Souls on Deck

Hand on Fire by Elbichopt on DeviantArt

Here is a quote from one of my favorite authors of dream and vision work that carries some of the essence of what I am feeling in these times of extremist violence in our world.

“One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.” ~  Clarissa Pinkola Estes 

Many of my spiritual compadres are asking why? What can we do? What difference can we make? I do not have an answer. I beseech my own God and still I cannot see the answer clearly.

I am working with a dream where a man of fire is coming through a wall towards me. I am terrified. I have been working with fire for the last several months. I have fire in me. I feel the heat of it. I feel it rise and I notice when it comes out in ways that may be more about releasing the energy rather than embodying it.

I do not know what it means to live as one with the flames. I have only the dream moment to return to and then the next thing. Moment to moment. And mostly I forget and then I feel the heat again. It's good to have such visceral homework, the kind that comes unbidden. It is intense and it is nuanced and its unbidden nature helps me to remember that I am a creature of fire. The becoming is about remembering. The lion is in me. I forget. This is the human condition...to forget. Our work helps us remember, re-member, re-me-ember. The spiritual condition is to remember....

The being who is of flames is a reflection. The dream, like the moon, offers the gift of sight, the true seeing. It is subtler than the sun, whose fire can blind. When my dream guide had me be the being in flames from my dream, it felt encompassing and my vision felt obscured by the flames. Everything looks different when seen through eyes of fire. I don't know how to see through eyes of fire, so I don't understand what I see. I just see that everything looks different. It's like seeing from within the aura.

And yet I forget. When I can't hold the flame as the gift, the invitation, the offering, it can flip. Is there righteous fire? Is there a place for the fire to be the cry to heaven, the outrage at a world filled with injustice? At the helplessness of myself and others? And can it carry me to something more? Do I even want it to? How do we work with this material to support the fire in the world and all it has to offer as the fire of passion and love, the fire of pain that burns, the fire of anger that engulf and destroys, the fire that is eternal?

Is doing my work enough? What does being of service really mean? Can I offer more? Is it true, that I must first heal the split in myself before I can hope to offer healing in the world? What does it mean to be a soul on deck? How do I hold the flame and yet offer it?

On fire,
Laura

To find out more about how your dreams can guide you towards a fuller manifestation of your fire, contact me. www.archetypaldreamworks.com
Tend to your dreams, consort with them!



Who is Puella?

People often ask me, “Who is Puella? Or, “What does Puella mean?”  I have come to realized that for me there is something so personal about her and also that this topic can offer a larger meaning in our world today.

As a Natural Dreamwork Practitioner, I practice a deep presence in working with my own dreams as well as standing with others as we explore their dreams. It is meaningful work, a path for those who seek healing and wholeness. It is heart work.

Artist: Stephen Bauman
Puella is the Latin word for “girl”.  In Jungian purview she is often viewed as the girl who never grows up, as having a child-like demeanor, and as the feminine component within the male psyche which Carl Jung referred to in his public, professional life as "puella anima". In Natural Dreamwork, the girl in a dream is not an archetype per se, because she typically represents the manifestation of the dreamer's soul. I think of her as Puella Aeterna, the Eternal Girl, not in a Jungian sense but as the eternal innocence of the feminine. She is present in both men and women as the essence of vulnerability and innocence in relationship to the Divine. And she is seeking to come into relationship with us. I believe that our very existence hinges on our desire and willingness to accept her, to accept our own divinity as the vulnerable innocent one in relationship to the Divine. Even Dr. Jung acknowledged her powerful presence within his dreams in his personal writing contained within the posthumously published The Red Book (2009).

Sometimes she will bubble up in our life with a burst of carefree love and innocence that leaves us filled with desire to know her more. She holds the place of the innocence and creativity, the vulnerable aspect of the soul self in connection with the Divine which always seeks dominion in us. But we do not know this, or we are terrified, or we buy the lie that the feminine represents original sin rather than divine innocence.

The world-side has been violent toward the feminine. Some speak of how we need to return the earth to the feminine, that the masculine energies are destroying the earth. But the feminine always needs the balance of the masculine, just as the masculine needs the balance of the feminine. And it is true that we are out of balance. The world fears the feminine. She is the creator and the destroyer. We have  repressed her, stoned her, bound her feet, cut off her hands. We have burned her at the stake. We have defined her as the seductress, the temptress, and we have held her responsible for the moral failings of men. And, when she has spoken, we have often not believed her.

Voices: The Darkness and I

Voices: The Darkness and I


I.

You who seek do not need to seek me, for I am always here. I have not left. It is as it has always been and always will be. The past is present and will continue. You cannot escape because I am what you know. You know me too well and worship me, which makes me stronger in you.

Medusa by Gian Lorenzo Bernini 1630
I am the Medusa, the destroyer. I am the darkness where light fades. I am the event horizon into which all things are drawn. I will crush them into nothingness and you can not escape the gravitational pull of our love for one another.

