Resurrection / Rebirth!

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The final stage of the Hero Cycle that we are exploring with this year’s themes is that of Resurrection / Rebirth. ‘The End’ is always a New Beginning!  Whether or not you believe in reincarnation (I do), we live out our lives in epic proportions, undergoing many cycles within greater Cycles as we spiral through our life experiences to reach the heights of our aspirations and fulfillment.

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With my research into life path mapping that I have conducted over the last fifteen years, I have discovered there are three primary types of Life Course Schemas or cultural models of a lifetime that are overlapping in our cultural outlook today. I call these Linear, Cyclic, and Seamless Life Course Models. I want to describe the Linear and Cyclic Life Course Models for you here.

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Linear Models are predicated on a long held view of the life course emphasized in developmental psychology and proposed primarily by Erik Erikson in 1950 (Childhood and Society). This model postulates eight developmental stages everyone passes though as they mature. (You can read about this also in Gail Sheehy’s book Passages and in her later, updated New Passages book). Many of us have been conditioned according to this Linear-stages or step-by-step model of a lifetime, but in today’s “post-modern” reality, this Linear model really does not hold up so well for most people. Instead of ‘one education, one job or career, one relationship,’nowadays most of us find ourselves needing to be flexible and to adapt to major interruptions of our plans as we go along.

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The Cyclic Life Course Model accounts for our need to adjust to life’s changes. I have found in my interview research that people who have experienced major, early life disruptions as a child such as from their parents’ divorce tend to have developed a Cyclic Life Course model on their own. Some will say life occurs in cycles like decades, seven year cycles, twelve year cycles or some other periodic cycle. These folks also say they do not experience or worry about “mid-life crises,” because as one cycle ends and another begins, they always have the opportunity to refresh and renew!

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images are from pixabay.com

So how about you? Do you hold to more of a LINEAR model of life, with set stages of development you aim to achieve? Or do you hold a CYCLIC view of life instead, remaining flexible and open to start anew when a cycle ends for another to begin? (BTW, You might hold instead to a SEAMLESS model, believing that life just happens and you can adjust to whatever comes your way.)

I invite you to contemplate and journal about a CYCLIC approach to your life. Make a timeline of major life events to see if you discover any sort of cyclical pattern there. If so, where are you at in your current cycle? Are you ending a minor or major cycle? Starting a new one? Or are you right in the middle of one cycle, giving your all as you develop your talents and relationships?

I welcome YOUR Comments and 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!”

Fruition!

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Ideation–Goal-Setting—Planning—Development/Learning—Trials/Practice—Implementation—Fulfillment–Fruition!  Such is the process of Creative Manifestation, and I must admit, I love it. There is no feeling more satisfying to me (right up there with sharing timespace with my pets and family and friends) than arriving at Fruition for some worthwhile, service-oriented project.

I say service, and that is important to me.  It is not only a PRODUCT that is generated through a manifestation process that lights me up, but to be worthwhile there must also be a SERVICE brought to fruition. The product must serve the whole in a positive, growth-enhancing manner; that lights my fire!

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My father (bless his Soul, I dreamed of him this morning) used to tell me: “If you’re going to be a ditch digger, then be the best darned ditch digger you can be!” Dad worked his way through college at Ohio State University just after serving as a bomber pilot in the Pacific in WWII by digging ditches for a telephone cable service.

I recall myself similarly working for college tuition over two summers as the sole farmhand for a farmer’s peach orchard and grape vineyards in New York state. Coming home at the end of a grueling, hot day in the orchard or dragging the vineyards on a tractor brought the same feeling of Fruition that I later associate with planning and implementing a seminar or public outreach service for my spiritual organization, and seeing my book, Your Life Path –with deep thanks to my agent, editor and publicist team!!–, going to production this week!

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images are gratefully from pixabay.com

I will be graduating (er, retiring) from full-time academic service as a professor this summer after teaching for nearly forty years altogether, and that will of course bring a major project to fruition.  I have accomplished what I set out to do over the past 25 years at my present post in many respects, and I will go forth still teaching but focusing full-time on writing and related services for a wider field of sharing. I intend for my final blog when I leave this post in Academe this June to be titled:

Mischief Managed!

What brings YOU to a feeling of Fruition or of successful Completion? What service project are you working on Now that will light YOU up again for the good of the Whole?

To me, this image of LIGHTING YOUR FIRE through bringing a worthy project to Fruition is apt: for Fruition lets us tap into that Holy Fire which empowers us to light the world through our service.

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

Better Ending Tales of Return

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Here’s a fun practice for this month’s theme of The Return (the eleventh stage of the Hero Cycle as we are framing it this year on the blog site):

Think of a film (or a novel, or myth) begging for a sequel that has not yet been produced. Write a synopsis of the sequel as you would wish it to be!

