Lucifer Ascending

Lucifer will always be a headache for the Christians and their Devil.
— Edward George Barlow/Krause

I’m only beginning to understand this subject, so please feel free to educate me. Angels are still confusing for me, and this one is all the more so.  He may seem like an odd thing to write about in the season of Easter, but please bear with me and see that it makes perfect sense. No doubt some will urge me to repent and realize that Satan is only using me for his own nefarious ends etc. etc.

Simply because it was placed directly after the recent reboot of The X-Files, I fell into watching the new TV series Lucifer, and was immediately hooked in.  It turned out to be far deeper than its snark-laced previews suggested, age-old philosophy and mythology wrapped in a police procedural comedy-drama (which is a little bit of a strange concept in itself).   Here’s what I’m talking about:
http://collider.com/lucifer-tom-ellis-interview-neil-gaiman-fox/

The idea is that Lucifer has had it with ruling Hell after eons in that role, which he never wanted in the first place; he complains that his Father, with whom he has an exceedingly fraught relationship, forced him to become a torturer. He’s vacationing in Los Angeles, running a nightclub, Lux, where he plays the piano and sings. (Wait a minute— isn’t the devil supposed to play the fiddle? But of course the piano thing grabbed me right away.) He meets an LAPD detective, Chloe, who is the only person able to resist his charms and temptations, which makes her irresistible to him. Since punishing wrongdoers has been his job all this time, he’s vitally interested in helping her catch her prey, but more and more we see that what he wants is not merely punishment but justice.  (He never makes anyone do evil— he simply teases out their deepest desires and they take it from there.)

Throughout his existence Lucifer has been completely self-centered, and during the last few years in LA he’s been living superficially as a hedonistic playboy, but he’s reached a point where he longs to become something more, and he has very little idea of what that might be or how it can be achieved. The ultimate bad boy character is trying, haltingly, to be good. He’s even seeing a psychologist in an attempt to figure it all out.

But here’s what pulled me in above all: In one episode, something crucially important is stolen from Lucifer, and he will stop at nothing to get it back. It turns out that the stolen item is the storage container holding and hiding his wings, which he had cut off, leaving huge scars, when he took up residence on Earth. You have a mental image of the devil’s wings, right? Well, these aren’t them. They’re gloriously feathery, gigantically widespread, brilliantly white angel wings. Because Lucifer, of course, was the brightest of the angels— and at some level he still is.

Not having read the comic books on which the series is based, I didn’t see this coming. (I also didn’t know that the graphic-version Lucifer is blond, quite unlike the one on TV, and intended to resemble David Bowie.)

Lucifer 16 comic book cover by Christopher Moeller

Lucifer 16 comic book cover by Christopher Moeller

I don’t know how the wings were handled there, but in this case, when Lucifer regains them, he burns them to nothing, so that they can never be used to pull him back either to Hell or to Heaven. He throws in his lot entirely with humanity. He doesn’t know that his demon companion, Mazikeen, has saved one brilliant feather.

What did the wondrous white wings have to do with me? I thought and thought about why this image had affected me so intensely. At last it struck me. In early 2009, after a dire experience in which I was badly harmed by an energetic onslaught from a patient, I cast about for a more effective way to protect myself, and I asked for help from every source I could access. The form that the protection took was dramatic and surprising: I found myself, in my mind’s eye and in the sensations around my body, turning into a beautiful golden angel with exactly that kind of amazing white wings spreading from my shoulders. That sounds like almost Lucifer-level hubris, doesn’t it? And maybe crazier than most of what you’ve read here in the past. But it’s what happened, spontaneously, and some of my patients even perceived the angel image themselves. I felt far less vulnerable in “angel mode,” and I was able to keep working as a healer, which had been very much in doubt.

There is also a strong theme of ascension, transformation, and renewal in the Lucifer story, and that is the connection with this time of year. I have been struggling with a nasty respiratory illness for over two months, with improvement but no end in sight, and I have felt at times that I was brought low and had even lost touch with my most fundamental abilities. At one point, while doing energy work with a patient and feeling challenged, I tried to access “angel mode,” and found that all I could manage was to sputter out a pair of tiny, pathetic cherub wings! While meditating and doing my best to put myself in a state of healing, though, I’ve had some ecstatic inner experiences of expansion and upward flight, transcending my compromised body. I know that possibility is always there.

In reaction to all this, and before any research about the Lucifer archetype and the web of stories around him, a poem bubbled up, my first substantial poem in far too long:

Lucifer in Exile

I am unreal here, at least they say
but I am solid and that pleases me.
You may ask why I tore away
the feathered signs of my true nature
to live four-limbed in this world:
It is easier to lie upon the ground without them,
easier for arms to encircle me,
better to know I cannot be pulled back.

It was never my own realm below;
I was imprisoned there as much as any.
It was decreed for me without recourse.
No one was willing to own darkness forever
but there must be balance always,
so I, the brightest, became infinitely dark.

In all that time
no one spoke with me.
In all that time
no one asked who I was
or will be or would be,
no one brought anything out of me,
heard my thoughts or saw my beauty,
allowed anything other than their expectations.
I could not sing there,
to console myself or anyone,
since music is born of heaven.

(How I sang in those old days,
raptures in the eternal light,
shining in the center of it….
Now I sound the narrowest sliver
of that celestial spectrum.)

