Follow Your Bliss!

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“I can’t believe they actually pay me to do what I love!”

Does the above line characterize what YOU do for “a living”? If so then you are fortunate to have merged your vocational aspirations (your calling) with your work or career.  Joseph Campbell might say you are “following your bliss.”

If, rather, your Life Theme of WORK or CAREER is separate from what you feel as your true calling or as yet unrealized potential, What Then? (click to read a W.B. Yeats poem with that title). It may simply mean that your work satisfies your financial needs, allowing you to fulfill your responsibilities, while you pursue your ‘bliss” instead through vocational activities such as artistic ‘hobbies’, spiritual practices, sports, or other activities that bring you a sense of balance in your life. Of course, this is fine and a good way to satisfy the needs and interests of your various unconscious or submerged archetypal ‘parts of Self.’

Still: Are there ways that you might forge a closer integration of your Work or Career  with your vocational callings?  Doing so could create a deeper synergy that allows you to produce dynamic works more highly attuned to your most authentic Self, even in the workplace.

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Above images are from pixabay.com

What is ONE THING you might integrate into your work life or into your role in your career that could fuse an element of your deepest, unique nature to reinvent yourself in the context of your ‘job’? Or, should you be seeking a different line of work? Maybe an online course or degree could help you move in a new direction.

Using myself as an example, when I felt I was moving in a direction at work, in attaining tenure as a professor, that would  satisfy my practical goals but not my Life Dream of writing for the public rather than serving in my academic role alone, I was shown a way to integrate my creativity and spirituality into my work. That is how I began studying and then eventually practicing and writing about Life Paths. I describe this process in  Chapter 1 of Your Life Path (click or see right panel for ordering information, now available through all major book distributors. (BTW, A heartfelt Thank You to new followers of this blog who have found this site from reading Your Life Path. Please feel free to download for free the Life Path Maps Portfolio Toolkit! – see right panel.)

Your Life Path

So, what about YOU?  Are you fully expressing the life of your dreams at work? How might you ‘tweak’ your work life to more holistically Live Your Bliss? I invite you to contemplate and journal about this question.

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(pixabay.com)

I welcome your Comments and Story!

 

BOOK LAUNCH! (My Vocation: Live Your Dream, Now!)

Just Released March 6 by Skyhorse Publishing:

Your Life Path

Naturally I am thrilled and excited about the release of my book, Your Life Path: Life Mapping Tools to Help You Follow Your Heart and Live Your Dream, Now! It is available from Amazon (including hardback, Kindle and ebook), Barnes & Noble, and Indies; and I see there are now several other suppliers online as well (ISBN-10:1-63144-078-0). This book has been my life passion-in-process for the last 15 plus years, folks. It is the culmination of my entire career as a cognitive/ linguistic and cultural anthropologist yet it is a mainstream self-discovery, personal growth and development book that provides a comprehensive Life Path Mapping process and Toolkit.

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I have developed and taught from the fun, creative techniques provided with the book with large scale classes, individual coaching programs, and workshops (which I will continue to offer).  This is a potentially life changing, “rites of process” approach that lets the reader/ life mapper review your Life Story to Now; reflect on where you are at currently in relation to your values, life interests and goals; and then (re)claim, envision, and plan a practical yet energizing pathway to set a course and go (Live Your Dream, Now!).

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I really do highly recommend this approach to anyone facing any sort of life decision or transition or who simply wants to discover and reflect upon the amazing potentials of your own Life Story.  I have witnessed many individuals who have achieved transformational insights from life mapping. The very process of reviewing your Life Story AS A STORY to now, with meaningful Shaping Events, Life Themes, Life Chapters bounded by key Turning Points as chapter turners, and an awareness of the parallels of YOUR story with classic myths and popular epics brings the life mapper to an overview Joseph Campbell called being a Dweller at the Threshold, able to look back and also forward.  Then the Life Path Mapping Process guides you to effectively CROSS THE THRESHOLD to truly manifest the vitalizing yet flexible life of your dreams.

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As well, with this book’s Tools you will be able to Meet & Greet (truly) your very own “ensemble cast of mythic/archetype characters.” Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, you too have an inner unconscious cast of often submerged but always influential “inner” parts of Self that each needs your help to strengthen and to integrate/ come together with your greater Self to help you manifest your highest potentials for this lifetime.

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Envisioning and realizing this book as a Personal Growth and Development book and life mapping handbook has been my VOCATION over the past fifteen years. I published a scholarly book (The Life Map as an Implicit Cognitive Structure Underlying Behavior, Mellen Press, 2010) with articles about my research studies that led to the development then of the self-discovery Tools presented for the first time to the general public with Your Life Path. So of course this is very exciting for me but more than that I really do recommend this book highly to any reader!

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Your Life Path will be in indy consignment stores around the country and I will be doing signings in several local stores (yay) to try to get the word out. If you know of friends (and yourself of course) who might benefit from a fun and innovative approach to learning more about your Self and how to go forward to live your best life… please check this book out and share this post or the ISBN number with others in your blog or Facebook or email groups. I honestly don’t mean to sound boasting or overly “selling” of anything…that really is not who I am (an introvert in general, and not prone to self promotion). But I do want this book that I have nurtured and developed for so long find Its own deserving audience so others can benefit from the approach I myself have been blessed to pilot every step of the way. It is in fact my own Life Dream coming into full fruition, Now!

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images are from pixabay.com

I am grateful for the opportunity to serve Life and thank YOU for reading!

VOCATION!

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I have always loved the word “vocation,” as to me there is a big difference between VOCATION and WORK. As Life Themes these often show up distinctively in people’s Life Maps, too. While Work or Career might be one Theme a person charts in terms of “types of events or situations” recurring over the course of their life up to Retirement at least, people usually identify VOCATION distinctively; for example as a specific “calling,” or a beloved activity such as Writing, Art, Music, Outdoors, Hiking, a competitive sport such as Swimming or Basketball, etcetera. So this month let our focus be on exploring the role and influence of VOCATION or Callings in our lives.

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Writing has always been a vocation for me. From a young age, my personal Journal has been a close friend and companion. Literally, I would address my journal as I wrote, and somehow I knew It (or, someone on a spiritual or an internal dimension) was always there, listening! By college years I was maintaining several different journals at a time: one for poetry, one for  dreams and spiritual experiences. another for philosophical musings, and one as a basic diary, at least.

It was through my journal writing that my writing vocation grew and blossomed over time.  I would write short stories, dramatic dialogue pieces, and evocative descriptive essays that I called ‘Photos.’ I started a science fiction trilogy in graduate school which I developed to the degree that I have a complete first book manuscript, the second book is started, and the rest is outlined (now including a quatrain or fourth installment). I intend during my upcoming retirement to publish this series, called The Dawnbreakers.

