All the World’s a Stage, and the Sun and Moon merely Players

This morning I woke up from a very difficult dream. I had spent most of the night crying in my sleep. Here’s what happened: 

In my dream my dad and my brother were going to all these different events and giving speeches about everything that was wrong with me and why I deserved to be rejected. I sat at all of them, trying to plead with them and convince them otherwise. No one listened to me, and I cried as I saw them give speech after speech on everything that was “bad” and “wrong” about me.

Oddly enough, my mom was by my side at every one of these events with me. Sometimes in their speeches they would briefly mention how bad and wrong she was too, although the focus was mostly on me.

When I woke up, I felt very upset and saddened by what I had experienced over the course of the night. 

What really stood out to me, though, was how my mom was on my side at every point during this dream. It’s really not like her to stand by me (in fact, she would have been the most likely of any of them to give a speech like that attacking me).

So I had to ask myself, what could this apparently small detail mean? I was sure it was significant.

Pretty quickly, it occurred to me that maybe it was my unconscious trying to show me the way my anima and animus related to each other. 

The Marriage of the Sun and Moon

The anima/animus was a concept developed by Carl Jung which in a sense, describes the anima as the part of our psyche which can be thought of as being “feminine.” The anima is associated with the unconscious, the body, and our feeling and emotional states, as well as our desires and needs.

The animus, on the other hand, is believed to be the part of our psyche which analytic psychologists associate with the masculine. The animus is thought to relate to our conscious mind, our rational thought processes, as well as order, reason and logic.

Although most of us within a given culture will tend to have these basic conceptions of what our anima/animus are like, the way that they actually present themselves within a given individual’s psyche is highly personal, dependent on life experience and unconscious psychic material.

I think this dream was trying to show me the way that my inner masculine or conscious mind relates to my inner feminine, or emotional/feeling part of me. 

I saw how my masculine side was in fact very abusive to the feminine parts of me. The “rational” conscious side tends to dominate and hurt the emotional feeling side. It has all of these unrealistic expectations about how things “should” be, and it punishes and hurts the parts of me that refuse to comply.

I began to see how I have internalized the roles that I saw my mother and father play. I introjected their beliefs and patterns of behavior, and in turn had my inner masculine/feminine adopt the same roles within myself.

One of the unhealthy ways in which this has manifested for me has been that I have very little ability to care for myself. I refuse to listen to what my body is telling me, or to accept what I am feeling. 

Instead, I tell myself: “No. You need to work harder. You don’t deserve to rest until you’ve done better. You don’t deserve anything until you’ve achieved what I tell you to. Not until you stop being bad.” 

This usually results in me forcing myself to do what I don’t want to do. I hurt myself this way because I’ve long believed that’s the only way to “discipline” the parts of me that are “wrong” and “bad.” These bad parts are always the feeling parts, that part of me which has needs and desires and wants to rest and feel okay.

I’m starting to understand that my animus does not necessarily possess some kind of truly evil intent toward the anima. The attitude of my animus, in fact, reflects the very same beliefs which my father has held toward my mother. He has always tried to “help” her, but in a way that reflects some pretty toxic underlying beliefs about her (and possibly about women in general). 

My mother has been perceived, in his eyes, as being: unintelligent, even stupid; incompetent and incapable; crazy, confused and irrational; and even bad, wrong, and unwilling. 

This, in turn, is perceived as requiring his need to act to control and dominate and coerce her into “seeing the truth” and accepting the superiority of his more rational and “right” values and ways of being.

Even though this is obviously insulting, selfish and even maybe abusive, I can see that there is a genuine belief that he is doing his best to “protect” and “provide” for her. It is based on a perceived inferiority on the part of the feminine in general and my mother in particular.

Just as my father treated my mother, my “thinking” conscious self now treats my unconscious (my body, my feelings and my desires) in very much the same way.  

It seems to genuinely believe in the fundamental “wrongness” of my feminine or feeling side. As crazy as it might seem, it wants to protect it, and it does so the only way it knows how: by bullying it into doing what it thinks is “right.”  

The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside as fate. That is to say, when the individual remains undivided and does not become conscious of his inner opposite, the world must perforce act out the conflict.”

Carl Jung

I’m starting to understand how this impacts my relationships, as well. If I can’t have my inner parts of myself relate to each other in a way that is positive and healthy, I’ll never be able to have a relationship that is any better. 

If I don’t do anything to shift the roles inhabited by my anima and animus, then I will continue to recreate these same roles in all of my romantic relationships that I may enter in the future.

