The Bard's Grove

"There are times when people need stories more than they need nourishment, because the stories feed something deeper than the needs of the body."
Charles DeLint, The Onion Girl

Friday, April 27, 2012

Avatar: Taurus, Spiritual Matter, Mother Earth & Our Bodies

Emerging Archetypal Themes:  Avatar
Taurus: Spiritual Matter, Mother Earth & Our Bodies

The Lakota was a true Naturist - a Lover of Nature.  He loved the earth and all things of the earth, the attachment growing with age.  . . .  That is why the old Indian still sits upon the earth instead of propping himself up and away from its life-giving forces.  For him, to sit or lie upon the ground is to be able to think more deeply and to feel more keenly; he can see more clearly into the mysteries of life and come closer in kinship to other lives about him. . .Luther Standing Bear

It’s time to find your copy of Avatar and watch it again. 

Our souls need archetypal stories to structure our psychic energy, and Avatar speaks to the part of us that knows we need to take care of Nature, both Earth’s nature and our own. 

With the Sun in Taurus, people naturally want to attune themselves to Nature.  Taurus builds the life that brings us beauty, peace and happiness, because it knows what’s of value.  Taurus values the body, the senses, eternal truths. Taurus tells us that the issues that speak to the heart of our global problems are environmental as well as moral.   Taurus asks us what we value.   Conscious Taurus values Life, unconscious Taurus values possessions.  It seems we’ve made a choice to value things over life.  

But we can change direction with our next steps.   Our Mother, the Earth, is sick and we need to take care of her. Her ecosystems are breaking down, her children are dying and her resources are being depleted. We have to work with the Earth to help restore balance, or it will become a replica of Mordor – the land dead, the people horrifically mutated, the one ring to rule them all and in the darkness bind them! 

“As Above, So Below.  As Within, So Without.”  

Just as our water is fouled, our air is poisoned and our soil is depleted, our bodies and our psyches are suffering from these same environmental damages.  If we want to change how we live in this world, we need to start believing that we really are connected with the Earth and each other.  So belief comes first.  That’s how Jake Sully learned on Pandora.  First he had to feel and believe in Pandora before he would fight for Pandora. 

We live in a society that prizes its economic success over people’s health and well-being, creativity and inner essence.  We need to change our priorities and focus on healing our bodies and our Earth.   There are other ways to live that are more healthy and creative than our present way of life.  We have the intellect, the imagination and heart to do it. But we need our wounded warrior king to heal first.  

Life on Pandora shows us another way to live. Like Taurus’ vision of life, it is a way that puts us in harmony with our Earth and each other.  We are seduced by beautiful, magical Pandora into imagining ourselves that free, that connected to Eywa, to the animals and plants, waters and air.  That connected to the Tree of Life.   Yes, Pandora is an image of Paradise, but Jake brings consciousness into the picture.  Paradise becomes a choice. 

Avatar’s theme is obvious: our mechanistic, violent, money-oriented way of life is destroying our own Pandora here on Earth.   The question is what will we do about it?  The story shows us how we can do it if we chose to side with the Earth.

Avatar shows us that our wounded bodies and the wounded Earth come from a common source.  We are faced with the truth of a despoiled environment; now we have to face the truth of how we’ve ignored the deeper needs of the body, settling for outer comfort rather than inner peace and health, beauty and connectedness.  

Understanding that we don’t need everything our society tells us we need, and simplifying our lifestyles, can help us discover new and better ways to live. Creating a society that helps everyone meet a level of comfortable needs will allow us time to use our energy for creativity and relationships.  As we form a deep connection with Nature, we will be able to see and know what the Earth needs to recover. This has to be our top priority.  We need to ensure that our Earth is healthy and strong so our children’s children will have a viable world to live in.  

We cannot count on our redemption coming from the heavens (on Pandora, the Sky People only bring destruction) because we need to become responsible stewards of our own world. That was God’s command in the Garden of Eden to Adam and Eve.  That is our true place in Earth’s ecosystem.   Just as the Na’vi are good stewards of Pandora, so we can become true stewards of the Earth.  

 To change how we interact with each other and the rest of Nature, it would help to “… sit or lie upon the ground … to be able to think more deeply and to feel more keenly; … see more clearly into the mysteries of life and come closer in kinship to other lives . . .   Jake changed as he learned how to navigate in Pandora’s landscape.  He changed as he became one with it. 

