The Art of the Dark Feminine

The Art of the Dark Feminine

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The Dark Feminine is alive and well and living in our psyches in some shape or form or manifestation. Adam’s rejection of Lilith, the female part of him, is indicative of the historically rejected feminine, the female energy within men and women which is still a recurring theme in today’s world to the detriment of us all. The dark and light battle it out on the world stage as well as within individuals. As above, so below. It is necessary it seems to me to reconcile the two. Not necessarily to reach a truce but for each aspect of light and dark (energies) to be acknowledged and fully integrated, male and female, within and without. Let go of attachment of one over the other … they need each other. Marry those energies so that they complement each other and are not in opposition to each other. 

Forever, the feminine has been suppressed. Yes, strides have been made in many spheres in today’s world at least in the western world. Equal rights previously denied are in effect. But I’m not talking about equal rights. We’re aware of man’s inhumanity to man. And woman to woman. Man to woman and vice-versa. Activism is alive and well; the struggle continues. We continue to roar like a lioness for the conjunctio of female and male energies. We want the world to be a less confusing and fearful place in which to live. Can each individual contribute to peace? Can we work through our disillusionment of inter alia governmental, religious, education institutions, systems with which we are so familiar and thus slide into numbness without even realising it? Disillusionment is hard work, yet it serves in getting to the core of who we are. We’re much more than the ideology shoved down our throats. Wars are not representative of the ordinary person, neither is desecration of nature. We can find our own authority in our disillusionment. In bringing the Dark Feminine out from the shadows we can find the Sacred Feminine and the Sacred Masculine – and ultimately freedom from the ties that bind us. What is hidden will be revealed and from the two emerges the third – 

With all the murder and mayhem around the world, from terrorist groups to oil pipelines bursting, sewerage spilling into rivers, drought and deluge, rain forests plundered for palm oil, GMO and pesticides causing havoc in agricultural lands causing declining inter alia butterfly and bee populations, poverty, genocide, rape, corruption, coverups, we have to admit there is darkness all around. I for one am extremely troubled by all of this. I’m almost inclined to stick my head in the sand, get on with my life, and hope for the best. Look for beauty and to hell with darkness – let it take a hike – stay in the comfort of my cocoon –

But –

‘Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people’. (C.G. Jung, in a letter to a student).

What does this mean? It means to me that I acknowledge that I can be very dark indeed when I’m angry, sad, beyond irritated, morose, despairing, murderous, if not in real life then in my dreams, difficult, one-sided in my attitude – the list is long. I can’t just reject and disown the darkness in me – it is alive and well and is possibly in part because of my rage at the suppressed feminine. It is part of my struggle in ‘knowing myself’ and to which I try to be compassionate and thereby compassionate towards others.

And when I reflect on all that is beautiful and comforting, true and real, visible or invisible, whether in Mother Nature, friends, family, I see art in the impressions of the dark feminine and I allow her penetration.

Some sources say Lilith means ‘night’, others say Lilith means ‘light’. She contains both night and light, two lovely opposites belonging together, side-by-side, wonderfully paradoxical.

‘Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got': Janis Joplin. 

Tonight Venus (female) and Jupiter (male) will be extremely close, shining brightly in the night sky. I saw them last night – they were so vivid and beautiful. It’s being referred to as a conjunction – I’ll be looking up again tonight

‘The secret is that only that which can destroy itself is truly alive’. C.G. Jung (Psychology & Alchemy)rainbow

with thanks to google images for above images

Eve part 3

Eve Part 3

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Many women writers have defended Eve and her actions, and have wrestled about possible interpretations of Adam and Eve and their ‘fall’ from grace. Their fresh perspectives on Eve and her submission in eating the fruit has allowed womens’ voices to be heard from their own experience and not from that of a patriarchal view. Women throughout the ages have tried to reject the projection of sin put upon them by their male counterparts. Women are able to bear the burden of sin on their own if need be but having to be patriarchy’s scapegoat is not acceptable. Sadly, many women have accepted their ‘inferiority’, and this can be seen for example by the ambivalence with which many women and even young girls view their bodies.

Abbess Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) spent much of her life meditating on Adam and Eve and the meanings to be gleaned from their time both within and outside Paradise in terms of person to person relationship; relationship to God and relationship to Satan. Hildegard was benign to Eve, seeing in her the person who bestows divinity onto humanity and seeing in her also the prefiguration of Mary. Pain in childbirth is not seen as inevitable or a curse. Rather, each time the mother gives birth, the hidden God is revealed. By giving birth, God’s image is revealed in every child who is born.*

Christine de Pizan (1365-1430) became a writer to avoid destitution after the death of her husband and father. She exchanged letters (Querelles des Femmes) with the male humanists of the era, arguing for equal status of women.  She was disillusioned by the male writers of the time in their denigration of women. She rehabilitates Eve (The Book of the City of Ladies), arguing that Eve was made in the image of God and asserting that Adam and Eve’s souls were of equal value. She states that Eve, being fashioned from the rib of Adam shows surely that she should be at his side as companion, not as slave, and that a master craftsman’s hand must have been at work to make Eve out of Adam.

