Thursday, January 30, 2014

Living the Symbolic Life: The World Needs a New Story

You see, man is in need of a symbolic life - badly in need. We only live banal, ordinary, rational, or irrational things . . . but we have no symbolic life. Where do we live symbolically? Nowhere except where we participate in the ritual of life. . . We have no symbolic life, and we are all badly in need of the symbolic life. Only the symbolic life can express the need of the soul - the daily need of the soul, mind you! And because people have no such thing, they can never step out of this mill - this awful, banal, grinding life in which they are "nothing but." . . . C.G. Jung, The Symbolic Life

I believe it’s time to take the idea of the symbolic life seriously.  That means it’s time we see our lives as meaningful.  This is the first of a series of essays that will look at the old archetypal stories and see how they might be renewed within each of us.

It’s time to tell a new story about life, love, community, power, responsibility and re-birth.

Today’s New Moon in Aquarius is a new beginning for the collective Mind.  Each year this New Moon gives us an opportunity to transform the collective Mind, but this year something bigger is happening.  This year’s Aquarius New Moon is gestating in the womb of a cosmic grand cross; the 5th cosmic challenge between Pluto in Capricorn and Uranus in Aries, invoking the continuing story of the revolution and evolution that started in the 60s.  The challenge becomes an energy generator with the addition of Jupiter in Cancer and Mars in Libra this Spring.   

The Cosmic Story is telling us to work with these energies now, because our challenge is to become conscious forces of evolution.  It’s time for us to bring our gifts into collective awareness. We are challenged to change a whole world view that was once necessary and good, but which has become lop-sided and detrimental to the health of the entire bio-field of Earth.  

We are facing Death: the death of our environment as we know it, the death of patriarchy, and the death of the belief that we are separate from each other.  If the knowledge of Death doesn’t get us out doing something, I don’t know what will.  Are we really willing to let ourselves to lead to the slaughterhouses without protest?  Without doing something about it with originality, honor and courage?

Aquarius symbolizes humanity’s ability to consciously connect with the archetypal patterns, the cosmic laws of the universe.  These laws are instinctual, built into the fabric of our world and cosmos.  Archetypes are energy fields which structure plants and animals and human beings, rocks and trees, wind and rain, light and dark.  And as far as we know, human beings are the only ones here on Earth who can become conscious of these archetypal patterns.  And as Carl Jung demonstrated, once we become aware of these archetypal instincts, we can change how we relate to them.  

Archetypes can only be known through an image, a symbol which contains many layers of meaning.   As we work with the archetypal symbols of the collective unconscious, we rediscover the original intent of the archetypes.  And when we are aware of the archetype’s primal power, we can consciously let it shape us. 

Yes, we have to be balanced to do this—we need a sharp mind that can discern what is delusion (God told me to sacrifice my son, and then try to literally do it) and wisdom (I sense that I need to let my son live his own life now and stop trying to make him into someone I want him to be).  But if we hold true to our values and our truth, the archetypes can gently shape us with a true story.  Right now, we have all been shaped by the patriarchal stereotypes of what life is all about.  

The freed-up archetypes can tell us a new story, which can inspire our imagination and in turn, give us the courage to take action.  For example, the archetype of the leader has become the stereotype of the politician.  When archetypes lose their feeling aspect (when people no longer believe it) they become dry stereotypes.  Once we stop ceding the archetypal power of leadership to this stereotype, the archetypal energy of leadership becomes accessible to us.  I’ve often talked about how the archetype of the Bard, whose word is law and inspiration, has become the stereotype of the entertainer, who takes our minds off reality.   The good news is that the archetypes of leader and bard are still accessible to us.

So the New Moon in Aquarius is an ideal time to nurture an archetypal seed lying within you.  Where do your talents lie?  How do you use them now?  How would you like to use them?  To change your life, you need to change the story. The ancient myths show us collective archetypal patterns that shaped cultures and people’s perceptions of life.  Which pattern calls to you?  