Avatar: Honoring the Earth and Reclaiming Our Bodies

Avatar’s appeal is not just visual, it’s visceral.  A story about the body and Nature, it speaks to our deep body wisdom.   Like the ancient myths, this beautiful story gives form to the archetypal energies that are stirring within our collective psyche, energies that sense a big change coming.  Because we see in images and hear it as story, Avatar speaks to our hearts and wakes up our innate love of Mother Earth.  This is what an archetypal story does – it makes us think about what we’re feeling and what we value, so we can do what is necessary to enhance life.   Archetypal stories teach us to see how we are part of the bigger picture, moving our perspective from the small self to the greater Self.  

What we call fairy tales are the remnants of ancient archetypal stories.   Avatar is a modern day fairy tale, build on ancient archetypal patterns.  Its message tells us that our society’s values are at war with Mother Earth and our physical nature.  We are out of balance with our instinctual life, our natural ecosystem.   Our Judeo-Christian, enlightened, rational, capitalist beliefs have led to the rape of our environment for economic gain, risking sickness and death in Nature and the human population rather than focusing on what is right and healing.  We are creating a wasteland, and the story shows us what we need to do to protect and defend our home planet from environmental death and from soul-death.  We have to hope that we find a way to make the land fruitful again.  And we have to know that sometimes it’s just not possible.  

It all begins with our beliefs.  We need to change our collective paradigm from the pursuit of human comfort to the responsibility of good stewardship, both of the Earth and of our own lives.  What is the best way to live on this beautiful and endangered planet?  We can no longer deny the damage.  We have to face it and deal with it to come back into balance.

The Wounded Earth: The Wounded Warrior-King

The beginning of an archetypal story tells us where the problem or the wound is. And then the story goes on to show us how to heal it.  So let’s see how Avatar speaks to our own condition.

 In the beginning of Avatar, we hear and see Jake, our wounded hero. We hear him say, “I dream I am flying. I am free.  But sooner or later you always have to wake up. Or cry when you can’t dream.”  His wound centers on freedom, and the disconnect between our collective reality and our deepest wishes, between our minds and our bodies. 

 When his brilliant scientist twin brother is killed in a robbery – all that life bled out for money - Jake is enticed to take his place on Pandora to make enough money to heal his spine so he can walk again. The money is emphasized, both the expense of creating the avatar body and the money Jake will make.  It’s all about the money.   

As Jake watches his brother’s body incinerate, he thinks: He was the brains and I was the brawn.  Right away we see that Jake doesn’t value his own knowledge, his common sense, even while he deeply ponders his life and his options.  His learning style comes through his body awareness, which he negatively compares to his brother’s intelligence.   We also do this by valuing left-brain rational thinking above right-brain emotional intelligence, mind over body, Heaven over Earth, masculine over feminine consciousness. Jake’s paralyzed, cut off from the thing he knows best.  He’s been wandering around lost until this new opportunity comes his way.  An opportunity to gain back what was lost.  To make a new beginning.  So he takes it. 

Jake is such a great symbol for our own wounded bodies, bodies cut off from the Earth’s energies and unconscious of our own instincts. Besides the obvious ways our health has been affected by our dying environment, we have lost our deep connection with Nature. Who spends more time out in Nature than inside a climate-controlled building?  We have lost touch with our instincts and it paralyzes us. Who follows receding ocean waters to be swallowed by the resulting tsunami?  A wounded body awareness doesn’t kill our curiosity.  It just kills us.

Jake’s useless legs symbolize the wound to our physicality and to our warrior nature; a wound that affects our standpoint.  By warrior nature I mean the warrior within each of us that is willing to grapple with issues and fight for what we believe in.   When we lose our belief in the system, we lose our spine, our standpoint and become paralyzed.  We begin to question what we believe in and what we’re willing to fight for.  That’s why the rallying cry of patriotism is so seductive.  We are called to defend our own.  But what happens when our own is no longer worth defending?  This is the dilemma Jake faces.  This is our dilemma.

What happens to warrior energy when it has nothing to believe in anymore?  It works for money, it gets cruel, and in the end, it operates out of fear.  Jake comments on this when he arrives at corporate headquarters on Pandora.  He looks around and sees fellow ex-marines who used to fight for freedom but now fight for money. The Colonial is a character whose outlook is based in fear, fear of something greater than his own prowess, which constellates his violent aggression.  He is afraid of Pandora and its wildness and of the Na’vi because they’re better warriors than he is.  And so he retreats to ‘pumping iron” and encasing himself in a metal monster to fight.  FEAR rules him.  He fears he is not a warrior, but a coward. 

The shadow Jake has to face is his fear that he’ll never walk again.  The need to heal his body is what keeps his hopes alive as Jake begins to inhabit his avatar.   Jake needs to become ‘embodied’ again – he wants his legs back, he wants to move forward.  When he gets those legs in his avatar body, he remembers his old skills and opens himself to learning new things. His natural joy, curiosity, playfulness and competitiveness come back online.   

