The Crownless Shall Be Crowned
6. The Tree of Life:Signal Tree
The ur-constellation* of The Signal Tree is a transformation of the constellation, Cygnus, the Swan. Located between the 2 arms of the Milky Way, The Signal Tree reflects the Signal Tree just off Peck Road in Akron, Ohio, which marks the portage (place where you carry a canoe from one body of water to another) between the Tuscarawas and Cuyahoga Rivers. The earthly tree is a living witness to the indigenous wisdom of the past when human beings lived here in balance with the ecosystem. The tree in Akron marked as a safe place to move from one river to another. Understood mythically, the theme of a safe place of transition rooted in remembrance of the past symbolizes living through the 4 seasons of life guided by cultural rites of transition: sacred birth, rite of adolescence and adulthood, rite of elderhood, and sacred death. The Signal Tree between the Tuscarawas and Cuyahoga has a shape reminiscent of Cygnus, so, it is not difficult to make the revisionary leap. We are living in a 13.7 billion year old cosmos with souls that have known and shall know the gifts of the seasons of life many, many times. There is a Tree of Recollection of Continuity of Soul.
The heavenly Signal Tree can be imagined with a deep root beneath its single trunk that divides into 3. Above, to the left of the ur-constellation is the North America Nebula (NGC 7000) and just to the right of the North America Nebula is the Pelican Nebula (IC 5070). Beneath the left-hand branch of the Tree is the Veil Nebula, also called, Witch’s Broom or Finger of G-d (NGC 6960). The dark patch that divides the Milky Way is called, The Great Rift, by our culture. For the peoples near the Great Lakes, that dark patch is known as Otter, who not only helped the Wisdom of the 7 Directions return to Earth, but who is also the Helper who accompanies souls to and from life.
The North American Nebula also indicates our location. The Pelican Nebula represents an integration of the best of the European teachings with the greater body of universal Wisdom. In the past, the pelican was imagined to feed its young with the blood from its own body. It is also a location in our galaxy where new stars are being born at this time. The Veil Nebula is the remnant of a super nova. It reminds us that the majority of the substance of Earth and our bodies was gifted to us by stars that lived and sacrificed their lives so we might live. Otter symbolizes the return of awareness of our capacity to move between the apparent surface of life and the hidden depths and that the entire cosmos is made this way, similar to consciousness surrounded in all directions as well as resting within a vast unconsciousness as infinite as space-time. Otter also reminds us of the many medicines living right where we are.
My message to those following the ancient ways is that a new Tree is flowering in the West. The Center of the People is alive, life-preserving and life-giving. What is past can be released. We can be released from the past when we are ready. Let the ‘hoops’ or circles of cultures be linked in wisdom. The awareness I describe here is spiral, evolutionary, involutionary, in the sense that it is both historic and archetypal. With the awareness of a galactic-hearted humanity, a doorway opens to understanding other planetary cultures who would share our galaxy, for they too, would know the experience of the Deeper, Guiding centerless Center. Even those who would travel through interplanetary journeys for 1000s of years would still know the the deeper awareness and enduring consciousness that is reflected in this Tree for reincarnation and biology do intersect in key relationships.
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
To those august words, we are called to include:
The crownless again shall be queen.
The proto-ur-constellation of the Pleiades unfolds through time in a fascinating way over the 4 centuries of Magnification. They are a many-storied constellation crown of stars. Seeing through has been an ongoing theme as regards the Pleiades even before there was a telescope. The actual number of stars in the tiny sky crown varies depending on the culture. Even as there appears to be a human agreement on the basic 6, there is an ethnospheric theme of wise individuals who are also gifted with a capacity to see more stars in the darkness than the apparent. I’ve heard it told that this was true of Mohamed, that the Prophet could see 12 stars. I’ve also heard a Cree storyteller say the same thing about leadership, wisdom and the perception that sees stars where others see only darkness. Another theme is the beauty, often imagined as feminine — six sisters or daughters. In the public mind, the name, Subaru, is the Japanese name for the Pleiades. In their language it refers to females and males and means, unite.
If you follow the line traced by the 3 stars of Orion’s belt upward to the right, you can find the small island of the Pleiadian stars. For us Westerners, they are not a traditional constellation unto themselves. They belong to the constellation of Taurus, the Bull.
The Bull and Pleiades have a remarkable history. It’s disputed by some, but I think we are wise to allow the roots of our understanding to return to their Cro-Magnon Underworld. Note the Bull and Stars at Lascaux:
Some 15,000 years later, here is the pairing of Bull and Pleiades as it appeared in the mythology of Mithras. In this image, Mithras is sacrificing a bull as was done in the caves of Mithraic ritual. Note that the bull is reversed in this portrayal. It is because the rites of Mithras were an Underworld ritual enactment where the directions are switched – left is right, above is below, etc. The sacrifice of the bull is called, a tauroctony. In this symbolism, the Pleiades mark the wound of the sacrificial blade.
The Pleiades’ unbroken connection to the roots of the Western collective unconsciousness/beneath consciousness remind us that the Underworld has always been full of stars. Because of my own experience at Font-de-Gaume, because Gene Monick had the same experience and because the guides who work at the grotte witness a steady stream of individuals who have the experience, I am Eternity, which they call, La Revelation, I think it’s a safe wager to suggest that Underworld ritual spaces and the rituals that occurred within them were about getting right with Eternity – getting the time right so that all the worlds line up. The result of the experience is Delight in being and in the profound rhythm and beauty of Earth and Sky. Underworld stars = Ritual numinous experience of the Eternal.
In Chapter 1, I wrote of our cultural poverty because we have place no value on the Underworld. It was the Alexandrian Christian mob who destroyed the Serapeum in 391, though they had no idea what they were destroying. When the Christians buried the teachings, they also covered over the sacred space beneath the Serapeum – an Underground space full of stars, sarcophagi, and images of the Apis Bull, the God sacrificed and re-born.
