Emotions, Personal Growth

Locating Anchors

Have you ever been speaking to someone and they present their position as obvious but it makes no sense to you?

I think I’ve given this example before, but it’s the most complete one I have. I was speaking with a friend about the concept of reincarnation. One of his arguments was “that doesn’t account for the rise in population”. Utterly baffled by this, I said “noooooo, advances in medicine account for the rise in population.” It was literally YEARS after this discussion that it suddenly hit me: his base assumption was that all souls were created at one time, and that only a finite number were created. To him, that finite number had long been passed and with 6+ Billion people on the planet at the time, ‘recycling’ souls was clearly impossible. That concept was literally so foreign to me, it never entered my head. From the perspective of my own operational framework, his statement was nonsense. In his framework, my position was nonsense. Neither of us had the wherewithal to consider that perhaps the underlying assumptions for our positions were what we needed to be looking at – not the outcome or conclusion of those assumptions.

I’ve encountered this many times in my life. The whole “mind/body problem”, which apparently consumes a lot of modern metaphysics, to me is like saying “the whole left eye/right eye problem”.  What?? You make no sense. Ditto with the question of why God “permits” “evil”. What a nonsense question, though at least I can sometimes actually reach and hold onto the base assumptions people have which lead them to this particular question. I have to really work to find the base assumptions for the mind/body problem, and then I can’t hold on to them. They slip away and I have to rediscover them again to address the outcome of those assumptions.

The point of this example is to remind myself that when I’m talking with someone or reading a work (most especially not a contemporary one!), to take very seriously the question of “what are the root assumptions guiding these conclusions which the speaker/author may take so for granted that they don’t bear stating?” If I’m writing a treatise, I’m not really going to bother saying something I consider to be self-evident or commonplace – ie I won’t bother stating the equivalent of “the sun rises in the east, hits the zenith in the south and sets in the west.” That is such a baseline assumption it doesn’t typically really merit being spelled out.

Keep in mind also that when these baseline assumptions get called into question, this is very threatening to most people. These assumptions are often the foundations upon which an entire world view is built; assumptions formed by the Child mind about How The World Works. For the average person, these will be defended quite vigorously – most especially those that represent the Core or the Central ideas about which everything else revolves. Try telling someone deeply religious that God does not sit in judgment of their lives, or that Heaven/Hell are just ideas, etc. Tell the devout Atheist there is in fact a God. What happens?

If someone becomes defensive, the conversation is over. If someone becomes defensive, it is solely because they FEEL as if they are under attack – regardless of my intentions. If I wish to pursue a conversation or an exploration of ideas, I MUST be cognizant of this and maneuver in such a way as to ensure my conversation partner no longer feels threatened. That’s on me. As an emotionally aware person, I have to recognize not only when I feel myself getting defensive but in that moment also diagnose exactly why. This is not easy, and most people cannot do it. If you want more on this concept, check out Crucial Conversations. This is a GOLDMINE of information. Gold. Mine.

Another VITAL part when it comes to dealing with root assumptions: never be dismissive. Almost all root assumptions were decided on by an infant to a toddler to a young child. The Child is the first foray into life every single human goes through and it’s up to the Child to very quickly assess a safe path through a dangerous world. Sometimes those conclusions don’t really reflect the larger world, but to the Childmind make 100% sense. Rare is the person who goes back to dig up these root assumptions and re-examine them through the lens of the adult mind. This is why I call the Child survival archetype The Guardian of Faith – because once the Child decides that’s How The World Works, it becomes a matter of faith that these conclusions are correct. Moving on.

To be dismissive or derogatory toward the foundations of someone else’s world view is particularly … childish. Heh. It assumes that my view is the only truly logical one, but my view is the product of my own individual life. Is my life – especially as a child – so vast and far reaching that my conclusions are the ONLY logical ones? I would argue against such a naïve position. Instead, I find it far more advantageous to attempt to set aside my own assumptions, and explore someone else’s with open questions. OPEN means just that – open, non-threatening, inviting, curious, interested, engaging, expansive. Even so, sometimes defensiveness is triggered because the assumptions within a belief system conflict with each other and haven’t been reconciled — and often there’s no interest in doing so. I also find these conversations fascinating because they help me locate my own root assumptions. I can feel them being triggered, then I plant a little mental flag in them to revisit later.