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Through my years as a professor I have continued journaling, and alongside academic publications (two books, several journal articles, a book chapter and several invited book reviews), my VOCATION has only intensified, so that in 2002 after receiving tenure, I realized I wanted to find a way to do something more creative and public service- oriented with my career, so I began the LIFE MAPPING project that has culminated in my new book, YOUR LIFE PATH (click or see right panel for ordering information). This is a mainstream, personal growth and development book and Toolkit. It lets you become a Life Mapper of your own Life Story, truly!  Based on my understanding of mythology, archetypal psychotherapy, and life history studies including Joseph Campbell’s The Hero Cycle, rites of passage, and Jung’s methods for discovering your own internalized, archetypal “parts of Self”, I have developed this approach of life mapping over many years of research, teaching, and individual coaching so that anyone can discover and reflect upon their own Life Story. This lets you realize the Strengths (and obstacles) you have developed through your own life experience to Now so that you can envision your Life Dream and begin, Now, to manifest and fulfill your sense of Life Purpose and Life Mission. So, please check it out, it really is very good!

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images are from pixabay.com

So my vocation has brought me to this point, and now I have three sequels to Your Life Path in process already. I so look forward to my retirement years (beginning as of this June 8, yay!) so I can shift all of my focus to this more spiritual dimension of my own sense of a personal Calling in this lifetime.

I welcome YOUR story!

Individuation: Who Are You, Now?

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As we proceed through our ordeals, there is the tendency— the capacity I should say— to ‘break apart.’ Various ‘parts of the Self’ are exposed, often unwittingly, and this is good even though it might feel awful at times. Archetypal personas which live within your psyche and are generally hidden or suppressed may rise to a challenge yet may need to be balanced by other segments of your arc of Identity in order to become better integrated within the whole of your greater Self.

Emotions such as fear, anger and frustration may be telling indicators of a dislodging of some usually buried sub- persona. But be kind to your ‘little selves”; they are valuable, dynamic facets of You. Listen to them, dialogue with them, welcome their insights and concerns. Give them love, and invite them to be a more consciously integrated facet of your Self.

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Challenges or ordeals may bring out these ‘pieces’ of our unconscious pantheon of archetypal perspectives because we grow through crises, constantly tearing apart and reconstructing the Self. So, at every Return phase of a cycle of adventure or resolution of a challenge, we can check in to ask:

“Who Am I, Now?”

Some experiences can serve to elevate our individuated consciousness of Self, while other experiences might tend to pull us downward, deeper into non-resolution or fragmentation. That is why Carl Jung and James Hillman, as archetypal psychologists, encouraged any process of active imagination and archetype dialogue that can help you to identify and ‘own’ your ‘pieces’ so you might re-integrate them into the unique, mature Self you are capable of expressing.

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These parts of Self might show up as an uncharacteristic outburst (or, inburst, unspoken or unexpressed outwardly), alerting you that you are ‘out of sorts.’ Or they might show up as dream personas or images. Recognizing and imaginatively conversing with or journaling about these upset personas’ concerns can help you to embrace your own depths of character. Only not attending to them can split them off in ways that could be harmful to your health or permanently disruptive to your social relations.

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I recall about 5 to 7 years ago while I was engaged in a process of archetypal psychotherapy myself, I had come to know a Descender archetype within myself that I refer to still as Little Linda.  I have watched her grow up through the years since I first identified her as a young child living in a deep, darkened area like a lower level recreation room in a tri-level house. She preferred to stay hidden, protected from the harsh bright realm of adult emotions, backbiting and drama.

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One Saturday while I was at a spiritual retreat just after engaging in a deep contemplation technique, I was speaking with a friend when suddenly Little Linda peeked out from her normal reclusion, and spoke:

“Hi, I’m Little Linda; I am part of the Linda you know.

I want to be part of this seminar, too!”

Fortunately, my friend immediately understood where I was coming from, or should I say, where Little Linda was coming from that day.  He welcomed her and thanked her for stepping forth. Actually that experience has helped me ever since in that my Little Linda has grown up considerably since then and she is certainly with me always now as a positive contributor to our life together.

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images are from pixabay.com

(selected for this post by Little Linda!)

So, “Who Are You, Now?”

I invite your comments stories and stories!

The Hero Cycle as Rites of Passage

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The Return is a significant stage of achievement in a Hero Cycle adventure, marking the hero as ‘bringing home’ the strengths and wisdom s/he has attained through facing life’s arduous challenges and fulfilling their Quest. As the Hero returns, s/he benefits all Life and the family and community s/he serves more selflessly after having individuated as a mature, dynamic Self.

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But there is more to the story. Keep in mind that the Hero Cycle represents the mythic structure of a Rites of Passage ordeal which the individual (or group) undergoes to bring about a transformation of his/her/their Identity or to rebalance a situation tending toward decline. The three phases of a complete Rites of Passage cycle include rites of Separation, Transition, and Reintegration. These three universal phases of Rites of Passage cycles are mirrored in the three primary stages of a Hero Cycle adventure: Departure, Fulfillment, and Return.

The Return phase of a Hero’s Adventure involves a Reintegration back into the web of relations, roles, and aspirations of the hero’s Home Base; yet the hero returns to bring bounty to the Whole from having achieved individuation as a powerful, more loving and self-actualizing Self.

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images are from pixabay.com

Reintegration means rejoining a community you had departed from in order to gain maturity and to refine your talents. You rejoin this community with a higher order of Identity, from which you can better serve the growth potentials of the Whole.

Thus when Dorothy returns to Oz as a Self-integrated, mature Person, somehow we know that Toto is going to be okay. Dorothy brings back with her the integrated strengths of Courage, Heart, and Wisdom that she had lacked, and in this more aware, empowered Self she expresses the ultimate realization:

“There’s No Place Like Home!”

There’s No Place Like Home!

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The completion of a Hero Cycle adventure brings the traveler Home. The hero returns to their point of origin yet it is not the same place, because the hero is a changed person from before their adventure began.  S/he has come into her own strengths and gained maturity from having overcome the obstacles and ordeals inherent in the adventure of living. Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With 1000 Faces aptly notes that what the hero returns with are strengths not only for that individual but as well for the good of the whole.

“The presence of a vital person vitalizes,” says Campbell in his film documentary with Bill Moyers called “The Hero’s Adventure.”  This is the whole point on one level of the Hero Cycle: persons depart from their too comfortable environments to challenge themselves, to strengthen their whole assemblage of archetypal sub-selves; in Jung’s terms to “individuate” by integrating and developing the full range of their individually focused human capacities.