From Chapter 1:
The King of the Deep, who may well be imagined as the the Spirit of the Depths in Jung’s Red Book, once we un-bind the curses, re-opens the way for us to consider that in the same way as our cultural way of seeking comfort in a chronopathological senex-styled consciousness is the exception to human cultures, so is our cultural way of seeking wisdom without profound reverence for the chthonic realms of dreams, ancestors, death, re-birth, and the abundance of life. We need to be death-like to go there, which means, to turn out the lights, go to sleep and descend into the deep rest of the night. Maybe you notice that we are a culture who unconsciously pollutes the starry heavens with artificial light. We have sleep problems.
In his magnum opus, Masks of God, Joseph Campbell described the many faces and forms over the centuries by which the Source beyond names is psychologically known. The heart of the archetypal Presence in human beings, in all life and throughout creation, is a Source who is willing to let go of all that was before in order for more life to come.
Taking up this theme of the Bull and the Pleiades, the starry Underworld, dreams, the sacrifice and re-birth that renews, the ancestors, there is a decisive moment in the Western tradition of soul connected to Mithras and His mythology. Though C. G. Jung had plenty of gnostic experiences of the collective unconscious and was aware of its reality, he lacked clinical evidence to prove its existence. He needed an example of someone who experienced an archetype yet had no previous life experience of that archetype. He needed empirical proof to make the case with the psychoanalytic community of his day. At last, it would be a psychotic patient in a spiritual emergency who would deliver him what he had been seeking. Here again is Jung near the end of his life with John Freeman for the 1959 BBC interview on Face to Face:
After the second prayer, you will see how the disc of the sun unfolds, and you will see hanging down from it,the tube, the origin of the wind, and when you move your face to the regions of the east, it will move there, and if you move your face to the regions of the west, it will follow you. Instantly I knew! — Now this is it! This is the vision of my patient!
After Jung’s experience with this patient the collective, archetypal unconscious/objective psyche had its foothold. It was through a Mithraic return. The psychological idea of the collective unconscious is necessary to truly undertake any conversation about someone’s most transformative soul experiences – a point I wished to make in the introduction. Whenever a person begins to take dreaming and the inner-life seriously, the archetypal depths soon present themselves. It can also be learned in the reverse, where the archetypal depths present themselves as symptoms, crisis and a major turning point that leads one to develop disciplines of dreaming and the inner-life the restores to them the living waters of soul.
The cult of Mithras came forth at the time when humans became aware that what was once believed to be a constant and steady firmament was, in fact, slowly turning. Mithras was the mythic person of cosmic powers who turned the vault of the heavens. Philosophically, this meant that the stars of your birth were not your certain fate. Through Mithras, you could become free from the compulsion of the stars of your birth and root your awareness at deeper, more powerful level. The sacrifice of the bull represented a ritual enactment of how Mithras moved the constellations. Appearance of Mithras = the cosmos has been transformed.
The yearly ritual of the tauroctony was nothing less than the sacrificial death and re-birth of the Image of God – Imago Dei, as it is often called.
What this anonymous heroic patient, Jung and all of us who follow now have is an assurance that, in the depths beneath our waking consciousness and personal unconscious – the unconscious that is drawn from our own biography, there is a collective depth that no matter who or when we might live, opens into the entirety of human experience, myth, and meaning – an archetypal unconscious – undreaming mind, as Campbell offered – and is mirrored by our ur-constellated heavens.
Western persons now require an education of lifelong learning that awakens them to the archetypal perspective – both in theory and in numinous experiences. I quoted Hillman earlier:
The archetypal perspective offers the advantage of organizing into clusters or constellations a host of events from different areas of life…in behavior…images…style of consciousness…psychopathologies…attitude.
In the days of the Mithraic rituals, the piercing of his blade pushed downward. The penetrating Magnification soul-eye of 1610, pierced upwards and beyond. For the first time, the West knew new lights, new symbolic depths of the collective unconscious made conscious. Magnification, as a piercing of the Pleiades was a pathologizing of the starry heavens. Reading this history backwards with archetypal eyes, it seems very much like who was being announced to us was Mithras, the world-renewing overthrower and transformer of the cosmos, who brought with Him the collective unconscious as a cultural given for the Western soul.
Hillman expounded further on how pathologizing implicates an archetypal intrusion – he is talking about more than individuals, for in his style, archetypes take in individuals, communities, Western culture as a whole:
…archetypal psychology can put its idea of psychopathology into a series of nutshells, one inside the other: within the affliction is a complex, within the complex an archetype, which in turn refers to a God. Afflictions point to Gods; Gods reach us through afflictions. Jung’s statement: The Gods have become diseases…implies that Gods, as in Greek tragedy, force themselves symptomatically into awareness.
Look again at the proto-ur-constellation of the Pleiades with an eye for the layers of Hillman’s ‘nutshells’ – the surface that has been pierced is the affliction – the 2 kinds of stars, those seen and those ‘unseen but now entering awareness. The complex is the realization that was once a flat surface image of the constellation of the past, the Pleiades, is actually an ur-constellation that unifies both surface (exteriority) and depths (interiority).
Hillman in another instance:
“As all images can gain this archetypal sense, so all psychology can
be archetypal when it is released from its surface and seen through
to its hidden volumes… Archetypal adds the further implication of
basic root structure, generally human, a necessary universal with
consequents. (“Inquiry into the Image,” Spring 1977, p. 83-4).