For the most part, western culture is ‘dis-embodied'.  We all live in our heads, sitting for hours on end, perhaps taking the time to exercise for an hour, but never fully inhabiting our bodies for any length of time.  We adorn our bodies but rarely listen to them. We use our bodies but are not open to our bodies’ sensual gifts.  We’ve lost touch with our instincts. 

The freedom and joy of the body moving, leaping, daring is a major component of this story, just as Pandora’s beauty complements the body’s freedom.  Corporate (ironically, from the word corpus ‘belonging to the body’) people live in metal boxes, without beauty or free movement: even walking in open spaces, which is such a big part of the game of golf, is reduced to putting in the office.

On the other hand, the Na’vi live in their bodies. They use their bodies to live, and not just to carry around a brain!  They move through their day, depending on their body’s wisdom, strength and curiosity.   Many people longed for the ability to have the Na’vi hair endings that unite them to magical horses and flying dragons.  If we spent more time out in nature, we could develop similar organs of perception to connect us to nature.  We can once again feel at one with nature if we choose to really go and live as part of nature. Unfortunately, most of us do nothing because our warrior nature is wounded and our corporate state keeps us asleep.  

Once again, Jake shows us the way.  When his awareness is focused through the body again, Jake is naturally courageous, daring, strong, inquisitive and persistent, playful, foolish and fearless, willing to take risks and willing to learn.   All good warrior traits!   Traits that are completely different from the Colonial’s fear, control, and manipulation. 
The Divine Feminine
 Once we return to our bodies, we reconnect with the Divine Feminine spirit of Life.  Eywa is the spiritual energy of Pandora, its World Soul; it is an energy that pervades the landscape and unites all the beings of Pandora.  All of Pandora rises up to meet the challenge of defeating the Corporation because of this connection.  It is Eywa who announces that Jake is important to Pandora.   How do we know that it wasn’t this spiritual energy of Life who substituted Jake for his scientist twin, knowing, because all life is connected, that it was this type of knowing, rather than the scientific ‘brain’, that was needed to save Pandora?  

 Why would Spirit go outside Pandora for a new hero? Is it because white men, even the damaged ones, are superior to everyone else?  I don’t think so!   Spirit brought Jake to Pandora because new knowledge has to be integrated into the Na’vi collective psyche to get rid of the ‘Sky People’.  It is not about a white guy knowing more than the natives, but about the need to heal the wound of one side through the life-giving energy of the other.  The integration between these two different types of consciousness takes everyone to a higher level of awareness.  

 Spirit operates in our lives, whether we know it or not.  Spirit does not take away our free will, but rather opens us to the possibilities of growth available to us in life.  It is this deep connection to the Divine Feminine that heals Jake and opens him up to his ‘kingship’, just as a connection to the Divine Feminine can heal our ‘wounded’ body and Earth and restore us to a more balanced understanding of life.

 I love Neytiri!  She’s a perfect expression of how a woman lives the deep power of the Divine Feminine, grounded in her body, open to her intuition, in tune with her instincts. Her fierce rejection of Jake’s initial childishness is wonderful!  What woman hasn’t wanted to hiss at her man that way?  Her take on Jake is true: you have a strong heart and have no fear, but you are stupid! Ignorant as a child!  It says something about Jake that his response is: teach me to see. 

Neytiri’s fierceness is need now in our world, and like her strength and loyalty which open Jake up to his feelings, women need to stand in our fierce beauty and challenge men to open to the power of the Feminine.  Clarrissa Pinkola Estes wrote about this kind of feminine fierceness in her book, Women Who Run With the Wolves.  Neytiri’s female strength attracts Jake and helps birth the king archetype in him.  Would that our earthmen were attracted to this same strength in women!   

 It is the three women in the story, Neytiri, Grace and the clan priestess Moat, who help Jake grow up and take responsibility for the part he plays in the destruction of the Home Tree - the World Tree – the Tree of Life.  Neytiri teaches him love.  Grace teaches him responsibility.  Moat gives him his chance at new life.  When Moat decides to allow Jake to be trained as a Na’vi, he asks her why nobody else has done it.  Her response hits the nail on the head: we’ve tried to teach then, but they are already full. (That’s the hubris of left-brain thinking.) She allows Jake to train to see if man’s insanity can be cured.  Isn’t that what needs to happen?

