At the age of ten I dreamed the Lone Ranger shot me. This big dream about my hero was more real than any other I’ve ever had. I was devastated to think he hated me so much he wanted to kill me and I couldn’t understand why. I had practically worshiped him, his beautiful horse Silver, and his trusty partner Tonto; yet he shot me! The injustice of this was intolerable!
One thing I’ve come to understand is that this dream spoke to my childhood image of God as a heroic male and my growing sense that I was unworthy because I was a female. In 195o’s America God was a He, history was still about males, and females could not be bosses, ministers, presidents or heroes.
That new awareness was very painful to my ten-year-old heart, and I tried my best to suppress it for many years; but ultimately, belatedly, it forced me to take myself as seriously as I took my loved ones, to search for my truths, and to connect with God in ways that were personally meaningful instead of entrusting this most crucial of my soul’s tasks to others — especially others who did not value me because of my gender. It also inspired my creativity. My struggle to understand and empower femininity and the feminine side of the Sacred Mystery is at the core of everything I write.
A second message of this dream was the inevitability of death. While being alone most of the time I wasn’t in school or church seemed normal to me at ten, my dream said that unconsciously I was feeling very vulnerable and insecure. I could be left alone to make my way through a dangerous world, I could be victimized, I could die. When my father died a few months later this suspicion became a certainty and my trust in my hero/God was shattered. Apparently I knew something no one else did: the heavenly hero everyone thought of as perfect was secretly untrustworthy, unjust and cruel.
I tried to repress this awareness too, but it was nevertheless a bedrock reality that fueled my determination to do everything I could to stay on God’s good side! Ignoring my wounded Persephone, I concentrated on developing my Athena, the brave, noble and wise defender of patriarchy! And I got pretty good at being heroic in the outer world of ambition, achievement and work.
So it was a bit of a shock to realize at mid-life was that I was copying a surface version of the hero myth that emphasizes external trappings of power and success and ignores the inner life. Beneath the image of the independent, white-hatted cowboy on a white horse who rides off in search of bad buys to kill with his silver bullets is a much deeper meaning that is also the deeper meaning of every authentic religion: True heroism, the kind that lasts and makes a difference in the world, is the ability to rein in the ego, lasso and befriend our shadow, learn compassion, and embolden our true Self so we can care for others in ways that are beneficial to all. In conforming to a mold that didn’t honor my inner realities I was betraying myself and the Great Mystery we call God.
Here is the message I want to convey: We don’t have to settle for dysfunctional God-images or self-images. Acquiring the consciousness to recognize our wounds and complete our souls so we can serve our communities with compassion is the true Hero’s Journey. This is a spiritual path anyone can take.
Ego and God-Image: Part VI
[T]he most important relationship of childhood, the relation to the mother, will be compensated by the mother archetype as soon as detachment from the childhood
Dear Ms Raffa,
I’ve been following your blog for a little over a month now, and although I have enjoyed all of your posts, this one spoke to me so powerfully that by the end I found myself crying my heart out. It speaks to me on so many levels–from the need to nurture my and other women’s feminine path, to archetypes you mention that I’ve indentified with ever since reading Ms Bolen, to, finally, your conclusion about true meaning of spirituality: healing ourselves so we may be of service to others.
Thank you so much for sharing this.
Your letter made my day! I’m deeply gratified to know you are finding spiritual meaning in my blog and that this post touches you profoundly. These matters are of utmost importance to me, and it’s very affirming to know others who find them equally valuable. Thank you for following my blog and taking the time to comment. I look forward to hearing from you again.
My blessings on your soul’s journey, my sister,
I often learn more about myself through other’s stories. Your story is a perfect example of that, Jeanie. Your journey to find the truth is inspirational. As I’ve followed your story and your inner work, I at first thought that our searches were different–your inner work vs. my searching for truth and connection through ancestral stories–but I’ve come to view our journeys as “same path, different spur.” Always enlightening and a very good read.
I think I already knew we were on the same path. Your soulful stories are all about truth and connection, and in my experience, seekers after these spiritual values have a way of knowing each other even when surface appearances differ widely. Another thing we have in common is that although we’ve been taking different “spurs,” we’ve both found writing to be a spiritual practice that brings us closer to what we seek.
I’m very grateful for your kind words and caring heart, my internet friend.
