The Wisdom of Descent in a World Addicted to Ascent

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Wikipedia

We imagine heroes as willful and disciplined. The hero wins with a smart positive attitude. We accept the top part of this diagram, the “known” part, where we’re consciously working a problem and following our plan. But notice how small the known part is–and it’s larger in this diagram than it is in life.

Our culture honors winners, those who climb to the top and come out in first place. The Journey of Ascent is ever higher and more successful with a focus on the individual doing well, often at the expense of the group.

But what about real life? Does this model make an aging or sick person a loser? What about someone who needs help? As a child, I lived with a dying dad and learned it was shameful to be sick since he hid his illness except at home. He was positive and courageous, but his body still gave up at 44. His friends were shocked. No one got to say goodbye. I can only imagine how he felt keeping his lonely secret.

Christ in Gethsemane, Heinrich Hofmann, 1890

Being positive doesn’t solve every human problem no matter what we’re promised. What about shattering experiences like surviving an accident with lasting trauma and permanent wounds? What about illness without obvious cause? What about grief from the death of a parent or spouse, a child or a pet? Positive thinking won’t bring them back.

Yes, staying positive can feel supportive in the rough spots, but hard times won’t disappear. Maybe we need to accept and expect that being human sometimes hurts. Sometimes our ego is helpless.

Initiations of Descent are part of many ancient and indigenous traditions. They teach us how to take a downward journey. They support us during hard times without demonizing the one who suffers. Even Christianity includes three days of Christ’s suffering and death, although we hurry along to the resurrection part.

It’s hard to accept the dark valley on the other side of the majestic hill of success. It’s hard to accept death and loss as natural parts of the whole. Ancient mythology helps me understand, so I’ll share a few stories.

Prosperina (Persephone), Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1870

In Greek mythology, Hades abducted Persephone and took her to his Underworld Kingdom where she became Queen. Her Descent and her mother Demeter’s insistence on her return guided the dominant religious ritual in Greece for 2000 years. We don’t know what happened in the Eleusinian Mysteries, but worshipers experienced a ritual death followed by a symbolic rebirth.

In Sumeria 2500 BCE, the Goddess Inanna was Queen of Heaven and Earth. Without knowing mortality, something was missing, so she descended to the Underworld. At each step, she was stripped of a power (a lot like aging or illness) until, naked, she entered the throne room of the Goddess of Death. Inanna was a corpse in that cave for three days before rising again. Sound familiar?

In Greek mythology, gentle Chiron was struck by a poison arrow. Since his father was the God Zeus, Chiron was immortal, so his suffering was eternal. He became a teacher and a healer, a Wounded Healer who couldn’t heal himself. Many great teachers and healers are wounded by descent and loss. Having lost his homeland after the Chinese invasion, the Dalai Lama became a Wounded Healer who teaches us about compassion and acceptance.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama, 1979, Hector, NY

We deny the descending part of life’s cycle. We hate facing the truth that life is precarious and doesn’t bend to our will. Disease won’t happen to us. We’ll be healthy forever if we live right and think correctly. If loss happens, it will come later. Much later.

We know others lead lives of suffering with minimal care or food. We know many people don’t have clean water or shelter. We know war, poverty, and climate disaster force people into lives they didn’t choose. Still, we often look the other way.

Our ideal of ascent leaves us unprepared and shocked by life’s descending times, times when we often learn the most. Every living being will sooner or later descend. It’s part of being human. It’s another kind of heroic journey.

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Have you looked back at periods of descent or loss and found a gift or important lesson there? I’ll be giving a workshop “Finding Wisdom in Aging and Loss” in Columbus, Ohio on May 17-18, sponsored by the Jung Association of Central Ohio and First Community Church. We’ll explore the wisdom of descent and see what mythology teaches us about loss. For another article about descent, see Listening to the Dark: The Descent of Inanna.

Cochlear Implant Surgery update: All went well, and I’m slowly recovering. I have to keep a tight leash on my tendency to push too hard. It’s time to rest.

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32 Comments
  1. Dear Elaine, Your reassuring “Descent” post is perfect reading for me as I’m definitely on one of my descents this month, culminating (I hope!) with today’s full moon! Feeling tired and exhausted I withdrew earlier this month into dreams and active imaginations in order to seek healing and dialogue with the pregnant darkness that seems to be surrounding me at the moment. Presently, I feel like I’m getting nowhere yet thankfully my ability to “sit and wait” is growing with age. Tarot-wise, I’m in “Hermit” mode, or in Hecate’s shadowy cave.