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One Better Endings movie-sequel tale I have in mind (which will appear in my book to follow Your Life Path, to be called Better Endings), is a sequel for the film Close Encounters.  I call the sequel “Mr. Neary Returns.”  What has Roy learned while away as an earthly ambassador with the alien race that whisked him off into the cosmos at the end of the first film? And what has happened to the earth Roy knew when he departed?

Roy returns, having hardly aged at all, to an earth in great peril of global nuclear annihilation.  He brings a wisdom based on a history of interplanetary species that have survived this great test, while most have failed.  He becomes a global ambassador for open dialogue and forgiveness, recommending a global federation that empowers cultural pluralism for the good of the whole.

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images are gratefully from pixabay.com

Now, writing Better Endings stories is part of a larger opportunity for “revisionist” envisioning generally.  The same “better ending” principle you can use to rewrite fiction or history you can also apply to reflecting on episodes or themes from your own life! (That will be the basis of the book to come…)

For now then, write a Better Endings movie or novel sequel. Try it! Let me know if you would like to share your story!

Happily Ever After

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Certainly one of the greatest elixirs is Happiness. After attaining our worthy goal, we achieve a degree of happiness which we can carry forward with us into the next ordeal and adventure. Probably most people would claim greater happiness—for themselves and for others—as a measure of success, whatever their endeavor.

What makes you happy in the deepest sense? I mean, not only in the moment but long-term? A child (or a pet’s) smiling face (or their playfully wagging tail or purr), a beautiful mountainscape or an Oceanside sunset: these bring a valuable though transitory happiness. They warm the heart and bring a smile. They reveal, I would say, a deeper state of intrinsic happiness. They reveal a harmony of Nature, an innocence of Spirit; breaths of fresh air, a tonic to the Soul!

Still, how can you expand your condition of happiness beyond the fleeting moment?

So I ask again, what could make you Happy in the grandest sense? Is it your job? (Stay then! Take it as far as you can!) Or your relationship(s)? Then Bravo/a to you! Or maybe it is your chosen environment, where you experience At Oneness with the All One? (More cosmic, loving power to you!!!)

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For many people, enduring happiness is yet an elusive goal. Achieving their ultimate happiness shall be a result of fulfilling their most ardent endeavors (or, it may be found in the very practice of those endeavors themselves). Many will gain their enduring happiness by serving others and/or producing good works; by fulfilling, that is, their sense of Purpose and their Mission for this life.

So now, what is your Purpose; what can you claim as your Life Mission?

As a personal example, my life mission inflects on several levels. I have a spiritual Mission, which I do not feel the need to share. On a practical level, I have always sought, in one form or another, to serve the Whole…that is, to embrace and express my own inherent wholeness as well as to serve however I can the greater Whole of the community, family, fencing team (e.g.), and the world in which I live. Like many, I have always strived to make a positive contribution—whether through teaching, sharing in general, through responsible service, or through writing/publishing.

“What difference does it make?”

“It doesn’t matter!”

These were my calls in the wilderness to God, my deep laments through at least the first five decades of this life. So then, I would try harder, work more.

Until, gradually, as on cats’ feet, the Process itself—e.g. of communicating, teaching, contemplating, writing, living—has become fruitful in itself, in the moment of Doing, Being, or Knowing.  I find that I am still very goal-oriented, yet now my goal and the process I engage with to fulfill the goal have merged as one focus; see?

With this transformational shift from a ‘product/goal’ to a ‘process’-oriented mindset, now that I check in with my Self, Happiness has set in!

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images are from pixabay.com

This is not to presume that I am always “happy” in the glib/ surface sense. That has never been my goal. Actually I can sometimes let things bother me now just as much if not more than ever before. This comes from my passion for advancing what is in process. Disruptions or interruptions of this forward arching flow can set me back, but only long enough overall now until I can accept and absorb the lesson (for there is always a lesson!), and move on.

What Is Your Life Mission?

My upcoming book that is announced in the right panel of this blog, Your Life Path, is my best contribution so far to serve the Whole. This book provides a complete/ original Life Path Mapping process with its chapter-ending self-discovery Tools. I have developed and practiced this approach over the last fifteen years, through interview research, analysis of results, producing a previous academic book on the subject, and—more importantly—through developing the embedded self-help Toolkit from applying the mapping and reflection process with large classes of students and with many individuals, as a “life path mapping” coaching approach.  It has been helpful for many and even deeply transformative for some.

