This reflects the conceptual notion traumas, until they can be suffered consciously in the service of re-integration, are incomplete initiatory experiences. Creating the conditions, essentially accessing a consciousness that can bear to suffer the wounding without splitting, is the work.

If we can only hold onto the here and now, this world enactment – what you/he/she/they did or did not do to uphold our loving – we are doomed to continue with our co-created dissociated enactments.

Why not make a dedicated effort to sit with our deeper selves? We have to find a way to get to what was my part in initiating or participating in the dissociation just now? Can we strive to bear to feel as vulnerable as we may be feeling? To be continued…

Connecting the Dots: A Case for Embracing Conscious Enactment

June 8, 2016

My intention with this post, the first in my connecting the dots series of posts, is to pull from my pages the cluster of most helpful frames on universal problems and needs, in language everyone can hope to get working for themselves. Like it or not, we are all agents of consciousness, and when we can understand the importance of our conflicts in bringing us back into the wound that never seems to heal, we can perhaps access the guidance available within us to win our healing, self and other, together, in some happy moment. , It is, after all, a co-created system. This dot is about death and rebirth. Here we go.

Let’s start with a poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “The Holy Longing”:

“Tell a wise person, or else keep silent,
because the mass man will mock it right away.
I praise what is truly alive,
what longs to be burned to death.

In the calm water of the love-nights,
where you were begotten, where you have begotten,
a strange feeling comes over you,
when you see the silent candle burning.

Now you are no longer caught in the obsession with darkness,
and a desire for higher love-making sweeps you upward.

Distance does not make you falter.
Now, arriving in magic, flying,
and finally, insane for the light,
you are the butterfly and you are gone.
And so long as you haven’t experienced this: to die and so to grow,
you are only a troubled guest on the dark earth.”

Translated from the German by Robert Bly

The opening Tell a wise person, or else keep silent is cautionary. It seems Goethe knows something about the mass man who will mock it right away. I believe he is referring to this same mass man when he suggests And so long as you haven’t experienced this: to die and so to grow, you are only a troubled guest on the dark earth.

Until we are able to bring consciousness to our experiences of death and rebirth, we will be a troubled guest on a dark earth. This is an initiatory process. Learning to get one’s binocular vision back on line – the capacity to look both out and in with consciousness  – separates one from the herd. Honoring the reality of inner work puts one at risk for being discounted and shamed by those who have do not have a relationship with their inner work; having a sense of being locked out of one’s inner life is a kind of terrible darkness indeed. The price one pays in tolerating this state of being locked out brings Stafford to mind: “I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.” Reacting defensively to an invitation to share feelings is an engaging form of emotional disconnection.

From a trauma informed perspective, Sandner observed: “Death and rebirth are the mythological symbol for a psychological event: loss of conscious control, and submission to an influx of symbolic material from the unconscious.”

Emotionally overwhelming episodes – what I think of as wounds of overwhelm – introduce us to the archetypal world of mythology and the dream time, while the ego is in a state of unconsciousness.

It is critical to recognize psychological events associated with loss of conscious control may be split off from ego consciousness; at the same time they will be conscious, but not to the ego.

And until trauma, as incomplete initiatory experience, can be worked through, re-integrated into consciousness, psyche relies heavily on dissociation and projection. To be continued…