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!

Your Life is An Epic Journey

 

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You are a mystic life adventurer! But you know that, right? This month we will explore the Life Metaphor Life is an Epic Adventure, with the archetype of Mystic as our ally and guide.

James Hillman, archetypal psychologist, wrote in Healing Fiction about the healing power of your own Life Story. He made a distinction in his therapy practice between a “case story,” which a person brings to the therapy process, and a “soul story,” which a therapist can help the person to identify and own. The case story is just the facts, the weave and warp of situational events that have added up to where a person feels himself or herself to be in life.  But those same facts, told in terms of their meaning, their impact and significance to the person’s sense of life purpose, goals and desires, comprise the soul story instead.

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With Life Paths I will introduce a technique I call the Parallel Myth technique. This method will provide a way to transform your basic Life Map—charting your significant, shaping experiences and their relative impacts on the person you have become—into a soul story. As a short version here, let me invite you to simply think about some Epic story in a novel, film, play or myth form that you have always identified with.  How? Why? What about that story or one of its key protagonists reminds you of your own life and your own epic life adventure?

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Now then, write a brief, synoptic story that merges the story you have identified with and meaningful facts from your own life. Assign yourself a protagonist’s name, and write this synoptic story in third person, highlighting your own most dramatic challenges, successes, loves and dreams. Write a page or two encapsulating your life experience from the perspective of this ‘merged’ storyline.

I like to remind my life mapping clients and students of the following awareness:

You are the stuff that myth is made of, and myth is made up from the stuff of your lives.

Now then, go forth and prosper!

I welcome your insights and I invite you to share your stories. Let’s enjoy a conversation!

What is “BetterEndingsNow!” to Me?, by Dr. Joshua Bertetta

{Dear Readers: Here is a treat (for me especially!). Joshua Bertetta of the intriguing blog The Story of the Four  has taken time to reflect on BetterEndings Now which he has been graciously following. Joshua is a scholar of comparative religion, mythology and archetypal psychology, and I am always grateful to have him “Watching,” as I am also grateful for every one of you who reads this blog whether or not you comment. You are always welcome to share your own insights and stories. So here is a guest perspective, from Joshua Bertetta. I will add some graphics because that is always fun to try to be synchronistic with GraphicStock images…}-Linda

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Dr. Linda Watts’s BetterEndingsNow! and its companion, Life Paths for Better Endings, rooted in C.G. Jung’s theory of the archetypes and James Hillman’s archetypal psychology, is a program, which, as much as it offers guidance toward discovering and manifesting one’s dream, is, to me, as much about the process as it is the final goal.

As someone who holds a Ph.D. in Mythological Studies with a degree emphasis in depth psychology, I am well familiar with Jung and Hillman, as I reflect upon Dr. Watts’s work, the element I have come to most appreciate is its simplicity.

Now don’t get me wrong, this is not a simple program—it takes work, but the work, aside from enlightening, can also be fun (as well as scary, as any process of self-discovery can be). What I mean by simple is two-fold. One the one hand, BetterEndingsNow! is free from psychological jargon. Yes, a participant is introduced to archetypes, but anyone familiar with Jung and Hillman know each defines and uses terms like “soul” and “psyche” in specialized ways. You don’t need to know all that to participate in the Life Paths process. In other words, you don’t have to be a specialist in analytical or archetypal psychology.

All you have to do is follow the steps, beginning with “Your Origin Story,” along as they proceed—simple.

Looking at Dr. Watts’s program, I particularly appreciate her understanding of life as story—as myth. There is too much baggage associated with the word “myth” these days and in many respects this baggage makes me sad. “Myth,” from the Greek mythos, simple means story or, perhaps more accurately, plot.

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Stories have arcs; they have peaks and vales; they have climaxes, themes and conflicts as well as a whole cast of characters.

Is that not life?

Too much today, I think, is life perceived by many as a simple sequence of events. Freud (to whom Jung and Hillman are in debt) revolutionized psychology because he understood life is a story. Hence his “talking cure” was a means by which his patients could understand their lives as stories and thus initiate a process of self-understanding and healing.

Of course Jung and Hillman would continue their own projects much in the same trajectory and I think what Dr. Watts has done is to distill this process by offering insights into such a journey in addition to introducing us to a means by which to understand central themes of our lives and the characters we meet along the way. By this I mean those archetypal presences that are at work in us and through us our entire lives. Dr. Watts not only introduces us to such archetypes, but offers a means by which to enter into a relationship with such.

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Jung and Hillman located the source of modern humankind’s suffering in the loss of meaning and the loss of imagination, respectively. Dr. Watts’s work follows in the same trajectory in that though using our imaginal capacity to connect with archetypal figures and to see our lives as stories, as myths. This is a key component in Jung’s and Hillman’s psychological projects. I might even say the key component, for when one is connected to the depths of experience, which are archetypal in nature, meaning in life is restored.

In the end, as I look at Dr. Watts’s list of primary archetypes (see “Meet & Greet Your Archetype Cast of Characters”) I would not hesitate to say that the Teacher archetype is present in her work. Offering guidance as she does as well as teaching us along the way, so much is clear. She is a university professor after all. But there is more.

