From a young age I felt myself set apart from the mainstream of society and its never been easy for me to fit it. Also there has been a struggle to find and express the truths I see. I know I am not alone in this and who knows if it isn’t just an ancestral memory, I’m supposedly descended from St Francis of Tregian who was buried standing up for standing up against the so called heresies of Queen Elizabeth, he refused to re-nounce his Christian faith. And in the perusal of my past writings I just found this.
There is a deep fear that if I speak my feminine truth, my inner soul knowing that I will be tortured or put to death.
Five years ago (this was written in 1998) and five years into my recovery from alcohol addiction a powerful image came to me through active imagination. It was of a heretic locked in a basement, tied in shackles, emaciated, beaten, bruised and tortured this was a man with a deep intuitive feminine (of the soul) knowing, a Gnostic and an alchemist.
It seemed to me on questioning him that he had been imprisoned for ages. How interesting that this image would come to me at a time when I was preparing to travel back to the land of my ancestors – England, where I would embark upon an in depth encounter with my dark side through Jungian therapy and would be drawn increasingly to the study of alchemy, psychology and astrology At the same time, it now occurs to me information would be given to me about my maternal ancestral past.
Although the alchemist took the form of a man in my imagination it struck me that he had been savaged by the patriarchal establishment of the times, labelled as a traitor, tortured and imprisoned for the very same reasons that led to the massive extermination of witches centuries ago. I knew him to be a Gnostic, one who carries an inner knowing of the process work of the soul and its cycles, of spiritual birth and individuation – the process whereby the soul becomes conscious of itself outside the parameters of conditioned “knowledge” that rests on ego alone.
The wisdom of the Gnostics was a heart centred wisdom which did not accord with that of the church, the patriarchy that rose up from the second to third centuries onward and sought to have power and control over man’s soul, forces that interceded between God and man severing the intuitive connection to the inner world and forcing reliance on outer authorities and systems.
He had been tortured and imprisoned, his wisdom banished to the unconscious (the basement).
from externally oriented power based systems such as government and church. They instead followed the power of inner knowing. They could not afford to have this secret known and, even less, to have it publicly proclaimed in their domain.
Indeed the Gnostics knew something, and it was this: that human life does not fulfill its promise within the structures and establishments of society, for all of these are at best but shadowy projections of another and more fundamental reality. No one comes to her true selfhood by being what society wants her to be or by doing what it wants her to do.
Family, society, church, trade and profession, political and patriotic allegiances, as well as moral and ethical rules and commandments are, in reality, not in the least conducive to the true spiritual welfare of the human soul. On the contrary, they are more often than not the very shackles which keep us from our true spiritual destiny.”
How deeply as an Aquarian I resonated with this figure feeling myself to be one who had to walk away from institutions and systems in order to understand how their conditioning influence held me back from the only knowledge that was of interest to me. That of my own soul. How closely I had driven myself to the brink of madness in the silent, secret rebellion of alcoholism by night whilst remaining trapped and ensnared in soul damaging systems by day, never fully aware of the unconscious fury my addiction masked.
So the Alchemist offered me hope and the possibility of redemption not through the light path of the New Age, to which I was increasingly drawn as the dying throws of my addiction played themselves out in the early nineties, but to a path which led into and through the dark night of the soul of which I knew the Alchemist was such a large part.
The finding of him, his eventual freeing and healing would initiate a process of reclaimation in the course of which the trapped feminine feeling function in me would be integrated as the following synchronicities will show.
While the alchemist might be for me a figure of what Carl Jung would call the collective unconscious, his discovery also coincided with the finding of a figure who was more a part of my personal unconscious. This image was freed in the course of body work around the same time that I discovered the Alchemist.
In my vision a young woman almost catatonic, incarcerated in a mental institution, sits by a huge window staring into space transfixed by the free soaring flight of an eagle, while her own wings remain crippled and broken.
Synchronicity – this week sitting eating my lunch next to the window of our local interior design place, I happened upon a parable about little girl in a pink dress, sitting alone in the park with a sad and lonely expression ignored by passers by. Approached by an empathetic woman, she is revealed to be deformed and thus feared and rejected by all those who see her.
As the woman gazes on her with empathy and concern her deformity reveals itself to be the damaged wings of an angel who has been wounded and requires for her healing the kindness of a stranger who is able to see past her deformity and offer her love.
Transformed by this love that comes from non-judgment and the total acceptance of her brokenness the little girl reveals herself to be a guardian angel.
How deeply these images speaks to me about what Jung calls “the shadow” – those characteristics which we seek to hide and reject but which indeed contain our salvation.
The broken winged madwoman and the broken winged angel reflect back to me the shadows of my family history, of my deepest fears and echoes of the story of brokenness that is my eldest sister’ story – personal associations to my own image.
These figures reveal a personal dimension to my fear of expressing the unresolved grief, which drove me outside of myself, into addiction. Where the feminine feelings cannot find a channel into the outside world, how easily they become damned up, locked away behind armor that makes us rigid killing the life force that only wanted to move through, reshape and transform us. We are not free to fly when our wings are damaged as they are if we are not free to grow and develop according to the true agenda of our souls.
It appears to me that so many of us who suffer the descent into “madness”, addiction, insanity and psychosis are sensitives who struggled without help to make sense of personal tragedies and losses perhaps too subtle too name. When we can find a person like the woman in this story who can look upon us with the eyes and understanding of deep awareness and love, we can begin to recognise who we truly are deep in our soul and work yo free ourselves from.the role of ‘broken one’ to clsim.our trye birthright and begin to heal our broken wings.