It is inevitable that each time you seek, you will find me, for I am what you know and therefore you will always come back to me. When you become the bird of your soul and fly to heaven, it is with me that you will land again. I am the olive branch, the world, the earth beneath your feet, these things you know, and I live where you know.

II.

I sought to banish you. I thought I could fight you single-handed. I saw myself as a God. I thought I knew you, that I understood your evil and could name you and hated you as that which I had named. I sought to smite you but did not understand that the sword I held was yours. And I cursed you when you failed me.

And yet you compel me to seek the light and a power greater than me, which I know as darkness. Without you I am nothing. Without your evil, I cannot feel my grief or pain, and so cannot know love. I must be a murderess and the one who dies.

I cannot flee. It is true, there is no escape. And yet, when I surrender, when I take wing and float along the thermal winds of chaos and light, I find myself where wolves howl and the moon is silent and alive.  You have not left and yet I am the armless maiden whose tears thwart you. The light has slit my throat and blood drenches my body. The sun pierces my eyes as I lift my head skyward in a cry to heaven.

My cup runneth over and I find myself a blood filled grail, holy, pure and innocent. Abundance is upon the land and I see the golden city, the earth and the ancient forest. I see cereus bloom at night and tilting worlds, and know that I am mad. And I see all growing and green things born anew lift their heads to the sun. A cry to heaven, let there be light. The child is born, Genesis.

Black Madonna by Katherine Skaggs

Archetypal Dreamwork and the 12 Steps: The Recovery Chronicles #02

The Recovery Chronicles by Laura Smith are a series of essays which delve into the ways that dreams can support 12 step recovery work. Through her own personal experiences in recovery and with the dreams, Laura shows how dreams can offer insight, hope, and support in the deeper work toward emotional sobriety.

Coming to terms with Higher Power is perhaps the single most effective and critical aspect of a successful recovery program. It is through grace and the keen insight of our founding fellows that the foundation of our recovery must be built on faith in a power greater than ourselves. For what other than the True Light could pierce the darkness of the soul-sickness that we experience as alcoholism or addiction?

And yet, is it not true that in some deep recess of our heart we know? We know that there is something more. Is there not some basic yearning in us to find our true self again? Is our thirst really our longing to be found, to be whole, to reclaim our lost soul? We had to first accept that we were lost before we could be found.

The great Carl Jung, in a 1961 letter to Bill Wilson, wrote, "You see, Alcohol in Latin is 'Spiritus' and you use the same word for the highest religious experience as well as for the most depraved poison. The helpful formula therefore is: 'Spiritus Contra Spiritum' (which is translated in this context as 'Spirit against Alcohol').

Jung had observed that the alcoholic's thirst for alcohol is, "the equivalent, on a low level, of the spiritual thirst of our being for wholeness, expressed in medieval language: the union with God."

And he went on to quote Psalm 42,1:

"As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God."

For many of us, finding a God of our understanding is a mighty challenge. Who cares to admit total defeat? And yet, without our admission of our own powerlessness, we have no starting point, no way for God to get to us. But when we surrender to our own powerlessness it is like we are cracked open. It is through this crack that the light can re-enter. And when we achieve fullness, it is through this crack, the crack of our wound, that the light shines back out for others to see and find hope.

It is this way with the dreams. The dreams want to crack us open, break our willfulness, bring about our total surrender. The dream will give us many opportunities to see how we are blinded by self will, independence, pride. They do this not because we are bad people, or that we should feel sinful or shameful, but because they seek to bring awareness to all the ways we have closed our self off from the sunlight of the spirit. It is the sunlight of the Spirit, or the grace of God, that can burn away our character defects to reveal the untarnished girl/boy soul that longs to be freed from the bondage of self.


Archetypal Dreamwork and the 12 Steps: The Recovery Chronicles #01


The Recovery Chronicles by Laura Smith are a series of essays which delve into the ways that dreams can support 12 step recovery work. Through her own personal experiences in recovery and with the dreams, Laura shows how dreams can offer insight, hope, and support in the deeper work toward emotional sobriety.

Our dreams can bring great wisdom to our journey. In our practical work through the steps of recovery, they can provide deep insight if we are ready for what they have to teach us.

Throughout my early recovery, I had several provocative dreams.  In one, I dreamed that I was sleeping and then I awoke and felt something moving under my shirt at my solar plexus. I pull my shirt up and suddenly a badger-like creature burst out of my body like in the scene from the movie Alien. Naturally, I am horrified. I grab a hold of it with both hands and pull on it. It snarls and snaps at my hands as I pull it out. It is a wild creature, fierce. It is hard to pull it out and it feels like it is attached deep inside me somewhere. But I get it out and I throw it away from me. Then I am looking down at my body and where the hole would be is a new scar. It is healed but I feel an ache deep inside of me like something is missing.

When I had this dream, I equated this creature as the demon of my disease, alcoholism, and an exorcism through the force of my own will. But I have come to learn over time, that the dream is not always what we think and often it is more.