It’s time we stopped blaming our mother Eve for eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge and getting us kicked out of Paradise.  Perhaps her only sin was sharing it with an unconscious man!  We have to grow up and acknowledge our part in the destruction of life – our home, our paradise - if we’re ever going to step up and do something about it.  The male left-brain (which women are caught up in too) is crazy when it thinks it has all the power.  It needs the balance of the feminine right-brain’s intuition, sensuality and feeling. 

It all goes back to the underlying belief of our patriarchal culture which says that there is a Father God who lives in the heavens and who has no Feminine counterpart.  This belief allows us to think the material world is 'dead matter' instead of the Feminine aspect of the Divine – the Divine ability to incarnate spirit in material life.  This belief in only the power of the Masculine Spirit has cut us off from Feminine Spirit, which comes through our bodies and souls and gives us a truthful 'standpoint' about life.  When we get 'embodied' again, we regain our connection to the Feminine Spirit of Life and to our connection with Spirit in an intimate way.  That’s how we grow into conscious human beings.  And that’s how we’ll save our Earth.

The Return of the King

 Jake gets a chance to be an Avatar, which means an incarnation of a god or spiritual essence.  We could all take this lesson to heart and remember that each of us contains a part of Spirit, and it is our spiritual destiny to integrate our body and spirit, which we do through a conscious connection to our soul.  This is what the upcoming square between Pluto in Capricorn and Uranus in Aries is calling us to.  Our hero, in connecting to his avatar body and to Pandora, learns the truth of the Celtic belief that the good king is wed to the Land to protect its health. (The Lion King, as well as the Grail stories, has this story plot: once the evil Scar kills the rightful king, the land dies.  We get the Wasteland.  It is only with the return of the true king that life become fruitful again.) 
Avatar is a story about the wounds we have inflicted on our Earth and on our bodies.  It is also the myth of the return of the King.  Neytiri doesn’t kill Jake because she pays attention to Eywa’s messages.  When the glowing seeds of the Sacred Tree float down and cover Jake’s avatar body, Neytiri understands Eywa’s message: he has a good heart, a strong heart.  That’s what we all need to face the challenges before us.  Our corporate world-view is willing to kill our Earth, our Tree of Life for profits, just as the corporation on Pandora topples the Home Tree in its search for the costly ‘unobtanium’.  

This is what our times are demanding of us.   We need men to take up their 'kingship' again and protect life, not create death in the service of the economy.  The inner king has returned in many women, but not yet in many men.  Arthur has been healed in Avalon, but the men have to bring him back to life here.  We need this new, strong warrior-King as much as we need the feeling, intuitive queen to ground our energies.  We need both men and women working as partners to use their energy and talents to reclaim our world before we destroy ourselves.  

Avatar sets us a task: defend what you love.  Honor the World Soul and listen to its voice.  It will tell you to ask for beauty, truth, honor and body awareness in your life.   Then create a new paradise by invoking Spirit whenever you do anything, so your life will be meaningful.  Learn to listen to your body, not just get in shape.   Unite with like-minded people through ritual and learn to understand the signs Spirit sends you.  When appropriate, stop worrying about what others think of you and in the right situations let your fierceness make the point. Take the leap, love someone who knows themselves, dare to risk death for the love of both your land and your people.  If you want to live on Pandora, find the Pandora here on Earth, and defend it.

 The visuals in Avatar are so breathtaking they open our imaginations and hearts to the message of the story.  The wounded Warrior-King, who has faced death and accepted it, now goes on to a new life. He becomes the avatar.  Avatar shows us how to ‘die and be re-born’; how to awaken to a new vision of life.  Jake is called to become a mythic person, taming the King Dragon to claim his power.  We are all being called to become mythic people again, so claim your souls and fly free!

 Copyright @ 2012 Cathy Lynn Pagano, All Rights Reserved


Monday, April 9, 2012

Emerging Archetypal Themes: Whale Rider, Aries and the Female Leader.

     While the sign of Aries conjures up images of warriors such as the Greek hero Jason with his golden fleece, and virgin huntresses such as the Greek Artemis and The Hunger Games heroine Katniss, it is also the sign of leadership.  Aries, which rules the head, gives the gift of strategy and leadership to its children.  

    Today our world is in need of good leaders, people who will take the part of the people over the powerful, leaders who know how to spark the enthusiasm and creativity of everyone to help create a new world of peaceful coexistence and good stewardship of the Earth.  The world especially needs female leaders who are not molded by the patriarchy.   We do not need female leaders who stand for the old patriarchal vision of hierarchical power, domination and greed, but rather women who know how to access their own feminine wisdom and who lead from the heart.  