Around me these heavy encasements
thudding on the pavement
I know what lives in them,
see it, call to it, am drawn,
knowing light like no one else.
None of them know the secret—
that each is like me.

Oh, Controller of all,
without choice there is no good or evil.
Refuse me my choice, I refuse yours.

The Other took my place in heaven.
I will redeem here, in rock,
each bone, each eye.
I bear the light still.

 

Neil Gaiman, we’re told, based his comic-book Lucifer on Milton’s depiction in Paradise Lost. I’m afraid I’ve never read Milton, but I had absorbed Anne Rice’s Memnoch the Devil, in which Memnoch/Satan relentlessly opposes what he sees as God’s cruel treatment of humanity, setting himself up as our champion. Both authors use the character of the devil to explore the Problem of Evil: how can a good, just, and loving God permit His creations to suffer so? Both of them attempt to prove that God really does have a Plan and that it all makes sense, though I am not sure that either manages to be entirely convincing.

Lucifer is the perfect vehicle for exploring the Problem of Free Will, as well. Lucifer, the primordial Prodigal Son, rebels against his Father, but didn’t God see that coming and plan for it all along?
“The theme of the Lucifer series revolves around the free-will problem. Carey’s Lucifer is a figure representing will and individual willpower, who challenges the ‘tyranny of predestination.’ While in Heaven’s eyes this is blasphemy, Lucifer points out that the rebellion (and indeed all sin) and damnation as consequence were pre-planned by his Creator, God. Lucifer rejects God’s rule and moral philosophy as tyrannical and unjust. The violent, aggressive, totalitarian, vengeful, and dictatorial aspects of Heaven’s rule are represented mostly by the Angel Amenadiel, who has a particular hatred of Lucifer and leads attacks of various kinds against him. The attacks include verbal criticism, marshaling the host of Heaven, as well as challenging him to individual combat— almost all of it without the slightest care for the countless innocent, unwilling and unwitting victims he is more than willing to sacrifice for his own pride. For his part, Lucifer disdains Amenadiel, treating the latter’s emotional outbursts with contempt, and repeatedly defeats Amenadiel’s assaults with well-orchestrated, hidden plans. Ironically, however, it is often difficult to discern when Lucifer acts as a slave to predestination and when he effectively acts according to his own free will.”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucifer_%28DC_Comics%29

I never believed in the devil, and I never gave a thought to his original form as Lucifer. But maybe I should have thought further. As I said, I’m still confused about what angels “really are,” but Michael is a reality to me. Raphael and Gabriel are less so, but still familiar. Perhaps Lucifer has some sort of objective reality of his own? I doubt it, but it seems worth asking. In any case, these powerful, ancient archetypes are quite real on a psychological level and must be taken into account that way at least.

Since I was thinking of Lucifer as an archetype, I went to see what Carl Jung might have said about him. There’s quite a bit, and since it’s long, I’ve appended what I found to the end of this post. It had never occurred to me, from casual references, that the image of Lucifer would have anything in common with that of Christ, but the connection does present itself after a little thought. Jung wrote: “Hence very early, in Clement of Rome, we meet with the conception of Christ as the right hand and the devil as the left hand of God, not to speak of the Judaeo-Christian view which recognized two sons of God, Satan the elder and Christ the younger.” I haven’t yet made sense of the relationship between them, but it seems like there is something important to be found in it, and that the balance is necessary.

Lucifer’s crime is supposed to have been that he tried to set himself as equal to God— yet a large part of the message of Christ is that we are all children of God and partake of His nature, which adds up to something very similar, though it is free of the fatal pride and rebelliousness. Jut as I was starting on this post, one arrived from Michael Cocks, with quotes from Albuquerque’s Franciscan philosopher Fr. Richard Rohr.  This made a nice synchronicity– a favorite phenomenon of Rev. Cocks:

“I find that many Christians still have no knowledge of the soul’s objective union with God (e.g., 1 John 3:2, 2 Peter 1:4), which all mystics rejoice in or they would not be mystics. Even ministers often fight me on this, quoting Augustine’s “original sin,” Calvin’s “total depravity,” or dear Luther’s “humans are like piles of manure, covered over by Christ.” I am sure they all meant well, but they also dug a pit so deep that many could never climb out or allow themselves to be lifted out. What a shame, literally! Such a negative starting point will not be very effective in creating loving or responsive people.”

“God teaches the soul most profoundly through darkness—and not just light! We only need enough light to be able to trust the darkness. Trials and darkness teach us how to trust in a very practical way that a good God is guiding us. I don’t need to be perfectly certain before I take the next step. Now I can trust that even my mistakes will be used in my favor, if I allow them to be. This is a wonderful way to grow in human love too, by the way. Darkness, mistakes, and trials are the supreme teachers. Success really teaches you nothing; it just feels good.”
http://whitecrowbooks.com/michaelcocks/entry/what_is_love_in_its_many_manifestations_why_is_it_that_things_go_so_wrong_w

Are we fundamentally and irrevocably flawed beings, or are we infinitely bright spirits who have temporarily forgotten our origin? Perhaps, in the striving to rise from darkness, Lucifer models a kind of redemption from below, the necessity for us to participate in the transformation of our “fallen” selves. This opens another theological can of worms, which I’d rather not try to gather up just now….

Another DC Comics image.

Another DC Comics image.