Sarah Joseph Hale (1788-1879) prefaces her book ‘Woman’s Record’ published in 1853, with her understanding and interpretation of the fall. She contends that Adam needed assistance in cultivating his good qualities and, ‘left to himself, his love becomes lust; patriotism (becomes) policy; and religion, idolatry. He is naturally selfish in his affections and selfishness is the sin of depravity’. She also contends that Eve took the apple because of her ‘higher faculties of her mind … (her) desire for knowledge and wisdom …(and that Adam ate with) compliance (typical of a person of a) lower nature … (and motives no higher) than gratifying his sensuous inclinations’.

Richard Lewontin of Harvard University tells us that according to the Haggadic legend, the celestial cloner put a great deal of thought into technique. In deciding what of Adam’s organs to use for Eve, He had the problem of finding tissue, what the biologist calls ‘totipotent’ i.e. not already committed in development to a particular function. So He cloned Eve-

”not from the head, lest she carry her head high in arrogant pride, not from the eye, lest she be wanton-eyed, not from the ear, lest she be an eavesdropper, not from the neck, lest she be insolent, not from the mouth, lest she be a tattler, not from the heart, lest she be inclined to envy, not from the hand, lest she be a meddler, not from the foot, lest she be a gadabout. But from the rib, a ‘chaste portion of the body’. In spite of all the care and knowledge, something went wrong, and we have been earning a living by the sweat of our brows ever since”.

And I read this somewhere – if Adam had not accepted the apple from Eve he would still be waiting for his supper –

* Pamela Norris: The Story of Eve. Picador 1998

Next week I will wrap up with Lilith & Eve

with thanks to google images for above image ..

Winter Solstice

  Winter Solsticesunrise plettSo sorry about my faux pas last night but thank you to those who read my unfinished post! And added comments!

The winter solstice happens tomorrow June 21st at around 18.39. The significance of the solstice is always very real for me. It marks the anniversary of our moving from our old and lovely home to our townhouse 2 years ago. It also marks the 2nd anniversary of my dreadful car accident the day before our move (today as I write)..

In the southern hemisphere the winter solstice marks the longest night and shortest day. Winter has seemed a long time coming this time round – just last week we were in Plettenberg Bay, in the South Western Cape at the tip of South Africa. The days were very warm, the nights cold, made even more so when we had load shedding (black outs) when our electricity grid was shut down. Thank heavens for gas heaters, log fire, candles and solar lamps. This has been happening for several years now much to our dismay and the fault is well and truly laid at our inept government and their handling of the parastatals. Our electricity supplier wants a further R50 BILLION from the government to bail them out … which means the tax payer will pay …

But when in Plett at 8.00 p.m. like clockwork we were plunged into darkness, it was thrilling to look up at the night sky. Those stars so bright, the milky way so pure. It was heart warming to see the magnificence of the skies and imagine the earth slowly turning.

The approaching solstice makes me think both backwards and forwards. Backwards when I reflect on that car accident 2 years ago the day before the big move when I learned how quickly these things happen. Smashed in by a truck who overshot the stop street, car turned upside down. I learned about impermanence and patience first hand, even right hand as my right writing hand was out of action for about 6 weeks  – I am constantly grateful that the accident didn’t render more dreadful injuries –

In thinking forwards I will as always plan a ritual for the day/night tomorrow. It is a sacred time, that time when there is a momentary stillness before the earth turns yet again and the Sun is re-birthed. Solstice comes from the Latin sol:sun; sistere:to stand still. It is the time in winter when the Earth’s axial tilt is farthest from the sun. We don’t say goodbye to winter, as it’s only just begun it seems. But I do know that from the gloom, darkness and dormancy of winter the light and warmth of spring will follow. And my orchids out on my patio are a delight! Why and how they bloom in this freezing cold weather is a mystery to me but they are such a joy and brighten my day every day in these winter months. There are many more buds still to open. The freeze is only just beginning.

orchids June 2015

From my garden taken this afternoon –

It is lovely to have glimpses of beauty, most often in Nature as in the photograph at the top that my younger son David took this past Monday morning of the sunrise from the balcony in Plett before he drove back to Cape Town. He totally surprised me last Friday around noon when he pitched up at the doorstep to spend my birthday and the weekend with us. I could not believe it and my heart was just about bursting with happiness. There is beauty all about, in friendship, love, compassion, even amongst the horrors all around. 

We are shocked at saddened by the dreadful shootings in Charleston 2 days ago and I/we stand with you in America in your sadness.

May your solstice be joyous and the turn of the wheel keep you in touch with all that is good and true and valuable.

Eve, Part Two

Eve, part  two.yinyang

We left Eve in the last post, expelled with Adam from the Garden of Eden, into a new world of duality, away from their innocent unity. In that post I posited that going against the status quo and disobeying rules is often necessary for our psychological development. 

