Archetypes: Language of the Self
Warning: violent and graphic images and language are in this paper.
For the sake of staying on my tender-warrior-healing-journey, I choose to utilize this assignment space (and your compassionate ability to hold and witness my transformation…so, thank you…) to further explore the dark realms of my unconscious and the collective unconscious. My goal with this paper is to stay fully engaged and submerged in the dark, deep waters of Self. This quarter and this class has given me the strength to validate and trust myself. I know that it is my job to be bold and brave, to heal, and to allow my light to shine. I also know I cannot let my light shine without also allowing The Shadow to live and breathe too. As I heal, I explore realms in heaven, hell, and levels in between. I embark on these journeys while awake, in dream states, and in my art/creative processes. Learning about how to collaborate with archetypes has given me new tools to explore the self-reflexive, micro/macrocosmic, negative strange loop field-effects (Pearce; 2012), which are necessary angels (McNiff) or angles of perception, which help me heal and learn to serve others.
This path I am on is the path or tenderness and fearlessness. When I say fearlessness, that does not mean I am not ever frightened. It means, that I know that the only way through, is through. Like one saying goes, and I don’t remember who said it, while on your journey through hell, don’t stop there, keep going. Maybe no one said that…maybe I’m the author of that quote. I don’t know? And so, despite that I have at times felt isolated, desperately alone, and afraid, I also know that the answers and healing are in the pain. For too long I tried to wall-off through maladaptive attempts to comfort myself and numb-out my pain, but those attempts only prolonged my problems and self-harm. Sometimes boundaries are permeable and I do not know if my pain is all mine or if it’s a pain from the collective as well, as if I am experiencing my, as well as the collective’s dark night of the soul. That feels right. All I know is that the multiplicities, complexities, nuances, and relentless nature of this dark night is a motherfucker! Good thing I am a warrior because I need all the courage and energy I can muster to survive the human condition and thrive in this thing called life.
Anyway, this paper is a living document. This paper is the next mandala in a sense and it is a further exploration of mandalas rendered in this class, as they continue to speak to and inform me. I haven’t time or energy to waste on simply hashing out a paper that I don’t care about, so that my work is complete and I can get my grade. I see that my work will likely never be complete. There is no end and so onward I travel. This is not simply a final paper regurgitating information I have read or picked up, although it is a non-linear paper about my profound process as a brave and willing learner trying on the garbs of the wounded healer and acting as if. Finally, it is my intention to use this paper to forge new terrain on my mission to decode and learn the mysterious language and symbology of my being, my dreams and inner landscapes, and my unconscious, and to die however many times I must die in order to be reborn into conscious awareness and personal enlightenment.
Here we go, down the rabbit hole.
Why is that after an amazing day, yesterday, consisting of sunshine, health and wellness practices, friends and community, our archetypal class’s wonderful final presentations, healing transformation, and me setting down and clarifying my goals for summer break, did I have one of the most violent, horrifying dreams I have ever had? Perhaps it’s a timing thing? In my presentation, and in much of my work this quarter, I have explored the concept of healing occurring in the perfect time frame, of experiencing my Soul guiding me toward wholeness, of sensing when conditions are ripe, and of trusting that my Soul does not force me to deal with more than I can handle as I integrate dissociated parts of either myself. My Soul also guides me to integrate the dissociated, bi-directional parts of Self reflected to me from society. This concept is extremely pertinent and real for me as I do not experience all the degrees of separation I have been conditioned to adhere to. I believe such bi-directionality, the strange loops Pearce discusses, influences aspects of my nightmare as well as unearths pain I need to feel and process more fully.
My nightmare: it was dark; there were a few evil men and they cut open several children’s’ anuses and sexual organs and proceeded to rape them. There was a lot of blood. I heard the children screaming and wailing and saw their eyes and faces in anguish as it took place. After the rape, one of the men committed suicide with what looked like an old-style shaving razor. I did nothing to stop this from happening. I watched in horror then woke in terror.