    Thank you for sharing your own mythological stories alongside the Greeks! I love Rossetti’s painting of Persephone! I found myself nodding throughout, as every descent I’ve made has often changed my life for the better (even though I’m fighting it at the time!) no matter how punishing the journey is. At times when I’ve descended and confronted my worst fears, usually a stranger walks into my life and offers me kindness or whatever it is that I need in the moment to move myself forward again, with my faith restored for a few more steps.

    Poetry has always been my lamp, ladder and life-boat. “Lost” by David Wagoner comes to mind for all those who feel lost at the moment …

    Lost

    Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
    Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
    And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
    Must ask permission to know it and be known.
    The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
    I have made this place around you.
    If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
    No two trees are the same to Raven.
    No two branches are the same to Wren.
    If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
    You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
    Where you are. You must let it find you.

    — David Wagoner
    (1999)

    • Thank you, Deborah. I hoped to explain the value of those dark descending times that are unwelcome and often take us by surprise in a culture that overlooks the value of going down and in–Hecate’s cave, the Great Below for Inanna, anesthesia for me most recently and deafness before that and grief underlying the rest. It’s hard to have faith when I feel lost or hopeless. It’s hard to believe life and light will return.

      I’m sorry you’re going through a difficult descent. It often happens to me this time of year and lifts when the days get warmer and I spend more time outside. So, with surgery recovery still happening and a lack of vitality needed to face the cold, the darkness is a little more intense than usual this winter. I’ll have to think about those strangers who might show up. I’m not sure that’s happened to me. I seem to be rescued by Nature and Poetry and Time.

      I love the David Wagoner poem you shared, Deborah. After getting lost in my woods with a friend, she sent me this poem–and I was entranced. My writing about getting lost and receiving the poem is called “Lost and Found in My Own Backyard.” (https://elainemansfield.com/2012/lost-and-found-in-my-own-backyard/) I think I should read it and remember. Hold still. The trees know where I am.

      • In a world addicted to getting “high” you describe the importance of being “low” so well! Your kind-hearted words nudged me in the right direction yesterday and for this I am truly grateful. Thank you so much for including a link to your “lost and found” post which reminded me that every so often it can be beautiful and wonderful to be lost! I hope you’re recovering well my dear friend. Sending you much love and light across the oceans between us, Deborah.

        • Thanks, Deborah. I think the urge toward high is in response to our inability to handle the low times. I imagine you’d agree. Lost in a neighboring forest where I often walk, my friend was much mellower about being lost than I was. With all those leaves on the forest floor, I couldn’t find the path back home, but we got there–the long way round. An arc of love and light going east toward you from here.

  2. It is indeed time to rest. I remember such lassitude after the first operation, with no energy whatsoever. Currently, where I live we have been struck with repeat snowstorms, and another is on the way. One day recently while struggling to keep an appointment, something else likewise struck me: in this time when most of nature slows down, rests or sleeps soundly, we silly people pit ourselves against the snow, wind and ice day after day. I’m more convinced than ever that being out of step with natural time is a root, if not THE root, of all our social problems. Of course, I have noticed this for a long time now, but it seems clearer all the time.

    As for me, I noticed that I have quietly reclaimed a bit of natural time when on my own time: more darkness at night, not bothering to turn on the porch lights unless I’m expecting someone; time was when we’d have lights on outside for safety but for some reason this feels unnecessary now. And a few days ago I covered my bedroom windows with dark fabric to block the new brilliant LED streetlights that shine through the blinds. And just plain sleeping more, now that I have the luxury most mornings when there’s nowhere to be until 9am. I think, too, that I have noticed an uptick in acceptance of his absence as I approach the end of Year 2. I wonder if there’s a connection?

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Joe. I was surprised by the lassitude. I feel decent, but definitely don’t have my energy back 2 weeks after surgery plus I have a new imbalance. Good news is the old Meniere’s disequilibrium is gone along with roaring tinnitus in the ear that got the implant. My surgeon says the new imbalance is from inner ear swelling and will resolve itself in a week or two. It’s improving slowly. The weather is still hibernation time. I long to be outside, but it’s cold and the snow has an icy crust so it’s not fun to walk. Spring will come and the snow will melt. I now understand why my ENT waits 6 weeks to turn audio on. There’s still lots of inflammation in my inner ear and tenderness on the outside although the outer incision is nicely healed. Another month of silence, corresponding with nature’s rhythm.