This dream seemed to be the way my unconscious was trying to get me to see what I needed to change in myself before I could move beyond these patterns in my life. 

I can see now that I must begin to make these changes starting from within. I know and trust from experience that if I can do this, then the problems I’ve experienced in the outer world will begin to shift naturally as a result of the changes in my inner world. 

As above, so below. As within, so without.”

The Emerald Tablet

Introduction to Inner Visions: Part Two

Later in the day, I received an audio recording from my reiki healer, containing a summary of what she had seen while working with my energy. She had explained that she typically consults the Akashic records and my spirit guides, as well as other entities such as archangels or the divine mother, while working with my energy.

Angelic started with a brief description of how my aura/energy body appeared to her during the session. 

She said that my heart chakra was“pristine”, appearing completely clear and without any blocks. To her this meant that one of my gifts is claircognizance and clairsentience, which can appear as a sudden and clear inner knowing.  In fact, one of the most important next steps for me is learning to trust more in myself and this inner knowing.

There seemed to be noticeable blockage and stagnation in the upper part of my aura, lots of head congestion, likely due to overthinking. My third eye and crown chakra appeared quite blocked due to relying too much on logical/analytical thought processes, all of which was rooted in fear and attempts to try and figure things out.

“Above all, your spirit guides say that you need to trust yourself. Coming into your own is the next big step.


During the session, she had also consulted with Archangel Michael, keeper of the Akashic Records.

“Archangel Michael was very gentle with you. That’s the only way I know how to put it. You’ve had some very trying past lives, during which you have faced a lot of adversity. You’ve spent many lifetimes persecuted for something you didn’t do, punished for crimes you didn’t commit.” 

She reiterated again how gentle and compassionate Archangel Michael had approached her when speaking of me (which apparently is not the norm). “You need to know this: you are strong.”


In contrast to other sessions I would later have with her, Angelic spent the majority of this reading/recording sharing the very broad view of me and my soul and my purpose which she had been given then by Archangel Michael: 

“Your dominant energy is peace. This is why you incarnated: you came to embody peace. You came to practice acceptance: letting things flow in and out. Learning to choose your battles wisely. Let people walk in and out of your life. 

“Acceptance is non-struggle. Flow with the current of life and not against it. When you master this, you will experience incredible natural blessings, synchronicities, and joy in your life.

“The things that you are searching for, Eleanor, they are searching for you.  The only way to receive them is to not resist how they come about.

“Just be. Don’t hold onto things. It accelerates your blessings. You’re being blessed for balancing out the karma.

“Your life path is one of service– the path of release and forgiveness. 

“You definitely have the path of a spiritual teacher, a very unique path. It is not just any spiritual path though–some are called to work with certain specific energies, and of all the energy of the divine feminine, you resonate strongly with crone energy.

“Many in this age are drawn to the spiritual path to be “lightworkers” – but not you. You are instead here to serve as a “shadow worker.” 

“You have the capacity to deal with the darker sides of life, to do shadow work and work with the subconscious mind. You can handle the taboo, the guilt, and the shame that lies within others. 

“You can hold this space for other people, you can help save them. You can allow them to forgive, to release, to transition. 

“This is your lesson: surrender is the greatest form of blessing. You recognize that you and the divine are one. Every time you surrender to a higher power an even greater outcome happens.

“People on this path are training to be spiritual teachers. You already are, in this lifetime, but you are preparing for the next incarnation, as well.”

“Your next right step: to become. Step into your role as a teacher. Embody your truths. Trust yourself. Become by un-becoming previous notions and conditions.

“This stage of your life is very phoenix-like. You are shaking off old beliefs–now you are undoing. This undoing is your becoming. You are stepping into your own truth, your authenticity, your own power.”

“Your power isn’t over others, it isn’t manifested in a way that is forceful or against, it is a knowing, a remembering, of who you are. Your life path is very transformative, you are very much like a phoenix.


She said that my guides had words for her which she initially thought a bit strange or unusual. They had said: “The process of undoing is a death and the process of becoming is a birth. Only the wisest walk this.”

She summarized by reminding me that I have strong crone energy; my purpose will involve some kind of shadow work; and I can serve by being a kind of midwife, or perhaps a death doula. 

Either way, I am meant to be a guide for others in their own processes of birth, death, and transformation.


Her final words had to do with what was to come next for me. There were difficult times ahead, but I would do well to have faith. 