I woke from this horror, lying in bed in shock; the images swirling and sounds reverberating in my head. My dog Maggie came into my room, such great timing for my little love to come to me, and needed to be let outside. I hoped that getting out of bed, walking, and tending to mundane waking-life stuff would shake the nightmare off of me, but it’s one that is here to stay…and I trust for good reasons. The more I write about it and sit with it, the less identify with it and the less I feel traumatized by it.
So, what is this all about? How can I decode this schema? What is my unconscious or the collective unconscious trying to tell me? What does this mean for me, about my life, about the world, perhaps? Clearly, after all the healing work I have done, the strengthening and scaffolding occurring in my lifelong learning, has brought me to a place of readiness and stability to deal with whatever is unfolding. Clearly, I am ready to dive deeper into the abyss and catch the big fish, as Lynch discusses. While I travel into the unknown, what I know is that I am healthy and have the tools to deal with this. I’ve walked through different versions of hell and confronted demons before and I can and will do it again if need be.
This jarring nightmare, I believe, is a wake-up call. I trust my dreams like I trust my art and creative processes. I know, with a Gno, that my intuition is connected to the sentient and intelligent multiverse, and that important information is unearthing. While this nightmare was horrific, it is no shock. The images have so much heartbreaking meaning, represented by sexual assault, which is one of the worst acts of violence and theft that can be done. The rape gives voice to negligence, abuse and innocence lost, in me, done to me, done by me, done to others and to the Earth, as I and many often stand by watching it all happen in complete shock.
From another perspective, while I am still questioning what to do with it, and while it hurts so much, the astral event comes as no surprise. I have been observing my excavation process from the view of The Third, so as the layers peel back, rendered in my mandalas and art-making, I have become ready to deal with another image in my head that this nightmare is linked to. An image which came about a year ago or so. It is of a family member handling my baby/toddler self inappropriately and sexually.
I do not know if this image is a real memory, or is like my dream, a schematic attempt to give expression to the abuse I endured during the first ten years of my life which were in ways just as bad as sexual assault. They caused some of the same repercussions and maladaptive behaviors in my life that often occur in the lives of victims of sexual violence. I do not have any declarative memories of being violated as a child, not sexually anyway, so I hope that means that sort of abuse never happened. Sometimes, some people do not get to know the full truth about the harms they have experienced and they must live with the wondering. I do know that I do not have to know the details of the harms which have happened, to heal and to author a story of resilience and thriving. That said, victimization, remembering, putting the pieces together, and surviving trauma or any kind, are scary waters to navigate. I trust I will be shown where to go and what to do next. It will be interesting to see what truths and directions my dreams and other aspects of my knowing point me toward. I trust that as I travel through this darkness, I am not alone; there is guiding light and it is in me. I will continue to use the dialectic, scaffolding, and culminating processes of making mandalas as I awaken, learn, and heal.
Meditation, Shamanism, and Soul Retrieval
Suddenly, as I write this paper, I image Humpty Dumpty, the archetypal figure who was shattered and could never be put back together. I feel heartened to know, with a Gno, that Humpty’s fate will never be mine…that I am the Great I Am, that I am whole, and I am putting the pieces of my Self and my life back together. Everything that has happened increases my sense of purpose, ability to serve others, and personal power. Each of the guided meditations caused me to travel my inner landscapes. I can see them all in my mind so vividly still and I am sure I will never forget the details of such regression and progression. The meditations have increased my awareness of the shamanic path and of my, and Spirit’s, ability to heal me by traveling into myself; into my sorrow, anger, anguish, and trauma; into my body’s wisdom; into my love; and into the unknown.
