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Today’s blog is inspired by a friend going through a very difficult time who suggested I write about enduring hope when I requested a topic. This blog is for her and everyone traversing their own version of tragic circumstances.
What is hope?
Hope is an archetype….an archetype called The Star, according to the ancient wisdom of the tarot.
Archetypes are the collective instinctual drives we all share in common and inherit the moment we are born, according to Jung.
Archetypes are the gods and goddesses, according to the ancients and indigenous people.
Whichever way you want to see archetypes, see them as sentient energies that live in their own place and this is the place we all birth from on a soul level. The collective unconscious is our mother birthing the individual psyche. The archetypes are transpersonal helpers, instincts, forces, and beings. Hope is a goddess, a god, a sentient energy, and a collective instinct.
Hope is the “light when all lights go out” as said in Lord of the Rings when Frodo is trapped by a deadly giant spider and needs the light of hope to literally not die. Victor Frankl wrote a book, Man’s Search for Meaning, in which he links feeling hope to the chances of survival for concentration camp victims in Nazi Germany. Could this really be true? Could hope keep us alive?
What we endure as humans is beyond rational comprehension…
From the natural tragedies of break-ups, death of loved ones, illness, and sudden losses of all sorts….to the diseased type of tragedies that stem from multigenerational trauma and systemic oppression such as sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, prejudice, poverty, and mistreatment of humans, animals, and the planet on many levels….human life and tragedy are bound together.
You cannot answer why on a spiritual level without finding a lesson in the darkness. When you endure hope through tragedy you come out the other side of it with more compassion, more liberation, more knowledge, more love, more understanding. This is a truth of human kind.
When you collapse into tragedy with a sense of doom, blame, punishment, despair and resentment you come out the other side more bitter, closed off, abusive to self or others, hateful, and sick. This is also a truth of human kind.
I want to be careful here and say that every feeling needs an outlet. Hope is not turning a frown upside down. It is not putting a positive spin on a terrible situation. Horrible experiences happen. Unfair circumstances happen. Nobody should spiritually bypass the feelings of anger, despair, resentment, rage, and resignation (among many other feelings) by saying, “this tragedy is meant to be because it will make me stronger, wiser, loving, and aware.”
The process is key and the journey is everything. Feelings are like poop and like chemical storms. What happens if you don’t let yourself poo because you tell yourself it is wrong or bad to poo? What happens if you try to stop a raging hurricane? You can’t stop a storm and not letting yourself poo will make you sick.
All feelings need time and space to be honored and felt. The key to moving feelings out of the body is to not wrap a mental story around the feeling. Feel the resentment when your partner betrays you but don’t tell yourself you are piece of shit and it’s your fault or whatever the story may be. Keep stories off the feelings and use your mind to keep repeating, “I feel resentment” as you find a way to express it.
Express feelings through exercising, making art, acting, singing, venting to a friend, dancing, cooking, cleaning…find your way and let the feeling out purely without a narrative of why and what the feeling means.
I promise you, the feeling will pass as every storm and every bowel movement does. I am being crude on purpose. Negative feelings are crude. They are not elegant and they don’t smell good but they still need to be honored and let out. If you let your feelings out you won’t spiritually bypass them with answers, solutions, reasons, meaning-making. Even the best of tools can be used for harm.
Karma, which is simply the accumulation of feelings that are not released from the body (due to stories or what the Buddhists call “attachments”), can be turned into a scolding and judgmental concept when you say, “I won’t feel my anger because I don’t want to create karma.” If you don’t want to create karma, feel your feelings fully and let them pass through.
Astrology is a great tool that can also be used the wrong way if you won’t let yourself feel despair by saying something like, “I have a Scorpio eighth house moon so despair is in my chart.” The tiniest bit of reasoning, no matter how true, can shut the actual feeling off.
Many therapeutic modalities do this too. Re-framing, a cognitive-behavioral technique of turning a negative story into a positive story, may shut off a feeling of anger that needs to surface and be released. It is best to first release the feeling and then re-frame the story.
The point I want to make is that all tools in the spiritual-psychological-self-help tool box can be misused. Take positivity for example. Positivity is not about only feeling and thinking positive thoughts. For that secretly judges and scolds negativity and the act of judging and scolding is extremely toxic. True positivity is remembering that all feelings are innocent when felt and expressed purely.
The truth of how the human body works is that honored and expressed feelings leave the body and cause no harm. When feelings collect in shadow they change over time. They putrefy and create bigger uglier monsters that erupt as chronic illness, projections, neurosis, and imbalances of all forms.