      I live in a place with little light pollution and rarely turn on an outside light at night for more than a few minutes. I’d rather see the darkness and stars. My husband and I never bought outside “safety” lights which are popular in this rural area, but fortunately not with my closest neighbors who live 1/4 mile away. Those lights inhibit sky gazing. Last night’s full moon reflected off the snow and made the whole world bright. It was lovely, but about 3 am I couldn’t go back to sleep. I have a black cloth eye mask for times like that and it worked beautifully. I slept until 7:30. I think time and deep rest help us accept grief and loss. It took me a little over 2 years to feel that uptick of interest in life. The idea that the first year is the worst doesn’t serve us. For many, the second year is harder since the griever was promised it would be so much easier than the first year. Not in my world. Thanks again for your comment. I feel better knowing about your response to surgery. I’ve avoided going on the FB cochlear implant support sights to ask questions about this or anything. There are too many stories and words…

  3. Elaine, this is wonderful. So well presented. Our cukture expends a lot of e ergy promoting upward movement in Corporations; individual careers of all time; in eing the best parent, lawyer, student, football player….on a d on. It is all about ascent a d working hard, competing as well. All this while darkness, pain, trials, and suffering are how we grow. Big contradictions there. We are so fearful of descent but I have learned not to fear it…it is my growing edge. Great piece. Mary

    • Thank you, Mary. I’m thinking about ideas for my workshop in May and this is an important one. We don’t and can’t live in “positivity” all the time. It’s not possible or even desirable. When I talked about Initiations of Descent to organizers, I needed to clarify and give examples. They knew Joseph Campbell’s work, so I talked about descent as a contrast to that heroic mode. I realized I had to do more explaining for myself and for others, so I began here. I think I can do better, but I’m not running on full power so had to accept that this is the best I could do this week. I’m glad it worked–at least for you. With gratitude.

  4. Beautiful and brilliant, Elaine. All the very best with your healing from the implant. Your workshop in Columbus will be great.
    love, Sera

    • Thank you, Sera. I hope I can hear by then–and if I can’t, I’ll make do as I’ve done for over a year with a damaged R ear and a hearing aid and kindness of others who help me read lips by speaking to my face. It’s nice to have a back-up system, but I hope the implant will be working decently by then, at least for speech. Music usually comes later. It’s likely I’ll have a second cochlear implant in the R ear after we see how I do with the L ear implant. Life is a high tech adventure.

  5. Beautiful article, Elaine, something I truly believe as well. Been doing this work for a long time and the beauty of it never grows old. Thank you

    Beauty
    Donna

    • Thank you, Donna. I agree. The beauty of soul work never grows old. Do you know John Tarrant’s book ‘The Light Inside the Dark’? It’s one of my favorites. He’s a Zen master and a psychiatrist and understands the importance of not trying to bypass soul work for spiritual work. We need both and he explains it so beautifully with stories and poetry.

  6. Dear Elaine, pragmatic prose so sensitively written thank you. A friend came by for tea this morning – I like her dearly – she’s nearly 80 and as sharp as a button, well read, alert and aware of everything. At some stage when we were bemoaning what’s going on in our country, she said very forcefully about many of us being very privileged and to be very grateful for that (with which I agree ), and that we have to be positive. And to not see the cup as not half full – she was not nearly as emphatic as some are about the power of positivity but it too irks me when the forward drive goes into overdrive and there’s no acknowledgment of the backward drive. As I said to Marge vis a vis something else, that denial is one of the most primitive and most powerful impulses there is. And we surely need to overcome our denial of all that was before and still is – We can learn so much from stories, myth and legend of old, and be the richer for the reading in finding that ascent is possible but not, surely, without the descent – reminds me of a rabbi’s saying: ‘There is no way to the heights, except by way of the depths’.

    Thank you highlighting these stories.

    And thank you to Deborah for her lovely poem.

    Take time to rest Elaine. May your post op recovery continue well.