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The Prodigal Son is a big picture or covering myth that expresses a fundamental unity of most religions: Soul departs from Its divine origin to experience life in the worlds of duality, so It can eventually face the weaknesses of the human consciousness. From encountering ordeals and learning the value of divine love, eventually Soul surrenders human passions of the ego and recovers awareness of Its Divine nature; then It can return to the Godhead to assume a greater responsibility to Life Itself with a fully spiritualized consciousness. In a way, all of human experience can be thought of as subsumed under this greater mythic motif that permeates our lives, at least from a spiritual perspective. (BTW by mythic I do not mean a false narrative but rather a vital tale of profound scope and consequence!)

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One of my favorite movies with a slight comic twist of the Prodigal Son/ Daughter theme is Defending Your Life with Albert Brooks and Meryl Streep.  Daniel and Julia, two recently deceased individuals, find themselves–and meet each other– in the afterworld purgatory city called Judgment City, amid a thriving throng of others recently deceased.  They are assigned attorney angels to represent them at a trial before a panel of judges, whose verdict will determine whether the defendant Soul will need yet to reincarnate or they can “go on” to higher planes.

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Daniel and Julia fall in love. Julia (Meryl Streep) is a shoe-in for transcending to higher planes as she is a bright, heroic sort already. Her trial lawyer shows images of her having soared through her previous life: rushing into a burning house to bring out children, then going back in to bring out a cat! Daniel, on the other hand, has a more challenging trial. His lawyer–played by Rip Torn as a rather querulous defense attorney—shows images from Daniel’s his former life that reveal how he often came up short when it came to taking risks; so it becomes very likely Daniel will need to return to earth to finesse his character a bit more. I won’t give away the ending, but you might imagine what Daniel could do to in order move on with Julia.

Defending Your Life conveys important messages about the Hero Cycle and particularly regarding the Return. WHY ARE YOU HERE? What sorts of challenging experiences recur again and again in your life as if to teach you well? What are you here to learn as your most vital life lessons?

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images are from pixabay.com

Have you learned your specific lesson(s) well enough yet? How might you take your lesson one step further? Another way of asking this is:

WHAT ARE YOU HERE TO GIVE?

What could bring YOU Home from your ordeals, for the good of the Whole?

I welcome your Comments and Stories!

APOTHEOSIS / Fulfillment of the Quest

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Fulfillment of one’s quest promotes “apotheosis” in Joseph Campbell’s terms pertaining to the Hero Cycle. That is our topic for September. In The Hero With 1000 Faces, Campbell presents apotheosis as an initiation stage by which duality is dissolved into unity.

The merging of opposites: masculine + feminine, positive + negative, physical + Divine; such fulfillment transcends merely apparent paradoxes.  Neutrality is achieved, being neither for nor against. Equanimity allows us to resolve differences and internal as well as external conflicts. Stasis occurs at the eye of the storm. From here one attains Higher Consciousness.

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Freedom is born; a new, heightened sense of freedom from any attachments. Now one is free to move on to new adventures, no longer trammeled by whatever tension of opposites might have brought him/her to overcome obstacles and navigate stormy seas to arrive here.

In life we are constantly asking ourselves—if we are at all reflexive about our progress, or Being—who am I? And then again, who am I, Now? This ‘I’ that we are asking after, this Higher Self, resides always in the Apotheosis state.

I think of Rumi, who must certainly have many a poem about apotheosis. Here’s a verse:

“Through your love

existence and nonexistence merge.

All opposites unite.

All that is profane

becomes sacred again.”

 – Rumi

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Have you experienced times in your life when cycles have shifted and you have felt a special calm after fulfilling some deep quest? Sometimes when I have worked on a difficult project and have completed that successfully, either alone or with others in service, I know, as Frederico Lorca expressed so poetically:

“Something has come

to an end here,

It has been

accomplished.”

I feel the ending of a cycle as an equinox in my life. It has often seemed to me in such a moment that I could willingly die then, translating my life experience into new forms in another dimension. But then, so far anyways in this life, the next project or adventure appears on the horizon, so I am off again to meet it.

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images are from pixabay.com

The attainment of Fulfillment for any one Quest brings strength and understanding we can apply evermore.

Do you have a story to share?  I invite and welcome your comments and stories.

Alchemy’s Mysterium Coniunctionis: Union of Opposites

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Carl G. Jung found that his archetypal studies–whereby he personally engaged in active imagination to engage with his ‘persona archetype’ figures within his own personal unconscious domain–could be linked to Alchemy.  Just as alchemists aimed to combine or mix chemical elements to produce a higher order of integration metaphorically described as the process of creating gold out of lead, archetypal psychology or Depth Psychology as Jung referred to his process aims to explore the character or properties of one’s internalized archetypal persona forms so as to integrate them into a greater harmony within the mature, individuated Self (or, Soul). Jung called the ‘sacred marriage’ of integrated archetypes within the Self, or more ultimately, of Self with ‘Divinity’ , a Mysterium Conjunctionis:

Likewise Joseph Cambpell, writing of the Hero Cycle we all undergo time and again as we work through our self-developmental passages within our individual Story, speaks of the ‘sacred marriage’ as “the Ultimate Boon” (in The Hero with A Thousand Faces ([Bollingen, MJF Books, 1949], pg 190) :

“The agony of breaking through personal limitations is the agony of spiritual growth. Art, literature, myth and cult, philosophy, and ascetic disciplines are instruments to help the individual past his limiting horizons into spheres of ever-expanding realization. As he crosses threshold after threshold, conquering dragon after dragon, the stature of the divinity that he summons to his highest wish increases, until it subsumes the cosmos.”

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I would say that self-transcendence is a universal goal of any healthy, life affirming spiritual being (human, animal, and really ALL life forms).  We seek GROWTH, greater wisdom, maturity, and higher degrees of integration as we face our ‘dragons’ or challenges.  Life brings this opportunity, time after time, to expand our consciousness through more and more purified forms.

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Of course, this self-growth can become stunted or aberrated; that is when we may seek a depth analysis to ‘sort out’ the difficulties and resolve them.  Archetypal psychology can be highly effective in helping us come to know ourselves better and to identify and resolve inner conflicts.  I will be presenting some simple techniques anyone can use in this pursuit in my upcoming book, Your Life Path, including an Archetype Dialogue Practice.  (See my sample PRACTICE technique, below!)

Can YOU relate to the principle of a ‘sacred marriage’ of opposites or of how unifying otherwise disparate  elements of your own personality characteristics has helped you sometimes to transcend inner conflicts or to resolve difficult choices? Think of the Devil-on-one-shoulder-and-Angel-on-the-other metaphor; have you ever become aware of such a duality in your consciousness? Which ‘side’ did you most listen to or act upon?