When negative feelings are honored and expressed they leave the body and hope has room to enter. Hope needs room to enter. Hope wont bludgeon its way into the heart.
Why some people have an easier time feeling hope while others struggle to feel hope is part mystery and part rational. The mystery roots down into temperaments. We all have a temperament. No need to judge yourself if your temperament is not very hopeful. I am sure you have another archetypal instinct pouring through you in spades.
Every human is a unique finger print of qualities and this is not in our control. The mystery owns our temperament.
Yet even the most hopeless temperament may experience hope because hope is an archetype we all connect with in the collective unconscious or spirit world. Every. Single. One of us.
Sometimes it takes a little work, which leads to the rational understanding part. If you struggle to feel hope due to your temperament, due to struggles internal or external, or due to being pummeled by tragedy all at once…you can do two things to invoke hope.
First, you can stop rejecting your feelings with judgements and make the dedication to feel your feelings without a story wrapped around them. You may get help doing this with a therapist or healer, a friend, or even a pet. Maybe being with spirit in solitude or in nature is helpful.
Feeling your feelings without stories may take a while. Patience is not easy but needed. For most of us have been told by culture, family, or both that negative feelings are bad and wrong and we experience literal cut-off from feelings as a result. Many of us instead find refuge in various addictions and distractions such as drinking, working, working-out, over-analyzing, focusing on others in service, partying, escaping through drugs, eating, shopping, etc.
But it’s every human’s birthright to reconnect to our feelings. Everyone is capable.
Another aspect to check is the story showing up as identity.
Maybe you identify too much with despair, depression, resentment, etc. Identification is when it’s not really despair you are feeling, it’s the story of despair you are telling yourself and have been your whole life.
You can tell the difference between a feeling and a story by seeing if you identify with it. If you identify with being a depressed person, chances are you have cut-off from many feelings due to being stuck in an identity. Feelings of anger and even self-empowerment may be longing to express but cannot get through the depressed story or persona.
Sorting out feelings from the story, starving out the stories, honoring and expressing the feelings is a process. Process is the most important part. Nobody can bypass their own process. For some it is quick, some slow… but for most of us healing moves in a spiral. We make progress then fall backward yet when we do we are a little wiser, a little more aware, a little more loving.
The second thing is you can invoke hope through ceremony and ritual. The ancients and indigenous were very connected using ritual and ceremony to stay healthy. Arhcetypes such as hope speak to the conscious-self through images, sound, taste, movement, and feeling. The ancients and indigenous also understand that we are literally made of the elements (earth, air, fire, water, ether) and we may call upon them to ground and connect self to earth.
Whether you partake in a more formal ritual, alone or with a group, or whether you express ritual through making art, singing, listening to a song or a sermon…. ritual and ceremony simply means that you intentionally use your creativity, feelings and senses to invoke the archetypes.
It is everyone’s birthright to invoke hope.
Invoking may be as simple as lighting a candle and calling upon hope in meditation. It may be as elaborate as performing a sacred dance on the full moon after calling the directions, elements, angels, ancestors and allies.
Invoking hope may be as simple as singing a song that makes you feel hope. It may be as elaborate as writing a song about hope and performing in a hospice setting to inspire those close to transitioning into death.
You might find the perfect crystal and invoke hope into the crystal, wearing it over your heart each day.
Or perhaps you put your hands around every glass of water you drink and invoke hope into the water.
Hope does not ask for a specific kind of ritual or ceremony. Hope only asks to be acknowledged.
Many leaders have hope moving so powerfully through their hearts that they inspire everyone around them. Martin Luther King Jr comes to mind as a perfect example of this. Hope catches flame. You may not intend to call upon hope but hope finds you anyway.
Sometimes hope enters the body so strongly that it wipes out any blocks in the way and washes you clean. We have all experienced this through listening to song, watching a movie, being moved by a speaker, looking at a sunset, into a loved one’s eyes, or a work of art.
Hope is always available to us no matter how dense the jungle of tragedy, betrayal and injustice we are traversing. May hope find its way into your heart in your darkest night of the soul.
The full moon in Capricorn is happening today. Following the cycles of the moon is akin to following to the cycles of the unconscious. Beneath the ego’s conscious realm of logic and reason dwells the realm of intuition, feelings, soul and the unconscious. The sun is the ego’s domain and the moon is the soul’s domain.
When the moon is full it is illuminating the soul and the contents of our personal shadow that wants to be seen at this time. Bring in Capricorn and we get a focused light. Capricorn focuses the lunar light on what is pragmatic, tempering our feelings and bringing rational understanding to the watery realm of feeling and intuition.
