Archive for the ‘power’ tag
It’s summer solstice today and I am writing this at approximately two hours past the peak of the solstice. I found this image as a representative image for the solstice, an image of the masculine. As most who follow symbolism are are aware, the sun is symbolic of the masculine where the moon is symbolic of the feminine. The summer solstice is all about the sun.
Solstice is representative of the midpoint of a man’s life in as much as it represents the midlife of the annual journey of the earth around the sun, the point where man is at his peak, the moment when the sun is in the sky longest in the year. It is the time when a man is the most conscious of the fact of being a man, most feeling the power of being male.
If a man has truly worked at becoming conscious, he comes to a point of crisis as he realises that the life of spirit, of logos doesn’t fill him. All that has been believed, all the effort, the struggle now seems to ring hollow. At this moment, a man “knows” that he has peaked and that it he is now engaged in a journey back to darkness. If he is lucky, he has a guide to help him descend from the peak.
With a focus on what has been attained in the work of being a man, the fact that reaching the pinnacle of his essence as a male has not resulted in a sense of fullness, but of a paradoxical emptiness, a hollowness, a man is graced with the opportunity to move towards balance, the balance of light and dark, the balance between his masculine aspect and his feminine aspect.
And it is this embarking on a new journey that is to be celebrated at the solstice, the end of the honeymoon and the real work to come, the real work which will give life meaning and purpose. Those who resist this journey get lost in addictions which promise meaning: sex, power, money, dominance of others.
It doesn’t make sense to the objective world that it is in a descent into a subjective world that one finds purpose and meaning in the outer world. But who said it has to make sense in a “logos” kind of way? Too much of one thing leads to burn out, to a searing of the soul.
Though it might seem a time for mourning of one’s ego, a time for anger and resistance; midlife is a blessing if one can only dare to continue a journey of individuation, a journey in which one learns to embrace the feminine, the soul.
Heading northwest on the Mekong River not too far out of Ho Chi Minh City, these homes on stilts made me realise how life along this river must be always subject to the unpredictable water of the river. Looking at the network of supporting poles, small sticks that would by themselves seem insignificant spurs me to think about all the differences I encounter while living in Asia and in China in particular.
Working at a university, I get to see young men and women every day as they move through the steps from childhood to adulthood. Teaching them a second language allows me to find out a lot about their ways of understanding the world. When teaching a second language, the quickest method is to use base knowledge of the first language and life experience as hooks for the second language. In other words, teach them what they already know, only in the target language. Since at this stage of life, relationships are the biggest focus of these young people, giving them a chance to talk about relationships and their beliefs allows them to speak with more confidence as they don’t have to learn new concepts, just the vocabulary and expressions. Aside from their romantic notions that come out of watching American films, these young people have a very practical sense of what marriage is all about. Love is not synonymous with marriage as it is in the western world.
“Historically, love and marriage have not been synonymous . . . As a matter of fact, only in the last century and a quarter has the vox populi claimed marriage and love as one and the same. This is not to say that happily committed people have not loved each other, but rather that for most of human history the purpose o marriage was to bring stability to the culture rather than make an individual happy or serve the task of mutual individuation. Possibly the greatest number of history’s marriages would, by today’s standards, be described as loveless, for they were contracted arrangements made to produce, protect and nurture the young, thus to preserve the tribe, to transmit social and religious values and to channel anarchic libido in socially useful directions.
Similarly, in many marriages love, whatever love may prove to be, is simply not the determinative value. What more commonly has brought people together, the energy which seeks synergy, are the operative complexes of each. One or both may seek to find the good parent in the other, may even wish to find an abuser in order to confirm a wounded sense of self, or may be seeking what was missing in the family of origin. Or, one may marry for a sense of transferred power.” (Hollis, The Eden Project, pp41-42)
With these words, I understand better how the young men and women in my classes dutifully abandon a “love” mate because the parents don’t support the union. I understand better why young Asian women willingly enter into relationships with older western men. As one young female told me, it is about power. The want to marry power and thus gain power themselves, a sense of security in a crowded and competitive world where there is not enough for everyone. These young people believe in love, fall in love and rebel for love. But, for the most part, these young men and women fall back into line in order to fit in with the needs and demands of their culture.
Maybe there is something to learn here. Maybe we (I) put too many demands on the people we marry making all of us crazy in the process?
During the time spent in Cambodia after three weeks of wandering around Vietnam and Laos, I got to see a serious side of poverty. It seemed that everywhere I turned, the face of poverty was there looking back at me, looking deep into my soul. It left me feeling overwhelmed and powerless for the most part. What could I do as an individual, a person within the lower middle class of the western world, to make a difference? The “money” I had would soon be exhausted with negligible effect on the lives in IndoChina.
It didn’t take me long to see that the poverty was deeper than the lack of money. If that was the only problem, throwing money at the problem would solve the problem. The time I have spent on reserves and in rural areas of western Canada where First Nations poverty is a real fact had proven to me that the infusion of money, more often than not, worsened the problems creating more dependency, adding more tension between the givers and the receivers of the money.
