Sophia Redux

“female deities are metaphors for touching the creative spirit”

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On my month-long sabbatical this September, 2018, in France and UK, I was struck by statues of female deities shown here as the Three Graces, on a square in Montpellier, France, and Aphrodite in London, the British Museum. This took me back to Sophia, the goddess of wisdom.  She started my work with story and archetypes years ago.

Those of you who have read my books, know my origin story of finding Sophia.  I wanted to be a workshop guru and travel the country. At that time my topic was psychoneuroimmunology, or how to increase immune cells through imagery or thinking in pictures. I made up a story to make the unconscious friendly, and the name of the female protagonist just popped into my mind.  The name was Sophia. People liked this story of Sophia and Claude, a vegetarian dragon. Sophia was on a search for wisdom which she found with the dragon in the ancient caves of the earth.  I decided to find out more about my main character. Years of research ensued. I found out many things. Sophia was based on the Greek word wisdom; she was Jehovah’s mother in some of the stories from Jewish tribes; and she was the creator in the Gnostic Gospels.

Basically, Sophia symbolized spirit in matter, including all matter, rocks, humans, animals.  Female deities are about the creation of life.  For example, the human spirit is there at the moment a baby emerges from the womb. To me Sophia and other female deities, like the Three Graces or Aphrodite are metaphors for the way to touch the spirit for creativity, healing, insight and most importantly awareness.  Instead of overcoming our human nature, Sophia prompts humans to go inside to touch spirit.

What goes around come around.  Or what my colleague, now passed, Charlie Seashore said, “We only have one book in us, and we write it over and over.”  For me, I might substitute the word story for book.  My one story is how to open up a space in the mind for awareness, this requires the release of emotional reactive patterns that usually fill up the mind. Listening to a story relaxes the mind to give space for this release. The storytelling that started with Sophia with nurses in Scottsdale in the early 90s, came back for me in 2018.

This October, I was giving a paper at Wembley Park, London on Indigenous Storytelling for Transformation of Health, Emotions and Spirituality. It brought me back to my Sophia storytelling experience.  I have been on a journey for 35 years to develop a practice using natural psychodynamics to helps humans open inside to develop awareness and eventually wisdom.  Out of my work with storytelling, I had moved to archetypal identification and visualization since in good stories people visualize the main characters or archetypes. I thought this might be more direct and accelerate the process of creating a spacious mind. However, my years of working with archetypes to help people create that spacious awareness inside might be over. When I try to explain archetypes, some people get it in a profound way, but for many I see faces of confusion. Silly me, maybe I’ve been too abstract or theoretical. It might be time to go back to telling story.

Gaia for PTSD Healing

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Stacey Henline, a licensed counselor and doctoral student at Fielding Graduate University, used the quizzes in Archetypal Imagery and the Spiritual Self: Techniques for Coaches and Therapists for breakthroughs with her clients. Stacey says…

I have been able to help guide clients back to healing faster, and more thoroughly by using techniques from this book, and allowing my client to learn more about themselves by being aware of the Archetype that they connect with, and how this can be a connection they can make to find their way back within spirituality in their healing journey.

One of her clients was a paramedic who had struggled with finding meaning in her religion, This client suffered from PTSD because of the trauma she experienced in helping people who were near life and death from car accidents or heart attacks. Stacey, the counselor, felt if she could open to her spirituality it could activate her healing. Stacey tried the Archetypal Deity Quiz, and her client found Gaia. There was an immediate connection, since Gaia is the protectress of the Earth, and the client, as a paramedic, protected lifeGaia gave her a connection since her job was to was to protect people. She found strength in her job and her role as a paramedic. Once she had found the archetype, she did research and used the archetype to find strength and trust in herself and reawakened her mission to protect life. She found comfort and moved away from feeling empty, letting go of needing to find answers. Stacey reported that her work with the client in the framework of Emotional Transformation Therapy found traction after the identification with Gaia.

The Deity Archetype Quiz, has a variety of statements for a person to say they identify with. These are the statements in the quiz that belong to Gaia.

I would do anything to protect life.
I put myself out to help others.
I feel others use me to get what they what.
I consider myself powerful.
I am extremely creative.

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Gaia’s characteristics are protective, earthly creative, sustaining, wise, everlasting. She is the Greek Earth goddess, and she and her mate Ouranos birthed many beings, including the Cyclops. Ouranos did not like the Cyclops and wanted to destroy them, so Gaia hid them in her depths. She asked her son Cronos to deal with Ouranos. Later, Cronos heard a prophesy that his son Zeus would dethrone him. Cronos wanted to kill Zeus, but Gaia protected Zeus, by pretending to help Cronos swallow him, but instead she had him swallow a stone. Zeus became a great god, and Gaia protected her children and her grandchildren and the Earth. Does Gaia spark your fancy? What would you do to protect life on the Earth?