Bringing pragmatic and rational understanding to the feelings and intuition is calming for the nervous system. Many of us are experiencing heightened suffering right now in our personal lives and facing the crisis of this country. We are experiencing relationship challenges, health challenges, loss, confusion, emptiness, rage, sorrow, and battling to get out of old stories of suffering.
Bringing rational understanding to the feelings means discerning the feeling from the story. The feeling itself is a somatic expression. Sorrow is crying. Anger is screaming. Despair is wailing. Emptiness is staring into space. You get the idea. It’s never healthy to repress the feelings. Let them have expression.
Maybe you express through singing instead of crying and screaming. Maybe you express through running. However it gets out, get the feeling out. Make time to get the feeling out. Just like you wouldn’t hold in poo that needs out (how ridiculous!), do not hold in feelings because if you do it will make you sick just like holding in poo.
Use the rational Capricorn energy to make time to let your feelings have release.
The next step up the mountain is to keep your hawk eye out for the stories that like to grow on feelings the same way yeast likes to grow on fruit. Sadness may grow an “I am not good enough” story. Anger may grow a “you are bad” story. Emptiness may grow a “life is meaningless” story. Despair may grow a “I want to die” story. On and on. These stories are akin to unhealthy bacteria that make the system sick.
Just like fruit grows moldy if left uneaten, feelings that are left unfelt tend to grow bacterial stories. Other times these toxic stories grow from dwelling too much in a feeling. If you eat 100 apples you will get sick. If you dwell in sorrow you will soon grow a story that says you are incapable, used up, worthless and worse off than everyone else.
Having a regular meditation or yoga practice helps the mind stay aware of the stories so that we can cherry pick which stories are healthy and which to ignore. When you ignore a story long enough, it recedes and eventually dissolves because stories are not real. Feelings, on the other hand, are very real. If you ignore and avoid a feeling it will grow into a story that that you think is real while the repressed feeling makes you sick by showing up as illness, crisis, codependency and so forth.
The pragmatic thing to keep in mind is that the feeling is what needs tending and releasing so toxic stories do not build up and deceive the ego into nailing the self into it’s own coffin while still alive. Dramatic, I know. But truth be told, we humans are dramatic creatures. We are sensitive creatures. We need tending.
If we do not care for our feelings we get addicted to toxic stories and substances and relationships and people. Being able to show up as the present true self in each moment is tall order for the state of the human collective we are in. Crisis is global and personal. Capricorn reminds us to take each moment one baby step up the mountain of progress.
Take one little baby step of awareness to look within….
See how you feel. Feel how you feel. Hear how you feel. Know how you feel. However you get there. Find your feeling in your body. Maybe a song, movie, or story helps you get there. Maybe talking to a friend, a therapist, a healer, a pastor, a tarot deck, or spirit helps you. Locate the feelings in your body and take some time with it. Take some time to feel. Feeeeeeeeel. Breathe. Sit with it. Dance with it. Be with yourself. Connect with yourself.
It’s hard to feel the painful feelings. Sorrow, anguish, rage, despair, oh so hard. Anxiety is a cover up feeling, not the root. Anxiety is the ego feeling a loss of control and security. Some of us need medication or outside support in one form or another to manage anxiety. If you are able, could you allow yourself to feel beneath the anxiety…to feel the loss itself? Could you allow yourself to go deeper and feel the shame?
It’s not easy….it takes time, patience, love and tenderness…and it’s still hard…
Can you see the toxic stories you are telling yourself about yourself? If not, you may be projecting them onto others. Maybe your partner, a friend, a child, a sibling. Can you pull back these projections and face that you feel this way about yourself on some deep down level? If you pull back the projection, you will be forced to feel.
Capricorn is ruled by Saturn and Saturn is our karma. Our karma is our attachments. Our attachments are our feelings. Feelings are so hard to feel that we actually carry them from lifetime to lifetime. Feelings do not just go away. They must be felt to be released. If you die with guilt you are born with the same guilt in your new life. This is your karma.
Saturn will bring you lesson after lesson, experience after experience, to get you in touch with the feelings in your shadow that you are denying. Each time you ignore the feeling and project blame outward or blame the self, you miss the point and your karma continues. What if you felt the guilt all the way instead of avoiding it by trying to be good? Then you would feel what is beneath the guilt. Beneath the guilt may be a feeling of joy or love you never knew existed inside you.
