The Sea Within Us

I woke up this morning clinging to a fragment of a dream where I was sitting quietly listening to a lesson being given by someone I could not see, but who was saying, “The sea is within…within every human being.” I knew this to mean the Sea of Unconsciousness—the vast, uncharted water churning below the surface of normal consciousness filled with hidden feelings, thoughts, and ideas—things that have been buried or have never risen to the light of consciousness. To most normal men and women who go about their daily lives following expected norms and traditions, if such hidden content suddenly became conscious, it would seem strange, even alien. But, there is so much that lies hidden underneath the thin surface of reality that “normal” human consciousness uses to navigate life. Humanity after all has only been on Earth for but a brief moment of time when compared to Earth’s geologic history or to the cosmological origins of the universe. Compared to these measures, humans are but blips in time. But still, even in this blip of time, humans have come to dominate pretty much all life on our planet, even while grasping only a fragment of the whole of consciousness existing within each of us and all around us—like water.

Recently, it has felt to me as if I am a survivor of some great disaster on this sea, and I am surviving only by clinging to a little bit of wreckage scattered on the surface of this endless Sea of Unconsciousness.

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Shipwreck survivor on the Sea of Unconsciousness — Original Artwork by Bébé

This feeling is due to circumstances beyond my control and is probably the reason for the dream, which I interpret as an ongoing effort to understand and make sense of these extreme circumstances. Something else that resonated recently in my sense-making mission is the Coen Brothers’ movie A Serious Man (2009). Yes, I know I’m late in getting around to watching this movie, but sometimes I think we see things when we are supposed to see them and when we need them. And, so I needed it now, and I really related to poor Larry Gopnick who is the main character and a person who has been living by all the rules and beliefs he was taught to follow until he encounters a string of strange reversals and even spooky circumstances that flip his reality upside down. What befalls Larry is so disconcerting and destabilizing it threatens to undo everything he has ever worked to achieve. In addition, he is poorly equipped to deal with or understand his circumstances. So, he seeks help from the Rabbis at his synagog, but each encounter leaves him more bewildered and baffled than before.

For a good read and analysis on this movie, go to: This Ruthless World; specifically, to the March 23, 2012 post: What Does this Movie Mean? “A Serious Man” (2009). However, I would like to highlight several spectacular observations this blogger makes about this movie. Number one, she says the movie is a commentary on the idea that we are taughtto just accept things as they are in life and sail through it without looking for answers; however, this same attitude is what costs Larry his marriage, his family, and his home. She further points out that the viewer might first assume the moral of the story is: “If you don’t tend to that garden, someone else will;” however, the moral really goes much deeper, sinking down into the idea that “the ‘wisdom’ of unthinking, indifferent existence is absolutely wrong and spiritually destructive.” And, this is so important!

Carl Jung believes this is important too, which is probably why I am obsessed with his writings since previously I posted about the Archetype of Meaningand the Archetype of Life. However, Jung says much more about both archetypes, especially in relation to sense-making and meaning, including the following:

“It always seems to us as if meaning—compared with life—were the younger event, because we assume, with some justification, that we assign it of ourselves, and because we believe, equally rightly no doubt, that the great world can get along without being interpreted.

But how do we assign meaning?  From what source, in the last analysis, do we derive meaning?

This is a fantastic question that is worthy of every human being’s time and attention; however, it can be difficult work, especially when one is forced to do it due to circumstances that decimate one’s prior beliefs and systems of thinking—like Larry. I use the word decimate deliberately for when we are growing up, we are taught certain beliefs and ways of thinking in accordance with our culture and society (or tribe). These things are supposed to help us make sense of the world and give us a vehicle by which to navigate life’s ups and downs. However, systems of thinking and beliefs are much more like diverse and different wild animals that have been tamed by culture and society to help people survive living together over time. Thus, if one’s conscious landscape is decimated due to a great calamity that kills off a large number of the wild animals (i.e., systems of thinking and beliefs), then it becomes necessary to regenerate the land (i.e., conscious ground), and then to find and tame new ways of thinking and beliefs in order to go forward again. Loneliness ensues, especially for a person who has been thrust unexpectedly into this process, because family, friends, and larger community who have not been crushed by the same circumstances often remain quite happy to go on living in the same systems of thinking and beliefs that defined one’s previously shared reality.

Jung answers his own question of where meaning is derived, and thus how it is gained, in the following way:

“The forms we use for assigning meaning are historical categories that reach back into the mists of time—a fact we do not take sufficiently into account. Interpretations make use of certain linguistic matrices that are themselves derived from primordial images.”

Lets stop for one second to consider the word primordial. Jung uses this word a lot as he advances his theories of consciousness and the unconsciousness. However, I suspect it may create some confusion, so here’s a basic definition of primordial:

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Chaos was, according to Greek mythology, the origin of everything, and the first thing that ever existed. It was the primordial void, the source out of which everything was created, including the universe and the gods. The first primordial deities that emerged out of Chaos were Gaea (earth), Tartarus (underworld) and Eros (love), while later Erebus (darkness) and Nyx (night) also popped out. According to Hesiod, Chaos was also a place, much like Tartarus and the Heavens. — Image & Text from Pinterest saved by Karen Nash that comes from: https://www.greekmythology.com/Other_Gods/Chaos/chaos.html[/caption]
  • Existing at or from the beginning of time; primeval — “the primordial oceans”
  • (especially of a state or quality) basic and fundamental — “the primordial needs of the masses”
  • Biological:(of a cell, part, or tissue) in the earliest stage of development.are

To Jung, primordial means all of these things in relation to the origins of consciousness. He believes consciousness existed at the beginning of time and that it is a basic and fundamental state that all living beings are immersed. He also believes there are developmental stages of consciousness that can be traced back through time much like a human embryo transitions through key evolutionary stages before becoming a fetus that will become a human being. Thus, primordial images are structures in consciousness stretching back to the beginning of time. They form the blocking blocks of thoughts and our psychic nature. Thus, primordial images are crucial in helping a person make sense of their world and to find meaning and purpose, especially after a great calamity shatters one’s previous beliefs and ways of thinking.

