Monday, July 30, 2012
Women's Dreaming Power
Women's Dreaming Power
In Carlos Castaneda's book, The Second Ring of Power, we meet don Juan's women pupils. Carlos learns things from them that not even don Juan can give to him - for he works out don Juan's teachings through his relationship with them, and grows into his power by coming up against them. La Gorda, that most marvelous of women warriors, tells him a secret about dreaming, which is the ability to go consciously into the Nagual, or in Jungian terms, the collective unconscious.
"The Nagual [don Juan] told me and the little sisters that during our menstrual periods DREAMING becomes power. I get a little crazy for one thing. I become more daring. And like the Nagual showed us, a crack opens in front of us during those days. You're not a woman so it can't make any sense to you, but two days before her period a woman can open that crack and step through it into another world."
With her left hand she followed the contour of an invisible line that seemed to run vertically in front of her at arm's length.
"During that time a woman, if she wants to, can let go of the images of the world," la Gorda went on. "That's the crack between the worlds, and as the Nagual said, it is right in front of all of us women."
"The reason the Nagual believes women are better sorcerers than men is because they always have the crack in front of them, while a man has to make it." 14
This dark Moon power is this ability to let go of our everyday world and step through it into other realms. We can go within to see visions, feel feelings, grasp intuitions, then come back with knowledge. Reflect on this knowledge; see it through the eyes of love and you will find Wisdom. This is the transformative power that the knights were searching for in the Grail.
There is a rhythm and a personal form to every woman's menstrual cycle. If each of us can become conscious of our own rhythms, we can gain the knowledge of our sensual and feeling life that will help us reclaim our personal power as woman-in-herself, and not as daughters of the patriarchy. Much of our power lies hidden in the realm of the unconscious.
As we know, the menstrual cycle is four-fold like the moon's phases. And just as most women's menstrual cycle averages out to about 28 days, the moon's cycle from new moon to new moon is 29.53 days.15 Even the name menstrual cycle comes from the Latin MENS/moon and MENSIS/month. The idea of measure is connected to these words, and the measurement of time by the return of the moon reflects the measured effects of a woman's monthly cycle on the people around her. In turn, the ebb and flow of feminine consciousness gives time a qualitative texture, periodic and rhythmic, waxing and waning, opened or closed. It mixes fullness and leanness, light and dark, and a woman experiences this "in the blood tides of her menstrual cycle and its attendant psychological effects."16
There is a basic rhythm that is measured by the moon and the menstrual cycle. There is the waxing and waning of the two crescent phases, the building up (or out) and the drawing down (or in). Then there are the two poles of the full and new Moon, or in the menstrual cycle, ovulation and menstruation. Ovulation, when the ripe egg is shed into the fallopian tube, is the more culturally accepted side of the cycle, for literal fertility and childbearing are honored in a woman of the patriarchy. In the same way, women gladly accept the possibility of full Moon consciousness in their lives.
At ovulation, a woman's body is receptive and fertile. She may feel then an emotional expansiveness, an abundance of sexual energy, a new potency in her creative ideas and insights. . . .If she is related to what is happening to her body and psyche, this time of the month can give her increased confidence and new certainty in her own capacities. Because this sense of herself is rooted in psychosomatic reality, it does not lead to inflation or a drive for power, but to stabilization, and a real sense of her own strength. 17
The other end of the pole, the blood flow itself, is viewed less favorably by society. Menstruation, symbolized by the dark of the Moon, is the time when the thick, built-up lining of the womb is shed and its wall becomes thin and exquisitely sensitive, like a wound. This can often be a time of pain and separation, and some women still view it as a bother. Nevertheless, it is a time to get in touch with a deeper and more fundamental layer of ourselves, when we touch ground with our instinctual nature. It is an in-gathering of psychic energy, a time when the unconscious is especially constellated and open to us. This makes it a time "in which the imaginative and interpretive energies are released in body language and symbolic form."18
This is a time when a woman can become a shamaness; it is a time when we feel the need to dream and meditate, to withdraw to the other world, to go deep within. At such a time, we can go through the crack in the world and re-emerge with new riches for our lives and our world. Many women dream powerful dreams during this time. Today's women who have PMS often have terrifying dreams during this time, and yet who is to say that these dreams do not reflect a negative sense of self which takes on bodily symptoms during this part of the cycle.
In ancient cultures, women went away to be by themselves during their menstrual period, for this time was considered dangerous and powerful. This was true of ancient Semites as well as Native American women. The women went off by themselves during their moon-time, and dreamed dreams for the tribe. In some tribes and cultures, they were forced to go off for fear that they would 'contaminate' the men, the food, the ceremonies. But in most situations, the women chose to separate themselves to explore the feminine mysteries and to bring back to their people the power of their dreams and journeys to the spirit world. We know that when women live and work together, their menstrual cycles come into sync. If nothing else, a group of women got away from the normal life of the tribe for a time each month!
What a better way to deal with this issue, actually honoring the transformative time of the cycle. What would happen if we legislated 'sick' time for our periods and we had the luxury of going within unhampered by worry or work. The dark Goddess and the Christian Black Madonna were equally venerated for their healing powers, especially during this time in a woman's cycle, because it is this cycle which creates life.
