Archive for the ‘danger’ tag
Sometimes light allows for interesting images – well, I have to restate that – always, light allows us to have interesting images. Light is the what allows the dark stuff to take shape and become “interesting” and useful. For example, if one came upon the barbed wire in the darkness, then the barbed wire would become an evil force that would either pierce or trip one – a foe. Yet, if one came upon the same barbed wire in the daytime, the sharp points become warnings rather than threats. Light changes one’s perspective.
Consciousness does the same thing. As children we are told about bogeymen, and all manner of things that are meant to keep us in check, to keep us somewhat safer in a world that is perceived as unsafe. As we become more aware of the dangers, more aware of the nature of the world, we let go of the projections. Yet knowing that this is a natural way to move from unconsciousness towards consciousness, we don’t seem to learn from our own lessons. We continue to hold to projections that don’t stand up to scrutiny. We hold to partisan politics, to fundamentalism, to enemies that are almost faceless and deny evidence that would tell us that our projections are not in fact reality. We build barbed wire enclosures to keep out the adult bogeymen only to find that we have not kept out the darkness, but that we have imprisoned ourselves with the very protective barriers that we have built.
This is Arenal Volcano as I saw it before darkness hid it completely the first night in La Fortuna. As I hiked up the slopes in hopes of gaining a vantage point so that I could see lava from this live volcano in the darkness, it was raining. The trail became a slippery morass in spots reminding me of swamplands. I climbed higher and higher thankful for the darkness which hid the sharp drop offs from my vision. In the daylight, I likely would have frozen in spots because of my fear of heights. Finally, the guide called a halt and we sat and waited in darkness for some sign of life from the hidden mountain. Listening in the silence, the voice of the mountain came across clear. After about an hour of waiting, a flash of red was seen in the darkness, a numinous hint of light in the darkness as though catching for a moment someone’s eye in passing. For a few brief moments, less than thirty seconds, a few red-hot boulders bounced down the side of the volcano. I saw them making the journey a success. It felt as though I was creating my own myth, my own personal link to a larger truth.
“The discovering of one’s personal revelation enables the individual to distinguish one’s personal myth and so oneself from the myths into which one is inevitably born. These are the layers of collective mythology such as ethnicity, religion, nationality, social status, etc., which can serve, in varying degrees, as impediments or resources in the emergence of the self. But it is only the emergence of the self in the consciousness of the individual that frees the individual to relate one’s inherited mythologies to one’s own deepest personal truth. As this truth emerges into consciousness the individual is progressively released from a compulsive and unconscious adhesion to received mythologies toward a more discerning response to them out of the power of the inimitable and sustaining truth of the personal self.” (Dourley, “Jung and the Recall of the Gods”, Journal of Jungian Theory and Practice, Vol. 8, No. 1, 2006, p. 44)
The journey back down through the darkness didn’t carry the same sense of danger for me. That said, I knew that the danger was still there as it wouldn’t require more than a stumble for me to disappear off the trail into depths that were the home of night creatures that could harm me as much as the fall. There are quite a few deadly poisonous snakes hidden in the darkness of the rain forest here in Costa Rica. I would stop on the path well ahead of others and listen again to the voice of the volcano from time to time. I don’t know quite how to describe the sense of rightness, the sense of wholeness.
And later that night, when in my bed in a small hostel in La Fortuna, I dreamt. I met the devil and he met me. It was as though we had come to a point of balance between us. I was wary of the devil and he kept his eyes alert as he focused on my as well. I knew that though he had vast powers, we had arrived at a point where I no longer had need to fear him. Respect his power, yes – fear his power, no. Upon awakening in the morning, I knew that I had emerged into a different world. For me this emergence into a new state was as though I had travelled through a portal allowing me to know the presence of that transpersonal essence that is at the core.
This photo was taken in Changzhou, the city that was home for two years. This canal was only a few short blocks off the junction of two main streets in the downtown area. The coned buds on the tree to the left side are large brilliant mauve flowers in the spring. It was simply amazing to me how the most modern buildings, upscale shopping area and huge shopping crowds could be bordered in just two blocks by this scene which dates back significantly in time, to reveal a different face for China.
This is pretty much the same story, when I think about it, for me. I have a certain polish when I get dressed up. I show my age, but it is not a dated age. It is more a modern maturity that “fits” with modern society. My mask and persona work well and all is well in terms of being at one with the collective.
But, if I retreat even just a little bit, just enough to get a bit of perspective, I see something else about myself. I see that the mask is simply a mask. Under that mask there is a curious combination of light and dark, of shadows and mystery, of exposed warts and wrinkles. And running through this self beneath the mask is an unconsciousness that looks like it might be gentle an peaceful, but in truth is a dangerous place.
Below that peaceful reflective surface … Well, it is all unknown … and often one is right in fearing the unknown … encourage that unknown into the conscious self and all becomes forever changed … and the fear that the ego will be overpowered, possessed …
The nose of Chaac, the Rain God. Ascending alongside the central staircase of the Magician’s Pyramid on both sides are faces of Chaac, each face contains an elephantine nose similar to the one found on the ground here. There are twelve such Chaac figures on each side. A thirteenth Chaac figure sits above the temple entrance. Thirteen being the number of levels in the Mayan heaven. The Chaac nose both receives the rain and distributes the rain (metaphorically) which comes from the Rain God.
Curious how such symbols of power between men and gods also can serve as ‘keys’ to one’s own inner world. When viewed as a key, the image makes ‘sense’. Water, the source of life speaks of the vast unconsciousness of humankind and of the container that holds us. At the same time as being a key, it also can serve as a ‘hook’. It even looks like a hook. And this is the danger when approaching the unconscious. Does one get hooked like a fish at sea and thus drown in the depths never to return to consciousness? Intentional descents are safer, especially with a guide, unintentional descents result in madness. Jung studied those lost in this madness to discover some of the territory of the unconscious. Choosing a descent? Not too likely. However, the pain of being present in the world without having the anchor of ‘meaning’ is often the stimulus to risk descents into the swampland, the dark sea of one’s unconscious aspects.