More from Jung and others:

 

https://litreactor.com/columns/the-devil-that-you-know-literatures-evil-archetype

‘Is evil (and the Devil, for that matter) an outside force that descends suddenly from the sky like a bolt of lightning to burn your house down, or does it come purely from within? The answer may seem clear-cut to a modern reader, quick to blame the idiot who offered his soul up in the first place, but the alternative bears some contemplation. Famine, poverty, disease, even natural death: can any individual truly claim control over their life circumstances? Inevitably, the Devil’s true nature circles back to the concept of free will.

‘In Islam, Shaytan was granted by Allah very limited power over the world of men, the ability to whisper evil ideas into their ears and hearts. To some, the Devil is a physical, exterior force, like a hurricane or a tornado. He might curse an individual with bad luck, or send a messenger to cause harm in the form of a black cat, or a witch. But the Islamic theology suggests that the Devil is merely provoking a force that is already in place within mankind himself.

‘Famed psychologist Carl Jung once noted:

‘How else could it have occurred to man to divide the cosmos, on the analogy of day and night, summer and winter, into a bright day-world and a dark night-world peopled with fabulous monsters, unless he had the prototype of such a division in himself, in the polarity between the conscious and the invisible and unknowable unconscious? (Carl Jung, CW 9i, para. 187)

‘And remember the good advice of Martin Luther this October: “Whenever the devil harasses you, seek the company of men or drink more, or joke and talk nonsense, or do some other merry thing… We are conquered if we try too conscientiously not to sin at all. So when the devil says to you: do not drink, answer him: I will drink, and right freely, just because you tell me not to.”

I will Martin Luther, I will.’

 

http://carljungdepthpsychology.blogspot.com/2013/10/carl-jung-and-brief-overview-of-satan.html

‘I do not wish to multiply examples needlessly, but only to make it clear that the figure of Satan, too, has undergone a curious development, from the time of his first undistinguished appearance in the Old Testament texts to his heyday in Christianity.

‘He achieved notoriety as the personification of the adversary or principle of evil, though by no means for the first time, as we meet him centuries earlier in the ancient Egyptian Set and the Persian Ahriman. Persian influences have been conjectured as mainly responsible for the Christian devil.

‘But the real reason for the differentiation of this figure lies in the conception of God as the summum bonum, which stands in sharp contrast to the Old Testament view and which, for reasons of psychic balance, inevitably requires the existence of a “lowest evil”. No logical reasons are needed for this, only the natural and unconscious striving for balance and symmetry.

‘Hence very early, in Clement of Rome, we meet with the conception of Christ as the right hand and the devil as the left hand of God, not to speak of the Judaeo-Christian view which recognized two sons of God, Satan the elder and Christ the younger.

‘The figure of the devil then rose to such exalted metaphysical heights that he had to be forcibly depotentiated, under the threatening influence of Manichaeism. The depotentiation was effected this time by rationalistic reflection, by a regular tour de force of sophistry which defined evil as a privatio boni.

‘But that did nothing to stop the belief from arising in many parts of Europe during the eleventh century, mainly under the influence of the Catharists, that it was not God but the devil who had created the world.

‘In this way the archetype of the imperfect demiurge, who had enjoyed official recognition in Gnosticism, reappeared in altered guise. (The corresponding archetype is probably to be found in the cosmogonic jester of primitive peoples.)

‘With the extermination of the heretics that dragged on into the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, an uneasy calm ensued, but the Reformation thrust the figure of Satan once more into the foreground. I would only mention Jakob Bohme, who sketched a picture of evil which leaves the privatio boni pale by comparison.

‘The same can be said of Milton. He inhabits the same mental climate. As for Bohme, although he was not a direct descendant of alchemical philosophy, whose importance is still grossly underrated today, he certainly took over a number of its leading ideas, among them the specific recognition of Satan, who was exalted to a cosmic figure of first rank in Milton, even emancipating himself from his subordinate role as the left hand of God (the role assigned to him by Clement).

‘Milton goes even further than Bohme and apostrophizes the devil as the true principium individuationis, a concept which had been anticipated by the alchemists some time before.

‘To mention only one example: (He rises from earth to heaven and descends again to earth, and receives into himself the power of above and below. Thus thou wilt have the glory of the whole world.) The quotation comes from the famous alchemical classic, the Tabula Smaragdina, attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, whose authority remained unchallenged for more than thirteen centuries of alchemical thought.

His words refer not to Satan, but to the filius philosophorum, whose symbolism, as I believe I have shown, coincides with that of the psychological “self.”

‘The “filius” of the alchemists is one of the numerous manifestations of Mercurius, who is called “duplex” and “ambiguous” and is also known outside alchemy as “capable of anything”. His “dark” half has an obvious affinity with Lucifer. ~Carl Jung, Psychology and Religion, Forward to Werblowsky’s “Lucifer and Prometheus,” Pages 312-314, Paragraph 470.’

 

http://www.christianpost.com/news/one-million-moms-says-new-fox-tv-series-lucifer-mocks-the-bible-starts-petition-urging-for-shows-cancellation-139742/

The self-appointed arbiters of “Christian” morality started yelling about boycotting sponsors of Lucifer long before it premiered; they had little idea what it was really about and were objecting to the concept of Lucifer being portrayed as a misunderstood good guy.