    Niki Caro’s 2002 movie Whale Rider speaks about this need for new feminine leadership in a heart-rending story about the death and regeneration of a culture.  I believe it speaks to our own times and culture; it also speaks of the transformative power of Feminine Spirit to bring this new birth to life.   The old order is dying, but it seems that it is willing to kill off everything rather than die itself.  The way to help it die peacefully is to incarnate the feminine spirit of life.  

    The archetypal Feminine Spirit symbolizes “the origin of life; all phases of cosmic life, uniting all the elements, both the celestial and chthonic; the Queen of Heaven, Mother of God, opener of the way; the keeper of the keys of fertility and the gates of birth, death, and rebirth.  As the Moon Goddess she is perpetual renewal, the measure of time, the weaver of fate.  As Queen of Heaven, she is archetypal wholeness, the mother of all wisdom, self-mastery and redemption through illumination and transformation.”  (J.C. Cooper, Encyclopedia of Symbols, pp. 108-109.)   These are certainly qualities we need to nurture if we’re going to transform our society.  It is always the Goddess who presides over birth, death and rebirth.  When we have women leaders who remember their feminine gifts, I believe wisdom and life will blossom in the cultural deserts of our modern world.  Very much like what happens at the end of our story. 

    The mythological background of Whale Rider is important to the story, because our ‘creation stories’ help us understand our place in the universe.   On the east coast of New Zealand, the Whangara people believe their presence there dates back a thousand years or more to a single ancestor, Paikea, who escaped death when his canoe capsized by riding to shore on the back of a whale. From then on, Whangara chiefs, always the first-born, always male, have been considered Paikea's direct descendants. 

    Whales are mysterious and ancient creatures.  They are the largest mammals, and since they live in the oceans, they symbolize creation itself.  Being so ancient, they seem to hold the records of all our past history, back to the beginning of time itself.  When I was young, I had recurring dreams of being in a primeval ocean, watching these ancient beings swimming around.  It was my first conscious connection to the collective unconscious itself, which I’ve since explored through my dreamwork and storytelling.  These gentle giants are mentioned in the Old Testament as leviathans, and they make a special appearance in the story of Jonah and the Whale, where the reluctant prophet Jonah is swallowed by a whale when he refuses God’s call.  He lived in the belly of the whale for three days before he was reborn.  And so whales have come to represent going into the depths, containment and rebirth.  The great whales in our story symbolize this same rebirth.  While the ancient myth spoke of a rebirth of the Whangara, the story of Whale Ride speaks to the death of the old patriarchy and the rebirth of the culture through the powers of the feminine spirit and the new female leader.

Whale Rider begins with scenes of a hard birth and the death of the mother of twins, a boy and a girl, and the death of the baby boy.  Fairy tales often begin with a death, signifying that something is wrong with collective consciousness.   The missing piece needs to be regenerated, and in this story, it is the feminine dimension of life that can heal and transform the old order.  The patriarch of the family, who is tribal chief, has been waiting for the birth of this young boy, believing he will be the long-awaited new leader of the tribe. Porourangi, the twins’ father, will not bend to his father’s wish that he become tribal leader, and he leaves his baby girl, whom he defiantly names Paikea, to be raised by her grandparents.  While her grandfather, Koro, mourns the loss of the boy child, Paikea is immediately loved and cared for by her grandmother, Nanny Flowers.  As the years go by, even Koro learns to love his intelligent, curious and loving granddaughter.

Years later, twelve-year old Pai is caught between her love for her increasingly bitter grandfather and her love of and heart-felt link to her ancient traditions.  Koro is troubled because he needs to train a new leader for the tribe.  He is fiercely dedicated to the old ways, even as the tribe itself flounders in modern misery. Neither of Koro’s sons were willing or able to take on the mantle of leadership, and this makes Koro even more rigid in his belief that he has to find a boy to take his place. 

Meanwhile, Pai feels her connection to the whales and is so certain of her calling that she defies her grandfather and secretly sets out to learn the ancient lore of the tribal leaders, which her grandfather believes is reserved only for males. When she is banished from the lessons her grandfather sets up for the boys of the tribe, she secretly listens in and learns.  She gets her uncle to teach her how to use a traditional Maori weapon and even defeats the young boy who is beginning to stand out as a leader.  When Koro finds Pai fighting him, he sends her home in disgrace.  He feels as if she is the cause of all the trouble the tribe is having, never once looking at himself and the kind of leader he is.