All I could think of was somehow opening doors to education, an education which would allow those hungry enough to claim the knowledge and tools to reforge their own lives. But even that is not enough. What about the little ones like this little girl who is trapped by geography, culture, family poverty, and by history? How does one change the mindset of a nation which is governed by the shadow of the masculine? Revolts against the shadow erupt all over the world, but those revolts are more instinctual than they are based on consciousness. The results of these revolts that promise change only end up with a different set of faces continuing to govern unconscious of the roots of the real problems of their communities.
So, I am left with hoping that what I am doing here as a teacher, as a guide through the dark sides of the human psyche, will make a difference.
Yes, Starbucks in found in Changzhou. I know of two different Starbucks locations in this city of three and a half million people. Joining Starbucks are other corporate entities that no-no-borders such as Macdonalds, Subway, Pizza Hut, and KFC. There is no question in my mind that the powers behind the scenes are now visible through these outlets. It has stopped being about nation versus nation, about one political belief system versus yet another system. The real Power is Prosperity, Progress, and Pleasure.
“The loss of relationship to the invisible powers makes the visible powers all the more powerful. We have corporate moguls running government, as deceitfully as they ran corporations . . .” (Hollis, Mythologems, p. 99)
It isn’t as though we “want” to be ruled by these power brokers, to be ruled by others who have no agenda other than being on top, holding as much power as can be held. The election of Obama as the president of the United States of America was watched by people all over the world, people who saw this event as belonging to them as well. Perhaps an individual with a vision could recapture a sense of humanity, could take back the power lost. But, like all the other leaders, he is a man that is constrained and contained, essentially powerless. His advisors have advisors, and the advice doesn’t advance the will and the needs and the dreams of people who have chosen him as their leader. What has been delivered in the U.S.A. and all western world democracies and the up and coming countries such as China is something different.
“. . . the spectacle of modern social and political interaction is little more than the exercise of the old will to power serving contemporary neuroses. The outcome is no longer in doubt. We end in neuroses, in addictions, power and displays of enthusiasm, banality, diversions of increasing urgency, and more and more loneliness. The gods have hardly departed; they have simply gone underground and reappear as wounds, as inflations, as pathologies. Our contemporary suffering is not tragic, for we wrestle not with gods; rather it is pathetic, the suffering which is unconscious and invariably victimizing of self and others.” (Hollis, Mythologems, p. 99)
Choose any location you want in today’s modern world and look carefully. Consciousness is not much in evidence. The events in the U.S.A. defy common sense, the lack of ethical behaviour in Canada’s leadership are two examples in a world that has lost its moral compass. With the loss of the gods, the vacuum has been filled with greed and the other deadly sins. The call to fundamentalist religions does not hold the answer, for they too are more about remaining as unconscious as possible.
In searching through my recent archives for a photo to fit today’s post, I was torn between phallic symbols and photos of various men I have met along the way here in Changzhou, China. Then, I spotted this photo which I took while at the YanCheng Safari Park.
This photo reeks of male power. And, that is what I want in order to portray the archetypal energies of the father image. As I look at the photo a host of other images flash through my mind. I think of the vestments of authority of church leaders, I think of the accoutrements of authority that magnates of industry and business surround their presence so that all know that they are the “top dog” or the “biggest fish” in their pond. The sense of power that says, “Yes, I can protect you – but, I can also destroy you if you piss me off!”
The power is real. Yes, protection is possible, even probable for those that acquiesce, those that accept the “ordained by God” authority. Yes, one’s destruction is also possible. Such power is strongest when the holder is only conscious enough to wield the power, but not conscious enough to contain the power. The boundaries between the archetypal energies and the personal energies are very thin. Being able to draw on the archetypal energies allows the power to radiate and draw so many into the brilliant light of that energy, like a candle flame that attracts moths.
There is a problem with so much archetypal energy being drawn upon, the host is consumed as are all those who get pulled into the orbit around that flame. History has too many examples of this “archetype in action.”
“. . . the father imago is, as all archetypal energies, double edged. It empowers and/or castrates; it authorizes and/or tyrannizes; it protects and/or crushes. Whenever we are dealing with issues of personal authority, whenever we are serving the imago Dei or questioning its relevance to our actual life, we are dealing with the father archetype in all its many forms. Whenever we seek the protection or destruction of another; whenever we impose our authority on another; when we pass on a message of empowerment or disempowerment, we are fathering, regardless of our gender or conscious intention.” (Hollis, Mythologems, p. 48)
One thing I want to note here, the father imago is only one half of the full face of God. The second half is the mother imago. Think of the symbol yin-yang which is a completeness in which masculine and feminine are forever joined, circling each other in full balance. This is the fullness of what can only be called God or the ONE, the whole or holiness. All that is (consciousness) and all that isn’t (unconscious) as far as a human can understand and know.
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.