What would happen if you were to hear both nudges and put them in conversation with one another and with your higher Self? You can actually do this, quite naturally:

PRACTICE: A Dynamic Archetype Dialogue Technique

Think of a situation about which you feel a “divide” in your feelings or thoughts about that choice or situation. With active imagination, visualize each ‘side’ of your opposing internal perspectives as persons (personify them within your imagination).  Then let them speak with one another, and you as Self can either observe or take part in the conversation. Then (or as it is happening), journal about or write out this dialogue directly.  Aim for your opposing Parts-of-Self to arrive at some degree of mutual understanding and agreement to find a compromise that may help you to move forward and make a better decision than you might have had you acted on only one or another side of this polarity.

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images are from pixabay.com

I welcome YOUR Comments and Stories!

The Sacred Marriage

 

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This month let’s focus on the stage of the Hero’s Cycle known as the Sacred Marriage.    To Joseph Campbell, drawing from Jung, this is that stage by which the masculine and feminine energies of the Hero are merged, allowing the Hero to go forth as a more integrated Whole Self as s/he continues to pursue their Quest.

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To Jung more directly, this is a union of the Animus and Anima and brings about a major transformation of character.  If it represents the actual goal of the individual, it can even be seen as an alchemical achievement of the highest magnitude: Mysterium Conjunctionus!   Masculine + feminine (both energies coexisting within both men and women), or Soul + Spirit, or even Earth + Heaven/ Human + Divine: this is the apex of integrated unity, gold out of lead.

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While the Sacred Marriage is often depicted via an actual Marriage of two characters, ultimately it is an internal achievement, as the individual attains a balance within of their animus and anima traits. Because of this, it can occur within anyone as a solo accomplishment or it could manifest as a relationship union.

Integration or even fusion as the Sacred Marriage represents is a significant spiritual development for it allows the Self to emerge as fully formed, as an expression of Soul.

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images are from pixabay.com

A CONTEMPLATION AND JOURNALING PROMPT:

Can you relate to the topic of the Sacred Marriage?

Do you feel you have achieved this INTERNALLY, whether or not you are partnered with your spouse or a significant other?

If so, what does this open up for you in terms of pursuing your greater goals? If not, how shall you achieve this; again, internally?

I welcome your Comments and Stories!

Liminality: The Betwixt and Between

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Why is it that after a hero has crossed the initial threshold of adventure, there is always a descent to undergo before the adventure can be pursued to the point of true fulfillment? An adventure story worth its salt, so to speak,—fictional or yours—is first and foremost a Rite of Passage.

Anthropologists recognize that a complete Rites of Passage/ Hero Cycle adventure occurs over three ritual or Hero Cycle stages. The adventure proceeds from:

(Stage 1)  Separation–whereby the hero(es) remove themselves from their normal state of affairs in order to pursue a personally meaningful and collectively beneficial Quest–; to

 (Stage 2) the Transition Zone–wherein they meet themselves and encounter obstacles in the form of trials and tribulations–; to

(Stage 3, when or if the Quest is successfully fulfilled), their Return and Reincorporation–whereby the more mature and better individuated Self benefits others as well as themselves from their positive transformation of values and the maturity they have brought back from their ritual passage.

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The Transition Zone (Stage Two of a complete Rites of Passage/ Hero Cycle odyssey) is where a Descent—sometimes metaphorically depicted as being swallowed up or in the Belly of the Whale—must occur in order for the Quester(s) to develop and strengthen their depth of character quite literally, as in what Jung would call a more integrated and thereby a better balanced unconscious-with-conscious Self. 

In the Transition Zone of a Rites of Passage cycle, the Quester encounters liminality: the experience of feeling as if they are “betwixt and between” normal spheres of reality or society.  As both Victor Turner and Anthony Wallace have described rites of passage, this sense of liminality—whether for an individual or sometimes for an entire society when a revitalization movement occurs—places the person (or social group) in an experience of marginality. They are no longer in the status or role they had before embarking on their adventure, yet they have not yet accomplished or fulfilled their quest whereby they could claim a new, greater role or their successful social-psychological adjustment. I love Anthony Wallace’s description of this (when successfully achieved) process as a Mazeway Resynthesis: a psychological/cognitive reorganization of values and behavior according to an adjustive, fulfilling new Vision of (individual and/or cultural) reality as a whole!

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images are from pixabay.com

Here are just a few examples of popular literary/ fictional stories that include prominent LIMINAL ZONE sub-plots or scenes:

Harry Potter: especially in his feelings of isolation from even his closest allies and in his nightmarish dreams of Voldemort from episodes 4-7;

Lord of the Rings: in Frodo’s passage, with Samway and the devious trickster Gollum as companions in liminality, to Mordor to destroy the One Ring in Return of the King;

The Wizard of Oz: e.g. in the Forbidden Forest, the Poppy Fields, and the Wicked Witch’s castle; and

The Bucket List: in the main characters’ unsuccessful outer quest to climb Mt. Everest,  during which they come to realize the true value of love and family.

What about you in your own unique LIFE STORY? Can you identify with a time in your life when you have experienced (or have yet to) LIMINALITY?  I invite you to journal about this experience or prospect. What did or have you to GAIN?

I welcome your Comments and Story!

 

 

Departure: A Double Entendre in Current America

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This month I am sharing about the phase of the Hero’s Adventure known as the Departure. It is a response to the Call to Adventure and must be undertaken mindfully, with good intention in order to bypass Threshold Guardians and Cross the Threshold of Adventure as you embark upon your Quest that only you can fully accomplish!

But as I attend to the news in this unsettling era of American conservatism in the White House, I recognize that “departure” is a word with a double meaning. The first meaning is as described in the above paragraph. The second is darker, more foreboding. A Departure can also be a turning AWAY from everything one has valued or known to be true for themselves. Where this new administration is going–or trying rather forcefully to take us to–is an extreme departure from much of what I value dearly and hold to be true based on the evidence of science and the witness of my heart.

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Climate change; Native American sovereignty rights over reservation and cultural resources; immigration and an open heart for refugees fleeing violence, poverty or corruption; racial and religious equality and freedom of choice including a woman’s choice over her own reproductive rights: suddenly all of these appear imperiled.

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The first sort of departure, acting on the intention to embark upon an Adventure in pursuit of one’s Dream, is positive and it can bear much bounty of a profound, heroic nature for all concerned. The second, a reversal of value-orientations developed over decades or even centuries in our democratic nation, feels ‘negative’ and disheartening to me. I feel disempowered by this second-order form of departure from the course the vast majority of people in my entire country have been pursuing toward achieving our collective American Dream.

So, the first departure, you must hold to, even in times of radical change and upheaval. Never turn back from your Dream!

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As to the second, darker seeming reversal (or any such external sort of reversal of charge threatening to obtrude within your world), do what you can, of course. Step forth, speak out as that becomes available for you, march, sign petitions as an active citizen who does have rights of free expression and whose values DO MATTER!