 

http://edgeba.webs.com/lucifer.htm

Edward George Barlow/Krause, quoted at the top of this post, has a compendium of theosophical thought on this site, which I am neither recommending nor warning against.

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More Healing Mandalas from CJ, and Her New Book on the Wolves!

Mandala055I am beyond delighted to tell you that CJ Rogers’ first book, Raised By Wolves: A Pack Odyssey has been published and is now available.  It tells the story of her first four years of living with and learning from the wolves.  She has a great deal more still to say about the couple of decades between then and now, and further books are in the works.

http://www.amazon.com/Raised-Wolves-Odyssey-CJ-Rogers-ebook/dp/B01BUI0TTM/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1458078390&sr=1-1&keywords=cj+rogers+wolves

You may remember that CJ is known as the Jane Goodall of wolves.  She knows them more intimately than perhaps any other human on the planet.  If you have any interest in wolves themselves, the development of early human societies and our relationship with canines, or the natural world in general, you will find a lot to think about here.

When I introduced you to CJ’s fascinating artwork a while back, for some reason I was unable to access the website that houses many of her mandalas, and all I had to show you was a few poor-quality photos.  Here is a look at the huge bounty of designs she’s done, including some new ones:

http://www.cjmandalas.com/

CJ was describing to me how life-saving this process of drawing mandalas has been for her during times of the most extreme pain and illness.  She has highly recommended that I try it, but my little attempts have not resulted in anything much so far.  Maybe you’ll have more success yourself?

CJ doesn’t have web access in the area of rural New Mexico where she lives, but please feel free to contact her through the website, and the message will be passed on to her.

 

 

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A Failed Life?

chopinmarble1

Clésinger’s bust of Chopin, done after his death

You are perfect just as you are. And you could use a little improvement.
— Shunryu Suzuki Roshi

 

It’s Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin’s birthday, a major holiday in my calendar.

A while back I was taking another look at a biography of Chopin from the 2000s, in which the author summed up her subject as “a failed life redeemed by art.”

Think about that for a moment before you read on. A failed life.

OCD-like as I am, I got stuck on that phrase. First, we should all fail so awfully as Chopin, shouldn’t we. But seriously, what would constitute a failed life? I cannot think of very many circumstances in which that could be said of someone. Even in the case of a mass murderer, there would always be the chance of redemption (and that person might have been very successful at mass murdering). The only time that I might say a life truly failed would be if it never got started— if a child died in the womb or at birth. Even then, there might have been some point to that life while it existed, in that it had effects on the lives of its parents and perhaps others.

It is worth spending some time on this issue because it seems that most people, most of the time, tend to believe that they are failing, or at least that they are not succeeding sufficiently. I often feel very much that way myself, despite recent days of great “success” in my practice and a patient calling and telling me how well he had done when I treated him. Our temporal ideas of success and failure are relative, slippery, malleable, and ultimately have little if any meaning. Better not to get overly involved with them. Let’s explore and explode some of them.

The author of the Chopin biography was comparing him to a certain type of Romantic-period literary hero. It was convenient, I suppose. We fit facts into our stories and organize them around preconceived themes all the time. The story, in this case, has to do in large part with love gone wrong. If we look at success and failure through this lens, poor Beethoven comes off even worse, and most of us would receive questionable grades. Is a person who’s been through a divorce a failure? How about a person who remains single throughout life? A celibate clergy member? This is not a very useful filter.

One might postulate that being loved in a more general sense is a sign of success in life, but then, some people who are bucking trends and rocking boats may be doing critically important work but be widely hated for it.

Financial failure, maybe? Our society certainly pays a lot of attention to that. Chopin made a lot of money for a while there, until he became too sick to work, so he’s kind of safe on that score. But we all know very well that there are both great humanitarians and total scuzzbags who have made a lot of money. Not a good measure of a life.

Reproduction, perhaps? In terms of a stripped-down view of evolutionary biology, all that matters is that you pass on copies of your genes to the next generation. Chopin didn’t manage that, but then, since he probably had a very adverse genetic disorder, that may be just as well. OK, that’s a biological fail (though descendants of his sister are around today). But this measure would mean that the Duggars are incredible successes, and your stomach is probably churning as hard as mine at that thought. Chopin’s artistic “children” are surviving quite nicely and have had many descendants of their own. Human life has far more complex effects than mere genetic replication. Passing on one’s thoughts is likely more important in the long run for humans than passing on one’s genes.

Teaching is a hugely significant way of passing on thoughts. Chopin did a great deal of that, and the community of pianists continues to learn in depth from him by playing and studying his work.

What would constitute failure for you? Whatever that is, is it a true measure, or have you received it from the world without examination? A case can be made that if you have enough to eat and a roof over your head, you have already succeeded big time in a fundamental and crucial way. If you have strong connections with other humans, you’re in even better shape.

Jim Carrey put it this way: “I’ve often said that I wish people could realize all their dreams and wealth and fame so that they can see that it’s not where you’re gonna find your sense of completion. I can tell you from experience the effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is, because everything you gain in life will rot, and fall apart, and all that will be left of you is what was in your heart.”*

I think Suzuki Roshi nailed the truth superbly with his famous aphorism. For the essential, real, universal You, there is nothing to do, nothing to be or to become. For the everyday, changing mirage of you, there is always the potential to develop further. We can fully accept the present self while still moving toward what may turn out to be a quite different self. We aren’t finished— even at death— so we haven’t failed.

