Archive for the ‘Soul’ category

Waking Reflections on the Great Fish, Loss of Identity, and Meeting the Father of the River Dream

March 23, 2021

Comment: Here are my waking reflections (WR) recorded when I woke up after the dream posted just below (see Close Encounters of the Dream Kind: Battling the Leviathan and Meeting the Father of the River). My practice in recording dreams when I wake up with one is to find a low light space and just begin writing as fast as I can in order to capture as much of the detail, energy and flow as possible. I care about being able to read what I’ve written later(!), but try not to worry about punctuation or spelling at all; I just keep writing and try to record everything that comes into my head, in the timing it comes. I am recalling I believe Jeffrey Raff’s description of Jung recommending this fast writing as a way to support greater access to these communications from the dream time. This is as if a spontaneous active imagination experience, as the ego is involved in sorting and making sense of this somewhat altered state.

Waking Reflections: when I first sat down to write, I was struck with the question of what happened beneath the surface! Popping back up naked and and in a state, in a public place, was uncomfortable, but strangely secondary to the real action. I had a vague sense of apprehensiveness about the possibility this dream be alerting me to the fact the I wasn’t able to land an important fish in my life, and, I lost my identity in the process to boot… and, and, a part of me has been dazed and confused since? Questions about who was the fisher person, in the world versus anima or an inner lover figure drifted through my head. How was it that I was in the position I was in, as if perched on the little craggy island between the channels, and, alert to possibility of diving in after the rod and reel instantaneously? feeling … when it came to describing the scene with the elder who seemed to live on the riverbank, looking after the cache, the name that popped vividly directly into my head was Father of the River, He who has his station of ancient order along the banks of the wildly abundant river, where the fish are mythological Leviathans. The opposites of order and wildness felt very important. Who is this Father of the River in relationship to me, my work. My strong sense being he was/is the deep guide to all my work, the elder, the wise old man, the Father of the River, in psyche, guiding me, Chuck, in relationship to the river of life, emotion, life flow, and all the abundance in psyche, nature, and the work of becoming conscious. He understands being a part of nature and the ways that as humans we cannot control or dominant elemental energies through force.

When recording this dream, Behemoth first came to mind; in researching a bit, it seemed Leviathan would be more appropriate. For now, it seems most accurate to say it was a very large, salmon like fish. In the dream action, I was decidedly pulled under by it and experienced complete amnesia for what happened beneath the surface. *In posting this today, with regards to these initial associations, I would like to do some research about the Leviathan, to see what the spiritual and historical record can contribute; it’s always a question of time and priority.

Before sharing one more vivid association to the last scene, being invited into talk to the keeper of the cache, I want to say my next post here will be my active imagination process in search of answers to the question what happened when I was pulled under?

One more complicated association towards the end of my recording this dream was a dream and the timing of meeting Doug Von Koss while attending a week long men’s mytho-poetic gathering in the Mendocino Woodlands. After waking up about 4:30 AM with a powerful Eye fetish dream, spending an hour outside in the moon light in a round of very powerful waking dream embodiment, I had just finished a pen, ink, and watercolor picture capturing the vividness of the image, when I heard someone singing, slowly working their way down the path leading up to the lodge where I was sitting, alone, with my painting. Doug, on a mission to get a cup of tea, walked right up to me. He took one long look at me, my freshly painted image, and said “something’s happened.” He then invited me to find a time later to tell him all about it. And, to my surprise, suggested if I would like him to paint it on my forehead on the day of the planned major ritual, this was something he could do for me. This was very much like the river elder inviting me into his realm to hear my story. He then also invited me to join his small group of men who would be offering the morning wake up chant for each of the cabins. This ritual became an important part of my waking to world each. How lovely…

Close Encounters of the Dream Kind: Battling the Leviathan and Meeting the Father of the River