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Perhaps the collective good will ultimately triumph over the narrow nationalism and bigotry we see paraded about before us daily. The political comedians and newscasters are doing their best to stem the tide. Activism IS bearing fruit and will continue to do so. If that is the departure you are now being called to or in addition to the positive path you are set upon, all the best to you.

But my core message here for you is to not let the Threshold Guardians–any would-be naysayers or fatalistic pessimism itself–deter you from heading out on or continuing forth with YOUR Adventure.  Joseph Campbell would remind us that every successful Hero’s Adventure, both in the pursuing and in the realization of one’s Quest, one’s Dream, profoundly benefits not just the individual but the Universe as a Whole.

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images are from pixabay.com

We need to support one another in our joyful pursuit of our Dreams, perhaps Now more than ever.

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A New Year of Better Endings

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Endings are new beginnings; I love the fresh breath of freedom released with this awareness.  With this new year, preparing for that launch today, I will expand this blog tremendously and infuse it with lots of new energy and purpose. This year should see the publication of my life mapping book and manual, Your Life Path. As the release date nears I will add more information about that.  Our central content material for this new year will focus on twelve (of 17) monthly phases of what Joseph Campbell presented as ‘the MONOMYTH’ in his famous volume on comparative and personal mythology which I am sure many of you readers are familiar with, The Hero With 1000 Faces (HWTF; 1949).

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The MONOMYTH (diagrammed above from HWTF) is generally referred to as THE HERO CYCLE or as THE HERO’s ADVENTURE. Now then, as the Hero is Everyman/Everywoman; it is YOU!  We are each of us on a mythic Odyssey from the cradle to the grave, and Beyond. We all must heed the Call to Adventure and may expect to encounter Threshold Guardians that aim to waylay our Quest. Then when we do Take the Journey we face internalized or mirrored external Dragons, Shadowy archetypal aspects that can inhibit our deepest ambitions unless we slay (or, tame) them.  We seek truth and to fully express our creative imagination, to accomplish our goals that each of our unique skillsets and talents equip us to Manifest for the benefit of the larger Whole.

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images are from pixabay.com

When I teach a course about Your Mythic Life, I always open the class with a poem. It is the well known “Ithaca”, composed by the modern Greek poet C.P. Cavafy. I have found my favorite version, translated by Rae Dalvin, posted on the Poem of the Day blog (https://ninaalvarez.net/2007/05/03/poem-of-the-day-49/), so I gratefully re-post the poem “Ithaca” below. Read it carefully, for it is an invocation to You, a Call to Adventure.  That will  be our first topic for the new year

Ithaca

When you start on your journey to Ithaca,
then pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
Do not fear the Lestrygonians
and the Cyclopes and the angry Poseidon.
You will never meet such as these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your body and your spirit.
You will never meet the Lestrygonians,
the Cyclopes and the fierce Poseidon,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul does not raise them up before you.

Then pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many,
that you will enter ports seen for the first time
with such pleasure, with such joy!
Stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and corals, amber and ebony,
and pleasurable perfumes of all kinds,
buy as many pleasurable perfumes as you can;
visit hosts of Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from those who have knowledge.

Always keep Ithaca fixed in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for long years;
and even to anchor at the isle when you are old,
rich with all that you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.

Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would never have taken the road.
But she has nothing more to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not defrauded you.
With the great wisdom you have gained, with so much experience,
you must surely have understood by then what Ithacas mean.

-K. P. Kavafis (C. P. Cavafy), translation by Rae Dalven

The Road Leads Home

Many times I’ve been alone and many times I’ve cried
Anyway you’ll never know the many ways I’ve tried
And still they lead me back to the long and winding road
You left me standing here a long, long time ago
Don’t leave me waiting here, lead me to you door

https://www.youtube.com/embed/fUO7N-zSMYc?rel=0“>Beatles, The Long and Winding Road

Road songs, road trip novels and movie scripts, mythic journeys (e.g. the Odyssey): why is the Road such a common, universal cultural motif?

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Usually the Road leads Home or completes a full cycle of Departure–Transformation–Return, as per Joseph Campbell’s well known insight about “the Hero with 1000 Faces“. The mythic journey we all take is a “going and a Return”; it  is a journey of Self-discovery and advancement to ever greater horizons.

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Is it an Illusion, though? The Journey or Winding Road metaphor is after all just that: a way to frame experience as an ongoing, coherent Process. We depart from point A, traverse through obstacles or vistas, and ultimately aim to arrive at a “later” destination, one that is the same as that which we departed from, but we have gained through the struggle and lessons learned a greater maturity, skills and awareness. The Prodigal offspring, we seek to acquire wisdom in the lower realms in order to be of even greater service and humility when we finally return to the divine source of our own true essence. And every lesser journey is a microcosm or a small step along that ultimate Pathway of spiritual unfoldment in the eternal Nowness that IS.

Well then, just think of it! Nothing is ever wasted; every experience carries within it the Seed of this ultimate Return.

Ithaka

BY C. P. CAVAFY

TRANSLATED BY EDMUND KEELEY AND PHILIP SHERRARD

As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.
Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbors you’re seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and go on learning from their scholars.
Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn’t have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.
And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

C. P. Cavafy, “The City” from C.P. Cavafy: Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Translation Copyright © 1975, 1992 by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Reproduced with permission of Princeton University Press.

Around the Bend? Life Is… a Winding Road

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The most common metaphor for Life is that it is in some form a Journey, and in that regard, we are all travelers. We think of ourselves as having originated at birth and as having an exit, at death, with a “long and winding Road” from start to finish. J.R.R. Tolkien expressed this metaphor beautifully in a song from The Fellowship of the Ring:

The Road goes ever on and on

Down from the Door where it began.

Now far ahead the Road has gone,

And I must follow, if I can,

Pursuing it with eager feet,

Until it joins some larger Way

Where many paths and errands meet.

And whither then?

I cannot say.

Now then, where have you come from? Where are you going? How are you going to get there? Tolkien’s song reminds us that a life traveler, like you or me, is on a Quest to achieve unique potentials.

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Of course, not everyone is in a set of conditions that appears to allow them to “Follow their Bliss,” as Joseph Campbell exhorted.  A student recently reminded me of this fact after watching Campbell and Moyers’ dialogue in volume 1 of The Power of Myth series, The Hero’s Adventure. Life certainly can appear as a deep, dark pit rather than as a happily winding road to those caught up in apparently immovable or intractable conditions. Can someone beset with a genetic illness or chronic mental disorder, or can someone suffering in poverty anywhere in the world, benefit from the lofty thought that “Life is a Winding Road” leading to a positive destination? Or is that a merely privileged, Polyannish fantasy?

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I’ve been pondering this question since my student raised such a sobering perspective. I must for myself yet answer, Yes! I do believe that ANYONE, even in the most critical and painful of circumstances, not only can benefit from imaging Life as a Winding Road leading toward an ultimately positive destination, but that in fact they are likely to do so.