 

*http://www.higherperspectives.com/jim-carrey-speech-1468783748.html

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“The Source of Our Life Is Not Within the Body”

Burning-Flame-Wallpaper technosamrat

I’ve been trading treatments with an excellent healer who does polarity therapy. She is extremely competent in reading the body, mind and emotions, and working with her has been fruitful. In early November we had a session in which something quite unusual happened.

At the time I had a minor illness and among other things my stomach was upset, with a stuck, pressured sensation in my upper abdomen. I was in the midst of telling the healer how, back around the time I started this blog, a friend and colleague stopped speaking to me because she was convinced that I was possessed by an evil spirit who was sucking my energy and that of my patients— the “Evil One” being none other than Fryderyk.  (As ridiculous as that was, I’d never been entirely able to clear the event from my mind.  Knowing that someone believed that either Fryderyk or I could be involved in such a thing and doing harm to patients was terribly painful.)

“Isn’t it funny how when spirits are being talked about, the lights flicker,” said the healer. That was in fact happening. Speak of the “devil,” there he was a moment later, intensely in contact with me.

 Fryderyk attempted to help with my stomach, and the two of them had a professional disagreement about how to go about it.  The healer had told me before that she felt that my solar plexus area was functioning very well, but “functioning somewhere else.” She’d been trying for a while to bring all my systems online in the physical world, and I’d been seeing improvements in my health and energy level. Now Fryderyk was trying to connect me more strongly to that somewhere else, she told me, and she didn’t think that was the right approach.  In fact, she felt it was bad for me. “He wants to keep that going because it’s part of how he communicates with you,” she added.

Well, it’s always heartening when someone else can see one’s invisible friends, and better yet, talk with them. I wasn’t privy to the conversation they were having, though. As it progressed, the healer stuck to her guns and refused to be intimidated by contact with a Famous Impressive Dead Person, telling him that she was going to continue as planned because it was the right thing for me. Fryderyk disengaged and left, and she finished the treatment.

I was left feeling nonplussed and uncertain.  The healer described the interaction with Fryderyk in terms that were all too much like what I’d been told in the past when my ex-friend stopped speaking to me.  She felt that he was being “pushy and possessive,” and her perception was that energy was being lost from my middle under his ministrations.  I have always experienced inputs of energy from him, sometimes very large and powerful ones, and never the opposite, so this was confusing and distressing.  The healer was doing her best on my behalf, though, and I trusted her ability and her sincerity.  I knew, too, that when doing this kind of work we must trust and act on whatever we perceive, even if it seems outlandish at times.  (I used to be afraid to mention the most outlandish and unlikely things I’ve seen, but I’ve gained confidence because patients generally verify them.)  If we second-guess ourselves– such an easy trap to fall into– we cannot accomplish anything.

So what could I make of all this?  I can theorize about what was “really” happening, based on a couple of decades of both giving and receiving this type of treatment, but I can only be sure, at least more or less sure, of the parts I perceived myself.  At any rate, I hadn’t had any sense of being harmed or being under any malevolent influences.  Fryderyk packs a lot of wattage and can come on awfully strong at times, so that I can imagine someone feeling that he is being pushy even if that is not his intention.  I can also understand why someone might see him as possessive, which I think was sometimes true of him during his Earth life.

When I went to bed that night, Fryderyk immediately showed up again, and I asked him what in the world had been going on. Fortunately, the cosmic WiFi signal was strong and we could converse far more clearly than we could earlier that day. I asked what exactly he had been seeing in my middle. He explained that although it felt tight and stuck to me, like an excess condition, to him it seemed extremely empty and in need of more energy, and that was what he had been trying to work with.

I heard, very clearly, “The source of our life is not within the body anyway.” He went on to say that I needed, actually, more of a connection to that source. He then proceeded to pour a huge amount of energy into my solar plexus, which I saw in my mind’s eye as a stream of beautiful, brilliant orange flames. It felt fantastically wonderful. After a while he moved to other areas and did a bit more work on me, which also felt extremely positive. I did not become instantly well, but for weeks I had much more energy to work with than usual, and my understanding is that his efforts contributed greatly.

“The source of our life is not within the body” was exactly what I keep hearing from various sources lately, including, notably, cell biologist Bruce Lipton’s book The Biology of Belief. The body is like a TV set, whereas you are the program. The TV set is not the program; it only brings in the signal so that it can be seen in the physical world. Turn off the TV, or break it— the program is still being broadcast, and it exists just the same, regardless of the state of the receiver.

Stay tuned.

 

Flame graphic available free at http://www.technosamrat.com

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Review: Waking Up to the Dark

rose at Notre DameWaking Up to the Dark: Ancient Wisdom for a Sleepless Age
by Clark Strand
New York, Spiegel & Grau, 2015

In the vision exercise called palming, you attempt to see complete darkness. The idea is that when the eyes and brain are struggling to see, the muscles overwork and the optic nerve is constantly irritated, so that even with your palms blocking out all light, you see persistent flashes. It can be a challenge to relax and let the darkness happen, but when you stop trying to see, you become able to see more clearly.

What would it be like to let complete darkness happen? What would happen if we turned out all the lights? What would it be like to truly rest?

Clark Strand’s thesis is that artificial lighting is the fundamental evil behind every form of human trouble, and that before electric lights came into use, humans did truly and deeply rest, reaching a state of grace every night that we rarely if ever experience in the modern world.