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What makes BetterEndingsNow! special is the presence of the Nurturer. The program Dr. Watt’s sets before one does take work, yes, and again, such work can be hard. But there is a gentleness to her approach, embedded in her language. Like a mother, I see BetterEndingsNow! as open hands, hands available for the taking, and like a good mother, there is a quiet care present. Like a mother watching her baby learn to walk, that after those first few wobbly steps, she stands back and watches her baby go; yet despite the separation, the mother is always there, there to offer her child care, love, and guidance.

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Thank you, Dr. Bertetta. You have read this blog well to understand its intent deeply. I find that many authors and bloggers such as yourself and several others whom I have discovered through putting this material “out there” (which somehow always feels like “In There”, somewhere we all share consciousness together) are converging to bring similar messages through. I love Joseph Campbell and Jung and Hillman, among others (e.g. also Gail Sheehy, Jean Houston, Carol Pearson, Mary Catherine Bateson, Fredric Hudson, Julia Cameron, and  Carolyn Myss),who all are helping us realize our lives AS Mythic and therefore we can explore our own narratives and develop these in the direction of fulfilling our Golden Quests. Thank you for your reflections! – L

 

 

Countering Self-Limiting Beliefs with Better Endings (“Riddikulous!”)

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This week we can apply the principle of Better Endings to transforming self-limiting beliefs and personal myths. What are those beliefs that hold you back from Living Your Dream, Now? Are there any personal myths, or restrictive postulates, that you carry in your mindset about yourself, others, or the world/universe?

Joseph Campbell, the comparative mythologist–many of whose ideas my life mapping approach is operationalizing for everyday heroes–refers to self-limiting postulates as your “Dragons.” To slay (or, tame) your Dragon means in Campbell’s terms that you must identify and confront your limiting beliefs to conquer their illusional hold on your potentials so you can become all that you care to be, do all that you dare to do, express all that you ARE.

I’m a big Harry Potter fan. Dispelling limiting self-talk and negative beliefs reminds me of Remus Lupin‘s lesson to Hogwarts students where they confront “Bogarts” representing  their deepest fears and they counter their force by focusing on positive thoughts and saying, “Riddikulous!” Isn’t that exactly what we are talking about this week? Our limiting beliefs are only mental constructs; think powerfully happy thoughts to dispel their oppressive energy. They have no power greater than your own force of positive affirmation or intention.

A Samuel Taylor Coleridge poetry shard has lodged in me since college days:

Like one that on a lonesome road

Doth walk in fear and dread,

 And having once turned round, moves on,

And turns no more his head,

because he knows a frightful fiend

Doth close behind him tread.

If he turns around (I always remembered the pronoun as feminine until checking sources today), well along down the road, will the dragon-fiend still be there? Applying the Law of Assumption, the monster is no longer there so long as you do not bring it with you; so long as you stop running from it.

Of course, there are deep, shadowy, real tormentors and dire conditions that will not go away just by wishing they might. All conditions have their purpose and if they persist, there are good reasons for their presence in one’s life. Better Endings is not about being Polyannish or wearing rose colored denial glasses. Still, how we respond matters. That’s why Rowling’s “Riddikulous!” resonates for me as such a marvelous, profound ‘spell’. Try it on the worst of scenarios and, like Mary Poppins‘ spoonful of sugar, some light can return that might illuminate an opportunity to grow, to learn, to laugh at our fears and to unfold in awareness. So with that, we cannot lose, see?

As eternal Soul, made of spirit substance or the indestructible, vital life energy of the universe (however we call it), we are greater than any physical or emotional circumstance and we are lighter than any ‘heavy object’ that might attempt to weigh us down or hold us back from manifesting all that we are, the I AM, that you ARE.

No Endings with Better Relationships, by Corinne M. Harmon

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Better Endings in relationships doesn’t necessarily mean, “happily ever after.”  Relationships seem to have an ebb and flow that defines their course toward some elusive shore.  The shore can hold this ebb and flow in one’s heart whether the relationship thrives or ceases to exist.  The law of impermanence in Buddhism suggests there is nothing to hold onto in this reality because we will all change form, eventually.  Yet, love is eternal – a never ending flame, no matter what changes come within the ebb and flow.

Relationships have a life of their own within a pre-determined agreement to find ways to grow through the countless lessons of karmic patterns playing off of each other, providing potential opportunities to become the best we have to offer.  We approach and we retreat, let go and hold on, acting in fear or in love.  It’s a moment to moment toss of the coin.

Precious relationships and loved ones who have passed on remain in our heart, forever.  Time cannot erase or extinguish love’s flame and in fact, there is really no ending at all.  Love is better, always, in every way, now and forever.  There is no end.

Dr. Corinne Harmon is a professor of Leadership in Education with a background in Educational Administration and Special Education. She is also a practicing Life Coach in the Colorado Springs/ Denver, Colorado area. She hosts spiritual retreats and wellness programs.

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Thank You, Corinne, for sharing your heartfelt story. It is obvious you are speaking from deep experience.

To all:

To submit a Guest Blog, simply answer “What Do Better Endings Mean in Your Life” (or comment on the weekly topic). You may submit a Better Endings story for Story of the Week. For any guest post or story you will receive an author’s by-line, brief bio, and you may mention your websites.

This next week’s topic (starting tomorrow) is: Better Endings for TRansforming Limiting Beliefs and Personal Myths.

 

Better Endings to ALL! – Linda