I’m setting out to read Agrippa’s Three Books of Occult Philosophy, written in the early part of the 16th century. Will he have root assumptions which he takes so for granted that they don’t really need to be said? Oh heck yes. Will I as the reader get more or less out of the study if I am aware of this and attempt to locate/state these assumptions? Oh heck yes. It’s this project which inspired this post, but my goal for the project is to actually do a podcast on it. I’d like to read a chapter, then discuss it. That said, I don’t consider myself a particularly strong scholar, so that will be a hindrance, though I am relatively well versed in the time frame. I expect as the project goes on and I start to dig in more, I’ll get a better grounding. That is, in fact, the purpose of this project. Besides, I happen to know a damn fine researcher/librarian I can tap for assistance if I need it. 😉


Emotions, Hall of Mirrors, Personal Growth

Dark Side Cookies

I was doing some research on the Pillars of Solomon and part of that included listening to Taliesin McKnight’s video post on the subject. The idea of the Great Work in general is uniting both halves of the self into a unified whole, or regenerating the soul is the term he used. The topic of looking at the light (known) and dark (unknown) parts of ourselves in the endless quest to bring more of ourselves into the light of understanding is pretty much the topic of this journal/blog.

In the cited video, at about 21:50, where he is talking about the repressed and expressed sides of the self, he uses his own literal shadow to illustrate this point.

In that moment, a word sprang across my brain: Doppelganger. Literally, it means “double self” and I always thought the doppelganger would find a “host” by stepping into their shadow and becoming that person’s shadow – only once it had fully imprinted on the person, it could detach at will and become an exact duplicate of that person. Essentially an Evil Twin. It would do its mischief, and then return to the host as their shadow, the person being none the wiser. In researching the doppelganger, I didn’t find too much about the shadow part so forgive the error but that was my understanding of this word which encapsulated the concept to follow.

The shadow, or the repressed and unacknowledged aspect of ourself, is still us, still me. I may not acknowledge my inner cheerleader but she’s there – lurking in the shadow of me, waiting to pop out to prance around and shake pompoms. Like all aspects of the self, it wants to be expressed. It WANTS to see the light of day and dance in the sun; but it can’t, because I have that perky little bitch in chains chucked into the basement. Alas, the more I seek to deny and bury these repressed aspects, the more they can sneak around and get out on their own. Indeed, this is the very concept behind the Hall of Mirrors – what I repress in myself I give to others, and they are my mirror. The more unaware of this whole process I am, the more I live deep in a Hall of Mirrors having no idea that what I am seeing are actually distorted versions of myself.

So the myth of the doppelganger, or shadow person, is a PERFECT allegory for this. That shadow self IS me, and when it slips away from my conscious control it’s like someone other than me is sitting at the helm, using my body to dick with people.

I sat agog at how beautiful this myth perfectly illustrated the concept. Then other images flashed to mind and I started to see just how many of our myths include the concept that while the Dark may be evil, that’s where true power lies, and if courted or sometimes just given half a chance then it will take us over.

I’ve been hot-boxing Supernatural (DEAN! *faints dead away*), since they are now up to like season 13 and I originally stopped watching after season 5. It’s not really a show you can just catch piecemeal, so I had to stop and now I’m finally catching up. Anyway, I’ve totally been stewing in the demon and witch mythos that the show really hits hard. Talk about a perfect illustration of the idea!

  • Witches get their otherworldly power from a pact with a demon, a being from the darkest pits of Hell. Once granted, it’s really not feasible to be a nice person still.
  • Demons, well, they are darkness and they can take over a person and do all manner of evil then, leaving the person to pay for the crimes of this controlling “alien” entity that made them do these things.
  • The werewolf is somewhat similar, in that it comes out at night and is uncontrollable evil, taking over the helpless daytime self.
  • Switching shows a bit: “If only you knew the POWAAH of the Dark Side!” Dude. Archetypal much?

So yeah, this shadow aspect of ourselves which has the power to take over in some form or other is so freaking common in our stories and myths that when I stopped to see it … it was impressive. How could I have missed this?? But now that I see it, I’m starting to really re-evaluate a lot of storylines…

Emotions, Spirituality

All is Mental

This is the first of the Hermetic Principles which is nicely spelled out and distilled in the Kybalion. It’s covered ad nauseum in many different videos on YouTube, so I’m not really going to repeat what this means any more than I have to.

