The Green Man

I made another spirit doll this week.   It felt incomplete until I saw Sue Vincent’s  prompt  – https://scvincent.com/2019/03/14/thursday-photo-prompt-sign-writephoto/

Of course!   What my doll needed was a hat.  I made him one from green leather then put him in the fork of a tree to take his photo.

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While I was making this doll I was thinking about the mythical figure of the Green Man.  It is perhaps a sign of our times that the Green Man is coming back into our awareness.  The archetype has particular relevance to men as an alternative to toxic masculinity.

I found a really good explanation of what the Green Man represents for men on https://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/meet-green-man-archetype-wild-soul-dg/
“he models a different kind of manhood and strength, one that is based on relationship, caring, and true husbandry or stewardship. He gives us a powerful metaphor and depiction of the Sacred Masculine.”

Writing of the relevance of this model of masculine for our times the author describes the Green Man archetype as “a strong and compassionate masculine who respects the hidden laws of nature and interconnected relationship. In a modern incarnation, he stands for environmental awareness and action; he symbolizes cooperation with nature rather than dominion over it for resources, wealth, and power. In a sense, he is the original eco-warrior.”

I really like these ideas but feel the Green Man has a relevance for us all regardless of gender.   We all embody both masculine and feminine qualities to some degree.  On the website https://www.tlc-uu.org/awakening-the-sacred-masculine-introducing-the-green-man/ I read:
“As the Goddess makes her return, we must also resurrect the Green Man so that both feminine and masculine are united in a healthy balance of head and heart, intellect and imagination, intuition and reason, force and flow. Cultivating a healthy sense both of our masculine and feminine sides of ourselves is the only way we will ever be able to usher in an era of new balance so desperately needed in our world today. When a healthy masculinity is established both men and women will rejoice. And so too will animals, plants and future generations. The stakes for establishing a Sacred Marriage of the Divine Feminine and Sacred Masculine have never been higher. Our survival hangs in the balance.”

Forgotten stories, forgotten voices

On my way to finding new stories and speculative fiction I take a look back at an old forgotten tale.

Zeus, the ancient Greek god that ruled Olympus was a jealous old man.  Mention of his name still strikes a chord with many though mostly the stories of his exploits are now forgotten.   These days he is remembered as a legendary character, a frozen relic from another time and place.

One story about Zeus has all but vanished from our trove of myths and legends.  That story is the complicated relationship between Zeus and his first wife, Metis (pronounced Meetus).

Metis was one of the original Greek gods and goddesses, the Titans.  Chronus, the father of Zeus was also a Titan.  When his wife Rhea gave birth to a son Cronus feared that the child would overthrow him.   To prevent this he swallowed all five of his children.    When Rhea gave birth to another child she saved him from this fate by hiding him in cave.   That child was Zeus.

When Zeus grew up he did indeed seek to throw his father.  Metis helped him in this.  She concocted a drink which caused Cronus to regurgitate the children he had swallowed.   By this time they too were adult.   Two of them, Poseidon and Hades, helped Zeus overthrow their father.   Zeus then killed him.

Soon afterwards Zeus and Metis got together and Metis became pregnant.   Fearful his children might eventually seek to overthrow him Zeus tricked Metis into shapeshifting into a fly.    He then swallowed her.

As an archetype Metis represents those parts of ourselves that have been swallowed up by the culture we live in.   Perhaps it is that you are a person who has sacrificed a career to raise your children and are now unemployed and unemployable.   Perhaps you are a person who supported your partner as they climbed the career ladder only to have them leave you without ever acknowledging your contribution to their success.   Perhaps you are a person – male, female or agender – who’s voice has been silenced because of race, class, disability or gender bias.

Perhaps there is some other reason why you feel you feel your voice has been swallowed for Metis represents a type of intelligence that is often overlooked or discounted.   We live in a culture where rational, logic, scientific thinking is given preference.   Metis intelligence is intuitive, subtle and resourceful.   This type of intelligence is often dismissed as unscientific and illogical.