Now, back to Jung who continues saying:

“Interpretations make use of certain linguistic matrices that are themselves derived from primordial images. From whatever side we approach this question, everywhere we find ourselves confronted with the history of language, with images and motifs that lead straight back to the primitive wonder-world.

Take, for instance, the word “idea.” It goes back to the concept of Plato, and the eternal ideas are primordial images [and thus] stored up (in a supracelestial place) as eternal, transcendent forms [Note: this sounds very much like where the ideas for gods and goddess emerged from the Sea of Unconsciousness]. The eye of the seer perceives them as “imagines et lares,” or as images in dreams and revelatory visions [like my dream].

Or let us take the concept of energy, which is an interpretation of physical events. In earlier times it was the secret fire of the alchemists, or phlogiston, or the heat-force inherent in matter, like the “primal warmth” of the Stoics [i.e., a member of the ancient philosophical school of Stoicism and a person who can endure pain or hardship without showing their feelings or complaining], or the Heraclitean (ever-living fire), which borders on the primitive notion of an all-pervading vital force, a power of growth and magic healing that is generally called mana.”

I think it is important to take another moment to consider just who the heck Heraclitus was; so, from Wikipedia:

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Heraclitus by Johannes Moreelse. The image depicts him as “the weeping philosopher” wringing his hands over the world — Wikipedia

Heraclitus of Ephesuswas a pre-SocraticGreek philosopher, and a native of the city of Ephesus,[2] then part of the Persian Empire. He was of distinguished parentage. Little is known about his early life and education, but he regarded himself as self-taught and a pioneer of wisdom. From the lonely life he led, and still more from the apparently riddled[3] and allegedly paradoxical[4] nature of his philosophy and his stress upon the heedless unconsciousness of humankind,[5] he was called “The Obscure” and the “Weeping Philosopher”.

Heraclitus was famous for his insistence on ever-present change as being the fundamental essence of the universe, as stated in the famous saying, “No man ever steps in the same river twice”[6] (see panta rheibelow). This is commonly considered to be one of the first digressions into the philosophical concept of becoming, and has been contrasted with Parmenides statement that “what-is is” as one of the first digressions into the philosophical concept of being. As such, Parmenides and Heraclitus are commonly considered to be two of the founders of ontology. Scholars have generally believed that either Parmenides was responding to Heraclitus, or Heraclitus to Parmenides, though opinion on who was responding to whom changed over the course of the 20th century.[7] Heraclitus’ position was complemented by his stark commitment to a unity of opposites in the world, stating that “the path up and down are one and the same”. Through these doctrines Heraclitus characterized all existing entities by pairs of contrary properties, whereby no entity may ever occupy a single state at a single time. This, along with his cryptic utterance that “all entities come to be in accordance with this Logos” (literally, “word”, “reason”, or “account”) has been the subject of numerous interpretations.

I like this guy! Now, back to Jung again:

“I will not go on needlessly giving examples. It is sufficient to  know that there is not a single important idea of view that does not possess historical antecedents. Ultimately, they are all founded on primordial archetypal forms whose concreteness dates from a time when consciousness did not think, but only perceived. “Thoughts” were objects of inner perception, not thought at all, but sensed as external phenomena—seen or heard, so to speakThought was essentially revelation, not invented but forced upon us or bringing conviction through its immediacy and actuality. Thinking of this kind precede the primitive ego-consciousness, and the latter is more its object than its subject. But we ourselves have not yet climbed the last peak of consciousness, so we also have a pre-existent thinking, of which we are not aware so long as we are supported by traditional symbols—or, to put it in the language of dreams, so long as the father or the king is not dead.”

I want to draw your attention to Jung’s idea that primitive humans experienced thought very differently than modern humans experience it. He says thought for primitive humans came as visions, disembodied voices, dreams, and probably even disembodied ghosts and phantoms—stuff from our own consciousness, but humans had not yet developed the powers to perceive and grasp that these things were coming from within. This must have been a time in human development when the world was spectacularly magical as well as unimaginably terrifying for demons are just as likely to pop out from the unconscious as well as fairies or benevolent helpers. No wonder our ancestors developed elaborate myths, rituals, and traditions designed to tame such occurrences and give them cohesion, structure, and function so they could understand and maybe control them, and perhaps, most importantly, so certain psychic states do not inadvertently tear to shreds the fragile shared reality that was being created by early human tribes—and thus the vital role of medicine man, medicine woman, shaman emerged—people who could travel into these obscure and shady realms of consciousness and return with wisdom.

Rune Master by Bébé

Jung goes on to give a lively account of how unconscious thought can pave the way for conscious solutions by recounting a dream a young theological student had and his analysis of the dream (pages 33 to 37). I will not go into this dream, only noting it involves the dreamer, a handsome old man dressed entirely in black known who is known as the black magician, a magician dressed entirely in white (you guessed it… the white magician), and an extraordinary event that occurs in a country ruled by an old king who is near his death. In Jung’s analysis, it is important to know the two magicians are two aspects of the Wise Old Man who is the superior master and teacher that is known as the Archetype of the Spirit symbolizing the pre-existent meaning hidden in the chaos of life. He tells us that theologian’s dream reveals the old men are trying to show the dreamer how good and evil function together, and presumably to help answer an unresolved moral conflict within the Christian psyche (p.36). Jung writes:

“Modern man, in experiencing this archetype, comes to know that the most ancient form of thinking is an autonomous activity whose object he is. Hermes Trismegistus or the Thoth of Hermetic literature, Orpheus, the Poimandres (shepherd of men) and his near relation the Poison of Hermes, are formulations of the sam experience. (p.37)”  (Note: Hermes Trismegistus was credited with tens of thousands of highly esteemed writings, which were reputed to be of immense antiquity. Plato‘s Timaeus and Critias state that in the temple of Neithat Saisthere were secret halls containing historical records which had been kept for 9,000 years. — Wikipedia)

If the name ‘Lucifer’ were not prejudicial, it would be a very suitable one for this archetype. But, I have been content to call it the Archetype of the Wise Old Manor Meaning. Like all archetypes it has a positive and a negative aspect, though I don’t want to enter into this here. The reader will find a detailed exposition of the two-facedness of the wise old man in The Phenomenology of the Spirit in Fairytales.