Why? Because I believe it is a human imperative, part of our basic survival instinct no doubt, to strive to transcend negative circumstances so as to—in some fashion, either for ourselves or those we love—prevail.  At very least, in the worst of times we at least usually aim to survive; albeit survival might come in various forms, including spiritual survival.

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I don’t mean to make little of human suffering and pain by any means; certainly it is a fundamental and crucial aspect of the human condition.  It is just what it is. But it seems also very human to aim to transcend suffering in any possible way or to any possible degree. I guess since I do see Life as a long and winding pathway, in fact through potentially MANY lifetimes and states of consciousness, there seems to be a plus factor, all in all.

It feels anyway to me as if we are all of us tending toward Home in the most ultimate sense, no matter how long it may take for any of us to get Here.

Road to nowhere

So this month I invite you to contemplate Life as a Winding Road. I welcome your insights, stories, or any artistic representations.

What Do Your Dragons Guard?

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Okay, so I’ve devised this acronym:

Deep Raging Animistic Giant of Negativity

Or, DRAGON!

So, what are Yours?

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We are speaking (initially at least) not of the positive, Bountiful, Life Breathing dragons like the Chinese New Year puppet forms, but rather of the “negative”, Fire Breathing, monstrous Dragons that jealously guard their hidden treasures.

These negative dragons can pin us down with their talons inciting fear and trepidation. They tell us what we CANNOT do or Be, what we SHOULD NOT attempt for fear of failure or public ridicule.  In a sense, “Your Dragon is your Ego,” says Joseph Campbell in A HERO WITH 1000 FACES.  In a self-protective mode it is that which might aim to “hold you back” from taking risks and, hence, at times it may prevent you from actively seeking or achieving your Bliss.

Dragon

So what is it that your Dragon might be telling you that YOU should never attempt?  Is it to be an Author, a famous Musician or a Dancer or Artist, or to move to your favorite place on Earth? Maybe it has to do with your relationship “patterns” or with your “real,” physical self-limitations? Let me ask you in another way; WHAT IS YOUR BLISS that you would wish to fulfill with all of your Soul, if only you COULD?

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Many speak of “Slaying Your Dragons,” including Campbell.  That makes sense. But I prefer the notion of TAMING them, instead. This is similar to the idea in the recent books and animated films, How to Train Your Dragon” (1 and 2).

By TAMING your Dragons, I mean first you need to identify them within your unconscious archetypal cast of dramatic players, then you need to get to know each one—as they are after all a part of your own dynamic multiplicity. Once you and your Dragon get to know one another—each of your dreams, fears, goals and desires—you can aim to ENLIST your Dragon into the common cause of being an Archetype Ally.

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Hmm, maybe a new acronym is in order now:

Dearly Respected Archetypal Giver of Needs

Or, DRAGON.

Super Hero Riding Dragon

Since it is your Dragon who knows your deepest fears, of course S/He can give to you whatever you might also need to overcome or to transcend these fears and to assert your Dreams and go boldly to achieve them. This reminds me of Falcor the Luckdragon from The Neverending Story, one of my favorite animated characters. Once you have befriended your Dragon, S/He may allow you to RIDE on Its magnificent back and soar to the realm of your Blissful achievement.

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I invite you to engage via Archetype Dialogue through active imagination or journaling with one of your own Dragons.

I welcome your comments and stories!

Childsplay and Active Imagination Techniques

 

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I consider myself to have been very fortunate as a child to have shared a best friendship with Karin, who was as much interested in creative imagination and adventure as I was. We were so interconnected through “childsplay” of various forms that when I remember my past in this life, I often say that my Childhood WAS Karin (…later extending to Barb, Diane, Ro, Pattie, Franco, Sebrena, Kery, Jan P,  Jan J, my sisters, Corinne, Gianmichele, Zvia, and Kathleen; gratitude for all these human companions, plus always my beloved pets!). But Karin and I had a special latitude in our very actively imaginative play, from when we were around 7 to 12. She lived with her mother in a beautiful, woodsy area in Pennsylvania; there were willow tree vines on which to swing across a creek, and lots of little green clearings within circles of large trees that made excellent forts, or rooms, or spaceships, or hiding places, or worlds. We played outdoors a lot in her yard: we played WWII soldiers, Indians (never cowboys), spies, and horses (that was my fave; we were just horses, wild and free, or one of us–playing a human–would rope and befriend the other, leading to many high spirited adventures!) Then indoors, when not practicing our violins together (we aimed to play “Santa Lucia” together at Carnegie Hall one day), we built elaborate universes, mansions made of Golden Book walls filling the upper and lower areas of a ping pong table at my family’s home. We created lives there for her Barbie, my Ken (yes, always the tomboy…); and we would weave adventurous, intricate life stories for our alter selves extending for over months at a time.

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I am glad I had Karin as my playmate, along with family and other friend adventurers throughout childhood and beyond. I don’t remember ever closing down this creative flow and in fact I can gratefully say it has continued always, through writing, dreaming, daily contemplations, daydreams, reading, and travels. Compiling the Life Paths Portfolio Handbook as a self-help toolkit, based on coaching people who have used this method for their own life mapping adventures, has helped me remain engaged with my own Active Imagination playground!

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One vital tool for using active imagination as a personal growth and development sandbox is to establish an ongoing “Archetype Dialogue” contemplation and journaling practice, which I highly recommend for anyone. This is what Carl G. Jung engaged in, which he in fact called an active imagination process. For Jung it resulted in his The Red Book: Liber Novus, and it spawned his general approach to understanding and working with “Archetypes of the Unconscious.”

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We all can have some access to our unconscious archetypal sub-selves—what I like to call our ensemble cast of mythic characters–through engaging our imaginative faculties and by remaining attentively engaged with our dreams. While some psychologists and others who have read of Jung’s forays into his Unconscious Archetypal domain through active imagination and journaling concluded this was evidence of Jung’s own psychological imbalance, he countered that since he was in control of when he would engage his archetypes and since he used these inner encounters to gain a more balanced and integrated Psyche, quite the opposite was true. Joseph Campbell similarly has cautioned that when people do NOT attend to their inner archetypal impulses, that could result in a form of ‘schizoid’ split in a person from “not listening to” their own inner selves, or Soul.

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 Many scientists, artists, and writers have likewise relied upon active imagination to keep open to the Creative Wellspring within each of us that allows us to be adaptive, flexible, playful, creative and productive in making of our lives that which we would fashion out of choice rather than only of necessity.  It is said that Edison never slept more that 20 or so minute catnaps at a time in order to stay primed at that creative aperture of consciousness between waking and sleeping.  Many artists share how their ideas have come through visions either sought or unexpected, as have scientists such as Kekule, who in 1890 dreamed of a snake swallowing its own tail and thereby developed a model of a benzene ring. Crick, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA with Watson, theorized it is important to use dreaming to ‘forget’ our non-productive or fixed ideas so that the subconscious mind can better explore and reveal its secrets.

