Monday, June 29, 2009

Michael Jackson and the Power of Archetypes

Archetypal symbolism provides insights into the life and death of Michael Jackson, because he appears to have been “captured by an archetype.” “Captured by an archetype” is a term that the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung used to describe situations where individuals are thoroughly identified with symbolic figures that have so captured their imaginations that they engage in eccentric and stereotypic behaviors, and they’re not fully in control of their lives. Jackson was very much identified with Peter Pan, the un-aging boy who can fly, and surrounded himself with Peter Pan images. (In light of the previous discussions of symbolic twin selves, Peter Pan, as Jackson’s alter ego, was something of a twin self for him.) While a lot of people think that Jackson had his cosmetic treatments and surgeries in an attempt to become white, it may be he was really trying to become ethereal. The desire for ethereality is closely related to the dream of flying, and the desire to be a spirit being. I suspect that many anorexics are aiming at an ideal of ethereality, so it’s interesting that Jackson seems to have also had an anorexic condition.

The dream of flying as it involved one of Jung’s cases led to a tragic end, and I had long been concerned that Michael Jackson was on a similar trajectory. In the former case, Jung had been worried that a patient who had dreams of flying was headed for a trouble. (Note that this does not mean that everyone who has dreams of flying is in trouble.) It happened that the man had been involved in a tawdry business scandal, and Jung saw that in his dreams as well as in his hobby of mountain climbing, this man was symbolically “trying to get above himself.” One day while on a mountain climbing expedition, members of this fellow’s party looked on aghast as he simply stepped off the side of the mountain and plunged to his doom. (Unfortunately, he also took out the guy who was coming up behind him.) Because I saw similarities between Michael Jackson and Jung’s patient, I always feared that he would do something erratic, like step off a roof or balcony. The autopsy results aren’t in yet, but though it seems that his quest for ethereality might have done him in by ruining his health, at least Jackson didn’t go out in a more ghastly manner.

Searching for Treasure—and a little more

As next weekend brings the first Sunday in July, I’ll be back at the Triple Goddess. As part of my seashore theme for July, I’ll be demonstrating fortune telling with a basket of shells, (where each shell has a different meaning ascribed). On past occasions, I have demonstrated some of the interesting things you can do by mixing different Tarot decks, so we’ll also pose the question, “Where can I find my treasure?” by combining the “Tarot of the Pirates” and the “Tarot of the Mermaids” to identify areas of our lives where special treasures are to be found.

Now for just a few more words on the previous topic of Sacred Twinship, (though I am far from having exhausted this subject). In the context of a Tarot reading on twinning, we also have to consider the possibility that the Tarot can point to a “Spirit Twin.” The idea that each person has a kindred spirit who is like a personal counterpart in “Spirit Land,” is found in areas of Afro-Caribbean culture and elsewhere. This may especially be the case if “The Star” comes up in association with images of twinning. It’s also something to consider when using decks that bring in spirit or spiritualistic imagery.

Another thing to look for in these Tarot experiments is what they can tell us about healing, so the topic of the Double engages the interesting possibility of “Illness as Other.” The Other is the Shadow Twin. I ran across a brief allusion to the idea of “Illness as Other” when I was doing some research on a different topic, and unfortunately failed to note the source, and no other information was provided. However, as I ponder what this may mean, it may include the possibility that when you have certain physical or mental conditions, you have to make all kinds of accommodations for that condition, the same as when you have an important person in your life, you have to modify many of your own aims to accommodate that person. Furthermore, illnesses and other physical conditions are like sub-personalities, controlling many aspects of your life and shaping your fate. This would be especially true for bipolar persons—where there are two contending personalities--but it can apply to a lot of other conditions. For me as an Asperger’s person, I often think of Asperger’s as a form of spirit possession where you are the ghost that is trying to take control of your own body—and doing a clumsy job of it.