The three archetypes so far discussed—the shadow, the anima, and the wise old man—are of a kind that can be directly experienced in personified form [that is we very easily project them onto other human beings or animals or things in nature]. In the foregoing I tried to indicate the general psychological conditions in which such an experience arises. But what I conveyed were only abstract generalizations. One could, or rather should, really give a description of the process the archetypes appear as active personalities in dreams and fantasies. But the process itself involved another class of archetypes that one could call the Archetypes of Transformation.”

Just like the post from This Ruthless World, Jung is advising us to pay attention to the stuff in the shadow and to sink into the place where wisdom whispers for to not do so is at one’s own conscious-spiritual peril. Thus, I think I’ve come full circle from where I started with my dream that said “the sea is within”—the sea I am floating on now as I try to find new conscious structures that might instill new meaning and purpose to what was shattered. But, will it be enough to survive what’s coming next? Just like poor Larry Gopnick in A Serious Man, which begins with him teaching his physics students about Schrodinger’s cat; it ends with this same puzzle—does Larry and his son live or die after the tornado? We don’t know, and we won’t know until we look inside the box. Or perhaps more appropriately, until the box is rebuilt through the process of sense-making and meaning so the journey can continue—thus the process is ever unfolding, so probably it is never done, which is another theme in the movie: bad things happen…that is life!

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From The Coen Brothers, Storytelling, and Fate
A poem by Ethan Coen reveals a key clue to the brothers’ story sensibilities. The tornado at the end of A Serious Man.

Postscript: In progress… more coming…

What Do I Do With the Mad Inside Me?

Recently I began to read child of the jungle — the true story of a girl caught between two worlds. My good friend, I will call him M., who lives in Germany knew I was going through a difficult time after the sudden death of my father. He said the book reminded him of me because he knew my father had been a missionary in the jungles of Brazil, which is where I was born and lived for my first three years. As I began to sink into this story, I definitely see resemblances between my early life and her life as this girl who gets caught between two worlds—though there are stark differences. For one, her father moved his family to a very remote place in West Papua, Indonesia on the island of New Guinea to live among the Fayu tribe who until then were an undiscovered people that were unknown to Westerners. Her account of her father’s first encounter with this isolated tribe and how he came to know he was being called to be with them is an incredible story that I will not recount here. Needless to say, her experiences were much more dramatic than my own, but I recognize the girl caught between worlds, and my friend was right to send me this book.

The part I wish to recount is The First War (Chapter 10, page 65). The Fayu were known to be fierce and warring people consisting of four distinct tribes within the whole of the Fayu people. From time to time, they would fight among themselves as well as band together to keep out others from their territory. It was due to one of the Fayu leaders who was tired of war and sought peace for his people that this remarkable family came to live among the Fayu who are a people most remarkable in their own way for many reasons. On this day, the girl, Sabine, was sitting around a fire with her brother and their childhood Fayu friends eating kwa (breadfruit) when the Fayu men of their village grabbed their bows and arrows and assembled at the beach as canoes landed and unknown warriors stepped out. Sabine said, “No one smiled and none of the customary courtesies were displayed.” Her father went out to greet the newcomers and tried to engage them in conversation with the bit of Fayu he had learned. For hours they talked. Then, the voices grew louder. Sabine recounts “the Fayu were standing and sitting in two groups — the men of our village on one side, the strangers on the other.” Another hour passed, and she recounts the hostility grew and the gravity of the situation thicken as the warriors gripped their bows. Her mother called her and her brother inside. Her father soon followed as the loud talk became aggressive shouting. Her father barred the door. Sabine and her brother watched from the window where now the men were all standing facing each other and screaming. She says, “Suddenly the atmosphere changed again. I felt something I had never felt before. I can best describe it as a dark, heavy and threatening. The sun was still shining brightly, but somehow it seemed darkness had descended.

This is important. What she witnessed as a girl and so beautifully captures in her story is an incredible power we all hold as human beings. The challenge has always been how to channel and control these tremendous flows of energy when they break over our collective edges of consciousness and social norms long ago established to create peace and sustainability. This is not the same energy of the sun that powers the Earth — though the sun has long stood as a symbol of it through the ages. Rather, it is an energy that powers the human spirit, and we are the channel makers — it is up to us to recognize this energy and direct it as we choose. Her father was trying to help the Fayu warriors direct this rising tide of energy in a less violent way, but the energy was greater than him in that moment. What the warriors did next is utterly fascinating. Sabine describes it this way: “Individual men began stomping their feet. They moved in circular motions and began repeating a single word, ooh-wa, ooh-wa, ooh-wa. This was the war cry. Soon all had joined in the chanting. They faced each other, stomping the ground, arrows notched in their bows. Then they started to run in what seemed to be a pre-determined choreography. First, the two groups would run away from each other until they were about fifty yards apart. Then, they ran at each other, stopping when only a few yards separated them. More stomping would ensure, and the the war dance would be repeated.” This went on for hours! Can you imagine this? The warriors have talked for hours, then shouted for hours more, and now they dance, for hours. Even in this extreme and dangerous state, they are channeling this powerful energy — an energy left unchecked could destroy every man, woman, and child in the village. Sabine recounts how the warriors entered a trance state: their eyes glazed over and movements became stiff and robotic [they have descended into an unconscious state]. She says their voices changed as well with some becoming very deep while others grew shrill, and this continued for hours more. She remembers getting bored and going to read a book when she heard a scream of pain that pierced the chanting… then another and another… the war had begun. Time sped up. She and her brothers were kept away from the windows, and fortunately no stray arrows pierced their hut.

This recounting is amazing and incredibly important to understand for this type of energy does not occur only among primitive tribes in far off places who are considered to be uncivilized. Indeed, I would say they are highly civilized for they have learned how to collectively channel this dangerous energy — this war dance they did evolved over centuries. When the other warriors finally left, no man was left dead. Many had arrow injuries that if left untended could kill them from infection; however, the women and children and village were not destroyed despite the terrible darkness Sabine recounts feeling descended upon them all — like a destructive storm.