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The book and recently released film Heaven is for Real adds a spiritual dimension to the practice of active imagination which I believe is also very important.(Or, read Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander in this same vein.) OOBE’s, NDE’s, and some forms of dreaming (e.g. lucid dreams, prophetic dreams, past-life dreams, etc.) can reveal to us that there is so much more to Reality—and life and death—than can be understood by physical science alone.

Hot Air Balloon

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What are some favorite ways YOU exercise your Active Imagination?

Where does it take you to?

I welcome your Comments, Insights and Reveries!

Your Guardians of the Threshold

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What major resistances show up in your life that seem to always obscure or obtrude your progress? You would like to go back to college, but no, there are so many reasons that pop up to say you can’t. (What is it you really wish to study or to learn and how else might you go about that?) Or you want to try a new diet and start exercising regularly, but where is the time? The money? If you could form a mental image of the naysayers within your own “conscience”, what would they look like to you? I call them Gremlins and will tell you why in a bit. These are your Threshold guardians!

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Joseph Campbell talked about Dragons and about Threshold Guardians separately because the way these archetypal mythological figures show up in your consciousness, dreams, or fixed attitudes varies, but they are related notions.  According to Campbell your inner Dragons are those internal voices that “hem you in;” they appear in your consciousness as self-limiting constructs that aim to hold you back from achieving your “Bliss” or your highest potentials. In a way, these sorts of internal Dragons are protecting you from failure; if you never strive to achieve your dreams, then you can avoid the feelings of failure that could occur if you fall short of fulfilling your desires. So the Dragon protects a part of you from venturing forth into the “big bad world” of external hardships and challenge. But of course, those challenges are what we are here to engage, from another point of view!

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Guardians of the Threshold pop up in your consciousness—perhaps in nightly dreams, waking dreams, or “road blocks” generally—when you are getting closer to attaining the fulfillment of a worthy Quest.  These Guardians guard the passageway that would allow you to finally “cross the threshold” by overcoming the final obstacles between you and your ultimate Goal/Bliss/Life Dream. In mythology and fiction, Guardians of the Threshold are those towering, often stone statues—usually paired as two Guardians facing each other—that wield powers that can destroy you if your heart is not pure when you attempt to step across into a field of “Higher Power” or higher Awareness and achievement. Often a set of Tests or Riddles are issued by the Guardians; only if you pass the tests can you survive in stepping forward. In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, for instance, while Indie’s father lies dying from a gunshot wound, Indie aims to cross a Void in order to find the chamber in which the Golden Chalice is protected by an ancient guardian and ancient magical forces.  He must answer three riddles and then he must step into the Void, demonstrating absolute Trust and purity of heart and mission. He takes the step, and a stone passage way opens beneath him. He confronts the knightly Guardian and wins the chance to choose the chalice, a final test of his wisdom and worthiness. As confirmation of his purity, Indie uses the water of immortality from the chalice to save his father’s life.

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I had a significant, archetypal dream (we can call it) about two years ago in which I found myself in a realm of higher energy; even the air was “rarified,” as in a high altitude region.  I saw horses there; not just any horses but what I awoke calling “Horses of Heaven”. Yes, these were winged Pegasus horses, huge, beautifully colored and magnificent Beings whom I knew instinctively served the missions of heavenly Masters or Saints, transporting them on their Missions throughout the Cosmos.  These Horses lived in this rarified zone when they were not in service on their missions. It was like there was a boundary line between where I was standing and this heightened realm where the Horses of Heaven abide.

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So, of course, I wanted to enter that beautiful realm of the Horses of Heaven.  I approached the boundary, when all of a sudden, Gremlins popped up all along the boundary! Literally gremlins, these fiendish appearing little fellows had broad ears and flat, rodent like faces. They were grinning, but I knew if I approached any further they would attack and I would be gremlin fodder! So, I paused and knelt, content not to approach any further but to remain in this place to be even this near to the realm of the Horses of Heaven.

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A beautiful, familiar seeming, White Pegasus appeared, returning along with one of her fellow Horses from a service they had performed.  As they approached to step across the boundary, the other (dapple colored) Horse went on across, but the White Horse knelt on one beautiful, graceful leg, inviting me silently to climb up onto her back. She rose with me gratefully astride her wide back as She stepped across into the heavenly realm. I awoke, humbled and grateful!

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My dream, which I have titled “The Horses of Heaven” and which I will ALWAYS remember, is an example of how Guardians of the Threshold might appear in a dream; the Gremlins protected that rarified Heaven from any impurity. I have felt ever since that dream that this was a blessing; a confirmation that I can proceed with my own Life Dreams. It has fueled my ambition ever since.

So, what are YOUR Guardians of the Threshold? What Threshold, first of all, would you approach in aiming to Cross a Threshold to achieve your Higher Purpose? And then what “pops up” to test your resolve or your purity of heart and Spirit if you would step forth to realize that Goal? Have you had any dreams of this nature? Perhaps recurring dreams from childhood or as an adult? Or do recurring situations tend to pop up every time you try to make a meaningful change of course for the sake of realizing your deeper purpose? What is your Quest? And of course, it may be that the life you are currently living is already fulfilling that Purpose; it does not have to be something more, but then you can better appreciate how you can serve and develop the deep potentials all around you, Here and Now!

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As a tool for understanding and contemplating your own Guardians of the Threshold, I invite you this week to represent them artistically via a poem or a picture or song lyrics, or to reflect and talk about them with loved ones, or to dialogue with them in an archetype dialogue through active imagination and journaling, such as I introduced last week. Get to know your Gremlins; they may never befriend you as that is not of their nature, but after all, they are of a positive force that allows you to refine your Purpose!

Life Metaphors We Live By

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          So is life, for you, a Road to Glory or a demolition course?  Is it a slow, inevitable march into oblivion or a recurring series of cycles of growth that lift you by trials and gradual achievement toward increasingly lofty goals? Then also, in terms of what you are setting out to achieve with a Life Mapping adventure, will you be able to switch horses midstream, if you wish to, transmuting lead into gold? Yes! You can! (L. Watts, Life Paths, Chapter 2)

When you close your eyes and envision a human life, what is it is like; what image do you see? This is a Life Metaphor.

Life metaphors are schematic cognitive models, habitual ideas you have developed. You might ask yourself, where do they come from and why do you hold this image currently rather than another?