Koro represents the Senex, the old patriarchal man who can become so rigid in his thinking that he never allows anything new to flourish.  This type of attitude causes people to rebel against the old ways instead of honoring them, because instead of living those ways with feeling and depth, the Senex uses rules and discipline to make people obey him.   We see this happening in our political system.  One side wants to go back to ‘the good old days’ and sees anything new as dangerous to the system.  And of course it is dangerous, mainly because the system doesn’t work anymore and has to be replaced. 

The sad part is that Koro really believes he is doing the right thing.  But he cannot see that his inflexibility concerning the old ways is exactly what is killing the tribe.  There is no life in the way he hopes to train the young men.  While their fathers are proud that their sons have been selected for this honor, they themselves do not honor the system.  They hang out like they’re teenagers, riding around like gang members or lazing away the day.   They are not men, so they cannot provide the example their boys need to grow into men.  And Koro’s rigidity does not serve them either.

There is no feeling life attached to the old system.  This is what happens when an archetype becomes a stereotype.  Archetypal energy is eternal, but its forms need renewing in each new age.  There is NO LIFE in the old ways for this tribe.  Except for Pai, who loves the stories and believes in them.  The men take no pride in their heritage and it shows.  And while the women support the old ways, they too are hampered by the deaden energy of the old system.   Life has become a wasteland.  This is what is happening in our society as well. 

As Koro gets more desperate to find a new leader, he takes his anger out on Pai, the loving and innocent young woman of heart who just wants to help!  He berates her and shames her and blames her for all his troubles, and still she loves him.  At one point when her dad comes to visit, Koro says something so hurtful about Pai that she decides to go live with her father in Germany.  But as they drive to the airport, Pai hears the call of the whales and knows she has to stay on.  And so she goes back.  

As things worsen, Koro becomes more rigid in his thinking.  None of the boys are working out as leaders, while time and again Pai proves her worth by doing what they cannot do.  But still she is rejected, because she is a worthless girl.  How many women can relate that that!   Even the most successful women have what I call the inner Taliban, voices within us which tell us how worthless we really are, berating, shaming and putting us down.  In one of the most poignant scenes in any movie I’ve seen, Pai, trying hold back her tears, recites something she wrote for her grandfather, about everyone being capable of being a leader in some way.  But her grandfather never shows up at the school, because he has discovered that a pod of whales have beached themselves.  When the tribe finds out, everyone tries to get the whales back into the water.  But to no avail.

Except, of course, for Pai.  She climbs up onto the biggest whale and prays for him to move.  And he does!  Soon Pai is holding on as the whale leads the other beached whales back to the deep ocean.  Pai is willing to sacrifice herself for the whales and her people, even though her beloved grandfather even blames her for the whales’ plight.  When Pai’s body is washed ashore and taken to the hospital, her grandfather finally acknowledges her as the leader of the tribe.

When Pai’s leadership is finally accepted, the tribe comes alive.  All the members feel the power of their ancient roots, and they come together to reclaim their heritage.  With young Pai as their new female leader, everyone is reborn.  

And that’s the power and purpose of Feminine Spirit!  With Uranus moving through Aries, all of us are sensing that we have to see ourselves differently if we want to make a difference to our world.  We all need a new identity, an archetypal identity, that names us as leaders, healers, wise women, storytellers, visionaries, warriors and stewards of the Earth. And  we will be seeing more and more feminine women taking on leadership roles in our society.  Women, often against great odds, are already working all around the world to help people live a more peaceful and sustainable life.  

Now it’s time for each woman to become the female leader our world needs, just as each man is being called to remember that to be a leader means to sacrifice his ego needs for the greater good.

Dreams of New Feminine Leadership

Women are working hard to discover who we are and what we can do to help each other and our world.  Each woman has her own special gift to bring to the table.  Yet all women must leave the patriarchy behind to they can explore these feminine gifts and learn to use them for the life of the world.

One creative and intelligent woman has been working hard to find out where her gifts and talents lie.  Like most modern women, she has been a ‘Father’s Daughter’ a woman who supports the patriarchal order.  Now she is leaving ‘the Father’s House’ and descending to her own roots.  She dreamed:

I am moving up to a large room at the top of a house. It is above the tree tops and has large windows opening in all directions. I can hear a bird singing outside. This is Father Will’s old room, (he died last year). I look around; it will take a lot of work to make it my own. The cabinets and tables are a light green, but in disrepair, paint crumbling etc. I am with another woman, a friend. I suddenly feel afraid and tell her my concern that I can be seen at night by everyone if I turn a light on. I fear gangsters may shoot at me. I also sense the presence of my perfectionist brother. I love this place but it seems too lonely, but I feel uncertain whether I want to go into the crowded town below.