We have forgotten this in the West. We have forgotten we can be overcome by terrible forces rising from deep within ourselves. Our ancestors knew this and developed rituals and spiritual practices to help them navigate these forces. Of course there were still wars, and humans have done terrible things to other humans since the beginning of being human. But as human beings, we have obtained the gift of consciousness, which provides us with a powerful tool to navigate these inner storms that can rapidly overflow the collective channels we have constructed in out social systems and erupt in catastrophic and terrible ways. Consciousness gives us an offramp from destructive inner storm that rise from time to time, if we choose to use it. And, these warriors did to the best of their abilities use their consciousness to mitigate a terrible calamity that was brewing.

Mr. Rogers understood this too. Yes, I said Mr. Rogers who gave us decades of gentle and dignified children’s programming. I watched him as a child. And, I loved him until one day I had absorbed too much from my surroundings that told me Mr. Rogers was a show for babies, and he was a simple man, and I should not watch him anymore. This was a sad day, but I sneaked watching him from time to time until my life flowed in different directions.

If you watch the Mr. Rogers documentary you will see in the very beginning he plays a piano while he talks to the camera. He was a magnificent piano player and understood how difficult it was to master this instrument. While he plays, he says growing up is like playing a complex and beautiful song. Some modulations are easy to master and a child needs very little help doing so — others are very difficult and a child does better when he or she has someone who can help them until they master it. How right he was, and this idea formed a foundational piece to the television programming he was going to go on to create — the one I watched as a child!

If you have not seen Fred Rogers testimony to Congress in 1969 when PBS’s budget was on the chopping block with Senator Pastore leading the hearing, then you should watch it. By the time Fred Rogers turn came to testify, Senator Pastore had just told everyone how bored he was from all the written testimonies being read. He was not in favor of funding PBS, and it looked like the tide was going to run the other way for the newly established PBS with funding about to be revoked. This is why Fred starts out the way he does telling Senator Pastore he trusts he will read his 10 minute testimony later, but now he just wants to talk about it. Fred didn’t know what he was going to say in that moment, he had to turn on a dime, but if you watch this, I think you will get goosebumps just like Senator Pastore says he was gets as Fred talks.

At the end, he asks Senator Pastore if he can tell him some of the words to a song he sings in his program about the good feeling of control. He tells the Senator that children need to know it is there. The Senator says yes. Mr. Rogers begins: “What do you do with the mad that you feel.” He stops to tell the Senator the first line came straight from a child for he works with children with puppets and storytelling. Then, he continues, and the part I find most miraculous is this part:

It’s great to be able to stop
When you’ve planned a thing that’s wrong,
And be able to do something else instead
And think this song:

I can stop when I want to
Can stop when I wish
I can stop, stop, stop any time.
And what a good feeling to feel like this
And know that the feeling is really mine.
Know that there’s something deep inside
That helps us become what we can.

He is teaching children how to channel their mad. How to stop and consider their choices. How to know they are in control and how to get in touch with another type of feeling also rising from deep inside that helps us become what we can. Every single human being on the planet has access to this place that is deep inside us and helps us become what we can. Our ancestors and the people we continue to call primitive understand this. Mr. Rogers got labeled a simple man who was not to be taken seriously by adults because he understood this. He understood depths of the human psyche few modern human beings ever come to understand today. This is partly due to the lopsided nature Western culture has adopted (see Is Collective Transformation Possible for more on this idea). Increasingly, the Western way teaches us to discount our inner realities and to pay attention solely to outer adornments that are attained by making money, leaving our inner worlds to run amok from neglect and ignorance (like unschooled, unloved children). There are spiritual practices, religions, and many pockets embedded within Western culture still paying attention to the importance of our inner worlds, but even Mr. Rogers felt the tide turning the other way towards the end of his life. After 9/11, he was asked to make a series of short messages to convey hope and understanding in the wake of this great tragedy — an event that shook people to their core, including Mr. Rogers. He was reluctant to make these promos for he said he felt he could not say much of anything that would make a difference. I suspect he felt something profound had shifted in our collective human consciousness, and despite all the good work he had done for decades, he could not stop it, and it was getting heavier and darker. But, he made them despite his feelings of inadequacy, and we are so lucky he did for we lost Fred Rogers two years later. In this clip below he says: “Look for the helpers…. there are always helpers rushing in to help in the wake of any tragedy.”

And, this takes us back to what Sabine witnessed as a child in the far off jungles of New Guinea living among the Fayu people. What she felt and how she described it as a tangible force that descended among them all with such destructive potential is something we need to understand Now. It is the same force Mr. Rogers was teaching children how to channel and control through his song. It is the same force running amok today, but on a much, much grander scale for we have become so interconnected and interdependent. Men like Sabine’s father, the leader of the Fayu tribe, Mr. Rogers, and my father are the consciousness warriors of our time. They understood what can happen when these forces do run amok. As consciousness warriors, they learned how not to use bows and arrows, but to use their consciousness and the deep spaces inside themselves where empathy, compassion, caring, and love rise eternally. By Western standards, these are weak and mostly useless emotional tools that prove inadequate to survive in the fiercely competitive economic environments we have created. The key words here is we have created, and we can create them differently by imbuing greater understanding of our fullest human capacities that are grounded in human dignity, equality, and love.

I won’t say any more about all this. I am hopelessly inadequate for the task with far fewer accomplishments than so many other great thinkers and doers who have come before me. But, if any of this has moved you as the reader, may I suggest you read the book by Sabine Kuegler: child of the jungle, watch the Mr. Rogers documentary, and read some of Carl Jung’s writings about the collective unconsciousness. Take what serves you modulated within your own vast knowing accumulated through your own experiences and spiritual, religious, and cultural practices. All I know is we need the Consciousness Warriors to rise Now… both men and women… for the war is within… the forces are as old as time… and our greatest tool is our inner light of consciousness and learning how to use it wisely just as Mr. Rogers taught us in this song What do you do with the mad that you feel?