March 19, 2021

Author note: Keeping a dream journal is a wonderful major step to beginning to pay attention to our depth. I have been pondering posting more dreams with their active imagination (AI) dialogue transcripts for some time. In my excitement to be diving into Jung’s Black Books, see post below, and witnessing his process, and his courage, I feel compelled to post more of my own close encounters of the dream kind. While one could make the case that dreams without specific personal life context can only be lacking, the burden of connecting the dots with one’s intimate life and work is great. In the spirit of all creative processes, and embodiment, it seems dream offerings and active imagination dialogues, from/with psyche, can stand alone. Might we give them that respect? I am deeply curious about what could come out of such an (limited) engagement with you, fellow dreamers. May we experiment with bearing embodied witness together in celebration of psyche? Let the images and affects, the energies and the mysteries speak for themselves!

Dream: Encountering the Leviathan and Meeting the Father of the River

April 10, 2020 4 AM: awakened with a big dream: Bank side of powerful river within a developed almost city like park, I recognize a medical staff person, like a hospital nurse I know; she/we are comfortable and collegial, and chat briefly; I see she has a very long fishing rod and reel set up and is ready to cast out into the water upstream; I am, have been, standing on what seems to be a rocky island like outcropping, with just enough height to block one’s view of the right bank, just off the left bank where she is; I am looking upstream from my rocky perch, which is running parallel to the current, with the larger flow and deeper channel to my right. I see her hook a huge 12-16 foot long fish! It strikes and jerks her off the bank and into the water flowing through the left channel of the outcropping, and I see that she can’t hold onto the rod and reel, and in an instant, I realize if I just dive into the water from my rocky observation point I might be able to snag the rod and hold onto the fish; I do and sure enough I am just able to grab it as it goes banging, and flying by; I am now being pulled into the deep water in the channel on the right side of the island. I can’t think about how I’m going to hold onto the fish, only that I have a chance to save the gear and the catch …

For a brief moment, I am being pulled under towards the opposite shore; I feel strong and hopeful, not worried about drowning, but really, just totally engaged, and then … poof, it’s over and I am crawling out of the river, naked, somewhat disoriented, and I have no idea what happened to the fish, the gear, my clothes. I am looking around trying to orient myself to the bank, others, only slightly distracted by the fact of my nakedness; I see her, stunned, and throw up my arms as if to say “wow!” Then I became aware of the loss of my wallet and everything else usually in my pockets, ID, credit cards, phone, and begin to want to find something to put it on and find out what happened to my clothes. Did anyone see the action? See what happened? I seem to be amazing or a problem for some who are just trying to do there usual daily business. I see what seems to be a group of wait staff setting up a buffet honoring dinner with well-dressed people being seated in a riverside hall like garden area. I am/feel way out way out of sync with this group!

Then I find myself on the opposite side of the river, along the deep channel, walking downstream, south along the east river bank and I discover a hidden from view storage area, with closets, clothes rods, and a cache of well preserved, boiled wool and other heavy duty fishing/fishing boat, navy surplus type gear and I feel hopeful “this is where my stuff will show up, in salvage.” I am taking a close look when a ruggedly dressed-for-the-elements, ancient mariner type man confronts me with what am I doing here? While initially stern and guarded/protective, I get his attention and he directs me to step into a nearby place to talk; I start with pouring out my recounting of what happened, how I found myself, there, just now… about the amazing fish, like the ones known to be in this river… I remembered having seen others this big; I sense he knows everything about this river, this station along the banks of this river; he will be the key… I woke up. It was 4 AM.

Waking reflections: In honoring the dream itself, I am holding back on my reflections for this post for now.

I will follow this dream up with my active imagination process dedicated to trying to find out what did happen when I was pulled under?

Jung on Active Imagination

March 16, 2021

I am enjoying a seminar with THE SALOME INSTITUTE of JUNGIAN STUDIES on Jung’s newly published Black Books (BB). The course is guided by the institute’s director, Satya Doyle Byock, and astrologist Carol Ferris. Seems we’re off to a great start!

Working in depth to understand Jung’s process of self experimentation, as it informed his birthing of analytical psychology, offers an up close look at our own journeys. I hope to be bringing forward key concepts in support of all who dare to consciously deepen in relationship to the unconscious.