The ability of Metis to shapeshift can be seen as a metaphor for that kind of street wise cunning and ability to strategize quickly that can get you out of a sticky situation.   The shapeshifting ability can also be seen as the capacity for metamorphosis.  By thinking things through on a deep level and calling on the practical skills we have learnt through experience we can figure out how to move forward.   We find ways to adapt and respond to changing conditions by calling on our under-developed abilities and resources.

In these difficult times where so many of the old ways that have underpinned our culture are beginning to crack and crumble under the weight of their own deceptions Metis intelligence offers a way forward.  Quick, intuitive thinking that utilizes practical wisdom gained through experience may just be the thing that saves us – individually and collectively.

prompt:  https://mythsofthemirror.com/2019/01/01/new-feature-speculative-fiction-writing-prompt/

 

Aging as a Spiritual Journey

“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you really are.”   Carl Jung

Coming to terms with physical decline and with the loss of old roles that occurs during the aging process takes conscious effort.  Carol Osborn, author and founder of Fierce with Age says “Mourn your lost youth, illnesses or other losses.  Acknowledge that it’s happening as a passage you have to go through.”

The journey through this passage can be the thing that propels us to shift our awareness into a more spiritualized view of the aging process.

The University of Maryland Medical Center defines spirituality as “a belief in a power operating in the universe that is greater than oneself; a sense of interconnectedness with all living creatures; and an awareness of the purpose and meaning of life and the development of personal, absolute values. Even the non-religious may describe themselves as spiritual.”  aging as a spiritual process

The clinical psychologist, Dr. John Robinson writes:-
“While we can hang onto past identities and achievements, these memories grow stale for they no longer represent who we really are. But this procession of losses, as the mystics tell us, constitutes the quintessential pre-requisite for enlightenment. What’s left when the ego’s filters of identity, time and story dissolve is consciousness itself, which the mystics also tell us is the consciousness of the divine.”  http://www.johnrobinson.org/

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Robinson describes the process of coming to terms with the losses of age as a descent – either a descent into distress or, if we move to the spiritual side of the matrix, a descent into ‘the arms of the divine mother.’

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I like the idea that the descent is a mystic journey back to the divine mother for that is where my own meditations take me.

Through some alchemical process I don’t know the words for, this journey into the mystical depths can lead to an intuitive awareness of the interconnection of all life.  The sense of purpose that grows from this awareness is greater than purely personal concerns yet it infuses the personal life with meaning and a sense of joy.  It is here where the path into aging opens up into a greater awareness of the wonder of life.

It is here too where the interior landscape becomes archetypal and the spiritual journey is shown to be a journey that anyone can take at any time.   Age is not a pre-requisite.

I will leave my quest across the landscape of aging here.   My quest to find new stories continues.  I might blog about that in 2019 but I’m not sure.

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 HAPPY NEW YEAR

This is the 3rd post in my series ‘Aging as a spiritual journey’
Part 1 of this journey can be found here
Part 2 of this journey can be found  here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Defining the Journey

More on the quest to age well –

Although I wrote the words “Aging as a Spiritual Journey” into my journal I had only the vaguest idea of what I meant by them.  Googling them I discovered many people have written books and articles on the subject.

Most of these articles begin with acknowledging the fact that aging is inevitable. Although western culture tends to deny the aging process and to glorify youth we are completely unable to stop the process altogether.   It’s a fact of life – we all grow older and we all eventually die.

The psychologist Robert Peck defined three psychological phases of aging.

1. The first phase happens around retirement.    This is when we begin to wonder “Who am I now?”   The more our identity has been tied up in our career, the more difficult this stage can be.  Around this time we are also beginning to show the physical signs of aging.  Many people feel they have become invisible.