Postscript:

What Do You Do With the Mad That You Feel? (Song)

Written by Fred Rogers | © 1968 Fred M. Rogers


What do you do with the mad that you feel
When you feel so mad you could bite?
When the whole wide world seems oh, so wrong…
And nothing you do seems very right?

What do you do? Do you punch a bag? 
Do you pound some clay or some dough?
Do you round up friends for a game of tag?
Or see how fast you go?

It’s great to be able to stop
When you’ve planned a thing that’s wrong,
And be able to do something else instead
And think this song:

I can stop when I want to
Can stop when I wish
I can stop, stop, stop any time.
And what a good feeling to feel like this
And know that the feeling is really mine.
Know that there’s something deep inside
That helps us become what we can.
For a girl can be someday a lady
And a boy can be someday a man.

Sláine — The 4th Warrior-Priestess

Background: Sláine is the 4th Warrior-Priestess in the story Sapience. I was working on her story when my father suffered his heart attack. The emergency responders worked on him for 15 minutes before they got a shockable pulse. Against all odds, he came back and was flown to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota where cutting edge life saving technologies and practices were implemented by highly trained medical staff whom I came to know and respect so deeply for everything they did brought dad back to us for 9 precious days. And, we almost got him all the way back for he was so close to recovery two days before he died, but fate took a terrible turn. In those hours and minutes wrapped inside those 9 precious days, tragic and miraculous things happened. Things I am still reckoning with to this day, but this cluster of short stories about Sláine I am ready to share now for this is also the story I was reading to him the day he died.

What follows are just thumbnails of who this Warrior-Priestess is. One day, I hope I will be able to get the full story made available for readers who would like to meet her, and perhaps you will come to know her like I have come to know her for she is incredible. But, she is also an accident—someone who was never meant to have existed. But here fate interfered as well (and as it usually does in reality and in fiction), thus bringing her from nothing into the world of the mid-800s—a time when the Vikings plundered and raided much of Europe alongside the growing strength and influence of the Catholic church.

Sláine grows up as an orphan at a convent in Ireland with Sister Theresa, Sister Charlotte, Sister Margret, Mother Superior, and the other nuns. There is so much more to her early story, but I will write only about the part I was working on when my father died. At this part of the story, Sláine is being guided across a glacier spanning between Odda to Rosendal in Norway. Her guide, Thorsten, has fallen into a deep glacial crevasse after being distracted by an extraordinary vision created by a phenomenon called a Fata Morgana, which creates fantastic mirages over great spans of water or ice. When Sláine and Thorsten see this phenomenon, they are sure they are seeing god and goddess Ullr and Skaði. Then, Thorsten vanishes into the crevasse. Thanks to the precautions Thorsten took by creating a long gap between them, Sláine has a few seconds to understand what has happened and react, but they were connected by a rope, and so Sláine is quickly pulled towards the crevasse after him. Had it not been for a boulder perched at the edge of this crevasse, Sláine would have gone in too. Somehow she manages to steer herself into it, breaking her ski and a bone in her hand. But, she stops herself and Thorsten from falling to their death. This moment is a transformation for her she is leaving the child she has been behind and turning into the woman she is becoming—a woman of many faces and realms, a woman who will learn how to wield wisdom like a sword to save the ones she loves.

Story Clip: Sláine drags Thorsten next to the rock she used to pull him out of the crevasse. She works quickly to unpack the things she needs to make a place for him to rest and warm up. Moving as quickly as she can, she uses her left hand, ignoring the pain shooting through her fingers, up her arm, and into her head to construct a shelter from the wind made out of her ski poles, Sister Sodoma’s arm and staff, and the horse’s hide. She pulls Thorsten into it. He is so cold, so she takes off her bear cloak, wraps it around him, then crawls in beside him using his cloak as a barrier underneath them from the ice. She pulls his knees close to his chest and surround as much of his body with her body as she can. At first, his coldness saps all her warmth, and she shivers uncontrollably. Little by little, Thorsten’s body begins to generate its own warmth, but he remain unconscious. Soon their bodies generate enough heat to create a place of safety and warmth. Exhausted, Sláine doesn’t even remember falling asleep, but when she does, she dreams of home—a home that is so far away now—the beautiful cliffs of Ireland; a land she may never see again, but a place her soul will never forget.

In her sleep, she dreams about ravens who showed her the cave in the cliff when she was quite young before the other girls came to the convent. She relives the day she came upon the tree filled with ravens and how they took flight and surrounded her. But, she was not afraid for she knew they were talking to her, and she knew she could talk to them. They lead her to the cave, which became a sanctuary she escaped to often everafter after. When the other girls came to take their vows to become brides of Christ along with her, she finally found a friend to share her adventures over the moors. She and Nell would skip afternoon prayers, escaping to the cave where they would stare out over the ocean for hours dreaming of fantastic adventures and voyages. One day, they came upon the ravens in the tree just like the day the ravens showed her the cave. Immediately, she wanted to show Nell how she could talk to the ravens. But, Nell ran in terror and never talked to her again until the day the Norsemen came, which hurt so much. But oh, those green, green moors of her beloved Ireland and the blue, blue sky and sea—if only she could go back to this place where she knows her mother’s beautiful soul resides looking out upon the land from her final resting place with such peace and love waiting for her beloved daughter to return.

Consciousness Warriors

Since 2012, I have worked on a story that I hope (with help from dear friends) will be available this year as a self-published work. As I sunk deeper into this story and discovered more of its terrain, I came to know the Warrior-Priestesses. I was working on the story of the 4th Warrior-Priestess, Sláine (a name from Viking lore) when tragedy befell my family. Now, as I work my way back from this tragedy, I illustrated and summarized some of the story of Sláine. It is these shorts that will follow. As I did this work, I learned about the work of Margret Wheatley and her idea about Warriors for the Human Spirit. Though my work is fiction, its message is about consciousness, climate change, and the gap we collectively stand in Now where the choice is clear: Do we continue to proceed on our current path that is bringing us ever closer to the cliff created by deepening divides between beliefs and the haves and have nots or do we see beyond our current systems and structures and choose something wiser, more compassionate, and sustainable?

