Phoenix Rising, Form of Girl by Laura Smith-Riva
“He whose desire turns away from outer things, reaches the place of the soul. If he does not find the soul, the horror of emptiness will overcome him, and fear will drive him with a whip lashing time and again in a desperate endeavor and a blind desire for the hollow things of the world.” Carl Jung, p 129 The Red Book, A Reader’s Edition
Who on the journey has not felt this? In the moment where we finally agree that our pursuit has been for naught, we encounter the place in us that does not know who we really are. And we are terrified.
I experienced this myself at a certain point in my life. It came in the form of hitting rock bottom. I was bereft, lost, and truly terrified. I feared dying the hopeless death of the lost soul I had become, enslaved to a cycle of alcoholism and in an increasingly desperate nihilism. My pain and hopelessness became the great motivator that I had sought in books and churches and people.
It doesn’t matter how we come to desire our soul, only that we do. When we come to terms with our own powerlessness, our own inability to manifest through the force of our will the faith that we so desperately want, we may become willing to turn from our false desires and turn inward towards our soul.
This is terrifying, because we cannot know it until we find it inside ourselves, in this body, in this life. When we objectify it, we make it something outside ourselves to be sought after. But when we truly open our self to the mystery, then she can come.
Jung goes on to say, “Every step closer to my soul excites the scornful laughter of my devils, those cowardly ear-whisperers and poison-mixers. It was easy for them to laugh, since I had to do strange things.” p 137
When we follow the path of the dreams and the inner visions which carry our own personal mythology and truth, we are asked to do the strangest things. We are asked to jump off the cliff, breathe the water, let the snake bite us, stand in our fear and descend into the deep well. We are asked to accept the absurd in us, to see the shadow and know how it has lived in us. We are offered the blood of the holy grail, which carries all the passion of the Christ that lives in us. We are forced to lean towards the possibility of our divinity, even when the ear-whisperers would contemptuously berate us…”who do you think you are! This is a lie” It is the one thing that your conditioned ego does not want you to know, which is who you are as a divine, sensual being. When I am in the place of truly knowing this, nothing of the ego matters anymore! The ego does not like this.
In a dream, I am a wanderer, walking, trudging along through an ancient valley. I am carrying a blanket and have food in the pockets of my heavy coat. In the distance I can see a shimmering city, like some crystal palace, perhaps my own personal mythos of the land of OZ, my own Narnia. There are many mountains and boulders and high cliffs leading up to that distant shimmering land of Narnia. Behind me, where I have trudged, there are the remnants of an old, contemporary civilization. It is as if the future has come and gone and I am still walking to yet another distant future. A young girl comes up beside me. I say to her, “Nobody told me that I would have to walk like this.” She responds matter-of-factly, “nobody knew, nobody knew”.
This girl is my soul, my own personal Salome – the girl who came to Jung on his journey through the dreams. This girl is not trudging, she is on a journey. Her parents, the Archetypal Mother & Father are behind us. She is curious, open. Nobody knew, except she knows that nobody knew and I do not. I live in fear of the unknown. I am in the impoverishment of believing that I am going somewhere, that I am surviving something. Don’t we all believe that it is about our survival? My mind wants to get the lay of the land to understand the journey as if it could be something outside of myself, something that I could conquer or something that I must survive. But my soul knows the truth, which is that we must walk in the not-knowing. Perhaps the true Gnosis is in the not-knowing.
Carl cried out to his soul, “I am weary, my soul, my wandering has lasted too long, my search for myself outside myself. Now I have gone through events and find you behind all of them.” (p 131)
What is so exciting about the dreams, is that they come from my own psyche and they carry the energy of the divine as represented in my own personal mythos which is like a story, unfolding. It is a story that is at once a tragedy and also a comedy, but it is never boring. And the truth is, it is not about my survival, but about the death of everything I think I know.
Jung queried his soul, “Who are you, child? My dreams have represented you as a child and as a maiden. I am ignorant of your mysteries.” (p 131).
and says of her, “You took away where I thought to take hold, and you gave me where I did not expect anything and time and again you brought about fate from new and unexpected quarters. Where I sowed, you robbed me of the harvest, and where I did not sow, you give me fruit a hundredfold. And time and again I lost the path and found it again where I would never have foreseen it. You upheld my belief, when I was alone and near despair. At every decisive moment you let me believe in myself.” (p 132)
Nobody knows your journey. Only you can experience the truth of what Carl is saying for your self when you embark on your own journey.
The girl tells me, “Nobody knew, nobody knew.” This is the truth she brings in this moment. It is my prayer, a place to enter into the solitude of my personal contemplation and, as I journey forward, a place to feel into the possibility of walking in the not-knowing.
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