The Your Life Path Tools can guide you gradually yet gently to review your past, to reconsider your present with regard to how you have reached where you are in life now; then to explore your values, your inner conflicts and challenges (from an archetypal psychological  perspective), and to reveal your deepest, most integrative goals. It leads you to express and embrace your Life Mission; then to claim your Life Dream and plan a fulfilling future course, beginning here and now, to live into the life of your dreams!

I do invite you to check out this book if it may serve you. You could pre-order using the url address in the right panel, either through Amazon (as a book or ebook), Barnes & Noble, or Indies. I will be offering a preview webinar series on Life Path Mapping by December (I will post about that as it becomes available).

And so, wherever your life path leads you to:

Go For It!

A Te Sante!

Be Happy!

Live Your Dream, Now!

I always welcome YOUR Comments and Stories.

Potent Potions

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Felix Felicis: Liquid Luck!  J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter wins this helpful elixir by concocting the most perfect potion in Professor Slughorn’s Potions class at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  So, when Harry really needs a boost of fortuitous inner nudging in order to achieve an important aspect of his mission as the Chosen One to save the world from the evil horcruxes of Voldemort, he drinks a vial of this potent potion and knows just what to do to accomplish his purpose.

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So, what is your Felix Felicis? For some of you it may be a Mantra, which focusses your attention on higher awareness.  Or it could be a talisman, like a rabbit’s foot or a very comfortable, old pair of socks. (We may explore both of these topics later this month.)

“Luck”…after all, what is it?  Is it magical, or is it a matter of focusing your attention on a goal and persisting in the direction of that central focus? Can you create your own good fortune by committing wholeheartedly to its worthy cause? I would say the cause does have to be worthy, and then, yes absolutely, the sky’s no limit!

Is Liquid Luck for real then, or does it provide Harry merely a placebo effect, allowing him to draw upon his own deepest wisdom based upon the self-confidence that comes with his belief?  Rowling alludes to that assumption when she portrays Ron Weasley winning a Quidditch contest because he thinks Harry has gifted him his Liquid Luck.

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images are from pixabay.com

Placebo effect or a direct causal agent, it matters not.  Use every possible positive means to achieve your worthy goal!  Now then the only caveat is, choose well that which is truly worthy of your focus.

I welcome YOUR comments and story!

The elixir of Patience

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This month we have been exploring elixirs. Elixirs are qualities of consciousness assumed with the process of unfoldment of one’s deepest potentials for the good of the Whole. One such quality is Patience.

“Patience is a virtue” sums up nicely the alchemical nature of this positive attribute. Combined with other qualities such as persistence and even passion, patience can propel our actions forward to help us manifest our most worthy goals.

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So here are some nuggets about patience I found on the web:

“Being a good teacher takes patience; being a good doctor also takes patience. In fact, if you want to excel in anything, master any skill, patience is an asset.” Eknath Easwaran, Patience: A Little Book of Inner Strength 

“Struggles often serve to release the wisdom, patience, and strength we all possess but too seldom demonstrate.” Jim Stovall, Wisdom for Winners Volume One: A Millionaire Mindset, An Official Official Publication of The Napoleon Hill Foundation 

“But ‘not giving up’ requires a certain level of patience, of hours and hours, and sometimes days or weeks, months or years of trying and perfecting.” V. Noot, Don’t Give Up

“Doing interesting work when nobody notices takes patience and belief.” Brian Knapp, Creative Pursuit 

“One of the paradoxes of life is that being impatient often makes it harder to achieve something. As with any skill, you get better at manifesting the more you practice.” Simon Foster, Manifesting Change: How to Manifest Change, Love, Abundance and Prosperity 

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images are from pixabay.com

The Road to Sadhana

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The poem I shared last Tuesday I composed in 1978 while on a very memorable road trip across country by bus from Buffalo to Tempe, Arizona. I was traveling with a friend, Grace, to check out Arizona as I would be attending college there the next year. It was a very eventful trip on so many levels. The Greyhound bus broke down in Effingham, Illinois, and about half of us stayed on until Flagstaff, Arizona, where we were rerouted on a Trailways bus through what was one of my and Grace’s primary spiritual destinations anyway: Sedona.

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All through the bus trip, especially after the breakdown and even moreso after an encounter with apparently a murderous pair hightailing it out of Albuquerque (I’ll tell that in a bit), I composed a trip length poetic account of the journey. Part of the coda verse I still recall for the epic poem was:

On the Road to Sedona,

Where all is Sadhana…

Sadhana is an Eastern term designating a state of spiritual enlightenment; a state of calm one achieves from centering deeply.  As our theme this month is the similar or related experience of apotheosis, it feels right for me to revisit this adventure, now 39 years later.