Now, in light of current events, I want to start a new post about the dilemma of “being captured by an archetype,” which is another condition which could be viewed as a form of spirit possession, or a form of twinship.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Companion Death as a Twin Self

At our previous magical chat, one of the other topics that came up was what if “Death” is one of the cards flanking your “Sacred Twins” card? I have recently been re-reading some of Carlos Castaneda’s works, and there are some interesting passages on Death as companion in “Journey to Ixtlan.” Castaneda’s mentor, Don Juan Matus, told him, “Death is our eternal companion … It is always to our left, at an arm’s length” [54]. Don Juan suggests, “The thing to do when you’re impatient … is to turn to your left and ask advice from your death. An immense amount of pettiness is dropped if your death makes a gesture to you, or if you catch a glimpse of it, or if you just have the feeling that your companion is watching you.” He adds, “Death is the only wise adviser we have. Whenever you feel, as you always do, that everything is going wrong and you’re about to be annihilated, turn to your death and ask if that is so. Your death will tell you that you’re wrong; that nothing really matters outside its touch. Your death will tell you, ‘I haven’t touched you yet’” [55]. With this in mind, it would be especially interesting to note if, in your Tarot reading, Death is to the left of the figures in the central card.

As an alternative explanation, when Death is a flanking card, it could indicate that one’s alter ego is undergoing an extreme transformation, which could include getting down to the bare bones or dying away to make room for the birth of a new facet of the Self. I am also reminded of Rainer Maria Rilke’s writings on how our Death is always a presence inside us, and Heinrich Boll’s assertion that, “The artist carries Death within him, like a good priest his breviary.”

One more literary reference: in cases where the Death card comes up next to the Lovers, I’m reminded of Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ tale of “Skeleton Woman” in “Women Who Run with the Wolves.” Estes describes love as “a union of two beings whose strength enables one or both to enter into communication with the soul-world and to participate in fate as a dance with life and death” [131], and explains, “Because love always causes a descent into the Death nature, we can see why it takes abundant self-power and soulfulness to make that commitment” [140]. She advises us to ask ourselves, “What must I give more death to today, in order to generate more life? … What must die in me in order for me to love?” [150].

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Communications from The Lovers

Continuing my discussion of the Lovers card as showing one’s anima and animus (in the context of a reading where you’re asking for information about archetypes of the Twins), another participant got the Lovers, (using the standard Rider-Waite-Smith deck, where the female is on the left, and the male on the right of the picture space), flanked by the Page of Wands and the 8 of Wands. Unfortunately, if I don’t write this stuff down right away, my memory fades, so I don’t recall which sides the Wands cards were on, or whether any were reversed. This is another example of where one of the flanking cards was a court card (emphasizing that expression of the personality), and the other portrayed a grouping of objects, which can pertain to resources the other half of the personality brings in.

Because the Page of Wands has strong communicative qualities, it may indicate that she has a good line of communication from whichever side or her personality the Page was adjacent to, so she may currently be experiencing that anima or animus as a strong conversant in her head, when she engages in self talk. Here, we can pause to consider how one’s inner male might have a different voice and mode of conversation than one’s inner female. Think about it—if you are a person who carries on internal conversations, can you distinguish between male and female voices? (Because I carry on running conversations in my head, I assume that everyone else does, but am I wrong about this?) In the case in point, depending on whether the Page was closer to the male or female of the Lovers pair, that side might be dominating the inner conversation (like a little kid that interrupts a lot).

In some other fine points of interpretation, if the Page of Wands were upright and to the right of the Lovers, it might indicate that the individual’s animus is good at communicating a plan for her future that involves new experiences. If the Page were reversed and to the left, it might indicate the person’s anima is communicating something from the past. However, a reversed Page could also bring some confusion or misinformation into one’s self talk. The 8 of Wands may indicate that the inner male or female is good at organizing her energies to get things done, or, if reversed, that side of the personality might be a factor for disorganization, or involved in some kind of a retro movement.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Anima and Animus in the Lovers Card

I want to say more about Tarot readings done around the theme of twinning on June 7th, and regret that I’m not able to get my posts out faster. In another example from our session, one participant got the Lovers as her twins-theme card, using a deck I’m not familiar with, but in sort of an Asian-Middle Eastern theme. As I recall it, in this version of the Lovers, a man and woman are seated on the grass in a pose that makes me think of something one might see in illustrations for the “Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.”