“Fear not the truth. Lies will be coming to the surface. Don’t be afraid to face it, to demand the truth, to accept what really is: it is the very thing that is going to free you. 

“Prepare for the shifts by being willing to let go. Don’t fear the current. You came here to do transformative work, not just on a personal level, but on a collective level as well.


Hearing these words, I was stunned. I had never met or spoken with Angelic before, but she seemed to recognize the deepest part of my core identity, to see the needs and dreams and directions of my soul in this short time we had together.

I have kept these words in mind in the days that followed. It can be hard to stay focused at times, but when I begin to feel lost I come back to this, and find strength in remembering the truth of who I am.

Dissolution

Dissolution -- The Second Phase of Alchemy

The second phase of alchemy, dissolution, comes after the fiery heat of calcination which incinerated the ideas we once had about who we are and our place in the world.

Once the ego has been suitably reduced to ashes, we then become ready to commence the dissolving process of the Great Work. 

In laboratory alchemy, this process involved adding water or some other kind of solvent to the ashy powder left over from the burning of calcination.

In terms of psychospiritual alchemy, we now come into contact with the waters of the unconscious. Here, it is as if we are drowned in all of our long-repressed emotions, swamped by our most painful memories, and shaken by the most terrifying of our latent fears and anxieties.

These previous unconscious elements are the deepest, most obscured parts of ourselves which we have worked hard to keep hidden from both others and ourselves for an entire lifetime. These repressed psychic contents are matters of profound consequence, and addressing them fully is a matter not to be taken lightly. 


We have seen that the previous phase of calcination tends to involve a kind of destructive fire which rages through our lives, consuming everything it touches as it burns.

However, it is in this next stage of dissolution where we begin our first steps toward conscious awareness of what is truly happening to us. 

It is during this phase when we must truly come to terms with our lives and all of the losses we have experienced. In dissolution, we start to deal with our real, lived experiences and our deeply felt sense of what it means to grieve, not merely as an intellectual exercise, but in our hearts and through our bodies. 

This process requires that we surrender to the often painful truth of our current realities. We must learn to let go of any grasping or clinging to what our ego has desired or has falsely believed to be true. 

In the stage of dissolution, we are being asked to surrender and come face to face with the contents of our own souls as they truly are.

An Introduction to Inner Visions

About a year ago, I started working with a Reiki healer for the first time, due to some challenges I was experiencing with my health.

White roses bloom

During these sessions, I began having a series of visions that were ultimately instrumental in healing deep-rooted issues (some of them even addressing trauma experienced in past lifetimes.

I wanted to begin sharing these visions with you here. 

First, I’d like to explain what I mean by “vision.”

I’d describe the experience of the visions I’ve had as a kind of altered state of consciousness. The closest thing I can compare it to is simply a dream, but there were some important differences. 

For one, although I was relaxed, I was still fully awake and alert, able to open my eyes and move if I wanted to.

Like in most dreams, I did not have control over the contents of these visions. I experienced them as being “given” to me by something beyond myself (or at least, beyond my conscious, ego self). 

Unlike lucid dreaming, where you can influence the object and events which you’d like to appear in your dream world, I had far less control. 

It was as if all I had was a remote control, where I could slow down, move on to the next scene, and even go deeper into a particular scene or object. The content of what I saw, however, was not up to me to determine.


I had my first session in August of 2020, and my first experience was fairly simple. This was a distance healing, and I later found the in-person sessions to be far more intense.

At the start of the session, I put everything down and lay on my bed in a quiet room, with eyes closed and an intention to be as receptive to the energy as possible.

Not long after, I began to see in the darkness behind closed eyes what appeared to be shifting shades of colored light.  It was more like the emptiness of the dark void was a piece of  black or dark gray paper being painted with light watercolors. 

The blackness remained, but there was a new overtone, a shading that was not present earlier. These colors started out on the violet end of the spectrum down to red, as my healer worked with my energy body from the crown of my head to the root chakra. 

After several more minutes, I started to see more concrete images appear in my field of awareness. I began to sense all the blocked areas within me, places where there was stuck energy, the result of long years of denial and suppressed emotions. 

The stuck areas appeared to me like old, dusty scrolls of parchment covered in illegibly scribbled symbols, written ages ago by the hands of men who never knew me, men who had long since died, men who did not matter.

As I felt light come into contact with the stuck energy, I saw the parchment burst into brilliant orange flames. These flames consumed the paper, devouring the scratches of ink, nullifying all that was ever thought or written by false authorities of times past.