Wishing you love, joy and peace in this special season,
There’s only one dream that I remember as a child that feels Big, and only in recent years did I realize it foretold my quest as an adult. At the time, it frightened me so much that I was afraid to go to sleep for fear it would return.
Your Lone Ranger dream feels the same way to me. I can look at it objectively without the emotional impact that it had on your young psyche. For me, it almost feels compensatory and like some type of initiatory dream foretelling my adult journey as a wounded healer. Not exactly like being hit by Cupid’s arrow but something about it has the same ring.
I was also a loyal follower of the television show. It was all so mysterious–the masked man; his Indian friend, and the familiar, comforting ending where he and Silver rode into the sunset. Curious about why he used the silver bullet, I checked Wikipedia and found:
“…to remind himself that life, too, is precious and, like his silver bullets, not to be wasted or thrown away.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lone_Ranger)
Silver bullets; a white stallion named Silver–feels like the moon and very feminine–makes me wonder what archetypal energies were dancing in the unconscious of the writers of this story.
Jeanie, your thoughtful offerings on this site never fail to make me think, probe, and ponder. Thank you for unmasking yourself so that I might see myself in your stories and continue to learn and grow. This pretty much says it all:
“We don’t have to settle for dysfunctional God-images or self-images. Acquiring the consciousness to recognize our wounds and complete our souls so we can serve our communities with compassion is the true Hero’s Journey. This is a spiritual path anyone can take.”
Amen, Sister! Blessings and Love to you and your family this holiday season!
Oh Jane, this thoughtful comment is such a gift to me. After years of inner work I’m coming to see this dream objectively too, and like you, I believe it was initiatory and foretold my adult journey. I hadn’t thought about the meaning of the silver bullets and I love what you found!! Thanks so much for sharing it with me. It completes another part of the puzzle.
As for Silver and the color silver being associated with the moon…did you know that Jung thought of horses as mother symbols? They’re so big and warm and physical, they carry us around like a mother carries her child, they’re extraordinarily powerful and they make us feel so powerful because they lift us so high and are so responsive to us and yet they’re gentle and kind and loving…etc. And they feel magical and all-knowing…again, the way a mother feels to her child.
So yes, since this is my dream all the parts of it are parts of me: In terms of archetypes we have the masked (hiding his true Self under a persona of “masculine” heroism) Hero in partnership with his wise and loyal Mother/Horse (his body, his “feminine,” physical, instinctual self) and a Native American Warrior/tracker (Native Americans tend to be associated with living in the middle, connecting space of equal reverence for Father Sky and Mother Earth, and trackers are seekers), who’s trying his best to right wrongs while remembering how precious life is. And then we have my childish Ego which has been wounded and feels betrayed by my patriarchal God-image and has wanted to heal herself and her God-image ever since she acquired this awareness so she could be more like her Hero. Wow! I don’t think I’ve every written it out this way, but it certainly does describe what I’ve been trying so hard to do and become…..I’m feeling very moved and humbled as I write this.
Thank you, Sister Jane, for helping me see myself a bit more clearly, for letting me know that you see what I’m trying to do here, and for valuing my soul’s processes enough to take the time to connect with me. It really is a very special gift.
May you and your loved ones have a blessed, love-filled holiday season,
P.S. In response to your wondering about what archetypes were dancing around in the unconscious of the people who created this television show in 1950’s America, I wanted to say that I believe the archetypes I mention above that showed up in my dream are the same ones that were being activated in the collective consciousness all over America at that time. Certainly as a nation, post-war America was grappling with a new awareness of evil, trying to define what true heroism is, and acquiring more respect for women and femininity.
To understand hero’s journey, you need to see Kal Bashir’s version at http://www.clickok.co.uk/index4.html.
Thanks for this link, Red. It does a great job of summing up Joseph Campbell’s work and is especially oriented to writers who need to understand the underlying psychological issues at work in all of us if they want to write stories that are relevant to all of us!!
Blessings at this holiday time,
I found your wonderfully inspiring blog whilst checking out the Hindu meaning of the mandorla as I had made a photographic image of one for my photo blog.
I’m so glad to have found you!
I see you’ve mentioned Joseph Campbell – I read ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces’ some years ago with great relish.
Yes, I’m very glad to have found you. 🙂
Thank you for the kind words I’m glad you found my blog too. Yes, Campbell and Jung are very strong influences on my thinking and writing. Please do stop by again. Jeanie