Did Eve have an innate urge to move from unconsciousness such as there was in the Garden of Eden?

Imagine if they stayed there for all time. Peace, bliss, harmony. No friction, no energy. It was too tranquil, too quiescent, too stable, too domesticated. No incentive to grow, no incentive to move beyond established boundaries.

God, like a good parent, had to let them go in order to grow emotionally and spiritually, mentally and psychologically. Trust had been developed in the Garden and I surmise that He wanted them to move from there and exercise their God-given free will. We as parents or adults also have to let our children go and grow and flee the nest. This applies as well to making decisions about leaving a stifling relationship or career or community, and moving out into the wider world and all the responsibilities attendant on that.

The story of Eros and Psyche illustrates the necessity of contact with the real world. This is the story where Psyche the beautiful maiden is deeply in love with Eros (son of Aphrodite), although there is a condition to their love. Psyche’s love for Eros is pure and she lives in an idyllic state, but she may not look upon him with open eyes as this will mean death to him and their love. However, Psyche’s two jealous sisters convince her that Eros is actually a serpent in disguise and she must kill him while he is sleeping. Psyche takes their advice and one night with lighted lamp in hand, she approaches Eros to kill him. But a drop of oil from her lamp falls on his shoulders and awakens Eros. He has been betrayed and flees to Psyche’s suicidal despair. Now begins Psyche’s journey to selfhood away from unconsciousness. Like Eve who took the first bite, so too does Psyche break the taboo albeit at her sisters’ jealous encouragement.

*Antony Stevens, British psychiatrist and Jungian analyst in his commentary of this story says, and I quote:

‘In this, the sisters function in a similar manner to the snake in the Garden of Eden which encourages Adam and Eve to break the taboo imposed by Jehovah. Expulsion from Paradise results in contact with the real world and a development in consciousness’ (italics mine).

He also comments on the story of Bluebeard and says: “Disobeying Bluebeard’s command, his errant wife enters the forbidden chamber and discovers his guilty secret. Disobedience is about defying the dominant male, refusing to be subordinate and coming to self-hood. It is a necessary step on the path to individuation, and a realisation in consciousness of one’s full self-potential”.

I suggest that Eve heard the knock on the door as Lilith/Serpent offered the apple, and not only opened the door but entered in and beyond thus setting the scene for their expulsion, needed in order to develop their consciousness and evolvement, a necessary requirement for today’s world and one worthy of deep and ongoing consideration.

Eve lifted the veil from Adam’s eyes – a courageous and intuitive act in her search for the beginning knowledge of opposites – Good and Evil – a knowledge necessary for higher consciousness. She may have had a momentary illusion of power in her desire for knowledge of Good and Evil, but she brought the beginnings of consciousness into the world and this is surely an act to be celebrated.

Yes, Adam and Eve were now alienated from God’s Grace. Perhaps in time they would come to value that which they had lost and thus seek in time to return to God’s Grace but this time in greater awareness, intention and consciousness.

Consciousness means using the gift of free will, choice, consciously, with no hidden agenda.

*Antony Stevens: Ariadne’s Clue. A Guide to the Symbols of Humankind. Allen Lane. Penguin Press, 1998

with thanks to google images for yin yang symbol

Eve, Part One

EVE, Part One
Eveimages (3)

Eveimages (4)In last week’s post, Lilith emerged from the depths of the Red Sea to return to the place of her banishment – The Garden of Eden, Paradise.

Imagine: Eve, free as a bird within the Garden, delighting in its earthly treasures, beauty all about, Adam happily larking about somewhere, she as companion to him, helpmeet,  comfortable, secure, all their needs met, wanting for nothing. Paradise indeed! Who among us does not have such a yearning for such utter bliss of being at At-One-Ment – whether conscious or not of such a yearning –

I imagine Eve languishing against the Tree where she always took her leisure, in reverie. That particular Tree with its bountiful, glossy, red-ripe apples of which G.d had expressly forbidden eating. She herself felt that way sometimes, sensual, ripe, luscious.  There was not any other thing that she could not have – all was hers for the taking, save for the fruits of that one Tree. 

Lilith in disguise as serpent approached Eve when Adam was nowhere to be seen, perhaps sensing a kinship in her.

We’re familiar with the words: ‘Has God indeed said you shall not eat of every tree in the Garden?’

Eve pondered the question awhile and replied: ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the Garden, but not of the fruits of the tree which is in the midst of the Garden, that God said, You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die’.

Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die’.

‘God knows’, said the serpent, ‘that as soon as you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be as God, knowing good and evil’.

Eve heard those words for the first time. Good and Evil. She wondered what this meant. What was this knowledge. Two words holding great energy, each seemingly in opposition to each other and yet somehow belonging together, each spoken with gravitas by the serpent/Lilith as if each word held equivalent weight.