Disruption & Comergent Wisdom

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The Tower: Disruption

One of the archetypes in my book, Archetypal Imagery, is The Tower, which I term disruption. The actual image in the book and my accompanying cards is a tower. In the image the tower is getting ready to break up. Recall an archetype is an energy pattern that conveys a given characteristic.  In this case it is disruption, the old is breaking up, making way for a new form to emerge.

Confusion: Making Others Wrong

 It is a timely archetype for the current U.S. zeitgeist. Each day a shocking piece of news shakes us. For me personally, I get so upset when people and politicians want to limit women’s health care. My thoughts are, “This is horrible, I don’t like this, these people are wrong.”  Or “Why can’t people see that it is better for all to have health care for all, and women to be able to be in charge of their health. Abortions go down when women have reproductive health care.”  I taught in India, and one morning I woke up screaming from a dream that the U.S. had turned into India. There were so many poor, and so many without health care, that nothing worked. At that time in India, people were more apt to die in hospitals than staying at home. Of course, this is an overstatement, and there are many fine doctors and hospitals in India. But maybe the point is made, if a society doesn’t take care of the poor, and provide health care for the sick, the whole of society degrades.

Health care particularly for women is my thing. For others, it is a different issue, but the feeling is the same, disruption regardless of being to the right or the left politically.

Out of Confusion: An Inclusive Perception

Things are shaken up, and there is a seismic change in the very core of people’s beings. It feels awful.  But not all is lost, out of this can come a transformed being. The result can be comergent wisdom, an idea coined by Thich Nhat Hahn, a Zen Buddhist teacher, who teaches peace.

When there is disruption, people are very confused and can’t figure things out. People think, “What is right or wrong, I can’t figure it out.” In the best possible outcome of this confused state, the ego which controls our conscious mind, has to let go of its delusion.  It can’t be in charge in any more. The ego likes to make things good and bad, right and wrong, but that isn’t the real world.  Reality isn’t about making others wrong. As the ego gives up defining reality, a more inclusive perception opens up.  Thich Nhat Hahn might call it a “right view”. Through the confusion, a right view emerges that actually perceives reality as it is. It allows a person to choose the right path. How are humans connected, and what is the  path that a person is uniquely gifted to travel?

Transforming to Comergent Wisdom with Compassion

Comergent wisdom is transforming knowledge through compassion. When people have compassion for themselves and others as they experience disruption, they see beyond the opposites of right and wrong, white and black.  Compassion brings the realization of the interconnection of all of life.  That’s what the word comergent conveys, people and life on the planet are interlinked and changes affect the whole of life.

As I experience disruption, and feel the anger to make others’ wrong, I can use my compassion to realize I am interconnected with all of life.  With this awareness, I can gain  awareness on how to act on my values. In my case I see how to move forward  towards health care for all. Instead of being angry at others who disagree, my energy shifts to what’s best for me to do.  It clears my perception, transforms my emotions and gives me clarity on my next actions.  I become wiser. I become unified with other life. The energy in making others wrong is redirected to give me the right view and the right action.  Comergent wisdom.

 

Becoming Energized & Feeling Connected with Your Spiritual Purpose

 

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So what??? I think I’ve created this amazing process to awaken folks to their spiritual Self, and when I do workshops I get 7 people, maybe 8 people. When I had a talk at the eminent independent book store, Boulder Book Store, there was an ice/snow store, and 8 people showed up. But my daughter for the first time, said, “I understand.”  It was worth it. Can you change human consciousness 8 people at a time? Maybe. In Cuba, where Castro created a literacy explosion, the motto, was “Each one, teach one.” So, maybe.  Maybe if one person wakes up.  You know Ram Dass, said, “When you wake up, you can’t go to sleep.”  So if one person wakes up, that means, he or she or they are an energy transformer.  That individual is ALIVE. Pure, energetic consciousness is coming thru, so that just being next to that person turns on the energy of the person next. If that can happen, maybe, more and more people can wake up.  What does that mean?  Energy, alignment with spiritual purpose, engaged spiritual practice, whatever that may be, prayer, meditation, walking, poetry. So, yes.  Visualize or image an archetype, any archetype. It is a safe aperture to the unconscious, releasing all that stuff humans don’t need, story-lines, insecurities, slights, and possibly traumas, prayers.  Then the spiritual Self can talk to us with insight, giving clarity about what to do, what to say, what to observe to move spirit forward into the human experience for love and compassion.

