“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.