Denied feelings may be painful or joyous and everything in between…
Coming back to the simplicity, feeling the feelings is the medicine. Feeling the feelings dissolves your karma, dissolves the toxic stories, dissolves the complexes. You purify yourself by feeling the feelings. But…there’s one more little aspect to liberating yourself from your limitations, your karma, your toxic stories, your patterns….and this is…
Love. If you bring love to the feelings you can be assured that the feelings are releasing. If you bring judgement to the feelings by crying and judging yourself as you cry, you are creating a toxic story and the feeling perpetuates. You release sadness and create new sadness at the same time. Some people are addicted to this process of continually releasing and re-creating sorrow, despair, anger, etc, through the power of telling themselves they are bad.
It can get very tricky in the psyche. Love assures you of complete release and experiencing love is not something Capricorn, Saturn, me or anyone can teach.
Love is the divine. Love is the transpersonal. Love is God. Love is Goddess. Love is larger than you. Love is life. If you call upon the power of love it will come to you and although it may take time, love will permeate the shadow and every feeling inside. Self love is as mysterious as the divine. You must know and feel this love personally and nobody can tell you how.
Love is not Capricorn’s domain but it is the moon’s domain. The full moon in Capricorn means we have the opportunity to bring unconditional love to our karma, limitations and the feelings that are wizard behind the curtain of every story created.
Capricorn full moon bring unconditional love into the heart of every human being on Earth and fill our cups until they are overflowing. Illuminate the stories we are creating and the feelings beneath the stories that ask for release. Bring us this step up the mountain of progress. May we heal, may we evolve, may we climb with gentleness, pragmatism, and grace.
There are as many perspectives on healing as there are healers who are healing, scientists who are researching, philosophers who are contemplating, poets who are dreaming, and artists who are creating. It’s up to you to choose which focus or path resonates with who you are and what works best for you. Do you know who you are and what resonates with who you are? Do you know what is best for you?
Complex trauma tends to shatter the ego from an early age, submerging aspects of the self into the shadow. Multigenerational wounds stemming from cultural and family of origin mistreatment wait patient on the dark sea floor until transpersonal and instinctual forces lift them up toward the surface for the ego to see. How often we don’t see the wounds because we project them onto our dearest loved ones or the world or the self in a negative fashion. The message gets lost. The story of pain morphs into body ailments and rejection. The true self is not heard among the clatter of other voices; mother, grandmother, brother, great grandfather, teacher, authoritarian voice imposing shame.
Dive deeper if you believe and recover past lives in or out of the bloodline, in or out of the earth or milky way, where guilt and defeat collected in the belly of your soul…or maybe it was victory and power that collected, usually it’s a mixture of every feeling not worked out, over glorified, shunned by the ego or ignorant to the soul. Our tapestry of karma tells tales as sentimental as a delicately woven blanket made by the hands of an experienced and wise elder. You don’t need to believe in past lives or even the true self to understand that the mind, conscious and unconscious, creates a multitude of stories based on what we experience.
It is never just one story. It is never all or nothing, black and white…well, except when it is (which sometimes is really is). Sometimes we must pick a side and fight and some things resonate as wrong or right deep down beneath logic, such as unnecessary killing, suffering, violence, and abuse. But when it comes to be a human being, we do not hold only one perspective, one way of being, one karma, or one destiny. The conscious self, or ego, wishes it to be one thing and tries its hardest to think one way and have one truth to create one outcome, in a sweet attempt to mirror wholeness. But wholeness is not having one perspective to make one outcome happen.
Wholeness is getting back in touch with our center (soul, true self) that is able to balance and contain the multitude of who we are. For life is always moving and changing. Simple appearances hide complexity. Nothing is really solid even if it appears so to the eyeball. All atoms are moving about and there is a ton of space between them. Split atoms and space keeps getting bigger and containing more complexity. The ego sees what it needs to see to adapt to the world. The eye sees what it needs to see to adapt to the ego. As your consciousness (or frequency) changes, so does your perspective. This is how the soul evolves. If the ego can let go of rigidity and open gently to the vastness within, it wont repress this evolution, it wont create a great divide.
The past is happening now and the future is happening now too but on other dimensions that would shatter the ego just as trauma can do but shatter the ego to the point of no return. We have limitations for a reason. Linear time is a needed limitation but my point is more emotional than philosophical. Our ancestor’s wounds live as alive in this moment as they did when they happened according to linear time. These wounds live inside of us. If you believe in past lives, same goes. In this life, same goes for what we experienced in childhood. Same goes for the future too but I think to speak of this would wax too philosophical for this blog.
The voices of our ancestors, mother, father, siblings, culture, past lives, lives on other dimensions, lives as other sentient forces…all lives live in the unconscious mind in a non-linear fashion, alive as ever and very naturally. The unconscious is the sea containing everything.