Psychologically, this cycle which creates the physical possibility of life also symbolizes the potential for continual change and creative development in our life. Women have the immeasurable advantage of a monthly rebirth of our ego, a monthly renewal of energy and instinctual power in the body that helps us meet life in a more immediate, conscious and soul-full way. Consciously attuning to the moon's cycles can put us in touch with the great healing and transformative powers of this Goddess. Each month as the Moon tracks through its cycle, we can go through the process of Virgin, Mother and Crone - experiencing, choosing and understanding life. And then rest and get recharged before another phase begins.
Remember my dream about the wounded lion and the great wave? All the elements of the regenerative powers of the Moon are there if we know how to look for them. The dream suggests that there is a wound to my instinctual nature that developed during my childhood. It was a wound of self-confidence and creativity (the Lion). Many people in my generation have experienced these wounds. It should be noted that the baby-boomers have the planet Pluto in the sign of Leo, the Lion. Astrologically it means that our task is to discover the wound to our 'royal' nature and awaken the greater passions of the heart. Our generation has to discover that our creativity is meant for the greater good of all, not just ourselves. It is our task to heal the passion of matter. The lion is regarded as the King of the Beasts and so came to symbolize our natural passions and desires. The lion is associated with pride, and emotionality, and healthy, aggressive impulses. In the most profound sense, kingship/queenship is connected with the capacity to wrestle with the passions, for no one can govern or serve as an example to others who has not first governed her/his own impulses. The lion is also very much associated with the Goddess, who ruled the natural world of instinct, intuition and feeling. This lion's wound symbolizes how my generation has to grapple with our passionate nature. It is a call to go deeper into life, for only the wounded healer can heal.
In the dream as in real life, I am trying to protect my daughter from a similar wound. Knowing my wound, and not wanting to see my children wounded in the same way, gave me the courage to confront the lion (my foolhardy friend from college!). At the time of this dream, I did not fully understand the power and sacredness of my feminine, instinctual nature. My spirituality was learned from the Father and so I was cut off from my body. It was this dream that led me along the path to feminine wisdom, and helped me become conscious of a more earthy standpoint and spirituality.
I am always amazed at how the symbolism in dreams is woven together! When I had this dream, I was just beginning my study of the ancient goddesses, and it was not until years later that I finally understood the full meaning of the images of the dream. After the dream shows me that I am becoming conscious of this wound to my instinctual nature, it shows me the next step in the process - how it will be healed. The triple crossroad, a form of the world axis, was sacred to the Greek goddess Hecate, the Old Crone or Wise Woman. As guardian of the crossroads, where the traveler is faced with three choices, the Wise One offers the possibility of going beyond dualism, to that third possibility which Jung calls the transcendent function. By this, he means that if you can bear the tension of the opposites (hold on to two opposing ideas, feelings, energies) until a new, third way appears, this new path will be the perfect, balanced response to the situation.
Hecate's objective eye sees into the underworld of the dead and repressed, while her magic and Sight understand what is needed for new life. Hecate never lived on Mt. Olympus with the other Greek deities, but chose to live in this world, where she had great power over earth, sea and the heavens. She had many positive attributes which were discarded and repressed when we lost our understanding of the dark side of the Goddess. She has come down to us through Christianity as the Queen of the Witches and of the Dead, and we caricature her image every Halloween. She helped Demeter discover that her daughter Persephone had been ravished away by Hades. She gives us the gift of intuitive knowing and her symbol is a torch. She is the one who lights up the darkness of the Unconscious and reveals its treasures. She is Lady Wisdom.
In the dream, it is under the protection of this wise energy that I realize I will give birth to a savior. The Sight comes over me just as the giant wave does. The savior, in one sense, is that virginal aspect of myself that is imaged in the waxing moon that appears after the wave washes over me. The regeneration, from old waning moon to new crescent, occurs with a rebirth of feminine consciousness. This rebirth is occurring on many levels in many people. We are living in a time of great upheaval and change, and the world as we know it will be vastly different in the future. Already, people are fighting injustice and corruption; more people are getting involved and learning how to stop the illogical and destructive forces that run our society. Like the Swiss people in my dream, it is time for dreamers to become practical and bring their visions into the world. The rebirth of spirit, of the feminine, and of our culture can only take hold if we let it root itself in our everyday lives, and we must cultivate and work with it so the seeds will grow. It is the moon's rhythms, which we can see nightly, which bring about concrete change and growth.
I had this dream right before my period, and as you can see, it put me in touch with deep feminine wisdom. Penelope Shuttle and Peter Redgrove, who wrote The Wise Wound, feel that this wisdom is recoverable by any woman who turns to it.
The strange fact about this moon knowledge . . . is that it is knowledge that is recoverable from age to age wherever women menstruate and wonder how their own interior changes are related to the changes of the moon and the tides. It is not like masculine knowledge, that is built up from painful generation to generation, and which can be lost utterly if the chain is broken. Women's knowledge is available to them if they will only look inwards and give themselves trust, and not be afraid to personify with (for example) goddess' names, those forces greater than their own selves that move them; and not be afraid to learn from themselves rather than from men who abuse their "credulity" which is their openness, and their "impressionability" which is their ability to take what is happening and what is communicated to them, even by men, deep within. 19