Where once there had been records of false philosophies, now, there was only ashes. From the ashes of this all-consuming fire, I saw the tendrils of vines sprout and grow to cover the charred earth. The vibrant green of these vines soon gave way to the blooming of lavish white roses, bursting with life and vitality, almost overwhelming in their rich aliveness.

I could feel myself being renewed by the cleansing breath of the flames as they coursed through my body. The fresh vitality unfolding in the roses which bloomed within assured me with hope of a new life to come.

The Dance of Sulfur

After Bellows Breath, you may want to follow up with another practice called the Dance of Sulfur.

Sulfur is a yellow powder which the alchemists believed symbolized the active masculine principle of fire. It was often used in laboratory alchemy in the form of sulfuric acid (also known to them as vitriol).

The Dance of Sulfur is an exercise to increase energy and circulate it in the body. Not only that, it is ideal for taking the emotions which arise in Roasting Cinnabar and the energy raised in Bellows Breath and expressing them in a healthy way. We can use the Dance of Sulfur to let go of pent up rage, aggression and other emotions that have been suppressed or held in our bodies for too long.

close up shot of blue flame
Sulfur fire burns blue

HOW TO PRACTICE

  1. To begin, you can put on some music (some say angry or aggressive rock music works best) and start to dance. You can try any other type of aerobic movement that will increase your heart rate, like jogging in place or jumping rope, but I prefer to dance, as it really allows you to get into the music and feel the powerful feelings which have been brought up by other alchemical practices. Aim for at least 20 minutes of movement in this practice.
  2. Try to leave thought and the conscious, rational mind behind. As much as you can, drop your awareness into your body, feel all the emotions coming up as the energy grows stronger and rises within you.
  3. Once you feel you are in the moment and present in your body, start to imagine intense, fiery energy rising up in waves from below. You can then direct that fire energy to any areas of tension or pain in your body (either physical or emotional). Let the flames wash over you, consuming the stagnant ego structures of your past, and burning up and releasing any ideas, emotions or behavior you want to let go of.

This practice, along with the previous two, may be used alone or in conjunction. If you have the time, I recommend creating a ritual that combines Roasting Cinnabar, Bellows Breath, and the Dance of Sulfur (in that order).

When I have done this set of practices together in the past, I like to say a prayer or set an intention (whatever works for you), and I light a red candle to honor the rage and pain of the past, and to symbolize what will be consumed and released during the ritual. You may also want to conclude this set of practices with a ritual bath (salt baths are great for this). Visualize the salt water cleansing you of any remnants of anger or stuck energy, then picture all of these troubles leaving you for good as they are washed down the drain at the very end.

The Maze & the Labyrinth

Many of us consider a maze and a labyrinth to be one and the same thing, but there is actually a subtle difference.

LABYRINTH is the term used when there is only one fixed, or unicursal, path to the center.

A MAZE, on the other hand, refers to a multicursal path that may contain dead ends or different ways to reach the center, and where the possibility always exists to become lost within.

For example, the structure built by Daedalus to hold the minotaur in Ancient Greek mythology has usually been referred to as a labyrinth, but today we might all this a maze, as it was clearly multicursal, with many complex paths and dead ends meant to trap the minotaur.


The unicursal labyrinth is powerful symbol of spiritual transformation. The labyrinth was a symbol which combined the circle and the spiral into one symbol of wholeness.

The Labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral

To move from the outside starting point of the labyrinth to the center, and then back again, is symbolic of the spiritual journey to the center of the self and beyond.


I found a lot of insight into the symbols of the maze and the labyrinth in the words Marion Woodman, renowned author and Jungian analyst:

“A maze is a puzzle to be solved. It has dead ends. You may get lost in a maze. You run into a minotaur and be killed.”

Marion Woodman

Like Woodman, I spent many years of my life feeling like I was trapped in a mazed, living as if in fear of a deadly minotaur, and confronting dead end after useless dead end.


“A labyrinth looks superficially like a maze, but it’s different. There are no dead ends, no traps. There is only one path, and it takes you by a circuitous route to the center.”

In her own life, Woodman found that when she at last confronted her deepest fears and faced death, she was also able to realize the perfection of her life experience and see the purpose of her path.

“I was finally able to surrender to life, because at long last I KNEW there was a center and that if I kept listening, opening, and walking forward, my path would lead me to that center.”

I am finding that the same is true for me. I am going to keep walking. I know the center is there, ever present, just waiting for me to open my eyes to it.