I am walking down a dirt road with this woman friend. We see a country store to our right and go in. I see it sells a little of everything. There are two saleswomen. One, a dark skinned woman is selling black tee shirts. My woman friend asks for two. I then also ask for two, one for me and one for my mother.

I get on my bike and continue down the dirt road, it is unfamiliar, further left then the route I traveled before. I arrive in an indigenous town, and dead end inside a broken down cathedral. I turn left and go through an archway and I see there a dark skinned native woman with her two children in a small area outside the cathedral. It is hot and dusty with some small scrubs.

I continue to my left on a road that leads to a little town and there are many people in the town square.  A dark haired, dark skinned peasant woman is trying to speak. She keeps trying to position herself under an archway but others keep pushing her off center. Then she is up on a table and I am speaking to her telling her that she is beautiful and give her other compliments to give her confidence.

Then I am in a room or small house cutting the hair of childhood Puerto Rican friend, I am worried about how to trim it, suddenly I see a V patterned into her hair cut. I realize I must let that guide my trimming. Then my hair trimming changes into fashioning a leather jacket for her. Another peasant woman comes in who is going to hem it. I am trying to put the layers together and start to tell her what to do. But then I realize she knows what she is doing.

I leave the town through another archway and travel a distance further left and begin passing some adobe homes, with no one presently there. I become aware that the ocean is on my left and that a woman is ahead of me in the center of the village. She is coming to teach the townsfolk. I sense their presence welcoming her. She has no equipment or books but is really wanted by the villagers. She is going to simply talk from her own Experience.

I wonder if I can live here, if this is where I am to live. I feel relief.

    This is a woman who has been working at breaking free from old religious beliefs so she can teach about a new feminine spirituality.  In the beginning of the dream, she is high up, going to live in rooms with windows that look out over the landscape.  This is a bit removed from life, although she gets a perspective on life.  Like the old priest whose room it used to be, living here would keep her from experiencing life.  It keeps her locked into the intellectual perspective of the Father’s Daughter, which often only categorizes experience rather than lives it.

    When she descends to the city, she connects with her earthy, native feeling life. She comes to a dead end and passes by an abandoned church, which has obviously rejected the woman and children who live in the outdoor square.  She keeps going to the left, which symbolizes moving into the unconscious.  She’s ready to change her thinking (cutting hair) and put on a coat of animal skins – to live in her instincts.   The dream reminds her that she has all these parts within herself, waiting to be recognized and honored.  The woman who wants to teach down by the ocean is the new feminine spirit within her that wants to experience life and reflect on its meaning.  This is the path to female leadership that the dreamer is on.

    Another woman working on leaving the patriarchal Father’s House dreamed that she had to sacrifice herself for the good of her community.  This ended up being a sacrifice of her professional advancement, for she ended up stepping back from the expected outcome of her schooling and upbringing to learn about and integrate a new way of being for herself.  In the end, she became a conscious woman, a wise woman.

    I am in a large meadow with many people I know.  I go around to say goodbye to all of them, because I am about to be beheaded – for the good of these people.  My family is there, my friends, and my professional acquaintances.  Some people offer me advice.  An older analyst tells me I don’t have to do it if I don’t want to.  My mother tries the hardest to stop me from making this sacrifice.  My ex-husband lies there on a couch, coldly indifferent. But I am determined that this is necessary.  So I finally kneel down and put my head on a block of wood.  There is a figure with a black hood over his face, holding the axe.  Just as I begin to wonder if it’s such a good idea, I hear the swish of the axe coming down.  Next thing I know, I’m standing up and a round object comes flying into my hands.  And I wake up.

    The Head represent the life-force, vitality and intelligence.  The old tales of beheading, like Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, speak to the necessity of letting the old life-force (the old year) die so the new life (year) can be born.  If we don’t lose our heads sometimes, we never get to experience new life – we get stuck in old patterns.  This woman had to let go of the patriarchal imperative that says to be really successful, one must become famous and make a lot of money.  She gave up that belief to learn a different way of being.  While this path was full of hard lessons, she ended up with something even more important.  She ended up with Wisdom.  

    Whale Rider is an exquisite movie about the struggle between the old order and a new order of being.  The old way disregards women as irrelevant.  We are seeing how this belief is still prevalent in American society as patriarchal white men gather to decide on women’s health issues without asking for female input.  It’s time to put these old beliefs to rest and allow women to take their place in leadership roles that allow them to use their innate female gifts and talents.

    The World will be better for it.  

From the Bard’s Grove,
Cathy Pagano  

If you have comments or dreams that speak to this emerging archetype, please add it to the comment section.  I’d love to hear from you!