Eve was unable to articulate the sensations coursing through her body but there was a reaction within her, like a jolt of electricity. Doubt, questioning, curiosity, every cell in her being was heightened. She felt touched and caressed, yet also a little frightened at the core of her being. In a trance like state she took the proffered fruit and took it into herself, biting, chewing, swallowing. It was bitter-sweet.

Adam appeared and Eve offered the apple to him which he accepted. God then approached, giving them a little time to hide in the bushes to cover their newly realised nakedness and shame for they knew they had been disobedient.

He spoke directly to Adam for it was to him that He had given the initial prohibition. Adam told God that Eve was to blame and that she had coerced him; Eve told God that the serpent had made her do it.

Both Adam and Eve were guilty of laying the blame elsewhere – in the other. The ‘sin’ as it were, was ‘out there’. Not for one moment did they think or feel that their act of disobedience resided within either of them. Neither was prepared to accept responsibility for their individual action. It was easier for each to deny their role and blame the other. It is a recurring theme in our lives …

So, both exiled from the Garden with shame as their companion and no maps to guide them, into the hurly burly of real life, rough roads to be traversed.

We all need our peace and quiet, but when things are too peaceful and passive, when we are like naive and innocent children, when we live in an ongoing state of unconsciousness there is no room for growth, no room for discernment, differentiation, reflection. We need those opposites, Good and Evil the first ones in the Bible, to be broken into and broken apart in order to permit an emerging consciousness from the unconscious.

Eve, like Lilith, was banished from the security of the known into the unknown. Each of their actions caused their brutal exile, into an unfamiliar world, all now rent in two, a necessary pre-condition for consciousness, away forever from the security of the Garden of Eden, Paradise, where all was once one, unity.

In next week’s post, part 2, I’ll look at the necessity of breaking prohibitions which many times leave us in the status quo and the necessity of breaking them for our psychological developmental health.

with thanks to google images

Lilith as Serpent and Symbol of Transformation

Lilith: Serpent and Symbol of Transformation

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Meister Eckhart : The ground of the soul is dark

A reminder that I treat the myth of Lilith as just that, a myth, a powerful one that resonates today because of its psychological dynamic. Any ongoing dialogue with myths, dreams, stories, fairytales inter alia puts us back in touch with the deeper layers of the psyche, those inner forces that play themselves out on the world stage.

In the previous post we left Lilith brooding in the depths of the Red Sea. She felt her inner strength returning after what seemed an eternity, cleansed by her tears and the salt of the sea she now felt as salve; and her forging in the flames. It was time to end her isolation and return to the Garden of Eden to effect a change on the status quo.

In the most mysterious of ways she returns, disguised, as serpent, to beguile Eve to accept the apple and thereby disobey God’s admonition to not eat the fruits of The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil on pain of death and other dreadful punishments.

We know from the Creation story that Eve and Adam were expelled from Paradise and that women have been blamed ever after for this sinful act of accepting the fruit – the repercussions still felt today, even if unconsciously. I’ll write a later post about Eve and the temptation that was presented to her. But for the moment I want to negate that age-old myth of woman’s ‘sinfulness’ and say that Eve was the awakener for Adam, Lilith the awakener for Eve. To paraphrase Paul Tillich (Western theologian), the Fall represented ‘…a fall from the state of dreaming innocence…’ and awakening from potentiality into actuality; and that the ‘fall’ was necessary for the development of humankind, a symbol for the human situation, not a story of an event that happened ‘once upon a time’.

Can Lilith as serpent be a viewed as a harbinger of change and as symbol for transformation?

 Our first reaction to the temptress may be one where we instinctively recoil in distrust and fear. We have an archetypal disposition to fear this highly dangerous creature with forked flicking fangs. Historically, the symbolism of the serpent has the association of sexual temptation, of being against God, subversive and evil.

Lilith shed various skins in the depths of the Red Sea, shedding her anger, shedding her pain and sadness, feeling the lessening of the bonds, becoming tighter, and emerged to offer Eve choice and voice. Lilith knew that Eve was restricted in the Garden. She knew that Adam and Eve were entirely dependent on G.d the Father and that they were naive and obedient children with no real freedom for growth within those boundaries.

Lilith can be seen as a trailblazer in that she refused to remain repressed in the depths of the Red Sea. The brutal injury to her psyche from being expelled from the Garden for expressing herself almost broke her. The dark had served her well and for long and she knew her time had come. She was in touch with her anger and pain and stepped out from that place of extremity in her urge for healing and wholeness, never wholly achieved perhaps; but each little bit of understanding of the dark feminine within each of us, man and woman, brings us closer to wholeness and healing, individually and collectively. She challenged the patriarchal view that women were to be ‘obedient’. She donned the guise of serpent. The older paradigm of being in bondage in the depths of the Red Sea was a skin to be shed – it was too constricting, restricting; and its origins were blatantly unjust. There was no more symbolic way than to put on a new skin and arrive as serpent, the wisest of the creatures. She would live life in abandon but not in abandonment. 