I just wrote a blog (see below) after I read an article by Craig Chalquist, Ph.D. "Earthrise: A Mythic Image for Our Times." on the image of Earthrise, that first mystical picture of our Earth floating in the heavens.  This image, while unique to modern times, derives some of its power from the archetype of the Anima Mundi, the World Soul.  You can just see that beautiful soul shining out into space, can’t you?  


Archetypes get renewed in our consciousness when there is a need for new perspectives and new actions and new growth.

With Pluto in Capricorn breaking down belief in our collective social structures—patriarchy, finance, government, religion, capitalism—we have an opportunity to create something different because the archetypal patterns are also being renewed.  Of course, the old ways aren’t dying easily, but that’s Saturn—archetype of patriarchy—for you!  In Greek mythology, Saturn ate his own children, swallowing them until Rhea, the Earth Mother, gave him a rock to swallow instead of her youngest child, Zeus.  Zeus grew up and went on to lead the revolution against Saturn. 

At this New Moon, Pluto is joined by Venus, stationing and about to go direct.  Venus has just come through her conjunction with the Sun, reborn as the Morning Star.  The energy of a planet in retrograde motion feels like it’s going into the inner/under world.  So at this New Moon, Venus has just emerged from the Underworld, bringing new heart knowledge to this collective breakdown.  Joining Pluto, we might imagine that Venus takes on the role of Persephone, wife of Pluto as well as the Spring Maiden.  Venus and Pluto are around 13* Capricorn, in the second 10* of Capricorn, ready for rebirth—ready to start rebuilding a new cultural foundation.  A strong foundation that gives equal weight to the feminine aspects of life, something sorely lacking in patriarchy at the moment!  

When we add Venus to Pluto’s energy of rebirth, we could say that Lady Wisdom is guiding us with the truth and the beauty of the Morning Star.  The Cosmic Story is telling us that it’s time for us ‘to be as wise as a serpent and as gentle as a dove’. 

Another new archetypal pattern concerns Uranus in Aries.  Aries is the sign of self-discovery, a brilliant flash of fire that illumines new ground for action. Why have we incarnated?   Uranus brings sudden changes, opening us to the archetypal fields (Uranus rules Aquarius).  This energy once again offers us a choice: who do we want to be, what do we want to discover, what is our purpose in life?  The breakdown of the system (Pluto) calls for individuals (Aries) to become their archetypal Selves, living their soul’s purpose (Uranus).  That’s our personal challenge.

What will really get this challenge moving is the addition of Jupiter in Cancer and Mars in Libra.  These four planets are in the four cardinal signs, energy generating signs, action oriented and energizing.  The addition of these two planets moves the square’s challenge forward.  

Jupiter is the Roman aspect of Zeus, leader of the rebellion against Saturn.  Jupiter awakens our curiosity, expands our vision, and opens us to spirit.  In the sign of Cancer, it broadens our appreciation of the archetype of the Mother and her nurturing qualities.  Jupiter pushes us to explore our inner depths (Cancer) and discover who we really are and what we really want—instead of what patriarchy has shaped us to be and want.   And as a mother, I can tell you that nobody is as fierce as a mother defending her children.  We need to become fierce in defense of ourselves, our people and our planet. 

The last to connect with the upcoming grand cross is Mars retrograde in Libra.  At this New Moon, Mars is still moving forward in Libra, away from the other four planets, but it is going to turn retrograde on March 1st and will be very tightly bound to the grand cross in April.  Mars is the archetypal energy of desire and assertion, the energy that moves us and shakes us and tells us that we’re alive.  With Mars in Libra, we are learning that we feel more alive when we partner up with others, when we take their needs and desires into consideration and learn to be fair and balanced.  A true balance of masculine and feminine consciousness opens us to Wisdom.  

There are many archetypal patterns being renewed now—perhaps all of them with the changing of the ages.  We are at the beginning of that change, and so we are responsible for how those new archetypal stories begin.  Will we rise up and meet the challenge in new and creative ways?  Unnecessary war is patriarchal.  A grown up doesn’t have to literally fight to win a battle.  With intelligence, creativity, courage, intuition and wisdom, we will change our world.

