Jung

Shamanic Self-therapy (workshop)

(This is a very different kind of text, and I had some initial hesitations about posting it because it’s simply a practical handout for one of my workshops, rather than the crafted, quasi-poetic essays I’ve usually written. But perhaps its practicality makes it that much more relevant – so I’m sharing it in the hope that the ideas, exercises and guided meditations described in it will find their resonance in the right hands, and hearts…)

The essence of shamanism is dreaming; all the different external rituals of shamanic traditions are secondary. Shamanic dreaming is a wake up call from our habitual sleepwalking, or what Charles Tart called our “consensus trance” … into a non-ordinary reality, in which thoughts communicate with each other like filaments of light, bodies morph and become animal, plant and mineral, and humans soar on the wings of eagles to pluck sacred symbols from the clouds. Australian aborigines describe this non-ordinary reality as dreamtime. In the Mohawk language, a shaman is called dreamer, or “ratetshents.” The original Siberian word “šamán” means one who is lifted up in ecstatic trance to receive the gift of gnosis. Gnosis has a double aim: attaining inner sovereignty by recognizing and integrating one’s subpersonalities and dark shadows, and a direct download of cosmic consciousness, or what in magical-esoteric traditions is called communion with one’s higher self. (more…)

Shadows of darkness and light

Aurora, the dawn, the princess of light and goodness who is blessed by fairies to always have a smile on her face, has a dark, malefic shadow. When Aurora meets Maleficent (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYemY3xFsB4), she says, “I know who you are. You’ve been watching me my whole life. Your shadow has been following me ever since I was small.” She invites the shadow to come out from the dark forest so she can look upon her face. Maleficent answers “then you’ll be afraid.” In this short but brilliant pre-release teaser clip (which doesn’t correspond to the actual timeline of events in the film), when Maleficent steps out from the darkness, a wall of thorns immediately rises up around the enchanted forest, separating the shadow world of dark, mythical creatures from the human kingdom of light. It sounds like a perfect Jungian account of our first encounter with the shadow – when we first get a glimpse of parts of ourselves that frighten us and we habitually repress, we erect impassible walls to keep them out. (more…)

Then, now … and all along

“Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.” – Rumi

Dust rises up from my tires in the rear-view mirror. Ahead, a hazy mirage unfolds, the air heavy with distilled time, which shifts the desert landscape like ripples. Horizontal emptiness, sand and shrubbery stretch out as far as the eye can see. Not a road sign anywhere. I know I’m on route 1258 and that it’s supposed to connect to 655, but an eternity has passed without any intersection. I stop and put the car in park so I can look at my map. The letters and numbers have shrunk, becoming too small for me to read. I bring the map closer to my face to examine it. And then I hear his voice, saying, give me the map. Suddenly he’s in the passenger seat next to me. I hand him the map, timidly, and he rolls down the window and flings it out. I want to protest but all that comes out is a half-audible whimper, I’m lost. He says, lost is just an interpretation. Let your eyes and ears flow into the vastness of the desert, marvel at the trees with the green, pointed spikes that look like they fell down from the moon. Enjoy the intimacy of a moment that will never come again. You’ll get to your destination, eventually. Maybe even sooner than you think. (more…)