We too face trials and tribulations and long to be bathed in the light, to be comforted and mothered in loving arms. We’ve all experienced times when we’ve felt sick, tired, betrayed, disappointed. We’re vaguely aware of the resentments building up inside us like a pressure cooker, or we feel our hearts hardening or closing down. The mothering that we yearn for a these times – some other to be a container for our sadness – may be unavailable. We need to look deep inside ourselves to find a way to acknowledge those dark energy bearing feelings of hopelessness and despair, rage, anger and woundedness. Our feelings and emotions are not to be dumbed down.

Many times our energy is not a polite one. It is the sort of energy used by Rosa Parks in Montgomery, Alabama who refused to give up her seat on a bus for white men in 1955, a forerunner in challenging the legality of segregation. The Black Sash here in South Africa comprised of women started this movement in 1955 to protest against coloured people (inter alia) not being allowed to vote. Malala Yousafzai defied the Taliban edict of banning girls from receiving an education and took a bullet to her head.

We hiss loudly when we see gender discrimination, littering, undue use of plastic bottles, rape and mutilation of not only women and children, but of our land and sea. We hiss at those in the corridors of power who have only their profit line as goal. We’re doing a great deal of hissing and spitting at what goes on on our country under the leadership of our president and his sychophants – corruption is rampant and the use of tax payers money is used for the most nefarious purposes …

The feminine principle stands for all that is life-giving as well as life destroying, paradoxical though that is. It stands for chaos from which order emerges in a new transformative form. It is both joyful and grieving. It is dark and fecund, like the soil of the earth. It embraces ALL in life and in death. Pain and suffering, sorrow, grief, anger, destruction, wildness, non- conformity, death and darkness are all embraced by Lilith. She also embraces compassion, joy, creativity, light, playfulness, mothering, nurturing, birthing, ugliness and beauty. She devours and she transforms. Nothing is meaningless to her. She knows that ALL is part of the whole of life and death. Wanting only the good and light and the heights is an awful denial of the depths.

There is much in the literature where the serpent is revered: for example –

Aesculapius, the ancient Roman god of healing, is symbolised by two serpents representing the principles of sickness and healing, entwined around his staff. Serpents were renowned for their ability to seek out healing herbs and plants for treatment off illness in the population.

Hippocrates (460 BC) the father of western medicine, is represented to this day as a healer carrying a staff, around which is wound the serpent. My husband wears such a tie on which this emblem is.

The story of the Buddha tells how, after his many and various terrifying trials and tribulations brought on by Mara, he met his greatest trial while sitting under the Bo tree. Mara and her Furies sent a thunderbolt down from the sky to strike him down dead. But, at the ultimate moment the cobra, the King of Serpents, emerged from the shadow/darkness to offer the Buddha its hood for protection – which he accepted.

That which can kill can also cure. By bringing Lilith out of the shadows and acknowledging all sides of her, is a step towards healing and wholeness.

roses-with-thornsrose with thorns – like Lilith

with thanks to google images

next post: Eve

 

Lilith in Exile

wound

Please note that I’m regarding the myth of Lilith as just that, a myth. Myths and fairy tales, legends and stories from time past and present, have something of the eternal about them and speak to contemporary issues that we face in our daily lives.

Lilith (first wife of Adam in the Garden of Eden according to the Midrash – see previous post) was banished to the depths of the Red Sea to be never seen or heard of again. In one fell swoop, all that she had known, unity in the Garden, was ripped from her.

 We’ve all experienced those dreadful times when we’ve been utterly lost in our grief and sadness; personal illness or that of our loved ones; when life is a constant uphill battle and the inner and outer worlds seem to conspire against us.

Sometimes, when in crisis, it is important to do nothing for a while and just sit in the awfulness of it. It is not the time to jump out of the fire to avoid the burning, but to endure and sit in the flames. It is not the time to frantically search for answers, immediate resolution. It is a time for no-action, patience, endurance.

I see Lilith in her exile, in the flames, sitting, with her knees drawn to her chest, her chin resting on her knees, her arms and hands wrapped around her legs. She sits; she doesn’t move. She knows she has to be here; now is not the time for her to escape. For the moment she must just sit, in the flames, and resist the temptation to jump out of the fire and not be burned. She must be burned. But the fire slowly strengthens her. She kindles the fire adding new branches to the furnace to keep the flames burning. She is kind to the fire. She feels akin to it. She stirs the ash. Perhaps she is reminded of things of beauty that were fashioned after being in the fire, beautiful crystal glass work, ornamental beads, clay pots, beautifully crafted and fired, made from the same substance as she. She feels that she is slowly being forged and fashioned, that the fire is strengthening and purifying her. Perhaps she wonders in some way if this is an alchemical process, one that takes a long time and furthermore, she knows not what lies in store for her. She feels in the absolute stillness of doing nothing, a dynamism. She senses the paradox in this, knows that stillness and movement somehow belong together even if they appear to be completely opposite to each other. She feels her blood quicken in some barely discernible way. Her frozen heart is melting. She feels a sharpening of wits, while at the same time a lessening of her previous bonds. She feels looser yet tighter at the same time. Her perceptions and attitude change. She sees that there is more. It seems to be out of her grasp but worthwhile reaching for and waiting for.