    • Thank you, Susan. I love your story. As I wrote this piece in my muddled state, I thought about my privilege and that, despite privilege, we must descend. Sometimes there is a following ascent, but not always. We never know, especially when illness is involved. Vic ascended from terrible crashes a few times, but eventually he could not. The heroic had to be surrendered and the job was to become “positive” about death as the way to escape suffering. Usually when people become handicapped (as with deafness), it’s a lifetime sentence. I’m so grateful to have a reprieve and despite how messed up our health insurance system has become, Medicare (the plan all are required to join when they reach 65) is paying for major expenses of the transplant. So I have good fortune all around, but descending energy became dominant in my life in 2006 when Vic was diagnosed with incurable cancer. I wonder what will happen next. I slept 10 hours last night. This is unheard of, but my body craves sleep.

  7. Wonderful and inciteful Elaine. It means so much to me. I use the Descent of Innana in my workshops and wrote about her in my bok The Promise. We have so much we could be talking about but as with you, my fatigue has overcome my normal life. I am convinced that this feeds my inner life in ways that will show in my work, as it does in yours. I am grateful for your writing. Much love to you.

    • Your book ‘The Promise’ is on my shelf with the Inanna story. I studied that myth for over 2 years in my women’s mythology class using ‘Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth’ by Diane Wolkstein & Samuel Noah Kramer as our major text. It’s such a spectacular mix of scholarship and story telling with translations from the original (2500 BCE?). It helped as I went through Vic’s illness when I had to stay in the conscious world (Ninshubur role) and then after his death when I took my own descent.

      I have deep fatigue after surgery and it’s a comfort to learn from others that this is normal for full anesthesia and also for cochlear implant surgery which causes temporary swelling in the inner ear. It’s magic what they do–and the body protests. If I hear again, it’s worth it all, but it’s slower to recover when the weather is cold and uninviting. I need a long walk on a Florida beach. I’ll imagine taking one with you. I hope you feel better as the days grow longer. I trust I will, too.

  8. You mention that life is a high-tech adventure, one of the “highs” you are experiencing now. (Yes, I like to read some of the comments too!) And you may imply that the lows, feelings of lassitude and lack of energy, could be fueling times for when you ascend again, as you surely will in May.

    Some random but related thoughts: Your examples and illustrations are worthy of a workshop, like attending a college class without the pressure. I recall Hofmann’s Christ in Gethsemane, which reminded me of another, longer trial, Christ’s 40 days in the wilderness of temptation. Sometimes it takes a long time to ascend, if ever.

    I’ve always admired the writing and art of Dante Gabriel Rossetti. I feel as though I could reach into the painting and touch the hand and feel the texture of the green silk.

    Other ideas popped into my mind as they often do as I read your posts. The circular graphic reminded me of a different image, the iceberg. So much submerged, which is where the refining is done and transformation can occur. We ignore it to our peril. Last but certainly not least, a reference to mentors and helpers of which you are one. Thank you, Elaine!

    • Marian, you know me too well. I feel like I got caught writing the same paper for two assignments. (I’m laughing because there are no rules against writing something for my blog that will help with a workshop, or college class equivalent, and I do it all the time.) I’m in preparation mode for the May workshop. When I realized organizers didn’t fully understand what I meant by an initiation of descent, I wanted to articulate this well for the workshop. I’ve already explained it to the organizers, but writing helps me clarify and simplify–especially since I’m not in the clearest mental and don’t know how my hearing will work or not work at that time. I feel the need to be double prepared.

      Of course, I hope for an ascent with a return of hearing. Without that hope, I wouldn’t put my body through the procedure, but for now I wait and hope. There’s improvement in tinnitus and possibly balance, but it takes various amounts of time from months to years for brains to adjust to the new sound impulses of a cochlear implant. I begin learning March 18, so I’m still in the Great Below of isolation and deafness.

      I agree the graphic is like an iceberg. In a better “Jungian” graphic, the conscious part would be smaller than in this diagram, but it does lay out the heroic journey taught by Campbell. Descent is natural to aging which is a challenge in a youth loving cultuer. I believe life goes better when we see and accept this. The workshop doesn’t focus only on grief or the loss of someone we love, but I’ll include many losses common to aging, such as losing our homes, pets, expectations, memory, health, and more.

      Thank you for your support. You’re always there when I need you. I’ll end by saying I LOVE your new book cover.

  9. I had to embrace periods of descent in my life since they tend to be a given more often than not. That being said, I am also embracing the practices of daily gratitude and accountability. Doing so goes a long way toward making times of descent more bearable.