For the archetype and the God of what has been constellated, this is necessarily a question of imagining, psychologizing and bringing forth what has never been. I offer the following for the present and willingly accept the imagining, psychologizing and creativity of those who would follow…
If we imagine Mithras as the archetype and God, He sacrifices the old imagination of the sky and life so a new sky life might come for the collective. In His day, by transforming the Heavens, He put an end to any pretension to absolute power of a priestly political class in the name of their Chosen God. We do well to keep that in mind as Westerners. Imagining the Pleiades seen through as a Second Coming of Mithras, He certainly brought again the same awareness, yet, in 1610, also brought with Him an Underworld crown for each individual psyche. What I mean is that, in the West, each person has both the potential and the capacity to directly know inner divinity. All souls have direct access to ancestors, death, re-birth, and the abundance of life. I have already established this idea as regards dreaming with the reminder of Campbell’s quote about how in dreams there is no object, all is subject. Jung, in his mode, shared the same insight in how in dreams, the dreamer once again is the Eternal person.
It is wise to re-claim this Underworld starry crown and its inherited human right of direct access to the Many, the One Within, Beneath and Beyond. Jung has the more honest Underworld eyes when he wrote that the Eternal person appears at times grotesque. He is reminding those who would embrace the wisdom of dreaming that humility and the spirit of learning is necessary as you learn about psychological elements of your own soul that are the very qualities degraded, forgotten, repressed by waking consciousness. This is the shadow work.
However, once the initial shock is faced in shadow, previously inaccessible images, insights and inspiration come forth. The Underworld lights that illuminate the heart in new, unexpected ways are the Grateful Dead – not the band, but those persons who have died whose love has never left us.
After 30 years as a French teacher in public schools, I can share that the life-transforming dreams most shared with me by my students were dreams of the dead, in the sense of ancestors. They did not dream of ghosts who brought dread and coldness, but Loved Ones who brought warmth, insight, healing and guidance for life. Their experiences are the norm for human beings in the wider ethnosphere.
Patricia Garfield’s book, The Dream Messenger: How Dreams of the Departed Bring Healing Gifts, is the book I gave away the most over the years. In it, after researching thousands of dreams, she teased out the archetypal pattern that she named The Universal Dream About the Dead. She described the archetype in 9 stages. The stages generally occur over a period of time, but sometimes, they can all come to pass in a single night — as in the literary case of Ebenezer Scrooge in Dickens’ Christmas Carol.
The Universal Dream About the Dead.
1. The Announcement
2. The Arrival at the Meeting Place
3. The Dream Messenger
4. Attendants of the Dream Messenger
5. The Dream Message Delivered
6. The Gift of the Dream Messenger
7. The Farewell Embrace
8. The Departure of the Dream Messenger
9. The Aftermath of the Visit
As a pattern, about 3 times a year, a new student would stay after class and tell me privately that a beloved departed person of the family had visited in a dream. Sharing the book, The Dream Messenger, provided a soul-framework with which to place and make sense of the experience. Eventually, because this happened so often, I created an assignment in honor of All Saints Day, La Toussaint, in French. Students interviewed elders in their families in order to learn their own history. They would tell their memorized stories to the class in French. I would always share my own stories. My father, in particular, has visited me many times with healing messages in dreams.
Equally archetypal and of this same cultural inheritance for the individual Western soul is the near-death experience or NDE. In the ethnosphere, entire cultural systems come out of the near-death experiences of the People. Our own Greek roots tap into the near-death experience found in Plato’s Republic. In the 10th chapter, Socrates tells the Myth of Er. Er was a soldier who died and returned with a message for the People. There is a remarkable similarity between the Christian concept of the separation of the dead in the afterlife and what Er witnessed regarding the left or to the right based on virtue of soul.
In the ethnosphere, persons who die and return are generally highly esteemed. I shared earlier the Tibetan term, delok, which is their name for a near-death experiencer. Mike Hay, my first Teacher, was a delok. My Uncle Dan is a delok. Author, John Neihardt, the poet-laureat of Nebraska, author of the book, Black Elk Speaks, which brought Lakota spirituality to the Western world, was a delok. Black Elk, too, was a delok. In fact, it was their shared knowledge from near-death experiences that opened the way for the depth of their relationship. Their relationship is a classic example of Awakening Together in the Dream.
For this story, I am indebted to Amy Kucera, director of the Neihardt Center in Bancroft, Nebraska. Because of her passion for all things Neihardt and Black Elk, I was able to obtain Reece Pendleton’s brilliant monograph, A Ghostly Splendor: John C. Neihardt’s Spiritual Preparation for Entry into Black Elk’s World. Neihardt had a near-death experience as a child:
…Then I was flying face downward, with arms and hands thrust forward like a diver’s. There was vastness – terribly empty save a few lost stars, too dim and wearily remote ever to be reached. And there was dreadful speed, a speed so great that whatever laid beneath me – whether air or ether – turned hard and slick as glass.
I wanted to rest. I wanted to go home. But when I cried out in desperation, it seemed a great Voice filled the hollow vastness and drove me on. There was something dear to leave to leave behind, something yonder to be overtaken. Faster! faster! faster!
Three times, the dream recurred; and in the feverish intervals I held fast to my Mother, fearing to be alone again out there.
When I wakened in the morning, the world was still and the fever gone.
The Black Elk Speaks author referred to the Voice he heard as his ghostly brother. At the end of their interviews for the book, Black Elk thanked Neihardt for his ghostly brother, again, with gratitude to Reece Pendleton:
This vision of mine ought to go out, I feel, but somehow I couldn’t get anyone to do it. I would think about it and get sad. I wanted the world to know about it. I seems that your ghostly brother has sent you here to do this for me. You are here and have the vision just the way I wanted, and the tree will bloom again and the people will know the true facts. We want this tree to bloom again in the world of true that doesn’t judge.