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So the murderer, even more than the breakdown of the bus and rerouting through Sedona, sparked a major change of consciousness for me.  Grace and I were at a bus stop in Albuquerque where Grace met a police woman. She told Grace she was on the lookout for a murderer and his accomplice trying to get away from New Mexico.  Our bus left there at midnight, the last bus for the night. Two men, one recently bald, paid the bus driver directly when he got onto the bus instead of paying as was normal at the ticket booths. Grace and I were sitting second row from the front of the bus to avoid cigarette smoke. The tall, bald man, wearing a serape with a metallic bulge in the pocket which he arranged over the seat to be positioned so the bulge was just behind his head, sat in the front row, with his partner sitting catty-corner behind us across the aisle (carrying only a wrinkled, paper bag). The Bald One, who resembled Lurch from the Addams family to me, pulled out a cigarette (forbidden for the 1st three rows), stared ominously at the bus driver, and chortled: “Goodbye, New Mexico, forever!”

OK, so that sets the scene. My friend Grace immediately figures this is the murderer the police woman is after, so she leaves the bus to tell the woman about him. She returns, telling me the police woman acted frightened to know the men might already be on the bus and asked Grace to be careful and not stir up trouble. So, I got off and told her what I had seen re. the money exchange with the driver. She acted concerned but frightened and told me to get back onto the bus and also to not cause waves.

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The bus wound slowly through the night from Albuquerque to Flagstaff, a very long night for me as I was on high alert. I whispered our suspicions to the woman behind me, Terry, who had been instrumental in getting our passengers to stay after the breakdown and to be rerouted through Sedona so that some of the rest could go directly to LA. Terry was traveling with her grandmother. She started a phone chain whisper throughout the bus, notifying everyone of the possibility we had a murderer aboard. Unfortunately, this whisper also reached the Accomplice across the aisle, who suddenly started coughing and rattling his brown bag to get the attention of the Bald One.

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At a roadside stop in Holbrook, Grace and Terry and her grandmother and I sat huddled together at a diner. The Accomplice shadowed us, being sure to sit within earshot. The Bald One never came into the diner at all, pacing outside and at one point pressing his face and nose up against the window glass to stare in at us.

When we reboarded, the bus driver shot me a frightened glance, as if to say again, ‘Don’t cause waves!’

So, back on the bus for the next few hours I entered into a deep contemplation, the deepest of my life til then. I sang a mantra, HU, which is a sacred name for God known to many religions. I chanted and went into a deep state of repose where I encountered spiritual Masters and agencies giving me instructions on how to be a channel for calm and Light in this situation, to prevent a major catastrophe involving all the passengers.

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Then something really weird occurred on the bus. People who had thought the whispered suspicions were a hoax or funny started joking loudly about who the murderer was going to take to the back of the bus and shoot first! This was surreal to me. I sank deeper and deeper into my contemplation.

At dawn, as we were approaching Flagstaff and the beautiful desert and San Francisco Peaks there, I came out from the contemplation, truly altered. I felt a calm as I had not known before. As I looked out at the desert and the Mountain, I said to Terry and Grace:

“People think that the Desert is barren and dead;

It is not: It is teeming with Life!”

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At this statement from me, Bald Lurch turned his head slowly to stare me down.

“So, how do you feel about YOUR life?” he cooed ominously.

Now, you might think my response would be fearful, but no. Because of the alteration in consciousness I had enjoyed in the deep contemplation, I actually was feeling quite elated. I looked back at him, eye to eye, and smiled broadly:

“How are You!?” were the words that came out of my mouth.

The Bald One merely grunted in disgust and turned his head back to set upon that metallic bulge.

We reached Flagstaff, alive.  The Bald One and the Accomplice were the first to rise from their seats and head for the door. Once again, Lurch uttered mysteriously:

“Goodbye, New Mexico, forever!”

That was the last any of us saw of these two men, now across the border in Arizona.

After a few hours those of us going on to Phoenix boarded the Trailways bus that would take us through Sedona, known to Grace and myself as a very spiritually charged area as our spiritual group had land there at the time.  This part of the journey was like a pilgrimage for us.

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As we rounded the bend from Flagstaff down into the majestic Oak Creek Canyon, the bus stopped at a rest area. I walked across the field and stepped down a bit from the  cliff edge to sit and be immersed in the Canyon overview. It was like an Eagle’s Nest, and I have returned many times since. That is where The Canyon poem emerged:

It is drawing me into Its depths;

It will contain me;

Yet in that instant It shall free me,

Until IS-ness dissolves beyond

Eternity

Where Just Isness IS.

We reboarded the bus and headed on down the canyon into the red rock splendor of Sedona. At the bottom we got out for a food stop.

“It’s like love,” Terry said.