Here is Sonu Shamdasani, the primary editor, commenting on Jung’s approach to active imagination: “In December 1913, (Jung) referred to this first Black Book as the ‘book of my most difficult experiments.’ In retrospect, he recalled,

‘my scientific question went: what would happen if I switched off consciousness? I noticed from dreams that something stood in the background, and I wanted to give this a fair chance to come forward. One submits to the necessary conditions – as is in a mescaline experience – so that it emerges.’ (BB, Volume I, p. 24)

“Jung described his technique for inducing spontaneous fantasies: ‘The training consists first of all in systematic exercises for eliminating critical attention, thus producing a vacuum in consciousness.’ One commenced by concentrating on a particular mood and attempting to become as conscious as possible of all fantasies and associations that came up in connection with it. The aim was to allow fantasy free play, but without departing from the initial affect in a free-associative process. This led to a concrete or symbolic expression of the mood, which had the result of bringing the affect nearer to consciousness, hence making it more understandable. Merely doing this could have a vitalizing effect. Individuals could draw, paint, or sculpt, depending on their propensities:

‘Visual types should concentrate on the expectation that an inner image will be produced. As a rule such a fantasy-image will actually appear – perhaps hypnagogically – and should be carefully noted down in writing. Audio- verbal types usually hear inner words, perhaps mere fragments or apparently meaningless sentences to begin with…. Others at such times simply hear their “other” voices…. still rarer, but equally valuable, is automatic writing, direct or with the planchette.’

Once these fantasies had been produced and embodied, two approaches were possible: creative formulation and understanding. Each needed the other, and both were necessary to produce the transcendent function, which arose out of the union of conscious and unconscious contents. 

For some people, Jung noted, it was simply to note the “other” voice in writing and to answer it from the standpoint of the I: ‘It is exactly as if a dialogue we’re taking place between two human beings…’ Dialogue led to the creation of the transcendent function, which resulted in a widening of consciousness. His descriptions of the use of inner dialogues and the means of evoking fantasies in a waking state match his own undertaking in the The Black Books…” (C.G. Jung, BB, Notebooks of Transformation, Volume I, Edited by Sonu Shamdasani, 2020, pp. 54-55)

From Margret Atwood’s Surfacing: an image of the (radical) tear

June 25, 2020

After recently streaming a very compelling documentary on the life and work of Margaret Atwood – see Margaret Atwood: A Word after a Word after a Word is Power – I was moved to order a couple of her earliest books: Surfacing and The Edible Woman. Both have been very powerful reads. I was struck by her vivid description of having been cut in two:

“No hints of facts, I didn’t know when it had happened. I must have been alright then; but after that I’d allowed myself to be cut in two. Woman sawn apart in a wooden crate, wearing a bathing suit, smiling, a trick done with mirrors, I read it in a comic book; only with me there had been an accident and I came apart. The other half, the one locked away, was the only one that could live; I was the wrong half, detached, terminal. I was nothing but a head, or, no, something minor like a severed thumb; numb. At school they used to play a joke, they would bring little boxes with cotton wool in them and a hole cut in the bottom; they would poke their finger through the hole and pretend it was a dead finger.” (pp 108-109)

By the dates, Margaret published this when she was 42 or so. That seems about right in terms of psyche helping us realize we have experienced a significant disconnect which has required a partial cure work around. Seems like a lot of Donald Kalsched’s formulation on trauma, dismemberment, and re-memberment is present in this painful realization/reflection. I recently worked this from the perspective of recognizing the “tear that always shows.”

On that note, I have been pondering the relationship between tear (tare) and tear. ie: tear “…to rend (a solid material) by holding or restraining in two places and pulling apart, whether intentionally or not; to destroy or separate.” In contrast to: tear “…A drop of clear, salty liquid produced from the eyes by crying or irritation.”

