Coming Home to the Self


A rainy winter day in the mountains
A rainy winter day in the mountains

Here in the mountains it’s a gray winter day. We arrived for our annual holiday visit the day after Christmas hoping for snow, but the weather’s so mild that the windows are open. Over the roar of the creek, swollen from a solid week of rain, a single crow caws somewhere nearby. Welcome home, she says. Downstairs the grown-ups are finishing a jigsaw puzzle we’ve been working on since summer. The grandchildren are playing a video game. I’m upstairs writing this, tomorrow’s post, my heart warm with the comforts of home, family, and love.

This place, this now, this beauty. These tears of wonder and gratitude. For this sacred moment, this simple awareness of being at one with my Self, life and love…this is all I want or need.  This is the grace and blessing of the Self, a moment that needs no words. Yet now I am searching for words to fill this page. I don’t fight it. After all, part of the Self—my sacred core and circumference—is a writer and another part is a teacher. And these parts still want to share what they know.

Listen to me! the crow caws insistently. I hear you. I answer. You, too are part of me, part of the Self. I look out the window in its direction, past the skeletons of maples and buckeyes, the fluttering rhododendron leaves on the mountainside glistening with droplets of rain. It’s all alive.  All sacred. What words could possibly be a clearer statement of the sacredness of life than this?

IMG_6729I haven’t always had this awareness. My soul has expanded very slowly through the years.  First I had to want to know the truth about the puzzle of myself more than I wanted to protect myself. Then I had to let down some of my ego’s boundaries.  Had to stop saying no and start saying yes. Had to admit I can be wrong. Could be hurt. Could need somebody. Could be showing the world a false self. Could be afraid. Angry. Selfish. All that took a while.

Eventually I liked the awareness so much that I searched for a practice to keep me more aware. Discovering dreamwork felt like striking gold. Metaphorically, that’s exactly what it was. That vein of gold led to more veins:  the gold of self-validation and self-affirmation, the gold of insights, passion, revitalization, synchronicity, adventure. Some veins led to my dark shadow, others to my light shadow. Some led to my anima and animus. A few have gone deep enough to encircle my Self.

A soul needs time and reflection to expand. I’ve practiced dreamwork for 26 years with no end in sight. Which is good, because I never want it to end….even though lately I’ve been dreaming of my critical bully:  a bossy chef, a menacing sniper, a criminal holding people hostage with a gun and a baseball bat, a rude and haughty boy. The craziness of the holidays can do that to a person! Last night I lay awake counting the number of people I’ve hurt over the years, sometimes out of self-righteousness, sometimes thoughtlessness. I was appalled at their number.

Yet on Christmas night and the next two nights I dreamed about a large Christmas tree ornament, a sparkling diamond and gold ball that was being clarified and perfected and completed, and so were my understanding of it and my words about it.  And I was it and it was me.

Circles are images of the Self. So are diamonds and gold. Soul-making has infinite rewards. Every day I see my self-criticism backing off, my frustrations softening. Trust has pretty much replaced worry and grace flows through more often, revealing the sacred river of life and love that runs beneath and through it all.

IMG_6708A bad internet connection made my computer so sluggish a while ago that I took a break and  went downstairs. I was aware of the river when I had lunch with my family. When Robyn and I emptied the dishwasher. When everyone went out to enjoy a brief dry spell before the rain returned. When I savored a slice of caramel cake. It was still there when I returned to my desk and found my internet connection working normally again. Another tiny reminder that, in the words of anchorite Mother Julian of Norwich, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

And now it’s time to finish this and rejoin my family downstairs. Fred’s got a fire going and my favorite new book of poetry, Coming Home by Jamie K. Reaser, awaits me on the chair in front of it. Thanks to her I’m learning how to talk to crows. It’s the perfect book to feed the fire growing inside me and keep the river flowing.

May the New Year bring us all more awareness of coming home to the Self.

Please enjoy this final video, “Theatre of the Self,” from my new YouTube series, Dreams as Guides to Self Discovery. You can find the entire 5-part series here on my blog (on the above right of this page), on my website , and at this link:   Or simply google Youtube, Jean Raffa.


Jean Raffa’s “The Bridge to Wholeness” and “Dream Theatres of the Soul” are at Amazon. E-book versions are also at KoboBarnes And Noble and Smashwords. “Healing the Sacred Divide” can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications.


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0 Responses

  1. Thank you Jeanie for this – I’m reminded of an archeologist, mining deep in the ground and striking rich veins indeed! The diamond is the hardest nut to crack but how worthwhile to find the seam of rock in which it lays. It’s like this when we come to know ourselves a little better, when we come closer to the ground of our being or we suspect that we too can shine brightly, like a multifaceted diamond.