“It can never be contained,” I responded.

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images are from pixabay.com

Other than those words, language failed me. I could not speak, identifying one mountain or person or bus or tree; all was an absolute Unity. This utter silence stayed with me until we reached Phoenix. I would later remember it as a brief glimpse of cosmic consciousness, experienced on the Road to Sadhana.

* * * * * *  

This will be the final September post, as I have nothing more to say now on the topic!

I welcome your Comments and Stories!

Relationship Better Endings

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When I coach people through a Life Path Mapping process, during a reflective phase I ask them to consider how they have managed transitions in their lives.  For each major Turning Point they have identified with their life mapping, I ask them whether in retrospect they wish they would have done anything differently and, if so, what might have transpired.

Most life mappers tend to say they would not make any changes in their past decisions or choices, because of all the subsequent change that also would have occurred.  They have learned from whatever has happened, so why look back?  Yet, those who do entertain this almost taboo thought experiment find it illuminating because it helps them to focus on what really are their core values and long-term goals.

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Significant relationships often bring about Turning Points in our lives.  Entering a new relationship, with another person or with a pet or with new colleagues as you assume a new role in your career, opens many fresh opportunities for growth and development. It is like you have pressed a REFRESH button, although of course soon you are likely to encounter similar situations and challenges you have faced before. How will you approach this similar challenge this time?

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One way to ‘trouble shoot’ fresh relationships is to review your past.  Take stock of the strengths you bring to these new relations as well as the patterns of inhibitions or difficulties you have encountered before.

Here is a Better Endings journaling tool you are welcome to entertain:

Reflect upon a relationship from your life history that was never well resolved or that continues to be troublesome in some respects, or one that ended poorly.  Consider that situation as a STORY.  Now then, change that story.  Imagine and/or journal about and re-write the ending or a better resolution of that relationship. What might have happened or could happen differently?  

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images are from pixabay.com

(After my own reflections today): If you find on reflection that you feel there is nothing about your past relations that you COULD have changed (as that is how it seems they were meant to be), still you can look ahead and contemplate what changes you might make as you approach a new relationship or to improve your present relations.

The more attention you give to how YOU might improve your past relations, the better prepared you may be to go forward with a new attitude, welcoming the new opportunities before you!

I 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!

True Partnership

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The Sacred Marriage is our topic this month. For myself, where I have found this is with my pets and family and with my spiritual Guides, but a stable romantic partnership has eluded me so that I now consider myself ‘post-relational’.  Yet I find a great deal of freedom and personal responsibility in living without a romantic partner, and I am happier this way.

Still, what is true partnership when that is not defined primarily or necessarily in romantic terms?

It is when two Souls team up, with love and trust in each other, to weather storms and support one another’s individual and collective missions. It is a guarantee of unconditional love and a willingness to communicate about whatever arises, knowing the other is open and giving in return.

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My dog Sophie and I are true partners. She has been through hell and back again with me when we endured a scourge of parasite bugs last March.  I don’t know how I could have gotten through that without her, and I am so glad she made it through too.  (Yet  I must also acknowledge a Good Samaritan who helped us both greatly at a B&B;  she took us in and helped nurse us back to health despite the risk to her own business.)  Once when I was finally determined to drive back cross-country to deliver Sophie to safety and then finalize my own cleansing of remaining bug threats, my wounds were searing and I thought they might be infected. (A doctor had me using an ointment that was wrong for these kinds of wounds.) Still over 1800 miles from home, I was at a low. Should I just drive through it, or seek help?  At that moment Sophie started barking emphatically at me and I knew she was telling me to get help.  So, in the midst of a torrential downpour somewhere in Iowa late at night, I found an Urgent Care and got the best treatment I had yet received, enough to let me and Sophie push onward.

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My dear Sophia

But I will be honest with you. I always did hope to establish true partnership with a human, yet that never materialized longterm for this lifetime except in some absolutely deep and wonderful friendships.  As a writer this has worked out fine, as it gives me the solitude and space to immerse myself in creative activity and the freedom to follow my dreams. I am reminded of a poem by W. B. Yeats, on “Words”:

I had this thought a while ago,

My darling cannot understand what I have done,

Or what would do in this blind, bitter land.

And I grew weary of the Sun

Until my thoughts cleared up again,

Remembering that the best that I have done

Was done to make it plain;

That at length I could cry,

At last,

My darling understands it all

Because I have come into my strength

And words obey my call.

That had she done so, who can say

What might have shaken from the sieve?

I might have thrown poor words away,

And been content to live.

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images are from pixabay.com

True partnership is  Soul with Spirit and with Divinity Itself, including Spirit as It expresses through other Souls.  Human companionship may be lasting or ephemeral;      in either case it is a great gift to be treasured for all that can be shared.