As I have shared in class and in my final presentation, as well as have documented in several mandalas, I am now quite clear that I inadvertently experienced Soul Retrieval, thanks to you, Heather, and to the art-making and meditations. Despite all the healing work I have done over the years, I did not have the language to define my experiences quite appropriately. Gradually, I am developing that language now through this MA program and study of psychology. For example, I had not realized just how dissociated many parts of me have been because of not being protected and valued as I deserved to be when I was a child and then how that neglect influenced much of my unskillful adult behaviors. I knew I felt lost, hurting, and isolated with a bird’s eye view at times, but I did not understand these experiences as forms of dissociation. In a way, certain parts of me, before they even had a chance to develop into the me they maybe could have been, were stolen and scattered to the winds through abuses I endured.
This quarter, I have experienced a miraculous 52-card pick-up on a very unexpected and soulful level. During meditation, class discussion, and further contemplation on my own, I was shown that birds, for many years, have been images and medicine carriers that appeared in my art work and music as angels coming to help me gather the pieces of myself so I could be put back together. In the sacred heart meditation, I heard falcons and saw them hovering and communicating with one another. Then in Sardello’s heart meditation, archetypes such as The Magician, The Lovers, and The Alchemist appeared and The Alchemist was also a falconer sending his falcons out to chase down my dissociated parts and to bring them home into my heart. I know that I am and embody all three archetypes. They are proof of the human spirit doing what it does best, living.
I have felt so much more stable and integrated since that experience. All three archetypes showed up as necessary angels helping me to reign in and unify all the parts of myself. The outcome is that I am living my personal fairy-tale, which is the divine, alchemical marriage I have longed for since girl-hood. It’s not about meeting my prince and him saving me. God, I love to hate that story…but I wanted it and hoped it was my solution. Throughout my whole life, I have looked to someone else to provide this sense of unity, love, and belonging for me, but through Soul Retrieval, and the help of my bird and archetypal healers, I can provide that for myself. I feel confident that this union in me will likely manifest in other areas of my life too, and I feel excited about those possibilities.
On another note, another inner journey, the inner teacher/inner curriculum meditation, caused me to travel into The White and into death/deathlessness. This journey tool place on a day of intense grief I had tapped into in a therapy session. In this experience, I felt the sadness in my heart, and the organ itself so palpably, as I journeyed through the facades of Petra, into emerald and ruby studded caves, and soared through cosmic dimensions, as well as all the chakra colors. I experienced premonitions of my own death caused by heart failure and just felt a lot of anxiety in my body, until I stepped into The White which seemed to be complete nothingness. I stood in The White and looked around and felt a little sad that nothing was there. I asked Ray if he was there and he was not. There was only white all around.
Interestingly, I am just now connecting that to the heart attack Ray experienced, which was induced by vomiting blood and seizuring. Once the heart attack occurred he was without oxygen for too long, which caused severe brain damage, which took him into a coma, and eventually caused his body to shut down. The doctors said all his movements, thus signs of life, were involuntary reflexes, but I know he was present a few times and knew I was with him, because he responded to me during important conversations we had. Ray and I had a very special connection and I believe some of the trauma I have felt stuck in my body is connected to our separation and to traumas he experienced in his dying process. During his final days, he was embraced by so much love and healing. It was both beautiful and horrifying. When he died he was set free, but I, until recently, have not allowed myself to be set free.
Because I was unable to attend Ray’s funeral, I was called to design a funeral for myself, so I could move through some of that trauma. While this experience was different, and involved no birds in my art or meditations, Baby Bird had been an archetype of sweetness in our marriage, and meant a lot to both Ray and me. We named my bicycle Baby Bird and she showed up sweetly in jokes and many parts of our relationship. We held her in our hand and tried so hard not to crush her. Even though we didn’t make it, I think she learned to fly anyway. I believe Baby Bird’s essence showed up to help Ray’s spirit soar off into the cosmos and is also staying with me, as a harbinger of renewal, helping me gather parts of me that have felt so hurt and scattered during these years of loss and grieving.