Lilith is in the fire and also in the depths of the Red Sea, wet, not only from those watery depths, but also very much from her tears. Tears of rage, frustration, anger and deep, deep sadness at her plight. How in the name of heaven did it come to this? A life of mutual joy and co-operation with Adam was not to be. She was rejected not only by him, but because she used His ineffable name in her rage (according to the legend), she was cast down, discarded, exiled and thus thrown upon herself. Perhaps from her personal experience of rejection, surely the deepest wound to her psyche, she learned never to be the instrument of rejection, hurt and wounding. Her own wounding showed her the path. From her extreme anger, disillusionment and sadness, there was a glimmer of the potential of its opposite, that of compassion and joy.

We are all daughters of Lilith and Eve; they are present in our modern psyche. We feel annihilated sometimes, invisible, unworthy, not free to act or choose, to remain submissive and demure. We lose touch with our earthy and passionate nature, our need for solitude sometimes, our connection with the dark moon.

Highly charged emotions are valuable in that they are meant to disturb us, so that we do not ignore them; that they are brought out of the festering dark. The deepest work is usually the work on the very darkest corner of our souls. Do not reject the corner stone, those other unknown parts of one’s self. ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the corner stone’ (OT Psalms 118 vs 22). Destructive tendencies such as self-sabotage can be transformed into something more refined and spontaneous and joyous. Reflection is never easy, yet it is work worthy of the effort for the rising consciousness of the dark feminine and for unity to once more be re-gained.

Like all archetypes, Lilith has two polarities. We may be inclined to call one side positive, the other negative, but this is not wise as it is a value judgment. All modalities of Lilith are  experienced within ourselves, her dark and light, her manic and depressive moods, the sinner and the saint, her strengths and vulnerabilities, her wildness and her conformity. The sun and moon, seeming opposites, belong with each other.

creation_bhajjushyam3

Sitting, for such a long while as Lilith did in the depths of the Red Sea, pondering, reflecting, allows us as humans the space to connect with our elemental core, thus bringing consciousness and healing to the fore.

Images: courtesy Google images.

Next post: Serpent as symbol, agent of change and transformation

Lilith, First Wife of Adam

Lilith: First Wife of AdamLilith -

I’ll be writing a series on Lilith, the Dark Feminine, once a week. This myth still has its affects and effects in the contemporary lives of both men and women. It is necessary to bring Lilith out of the shadows, as well as Eve on whom the blame, even unconsciously, is placed for accepting the apple. I’ll be writing about her too.

According to the Midrash*, Lilith, first wife of Adam, was born from the same mud and clay at the same time as Adam in the Garden of Eden and thus they were equal. Lilith refused to be submissive to Adam. The ensuing argument in which Adam, and God, refused to see Lilith’s side of the story caused her banishment by God for her blasphemous rage to the depths of the Red Sea to be never seen or heard of again. But she does re-appear, from her exile, in the guise of the serpent who offered Eve the apple. Lilith, as serpent, was instrumental in Adam and Eve’s exile. In contemporary psychological terms, this banishment is referred to as the ‘Rise’ of man, and not the ‘Fall’ as it was seen as necessary, Fate, for them to move from unconsciousness and to strive for consciousness.

This meant leaving Paradise and its unity, into a world of duality, where pain and pleasure, light and dark, life and death, temporal and eternal, into a world of opposites with which to contend, and to experience over and over the extreme of them. To re-find themselves in a newly-found world of the collective –

Lilith as serpent has had a seriously bad reputation. She is viewed inter alia as a whore, responsible for the death of new borns, men’s wet dreams at night (to sap their strength), Bride of Satan and In her demonised and objectified form she is indeed frightening and threatening.

She is seen as all we are not, she who is the container for the dark and earthy creative feminine. We have all sought to repress her through our projections. Looking at her in a one-dimensional way means that we do this at the expense of other more enlarging and encompassing ways. We have put her out there, as not belonging to us and the hard work is bringing her in again, allowing her into our psyches to her rightful place within us.

If we relate to her in a more compassionate way we can see in her, some of ourselves. We all get into horribly dark places at times, when we feel unloved, unappreciated, unvalued, unfairly treated, exiled even from ourselves and we feel that dark, destructive and dangerous energy rising. Too often we act out our feelings of rage and despair, disempowerment and feelings of helplessness, stuffing ourselves with food, drink, drugs, anything, to rid us, numb us, tamp down those uncomfortable feelings and emotions. We repress those feelings, in an unnatural way, thereby repressing the vessel. Repression stored in darkness is soul destroying. It tends to become distorted and, if disregarded, turns against us to our detriment manifesting in ways we know only too well ..

What are we to do with that roiling energy? Do we disregard it as too foreign to ourselves, too black, too dark and dangerous? Can we bring Lilith energy out of the shadows and connect to it in a different way, releasing some of its demonic powers by acknowledging her?