Living in Front

 

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Taking my deity quiz, Lee honed in on Ganesha, resonating with the phrase “the remover of obstacles” and seeing that he symbolized wisdom. What happened next opened Lee’s inner world.  Lee Palmer, my PhD student and an Executive Coach for Marquis Leadership, was on a path of self-actualization for herself and those whom she coached. When she found Ganesha, it soon became apparent that she had lived in front of this archetype for a long time and he was integral to her journey.

Carl Jung the psychologist who gave us the moniker for the collective unconscious,  said all people live in front of an archetype.  Little humans seek an energy pattern to organize their personalities, and it happens in an unconscious way. Once, I got a fortune cookie that said, “if you don’t run your unconscious it will run you.” Finding the archetype that you live in front of, that has organized your way of being, opens a channel to the spiritual self  in the unconscious. Consciously finding your archetype is like opening up a window.

Synchronicity started happening for Lee. Synchronicity remember is an event seemingly happening by chance, but turning  out to have deep meaning. Finding Ganesha and learning about him triggered Lee to be aware that he was all around her, hiding in plain sight.  Her shower curtains had elephants on them.  She had a Tibetan tapestry in her house with an elephant which she had bought in Tulum, Mexico.  Her brother had a series of elephants tattooed on his arm.

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As she read Ganesha’s story, and bought more images of him, she developed a more accurate picture and resonated with the quality of removing obstacles.  Lee said, “Little traces of my identity aligned with him, the remover of obstacles. It became a grounding energy, his essence in the picture. It was comforting.”

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Lee continues, “In my coaching practice, I like to talk about beginning, middles and endings, for people to be aware and find some balance with those three. Personally, I like beginnings which fits with Ganesha.  He prompts me to remove obstacles as I think through the middle and end. I extend this to help people find their own way of removing obstacles.”

Lee says, “I love that archetypes have different meanings for different people. You find what you need. I am a curious person, striving for wisdom. I want to help people get to their wisest self. One of my strongest influence was my father. He died two years ago.  If he were an animal, he’d be my elephant too.”

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Grounding is what Ganesha is all about for Lee.  She ends by telling me the screen savers on her phone and computer are elephants.

Lee’s business http://www.marquisleadership.com/our-team/

Lee and Annabelle’s grad school http://www.fielding.edu/

Ganesha-Helpful

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I often need a little help in my life, and the deity archetype, Ganesha, has  come to my aid many times. As an archetype Ganesha represents beneficence, new beginnings and the removal of obstacles.  I love the two images above, one shows Ganesha, as a Hindu god, the son of Shiva, the destroyer, and one shows the beautiful animal, our fellow mammal.  I think life is like this,  both spiritual and visceral, spirit in matter.  When I went to India for my Fulbright in 1993, I read many traveler guides and a cultural competence book from the Department of State.  These books contained great clues, like suggesting one learn to drink tea with sugar, or being careful of cars during Ramadan, when the rickshaw drivers are fasting.  And a very important clue was to watch for pickpockets. Following that advice,  I put a postcard of Ganesha in my wallet to help me get through the throngs of people at the rail road stations.  Ganesha became increasingly important to my trip as I  saw visions of Ganesha floating in my bedroom, and when my family  didn’t have food, I’d ask Ganesha for help, and immediately our neighbors would invite us to dinner.

When visualizing archetypes for help with day to day life, it is  good to find out  their stories.  Ganesha was the son of Parvati and Shiva. Shiva being one of the Hindu triumvirate which includes Brahma, the unknowable,  Vishnu the preserver, and  Shiva, the destroyer. In Hindu thought, the destroyer is not negative, although he can be a bit scary. It is rather one of the major forces in the cosmos that sustains life. Think about how rich the earth becomes from volcanic flow.  But back to the story,  Parvati was taking a bath, and asked Ganesha to guard the entry, since she was not in the mood for Shiva’s amorous advances.  Shiva, angry at the impediment, took off Ganesha’s head. Screaming, as she came from her bath , Parvati implored Shiva to get their son a new head.  A servant was dispatched to get the nearest head, which turned out to be an elephant’s.  Hence, the beloved Ganesha was created. By losing his head, Ganesha became the symbol of giving.

Next time, your thoughts are spinning, spinning. Or your stomach is cramped in anxiety or your heart is racing from worry or pain, visualize Ganesha and see what help he might have for you.