On one hand, you can spend your life digging up ancestral, past life, family of origin, and other-dimensional karma, never reaching an end point to the healing but always refining, evolving and liberating your soul in the process. On the other hand, when you know in your feelings that all of these stories are not Self and you find your Self in breath over and over through the practice of some form of meditation, while continuing to open and purify your heart through feeling your feelings, you may heal just as effectively without going into any stories, conscious or unconscious.
I have healed from both these modalities equally. I have also grown tremendously from good old fashioned cognitive-behavioral mindfulness and using my conscious will to re-author my life stories. I have also transformed deeply from making art out of pain to honor the feelings and stories of suffering. And these are still only a few modalities of healing out of many. My true self finds the most effectiveness from using these five modalities and each speaks to a different voice inside. The breakdown:
Bringing the wounding, personality traits, true self and gifts out from the shadow connected to the family/cultural system and bloodline is what allows me to be in the world and in relationships as a differentiated being, true to herself and in loving relation that honors the differentiation in others. This work is most powerful for me in letting go of identifying with the the wounds I carry, being my real self with others, and in aligning my heart and will so that when I say I want to do something, I am more likely to do it. This work is always in progress.
Bringing the wounding, personality traits, true self and gifts out from the shadow connected to past lives on earth and on other dimensions transformed my sense of self and life itself on a very zoomed out level. In the zenith of this awakening some very chronic and severe symptoms fell away, never to return. This healing journey along with reconnecting with the divine feminine, awakened my calling to be a healer. Knowing the story of my soul beyond this world anchors me to this lifetime.
Finding my Self in breath and knowing in my feelings that the stories of the soul are not the Self gives me a direct experience of inner peace and equanimity, leading me to my center, over and over. Also, I am able to hold the stories of my soul with a lighter footprint when I am anchored to breath as Self, first and foremost. This is the Tao so to speak, it is beyond language.
Mindfulness-based CBT is the work that helps me not get stuck in stories and helps me choose to re-author my life stories, cause to be frank, I am not a huge meditator. I do meditative yoga about four times a week and I am always the observer watching myself but I do not specifically meditate every single day. I do use mindful CBT almost every day, along with narrative work to not sink into story and to keep my center vibrant and creative. This work also helps the feelings to express and pass through me like weather, allowing suffering to be used as grist to evolve.
Creative expression is my home base. I will not let go of a soul story unless I turn it into art. This is because I have a fervent attachment to honoring painful stories. I do not believe forgetting is healthy. I believe we must always remember our history and how suffering is caused, how power is misused, how lives are harmed, how abuse is formed and how it steals the life force and autonomy from the individual. When I turn abuse into a novel, a shattered ego into a painting, or heart break into a poem, history is honored and I can let go of identifying with the wound. I embrace the open broken heart through creative expression. Ritual, singing, cooking, ceremony, painting, writing, are some of the ways I engage in daily.
These are the modalities that work best for me and this is why I use them with clients. I connect to the wounded healer archetype and am called to be healer from my personal experience. I don’t claim to be in expert though I have a lot of experience. I do not seek power but I also admit that in my shadow there is a woman who is learning to empower herself. Once the story of empowerment is fully honored she will transcend empowerment, not needing to become stronger than her oppressors or be in a dialect with them. The story will evaporate and change as all stories do when we give them conscious embodiment, space to breathe, and time to express.
I treasure my humanity and no longer feel shame for my vulnerability, wounds, or weaknesses. We all share the same shame and it’s ok to feel it, know it, express it, let it go and laugh at our collective self-consciousness while not forgetting the horrible abuse that stole our freedom. We can use the pain to transform and reclaim our autonomy. Holding the tension of opposites allows the masculine and feminine aspects of each one of us to have a voice; to evolve and to honor what is without changing it into something else.
My intention in writing this blog is to spark your center. What modalities resonate with you and why? You may or may not know. We each have our own path to healing. I offer what I offer as a healer and I have plenty of referrals to give out in my community. I think it is important to never give your power away to a healer. Nobody knows more than you know about your inner self. The right healer for you will evoke a feeling of rightness inside, bring out your soul stories, help you to find your center and to come home to your true self. If these words don’t resonate, no worries.
Sometimes there is chafing, conflict, or transference, where new perspectives get cracked open, trust needs building, or projection emerges in the relationship between healer and client so that the client may heal. This opportunity is golden. There is a difference between the golden opportunity of healing conflict and not resonating with a healer. If it’s the former you usually get a big emotional reaction and if it’s the latter, you may feel more annoyed than upset, more unaffected or just…off.