I welcome your comments and stories!

Into the Woods—A ‘Better Endings’ Revision

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For those new to this blog, or as a refresher since I haven’t looked at this topic directly for awhile here, I am interested in the principle of BETTER ENDINGS.  In fact I have a book in progress about this principle, as it applies not only to literature or mythic constructions but also, and more importantly, to our own lives.

There’s a concept I have learned from Eckankar about working with dreams. If you are dreaming and you do not like what is happening in your dreamscape,  you can change the dream while you are in it as a lucid dream activity; or, immediately upon waking you can rewind the dream and change its ending in your imagination.  This may help you to release the stress associated with the situation encoded by the dream. (I recommend Harold Klemp’s THE ART OF SPIRITUAL DREAMING for many helpful dreamwork techniques.)

But here’s a plus factor: If you can become skilled at changing your nightly dreams, so too you increase your capacity to make changes in your day-to-day life, effecting BETTER ENDINGS! What IF…you had taken that job, stayed with or left that relationship, gone on that vacation? You can re-vision your past choices and attitudes to bring about better coping skills and to realign your Life Path with your most ardent goals.

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Our topic this month of The Sacred Marriage has lots of fertile grounds for ‘better-endering.’  Let me try my hand at a Better Endings rendering for the Sondheim play “Into the Woods”:

I love the play (and movie) Into the Woods’, but I do not like the bitter ending. Why does the baker’s wife have to fall off a cliff to her doom?  The guilty party in confusing her was the philandering Prince, whose charming charisma and political power allows him to believe he can take advantage of any woman in the realm, even forsaking the beautiful princess Cinderella whom he has gone to such great lengths to woo. No, I do not like this bitter pill of an ending, at all!

In my Better Ending for this fairy tale, the Baker’s wife lives on to raise her new baby with her faithful husband.  Cinderella comes upon her charmer of a husband trying unsuccessfully to woo his rival Prince Valiant’s Rapunzel, and Cinderella lets Prince Valiant know what she has seen. The two Princes have a swordfight.     In a final, mutual flourish stab, they pierce each other at the lip of that fatefull cliff the Baker’s wife had been slated for, and they both go toppling over to their deaths.  Cinderella, now freed from this sordid affair, is Queen! She invites Rapunzel to be a story teller for the realm, and together they effect feminist reforms for their Peoples.

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images are from pixabay.com

So, there you have it, a Better Endings retelling for Into the Woods that aims to address the true meaning of The Sacred Marriage.  We marry our values, our integrity. This serves the Whole.

Is there a story about marriage or partnership—either fictional or in your own life—that you believe could benefit from a Better Ending?  Envision it! Write it down! Make the relevant changes!

I welcome your Comments and Stories.!

Marry Your Future, with a Vision Board!

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Maybe this is a bit of a stretch for our topic this month of The Sacred Marriage, but I find myself sitting at my office desk and looking at my bulletin board that I realize I have turned into a Vision Board.  I have embarked upon my final year of teaching before publishing my book, Your Life Path, and then retiring and relocating to focus full-time on writing and life mapping services.

I pilot every life mapping tool that I will be introducing with this book, and the art of “future casting” is a big part of this approach.  Any form of creative envisioning of what I like to call your future Lifescapes can be helpful to you in manifesting the life conditions you desire to express.

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On my Vision Board bulletin board I have the poem Ithaca by Cavafy (You can click on the Youtube video embedded below, narrated by Sean Connery!):

I also have a collage of images that represent my journey ahead to realize my Life Dream.  It shows my future ambitions and goals:

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To create your own Vision Board, simply imagine!  What CORE VALUES do you intend (not simply wish for or hope to do, but INTEND) to establish in your future Dream Come True?  Even if your most desirable future is the life you are living Now, what core values are you manifesting that you intend to extend and embellish further on the road ahead?

Goal setting is not about–or need not involve, anyway–LINEAR THINKING.  By focussing on VALUES rather than specific, material objectives, you remain open and flexible to however the Universe or Spirit fills your mold.

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You can write your future values or conditions you intend to live into onto a poster board or in Publisher on a blank page on your computer. Then find (or draw or paint in) pictures online or in magazines that represent these values and conditions, and place them on your Vision Board in a manner that feels right to you. You can also cut out or cut and paste words and phrases onto your collage.

I like to create my Future Casting Collages (BTW, do several! The future is not cast in stone!) to represent my pathway from where I am Now to the future Now I aim to create around me.

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images (other than my own) are from pixabay.com

I invite and welcome your Comments and Stories!