    • Jeri, you’ve done so much to make your own descent bearable and turn it into a learning time for others. Descent happens even when we do everything “right.” In the midst of it, I have to keep my heart on kindness, gratitude, and beauty. I have to keep myself from sinking too deeply into a big cave of isolation and self-pity. Nature saves me at the hardest times. Still, it’s easy to forget the wisdom in those descending times. Mythology helps me reflect and find the archetypal patterns.

  10. I cherish your insights into classical mythology, Elaine. So much wisdom there that we’ve forgotten.

    • Thanks so much, Mark. I’m working on 3 goddess and 2 god stories as illustrations for the archetypal structures that help us understand the ways we grieve. There’s the angry one, the fixer, the one who becomes a healer, the witness, etc. I’m having fun creating this workshop. I have no idea how my hearing will be by May, but I’m planning it as though I’ll be as deaf as I am now with one impaired R ear that hears poorly with a hearing aid. Good bionic hearing or even usable hearing would be icing on the cake.

  11. Excellent post, dear Elaine.
    I would like to mention the expressions katabasis and anabasis
    Katabasis, in mythology, is a descent of some type … including a descent to the underworld, which is a mytheme in many mythologies.
    Anabasis refers to “an ascent”. Campbell has included this antithesis when studying myths, by the way.
    I love what you state in reference to the Hero’s journey (which is also replicated in Tarot as the Fool’s Journey). We are used to glorify winners, our culture appreciates Triumph above all… most times linked to wealth and strength …. showing vulnerability is a sign of weakness and maybe many people think that a good attitude will just make things better, when -I agree with you!- it is not clearly the case under certain circumstances. I guess it is a way to exorcise our own darkness. As I read along, I thought: it takes courage and wisdom, too to assume our faults, problems and limitations ….
    Thanks so much for this great post love and best wishes to you!

    • Thanks, Aquileana. I know these terms from studying mythology, especially katabasis which has called to me since I was a child. I wrote this piece in an attempt to clarify ideas about the value of descent for a workshop I’m giving in May. It can be a challenge to find wisdom in descent for many, especially if they haven’t worked with mythology or Jungian Psychology. Descent (katabasis) often hurts and offends the proud ego’s sense of how life should treat us.

      Campbell did deep exploration in mythology when I was just becoming interested in these things. My memories of him include a video taped at Esalen Institute in California. He sat in a ray of sunlight and beamed at his students. He loved to spend his birthday at Esalen, a place of renewal for him. In this short blog, I focused on the small aspect of his work that captivated our collective culture. How we love the hero! The inability to show vulnerability damages us when we’re forced into descent through illness, grief, or the dying process. If we try to hide our pain and fear, we become more isolated in our loss and can’t open to the love we’re offered. Yes, it takes courage to face our faults and frailties and also to accept support. I hope I’m learning, but it’s hard for me, too.
      Returning love and best wishes to you.

  12. Beautiful post Elaine. Thank you.

    I am becoming a devotee of descent as we all face the existential threats of the climate crisis we are in. Whether we pull through or not, I am so grateful to have context and a map for the journey into the darkness. Thank you for the work you do. Sandy

    • Thank you, Sandy. I agree about climate crisis. Descent is happening to all of us and, collectively, we ignore the obvious. It astounds me that politicians are still unwilling to act and voters are still unwilling to face the mess we’re in and force them to act. Maybe this is changing. I hope it isn’t too late. I’m also grateful for many descent myths. Inanna and Orpheus, Chiron and Persephone have led me through some hard times.

  13. Yes, as others have commented, Elaine, this is a beautiful post. I wish it had not taken me so long to honor the wisdom in the descent, but perhaps that is one of the gifts that come with age. I am reading Kathleen Dowling Singh’s book ‘The Grace in Aging,’ and it is reassuring to read the way she writes about the inevitable and many losses that accompany aging. Like you, I also love John Tarrant’s book ‘The Light Inside the Dark’ and was able to hear him speak when he came to Seattle. I assumed the place would be packed, and yet there were only twenty people or so there to listen to this incredible person. It was a reminder, once again, of how our culture does so much to keep the dark at bay.
    Hurrah for the old Meniere’s disequilibrium being gone, and here’s to the swelling being gone soon as well!