Approaching healing from different perspectives, in my opinion, is most effective. I cannot imagine eliminating any of the modalities that I use and I am always open to more. Some modalities fade away over time and new ones take their place. I would not be surprised if one day I ditch some modalities completely. We are ever changing and evolving. I remain unattached to all modalities except one. Creative expression is my home of homes, this I know to be true. What do you know know to be true?
Tarot cards may be used to predict the future and for healing. I have been a reader for about twenty seven years and professionally for about seventeen years and in my own practice, I have witnessed both aspects reveal through the cards. Not all readers use the cards to predict and many do not believe in prediction. I use the cards in service to the healing journey and if psychic predictions come through, I share them and include the sentence, “take this with a grain of salt, ” because I do not want to hold the power of an all seeing/knowing eye.
My intention is to be a very human ally and guide even if I channel psychic messages at times.
The way it works is that I connect with the divine/higher self/true self (whatever word works best for you to describe the transpersonal aspect). I channel messages using the cards as keys that unlock my unconscious to see into the unconscious and life of the client.
Sometimes I will channel a loved one who has passed or a specific soul guide. Sometimes I am given a picture of what is to come, usually in metaphor. The cards have predicted the endings and beginnings of relationships, lives, jobs as well as inner transformations/cycles for myself and clients for so many years that it does not seem like a big deal. Prediction is a very minor aspect of the Tarot’s medicine.
The medicine of Tarot is in their ability to illuminate what is hidden from the ego or conscious self. Many years ago, a Tarot client said to me, “you have uncovered in a half an hour what would have taken months in therapy”. My calling to bridge Tarot reading with therapy was sparked by her words. How often I have said in a reading, “this would be beneficial exploration for therapy.” My desire is to be a messenger and a guide through the therapeutic journey.
I love using Tarot as a therapist. To be honest, I don’t see too much difference between these two roles. Every Tarot reader I know is a healer but the persona of therapist is more legitimized in our masculine-heavy culture. Although, there are many readers who are not healers in their soul-calling or their training. Point being, for those readers who are healers, the only thing separating them from having therapy clients is largely the way society does not legitimize the tarot reader as a healer. I have served on both sides of this fence and have a strong opinion, hence the diatribe. Back to the Tarot talk…
Tarot reveals different aspects of the unconscious. Archetypes, feelings, personality traits, vows, wounds, soul gifts, and the true self may be dwelling in the ocean deep of the unconscious. The magic of Tarot is when aspects are suddenly revealed to the conscious self it…just feels right. The illumination feels so good, as if a missing piece has been returned to the whole. The illumination itself is healing. Though more than often, aspects emerge like tangled balls of yarn needing to be sorted out and understood. Family of origin, personality traits, vows, feelings, and multigenerational wounds create complexes and take time to process on a cognitive level.
Awareness and meaning-making is medicine for the conscious self while embodiment and expression is medicine for the unconscious self. What first brings unconscious content into conscious awareness are dreams, projections, triggers, creative expression, “freudian slips”/blurting out without awareness, ceremony/ritual, and images that speak directly to the unconscious, such as Tarot cards.
When aspects emerge from the deep you feel that relieving feeling of something missing that is returning even if it’s incredibly painful. We all crave integration. The great divide between the conscious and unconscious self is unhealthy and we long for wholeness. In therapy the sacred space to release and process what comes up and out is often painful. Just as often, joyful and confident parts emerge from the shadow, starving for the nourishment of conscious integration. Those of us who have over identified with the pain body relegate self-worth, self-love, and happiness into the shadow. Tarot cards illuminate all.
Another wonderful medicine of Tarot is the illuminating of one’s soul karma, purpose, and lessons. From the ego or conscious self’s vantage point, we seek the same basics; belonging, success, security, health and healthy relationships. But the soul does not seek these things. The soul seeks to fulfill its destiny, which is rooted in evolving its character as being spirit embodying as an individual self.
The soul is the meeting of spirit and matter.
For instance, the ego may want to experience success in work and experience suffering when success does not come over and over. But the soul may be wanting to evolve through learning how to let go of worldly success and to surrender to a deeper sense of fulfillment through unconditional love or the divine.
The ego may be attached to success as a way to validate its self worth. The client may come in with the problem of not being able to manifest success in their work life unaware of how their soul longs to feel self-worth through surrender to love. The cards will reveal this. Paradoxically, success in work may suddenly occur once this reversal of energy has taken place.
Everyone is at a different point on the journey with different soul lessons, purpose, callings. Tarot reveals the specifics.