I had already heard of this, that people used to go to sleep early in the evening, wake and go about quiet activities for two or three of the wee hours, then sleep till dawn. Apparently there are many written references to the “first and second sleep.” There was also a fascinating experiment, described in the book, in which subjects were kept away from all sources of artificial light for a month, and they soon developed that same pattern of sleep.

Although it is still common to wake in the middle of the night, most usually at 2 or 3 am, now people are typically held to a schedule where this becomes a vexing and draining problem, and they lie there anxiously staring at the ceiling. Strand writes that this time has been called the “Hour of the Wolf” because of that distress, but he sees it as the “Hour of God.”

Throughout his life, Strand has awakened and walked outdoors during that hour, in all settings and all weathers. Even as a child he did this, and he claims that he has never gotten into any serious trouble. He never takes a flashlight— it seems that his vision is exceptional. He experiences darkness as a friendly and nurturing presence.

I can relate to this, even though it is more natural for me to reach the Hour of God simply by staying up till then, not by waking after a period of good sleep. When I was little my mother, also a night person, taught me not to be afraid of the dark, and told me that it was comforting and peaceful. I took that feeling in early, and I still have it. I partake sometimes of that clarity that Strand talks about, where suddenly thoughts come together in a new way, answers click into place, and poetry may arise out of the depths. Of course I am often doing this in an environment that includes electric light, so it is not quite the same thing.

Lately I have been reducing the intensity of light as much as possible, though; I started that even before reading this book. One aspect of that was my purchase of a Kindle, essentially an electrically-lit book. I’d been reading e-books on my laptop, and both the heat and the light generated were irritating at night. The Kindle is much gentler that way, and besides it uses less power.  A little way into the book, which I was borrowing, I decided to buy my own copy, and perhaps ironically, I bought the Kindle version, thinking how much Strand would disapprove of this self-lighting of his book. Yet, this allowed me to nestle in my bed, wrapped securely in the dark, like a child reading with a flashlight under the covers, instead of being flooded with the light I would need to read a print book.

(It must be noted that Strand’s book, even if only in print, could not have been produced or distributed without electricity and lighting.)

As valuable as Waking Up to the Dark is, in some ways it goes seriously wrong. Strand mentions teaching his kids about our prehuman ancestors, and he has apparently read a great deal about them, but it seems to me that he has missed some important understanding. If I read him correctly, he believes that the introduction of fire into our caves was the beginning of our sense of separation from the rest of Nature, and the hubris that causes us to want and expect dominion over her. (He even states, based on someone else’s book, that fire is responsible for the fact that humans reproduce year-round. I would be extremely surprised if there were any evidence for this, especially since our close primate relatives also mate at any time of year despite an utter lack of firelight.) The use of fire far predates the existence of Homo sapiens. Can we confidently attribute a modern human imbalance to people who were a completely different species, beings we know next to nothing about? What kind of hubris would that be? Strand also seems to ignore the fact that even now, people in traditional cultures feel themselves to be part of the natural world, co-equal with other creatures, not set above them. That must have been the norm everywhere in the relatively recent past, up till no more than a few thousand years ago.

I find it a bit confusing, too, to be told first that modern electric light is the root of all evil, and then that the trouble started even with ancient firelight. Discrepancies like this may stem in part from the fact that this book is based on years of recorded experiences, during which Strand’s ideas must have evolved and shifted. Strand reports that his wife, Perdita Finn, wove the book from material in his 59 notebooks about rising to walk at night. Perhaps a few threads were crossed or twisted in the process.

The last part of the book is focused on something that, despite my not-entirely-different experiences, gave me rather a turn. I referred to Nature as “her” above for a reason: that is what Strand encountered, or rather, who. As he progressed with his exploration of the depths of night, at some point the darkness itself, the Yin principle one might say, began to visit him in the form of a beautiful young woman, three-dimensional, visible, audible, and solid to the touch. When he first saw her, her lips were sealed by a creepily evocative X of black electrical tape, which she wordlessly pleaded with him to remove. Sometimes her appearance would change. He recognized her as Mary, Isis, Sophia, Diana, the Shekinah, the Queen of Heaven, and especially the Black Madonna. In all cases, She is the personification of Earth and Nature, the Mother we all come from and who we ignore at our peril, the feminine essence that so many human societies have suppressed with desperate force.

When Strand realized it was time to understand Her destructive and terrifying aspects, he discovered an image of Kali. He describes the Hindu view of the Kali Yuga, a stage of destruction that is necessary in order for a new cycle of creation to take place. He sees this as natural and inevitable, but at the same time, he believes that we are bringing it about through our insanely imbalanced technological way of life. Turn out the lights, he says, and all will be well, because we then will understand how we should live and we will save ourselves and the earth.

But here is another source of confusion. “The night is a natural corrective to that most persistent and persuasive of all illusions: that human consciousness is the reason for the world.” (p.96) I understand what he means, but human consciousness is, at the very least, the reason for the world that we experience. There is nothing more fundamental than consciousness. Further, our consciousness is not separate from that of the planet and its other inhabitants. This is the very same interconnectedness that Strand says we will experience if we turn off the lights. Are human thoughts and activities truly in opposition to Nature and the Earth, or are they the working out of the path and destiny of the planet and actually in divine order? Complex arguments could be made about this. I tend to think that if something, anything, is happening, no matter how dire it looks, it is part of the overall Plan and would make sense if we could see the big picture.