Essentially, the principle is that everything sprang from and exists in the mind of the All/the Creator/the Creative Principle. Mind mind mind. Everything is about the all powerful mind, a concept which is echoed very strongly throughout many of the New Age philosophies, a la The Secret. Now using the Principle of Correspondence (as above, so below) I’m going to make the staggering assumption that The All thinks … a lot, like I do. I imagine all sorts of things, but what is the difference between a day dream which is essentially a flight of fancy and a true dream which motivates me to action? Emotion. The difference is emotion.

I particularly like Mark Passio’s take that there is a hidden 8th Principle which encompasses and unites all the other Principles: Care. So what’s the difference between a flight of fancy which has weak mental energy and a motivating image which has strong mental energy? Care. Emotion.

Now I have said somewhere in here that I tend to view that one of the purposes of existence in this dense level of material reality is to learn how powerful our thoughts are; that dense matter is designed to act as a buffer between “thought” and “manifestation”, with action of some form being required to birth a mental construct. Imagine the level of chaos we’d have if all of our fantasies were instantly real? Ugh! We are largely exceedingly mentally undisciplined, and a quick peek at any Social Media outlet illustrates this.

Now I know just how powerful mind is, but I also know that emotion is the fuel. They are like 2 parts of a whole, steering wheel and engine. If the engine isn’t on, turning the wheel doesn’t gain me much – no matter how awesome that wheel may be. If the engine is running but the wheel is allowed to spin, that will not end well either. So now I have to ask myself: is emotion something associated with this level of existence, or is it part of Mind?

As I was typing that out I got a mental image (hah!) of the “separation of head and heart” being an illusion. An image that heart is mind and mind is heart, but again for this level of reality they needed to be separated – at least superficially – in order to teach us how they work together. We as a culture, and by this I mean pretty much every single patriarchial culture on the planet, is terrified of the power of emotions. Of the chaos of them. Of the pain of what it means to feel. Of the vulnerability that emotional attachments bring. This is also an idea I’ve explored here, where “strength” is defined as being largely unaffected by emotions (ie: not vulnerable) with the exception of anger, while “weak” is defined as being emotional/vulnerable. Men are “strong” and women are “weak”, and my take on this was: Bullshit. Cutting off access to the full range of emotion isn’t “strong” – it’s brittle. True strength is flexibility, not rigidity. True strength is having the courage to own our vulnerability while taking responsbility for its protection and care. So in our collective zeal to chuck emotions (especially the hard ones like grief) into the abyss, we’ve created an artificial heart/mind dicotomy – as artificial and non-sensical as the “mind/body problem.”

There is a movie that I really loved called Delgo. The main character is a student StoneSage, and they can control the elements with their mind using their hands to guide and direct. So replace “hand” with “mind” and this quote sums it all up perfectly.

“The novice follows his hand.
The student follows his heart.
The master knows no difference. The hand and the heart are one.”
– Elder Marley in “Delgo”

All is Mind. I’ll agree with that principle as long as Mind includes Heart. All is Mind/Heart. To care about something enough to even think it is what I’m driving at here. If what I think becomes instantly real and I am deeply aware of this and I have any degree of control at all, there are many things that I won’t bother entertaining; but in this level of reality right here where in order to make something manifest I have to do more than think it, I’m fine with mental bubble gum chewing. It’s part of the learning process. Understanding viscerally how Care and manifestation of Mind are actually related is rather one of the main reasons for 3D reality.

Emotions, Personal Growth, Spirituality

Emotions as Fuel for Accomplishment

Long ago, I went through a Carlos Castaneda phase. One of the statements which I heard and nodded along with as a “yeah, that makes absolute sense” was:

“Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t, it is of no use. Both paths lead nowhere; but one has a heart, the other doesn’t. One makes for a joyful journey; as long as you follow it, you are one with it. The other will make you curse your life. One makes you strong; the other weakens you.”

Essentially – the best paths are those with hearts.

Being on a Path of the Individual, I know that passion (heart) is where the power truly lies. What’s interesting is that I find myself revisiting this idea more and more of late, and the true profound simplicity is starting to really sink in. See, motivation does not come from the mind and action is not driven by thought. Ultimately, minds are not the motors which propel us. Minds can steer, negotiate, navigate, direct, and guide. While the mind might be able to whip some action into being, it is not strong enough to sustain that motion.

Trying to find ways to de-progam the “I am worthless” crap that has taken up residence in my deeper self, I decided I’d look at various self-hypnosis options. As I listened, I felt … bothered, irritated by the messages and then I had to wonder why. The answer was immediate: every single – EVERY … SINGLE … ONE – took a 100% mental approach. There was no heart anywhere at all.