The photo above is Black Elk praying on what was just renamed Black Elk’s Peak in the Black Hills – The Heart of All That Is. It was because of the shared near-death experiences of Black Elk and John Neihardt that this could happen, that I might meet the Petit Prince become a man in August, 2016. The transformation that is now occurring at Standing Rock on the banks of the Cannonball River, North Dakota, is also part of this same Depth and Enduring Dream of the Flowering Tree of the Six Grandfathers.
It’s the inclusion of axis, atmosphere, and orbit that form the empirical ground of the participatory world view that the Age of Magnification has been birthing. We are no longer subjects to a royal ruling class or all-powerful sovereign. We are crowned participants – all of us – in the world we bring forth together for our children and grandchildren. We participate in all we experience. This has always been the case, yet now, the emphasis is on becoming conscious, yet decently unconscious, as Jung would say, agents of Life. The age old wisdom, once for a chosen few, belongs to all. In Black Elk’s case, the entire Dream of a People can be carried forward by a single individual.
I have been making the effort for a revisioning of immortality in the Western tradition. When working through the Christian mythology, there is a central question about the Judgement of the soul at death, as well as a Last Judgement.
An earnest reading of NDE experiences soon loosens the concept of the Judgement of souls in the sheer amount of complexity that comes with learning. Personally, I have never yet heard of a person experiencing going before the Throne of the Almighty in NDE. In particular, I have listened to the stories of persons who committed suicide. They reported the experience of acceptance and understanding. In the published accounts, those who had negative experiences shared having a sense of shame about them. The NDE was a turning point in life for them. It seems that what we experience at the moment of death concerns the virtue of the relationships what we take there with us -both inner and outer.
The soul’s special relationship with death is participatory. Any hell that is experienced seems to have been already present in the individual soul in some way. Living in a world that turns on an axis mundi, on an Earth that has a sense of virtue, balance, and alignment, my hunch is that to the degree we are aligned or not with the Purpose of our soul seems predictive of the NDE. Here, I am sharing what are field notes. What is clear is that an attitude of dogmatic certainty as concerns what occurs after death is not as helpful as an attitude of one who wishes to learn and understand.
There are many now like Mellen-Thomas Benedict who die and return. Like those who have done so in the past, he returns with cultural information that we do well to consider now:
The mystery of life has very little to do with intelligence. The universe is not an intellectual process at all. The intellect is helpful; it is brilliant, but right now that is all we process with, instead of our hearts and the wiser part of ourselves.
The center of the Earth is this great transmuter of energy, just as you see in pictures of our Earth’s magnetic field. That’s our cycle, pulling reincarnated souls back in and through it again. A sign that you are reaching human level is that you are beginning to evolve an individual consciousness. The animals have a group soul, and they reincarnate in group souls. A deer is pretty much going to be a deer forever. But just being born a human, whether deformed or genius, shows that you are on the path to developing an individual consciousness. That is in itself part of the group consciousness called humanity.
I saw that races are personality clusters. Nations like France, Germany and China each have their own personality. Cities have personalities, their local group souls that attract certain people. Families have group souls. Individual identity is evolving like branches of a fractal; the group soul explores in our individuality. The different questions that each of us has are very, very important. This is how Godhead is exploring God’s Self – through you. So ask your questions, do your searching. You will find your Self and you will find God in that Self, because it is only the Self.
More than that, I began to see that each one of us humans are soul mates. We are part of the same soul fractaling out in many creative directions, but still the same. Now I look at every human being that I ever see, and I see a soul mate, my soul mate, the one I have always been looking for. Beyond that, the greatest soul mate that you will ever have is yourself. We are each both male and female. We experience this in the womb and we experience this in reincarnation states. If you are looking for that ultimate soul mate outside of yourself, you may never find it; it is not there. Just as God is not “there.” God is here. Don’t look “out there” for God. Look here for God. Look through your Self. Start having the greatest love affair you ever had … with your Self. You will love everything out of that.
I had a descent into what you might call hell, and it was very surprising. I did not see Satan or evil. My descent into hell was a descent into each person’s customized human misery, ignorance, and darkness of not-knowing. It seemed like a miserable eternity. But each of the millions of souls around me had a little star of light always available. But no one seemed to pay attention to it. They were so consumed with their own grief, trauma and misery. But, after what seemed an eternity, I started calling out to that light, like a child calling to a parent for help. Then the light opened up and formed a tunnel that came right to me an insulated me from all that fear and pain. That is what hell really is.
So what we are doing is learning to hold hands, to come together. The doors of hell are open now. We are going to link up, hold hands, and walk out of hell together.
There is a closing facet of the experience of hell as regards how we as a collective make an individual’s life a living hell. The persons who told me about their suicide attempts experienced love and acceptance in the Other World. They made their attempts and in one case, took electroshock treatments to cure bi-sexuality, because the Ohio communities where they lived had made their lives a living hell. This occurred because of collective lack of soul knowledge, misunderstanding, condemnation and judgement. There was also group assent to allow un-examined cruelty to take place. Becoming conscious of how we collectively participate in the creation of living hell for others in our families, neighborhoods, cities, states, and nations is the most important reason to study the Underworld experience of the NDE. Is it not courteous only to ask those who suffer what ails them?
Jean-Paul Sartre’s dictum, L’enfer, c’est les autres, Hell is other people, offered a good way to understand the suffering that nudges persons to want to leave this world. I can share that the suicidal persons who attempted to leave were either LGBT persons with passionate, loving hearts, or misunderstood mystics with shamanic, numinous lives, or orphan souls who were told from the start in conscious and unconscious ways that they were not good enough to keep. If there were criminal acts, it was because of despair of broken hearts and the feeling that nothing mattered.
