Archive for the ‘full moon’ tag
As the photo indicates, I am back in Canada, back home in Elrose, Saskatchewan. My walking pilgrimage has come to an end.
My pilgrimage began long before I left Canada in August. My motivation and need for this pilgrimage rose to the surface during my time in analysis. I didn’t fully understand it at the time, but I trusted my instincts. I knew that I had been “running” for way too many years, moving too much and too fast for any sane gypsy. I was running in my head, hoping somehow that I would be able to escape the contents of the unconscious that stubbornly refused to stay in it’s proper place hidden in the depths where it could be properly forgotten and denied. Analysis became a dance between analyst and analysand. I knew too much about the process and so the dance became more of a stalemate with neither one of us willing to give up the lead. That said, analysis did bring me more focus as I worked through dreams with my analyst. But deep down, I knew that I needed to do something that would finally break down my resistance and allow my psyche to emerge. Yet, I was afraid of what else might emerge. I knew that what was hidden and denied was filled with shadows, darkness, the source of my anxiety and fears. What I didn’t want to admit was the fact that there were other things hidden as well, enough things of the light, things that spoke to the positive of my existence. I intellectually knew all of this, but my fear simply scoffed at this intellectual knowledge.
As the idea of a pilgrimage began to gather strength, I began to have some hope that the walking would somehow break the bonds of my self-imposed prison in an inner darkness. For too long I had been dancing on the edges of black holes, daring the descent into madness. I was tired of it all; I was tired of seeing how my depression and silence was bringing grief to those whom I loved and who loved me as husband, father and grandfather. But of course, I had to disguise all of this with a story that I was walking to Santiago, Spain. I was heading out for adventure. I knew better, but it didn’t matter, I needed to tell myself this lie in order to find the courage to actually begin the process.
And so the walking has happened and something happened along the way. I began the walk as though I was being chased by demons, ghosts and unnameable dark shadows. I walked with fierce determination, always checking behind me to see if they were catching up to me. I walked and walked until my body demanded some relief. I ignored my body for the most part, and the physical pain increased to the point where the last part of each day’s walk were more about hobbling than walking with my feet on fire and my hips and knees begging for mercy. Yet, I refused to give in. I was on a mission.
And then one evening in a cathedral in southern France, I emotionally broke down and let the barriers fall. Another two days of walking, walking with my head up and smiling, I knew it was done. It was time to return home and rejoin my family which had spent the time I was in France as if they were in mourning. I knew that to walk further would only hurt them needlessly. The pilgrimage wasn’t about Santiago, it was about healing. It was time to go home.
I will continue to write from my journal, here. I will trace the physical journey and the journey of my psyche so that you can come to understand just how it all came about. It is good to be home and to be smiling.
Yesterday, as I returned home from a dinner with education and government people regarding the opening of a new International school in the city scheduled for the next school year, I was amazed by the beginning of a full lunar eclipse. I spent more than an hour outside in freezing temperatures capturing the event on my camera. I am bringing two of the images here, an early image and one taken near the point of full eclipse. As I was taking these photos I knew that they would find a place here.
I found the following quotation at the Wisdom of Astrology site:
“Lunar eclipses emphasize awareness of personal matters and relationships, now doubly so since this Solstice eclipse deals with releasing old emotional patterns of a Cancerian nature. “. . .total lunar eclipse . . . amplifies our opportunities for transformation. New pathways and options appear as old networks dissolve. During an eclipse, the continual streams of electromagnetic energy from the Sun and Moon are interrupted, weakening the Earth’s force fields as well as our own and thus making it easier to shift grids, dimensions and the configuration of our consciousness.” Stephanie Austin, The Mountain Astrologer, Dec/Jan 2011
I was particularly struck by the reference to the “Cancerian nature.” If I am to take anything from these words, it is that the moment is at hand for me to shift onto newer pathways. This notion of shifting is one that has been in place for me for the past month, a psychological shifting. The way of being in the world has been through work and through entrenched patterns of relationship behaviours. The decision to end the work patterns has been made and with the finalisation of this last contract, I will find myself actively creating new patterns. The work has already begun, partly through more engagement here and more engagement within my relationships. The shifting is one that has effected more than myself, it has also included shifting in terms of family.
But more than anything else, for me, the full lunar eclipse symbolizes a time for serious shadow work. After all, the break between the sun and the moon by the earth, where the unconscious is fully in shadow tells me that access to this nether region of the psyche is ripe. What we do with this opportunity for even greater self discovery is up to ourselves. There is freedom of choice, all is not controlled by fate.
Yesterday evening I went out for the purpose of meeting with new students at the university, the Freshmen classes who were taking part in a combination “Welcome to University” and “Mid-Autumn Festival” celebration. As I walked to the university campus I saw the full moon in the sky, not an unusual site as it happens once every four weeks; but this full moon was special in terms of China as it is this particular moon which is celebrated for the Mid-Autumn Festival. I ended up taking a fair amount of photos of the moon but this one is the only one that jumped out begging for my attention when it came to writing today’s blog post after my last set of teaching classes was done for the day.
