Remyth Your Story with Heart

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“The vehicle of our right brain and much of our deeper Self is symbolized by what we often think of as “the heart”. Our symbolic heart is an organ of vision, a way of seeing that can help our intellect to look below the surface of things. There we can see the meaning in the events in our lives and be strengthened by them . . . it is the Asklepion approach—the approach into depths of who we are and the visions of the heart—that brings healing.” Bud Harris, Ph.D. Radical Hope and the Healing Power of Illness.

Last weekend I made a presentation to the Fates and Graces Mythologium. This is a yearly weekend conference for mythologists and lovers of mythology. It’s sponsored by The Joseph Campbell Foundation and Pacifica University. The theme for this year’s conference was “Myth and Heart.”  Here’s a sampling of presentation titles:

“Mr. Spock from Star Trek: A Popular Culture Icon as Symbol for the Importance of Accepting the Eros Within”

“Honoring the Heart of the Mother Goddess: Images of Refuge and the Awakened Heart in the Demeter Myth”

“Archetypes of Ecstasy from Witches to the Muse: Negative and Positive Transformational Figures of the Feminine in Myth”

My talk was, “Remyth Your Story:  Integrate Your Feminine and Masculine Archetypes with Heart.”

Since my talk was about the length of a blog post, and because it’s a summary of everything I write about, I’d like to share it here:

Sometimes we grow up telling ourselves a story that’s not the story our soul wants to tell. But it can take a lifetime to realize that. Our first awareness of this disconnect often arrives as a midlife crisis. While it can cause great suffering,  it’s also an invitation to remyth our story into one that takes us on the greatest adventure of our life: our personal journey into individuation and wholeness. For others, the call comes in childhood traumas that set us on a new path with lasting effects.

That’s how my journey began.  At the age of ten, I had a devastating dream. It taught me that as a female, I was a second-class citizen. I share that dream in my video, and talk about the archetypes it activated. Their influence has been so powerful in my life that I’m still trying to understand and heal them. Soon after that dream, my parents divorced and my father remarried.  Three months later he died of his third heart attack. Heartbroken, I shut down my emotions. For my inner Orphan it was a matter of survival.

Ten years later at the age of 17, a profound experience at church camp awakened my heart’s vision. Suddenly, its language of symbol and metaphor made the Bible vibrant with meaning. I was so moved that when Billy Graham’s crusade came to town, I was the first one to answer the altar call!

At 27, a crisis of faith destroyed my secure relationship with God, leaving me devoid of all hope. After asking my spiritual mentors for help three times, a numinous vision restored my faith. But it was no longer faith in a heavenly Father God, for I had experienced the Sacred within and it had nothing to do with gender. This was my second introduction to the archetypal world. But it would be years before I understood what that meant.

At 37, a kundalini awakening initiated a midlife crisis, a dark night of the soul that brought me to my knees. I had no idea that I was living the Inanna, Persephone, and Psyche myths, and nobody else suspected it either. The outer world only saw my mask of stoic, rational, self-control as I tended to my family, returned to school for my doctorate, and taught at the nearby university.

At 47 I began a four-year Centerpoint course in Jungian psychology. It was love at first sight, and I immediately committed to daily dreamwork. Soon my choice to leave college teaching behind to write a book was affirmed by another numinous dream. You’ll hear about that in my video too.

Writing my first book, The Bridge to Wholeness: A Feminine Alternative to the Hero Myth, was one of the most joyous experiences of my life. I had answered my soul’s call, found my story, was living my destiny.

With guidance from my dreams and confidence in my heart’s metaphorical vision, I wove the meaning of my numinous experiences into a new story about an Orphan princess who leaves her father’s castle to explore her inner world and find her true home.

Since then I’ve written three more books. One of them, Healing the Sacred Divide, ends with a new creation myth about the evolving relationship between God and Goddess. In my heart’s vision, the Divine Couple is a new God-image, a metaphor for our potential to create alchemy’s Sacred Marriage within ourselves. Jung believed that uniting the opposites has become humanity’s primary task.

We all contain the same archetypes. Some are associated with the feminine drive for species-preservation; others, with the masculine drive for self-preservation. My goal is to unite them, and all pairs of opposites, in heartfelt partnerships that eliminate gender stereotypes and enable us to live our own true stories. This is the new myth my soul wants to live and tell.