A healer I know replied to this question by saying that Earth and its inhabitants are being hampered and interfered with by entities who benefit from our confusion and strife. A lot of people see things this way. I am much more aware of entities who do their best to help, but just because I don’t perceive a particular thing, I can’t prove that it’s not there. I do think that we are more than capable of screwing up massively on our own, even without anyone working to make it worse for us. And I have a hard time imagining anyone or anything more powerful than the Goddess herself. Even if She is only a concept, a construction of the greater Mind of humanity, as my materialist friends may postulate, She is a concept with immense energy, perhaps more than we have ever completely understood. “My body is the body of the world,” She said to Strand. “Your body is one with that body. What could there be to fear?” (p. 124)

On the more hopeful side of this idea of harmful entities, someone told me the other day that a channeler she knows had been told that as of the end of 2014, the “good guys” had removed a whole lot of those beings from our planet, and there was a big positive shift going on because of it. She used Pope Francis as an example of movement in the right direction. I don’t know— I’d like to think that’s true, but I don’t see much basis for it. Meanwhile, I await further guidance.

Which may have arrived already, two weeks ago, on the day I started writing this.

Bob decided he really needed to stop at DaVinci’s Pizza after Nia class, and I decided I really needed to work on this post, so by way of organizing my thoughts, I started to tell him about the visitations from the Blessed Mother in her many forms. I was about to open my mouth to say that Strand saw her as Mary when the sound system suddenly broke into “Silent Night,” the section that goes “round yon virgin mother and child.”

It was October 6. Everyone knows businesses don’t start playing Christmas music till Halloween! This was obviously a mistake, and was immediately replaced by some very ordinary hip-hop. Or it wasn’t a mistake at all, and it meant that She was listening.

Synchronicities have been coming thick and fast lately. I had my laptop with me, and I opened it to find an email from Steve Bhaerman, my dear old Swami, describing how he had lost his voice right at the beginning of his tour of the Southwest. He concluded that he needed to shut up and listen. “You need to listen to that still small voice inside… that’s still small, because you DON’T LISTEN. You need to stop the endless rat-a-tat-tat of thoughts, and listen to the silence.” Listen to the Silent Night. In the dark.

One might wonder where the Father and the Son in their own various guises fit in with the story— those in whose name the Mother’s lips were misguidedly taped shut. They haven’t gone away, but as Strand points out, fathers cannot produce sons without mothers, no matter how much the patriarchal religions would like to deny mothers their due. Yang cannot exist without Yin, as we all know, and there is nothing so Yang as our current America. Swami Beyondananda, who always travels with his wife, says that when a society is based only on masculine energy, we have a stag-nation, so we need the feminine energy to make a doe-nation in order to create the imagi-nation that builds the world.

When I read Strand’s chapter about the apparitions of Our Lady, as usual it was very late at night. I put down the book and turned in, and I could feel myself as partaking of that essential feminine principle, being, in myself, a source of creation. This principle lives in males as well. I’m not sure that we have to turn off the physical lights in order to find Her within ourselves and return to our Mother, whom we have never really left.

*******************************************************************

The photo above was taken when I visited Paris in the fall of 2010.  A rose– symbol of Mary.  Growing behind the cathedral of Notre Dame– Our Lady.  In the dark.

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Filed under history, nature, spirit communication, spirituality

Wibbly-Wobbly Sexy-Wexy

don't existA few months ago I wrote a post entitled “Identity and the True Self,” in which I alluded to the concept that none of us truly exists.  The “not existing” referred to in this meme is something else– it’s a deliberate attempt to erase or marginalize someone, in this case someone who identifies as bisexual and thereby makes someone else uncomfortable.

I was halfway through another planned post about being treated as if I don’t exist because my entire profession is considered by some to be nonexistent, to deal in the unreal.  Then it came to my attention that this is Bisexual Awareness Week, and that today, September 23, is “Celebrate Bisexuality Day (often abbreviated CBD), an international awareness day that is also referred to as Bi Visibility Day and Bisexual Pride Day. Three bisexual advocates– Wendy Curry, Michael Page and Gigi Raven Wilbur– conceived of the event as a way to combat bisexual invisibility. CBD, which began in 1999, is celebrated with events around the world celebrating bisexual culture, community and history. In 2013, the White House held its first bisexual community issues roundtable on Celebrate Bisexuality Day.”  http://www.bisexualweek.com/about/

We have a day?  We have a whole week?  We have White House roundtables?  How did I not know this?  Until last year, I didn’t know we had a flag, either.  (It’s what you see behind the words in the meme above.)  I’m honestly not sure why none of this came to my attention, especially since I’m very much interested in gender politics and I follow gay and transgender rights issues assiduously.  Is my ignorance simply my own, or could it be in part a measure of that erasure and invisibility?

What also had not come to my attention until the past year or so was the fact that people who identify as bisexual are often seen as untrustworthy, disease-ridden, greedy, sexually voracious, shallow, unable to commit, confused, actually gay but afraid to say so, actually straight but looking for attention, and/or basically lying cheating creeps.  In addition to not really existing, that is.  We sure have a lot of awful qualities considering that we’re not supposed to exist.