The moon is framed by a fair-sized high-voltage power pole structure. The moon seems to be trapped within the steel bars, imprisoned and contained. But of course, this is all illusion as one knows that the moon is not really contained within the crossbars, it just looks that way. It is all about perspective.
Perspective – what does the inner voices tell us about an image? What does the ego tell us about an image? What fantasies are evoked? By listening with active imagination in which we safely participate in the fantasies that come out of the engagement with the images, we can come to begin to hear our own inner self speaking to us. Perhaps it is the soul, anima talking to us through the image of the moon. Does the soul, like the moon feel trapped and unable to find release? We do this to our soul when we deny the soul, when we put boundaries to bind the soul to darkness and silence.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, in order to grow we need to engage in active imagination activity with those images that pull at us, those that catch the attention of some part of us. Listen to what Jung tells us:
“Continual conscious realization of unconscious fantasies, together with active participation in the fantastic events, has, as I have witnessed in a very large number of cases, the effect firstly of extending the conscious horizon by the inclusion of numerous unconscious contents; secondly of gradually diminishing the dominant influence of the unconscious; and thirdly of bringing about a change in personality.” (Jung, C.W. Volume 7, paragraph 358)
When we continue to ignore the faint voices of the unconscious that seek our attention so as to be included in the larger sense of self, of identity, we risk acting out unconsciously. We all know of those who do and say things that they appear to be unaware they have said or done to the point of thinking that we are telling lies about them. We have heard of those who somehow slip into and out of alter personalities like some Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, situations where the ego is banished for some time while the unconscious takes over and runs wild. The process of engaging in active imagination allows us to carefully unmask the shadow removing the necessity for the unconscious to burst out of its prison running rampant over the ego.
Remember, it is all about perspective. Once we change our perspective, we change everything.
I’ve been trying, unsuccessfully, to get a clear photo of the full moon, the first full moon of 2010. At least, that is, until this morning. It is an issue of the camera. Since the moon setting was later this morning, I had enough light for the camera. Regardless, mission accomplished. My next camera will have to have better and easier control in low light situations.
That said, the fact that I had to wait until the day in order to fully capture the moon in the photo has many possible meanings for me, psychologically. The first is that of bringing unconscious contents to enough light so that part of the mystery of the unconscious is able to be appreciated. Of course, this is only part of what could be uncovered, so to speak. As I become more aware, I am more able to handle the exposure of more of the unconscious. As I become a better photographer with a better camera, I can capture a clearer image of something so far away, and for the most part, cloaked in darkness.
On another level, I see this photo as an honouring of my own anima, my own inner feminine. It also takes on my relationship to the mother archetype. And, if possible, it evokes relationship.
In an essay in Volume 9i in the Collected Works series by Carl Gustav Jung, the “Psychological Aspects of the Mother Complex,” Jung powerfully looks at various faces of a mother complex, both from a the lens of a woman and the lens of a man. Daryl Sharp added some insight for me into relationships and conflict and how the mother complex can actually be viewed from a positive manner.
To “turn away” from a relationship does not necessarily mean to leave it, or to stop loving someone. It may simply involve paying more attention to oneself that to the other person. But even this much is a heroic feat for a man with a positive mother complex. It requires a ruthlessness, of self-confidence, that is alien to his ego but characteristic of his unsentimental shadow. If he is not up to it – which to someone he’s involved with may look like a lack of relatedness, no heart 0 he will suffer the consequences: loss of soul. (Sharp, Jung Uncorked: Book One, 2008, pp 109-110)
Now this is just what I needed to hear, that “turning away” from an “other” in order to know more about “self” is not the same thing as leaving, abandoning or giving up on the relationship. I think that this is where most modern day couples end up in separation and divorce. The collective level of consciousness is too low for the task of holding the tension between self and other when one or both need to turn away, need to turn within.
This photo was taken on the evening of the Lantern Festival, the last event of the Spring Festival in China. Since the event is tied to the full moon, that date shifts every year. That evening, I watched as many sent off paper lanterns into the sky from the Buddhist temple that stood at the side of the park in which I was standing to take this photo. The lanterns were like small hotair ballons which were powered by a flame in a small box which made the lantern glow in the dark night sky. Each lantern is sent to the heavens with a prayer written within. The year before this photo, I stood on the edge of the South China Sea and sent a lantern free into the night sky.
I guess I could say that this sending of a prayer into the night during a full moon is symbolic. For me, the moon is representative of anima, that distant feminine aspect that is found within the deep and dark underworld of unconsciousness, in shadow country. I choose to enter into this region of shadows, ghosts and relics in hope of finding hope and meaning. I know that there is something deeper within, something deeper without that is waiting to be born, to be reborn in consciousness.
Something in us knows much more than the ego does, and in time the ego may learn to enlarge its frame to include this other wisdom. This is how one benefits from the compensatory power of the unconscious as it seeks to enlarge the narrow frame of consciousness. (James Hollis, On This Journey We Call Life, 2003, p. 54)