The spiritual teacher Ram Dass sums this phase up well:-

“I can remember when I became irrelevant.  I mean, you can walk down certain streets in any city and you’re either a potential, a competitor, or irrelevant. I became a walking lamp post after awhile. It was incredible because people look right through you, they don’t even see you. At first I got all uptight about it and I’d wear my hair spread all over my head and do all these things. Get tighter suits and diet and everything so I’d be somebody, but then it’s a new moment, and you realize that’s the way it is.”  https://www.ramdass.org/important-come-terms-aging/

At some point we come to terms with this invisibility and discover freedom within it.  It doesn’t matter so much what others think of us for, chances are they are probably barely noticing us.

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Peck’s second phase of aging begins when we realise the body is changing with age.            We are slowing down and don’t have the agility we once had.   It can take longer to recover from illness.  This stage is particularly difficult if you have identified with being physically fit.

The third psychological phase of aging is about the preparation for death.   This phase is often foreshadowed many years beforehand as we consider just what we are leaving behind for future generations.

For me this third phase is like a tune playing in the background.    I think about it from time to time but my main pre-occupations are more immediate. What do I do in the interim between having a busy, active life in the world and my eventual demise? Keeping busy and distracting myself with hobbies, shopping excursions and reading the novels I never got around to reading when I was younger gets boring.   Traveling isn’t always an option – the finances don’t always stretch that far and beside, my physical stamina is sometimes just not enough.

As the old roles and identities I have inhabited fall away I am left wondering ‘what next?’  It seems to me that I now face a choice.   I can either despair or I can figure out ways to age with integrity.

Somewhere in all my reading about the aging process I came across the idea that although the physical body declines the potential for spiritual development increases.

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In her book, “The Measure of My Days”  the Jungian analyst, Florida Scott-Maxwell wrote of this approach to aging –

“The purpose of life may be to clarify our essence, and everything else is the rich, dull, hard, absorbing chaos that allows the central transmutation.”

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I will develop these ideas in my next post.  You can find my first post in this series here

(as you can see the journal is continuing to develop as I read more about aging well.    It’s become a place to work out what I’m thinking and feeling about everything I’m reading.  I’ve had to leave my inclination to tidy it up and make it neat for the spontaneity gets lost when I try to do that).

 

 

 

 

 

Climate Change and The Shift

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photo prompt:  https://reinventionsreena.wordpress.com/2018/12/06/reenas-exploration-challenge-66/ 

Will the world as we know it crumble and fall?   Will the archaeologists of some future race stumble upon the ruins of our civilization?   Will they then shake their heads and wonder why we did nothing to halt the climate change that brought about our demise?

Lately I’ve been thinking that there are two ways to respond positively to the threat of  climate change .    One response is the outer response – this where assessing the facts takes place – it is where we petition governments to change their policies and it is where we to make changes in the way we live our lives – where we learn to consumer less,  to eat less meat,  and to monitor the ways we use electricity in our homes etc.

The second response is the inner one.   It here where we shift the way we think about life on Earth and humanity’s place within the ecosphere.

Quite possibly the driving force that will implement real and positive changes in our outer world will come from a shift in consciousness.

We humans tend to think we are at the top of the evolutionary ladder.    From that position we assume the right to dominate and exploit nature for our own gain.   What we forget is that we are actually part of the natural world.   It is the ecosphere of planet Earth that gives us the air we breath, the food we eat and the raw materials we use to create our ever more elaborate lifestyles.

This attitude of superiority hasn’t always motivated humans.   Indigenous cultures across the globe live in ways that are in harmony with the environment.    Looking at the archaeological evidence of human society before the birth of the city state it’s easy to imagine that once upon a time our ancestors were more in tune with the rhythms of nature.   A shift in consciousness would take us to a similar place.

I am not suggesting though that we all go live in caves or herd reindeer.    Rather, if our hearts and minds become more tuned into the natural world around us, the way we live on the planet will inevitably change. 

With increased awareness of the inter-connectedness of all things the focus of hearts and minds begins to change.   We are no longer so fixated on exploiting the Earth and it’s people and animals to satisfy our desires for more money, more stuff, more power etc.  We become more interested in working out ways to live in harmony with the natural world.