I must admit that I’ve lead a rather sheltered life in some ways.  I’ve been with my husband for 36 years, since I was 19.  I never really was part of the dating market and I am blissfully ignorant of its workings.  I have not been much pursued by members of any gender, and those I would have liked to pursue have tended to run the other way.  So I can’t claim to have a complete picture of what’s going on out there.

I’ve also been extremely lucky in not being given much guff about my 360-degree sexual orientation.  Some guff, but relatively little.  As a teenager, I knew other people who had attractions to both males and females, so I felt, if not normal, not too terribly outré.  My husband has always been fine with me being me.  I haven’t remotely experienced the oppression that a great many people have.  (There was that one woman I had a youthful crush on for years, who, when I told her how I felt, looked at me as if I’d crawled out from under a rock and refused to ever speak to me again.  That was the worst of it.)  The straight world has been pretty gentle to me for the most part.  The gay world has been too, in terms of my interactions with individuals.  I didn’t know that there was a deep prejudice about people like me.  Here’s someone’s take on it, which may or may not reflect what any specific person thinks:

oppressed

Well.  Perhaps people would have had more of a problem with me if I were trying to date them?  Then I’d be rejected by all sides?  I decided to ask some trusted gay friends for their point of view and what they were hearing out in the world.  I’m not going to quote them directly, because I want to preserve their privacy, but what I was told was eye-opening, to say the least.  In one case it was positively vicious.  Even the more compassionate statements concerned why the person would never want to get into a relationship with a bisexual.  I was taken aback.  No wonder a lot of people like me want to use some other label.

If it’s necessary to use a label at all, that is.  I hear that the young whippersnappers increasingly are saying what I’ve always said, that they are interested in the person, not the plumbing, that sexuality is fluid, and that labels are too limiting and they don’t want them.  Maybe at some point all of this distinction-making will seem quaint and outdated, and people will just be who they are and feel how they feel.  That day isn’t quite here yet, but there’s hope.

I do “pass” and that has probably been a benefit to me– a degree of “bisexual privilege” for real.  I’m not trying to pass, though, and don’t particularly want to.  I’m still using the old-school label bisexual, understanding its limits*, because it is what I’ve always called myself, what I’ve known myself to be ever since I was aware of having any sexuality at all.  But now I’m beginning to think of myself as:

wibbly-wobbly

*“Pansexual” might be better but doesn’t feel quite right.  And I haven’t come up with a word for someone who is in love with a person who has been dead since 1849, or who is almost exclusively attracted to musicians, or who thinks pianos are a turn-on.  “Sapiosexual” is a great word and fits me well– someone who is attracted to intelligence.  Mary Oishi expanded this to “sapiocardiosexual”– attracted to a fine brain and a good heart.  Far more important than the organs lower down.


Whovians may very well have a word for those of us who think the Tenth Doctor was seriously hot.  He’s the one who explained that time is not linear, but instead is more like “wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey.” 

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Filed under human rights, politics, sexuality

Healing Mandalas by CJ Rogers

toward I-40 from CJ's

Dr CJ Rogers lives in far western New Mexico, with a pack of wolves whom she cares for and studies.  She is known as “The Jane Goodall of Wolves.”  To get to her research station, you go waytheheck out from I-40, along a road that looks like this picture.

You can find out a bit about CJ’s* work and see photos of the wolves at http://raisedbywolvesinc.com/index.html.

The reason CJ and the animals are waytheheck out there is that when they lived closer to so-called civilization, people shot at the animals, and some were killed.  Even though they were quite safely kept behind a high chain-link fence and could not possibly have harmed anyone.  Some people seem to have the idea that any and all wolves should die, no matter where they are or what they’re doing.

That was a long time ago, but the trauma still reverberates.  In more recent years, some of the wolves have naturally reached the end of their lives and passed on.  Each one was a beloved, important, and individually known and understood member of the community, and each was greatly mourned.  The wolves have their own ways of dealing with grief.  CJ, who worked as a Jungian psychotherapist before the wolves came to her, painted mandalas to work through her thoughts and feelings.

These mandalas were done through an intuitive process with the symbols arising spontaneously, not planned ahead.  They have been put up on the Web in the past, but somehow became lost there, so I am taking this opportunity to put them in front of more eyes.  I wish I had had the equipment available, while visiting out there, to take clearer photos.  I also wish you could see the real thing close up, because they include dimensional gel ink and have texture as well as color.

Often mandala-making is recommended as a means of spiritual and psychological development or working out problems, finding out what’s in one’s head.  I’ve taken a class or two that involved it, but I couldn’t do anything remotely like this.  Recently, CJ recommended that I try making a mandala again.  I demurred, but then a patient brought me some adult coloring pages, with of course a mandala on top.  OK.  I pulled out the colored pencil collection and got started.

I hope you will enjoy these images whether you are inspired to try your own or not.  Feel free to zoom to see the rich detail.

CJ mandala 1

CJ mandala 2 cropped

CJ mandala 3

CJ mandala 4 cropped

CJ mandala 5 cropped

CJ mandala 6 cropped

Please note: Raised By Wolves is always in need of donations, but the address given for donations on the website is no longer correct.  If you would like to donate, and I hope you will, please contact me at EleneDOM@aol.com for the address.


* I don’t mean any disrespect in referring to Dr. Rogers this way– it just doesn’t feel right to call her by her formal title in this context.

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Filed under animal behavior, art, health and healing, spirituality