Her energetic force arose as a result of opposition and suppression. Her spirit was broken but not indefinitely. If we bathe her, wash and cleanse her with our tears she will be redeemed and transformed. We need to rid her from the socially conditioned and condoned guilt that we have taken it upon ourselves to suffer. Can we reach deep inside ourselves and connect to the core of our sadness, anger and wounding and allow healing to take place allowing the divine, constructive and beautiful feminine to be restored?

It is important to be aware of both her divine and demonic powers. She is not to be cast out and banished – it is only by banishing her that that she becomes demonic. Anything that is repressed will find a way out, for expression. She can be redeemed through our conscious awareness of her. Given the proper outlet the darkness within us can be constructive. Dreams can offer a way of bringing her into consciousness if we take the time and effort required.

Barbara Koltuv, in her book ‘The Book of Lilith’ says: ‘Experiencing Lilith in her many forms is part of the process of giving birth to the feminine self‘. (italics mine)

Hannelore Traugott, German Lilith expert:  ‘ .. Lilith…is striving to become conscious again. Let’s call it archaic energy, spiritual femininity, something akin to the wisdom of the goddess. As long as we don’t have access to this energy we experience it psychologically as loss, suppression, isolation, emptiness, addiction and above all, power struggles’.

lotusimages

from the mud and murky depths, arises the lotus, petal by beautiful petal, striving for the light.

* Midrash: Rabbinic study into the spirit of the scriptures for a larger understanding.
* Oil painting by John Coller, 1887

next post: Lilith in Exile

Reflection Blogging from A-Z April (2015) Challenge

REFLECTION – Blogging from A-Z April (2015) Challenge
A-to-Z Reflection [2015] - Lg

AMAZING in a word, with huge thanks to Arlee Bird and all those wonderful minions, muffins, co-hosts and helpers. Without you, the challenge wouldn’t be.

it was an absolute blast all the way through, tough, exhausting, challenging, rewarding.

Firstly, I’d like to thank all who took the time and trouble to make comments on my blog. This gave me the oomph to continue – without your active participation I may have folded. It was wonderful to receive thoughtful comments on my theme on Dreams and to comment back, visit those blogs as well as jumping around here and there on the list, including those who were before or after me on the list. All posts by others that I visited were of such a high standard, thoroughly interesting, thought provoking, sometimes downright funny – laugh out loud!

Prescheduling was the only way to go for me otherwise I would have been lost in the stratosphere, although towards the end I was working like mad on drafts.

I would LOVE to list all those whose posts stood out and provide links but I’m not that computer savvy. I’ll have to have help from my son from afar to put up the survivor and reflection badges in the side bar in due course. How I got up the badge at the top of this post is a bit of a miracle. I copied and pasted it though I had to save it to blog images firstly.

Many in the list did not have the A-Z badge; I commented on many irrespective of badge or not; many did not comment back so those I gave up on.

Again, my heartfelt thanks to all. Because of you I feel like a survivor and what a great feeling it is!

sunflowerimages

The flowers are for Tina, in absentia …

Z in the Dream

Z in the Dream

zebra3images (1)A cat yesterday, zebras today. Even though the stripes, shapes, form look almost identical, they’re not. Each is different to the other in subtle ways. The zebra may follow the herd instinct and we also have that natural collective instinct. But, like the zebra, each of us is unique and we have unique dreams meant for us.

The letter Z has a zig zag look to it. So with our dreams, they seem to zig this way, zag that way.  Often we find ourselves at a crossing in the dream, one road to the right, another to the left, yet another behind us and one forwards and many other paths in the 4 way crossing.

 Zero, a number that denotes what begins and ends. The zero is indeed a point, or a circle, or a dot on the page. But there is something of the infinite about it also.

In Jungian psychology the zero can be like the uroborous, the image of the alchemical snake that eats its tail. It represents the circle of life as we go round and round. We are old, young, in between and then we continually return. It is a concept of the infinite flowering, the seasons that repeat and the generations that evolve. It is our life in the circle game. We are all in this eternal return. The question is what we do with it.

And then there is zen, a concept that also encompasses all and a way of being that settles into what is and acceptance of enough. In zen there is no need to strive beyond. Zen means meditation to achieve enlightenment. It is a practice set up to transcend reason, rational thought and daily life. It is one of the ways of centering and done while sitting. Slowing down and reflection come about as the sacred and mundane merge. Part is a waiting, part is awareness, feeling and not feeling the body and its sensations and reactions, being and not being in the mind.

