Archive for the ‘totem’ tag
These two objects have a history with me. The green stone was given to me in 1994 by a gentle bear of a man who was my therapist at that time. I was to hold the rock when life was overwhelming so that the rock could take me back into the moments of safety in his office. The rock has travelled with me and hopefully will continue to stay with me reminding me of the gentle, bearded giant of a man who had unconditional positive regard for me as a man.
The second object is a chalice of sorts that I made in 1998 at a workshop. The chalice is a container that is meant to hold what I called the “Source of Life.” Another man was responsible for this, the man who lead the workshop on a cool and windy May weekend. Little did I know at that time that I would meet this man again fourteen years later, a meeting between analyst and analysand. Again, I feel that I am in a safe place, a place where I am again held in unconditional positive regard as a man.
Today, these two symbolic objects are like totems for me, and when I use the word totems, I mean it as symbols of relatedness as though kin - father and brother figures. As totems, these objects carry a spiritual dimension in which the notion of shaman is attached to the objects. For me, these two men take their place in my life story as guides through the inner worlds, the spiritual worlds – true shamans in a modern world.
I have been spending time in the hills when the weather permits, not often as the weather has been quite uncooperative in terms of heavy winds, dark skies, rain or very cool temperatures. On Tuesday I finally was able to get back into the hills to enjoy moments of sunshine, warmth and an intimate relationship with the earth and life.
It is interesting that each time I visit these hills which provide a sanctuary from the noise and the crowds, I am gifted with the presence of animals. I don’t always take their photos, but I go get to see them and they get to see me; this Mule doe for example. Of course, I am alone at these times, no distracting noises from other people or dogs which would break whatever bond exists. When others are present, the animals are seen, but only in passing as they run off quickly. When I am alone, the running stops. And finally, when they do move away, it is not in a fear response. I wonder why this deer stopped long enough to engage me, eye to eye over a short distance? What was she thinking? What was she trying to tell me? Did she want me to follow?
In searching for answers, I came upon the following:
Just as the deer has an uncanny sense of where to find the green freshness earth provides, we can ask the deer within ourselves to seek out our inner treasures. In meditation or day dream, go on a spiritual hike with the deer. See yourself walking in the woods with the deer leading you into amazing depths within your soul. Each step you and the deer take will lead you deeper into your spiritual knowing, and to limitless treasure within.
The deer (particularly the doe, females) has the capacity for infinite generosity. Their heart rhythms pulse in soft waves of kindness. Match that graciousness by offering your trust to her. She will reward you by leading you to the most powerful spiritual medicine you can fathom. (Avia Venefica, Behind the Signs: Animal Symbolism)
Ah, that resonates even if it isn’t a Jungian who has written the words. One of the things that I have learned is not to question the source of the words or images that resonate, but to look at the resonance itself which is tapping into one’s own psyche giving us the opportunity to discover something long hidden, something new-to-us as conscious beings.
Is she my guide or my totem? I have to say that she is a guide for me at this moment in time, one of many guides that have made an appearance in my life, guides that have been both animal and human.
I took this photo with my old camera a few weeks ago, an eagle flying over the hills bordering Lake Diefenbaker in Saskatchewan. I thought it was an appropriate time to post the photo as I am on plane on my way to Shanghai, China and my return to Changzhou where I will resume my retirement career as a university History prof, my third year at this university.
For some reason, I have a strong resonance with eagles. I don’t identify with them, but see them as symbols of something higher, something of a guide, perhaps in terms of showing me the way through the realm of spirit. I have to admit that another life form serves as a guide for me – frogs. Frogs are at home in the swamplands, the realm of matter, the realm of soul. Part of my ancestral heritage would say that these two are my totems. I wonder . . .
I have set this blog post to appear while I am in the plane and on my way to Shanghai; that is one of the good things about WordPress, being able to ensure that my posts continue to be published even while I am busy with other things that would otherwise cause a significant break. I am not sure if this need to ensure the posts keep coming is more about being considerate of you, the readers of my blog, or if it is simply about a need for myself to write, to let my words float free like this eagle.
There is nothing more regal than the eagle flying free in the sky. I take a lot of bird photos as you, my readers here, have probably long guessed. For me the eagle is like a king, a symbol of high consciousness. I was relatively pleased with this photo given the limitations of my camera. I know that there is an opportunity for better photos if only I would invest in a better camera. Watching my eldest daughter learn the craft of photography this past week as we wandered through both natural landscapes and people landscapes, I began to envy her much better camera. What is stopping me? Well, the only thing really stopping me, is myself. I am reticent on spending on myself whereas it it quite easy to spend on family. Still those old issues of self-value that keep creeping in.
Consciousness and eagles – that’s an easy symbol to grasp. But what about a lack of consciousness? Most accept that darkness, the inner realms of caves and underground are apt descriptors. Balancing the realms of consciousness and the unconscious is the task I set for myself and I still have a long way to go to feel that I would truly be in a state of balance. But what if there is no consciousness or very weak consciousness?
“With no human consciousness to reflect themselves in, good and evil simply happen, or rather, there is no good and evil, but only a sequence of neutral events, or what the Buddhists call the Nidhanachain, the uninterrupted causal concatenation leading to suffering, old age, sickness, and death.” (Jung)
The key is human consciousness. But, what does that exactly mean? I think I have to answer this as best I can so that you can understand what I am talking about, what I think. Of course, this isn’t necessarily what Jung meant, as I don’t exactly know what he meant or thought. It is hard to begin as I want to make a distinction in “knowing” stuff and being conscious.
Obviously, almost every human is aware that he or she exists and that there are other people, the environment and things around the self. Most get some education, some of that education being quite detailed and documented with degrees of all sorts. There is proof of “knowing” stuff in this. Yet for all of the education and the information that comes from the senses, there is not necessarily a high level of “consciousness.” Jung calls this “knowing” an “immediate consciousness.”
My long-time friend, Robert Heyward, had published a serious examination of “consciousness” at the Jung Page that is worth the time and effort to absorb. With that said, I return to consciousness as a different awareness of self that comes not out of the experienced outer world, but from bringing the unconscious contents of the self into one’s awareness. Consciousness, for me, is about becoming more aware of why I act, feel, think and relate as I do with the world and the people in it. I become more conscious in taking back projections that I have foisted on others unconsciously. I become more conscious in facing my own shadows. Becoming conscious is about finding what it is within that makes me feel angry, abandoned, jealous, envious or any number of other “affects.” This is a lifetime task, a task that is never completed, but one that is more rewarding than one could ever believe possible.