You can watch my video here:

Image Credit: Birth of Venus. Sandro Botticelli.

Jean Raffa’s The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc. Jean’s new Nautilus Award-winning The Soul’s Twins, is at Amazon and Schiffer’s Red Feather Mind, Body, Spirit. Subscribe to her newsletter at www.jeanbenedictraffa.com.

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Comments

6 Responses

  1. Dear Jeanie,

    Just brilliant, both video and post! Thank you so much for sharing them! What an epic journey our hearts must go through in order to heal … with everybody taking that journey (or not) in their own unique ways. Part of that journeying for me has been learning how to develop the ability to “see” the archetypes of “light” and “dark” in myself before I could even contemplate moving towards “wholeness”. Or put another way, I’ve been observing how the “light” and “dark” aspects of my personality come together and come apart (journaling, dreams, poetry, active imagination, artwork, etc.) and what happens each time they merge … I’m taking notes!

    Taking off your father’s / Lone Ranger’s (light) mask and exploring the shadows (dark) that lay beneath couldn’t have been an easy task for you, nor would it have been easy to take off your own mask … yet so bravely you have done exactly this in order to heal not only yourself and family but many others too. Yes, it’s that sharing of how you ‘remyth of your story with heart’ that I love most! Following the recent death of Sinéad O’Connor, who (for me) held both “dark” and “light” in her trembling heart and soul, I find myself on a new path where “light” is no longer the goal, instead “wholeness” is the place, home, I find myself heading towards.

    Love and light,

    Deborah

    1. Dear Deborah,

      Me too. Integrating “light” and “dark” to find my way home is also my journey. We can grow up trying so hard to be good and aim for the light that we miss the whole point. It’s accepting and seeing and tolerating the conflicts between light and dark within us that opens our minds and hearts. As Jung said, “There’s no growth without suffering.” It’s simply part of life.

      Trying to avoid or deny the dark never works in the long run because it only leads to separations within and without. I know that to be true because that’s the route I traveled for a very long time. Wholeness is the healing path and goal. And as you wisely note, this path is about doing the inner work it takes to unite our separations Step by step, we need to keep dreaming, journaling, grieving, taking notes.

      I’m so glad I met you along the way! 🙂

      Love, Jeanie

  2. Every decade, one step further forward and one level higher… You have got your pain and later recognized it well, dear Jeane; remarkable! I think you have once told me that we both have lost our father at the same age. Thank you for this instructive post. 💖🙏

    1. Thank you, Aladin.

      Writing has been key to my growing. Organizing the key events of my life that were accompanied by powerful, heartfelt emotion into an understandable form that I could return to again and again was what gradually opened my eyes to the underlying patterns of my story. Any form of creative expression, like the ones Deborah mentions above, can do the same thing. Acting and writing seem to have done that for you. And yes, losing my father at an early age was one of those watershed events for me. As were the others I wrote about here. It’s taken me a long time to become aware of their full impact, and I’m still learning.

      I’ve just finished an excellent book on the topic that I learned a lot from. Written by the Jungian analyst Kathrin Asper, it’s called “The Abandoned Child Within: On Losing and Regaining Self-Worth.” I highly recommend it.

      It’s been a pleasure to share this part of my journey with you. Jeanie

      1. I thoroughly understand this, and I consistently try to improve my self-awareness every day. I appreciate your tip. Wishing you a wonderful time! Best regards, Aladin.

  3. You are a wise woman, Jeanie, and you’ve thought deeply about so many issues that matter to me. I learn much from you. I know many of your stories, so that tells you how closely I’ve followed your path. Because hearing is such a struggle, I won’t listen to the video, but I’m grateful you wrote up something about your talk which was an honor to you. We never imagine how that transcendent connection will arrive, but I was fortunate to meet my root teacher as a young woman and then meet other powerful teachers like Marian Woodman and the Dalai Lama. I also had a charmed marriage–until death ended that. Now I try to make sense of the malady Meniere’s Disease which has forced an extrovert to become an introvert and turned my life goals upside down. It’s a huge change and often a discouraging one–but I try to make sense of it. I’m working with sandtray again to move my inner response from grief to new possibility. With love and gratitude for your careful thinking about inner issues.

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