Remind Me of What I Know

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Suffering that is not understood is hard to bear, while on the other hand it is often astounding to see how much a person can endure when he understands the why and the wherefore. A philosophical or religious view of the world enables him to do this, and such views prove to be, at the very least, psychic methods of healing if not of salvation. ~Carl Jung, CW 18, Para 692

A reader and I have had an uncomfortable conversation behind the scenes since last week’s politically themed post was published. Our relationship has been problematic and painful for me. Why do we have such difficulty communicating?  Why can’t they respect my attempts to understand and accept their perspective? Why do they think it’s their job to “educate” me, as indicated by many comments on past posts that I find so condescending?  And why did I get so upset over their comment that I felt physically uncomfortable and my mind couldn’t let it go?

I answered their comment. They answered mine. I responded. They wrote another comment, this time by email. The more I reflected the angrier I got. Within a couple of hours of posting my second response, I did something I’ve only done once before: I decided not to rise to the bait I believed I was being tempted to take and deleted the entire conversation. It seemed wiser not to keep stoking a fire I just wanted to put out. For a moment I felt relieved. Maybe no one would notice and think less of me. But the feeling was soon replaced with a painful suspicion that I could have done better. I should have been more patient. Tried harder. Found a third way to defuse the tension and lessen the acrimony that was building between us.

The sense I’d done something shameful lingered. I write about bringing opposites together. Being authentic. Listening. Dialoguing. Staying open. Waiting patiently. Finding third-force solutions to difficult conflicts. I practice this as best I can. Yet, I’d just slammed a door on someone.

This morning I received an email they wrote at 1:42 in the morning. Thoughtful and conciliatory, it was filled with kind comments, reminders of posts I’ve written that inspired them, and a compliment about my writing. But the only thing that registered was a remark about their disappointment at me for “not having made some of the larger connections. Yet.”  Frustration and self-righteousness overwhelmed me. I felt like I was being lectured to when I hadn’t signed up for the class.

Then I had an epiphany.  I remembered my score from the last time I took “The Partnership Profile,” a self-assessment questionnaire in The Soul’s Twins. My highest score is for a lunar archetype of our instinct for reflection called the Mediatrix. Also called Medium and Wise Woman, Mediatrix means feminine mediator. She’s the part of us that perceives the world through the mythopoeic lens of relationship, feeling, metaphor, symbol, imagination, intuition, personal meaning, connectedness, and love.

My Mediatrix’s twin, the Sage, received no points at all. Sometimes called Scholar, sometimes Magician, Sage is the solar archetype of the instinct for reflection. Both twins want to release us from delusion, but they see things differently. Sage focuses on objective facts and uses logical, hierarchical, sequential thinking to arrive at observable and provable conclusions. In western cultures, Sage knowledge is considered more desirable and taught in schools. I learned it too, of course, and it has served me well, but It’s not my preferred way of perceiving the world. My Mediatrix is much more interested in the wondrous sacred mystery around and within me, and I long to connect with it.

Suddenly I understood. My commenter and I have two different ways of reflecting on life. Neither is inherently right or wrong, good or bad. We use both of them all the time whether we’re aware of it or not. Mediatrix and Sage both contain bright and shadow qualities. Their shadows come out when they are too wounded, obsessive or undeveloped. The shadow of my highly preferred Mediatrix is a bit touchy about her second-class status in my culture’s educational system.

Perhaps that’s why the shadow of my Sage wants to be right. He doesn’t want to be seen as second class. Sage is not my preferred archetype but it’s still very active. Sometimes it tries too hard to impress with what I know. Sometimes it can be patronizing. I dislike this about myself. I try to control it, but occasionally it slips out. When I sensed traces of my shadow in my commenter, I projected my shadow Sage onto them. Much easier to recognize it in them than myself.

Just before I sat down to write this post I received a text from a friend. She told me about some old friends who used to say to each other when they were struggling, “Remind me of what I know.” I needed a reminder of what I know. I’d forgotten that what we most dislike about others is what we most dislike about ourselves.

I extend this post as an olive branch to my perceived antagonist, and as a reminder to myself. May The Soul’s Twins remind us both of what we know.

Please note: If you haven’t RSVP’d to my ZOOM book launch invitation, it’s not too late to do it here. I’d love to see you Tuesday night, Nov. 17th, from 5:00 to 6:00 PM Eastern Time. 

Credits: Thank you to Lewis Lafontaine for once again providing me with the perfect quote and image for this post in his Facebook group Carl Jung Depth Psychology. You never disappoint.

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.com. Her new book, The Soul’s Twins, will be released from Schiffer Red Feather Mind Body Spirit on Nov. 17, 2020. Subscribe to her newsletter at www.jeanbenedictraffa.com.

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Comments

16 Responses

  1. Yes, the psychotherapeutic benefit of Knowing is also a great supporter that strengthen the Comfortability with the not-knowing… where forgetting is for getting…makes more breathing room for the known… to gravitate more unknown good stuff… and trash to sift through and gold pan for treasure as well. Wheat from chaff. Snake from skin. To stay to theme ~~~ the snake its skin shedded, the snake its skin not missed (c) 1991 Jordan Hoggard … for once shedded, the snake has a deep knowing of… LOOK at all these refreshed colors!

    I also resonate that Jung lived in a deep knowing rather than the trickster of belief.

