Liminal Passages (Liminality, Part Two)  

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Victor Turner said of the betwixt-and-between (where one is likely to experience marginalized feelings during this Transition stage of a Rite of Passage) that one is caught up, as it were, within a Liminal Zone—like a limbo or purgatory—which Turner describes as Anti-Structure.  You have left the settled life of being part of the Structure of a society to enter into this no-persons land. You have stripped away or have had stripped away much of your former identity (this point is for my sister to read re. her recent dream of identity loss; Hi, Lee!).  You have obstacles to face in your Descent as you pass through the Forbidden territory of Anti-Structure, before you can (with your successful passage) re-enter Structure but in a new role and status based on the transformation of your consciousness and personhood you will have attained during this important, meaningful Transition. There is usually a role model or Guide to lead you through this stage; s/he has been where you are aiming to go and has achieved the new status/ level of consciousness you seek to attain with your Quest. Your Guide will help you so far as you need, or ask.

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Liminality is such an important stage for anyone (or group) seeking to bring about a positive, transformational adjustment in order to realize a deeply beneficial goal, that I want to share more examples here for you to ponder in their possible relation to your own contemplated, desired changes.

Hiawatha and the League of the Iroquois (A Whole-Society Revitalization)

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Hiawatha has lost his wife and three daughters, who were murdered by a chief of his own village during a blood feud among the Iroquois tribes and other regional tribes.  He wanders in the woods, desolate and alone. Some say he develops cannibalistic (Windigo-like) thoughts which he despises in himself.

Hiawatha, either from a boat looking into the waters or in a cabin looking in a pot of water, sees a figure—a god, as he is called—named Deganawidah, looking back at him. This figure—some say a real man with a speech impediment also in the woods—conveys to Hiawatha a Condolence Ritual to help him and his peoples grieve their losses, and he imparts guidelines for a new political confederacy, an alliance of the member tribes: the League of the Iroquois. Six tribes eventually joined this League, which still has relevance today. They put aside their internal fighting and agreed to select lifelong delegates (sachems), installed by the Clan Mothers, who would adjudicate disputes. Greater peace, and strength, ensued for many generations to follow.

Lost Horizon (A Personal Calling and Realization of True Potential)

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Robert Conway and a small crew of allies (unknowingly hand-picked) are hijacked when a small plane leaving China-controlled Tibet (in the post-WWII era) suspiciously crash lands in the deep snows of the Himalayas.  Porters carrying just the right-sized and number of coats appear and the porters escort Conway’s group through a difficult passage in the Himalayas over several days. Eventually they round a bend and see the spectacular, verdant and temperate valley where the Abbot and staff of the amazing Temple of Shangri-La welcome them.

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Conway comes to understand after meeting with the aged Abbot that he has been called to replace this spiritual giant when he (soon to be) passes. Yet he has to reach a degree of faith in the validity of this calling and of the purpose of Shangri-La itself in both a world-beneficial and personal sense.  He escorts his cynical brother away from the Temple when his brother nearly convinces him Temple staff have been lying, but once his brother dies in an avalanche and the woman who claimed she was not protected from aging at the Valley suddenly ages and dies, Conway develops but one core ambition: to return to Shangri-La even after he returns briefly to the US. Following another arduous adventure and crossing (a Second Threshold), Conway returns to Shangri-La to return to the woman there he had fallen in love with and to assume his unselfish, divinely inspired role.

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Star Wars Episode 5: Return of the Jedi (Spiritual Warrior Training and Transformation of Consciousness)

A name that you all recognize: Yoda.  Luke Skywalker departs (separates) from his compatriot rebels to find this Jedi Master so he can train to become a Jedi Knight, “like his father before him.” Luke’s training has all the character of a Liminal Passage. He feels frustrated and powerless at first, doubting his own abilities and doubting the veracity of Yoda’s capabilities as a Teacher. Yoda shows patience with young Luke and reveals his own strengths only as needed, asking the Acolyte to work at self-mastery instead of relying on his master’s techniques. When Yoda sends Luke into the mysterious, swampy domain where he will meet his own negative side in the form of Darth Vader (his Dark Father nature, after all), Luke disregards Master Yoda’s suggestion that he leave his light saber behind. Luke ends up defeating only himself by allowing his fear and anger to lead him to confront the image of Vader therein, a lesson very important for Luke to learn.

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Luke gains Jedi skills from Yoda, yet he has more to learn in the forge of experience as the saga continues. He returns to the fields of battle to save his friends and to serve the Rebellion as best he is able.