Opening up to this shift in consciousness can be remarkably easy.   It can be as simple as going for a walk in the park and becoming aware of the air quality, the light on the plants and the way being in such environments often creates a more relaxed mood.

Speakers at the climate change conference in Poland are telling us the end is nigh.   If we continue down the path we are currently on they will be proven right. 

If we shift our consciousness to a more holistic understanding of the world around us and our place in it we will start to change the way we live on the planet.  Instead of being the exploiters of the Earth, its animals and disadvantaged people we could become the caretakers.

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Time out of mind

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I once came across a letter written by my great, great, great grandmother in the 1860s.    She was my first known ancestor to have settled in Australia.  In the letter she writes that the family she left behind in England lived on the Essex/Suffolk border “for time out of mind.”

I can’t imagine  how it would feel to have such a long connection to one particular place.  I have a gyspy soul and never stay anywhere for more than a few years.    Whether or not this is a good or bad thing is a matter of opinion.    For a long time I thought I should try and settle down and stay in one place for the duration.  Trouble with that idea is that I got bored, went kinda stale and ultimately felt trapped and depressed.

“Gypsy Souls rarely like to settle down and extend their roots in any one place, preferring to live a life to the rhythm of their own drums, while not caring much about social convention. To seek for the extraordinary and magical in daily life rather than the normal and average is at the heart of every Gypsy Soul.”

https://lonerwolf.com/gypsy-soul-test/

 

Inner Journey

This post first appeared on my old blog ‘Art and Life’.    It may resonate with some of you.

I journey within –

For so many nights now I have been dreaming of old tired places, thoughts and experiences I have no wish to revisit but which lurk in the dim recesses of my mind.   It is as if all the debris of my psyche lies in wait for me to sleep so that it come come out and haunt me – night after night.   Every sorry story I have ever been part of is choosing this current time frame to revisit me in fragmentary nightmarish scraps.   It is as if I have become a  voyeur surveying all those moments in my life when I was less than perfect or failed to achieve some goal.

Often these dreams are so disturbing they wake me up.   Invariably this waking occurs at strange times – 02:02, 3:33, 4:44 etc.    For a long time I thought the dreams were pointing out deep psychological dramas I needed to resolve.   I would lie in bed, tossing and turning as I wrestled with my demons.

After a while it came to me that these dreams were showing me things that happened a long time ago.   They were often about events that had been resolved with time or they retold stories of incidental moments that I could nothing about now.   It was if my mind was somehow stained with these things – that those unpleasant occurrences had left behind a residue that still coloured my subconscious.

I told myself sternly that it was time to move on but the dreams continued.   It seemed my subconscious had an inexhaustible supply of bad memories to parade before me.  Endless murky interiors haunted by ghosts of my past presented themselves.

Recently it dawned on me that what these dreams are showing me are not issues I must resolve in my waking life but patterns of thought that keep me trapped in repeating infinite variations of the same themes.   What they are showing me is the dark side of my own being.   My own shadow self.

I have always thought that the psychological shadow self was a dark figure that embodied all the unsavoury aspect of the self – some heinous malevolent character that would devour all the good parts of me if I let it loose.   What I’ve recently come to understand is that my shadow self is an amalgamation of my own negative thoughts – my lack of self esteem and feelings of inferiority (due to all the usual culprits – age,  worldly and financial status, body size, gender etc as well as memories of past mistakes and failures).   It  is that part of me that holds me back and keeps me repeating old thought and behavioral patterns that reinforce my lack of self esteem and feeling of inferiority.   It’s like an inner series of labyrinthine rooms that are all essentially the same.

That realization has become a beacon in the darkness.

I have been thinking along a track that has already ended.    Now I realize I can change my life by changing the way I think.

Now that I know that I flood the dark interior spaces of my mind with light.

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Reblogged in response to this week’s prompt on Sue Vincents #write photo challenge

  photo credit – Sue Vincent
prompt:    https://scvincent.com/2018/09/20/thursday-photo-prompt-pillars-writephoto/