Ohio now has 23 heroin overdoses a week according to the latest statistics. This is no longer a family disease, but a collective and culturally unconscious wound bleeding life. I think it is worth the time to listen how the ways of our culture, especially as regards blindness to the Deep Light of the Underworld, are currently making the lives of others a living hell. I think it is very much worth the time to dismantle institutional forms of collective cultural hell-making. We also do well to marginalize leaders whose mode is of the patriarchal Alpha Dog or hidden manipulators/participants in social tyranny.
Above is an artist’s rendering of the crater called, Chicxulub. Reports from studies of the crater in 2016 now suggest that the mass extinction that is remembered in the geological record as the K-T Boundary was a combination of volcanic activity and an extra-terrestial collision. It is entering human awareness that 65 million years ago, most of the life of Earth died within a 2 hour cataclysm.
The mammalian life that now dominates the planet has its roots in this mass extinction. The first time I took in the idea of mass extinction was when I was a child during a stay at my grandmother’s and grandfather’s home in Cincinnati. I was 6 then, so I know that it was the summer of 1967. My mom had taken me to the natural history museum and there was a way that the fossils I saw there affected me deeply. My heart was broken because the dinosaurs were dead. I did not understand why it happened. No one at that time knew. In what was my first time of creating a song, I took a harmonica behind my grandparents’ couch and quietly played and sang my heart out. The amount of time I was inside that song seemed timeless. It’s a memory that is close to my awareness still, so I understand that first song as a sacred moment.
I was able to move through the impact of knowledge of mass extinction in a natural way. I somehow took it in stride and seemed to know instinctively how to move through my emotions with music. Still, on that day, a fault-line opened in me that quietly drained out hope.
I’m sharing this because it opens the way for me to share that all those who found our world to be a living hell came to a deep hidden nihilism during adolescence. It came through knowledge that shattered their world view and isolated them with no way out.
There is a collective neglect in our culture when we fail to offer the ritual and sacred space within which the souls of our youth can plunge more deeply into their own Wisdom and Strength for life. After 30 years teaching and also after parenting and uncle-ing, I know that we olders generally aren’t aware of elements of sacred awareness in youth that were shattered by the evolution in our scientific knowledge. This is how chronopathology appears in the younger generation.
However, in the case of our next generations, what causes the pathology is an evolutionary expansion of knowledge that is asking for a mirroring in soul. It is how the coming generation is pregnant with the future.
Here in Ohio, the scientific community does not talk about sacred awareness and the religious communities are not open to proper rites of passage. So, when I reached the age of Confirmation – 4th grade, at St. Mary’s, my prayers included wanting to know what happened to the dinosaurs. My elders had no idea that my soul could be asking for a vision quest or hungering for an evolution in soul, for a sacred lesson from Grandother Earth about resilience and the Mystery of life.
To continue now with no cultural rites of passage is to participate in the continuing soul-wounding of our children and grandchildren. It’s time to gather to have that conversation, especially to invite other cultures who still have rites of passage to teach us what we have forgotten. Look again at Joseph Kearns’ 8th grade experience:
“God — a childhood fantasy perpetuated by adults who
were either irresponsible or thoughtless — was no longer there: He had died.” (p.148)
…I felt as if I had woken up from an illusion that still
held countless minds captive, but
I had woken up into a nightmare. p. 149
In our Underworld region of the collective soul, our questions do not belong to us alone. So, the answers can be more efficiently sought in a collective, rite-of-passage-style. I wrote in the opening that what divides our culture from the indigenous is the concept of soul as a private property/concern. In most of the cultures of the world, care of soul is a collective proposition.
I was not healed from my untouched evolution of science-triggered soul shattering until age 55. (!) That it took so long offers a way to consider the blindness our own cultural way. What I was never able to shake was a long-suffering certainty that I am abandoned by God. This was not a rational idea, so it was not touched by 10,000 reasons. A lot of generous hearts and ceremony at last healed my nihilism.
The healing came on Hanbleycha -Crying for a Vison, a Vision Quest, at Pine Ridge. As I prayed through the days on the hill, what slowly rose into my consciousness, even as a physical sensation in my solar plexus, was that very despair of being abandoned by God. Up until that moment, I had assumed that this depth of sorrow was my private hell to carry. It took awhile, but finally, I focussed my prayer in that thawing solar plexus of mine and the terror of abandonment. I prayed for help. Off in the West, the thunder quietly rumbled. The wind from the West increased and seemed to blow directly over me, right into my belly. There was a light mist. It blew and blew and I felt the sorrow lift out of me. I wept.
After the winds died down and more time passed, I laid down to rest. Just as I fell asleep, I dreamed that one of my most jaded and brilliant students over the years came to me weeping. We were at the front entry of a church, just about to go in. He said:
Reynolds, something big happened to me.
I told him that I could tell that it was real and important.
It was Hindu.
Sounds good, I answered.
We went in through the doors and I woke up.
I knew that my inner nihilist had been healed by the Power of the West. I was healed by the Thunderers, dreaming, Earth, and a loving community in a ritual that delivered me to the place where I could find the care of soul for which I longed. I’m still thinking on the Hindu part of it. I always laugh when I share this story. What did I mean when I replied, Sounds good? I can share that at that moment in the dream, I had no idea what I was talking about. I’ve gone back to Joseph Campbell’s unfolding of the Upanishads. That’s where the Hindu part of my healing is as of this writing.
Would it have been possible for me to live the rest of my life with part of me numb, forgotten and feeling abandoned by God? Of course. I could have lived just fine, but diminished. It was through the mescosmic cultural layer that I found a release and a deeper connection with the Thunderers of the Power of the West.
It’s also clear to me that another way to understand the hell that Mellen-Thomas reported:
My descent into hell was a descent into each person’s customized human misery, ignorance, and darkness of not-knowing.