So here are these self-help self-hypnosis tapes completely buying into the “mind over matter” mantra, as if the mind would ever be strong enough to truly over-rule the heart. Hah! Being an ego based society that is, quite frankly, terrified of its own emotional reality, we have elevated the mind into some sort of pseudo-god (especially the spiritual crowds). What a bunch of crap.

Please don’t assume this means I’m saying the mind is powerless. Far from it, but understand the true nature of the engine that is our heart. A path without a heart will lead nowhere because it is dead, without power, a car with an empty gas tank.

So I’m listening to this “think your way into motivation” and I remember thinking “dude, you want to motivate me, speak to the heart rather than the mind.” Now the mind can most definitely affect things – remember I said the mind is the navigator? Have a good navigator and you can reach anything you wish; have a bad navigator and it doesn’t matter how powerful the engine is!! You are not getting where you want to go.

So, if I want to make lasting changes in my life, my Self, then I need to find the path with heart. Find the passion. Find the emotion, and I think emotion is always tied to values. If something simply isn’t valued, then the motivation isn’t there – plain and simple. I can wish, brow-beat and punish myself until the cows come up for “failing” at something I simply don’t value enough to bother with, and nothing will change — other than feeling guilty and depressed. But find the values? The TRUE values which lie within the heart, not the ones the mind is convinced it “should” value? That’s the gasoline which powers the engine.


About the Featured Image: I found this on Your Energy Medicine blog. No idea where is came from other than this.

Dreaming, Personal Growth


Been working with a friend to remember dreams and inspire spiritual exploration. He asked a question about the character of my dreams that I never really thought about from that angle before.

See, the majority of my dreams feature violence in some form or other — usually a chase/defend/attack situation. It’s just the way of most of my dreams, so common in fact that yet another violent dream is par for the course. My friend, however, rarely dreams of violence. So he essentially said “have you noticed this giant massive pattern in your subconscious? Any thoughts on what it might mean?”

Talk about a duh moment. Yeah, that’s exactly a waving red flag that has been there so long I thought it was just part of the decoration. Having the question pointed out of course got to me to think about.

In general, I am not actually a violent person. I avoid confrontation pretty darn effectively, and yet my subconscious dream self has no issue at all with it. So what gives? What does it MEAN? (hehe)

Several people have told me that I seem to have an adversarial relationship with myself which features bullying and extensive verbal abuse, and sometimes even physical. After thinking about it, I had to admit that was pretty accurate. I would never in a million years say to other people the kinds of shit I say to myself, and so in the past year I’ve been working on treating myself with the same respect and compassion (or at the worst, indifference) that I treat others. I’ll even tell myself “don’t say that me” when I start calling myself names, and then restate the idea.

As an interesting adjunct, prior to my friend asking this obvious question, I’d been asking myself why was I so bound and determined to absolutely destroy everything good in my life? Why am I actively sabotaging myself so thoroughly right now? I can even see myself doing it, and yet I can’t seem to work up the energy to put a stop to it. As if I deserve to destroy everything, as if I’m not worthy of any of it so I have to take it away from myself.

WTF? What completely has my mind baffled is that my heart is all in with this shit plan. My mind rails and curses and attempts to bully to get some positive traction (to turn this boat around!) and I swear it feels like the heart is just set on entrenching itself in the mud like the fish in this post’s Featured Image.

I’ve been working on sussing out why. WHY? Then this dream question enters the picture, and I rethink the adversarial relationship with the self and a new answer comes to me: My mind and my heart are at odds because the mind has no idea at all what the heart actually values, so the heart sees no value in any of it while the mind is still clinging to external, imposed values and punishing myself for not living up to them. I try to convince myself with positive affirmations:

I am worthy. (reply: I am worthless.)
I am intelligent. (reply: I am an idiot.)
I have skills and talents. (reply: I am worthless.)
I am likable and loved. (reply: I am unworthy.)

For almost every positive thing I tell myself, I get back something to do with worth and worthiness. That’s what I’m slogging through now. That’s the challenge. *chuckles* <tangent> Saturn in Taurus on a 1st/2nd house cusp: challenges relating to values and self-worth. A lifelong theme. This amuses me. Greatly. </tangent>

So then the exercise is to identify core values, those values which drive me. It would be a useful exercise to revisit old dreams with the idea of “what value is being represented in this dream that is being battled?” While I know the odds of my actually revisiting dreams for this purpose is low, I can most definitely use this question going forward!