Margret says about the warrior training she provides: “Warriors for the Human Spirit are awake human beings who have chosen not to flee. They abide. They serve as beacons of an ancient story that tells of the goodness and generosity and creativity of humanity. You can identify them by their cheerfulness. You will know them by their compassion. When asked how they do it they will tell you about discipline, dedication and the necessity of community. — Warrior in Training

I believe we’ve had such humans among us since the beginning of humanity. Now, we stand at a crossroads where we must choose who we are and what we will do, and we need these warriors again in great numbers. This is where story and storytelling are infinitely important in helping us see around corners and imagine different futures (different realities). This type of knowledge is needed Now to help us make better choices in our Here and Now for it is our capacity to imagine that helped humanity become the tool makers and bio-geo engineers of our world that has allowed us to transform our planet through technology and the creation of societies driven by economics. Much good has come from all this, but also bad, and along the way we seem to have discarded or forgotten something essential in ourselves—the more ancient ways of being in the world and wisdom needed to live sustainably and compassionately with each other and all life. But, we are the New Ancient’s rising today. And we can learn once again how to swim in the deeper waters of our consciousness for we have inside ourselves the new stories needed to create a better, more sustainable future (reality). I believe we can reclaim these lost parts of ourselves where wisdom waits patiently.

The Primordial Language of Red

The Primordial Language of Red by Donna Alena Hrabcakova and art exhibit at the JungHaus Feb. 9 – Apr. 27

Hopi Woman by Donna Alena Hrabcakova

This exhibit explores the original language we all share as human beings–the ancient, primordial language of symbols and vivid colors that give expression to a new form of communication that access deeper levels of being and healing. The predominate color of red in Alena’s paintings—every variation and every hue—represents the life, death, and rebirth she experienced following several intimate losses that occurred during a very short time span. Her personal journey, accompanied by canvas, colors, symbols, dreams, and the ancestral knowledge of loved ones, led to a place of deep listening for processing loss and letting go. Her work as an art therapist on Indian Reservations and in hospice centers, as well as her Slovakian heritage, significantly influences her work. She has been exhibiting her fine art since the 1990s, currently in Columbus and Chicago.

Join Donna at the JungHaus on Sunday, February 10, for a reception from 2-4, including an Artist Talk at 2:30 p.m. www.Jung-CentralOhio.org

THE BLACK MADONNA

I am from the Mohangehalia River an Indian word meaning where the silt and mud forms an embankment. 

I am from that dirt and flowing water. 

I was born along this umber waterway in Women’s Magee Hospital where my Bubba helped deliver me. 

I am from my mother, father, grandmother, grandfather and the great great great ones before me. 

I am intergenerational.

I am from the Tatras and Slovakian hillsides where women 4 feet 10 would brag about being 5 feet tall. 

I am from ornate altars, icons of the Black Madonna, sweet frankincense celebrating the departed with dark veils covering their tears. 

Stoic Souls.

I am a granddaughter from Ellis Island relatives carrying a tattered rosary worn thin with prayers. 

I am from the smell of sweaty cabbage, dark rye bread rising and strong black tea simmering overflowing with honey. 

I am from the melacholoy days of Ireland. 

I am from the old world where tea, toast and conservation changes everything. 

I am the last woman in my Matriarchal line. 

I am beginning to unravel these territories knowing my Ancestors faced so much more. 

I am redefining myself in a language I have not fully learned. 

Our stories heal the frayed narratives. 

I am translating words and painting with symbols colors handprints saying I lived here for a brief and passing time. 

I am my mother’s daughter.

I am my father’s daugher. 

I am Slovakian America that also danced with the Poland and the Ukraine. 

I have inherited my great grandparents and grandparents land. 

I am a mosaic of old ways woven into the new.  

I long for what once was. 

I am rebuilding a life.

I am breathing in the essence of all energy my Ancestors the New Ancients learning who they are. 

Learning who I am. 

This longing can never quenched. 

I heard this is how it always is for those whom are the dreamers. The storytellers. The keepers. 

I am their daughter.

— By Donna Alena Hrabcakova

Sustain the Flame

Two years ago, the United States was flipped upside down. In response, millions and millions of people walked or took metro or rode their bikes or got on buses to the mall in Washington, D.C. They came from across the country, and if they couldn’t get to D.C., they marched where they were–and around the world!

I went too and interviewed more than 30 people that day. Following is the blog I wrote along with a one minute short and the citizen’s documentary I made from that day. In the one minute short, a marcher holds a sign saying “This is not Normal.” Now, I think we see just how abnormal this period has been, and how dangerous it is. We can and must heal the divide that has put us here. Trump is not the cause but a symptom of a deeper wound. So, once again, our stories matter, especially those that reach across the divisions that threw us into this moment. This is work we need to do together and with compassion, understanding, and love. It does not mean blindly accepting the current reality because this reality where Trump claims “I alone can fix it” is taking us down the wrong road. It is a road the world has been down before for Hitler claimed he alone could fix Germany’s problems more than 75 years ago. And so, two years later, every person’s voice and story is still very much needed from both sides so we can see with greater clarity our shared reality and heal the wounds that have put us here. In the following piece, you will see the seeds of my growing awareness of the importance the stories we tell about ourselves, our families, our communities, country, and world.