After living so many years without my rite of passage upon a sacred Earth and after experiencing the healing of my nihilistic certainty that I am abandoned by God, I think a case could be made for the private, un-reachable depth of suffering in soul has a cultural counterpart. The ‘customized human misery, ignorance and darkness of not knowing’ describes life in private cells of a culture with no communal rites of passage.
Yes, there are appetites for the greed of consumer society, but I think the way in which the chronic ache of the collective soul is privately suffered by individuals is a key driver of materiailsm. It is not possible to sell the individual enough medication to heal an individual soul where the personality meets the collective inner depth. Not all that afflicts a person at that level is pathology, but it is the cultural future entering as a Calling. Is it already too late to de-privatize what is the common good in water, air, Earth, climate, ecosystems and also in soul?
It’s the motion of where we stand that helps move the Heavens, the Underworld and the wisdom of the seasons for us. There is more of our individuality that is being done for us by the Earth since Western awareness expanded with the knowledge of bi-polar axis mundi, atmosphere and orbit.
Look again at the words of Job’s God in the King James Version:
Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season?
or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons? [Job 38:32]
It is the with the necessary participation of Earth turning on its axis, protected by the atmosphere, orbiting out star, the sun, that Mazzaroth is brought forth in his season and Arcturus with his sons are guided. Yes, it is possible to chronopathologically shift meaning in this text and interpret it as this is the Highest God, All-powerful and Creator of all that is who was asking Job if he could create a universe? Yet, this mental sleight of hand tries to overlook that fact that how we imagine the Great Mover has been Moved – which was the Message of Mithras – and for us, even Mithras has been moved.
Since Sidereus Nuncias, there has been a transformation of our cultural Underworld – that dimension of dreaming consciousness which is beneath and within the surface of our daily lives. Life upon a planet that turns on its axis mundi now includes that we all pass under the world each night as Earth turns away from the Sun. Our sleeping, dreaming and stars now include, not just the dream and the Underworld, but also the Under-the-world.
To add the Under-the-world to Underworld is to remember that there is now a pin-point, spark-like, individual ground for all those who dream. In geometry, each position on a sphere is a point. There is an archetype of the Underworld/under-the-world point of the individual dreamer now. It represents a newly gained point to the authority and autonomy of the individual dreamer. It would seem to suggest new freedom of and freedom from choice for taking on the evolutionary effort to make the unconscious conscious, of developing a psychological point of view. therefore ensouling the world.
The point of soul individuality is sustained and participates in dream of life and the life of dreaming. Of the dream-I and the dream. As odd as it sounds, we are collectively individuals. Transpersonal psychology has been saying the same since 2008 in Chris Bache’s book, Dark Night, Early Dawn. He sums up his insights about collective individuality as, Where one of us goes, all of us go. .
This idea of each person being a single-authentic point embedded in the wider surface means that there is an individual inner authority that has as its birthright worthiness to be present in its own truth, even in the face of all other claims made to over-ride this innate sovereignty. This same point of life is simultaneously in relationship with all the others, just as indigenous wisdom states. As Earth turns on an axis mundi, we pass under-the-world as we move nightly beneath the stars.
What I mean is, if we were to cross through the sphere of the planet to the other side during the daylight hours, we would find ourselves “upside down” in relation to how we orient ourselves, with left and right switched. Though this is the classic symbolism for Underworld, upside down with left and right switched, it includes an extra point d’appui.
With our new underworld guiding star, there is an increased expectation to become aware of the metaphoric, poetic, symbolic language of dreams and the Underworld. Intuitively, I think when dream work is lacking, there is an increased soul-thorn of inferiority in our sides. The word, inferior, means to be carried beneath. We are literally carried beneath our day-time world each night. The Western mind has a native inferiority to it that carries us all beneath to our own Source in the dreaming and undreaming consciousness beneath. It is both a great wealth and also a burden.
I described this Under-the-world requirement in my song, The Magnification. We are made for a double-awareness that unites the blue skies of the day with the midnight blue of the night.
People move out now from wherever you been.
Your Comfort is no longer inside where you live.
Be wise near them shallow ones trolling the Earth
Preaching the prison of death or the truth.
There’s Heaven and heaven
The Sun and the sun
Jupiter and Jupiter
The one and the One
The Light and the light
Above and above
The fire and the Fire
The love and the Love
It’s the Magnification of your space and your time.
Let each revelation open your mind
for the magnification
This song is true
when all you were given you can see through
In this first section is the Call to adventure to courageously embody and live a life during this time in our evolutionary history. I advise to stay aware that there is an important difference between those who would speak in terms of shallow war of opposites and those who would speak in terms of deep mutually beneficial union of complements. Earlier, I described this as the old ruler v. the new ruler to use as a measurement for life as regards our chakras. There is also the call to learn the complementary relationship between the daytime mind’s world of sun, light, love, and so on, and the nighttime mind’s mythic understanding of Sun, Light, Love, etc.
The refrain is a call to see through and to be mindful that for each new cosmological, biological, psychological discovery, there are necessary expansions of all cultural institutions and ways.
The song continues:
So come on you readers and see with your hearts
Feel into these words all them watermarks
On into this night, beyond and within (you)
To where you are going, to where you have been
There’s Memory in the memory
Dream in the dream
Reflection in reflection
The seen in the Seen
depth in the Depth
Is in the is
time in the Time
The Abyss in the abyss
It’s the Magnification
You gotta double your words
They come in three times the meaning.
Rise up, have your turn.
For the Magnification
The song is true
When all you were given you can see through
This section is a reminder of how to keep our minds and hearts together as we move into the world. It recalls the ur-constellations overhead. The daytime mind supported from beneath by a living dream life in-forms, as in shapes our souls’ creativity and receptivity from within. When we are connected to the dreams of our lives, the world is lit from within. When we carry our waking awareness into the depths of sleep, our vitality energizes and deepens the Depths. In the day, we say we had a dream. In the night, it is the dream that has us inside it.