Source Quote: Von Franz on The Suffering God Osiris

November 11, 2019

I will be moving this post to a Source quote soon, but wanted to offer it now with comments pending. Enjoy! (note my italics)

In her orientation to the origins of alchemy, Marie-Louise von Franz discusses the middle of the old Egyptian empire and the rise and increasing dominance of the sun god Re:

“This phenomenon corresponds to a typical development of consciousness. It was the time when writing and recording, the measuring and mapping out of the fields, mathematics, and all such arts flourished. For the first time in the Egyptian empire records were kept. Here there is a coincidence: at the time when the sun god, who is the archetypal principle of consciousness, becomes dominant in a civilization, there is a sudden increase in rational consciousness. But naturally through this also arises a split from which we still suffer: namely, that certain aspects of the psychic life of the individual, certain moods and impulses that do not conform to collective rules, have to be repressed.”

She then moves into describing what gets pushed into the background, the shadow, with the dominance of the sun god Re:

“You could therefore say that part of the primitive individuality of the Egyptian went into the unconscious at that time, and with it went a certain aspect of affect in the feeling life. This aspect of the Egyptian’s communal life was concentrated in the archetypal image of the god Osiris. Osiris, in contrast to the ordering, ruling sun god, was the suffering god. He represented the passive, suffering aspect of nature and of the psyche. Histories of religion always depict him as the god of vegetation; however that does not mean concrete vegetation, but vegetation as a symbol of his being: it is that which does not move, which does not have its own volition, which is the greatest suffering thing on this earth. Osiris represents the underground part of the Egyptian communal life. In the Osiris part of his nature was also hidden the Egyptian’s true consciousness of his own individuality, in contrast to the collective ruling principle of consciousness.”

Then she brings in the idea of the Ba-soul.

“So the body was associated with Osiris and the idea of the Ba-soul. … The true pre-conscious individuality and individual human consciousness was at that time still projected into the Ba-soul. Normally in Egypt the Ba was either represented by a star or a bird… a man was not aware of his Ba-soul during his lifetime, since as an individual he lived according to Egyptian regulations, even to the extent that during the judgment after death he had to swear to a list of things he had not done. That is the famous negative confession: “I have not stolen, I have not broken the law, I have not sacrificed to the god..,” and so on. … clearly a nice list of lies, because they did all these things like everybody else, but the idea of lying like that to the gods after death was considered not a lie but an assertion: “I would not dare to impinge on the collective rule.” Because to dare to say, “Yes, I have done this,” would imply individuality; it would mean standing up to the fact that one had broken the rule, and that was forbidden. Egyptians were so closely identified with the collective ruling body of morale and ideas they could not admit their individual sinful impulses even to themselves and to the gods. 

Normally, you would meet your Ba-soul only after death and be completely unaware of its existence before. It emerged, so to speak, at death and during the mummification process. But in this specific paper, “The World-Weary Man,” there appears a man whose Ba-soul suddenly speaks to him during his lifetime, at the moment when he is about to commit suicide. This results in a very famous and touching conversation between the two. Such a meeting with the nucleus of one’s own individuality was believed to take place only after death, the Ba-soul being immortal and individual, the eternal aspect of the human being. Becoming one with the Ba-soul meant, therefore, being deified and becoming one with the oneness of the universe.”

von Franz, Marie-Louise, alchemical active imagination, Shambhala Publications, Inc, 1979. 1997, pp. 4-6.

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.

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?

Mystery and Complexity versus Nuts and Bolts?

November 21, 2018

Perhaps like the alchemists of old, I continue to have energy for trying to find the keys to open the locks to all that would bind us. In practical terms. In everyday life sound bites.

The band The Moody Blues recorded a couple of songs on their 1969 album “To Our Children’s Children’s Children” that I have always loved. Their titles are “I never thought I’d Live to Be a Hundred” and “I Never Thought I’d Live to Be a Million.” In the first, they reflect:

“I never thought I’d ever have my freedom. An age ago my maker was refusing me the pleasure of the view.”

This morning, early, I am feeling gratitude for this life and this view. May we all be blessed with the gift of the questions which keep on coming.

So, the work goes on: How can/will I describe the ineffable, today?