Copyright 2014 Cathy Pagano

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Earthrise and Living the Symbolic Life

"Myth is actually a framework of meaning, a set of collective fantasies that story our relationship to each other, the world and the cosmos. To tell a myth is to tell a culture's dream about its inner workings and truths."   
 Craig Chalquist, Ph.D. "Earthrise: A Mythic Image for Our Times."

    Earthrise is still a powerful image after almost 50 years (the crew of Apollo 8 took the photo on Christmas Eve Day, 1968), even after seeing the amazing images of the cosmos we get almost daily from the Hubble space telescope.  Our universe is vast, mysterious, a bit scary as well as breath-taking, but there's something hopeful about that image of our beautiful Earth shining in the darkness of space that touches my heart and soul.  Do you feel that way too?

     I've been drawn to that photo ever since the first time I saw it back in 1968.  I put it on the front page of our college year-book; it's on the cover of my book of seasonal fairy tales, Stories of the Earth, and for me at least, it is connected with my vision of Lady Wisdom.

     This photo of our Earth recalls what the Ancients called the 'Anima Mundi' or 'World Soul' the idea that there is an intrinsic connection between all living things on the planet, which relates to our world in much the same way as the soul is connected to the human body.  (Perhaps the philosophical link with Lynn Margulis and James Lovelock's Gaia theory.)   When we look at this picture of our home planet, we can sense the truth of that belief.  There's only one world shining out in space.

The idea originated with Plato in the Timaeus.  

Therefore, we may consequently state that: this world is indeed a living being endowed with a soul and intelligence ... a single visible living entity containing all other living entities, which by their nature are all related. (Timaeus:29/30)

     Joseph Campbell felt that the image of Earthrise was a symbol of the new myths of the future.  I believe it, because the image has worked upon my unconscious to open me to the mystery of Lady Wisdom.  Perhaps in this astrological month of Aquarius, we need to meditate on this picture of our Mother, the Earth and remember that we are indeed all connected. 

     The Cosmic Story is calling us back to re-work the soil and tend the plants that were seeded in the 60s.  At the square (90*) between Uranus and Pluto, we find ourselves at a crossroads.  Will we let the powers of repression and domination continue to hold power or will we undertake the Hero's Journey and bring back a new way of life?  

     We are indeed creating new myths for the future, myths that can teach us to be inclusive and caring, conscious and creative.  

'If myth is a storied way to feel out our place in the world, then we can grasp the significance of Earthrise by considering what it rode in on. The Environmental Movement, ecopsychology, Systems Theory, the Internet that joins us across the globe, global structures of finance, the Goddess movement, the push toward sustainability, organic agriculture, Brian Swimme's inspiring cosmological reveries: these and other worldly-circling matters grew up in the light of Earthrise. This image did not "cause" these movements so much as announce them as they swarmed into collective consciousness.'   
 (Craig Chalquist, Ph.D. Earthrise: A Mythic Image for Our Times.

     There is also a Heroine's Journey women are especially called to.  It is an inner journey that can free us from the patriarchal corsets and straightjackets we've been shaped by.  And the gift we receive and the treasure we bring back will be Wisdom--the wisdom to find solutions to the personal and collective crisis that face us.  

     There is an image of the Return of the Divine Feminine that corresponds to this image of Earthrise

And a portent appeared in the heavens: A woman, clothed with the Sun, standing on the Moon, crowned with Stars, in birth to the Savior.


     Images are not owned by any one religion or corporation.  Symbols are universal and they come to us pure in our dreams and through synchronicities in our waking life, and through true myths, music, art and stories.   Of course, patriarchy consciously uses images to capture our attention, but that way lies manipulation and control.  When we look at an image and let it speak to us--just as we can with this image of Earthrise or that of the 'Woman  with the Sun'--we really can learn something about what Spirit or the Anima Mundi wants us to do. 

     So before this Aquarius New Moon on Thursday, January 30th at 1:38pm PST/ 4:38pm EST/ 9:38pm GMT, sit down and meditate on this image of our mother, our home, our source.  And listen to what She tells you.     