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To conclude this reflection on Liminal Passages, consider their role in your personal Life Story.  The more deeply the Liminal Zone is entered into and absorbed, the greater the transformation of consciousness that may occur and with that, the greater the benefits may radiate out from the Hero(ine) to the Whole and its values they are pledged to defend and uphold. The Hero is a Role Model for those s/he serves and  hence can become a guide or Teacher for other Acolytes.

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images are from pixabay.com

And so the Great Cycle continues, life after life, purpose after purpose.  What is YOUR PURPOSE for being Here? What strengths can you develop to be of greatest value to the Whole?

I welcome YOUR Comments and STORY!

 

Postulates Guide Our Footsteps

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This month as I am focusing this site on how understanding and working with the  Elder Leader archetype can help us to achieve our better endings, I find myself thinking more than usually about how the Elder Leader archetype manifests in the world and in my own consciousness. This morning I awoke thinking about this in relation to the idea of POSTULATES and how these orient and direct our actions.

On the level of common human experience it hardly matters what any of our belief systems might be. Atheist, existentialist, agnostic, or theist, we all make our way through life applying conceptual frameworks of one sort or another and operating as if this framework is naturally so.

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When I was in my teens into early adulthood, I read a lot of Albert Camus and other existentialists (Nietsche, Beckett, Sartre, Kierkegaard) and at the time this shaped my perceptions and guided my actions considerably. If there is no absolute purpose or meaning to life, I felt then, with Camus I accepted great personal responsibility for the creative unfolding of my little lifetime. “To live and to create in the midst of the Desert” became a creed for me to follow.

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Now of course, not all existentialists (or atheists or agnostics) accept this same credo of creative engagement as an answer to the relative or potential meaninglessness of existence.  There is wide latitude with this spectrum of outlooks. Some find life to be quite stark; Camus opens his book of essays The Myth of Sisyphus with the line: “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide.” (http://users.humboldt.edu/jwpowell/sisyphus.htm). How a person answers such monumental questions, based on whatever considerations they allow “in” from influential factors and in response to life conditions, shapes their outlook on life and their capacity to act in accordance with postulates they might thereby forge.

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Ethics follow from the postulates we hold. The new Star Wars movie (Episode VII) dramatizes quite well differences that may result from holding nihilistic as versus spiritualistic or theist outlooks as true. Genocide, selfish greed and egotism flow from the “Dark side” of the life force; camaraderie and reliance on inner awareness and harmonious synergy determines action from being grounded in the more positive, life affirming “Light side.”  Consider though, that these are not equal in the outcomes they inspire, at all. Spoiler alert: Kylo Ren (the newest villain, grandson to Darth Vader) kills his own father from even a playful, evil glee; with no apparent remorse whatsoever. And this is not just scifi fiction (wish that it were!); such outlooks on life and such behaviors permeate our collective realities daily in this age of mass murders and political and so-called religious terrorist plots aiming to draw attention to extreme violence perpetrated against strangers or even family.

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For the past forty-two years in my life I have adopted more of a theistic/spiritual outlook, and I find this frames my postulates about life and informs my attitudes and behavior quite differently from my earlier existentialist viewpoint. I still get Camus’ or other non-spiritualistic postulates to live life as NOT under the constant purview of Church or God or congregational fervor or communal judgementalism, but not all spiritualistic postulates require this either.  On the other hand I value deeply the sense of holistic interconnectedness with Life Itself—with nature and Cosmos and Spirit inflecting through all! I enjoy the camaraderie of synchronicity and the acceptance and deeply felt sense of the Sacredness of each and every form and inflection of the life force, as noncorporeal Spirit and as embodied Soul. From this vantage point I accept and welcome supra-dimensional at-one-ment with nonphysical and physical agencies that help me consider my every step in life, though it remains my responsibility to set my postulates and frame my ethics and to live accordingly.

Unconditional love becomes (for me) a primary postulate from this spiritualistic outlook.

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images are from pixabay.com

What I am saying is that each of us develops—among and interactively with other archetypal persona traits—our own Elder Leader faculties that help us forge and express our postulates day by day and that inform and can shape or allow our behavior. We get to choose—we must choose—what sorts of archetypal forms we accept and enact of ourselves—i.e. Strength or Shadow Elder Leader formations. Hence we are responsible for the postulates that guide our footsteps, and for the consequences that flow from these.

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I always welcome your insights and stories.

