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 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.