    1. Those are lovely and thoughtful associations, Jordan. Thank you for sharing them. LOOK at all those refreshed colors, and the beautiful soul within.

      Belief is indeed a trickster. If we’re not careful, it can lead us away from truth, integrity, love, and healing and into dark labyrinths of self-hate and shame. Where there is no love, there is no light.

      Jeanie

      1. You’re welcome, Jeanie. Thank you for the accolade. They are mostly in one way another direct pulls from or evolutions on themes I put forth in my Schiffer Pub Imagination Primer companion book for the Tarot deck + book boxed set, “Tarot in the Land of Mystereum: An Imagination Primer.”

        In regards to belief, I dwell more in the place of “inspect your expectations.” It tends to act as a crucible to stay to the truth rather than what is “true.” As Mark Twain said, “Of course truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.” One of my faves.

        And, in regards to shame, I dispensed with that several years back, too much a rat ina maze rather than a Self in a meditative labyrinth — made the distinction as an Architect, similar to Daedalus. NO shame, no mistakes, all OFLs has become the guts of and core of my work. Shadow Mastery. OFLs = Opportunities For Learning. Then, it’s all about experience, and celebrating the experience in a Kintsukuroi of Self way where our inner gold flows up to fill the cracks and fault lines as connections rather than motion-limiting scars. Of course that paints quite a rosy picture. I don’t intend to minimize the 4-wheel drive and depth and difficulty of the work at any given time.

        “Where there is no love, there is no light.” A(wo)men-Ra to that.

        Looking forward to your presentation with Skip tomorrow.

        Jordan

  2. I love this: “Remind me of what I know.” And also to remember that I learn the most when I feel that grip in the solarplexius and know my shadow has been punched and is tightening to protect its position. In the 1970s, I was sure I would have this shadow stuff all sorted out by now. How naive I was! I remember an argument Vic and I had just a few weeks before his death when we were both frayed and grieving his coming death. I felt like such a failure for becoming impatient and then we stepped back and laughed and laughed. We were reminded of what we knew. (And another thing I know is that a writer putting out a book has lots of tension to balance and last minute requests, questions, and worries. It’s brave of you to keep putting out posts while you’re going through the last days before publication. Deep exhalation and I’ll see you tomorrow night on Zoom. No need to respond to this.)

    1. Wow. You’ve hit the nail on the head again with your comment about feeling “that grip in the solarplexius and know my shadow has been punched and is tightening to protect its position.” That’s EXACTLY how I felt. My heart was even beating faster. I’ve honestly never felt that before….at least that I was aware of.

      Thank you for this. I’m not as good at listening to my body as I am my intuition so this is a very valuable clue for me.

      See you tomorrow night.

      Love, Jeanie

  3. What to Remember When Waking

    In that first hardly noticed moment in which you wake,
    coming back to this life from the other
    more secret, moveable and frighteningly honest world
    where everything began,
    there is a small opening into the new day
    which closes the moment you begin your plans.

    What you can plan is too small for you to live.
    What you can live wholeheartedly will make plans enough
    for the vitality hidden in your sleep.

    To be human is to become visible
    while carrying what is hidden as a gift to others.
    To remember the other world in this world
    is to live in your true inheritance.

    You are not a troubled guest on this earth,
    you are not an accident amidst other accidents
    you were invited from another and greater night
    than the one from which you have just emerged.

    Now, looking through the slanting light of the morning window
    toward the mountain presence of everything that can be
    what urgency calls you to your one love?
    What shape waits in the seed of you
    to grow and spread its branches
    against a future sky?

    Is it waiting in the fertile sea?
    In the trees beyond the house?
    In the life you can imagine for yourself?
    In the open and lovely white page on the writing desk?

    by David Whyte

    Thank you so much Jeanie for sharing this thoughtful and reflective post. I’m reminded that although I won’t always see “eye to eye” with others, it’s perfectly okay for me to disagree. I liken this acceptance in myself to more shadow integration because from this place an even deeper exploration can take place … so difficult, yet ultimately, the search will be rewarding!

    Elaine’s rich reply brought David’s beautiful poem above to mind and the thought on you waking on this heaven-sent morning. And so, with a hug from my heart to yours, I wish you good luck with your book launch later today! For those in different time zones I’m wondering if Skip will be posting the interview to his YouTube channel later? Love and light, Deborah.

    1. Oh, this poem brought a deep breath and big sigh. My favorite line: “To remember the other world in this world/is to live in your true inheritance.” Thank you.

      And thank you for your blessing on my Zoom launch. I believe Skip will be posting the interview on his YouTube channel and I know I’ll be posting it on mine, so you’ll be able to see it one way or another!

      Love and light, Jeanie

      1. That’s great Jeanie re video interview being posted online! Also thank you so much for sharing this post because I’ve learnt more here about “shadow” than I’ve read in many a book.

  4. A little late to the party Jeanie – I guess we all ‘know’ different things at different times through different lens and because of this we learn from each other. I’ve enjoyed the comments, as well as your response to them. I watched the launch on YouTube the other evening – it/you were excellent🌺

    1. Thank you, Susan. And thank you again for hosting the lovely interview we recently had. It was such fun actually seeing talking with you.

      Yes, if there is such a thing as reincarnation, it makes sense to me. Because trying to learn and know and remember everything about ourselves is a task for many, lifetimes. I can’t imagine anyone getting it right the first time around; there’s so much to learn. The universe within is as vast as the universe without. 🙂

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