May the Balance of the Force Be With You

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When Star Wars first emerged in 1977, I was there. I crossed the city of Buffalo twelve times on my little yellow Puch moped to see that first installment. I could very much relate to the idea of the Force as Spirit then, and I still do. The continuing saga of Star Wars including Episode VII, which I saw in 3D at an IMAX theatre on the first day it came out last week, continues to develop the theme of the Force but they have emphasized the notion of “bringing balance to the Force” with the characters of Anakin Skywalker (Darth Vader) and now his dark, worrisome grandson, Kylo Ren. Thus the story continually pits the Light Side against the Dark Side of the Force, as if this dualistic jostling can ever bring true Balance or peace. No, they cancel each other out but they can never bring a genuine, lasting Balance. So, what does?

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Note the resemblance to Jedi Master Yoda!

I want to say here that the Force as I know it, and as many of you do who practice active contemplation, prayer or deep meditation, is not inherently dualistic. We can understand It as trinary: embodying the Light, the Dark, and the NEUTRAL force emanations of Spirit. The Light and Dark are only energetic expressions of that Neutral force operating within the limited worlds of Duality.

To answer power with power,

the Jedi way this is not.

In this war, a danger there is,

of losing who we are. Yoda

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Note the difference between Jedi Knights and Jedi Masters.  Jedi Knights “fight for the Good;” they serve the Light Side of the Force as versus Siths, who serve the Dark Emperor and their own selfish desires. But true, tempered Jedi Masters generally exhibit Detachment and acceptance in the face of conflict. They might fight if they are called upon to defend some worthy cause in the worlds of duality, but they have their Home in Divine Love or in the Heart of Spirit Itself.

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To connect with Spirit you need only find Your Center and hold your awareness Here. Do not be pulled to the right or to the left, “right” or “wrong,” up or down, or in any Outer direction that is dependent on external pressures. Find your genuine, core spiritual nature within and operate from this Soul perspective. It will not steer you wrong if you Listen closely to what your Heart—which could take the form of an inner or an outer, tried and trusted spiritual Guide—advises, and act accordingly.

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The Jedi Masters represent an Elder Leader archetype form that I wish to celebrate and invite you to cultivate this month. What is your own ELDER LEADER nature? When does it emerge in you in its most balanced form?  Invite your ELDER LEADER to reveal Its WAY to you this month of January, as January is the astrological month associated with Capricorn and the Elder Leader Archetype Ally.

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images from pixabay.com

Remember, the FORCE IS with you, always! May it inform your Way!

Light Warrior or Shadow Avenger?

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From out of the murky depths of history, humanity has always had Warriors to protect their peoples and to forge new territories as Pathfinders.

In its most positive mode, the Warrior serves a worthy cause with nobility, at least according to their own peoples’ values. The Medieval knight errants upheld a code of honor. They wielded power from their skill at warfare, but their steel was tempered by acts of chivalry.

Dark warriors also emerge, too often perhaps, fueling fires of hatred and leaving destruction and grief in their wake.

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But the Light Warriors, e.g. the Jedi knights of fantasy lore whose wisdom even more than their light sabers “bring balance to the Force” are those upon whom the folk can rely to safeguard a delicate  peace and to protect and preserve the common good.

Warriors will always be needed in this dualistic universe we call home, where light and darkness, good and evil (though so variously defined) pair off and polarize according to faith, tradition, or karma.

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The Light Warrior, I would say, is more of a protector than an avenger. His or her goals are not selfish nor fanatical but rather aim to serve the greater whole. That is why so many epic tales of myth and legend depict the heroic adventures of protagonists who must save the entire world or all of humanity against cataclysmic forces or demonic, inhumane foes who wish to conquer and destroy for the sake of their own narrow beliefs or rapacious hunger for power and control.

The Light Warrior forces seek to build or to restore order, peace, and balance.

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The movie Avatar presents an excellent example of both positive and Shadow-mode Warrior types. The greedy administrators of the earth invasion force, with their mercenary army, aim to rape the planet of Pandora of her mineral resources at the expense of the noble Na’vis culture and peoples. The Na’vis’s themselves along with the hybrid avatars and allies seek rather to preserve Pandora and its peoples and natural resources from the ravaging plunder of the cruel and selfish invaders.

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So what about you? When it comes to your own inner Warrior archetypal modes of consciousness, are you more often a Light Warrior or a Shadow avenger or conqueror? Perhaps we first all need to recognize these polarized tendencies in ourselves if we are to seek to bring balance to not only our own personalities but to the world at large. How? By pausing before passing judgement on others’ beliefs and actions, including your own. My own spiritual orientation (Eckankar) includes a suggestion shared by many of positive spiritual focus today:

Ask yourself always, “Is it Kind? Is it Necessary? Is it True?” before acting, speaking, or thinking ill of any other or of yourself.  This can serve to balance the Warrior within.

I welcome your comments and stories!