I would invite your collages to share, but actually I recommend you hold these close and share them mainly with your loved ones. Your VISION is your own; nurture it well and it will be!

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!

Call Upon Your Inner Archetype Allies

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Here is a list of The Twelve primordial, universal persona archetype figures, as set forth by Dr. Charles Bebeau of the former Avalon Archetype Institute and as updated in terms of naming by Debra Breazzano, MA/LPC:

ELDER LEADER    ARTIST    TEACHER

LOVER       IDEALIST     COMMUNICATOR

WARRIOR     GOLDEN  CHILD    HEALER

NOURISHER    DESCENDER    MYSTIC

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Which of these 12 potential Archetype Allies, included as archetypical forms in anyone’s  personal unconscious identifications, could be helpful to you right Now? You can call upon one or more than one of these universal archetypes, which each possess tremendous energy for supporting your goals with inner strengths and nudges, to help you to understand what course of action will be most beneficial to you for realizing your most worthy goal.

Call upon the positive Strengths of your Ally. This represents your own inherent talents and reinforces your natural perceptive abilities. Here is a self-discovery Tool you can use:

First, identify a positive Goal.

Second, review the list of The Twelve presented above (you can print out this page), and circle one or more than one that you intuitively sense could help you to achieve your goal.

Third, list the Ally or Allies you have selected, and identify some of your own traits or personal qualities that you would like to strengthen and utilize in the pursuit of your goal.

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As a personal example to illustrate this self-discovery Tool, a current goal of mine is to complete a deep edit of my book manuscript which I hope to deliver in about a week. I call upon my inner Communicator, Idealist, and Artist as general Allies, and I have found myself calling forth other Archetype Allies during the work at hand. Editing a chapter where I am offering a process for Descent and Re-Emergence, for instance (in my upcoming book, Your Life Path), I found my inner Descender offering helpful examples and helping me stay true to the intent and purpose of that chapter.

Your internalized persona archetype Allies are at least in part forged and developed based upon the role identities you have assumed in your life.                 

You have internalized some of the traits and abilities of role models who have influenced your development of these roles, such as Parent, Teacher, Adventurer, etcetera.  You can learn to tap into your usually unconscious repertoire of these internalized archetypal traits and personas; my book will provide Tools to allow you to do this (and I will offer an upcoming webinar series even before the book is published in March 2018 by Flyinghorse Publishers).

You may find yourself growing in strength as you “integrate” your archetypal parts-of-Self within a more ‘individuated’ and internally harmonious Whole.

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images are from pixabay.com

I welcome your Comments and Stories!

Pass It On!

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Here is a quick activity: Think of one mentor who has taught you a valuable lesson. What was that lesson?

Second, how have you sought to impart that lesson to others? What has been the result?

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My quick response:  “Patience is a virtue.” (from Diane) I aim to teach this to my students, especially advanced students working on research projects or thesis papers. I have seen many of these students take some great strides. For myself, I use this principle daily, now in yet another book editing romp.

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images are from pixabay.com

I am amazed daily at the miraculous interweaving and orchestration of Life.

“Love is all, and do as thou wilt.”

(Stranger By the River, by Paul Twitchell)

Inner Guidance

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Let me make no mistake about it, we are living in difficult times. Whatever our beliefs and values may be, they are under siege by opposing values or by the tenuousness of “truth” itself as a standard upon which we can collectively agree.

Some call it a return to tribalism: a refraction of identity into sub-cultural group affiliations. Clan-like factions abound; whom can you talk to or trust? Any stranger might explode at any moment in a public space, opening fire upon the innocent.

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What matters then, in such times of potential turmoil? What goals may still hold value? Where can you turn for reliable guidance? 

On a more positive note, you can always Go Within to find truth by attending to your own ‘inner counsel’. I assure you this is not merely a solipsistic response to collective uncertainty; it is an age-old, universal capacity that has steered the course of history. I believe that when we seek our highest Self and the companionship of Spirit or Divinity Itself in our deepest repose through active contemplation, prayer or meditation practices, we can connect with that which is greater than ourselves alone.

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“The One with the All One” is a spiritual image that comes to mind.  Or, “One for All and All for One!” In other words, when we seek our own answers that ‘ring true’ within our highest (NOT our lowest or our conditionally biased!) states of positive, life affirming consciousness, we assume our relation to the Whole of Life Itself. To me, this brings us to a position of unconditional love. If we act from this love, all will be in accord with that which serves the highest Good.  That’s my hopeful belief, anyway.