Archetypal Psychology in conjunction with Archetypal Psychology have paired miraculously well. I feel my life and Soul healing as I have engaged in some deep work this quarter and couldn’t be more grateful that both classes occurred at the same time to support my scaffolding process. The journey began with the past-life regression/journey into the unconscious activity in Consciousness. In that process, I ventured into a lush forest and experienced myself as a centaur, my top half was a naked woman and bottom half, a horse’s body. I was so surprised because I noticed while looking down at what should have been me feet and seeing hooves instead. Through observing the witness aspect of myself experience my consternation in that process, I realized I was not contriving a story and took it very seriously. It wasn’t a bullshit fantasy I was making up as I went. I then saw a unicorn drinking water and it looked at me! Later, I traveled deep into a cave and found a little girl sitting inside by herself. She was not afraid or sad, she just sat there in her baby-doll dress and she held a golden lasso. It seemed like she was waiting for me. She mounted onto my back and we left the forest and entered a vast desert and headed toward the Great Pyramids which were in plain view. This journey is the first of many saga-like adventures into my psyche I embarked on and the rest are just as vivid and epic.
The Light Figure and collaborating with David Bowie has brought so much support to me as well. This partnership surprisingly, magically, and cohesively enhanced the work I did in archetypal class. Bowie was a master of archetypes himself as he cultivated and explored theatrical personas and stage characters which he fully and unabashedly embodied. Bowie used these characters to express parts, conscious and unconscious, of himself and to observe and reflect on society and the human condition. He often explained in interviews that fragility of identity is something to be sought rather than feared and avoided; that it is healthy to change and to flow with life, releasing false illusions of self and dancing with the unknown. Bowie inspired me so much that his presence and our collaboration allowed me to open psychically and I had a Eureka! experience (Laski; in Pearce; 2012). One day, from out of the blue, as my Eureka! experienced happen, I saw a vision for my final presentation, which would be a funeral for Ray and our marriage, in perfect detail. I embodied Bowie’s audacious spirit and creativity, channeled and connected to Ray as best as I could, and because of this sacred psychodramatic space and event, I was able to deeply mourn my losses in a productive and useful ways. I also experienced degrees of closure while being held and witnessed by my peers. That act has allowed me the somatic experience of journeying into the trauma and grief of losing Ray, of giving my pain opportunities for expression, and of moving some of the stuck trauma out of my heart-mind-body. Like Bowie, by using theatrics and slipping into a character, I have accessed profound creativity and fortitude by inducing, through a death ritual, a birth and shift allowing me to let go of an old identity so I may reinvent a new Self.
Character, Destiny, and Learning
These experiences: mandala-making; meditation and journeys into the realms of the unconscious; dreams and nightmares; deaths and births; collaboration with angels, spirit guides, and healing archetypes; and confrontation of demons, have coalesced as a dialectic, Golden Triangle of promise and healing. In addition, I have felt so empowered by Rilke’s words regarding living in the questions so that perhaps one day, I may live into the answers. The culmination of all this deep, intentional work is doing just that for me. I feel I am living into the answers, into my unique and beautiful answers, yet the journey also feels like it has just begun, which produces more questions and mysteries to lean into. My guess is that such is life. Surrendering into and accepting uncertainty is the hero’s and the tender warrior’s path of the heart and that is my journey.
At this point in graduate school, I feel especially motivated to use these powerful experiences and realizations to actualize myself as the change I wish to see in the world, via my work as an art therapist, advocate, and educator. My projects, focus of study, and personal healing have shown me how called I feel to use the arts, which include visual, musical and performative, as well as somatic styles of therapy, which include spontaneous and expressive movement, dance and yoga, in my practice. Having traveled my own path of healing and delving into my own depths and transformation feels affirming and I feel I can support and walk with others as they bravely delve into and heal themselves. This is a great honor and responsibility that I look forward to and take very seriously. As hard as it can be for me to stay positive or remain hopeful in a world and human condition with as many problems and as much pain as ours, I will, however, continue to place my faith in good works and in endeavors which heal the planet, one gorgeous human at a time. And let it begin with me.