2016 Post:

Women’s March 2016 — Photo by Bébé
Women’s March 2016 — Photo by Bébé

I don’t like crowds, and protests cause prickly sensations to crawl up and down my body for I am by nature a deeply shy human being, but I feel propelled to go down to the mall, and not only attend the protest, but also to interview people and find out why they have come and what their fears are. I feel like I need to gather their voices like water in a bucket ahead of the DC swamp that is about to be drained. Pushing me forward like a powerful wave is a story I began to write 5 years earlier that is set 150 years in the future. Devastating climate change has utterly reshaped the social-ecologic-geopolitical order of the world. Nation-states fall due to the enormous economic burden of trying to engineer themselves out of climate disasters. In their place, huge corporate states rise. As this new order takes form, there are good corporate leaders taking us in the right direction (e.g., banning all fossil fuels), and there are bad corporate leaders taking the world the other way. One evil leader eliminates the good leader, erases all his work, and turns the world, perhaps irrevocably, in the wrong direction. This is where my fictional story begins—and sadly, this is where our country seems to be today; a moment when conscious forward movement has halted, and now rapidly recedes pulled by intense yearnings for the past, which looks safer than pressing forward into an unknowable future—a force being harnessed by nationalist and populist movements worldwide. But this is an illusion to make America Great by looking backwards for one cannot step into the same spot of a river twice because it constantly flows forward, just as consciousness flows forward through time. Turning our backs on where we are going is as good as sailing blind into the oncoming rocks. As a country, we are undergoing a “pretty big” identity crisis where the thin veneer of what we thought was a normal and healthy democracy is cracking, and now we boldly step into the children’s fairy tale of the Emperor Wearing No Clothes(or perhaps this is just liberals feeling this way today as conservatives used this same metaphor 8 years earlier). Regardless of whether liberals are justified to feel this way now or conservatives were justified to feel this way before, the more important question is what do we do now when more than half of the country feels left behind?

Women’s March 2016 — Photo by Bébé

I don’t have answers, but protest is a start. It is a sign our democracy is still resilient and flexible enough to self-correct when the pendulum swings too far to the left or right. Protest is a counter force that emerges to try to rebalance when the collective balance gets knocked off center. After protest, comes the hard work of finding a way forward that does not exclude, abandon, or diminish any group of people in this country (or world)—one that can stay cohesive and evolve. Every person regardless of if they are black, white, brown, rich, poor, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Buddhists, immigrant, legal, or “illegal” is vital to this process for every individual is a part of the fabric of our collective reality at this moment in time. When even one person is left behind, injured—physically or psychologically, ripped out, or banned from entering, the collective fabric of society is damaged and weakened. Thus, the work of moving forward needs to include everyone’s voice so that a bigger, better narrative can form and evolve, one that is more conscious than the one Trump has temporarily tapped into through the fear-based rhetoric Steve Bannon whispers into his ear based on the Alt Right narrative, which is strangely one-sided, warped, off-center, immature, and backwards looking. Why is this important—because narrative is a powerful device that acts like a high-powered antenna capturing and focusing an individual’s attention onto a narrow band that can be harnessed by the narrative creators—good or bad, narratives are powerful!

Women’s March 2016 — Photo by Bébé

When I set out on January 21, I did not understand any of this. I was simply compelled by my fictional story to go down to the Women’s March and gather voices of people who came from across the country to express their fears and concerns. As I talked with people, I felt reassured in my own unsettled feelings; then as I assembled their voices into this documentary, I felt re-energized to continue my own forms of resistance to find a better way forward.  I began to understand by collecting and sharing our voices, we can come to understand each other better, which is essential to define the emerging narrative that will help us holdthe centerof our core democratic beliefs and system for this moment in time galvanizes how just how precious and fragile democracy is everywhere in the world. Here in the United States, it’s hard for me to believe anyone really wants to tear mothers or fathers from their children simply because they didn’t get into the country the right way.

Women’s March 2016 — Photo by Bébé

Listen to Kraig Moss’s interview on the CBC where he talks about going to 45 Trump rallies and was called Trump’s Troubadour, but now he feels betrayed by him and terrible about all the families being ripped apart due to aggressive ICE raids, arrests, and deportations of individuals—tactics that seem motivated more to meet quotas set by the new administration rather than really finding the “dangerous” illegals to deport. [Kraig Moss]

Do we really need to hire 15,000 more border agents and build a useless wall—what about employing innovative technology to do this work. I understand there is a need to have a lawful, orderly, and fair way to get into the country, but do we need to fix it this way—by tearing families apart and taking money and resources away from critical services such as after school programs that disadvantaged youth need so desperately, not to mention the long list of things Trump’s budget proposes to cut in the name of putting America First. Rather, his budget looks more and more like the citizens of America are being put last as a fearful, selfish, cruel, militaristic, and unpredictable (perhaps even insane) country emerges instead.

Women’s March 2016 — Photo by Bébé

Now, we must gather our voices and listen to each other—and, most importantly, we must understand and respectdiverse points of view in order to wrestle back control of our collective destiny from the forces that have taken advantage of healthy differences between the left and the right, made them starker, and widen the natural gap; then, these forces have pushed both sides to the very edge of the chasm that opened where the darkness of the human soul looms larger and more threatening than it has in a long time—hurtling us into this moment! We have entered a time when truth, compassion, and dignity are under attack. Even science and the judicial system are being called into question by our elected leaders. What is even more disturbing is individuals we have elected to govern, specifically the ones holding the majority vote, continue to go along with and protect bad behavior (e.g., bouts of extreme narcissism, pathological lying). It is something we have not seen in the United States for many years, and perhaps we have forgotten how to recognize such a threat.

In my fictional story, my characters’ deal with a similar threat and must rely on empathy, intuition, and love to survive. I believe we must call upon similar super powerstoday! These qualities of human nature exist inside all of us, and I believe stories of every kind help us consolidate our inner resources so we can learn how to be better human beings.

Women’s March 2016 — Photo by Bébé

Stories can be powerful places where people can go to gain insight—even wisdom—and to be re-energized. Perhaps even more important, stories help us recognize threats that come from within our own psyche and inspire us to resist bad behavior and destructive choices. Perhaps they provide a short cut in learning how to do the hard work of self-reflection needed to be a wiser, kinder, and more courageous person. Some stories even show us how to recognize and respond to existential threats and provide a pathway off a course that could destroy an entire civilization, even the world. We can change the fabric of today’s political toxic rhetoric because we are the fabric; we are its weavers! We can help each other address the important issues confronting our nation by creating space for every voice to be expressed, heard, and understood.

Women’s March 2016 — Photo by Bébé

We choose the quality of the thread we contribute to our shared reality through our thoughts, choices, and actions; therefore, I believe we can Hold the Centerand stop this receding tide of human consciousness as witnessed by the Women’s March, the day without immigrants, the day without women, the march of Native Nations, the Science and People’s Climate Marches, and many other marches, protests, and gatherings as well as a host of emerging organizations such as Indivisible, Better Angels, and others that when combined with new tools capable of linking us together in coordinated and purposeful action such as DemocracyOS and Resistbot create a powerful counter force!