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This month I am inviting you to reflect on the role of Helpers in your own—in all of our— life journey. Inner Helpers come to meet us where we seek them out—be it in a contemplative state or in our dreams.  If you keep a journal that includes a dream diary to record your insights that arise from your inner guidance, then reviewing your journal entries once a week or once a month can help you to recognize the help you are receiving in the form of your own Inner Guidance.  Maybe you will uncover a Theme recurring in your dreams or even in your daydreams.  Keeping track of your dreams and daily insights holds open a channel of communication with your ‘inner counsel’ that can help to always to steer you in YOUR right directions.

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images are from pixabay.com

There are many excellent books on the subject of dream techniques and inner guidance. Two I have learned from are THE ART OF SPIRITUAL DREAMING, by Harold Klemp, and INNER GUIDANCE by Anne Archer Butcher.

I welcome always your insights and stories!

 

 

 

Checking In With Your-Selves!

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Are you engaged in some process that takes a long time yet brings a personal goal to fruition?  School can be like that, or now for me, writing for mainstream publication. I find this activity proceeds necessarily sometimes in fits and starts. During the fits or slow slog periods of editing yet one more time, I find it helpful to check in with my internal selves: those archetypal persona character modes that each have their own perspectives on our shared as well as their distinctive goals with regard to the project at hand. For it may be one or more of these Archetype Allies that has slowed the progress as a way to call attention to an opportunity for improvement before I can move forward more productively again.

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Mindfulness is a popular term these days for this sort of checking in with your Self–or, more accurately for my purposes, your selves!  I like using an Archetype Dialogue Practice to help integrate conflicting internal viewpoints. I use an active imagination technique, such as Jung recommended, to “sink” into a subconscious level of awareness where I can make contact with my internally diverse viewpoints or parts of Self.

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You can think of these archetypal personas as being associated with the various roles (or, masks) you occupy in life, as all of us develop somewhat distinctive points of view from the perspectives of each of our role types (e.g. Parent, Teacher, Lover, Nourisher, Idealist, etcetera).   You can have a conversation inwardly and/or journal a dialogue while you are imagining connecting with these internal parts of Self.  Just allow the interaction or conversation to proceed naturally. This is actually a level of subconscious interaction we take part in unconsciously much of the time, as we weigh a decision or an action.

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Below is an excerpt from a journaling form of Archetype Dialogue I engaged with just a few days ago about the slow process of editing for publication:

ELDER LEADER     You need to finish the edit and begin taping for the webinar. Time is waning on our sabbatical.

NOURISHER.     Let her be, Marshall. She knows what she needs to be doing.

 LW:  Well I could use all of your input, actually. The editing feels too mechanical now. Taking stuff out is not so much fun as putting ideas into the book. It pains me to have to be removing the lined journaling pages, stripping down to only providing the instructions for library readers to do the techniques externally.

ELDER LEADER.    Yes we understand but that is what you need to do, so library readers will not be tempted to write in the books. That’s the editor’s decision. Why are you balking so much?

ARTIST    I know what you really want to be doing…and it is what I want to help you with… to redesign the Toolkit as a separate aid that readers will be able to download or receive directly as a workbook companion to the book.  The cover art your cousin has provided will fit beautifully with the Toolkit.

LW: Yes but then I also need to get rolling with the webinar production. And a larger than usual docket of classes looms just around the corner in August. Argh!

TEACHER.    One step at a time, dear. That is the best way forward. What is the ONE THING, as you tell people to consider with their own life mapping, that YOU need to be doing, Now?

MYSTIC.   Yes, dear Soul, what is your ONE THING, NOW?

LW:  Well, I want to have a clearer overview of the Whole–of where all this is heading, really. So much work for so many years, and yes we have a publication date, but the whole process feels like it is starting to get away from me, you know? Master, can you help me to re-center, to regain a stronger focus at this interval as I need to deliver these products in full strength and beauty, to best serve the Whole?

MYSTIC    Go within to find your answer, dear. What is your ONE THING, Now?

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As I continued with this internal musing (a fine expression, by the way!), I did arrive at answers. My new process is to produce both the edit my publisher needs and, concurrently, I will generate the Toolkit from the extracted material. So I do not have to lose any of the vitality I want for the book to contain. As well, this contemplation led me to write a full draft script of the opening webinar sessions, so I feel back on track now!

I invite you to develop your own Archetype Dialogue Practice.  I will be sharing a full process for this approach with my upcoming book (March 2018), Your Life Path.

What are some of your own archetypal “parts of Self”? Allow them to present themselves to you. Just offer them a safe, open space for communicating with you. Keep in mind that these are not external “voices” or entities, at all. (If they feel as such ever, then it could be helpful for you to discontinue the exchange! ) These are simply your own INTERNAL points of view that much too often we tend to ignore. So, lend an ear!

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images are from pixabay.com

I welcome your comments and stories!