    • It amazes me that only 20 people came to hear John Tarrant. Wow! I’m glad you were there. I don’t know the book called ‘The Grace in Aging,’ so thanks for the tip. I’ll look for it. Our culture is in steep descent from climate change, political chaos, drug overdose deaths (it’s happened to my friend’s kids, too), extinction of many species, and so much more, but we still refuse to look. Eventually there will be no choice. I’m glad to be recovering from surgery, but the process is slow. Sound goes on in under 3 weeks and that will be its own adventure. I hope I have the resilience needed. Be well and let’s keep thinking about descent because someone has to.

  14. I’m just now catching up with you after several weeks of being immersed in preparations for my workshop for the Jung Society of South Florida last weekend. Feels like I’m finally coming up for air.

    I’m relieved to hear that your recovery process is going so well. While descents are never easy or comfortable, understanding them as well as you do is obviously serving you well now. 10 hours of sleep. What wonderful gifts of healing time you are blessed with. I imagine dreams have brought you comfort too. 12 days before my workshop I was given one that brought tears of release and relief.

    What would we do without our precious connection to the dark unconscious? Repeated experiences of its benevolence over an extended period of time instill a foundation of trust upon which we can rest and from which we constantly draw inspiration. Your whole life has been preparation for Vic’s death, your book, this illness, this operation, your next workshop, your next book, the wisdom you bring forth with each post.

    In my opinion, this was one of your best. Thank you.

    Jeanie

    • Ah, those descents. They just keep coming. I imagine your workshop was spectacular. I’m preparing for Jung Society in Columbus in May, not knowing just how my hearing will be then but preparing so that if it’s not improved much, I’ll be OK and the workshop will flow. I can still give a talk with no trouble and others can lead small group discussions. We’ll dedicated to figuring this out together. My recovery continues on at a slow but normal pace. It’s a big surgery and the body takes a hit with general anesthesia. Sleep is my friend.

      I had a spectacular dream the day after surgery–and because I love dreams and you love dreams, I’ll share it. I may write about it later, but I have to sit with it a while first: “I stand overlooking a large expanse of calm ocean with many women on the beach. My friend sees me and calls me. She wants me to meet her students. We stand in a circle with arms around each other. I close my eyes and lean into my friend, resting my head on her shoulder and chest. She holds me around the waist with her L arm. My L arm is around a dark-skinned ma who is muscular, thick, about my age, substantial & reassuring. We hold each other as the circle sways side to side. Surgery is over and I know I’m OK. I walk closer to the ocean but want to stay close to the man. I see a woman I know whose husband died and ask how she is. She smiles and puts on a brave face. “I’m OK.” Long pause. “It’s hard.” “I know,” I say. There’s a strong sense of love & harmony. Soft wind blowing. I don’t see the man now. I still feel the strength of his back under my hand.”

      There are many personal associations and I’ve worked with some of them with my dream therapist. I also want to work with the dream using Embodied Imagination because it was so physical. Two friends will guide me with Robert Bosnak’s approach. Thank you for your encouraging words, Jeanie. They add to the message of the dream. I’m going to be OK. Whatever that will mean. I”m OK. Whew!

  15. Wow. Of course you had a special dream! 🙂 And this one IS spectacular.

    I hope you don’t mind hearing my associations. If it’s my dream I see such strong support from — and connections with — my Animus, who’s part of my circle, or Self, along with my Anima, my special woman friend and her students. And we’re so close to the ocean, which I associate with the unconscious, the Mother, the Source, and the Self. All such affirming and supportive symbols. All speaking of love, connections, strong relationships with myself and others, and of the safety and comfort and peace and harmony that brings.

    I love it that dreams don’t, can’t, lie. They’re the one thing I can trust above all over things.

    Rest well and heal. You are okay.

    Blessings,
    Jeanie

    • I love your reflections, Jeanie. I have similar associations, but I’ll add that in the dream, I felt a little uneasy at the end when I lost sight of my strong animus He was uniquely and strongly masculine in a dream filled with the feminine. I woke up longing for him and feeling his strong hand on my back. So, my new practice: I imagine that strong muscular hand holding my lower back as I recover from surgery and try to gather the strength I’ll need to learn to hear well again. I keep bringing my mind to that hand on my back. I hope I can work with this dream with two friends trained by Robert Bosnak in Embodied Imagination. I wrote about it and felt that embodiment, but I know doing a slow dreamwork going into the images will make it more powerful than it already is. In that work, I’ll also “transit” into the man and feel him more strongly. It seems to be the most powerful to do this when the images are held with others, so I’ll wait until my friends are available. This dream isn’t going anywhere. I am OK. Blessings to you, too.

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