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Some Life Metaphors are culturally shared and defined: Life is a Journey, for instance. This model reflects the epic, mythic hero cycle stories found universally in all cultures such as Joseph Campbell describes in The Hero with 1000 Faces. These stories represent the hero’s adventure as a going, reaching fulfillment, and then and a return to serve humanity, as in the mythic adventures of Prometheus or Theseus, or of Dorothy in The Wizard the Oz or even Harry Potter.

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There is the metaphor of Life as a Mountain, with peaks and valleys: Sisyphus, for example, is compelled to roll a stone up the mountain and then it falls back down and he starts over again, endlessly.

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Or perhaps a Life is like a Hot Air Balloon ride? I saw one land once in a peach orchard while I was working on a farm. It was from Canada. The pilot got out and he seemed to me to have come from another world altogether.

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There are many other life metaphors that reflect and can also influence our understanding of life. Life metaphors can even shape our interpretations of and responses to life events.  Is life a Roller Coaster ride, and if so, when or for whom?

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I have always loved the Life Metaphor of Life as a Carousel, which is why I use the interesting “Carousel” header image with this blog, by the fantastic artist Ann Wipf, showing the horses leaping off from their platform. A carousel goes round and round and up and down, in time with the musical sound and flashing lights of the platform arcade. Traditional carousels may have a brass ring that the riders reach out for and try to catch as they go around. This reminds me of the golden snitch in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter stories; I have a poster on my den wall that shows Harry going for the snitch and it reads: “The game of Quidditch isn’t over until the Golden Snitch is caught.” Such metaphors as these can serve to propel us forward through the trials and tests of life as we aim to attain our life dreams.

Grand Palace. A temple Wat Phra Kaew

SO THIS WEEK I INVITE YOU TO IMAGINE: what is Life like to you, now? Close your eyes to envision Life or a lifetime; what image do you see? Explore the implications, the metaphoric entailments, thoroughly. How is a lifetime like the image you perceive, and why?

On Tuesday we will look more closely at the variety and basis of Life Metaphors. I invite you to share your stories and insights this week!

One Thing

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Remember Curly (Jack Palance) from City Slickers I? With sage advice, Curly shares with Mitch (Billy Crystal) that the “secret of life” (holding up one forefinger) is “one thing.” But Curly shared this on his last breath and died before he could answer, what is that one thing? Mitch–and the film audience–had to wait for the sequel to learn from Curly’s twin brother Duke what that ‘one thing’ is.

It turns out that the ‘one thing’ is different for everybody. It is “whatever it is for you,” that ONE THING that makes you happy or allows for you to thrive.

Joseph Campbell might call that ‘one thing’ your Bliss. “Follow Your Bliss,” says Campbell in The Power of Myth, meaning for you to pursue that which truly fulfills you and empowers you to achieve your life purpose and manifest your Life Dream.

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Establishing one new, good habit or an activity that can propel you toward a goal you might otherwise not pursue would be a positive, “one thing” to do.  Some eight years ago, for example, when I was just beginning to write in earnest about the life mapping process I was already developing then, at a therapy session one day, I reached a breakthrough. I could do one thing to help this project really get rolling; I could find a house sitter for one full month and go for a writing retreat. So, I did. I rented a ski chalet in Steamboat Springs, CO, where every day of the month I started to work on my book and a proposal package at 8 AM and I usually worked far into the evening. I brought with me my elderly, beloved Harlequin calico cat, Ariel.

It was wonderful. I set up the computer at a wooden kitchen table facing an alcove window looking out above an ocean of Ponderosa pine treetops. I had plenty of peace and quiet. I drafted the basis of several chapters that would, over time, develop into Life Paths, a book I aim to begin marketing with an agent this summer.  It was that “one thing”–something I needed to commit to and invest some money in, a writing retreat–that firmly established my feet and heart on a path I have continued to follow ever since.

So, what is your “one thing”? What can you do that is outside your normal “box” (remember though, “There is no box”); something that could move you in the direction of your Bliss?

Joseph Campbell spoke of Bliss on one hand and also Dragons, on the other. Your Dragons might be “threshold guardians”. Your Dragons might prevent you from taking an action that could help you manifest your goals, either from fear or a lack of self-confidence.

“It will cost too much to rent a chalet for a whole month;

 Who will take care of my other pets while I am away?”

A Dream that is close to your heart is worth risking your complacency. Go for it! I encourage you to DO YOUR ONE THING! You can plan for it now, and then, Follow Through!

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Better Endings to You!

(Thanks already for former Likers of this original post.)

Living Your Dream!

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This week we’ve been exploring the value of a Life Dream. It is your Bliss, in Campbell’s terms; your North Star in terms of which you may realize your truest potentials and fulfill your Mission or Vision.

As a life mapping activity to help you to ‘flesh out’ your Life Dream, I invite you to describe a desired Future Scenario in which you have fully realized your Dream. You may envision and explore this virtual, parallel reality—which you are living into as you take actions to realize your goals—in great detail. (BTW there is a similar technique to this one in a book by Mary Carroll Moore, called How to Master Change in Your Life.)

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Where are you living in your self-realized future life? What is your daily life about? What positive values are you expressing that fulfill your greatest sense of life purpose?

Be as descriptive as possible: e.g., you might include colors, foods, family and relationship qualities, daily activities, your car, your home, hobbies, services you deliver, books you publish, art or music you produce, walks you take.

Now then, how did you get Here?

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Let me play a bit in the Moment with this practice:

I’m living with my sister Lee on farm property in New York state, about a mile—walking distance—from the Chatauqua Institute and about 45 minutes away from our sister Cheryl in Ellicottville. Our house is a converted barn, and I have my three cats and my dog Sophie living with us. Lee and I are both very engaged with writing and public service activities. We have a bunkhouse, trails, and an outdoor labyrinth and ampitheatre on our farm property that serves as a spiritual retreat center where we often hold various workshops, retreats and life mapping weekends. I also co-own a cottage with separate living quarters for the manager in Ireland,  outside the town of Claremorris in County Mayo, which my friend Jan manages when I, Lee or the cottage co-owners are not ourselves visiting or living there. I retired at 62 from the university, regarding that as a graduation, finally,  to a full life of writing and service, as did my sister also retire as a pastor to establish the spiritual retreat center.

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That was fun! I think you’ll find–as I just did!–that as you engage in your future-dream envisioning practice you will find new aspects opening up that you hadn’t even thought of in advance!d

There is also a way to magnify this practice, which I call “Alternate Future Lifescapes”. That is that you can create several alternate snapshots or descriptions of various future realities. This way you can build a Panorama (or, a cornucopia) of the Possible! Let’s return to this version–though you can be playing with this as you like–when we return to this theme of Life Dream casting in the 2nd 6 months of our blog, which will be all about the art and practice of Life Mapping.

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So, go for it! Create your Future(s) from your Life Dream. Allow it to share its promises and secrets!

I welcome your insights and stories!