The above three paragraphs are from last year’s A-Z Blog Challenge (the ‘Z’) in which Susan Schwartz (Paradise Valley, Arizona) and I collaborated. We wrote on Aging. I’m pretty sure it was her post. I’m using it this time round –

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Anais Nin : And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

Thank you all so much for coming along on the ride with me.

 graphics courtesy google images

Yes to the Dream

Yes to the Dream

catcircleThe Act of Commitment Changes Things: Goethe

 I procrastinate, resist getting down to the task at hand, distract myself in many ways. Resist putting on my walking shoes to get some sunshine and exercise; resist even the simple act of turning on the tap for a glass of water; resist switching on the little torch attached to my dream journal in the middle of the night to record the dream believing that it was so dramatic that I will remember it; which happens – i.e. that I forget –

But when I say yes to my psyche the universe responds. When I say yes to my dream world, my unconscious responds. For me it’s a commitment to take my dream world seriously, a way of answering a yearning somewhere in the recesses of my soul. I want that connection, to myself, the underworld, the depths, the mud and slime and grime, where Death resides. It helps an enlarging of my attitude to life and death, the highs and lows or, as James Hillman puts it ‘… to encourage an attitude that can live with the defeat of our desire to know’. * ref below.

I know that I cannot take my dream literally, that I must live with its ambiguity, its strangeness, its entanglements, its apparent illusions and allusions, and not be attached to what I think it may mean. Psyche, the unconscious, is always in motion, is never fixed and is thus like the dream. Making a quick interpretation kills the dream stone dead. Keep the image alive – let it have its way of change as it meanders forever in its depths …

Photograph taken by one of our sons recently of Angie the ginger on the bed forming a circle

*James Hillman: The Dream and the Underworld

X-Ray of the Dream

Xray of the Dream935459_10151624055057702_1867179231_n

“The more one becomes aware of the contents of the personal unconscious, the more is revealed of the rich layer of images and motifs that comprise the collective unconscious. This has the effect of enlarging the personality. Consciousness participates more feely in the wider world, in better relationship to the world, in communion with the world at large”. * ref below

Do our dreams portray an x-ray of our inner lives? Will our ongoing dreams reveal a pattern of our lives, so that we can be better prepared for whatever yet comes our way?

The dream is the voice of nature, natural, with energy and, using its strange metaphors and vistas shows, from the unconscious, where perhaps its energy can be directed so that we feel a little more balanced, less stressed, knowing that we are in dialogue with our inner selves, a guiding Self, a bulwark against the troubled times we find ourselves in, many times soul-destroying.

Again, we have to go beyond to know what our dreams ‘mean’ – they are meant to be held with love and curiosity, tenderness and care, allowing the image and the imagination to take time to unfold. It is so important to not make an immediate interpretation. Some dreams seem to be more significant than others; yet even the simplest image speaks. More work and attention is required, looking into those depths, for is not soul work depth work? The night is the perfect backdrop for us to re-think, re-feel, re-imagine, re-orient our attitudes to ourselves and the world. The psyche is always at work and our dream world lets us know it’s busy. We can take the x-ray of our dream into life, even though it does not show all or tell all. We may apply a certain meaning to it at a certain time; yet months later we sense a new meaning as it evolves over time, much as our lives do.

And, incidentally, Jung, when asked ‘what does my dream mean?’ always replied, I don’t know .. 

*C.G. Jung, Collected Works Vol 7. Two Essays on Analytical Psychology

with thanks to google images for graphic

Way of the Dream

Way of the Dream

dreams lotus_n

Simone Weil: Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity

I often take my dreams for a walk – I think they like the fresh air and exercise. I witness it in a different way, wandering and wondering, while my ego takes a deserved break. A new dimension in the dream appears. A crack in the sidewalk may trigger something and an unbidden thought arises. It reminds me of the other evening when I was watching the rays on the clouds of the setting sun from my study turn a glorious orange-pink. I went outside to see wider; the opposite side was an entirely different sky/cloud scape. I looked for a few moments and turned back to see the first view which had completely changed –

It’s like that with a dream. The lens is wider the more we let it cook instead of trying to whip it up into shape or water it down to fit with what we believe it to be. Any worthy work deserves patience and commitment. The waiting is hard – but it cannot be rushed. Autumn precedes spring, it takes its own time. It needs watching, and waiting. The wilderness is dense, those depths, thick, ambiguous. Occasionally a ray of sunlight breaks through, and we feel that the waiting was worthwhile as the dimension to the dream deepens, further still.

A woman dreamed of being a waitress, serving others, at their beck and call. She wasn’t a waitress in real-life; she was a very successful business woman. She sensed that her life needed changing, some withdrawal from business, to connect with herself, to slowly but surely find a way back to herself, to serve – and save – herself –

Like working in our gardens, waiting for spring to appear, we wait on our dreams, the garden of our inner wilderness; and let them, the images, do their mythical mysterious work on us. The walls come crumbling down – we see the way of the dream, glimpsing our lodestar, waking up to who we truly are and may yet become. The wisdom was always there, within, a world waiting to be discovered —

Today, Monday 27th April, is the 21st anniversary of South Africa’s first democratic election, when Mr. Nelson Mandela became our President (1994). It was a long walk to freedom, hard won, not yet fully realised in this beautiful yet beleaguered country of ours.

 with thanks to google images for graphic

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