Some people do not want to uncover in one session what might take months otherwise. Some people might not want a guide to tell them what is going on inside of them. For those who do not prefer this but still want to use the cards, I have them read their own cards. You do not need to logically understand the cards to read them. In fact, some of the best readings I’ve received were by those who never looked at a deck in their life.
By looking at any image or set of images, we speak directly with the unconscious. The client may do their own digging and meaning making.
Tarot cards may be used solely to explore the unconscious if the client does not believe in soul lessons, karma and the evolution of ensouled spirit. The cards may or may not be used to predict. They may or may not be used to understand the dynamics of relationships with others and the self. Tarot can be read as effectively by a novice as by an expert because intuition does not require practice to be strong and The Fool can bumble out unconscious wisdom through playfully making a story out of an image, without realizing it.
Carl Jung called it the individuation process. Through the lens of shamanism it is called soul integration. I see Jungian psychology as the western european reinterpretation of the indigenous practice of soul retrieval, where the healer of the tribe would travel into non-physical dimensions (the names of these dimensions vary from tribe to tribe) of the sick person, retrieve fragmented soul parts that fled during trauma, and return these parts to the individual in present time, making them more whole.
In Jungian psychology, the unconscious would be the name of this other, non-physical dimension. The shaman would be the psychotherapist. The soul parts would be aspects of the Self tossed into the shadow, as well as archetypes living in the collective unconscious. Bringing these aspects of self and archetypes to conscious awareness through active imagination, dream interpretation, creative expression, etc, would be akin to the shaman retrieving the soul parts for the individual and breathing them back into the heart through the process of spiritual journeying and ceremony.
This correlation is my humble opinion. I have not studied up on this correlation and perhaps much has already been written. I am reflecting upon my personal thoughts from my own personal experience. I have had soul parts retrieved by a shaman and I immersed in the shamanistic healing lens for a number of years in the early 2000’s. I retrieved my own soul parts after a time as I desired to do the work on myself, straying from the tradtional path.
I need to mention that this was a western civilization’s appropriated version of shamanism I immersed in. Although this appropriation was rooted in loving intention to bring authentic healing to others, I acknowledge it is far different than if I were to study with an indigenous tribe and experience the true original essence of the practice…and even then, I would still be a westerner entering a culture not my own.
Jung used the metaphor of shadow and light to refer to the conscious and unconscious and turned the spiritual concept of soul into the psychological concept of the Self. Jung translated the earth-based spiritual into the psychological in a society that devalued and oppressed the indigenous soul, pushing this aspect of our human nature into the shadow (this is the Tricker archetype of which I will save for another blog) in favor of western, masculine dominant civilization (again, another blog for this mammoth topic). Although he had his own battles with devaluing the feminine (his own shadow), I am thankful for his work, his words, and his translation that allowed the earth-based feminine wisdom to survive in a cloaked western masculine form. Again, this is all my humble opinion and I too, have my shadow.
The soul journey is filled with the light-experiences of security, pleasure, belonging, connection, health and well-being. The soul journey is also filled with the shadow-experiences of insecurity, pain, loneliness, illness, abuse, loss and separation. We are each unique and yet we share in common the nature of the soul journey which is filled with shadow and light experiences.
The ratio of shadow to light experience is different for everyone. Why? I find it valuable to not ask why. Asking why puts a narrative around the happening that produces suffering that stems from comparing. Sure, you can say it is karma, or law of attraction…but what if you didn’t make a reason that put control in the individual for causing the ratio? What if nature simply produces a variety at random?
What if karma is not about how much pain we endure but more about how we handle it? What if the more we learn to handle shadow experiences with self-awareness, love, and acceptance the less we create some shadow experiences that stem from self creation (such as relationship conflict and self-sabotage)…yet the more we are able to metabolize and grow from shadow experiences that we do not cause (loss, abuse, oppression, death)? Questions to think about (and again, another blog topic). Back to shadow and light reflection…
We also contain light and shadow aspects within the Self. The light is what we are aware of and the shadow is what we are not aware of. The light is the conscious self, or ego. The shadow is the unconscious, which has a personal and collective level. Think of it like an iceberg. The ego is the small tip of the iceberg rising out of the sea. The personal unconscious is the large expanse of the iceberg submerged under water and the collective unconscious is the depth of the sea itself.
What we (and others) approve of about the self is expressed as our conscious self or ego. What we are ashamed of and judge about the self hides in the shadow of the personal unconscious. Painful feelings, traumatic experiences, and the wounds we carry may also get relegated into the personal shadow. Some of us have consciously over-identified with our wounds, traumatic events, low self-esteem and self-worth, causing a healthy and positive sense of self to live in the personal shadow. It’s different for everybody.