At this point, it is good archetypal psychology to set aside the lens of insight that comes with a Mithraic interpretation. To not do so would look a lot like an attempt to re-establish the past and its beliefs – to chronopathologize. A simple way to set aside psychologizing via the tauroctony is to take up other perspectives. As Neihart’s ghostly brother would have us always driving like divers onward, our hands thrust forward.
Theologian David L. Miller has wonderful work on recovery of soul’s special relationship with death and Underworld in the early Christian tradition. I’ve spoken to him 2 times as he was passing through the Cleveland Jung circles. He spoke here on the an understanding that he rooted in the early father, Origen.
For the Western mind, after the literalization and repression of its own Underworld during the centuries of the modern period, it would not be until Jung that the way down and in, away from daylight would return. For Dr. Miller, this pathway existed once and could be brought back as a means to re-animate faith. His book, Hells and Holy Ghosts: A Theopoetics of Christian Belief opens the doorway into our recovery of the Western Underworld by digging down to recover the lost Christian Underworld.
In Hells and Holy Ghosts, Miller made a convincing case that cultures and persons require a psychological journey to the Underworld in order to be whole. He discerned between the descent into the Underworld in soul – ad inferos, from the descent into literal Hell in the center of the Earth – ad infernos.
He argued that in the beginnings of Christianity, an Underworld passage was part of the completion of being a Christian. His argument was that one foot of the archetypal Christ was upon the Earth and the other was in anima, in the Underworld. Our work was to step into both of those sandals in order to be Christ-like. In the other direction, he made the point that in the 19th century, a cultural shift occurred as the journey into the Underworld was appropriated by Christian fundamentalism as a journey into a literal Hell where the souls of the damned suffer for all eternity under the physical ground.
To the degree that the Underworld was literalized into Hell by the general public, the journey to the Underworld in anima was taken up in literature – Moby Dick, Heart of Darkness, etc. He continued that the same archetype is present in depth psychology in how individuals become whole by journeying into the dark, forgotten, hidden, lost regions of their unconsciousness, through symptoms, dreams, especially through depression – it is a journey to the Underworld in anima, in soul, that are a portion of soul’s necessity.
If Miller’s work is a recovery of soul’s special relation with death, then, the Magnification as the crowning of the individual and collective Western soul belongs to the world to come through the body of the sacred woman. In the Introduction, I stressed that the soul also has a special relationship with conceiving, labor, birth, evolution, Earth and cosmos which manifests as receptivity and creativity. Speaking both literally as well as metaphorically, Pregnancy is not an illness and laboring to birth is not a disease – though like psychological symptoms, they also include suffering. The Underworld stars, the cosmic depths of the night, the bringing forth into the world a divinity that has never been, these are all poetics of the sacred feminine.
For the Dagara elder, pain is the result of a resistance to something new — something toward which an old dispensation is at odds. We are made of layers of situations or experiences. Each one of them likes to use a specific part of ourselves in which to lodge. It’s like a territory. A new experience that does not have a space to sit in with us will have to kick the old one out. The old one that does not want to leave will resist the new one, and the result is registered by us as pain. This is why the elders call it Tuo . It means invasion, hunting, meeting with a violent edge. It also means boundary. Pain, therefore, is our body complaining about an intruder. Body complaint is understood as the soul’s language relayed to us. A person in pain is being spoken to by that part of himself that knows only how to communicate in this way….In this context, a body in pain is a soul in longing.To shut down the pain is to override the call of the soul.[Ritual, Power, Healing and Ceremony, pp 21-22]So, let us imagine, then.
In Christian mythology, the Underworld divinity is Sophia, quite similar to the Egyptian Isis mythology of the starry heavens above as beneath. To proceed with archetypal wisdom now is important because I am speaking in soul. It doesn’t matter if the Underworld has a King or a Queen of the Deep, in order to get the archetypal psychology ‘right’. I do think it is important to honor the tradition in which I have been developing the theme of Magnification. For the West, because the telescope emerged out of the Catholic mythos, so, our Queen of the Deep is called, Notre Dame de Sous-Terre - Our Lady of Under the Earth.
This is a reproduction of Her from beneath Chartres cathedral because the original was destroyed by the Revolutionaries in the summer of 1789. Her starry chamber, Her sacred waters, Her pregnant darkness were all buried by Enlightenment violence.
This is the ceiling of Her Underworld Crypt:
This is the ancient Underworld well at Chartres. Its history has roots in the Celtic traditions of the Druids:
La Notre Dame Noire, The Black Madonna, is a triple Goddess, of the Underworld, the Heavens and the Earth. At Chartres, Her ritual was to descend beneath the cathedral into Her Under-Earth, sprinkle Her image with the healing waters brought up from the depths of Her Abyssal Waters, then bring Her up into daylight to be placed upon a pillar. To my knowledge, this is the only ritual in Western culture where the relationship and reverence for Her Waters is the same as the relationship and reverence of the indigenous. We all have in us a forgotten Person of Mni Wiconi who still remembers that water is the First Medicine and has never stopped being so.
I’ve participated in a re-birth of Underground Sophia ritual of bringing Her up from below. The first time was at Ursuline College in September, 2016. What I did not expect was the remarkable coinciding of this ritual with the pattern I know as falling to sleep, dreaming, and remembering my dreams in the morning. The loving collective activity with our small circle of going beneath together, sharing ritual together, then Recollection of the Depths brought up into daylight invoked an immediate response in my dreams that night. I have learned that Underworld ritual strengthens dreaming. My hunch is that dreaming recollected conversely strengthens Underworld ritual.