Women’s March 2016 — Photo by Bébé

I know this is easier said than done, but the process has already begun, and this is my small contribution to the emerging narrative that will guide us forward in becoming a more inclusive, conscious people. As we weave our voices together, we create a bigger, better, more powerful counter narrative. One strong enough to reabsorb the distributing Alt Right narrative and pull both sides back closer together so a bridge can once again exist where true democratic discourse can take place and where we can once again set about the work of building and sustaining a healthier, inclusive, creative, and more compassionate society; not the polarized, distracted, mean-spirited one that has grown out of the gap.

Women’s March 2016 — Photo by Bébé

Together, we grow stronger and wiser for this is the flame—and each of us has a role to play in guarding it because it lives inside us. Do not let yours go out…share your voice, listen to each other (especially opposing views), and participate in the slow and steady work of creating a better, more healthy democracy for everyone—one that shines once again like a bright light that can guide the world if we let it! Thank you to everyone who spoke with me at the march! Your voices are the narrative of the documentary I have made on the Women’s March, and they are helping create a bigger, better narrative rising in great resistance against the fearful one temporarily possessing the country. And, thank you for watching this documentary—for you are creators through the simple act of applying your timeand attention—indeed, this simple act (often taken for granted) is powerful!

Women’s March 2016 — Photo by Bébé

We are the light, and we sustain the flamethrough our personal narratives, so infuse wisdom into yours—it exists all around us—it’s in every moment of every day and in every thought as we flow together through time!

— By Bébé

New Ancients

Spirit Bird

You have awakened?

Or have you?

You can choose to walk through this splintered oak and ivy door or not.

The Narratives are shifting exponentially. Where are you standing in the midst of it? Are your feet firmly set upon the hummus, the nutrients of this Mother Earth?

Many years ago, I dreamt of the Ancestors not really knowing what they embodied but I trusted they would take me on an unexpected journey. The journey led me to living on Northern Reservation lands, cross country trips more times than I can count and back to the Ancestral lands in Eastern Slovakia near the Tatra mountains.

I believe PLACE calls you and if you really listen the Ancient Ones are always whispering in your ears. The New Ancients are the words I heard. These ones have become the voices I am painting and the stories of my Ancestors. In many ways they are reinvented cave paintings made from earth pigments and found objects to define the times we are living in now. They speak the old languages possibly the first languages and songs they flowed as sound waves when sound first reappeared. At times it feels vague like fog and other days it is so clear it is like I can see clear to the other shore. I like to think I am only a stone’s throw away from my deceased ones whom are teaching me and guiding me in this temporal place we inhabit. I feel like the languages simmer around a tarnished beloved samavar bubbling with stories that want to be told. Here earthy rye bread smothered in butter trickles down your chin, as you sip on dark black tea. Here you are at the fires of the Old Ones weaving the long-ago narratives that will help us in these times Here is where the New Ancients live.

They are welcoming us home as they were there all along.

Welcome home my friend.

Welcome home.

Donna Alena Hrabcakova

We Are the Stories Earth Needs Now

Consciousness Waves

The Last DJ of Earth

Below is a concept video about the Last DJ of Earth who is a character in the fictional story Sapience (to be published soon). In this story, the Last DJ is trying to save the survivors of Earth after devastating climate change has utterly destroyed the world as we know it. Nation-states go bankrupted trying to engineer themselves out of devasting climate change events. Corporations bail them out—forever changing the social, economic, and political fabric of Earth. Only DJ is awake and trying to inspire the survivors of Earth through musical sermons to wake up too. In the concept video, DJ shows us how things have perhaps become more important than people (and life), how the transformation might not be what we expect, and how we need to let wisdom rise and lead us by becoming the best version of ourselves we can be. The opening prologue is the same as What Is Your Story that is posted on the About page of this site, then DJ’s musical sermons to save humanity begins.

The prologue came to me as a vision. The vision is as you see… from far out in space with the voice of a young girl narrating it (though I could not find a young girl). It was just before the 2016 election, and I had been listening to the powerful story Khizr Khan was telling us about his son–Humayun Khan who was a Muslim American soldier killed in Iraq in 2004 because he ran toward a suicide bomber to save the lives of the men he was in charge of.  Khizr Khan spoke with humility, compassion, and love about his son, their terrible lost, and then the incredible spotlight they has been flung into during this tumultuous time of U.S. history. His voice and his story about his son stirred me deeply. It mixed with the voice of the girl in my vision, and this lead me to understand the importance of each of our stories in creating our shared reality. Now, more than any time in human history, we need to tell the best stories about ourselves, about our families, our communities, countries, and world. We need to become the best versions of ourselves that we can be and help others do the same from a place of kindness, empathy, and love. After the prologue, the Last DJ begins his mission to help the Good People of Earth tell better, more conscious stories about themselves, their families, and world so they might heal and Earth might be saved.

I know this is an amateur video, but I have a dream to inspire hundreds of Last DJ videos with makers around the world who create their own musical sermons to inspire the Good People of Earth to save Earth, especially while there is a tiny bit of time left to save her (or part of her).  Anyone can play the Last DJ of Earth for DJ has a very active imagination, and well, we all really are the last DJs. 

All rights and acknowledgments of music go solely to the musical creators of these amazing songs DJ dramatizes. Music is elemental to us as human beings, and we need our musical creators now, more than ever, to inspire us to dive deeper within ourselves and become master story tellers of our lives and our families. Our communities, countries, and world depends on each and everyone of us telling the best stories we can tell… stories that come from wholeness and deeper consciousness… stories that draw from the well of wisdom existing inside us all… we just have become cut off from it. The Last DJ has many playlists such as Here & Now…Playlist, which is featured in another blog titled: Is Collective Transformation Possible? (@Sapience207) DJ is taking recommendations for his playlists until 2112…then… well… this is why he is the last DJ.  

Concept Video: The Last DJ of Earth — Musical Sermons to Save Humanity