    1. Dear Susan, I love the metaphor of archaeology for the work of self-discovery. You and I have been digging for years in the dark, unconscious underground of the psyche and know the thrill of catching a glimmer of light from the diamond. It’s more than enough reward for the hard work, which somehow transforms into play along the way. What joy to “suspect that we too can shine brightly” beneath the thousand layers of sediment that obscure our true Selves.

  2. Thank you for this, Jeanie. The grace flows through every line. Your opening to Love and your truths are infectious. Little tears of happiness flowered on reading this. Beautiful.

    1. Thank you, Brian. May the infection spread! 🙂 And I can’t wait for the fragrant flowers born of retirement’s unfolding time and space for reflection to grace your poetry in the months to come.

  3. How much I liked the videos on your channel! I remorse not being there when you gave your presentation at the IASD conference. With that remarkable picture of you AND your shadow, seen by the participants view. This passed year brought me a lot, I am thankful for that. For meeting so many new women like you, Elaine Mansfield and Susan Scott who are so kind and supportive. I hope we can keep each other inspired in this New Year, with all its challenges and joys.

    1. Thank you Susanne. It has been a great pleasure meeting you this year and benefitting from your explorations of dreams, consciousness and the psyche in general. What a rich mine the internet has been for those of us devoted to this work! May we continue to support and inspire one another. New Year blessings to you and yours.

  4. Love this post! You made me feel like we were there. What a wonderful time of year. Have a blessed new year! Miss you all.

    1. Thank you, dear Angela, we miss you and Bill and wish you could be here with us. I do love this time and space between Christmas and New Years. There’s so much to reflect on and look forward to. A blessed New Year to you too.

  5. Dear Jeanie, You were born to write! I love how you reached out for your own poet’s pen to scribe such an exquisite, wonderful end of year article. ‘This place, this now, this beauty’ oh how language fails this poet’s heart, how your wondrous words resonate with my entire being while my soul sings out ‘Om mani padme hum’ in reverential reply.
    Thank you so much for also sharing your sparkling Christmas dream, it made me smile and weep all at the same time. To me trees are deeply sacred, my head, heart, whole being turns towards them … it’s always been this way as far back as I can remember. I am ever hopeful that you will write a new book so that I may continue to learn from you my dear Wise Crone. New Year blessings, Deborah.

    1. Dear Deborah, You have been one of this year’s best blessings to me! Your unfailing support and wise, poetic and generous-spirited comments here and on my YouTube channel glisten like reflections of diamonds. Thank you for this glimpse of your soul’s unique light. And thank you for sharing it with abandon! You remind me of how Episcopal Bishop John Spong describes the essence of his God-image: the ability to live fully, love wastefully, and be all you can be. “Love wastefully!” I wept the first time I heard that phrase. Don’t you just love that? You must; you certainly embody it, my sister. New Years blessings, Jeanie

  6. This post reminded me of a quote Vic used to start an article on Time and Impermanence. It’s about going with the flow in the most poetic way. (I’m immersed in helping develop Vic’s new website–10 years late, but I finally felt ready to tackle it.) You probably know the quote:
    “Time is the substance I am made of. Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger that devours me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire that consumes me, but I am the fire.” Jorge Luis Borges[1]
    Diamonds and gold. The fruit of slowing down and letting the soul do her work. I honor your ability to do this, Jeanie. Thank you for your knowledge and your wise soul.

    1. I didn’t know that amazing quote. I love it! Yes. This life. This miracle. This time. I am It and It is Me.
      Thank you for your generous spirit and affirming words. You are what you see. You see knowledge and a wise soul. You are knowledge and a wise soul, my sister.

  7. Well this was fascinating Jeanie. I have to say that your honesty in the text part of the post is very inspiring. The idea of examining so many angles as ‘opening up.’ And I believe I have started viewing your tape series backwards. Well so be it. I loved this information about Self selecting aspects of the dream as well as enjoying your talk. I’m still reading your book (same title as video series) and hoping to get a better handle on how different symbols are created for the dream. Thank you as always.

    1. Thank you, Steven. As for the honesty, I have to say it’s been hard won. Opening to one’s shadow is the major hurdle and a lifetime struggle. Our poor little egos are so terrified at the least sign that there might be something wrong with us. Most of us find it impossible to believe in our soul’s inherent worth and so insist on pretending we’re fine even as we know deep within that we’re anything but. So when we dream about snipers or criminals our first instinct is always to fear and deny the “evil within.” Yes, it’s there, but so is the love, and that always wins when we open to the truth!
      I really appreciate your watching the videos and reading my book!!! Thank you.

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