When the self becomes too divided, suffering results in a variety of ways. The ego projects onto others what hides in the shadow. This happens in personal relationships and collectively. When we do not own our own shadow material, we blame others for in relationship. Our inner division is reflected in relationship division. Feelings stemming from unprocessed complex trauma, abuse, or hurt relegated into the shadow can morph into physical and mental illness. Addiction may result as a way to continue avoiding the painful feelings and wounds living in the unconscious. We may relegate our spiritual connection or soul-self into the shadow and on an ego level, always find the need to compete and prove ourselves due to being so disconnected from essence.
The collective shadow contains who we are systemically. All of us are deeply connected to our family system. We inherit multi-generational wounds, character traits and behavioral patterns through the bloodline from our ancestors and immediate family that live in the collective shadow and may be unconsciously creating chronic issues in our lives. For instance, A great great great grandmother’s anger from being oppressed and abused may be passed down from generation to generation as a character trait of being easily enraged for the smallest of reasons. This rage may cause conflict and reoccurring issues in each new woman born into the bloodline.
The instinctual human drives we all share in common as a human species also live in the collective unconscious and are called, archetypes. These collective instincts are invisible and so the archetype is like a pictorial costume the instinct wears so that the conscious self can be aware of it. The drive to live, love, belong, sexually connect, succeed, make meaning, spiritually commune, create, mother, father, etc…are the archetypal instincts. For instance, if you suddenly feel a strong urge to have a baby, it is the mother archetype connecting to your conscious self, asking for embodiment. If you suddenly know you must become a healer, it is the healer archetype connecting to your conscious self.
If an archetype over-powers, it may cause suffering, illness, and imbalance. A good example of this would be an insecure and outcasted young man who suddenly becomes driven by the spiritual teacher (hierophant) archetype. If he finds a sense of empowerment from this archetype he may lose himself in it and become evangelistic and dogmatic as he mistakes connection with power when developing a following of students.
An archetype may also be stunted. For instance, if the artist archetype connects to the ego of a woman who suddenly feels the need to create, but she doesn’t express it due to being too busy with work, she may turn toward excess eating or drinking to release the pressure of the artist archetype building up in her belly as creative fire and passion.
The archetypes are mysterious. They tend to wake up and connect to our conscious self of their own accord, having their own consciousness. Jung tended to see them as sentient unconscious forces that possess the ego. The god and goddess pantheons may be seen as archetypes. They can make us feel more connected, inspired, alive, and whole, when we embrace them in a balanced way. For instance, if an isolated and lonely young woman suddenly connects with Venus, the archetype of feminine love, she may experience her female sensuality and open her heart, attracting in a romantic partner.
One of my teachers warned us about the archetypes, due to their nature being collective, they are impersonal and do not care for our personal lives. Hence, we have to learn how to say no to them sometimes, if it isn’t in our best interest to work with them. For instance, the warrior archetype may connect to the ego of a woman who is always fighting, when she needs to find more softness and love in her life. In this case, it would be best for her to not give in to the sudden desires to fight in certain situations.
I am only touching upon this topic and feel this blog is already growing too long. I would like to wrap it up with a few words about the healing process…
Transformative healing naturally happens when we illuminate unconscious shadow aspects with conscious awareness by giving acknowledgment, honor, and expression to these parts. The healing for the conscious self is through gaining awareness, understanding, and expressing what is in the personal shadow. The healing for the unconscious is when we give conscious embodiment to the archetypes through creative expression, ritual and ceremony.
When the unconscious and conscious find one another through these means, the healing takes place of its own accord. I can say from personal experience, when I become aware of what is in my shadow, I gain a sense of humor about it and it doesn’t seem like a big deal after I express the initial shame, embarrassment, or fear that was keeping the deeper feeling or aspects of Self in the shadow. I have also experienced more wholeness and fulfillment by allowing certain archetypes to have creative expression in my daily life.
I find it very useful to allow the ego to feel all the uncomfortable feelings (shame, sorrow, anger, humiliation, etc) with radical acceptance in order to do this integration work. When all the parts of self begin to connect, being who we are feels right and flows, no matter what the experience, be it shadow or light.
Integration of the shadow and light allows the Self to become more whole and balanced. In essence, we piece ourselves back together with wisdom, love and creativity, turning suffering into gold. Narrating the “story of me” is meant to be a creative process and determines our internal experience. Like the clam turning mud into a pearl, the pain we have been through may become the fodder for transformation and healing.