At the time of this dream, I was also working with my anger, which I had repressed for most of my life. Alcohol had helped me with the anger, keeping it contained. But at some point, it had escaped, and like a genie from a bottle, it could not be put back. Unbeknownst to me, the alcohol has stopped working. I endured 4 more years of the horrors of my bottom before finding the rooms of AA.

In early recovery, I had much angst, shame, and fear over my seeming loss of control around the anger, which worsened when I put the alcohol down. I couldn't understand what was happening. I wanted the anger gone, but it seemed nothing I did would relieve me of the anger. It was like I had traded the alcohol for a new addiction, though I refused to admit that I got anything out of the anger. When my sponsor suggested this, I was outraged. I hated my anger!


As time went on and I did a 4th step, clearing many resentments and gaining some good insight into my anger, I had to come into agreement that there was something I got out of this anger. But I couldn't figure out what it was. The literature of AA and other 12 step recovery programs has much to say on the topic of resentments/anger. This is because it is a very real energetic block in our achieving emotional sobriety.

Archetypal Dreamwork and the 12 Steps: The Recovery Chronicles #00


I came to the dreams by way of recovery. Most of my friends in recovery know this and have supported my journey over the years. I could not have possibly known in the early part of the new century when the alcohol had stopped working and the genie of rage had escaped from his lantern, that I would one day awaken as a teacher and healer.

A preposterous idea which had neither seed nor sun in the years, days and months leading up to my bottom, when all hope had been lost. No amount of pride, shame, or denial could offer a shield from the moment of clarity that said, "I'm done."  It was not a fantastical moment, there were no bright lights, no burning bush, nothing to portend the true coming storm. It was simply a moment of clarity where I knew that I must change or die.

When we hit bottom, finally admit we are powerless over alcohol and that our lives have become unmanageable, we hope for freedom from the mental obsession and physical compulsion to use or drink. We are small minded in that moment, for there is no way to understand the possibility of actually finding our soul again. We have no concept of our true potential and what is possible for us. We do not understand grace or how grace could enter our own lives. We must learn...sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.

Today I follow a spiritual path rooted in 12 step recovery work and tempered by the wisdom of my dreams. I understand and embrace gratitude for my alcoholism. Today I work with others and their dreams. With my clients who are in recovery, I share that special bond of the band of fellows that we are in our shared language and understanding of 12 step work as the foundation of all that we do.

The basic tenets of the 12 steps are steeped in a gnostic approach to spirituality, namely that we choose a God of our understanding and enter into a personal relationship with that God to maintain a daily reprieve from our alcohol-ISM.  The truth is that all "AA's ", code word Spiritual Warrior!, become Bodhisattvas if they so choose.

A Bodhisattva is essentially one who journeys into herself to find the cause and acceptance of her suffering. Through this process, she learns humility, she learns compassion for herself, she makes her amends. She comes to terms with her past, neither regretting it nor wishing to close the door on it. Her difficulties are alchemized into love through the grace of God and a whole new set of values displaces her previous beliefs. In the huge upwelling of gratitude that comes from this experience, she wishes that all could be enlightened to this compassion and love, that all could find healing. She then actively chooses to return to the world and to carry this message of hope to others. This concept is the foundation of Step 12, "Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps (the journey inward), we sought to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs."

In these postings, I will share my experience of recovery and how the dreams have supported, challenged and opened me in unexpected ways. I will share guidance and tips as to how you can begin to bring the power of your dreams to support your recovery work. And I will offer insights and stories from my own dreams and recovery work.

How is it then that our dreaming life can help us?

The dreams are like a lantern shining God's light into our darkest corners. They also illuminate our Divine potential as human beings with a purpose here on this earth now, today. Dreams will bring us repeatedly to the felt experience of acceptance of our powerlessness, showing us the subtler nuances of how our lives are unmanageable. Our Higher Power will come over and over in the guise of various Archetypes to provoke us, to teach us, and to guide us towards wholeness. We look to our dreams to more fully reveal our habitual patterns, the character defects which block us from our Higher Power, so that we may learn and understand that they are not our only choice. The dreams will support our 11th step work by providing us with the felt experience of our deep connection to Higher Power. They open us to our own Gnosis, the Promises, and a wisdom that is unique to each of us for carrying the message of our recovery and the hope for others.

Please subscribe to my blog, bookmark this page, or send me your email address to receive a link to these postings. I will be posting about every other week.

Practicum: Start writing down your dreams. Along with the dream narrative, make a note of what step you are currently working on and/or what character defect seems to be most troublesome in your life. If you have trouble remembering your dreams, check out my Tips for Dream Recall.

Check out my website if you would like to explore your dreams with me: www.archetypaldreamworks.com. Feel free to share comments or questions here. I will answer all who take the time to write.

To find all posts from The Recovery Chronicles simply enter "recovery chronicles" into the search bar on the right hand column of this blog.

Link to The Recovery Chronicles #01...the next post.

In fellowship on the Road of Happy Destiny,
Laura Smith