Monday, April 2, 2012

The Hunger Games and the Hero with Heart

Emerging Archetypal Themes: 
The Hunger Games and the Hero with Heart
Cathy Pagano

            Since the patriarchy is giving way to a new sense of equality and partnership between men and women, I don’t want to give you the impression that The Hunger Games is only about the new feminine Hera.  It is also about the new masculine Hero.  Uranus in Aries is waking us all up to a new sense of identity, a new sense that we are all the heroes and heras of our own destiny.  And that destiny involves being there for each other, with respect and ingenuity.
            I was going to use the books and movies of The Lord of the Rings to talk about the image of the new masculine hero.  Tolkien presents us with so many characters to choose from.  There is Strider/Aragon, the hidden king who is protector and warrior, lover and king.  There is Gandalf, the wizard who puts forth all his power to protect and defend his companions and Middle Earth.  There is Gimli and Legolas, the dwarf and elf who become boon companions through their defense of the realm in its fight against the dark lord, Sauron.  And of course, there’s Frodo and Sam, Merry and Pippin, small heroes who accomplish what the mighty ones cannot do.  Tolkien’s characters exemplify all that is good and true in human beings when we are faced with ultimate evil. 
            Peeta, the hero in The Hunger Games, does not have the magical powers of Gandalf nor the endurance of the hobbits.  What he does have is the determination to help and protect Katniss with his life until his death.  Peeta is an example of who a new masculine hero might be and what a new masculine hero might do.  And yet, this hero isn’t so new at all.  Ancient warriors have fought to the death to protect those they love.  Even a God was willing to give up his life so that we all could have eternal life.  So in a way, Peeta represents a renewal of the archetype of the masculine hero.  Like the dummling youngest son in fairy tales, he forges ahead into his adventure leading with his heart.  That’s what helps him to win the day.  He’s the hero with heart!
            Peeta is a kind and caring young man, despite the harshness of his own life.  He has compassion for Katniss when she’s hungry, even when he doesn’t have the courage to hand her the loaf of bread his mother would rather feed to the pigs.  He takes delight in his work, decorating cakes, and uses his artistry to help him survive during the Games by blending into the background.  He made his arm look like a tree trunk!  How clever is that?
            After seeing The Hunger Games a second time, I came to understand how humble and loving Peeta is.  Yes, he’s half in love with Katniss, but in reality, it’s just a fantasy, since he never acted on feelings.  But from the moment he gets picked in the lottery and sent to the Games, he knows in his heart of hearts that he will die.  He says so right from the beginning.  And yet he spends all of his considerable charm trying to make sure that Katniss wins.   
            Peeta’s smart.  He listens to what is expected of him and does it with a cheerfulness that is contagious.  He waves to the crowds as their train pulls into the Capital, already understanding how important it is for people to like him – to like Katniss.  He pulls Katniss up to the window, getting her into the spotlight.  Peeta begins to weave the story of his love for Katniss by taking her hand in their chariot of fire, never doubting that it will benefit her.  He tells the story of his infatuation for her at his interview.  He builds a picture of young love that will make these savage people of the Capital root for Katniss during the Games.  And he does it all with sweetness, innocence and feeling.  
He is a man of Heart. 
In a way, he takes on the woman’s caretaking role, leaving Katniss to be seen as the Warrior Maiden.  And of course, she is the very picture of a follower of the Greek goddess Artemis, the virgin huntress, who doesn’t shrink from killing a man who trespasses on her private bath.  Peeta never doubts that Katniss will kill him if she needs to win.  He offers himself as a sacrifice so she can go home.  Of course, Katniss is more than just a warrior, she is also a mother – figure, kind and caring, but we expect that from a woman.  These virtues haven’t been highly valued by most men, although that is changing now.  Just watch new dads with their children and you can see how men’s hearts are opening and their minds changing.  Just as Katniss volunteered to sacrifice her life by taking her sister’s place, Peeta silently volunteers to protect Katniss with his own life.
It takes courage to be willing to be perceived as a traitor.  That’s what Peeta does so that he can keep an eye on the group of players who are determined to find and kill Katniss.  He goes with them so he can make sure she stays safe.  When they finally turn on him, he doesn’t want Katniss to risk her life by getting him the medicine that will save him.  His own selflessness brings out Katniss’ protective instincts.  He is one of hers.  Just as he is for her in all things.
What makes a hero a hero?  Bravery is part of it – look at what our first responders did at the Twin Towers.  Self-confidence is a big plus in a hero.  A super-power never hurts either.  But Peeta doesn’t think he has these qualities.  His heroism comes from his good heart.  And that makes all the difference.
From the Bard’s Grove,
Cathy Pagano