To share field notes with you, I think the advantage of the Underworld as feminine, is that it adds to the already rich impact of getting our present space-time right with the Eternal. Underworld, anima and dreams all belong together, the message of Hillman’s book, The Dream and the Underworld:
Her Depths, also join us in relationship with the wisdom of timing, cycles, tides, Her Waves of motion, undulation. She is the archetypal person who heals our split from the stars – our dis-aster. What this means can be shown by an example.
In the world view where the Beloved, the Mother and the Grandmother are active powers, the yearly cycle of the seasons and cultural balance are re-newed. Impregnated by Her Beloved, the Eternal, She births the days to come and the world is made new. When we as human beings participate in that transformation, we, too, are restored. We experience an inner and outer clarity – much as I described at Font-de-Gaume, yet also, we are strengthened for the days, seasons, year to come. When we participate with Her, the worlds line up and we are right with the Eternal, whether that be in conscious birth, death, or life-transition.
Since 2002, I have prayed with a small circle in a sweat lodge ceremony every month of the year. The ever-deepening message has been that I require a monthly death and renewal which puts me in right time with the rest of the life of the ecosystem where I live. The lodges also are filled with sacred experiences, images, words, songs whose meaning unfolds in the days and weeks ahead. My dreaming, too, reflects the same right-timedness of the time of the year. I know from experience that when I am at the end of the monthly, seasonal consciousness, it’s time for another sweat.
When we get the timing right in this world, all the worlds line up.
In this way of imagining, the 4 seasons of the circle of the year are a mini-life-time that naturally comes to its end where it is out of balance and invites human beings to re-up. The ritual that ends and begins the year always offers a metaphoric message and awareness to the year to come. (The world yet to come.) The telescope re-animated the enduring Western mythos of the Bull and the Pleiades of the Starry Underworld. The now proto-ur-constellation pierced its way back into the European awareness at a time when all forms of Protestantism and Catholicism held to the dogma of a fallen Earth.
Here’s Billy Graham 360 years later chronopathologically describing the very same view of fallen Earth and the cosmos:
Evil and suffering are real . . . They aren’t an illusion, nor are they simply an absence of good. We are fallen creatures living in a fallen world that has been twisted and corrupted by sin, and we all share in its brokenness. Most of all, we share in its tragic legacy of disease and death.
This same way of imagining the cosmos still remains here in Ohio, throughout the States. This half-world he described, a world out of balance and degenerating, leaves out not only half of the sacredness of the cosmos, but also leaves out the Underworld, the Under-the-world,and dreaming indigenous to soul – split from the stars too with no end and with no rituals to restore relationship with the world to come. This world view does not allow for, nor does it mention that each night, the human soul is the All. He is not aware of any cultural ritual that renews the world and offers awareness of the year to come.
What he does express is the incredible suffering For of the Western soul in longing that could only express itself by invasion in a place where there was a history of the mythic violent edge of Mithras’ blade, it was Galileo himself who summed up our longing nicely in Starry Messenger:
I will prove that the Earth has motion and surpasses the moon in brightness and is not the place where the dull refuse of the universe has settled down. I will demonstrate this with 600 arguments taken from natural phenomenon.
His longing was the longing of Western culture, to not only restore the ensouled divinity of Earth, Sky and cosmos, but to bring forth a new archetype: the Celestial Archetype of Earth. Thus, an image of the fulfillment of the passion of the Western mind, it’s desire to re-unite with its own Source. In alchemy, this was called, The Crowning of Matter.
It is as if Galileo, in response to the piercing he experienced as he took in the notion for all of humanity of innumerable stars, saw a dark skeleton drawn up and out of himself in slow motion. It’s as if he watched in fascination as that shadow structure shrank in the distance and disappeared, dissolved into the starry abyss he had opened with his lenses. In his mind, just at that moment, he heard the words:
Doctrinam Peccati Originalis.
(The Teaching of Original Sin)
In chapter 2, Her Robe is Spread, I wrote:
…each discovery that expands and transforms our knowledge of the material world requires mirroring of that expansion and transformation in all aspects of culture — the mesocosm.
The ‘intruder’, in the way I am recounting this story, was the collective unconscious as expressed through the mirroring body of the sky – Her Robe was Spread.
With the structure of Original Sin un-made through direct observation of the natural phenomenon of the cosmos in which we now live, the Western image of God, Imago Dei, had returned to its own source in soul. The archetypal person of God is an image, even when we insist that the image is no image, the boundaries of our imagination create limits on the limitless. I shared before how in The Great Debate of 1929 the infinity of the universe was once argued to be much smaller that we now know it is. We individually and collectively participate in the transformation of our cultural Imago Dei. The ‘killing move’ by which we sacrifice our image of God is to psychologize – to apprehend God not as literal, but through soul, therefore archetypally.
The crownless were crowned 4 centuries ago.
In the end, I choose to leave the Pleiades as Galileo left them:
Let them pass into the Western horizon and leave the Underworld adorned with the crown of stars that is our birthright. Let us enter again into the world that is daylight. It is our own souls speaking in the Magnification.
When we get the time right in this world, all the worlds line up.
When we get the timing right in this world, all the worlds line up.
I am the Beginner’s BodyMind of the Source of all that is,
I am the Sensual, Beautiful, Immanent Presence faithfully with you.
I am the embodied life who labors to birth what has never been.
I delight each day in the awe of being and I am grateful to live.
May I live in a way that future generations will find worthy.
Listen closely as all of Creation sings back to you as you return to the world:
Blessed be your Presence in the space-time fabric of the cosmos,
and blessed is all life that you bring forth.
And whence is this to me, that I would participate with you?
For, lo, as soon as I heard your call, the sacred life in me awakened
And blessed is your knowledge: for there shall be a beautiful future
brought forth in a way that generations to come shall find worthy.