Merry meet and merry part and merry meet again!

Monday, January 6, 2014

For a New Beginning

 2014 is truly a year of new beginnings--it's the year we have to step up and take on our soul role.  Who are you becoming?  Let yourself become.

For a New Beginning

In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.

Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life's desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

~ John O'Donohue ~

(To Bless the Space Between Us)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Withdrawal: Meditation on the Act of Stepping Back by David Whyte

 This is Beautiful!  By one of my favorite modern poets, David Whyte.  Enjoy the wisdom of the act of non-engagement.


can be a very positive way of stepping forward and done well, a beautiful freeing act of mercy and as a human behavioral art form, underestimated in this time of action and engagement. So much of what we are involved with, in even the highest cause, becomes involvement at the busy periphery, where the central conversation has been lost to the outer edges of what was to begin with, a very simple central invitation. Withdrawal is often not what it looks like - a disappearance - no, to withdraw from entanglement can be to appear again in the world in a very real way and begin the process of renewing the primary, essential invitation again. Though life does seem determined to be a beautiful, and entrancing distraction - just as we ourselves are a distraction to others, testing them as we test ourselves and our mutual sincerity - our participation in this dance of distraction also makes more real, and more necessary, our ability to return to essential ground, to an essential person or an essential work.

We stick to the wrong thing quite often, not because it will come to fruition by further effort, but because we cannot let go of the way we have decided to tell the story and we become further enmeshed even by trying to make sense of what entraps us, when what is needed is a simple, clean breaking away. To remove our selves entirely and absolutely, abruptly and at times uncompromisingly is often the real and radically courageous break for freedom. Unsticking ourselves from the mythical Tar Baby, seemingly set up, just for us, right in the middle of our path; we start the process of losing our sense of falsity, of ridding ourselves of illusions, of letting go of our self manufactured enemies, and even our false friends, and most especially the false sense of self we have manufactured to live with them: we make ourselves available for the simple purification of seeing our selves and our world more elementally and therefore more clearly again. We withdraw not to disappear, but to find another ground from which to see; a solid ground from which to step, and from which to speak again, in a different way, a clear, rested, embodied voice we begin to remember again as our own.

© - David Whyte
from Readers' Circle Essay, "Withdrawal"
©2013 David Whyte

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014--The Year of Initiation and Choice

I am going to be more consistent in my postings for this Wisdom Blog in this new year of 2014.  2014=7, a world-wide year of initiation, choice and change.  Yes, there's still more evolution coming our way. 

But don't despair--you are not alone.  That is the most important lesson of our times.  We are not alone.  We have each other and we have the special blessing of Lady Wisdom's guidance. 

Lady Wisdom is crying out to us to listen within and without.  She speaks to us on the winds, in the snow, in the fires and most especially, within ourselves.  She has returned to guide us as we enter this most potent year of the ongoing Pluto/Uranus square. 

Now Jupiter in Cancer and Mars in Libra form a grand cross in the sky with Pluto in Capricorn and Uranus in Aries.  We can push that cross to make it whirl or we can get stuck on it, crucified by its energies.  

On this first day of the New Year, let's remember that the dark and the cold are as important as the light and the heat to maintain the balance of life.   Our new life story must be about balance, within ourselves and between ourselves and others.  Balance and harmony between female and male, Feminine and Masculine Spirit, right and left brain.  Balance produces wholeness.  It's a great time to draw mandalas, the symbol of psychic and spiritual wholeness.

Libra is symbolized by the Balance or Scale.  It takes both sides into consideration.  Mars will be traveling through the sign of Libra for 6 months because it goes retrograde in early March.  Mars/Eros energy is about desire, and in Libra, we learn to shape our personal desires to mesh with the good of others. "All for one and one for all" might be a good mantra in these next months.

"Listen to Wisdom,
Apply your heart to understanding.
Search for Her as for silver,
As for hidden treasure.
When Wisdom enters your heart,
And knowledge pleases your soul,
Discretion and understanding
Shall watch over you."
Proverbs 2:2, 4; 10-11.