The woman is on the left side of the card, and holds a vessel, which could be a wine jar, but resembles illustrations of the vase of precious dew that is iconographic of Kwan Yin, goddess of mercy. The left flanking card is the Queen of Wands. When a flanking card in a twins reading is a court card, it may denote a distinct personality through which one of your inner Twins archetypes expresses itself. So if the Lovers says something about a person’s inner male and female, the anima and the animus, this person’s inner woman is identified with the active, creative energy of the Queen of Wands. The Queen of Wands is noted for the visionary power of her ideas, and her ability to kindle a creative fire in others. Wands are primarily associated with fire (though in some systems, air), so it may be that the vessel held by the woman in the Lovers provides nourishing moisture to prevent the Wands’ expression of heat from being too harsh.

The man in the Lovers card is to the right, and flanking him was the 9 of Cups. When a flanking card doesn’t represent a personality or Major Arcana archetype, but a Minor Arcana portrayal of some objects, it likely represents a resource that one of the twin selves provides. Because the 9 of Cups can represent fulfilled wishes, it may show that this person’s animus plays a supportive role, nurturing her dreams. To appreciate how these two Selves may be in harmony, consider how this reading might have been different if the Lovers had been flanked by court cards with characters who were looking off in different directions, showing they don't see eye-to-eye, or cards portraying other images that would be at odds with each other.

If you would like to do a Tarot reading to get information specifically about the relationship between your anima and animus, you can do this by posing the request, “Please tell me something about the relationship between my inner male and female,” while shuffling your cards. Then, thumb through the deck until you come to the Lovers, and take note of how the flanking cards may inform your inner masculine and feminine selves. (Actually, I believe, like Clarissa Pinkola Estes, author of “Women Who Run with the Wolves,” that we have a whole tribe of inner males and females, but the Lovers card can tell you which ones are particularly present for you at the present time.) Note: in some cases, if you have a deck that portrays the Two of Cups as a man and woman coming together, and you get to that card first, it can also tell you about your anima and animus; being a Minor Arcana card, the flanking cards would show you how their energies are being applied to more mundane concerns.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Twinning in the “Mythic Tarot”:

For last Sunday’s session, we didn’t get into too much of a discussion of the inner archetypes of the Twins, because there was a steady stream of visitors who were interested in the Spinning Basket divination. However, we did have a small group who stayed after, put the question, “How does the energy of the Sacred Twins function in my life?” and then did the card search technique of going through their respective Tarot decks until they came to the first Major card with images of twinning or doubling.

I’ve had after-thoughts about one reading, where a male participant used “The Mythic Tarot” by Juliet Sharman-Burke. His central card was the Knight of Swords, which although not a Major Arcana card, features a picture of the Dioscuri, the young male twins that the Greeks and Romans associated with the sign of Gemini. The figures in this card ride together on a single horse, and they are moving to the right. This would suggest that the querent has got two masculine-identified twin selves harmonized and working in tandem as he goes into the future. I don’t recall what the right flanking card was, but the left flanking card was the Page of Wands, which features an illustration of Phrixus, the boy who rode a magical golden ram, (it could fly), to Colchis. In this card, the figures are moving toward the left. Interestingly, there are subtle references to doubling in this card. When a person rides an animal such as a horse, ram, or whatever in the Dream World of Tarot, that animal can be seen as a twin-self, a side of that person which is more in touch with the Animal Powers. In the original story, Phrixus had a sister, Helle [light], from whom he was parted when she fell off the ram as it was flying over the ocean. He subsequently also parted with the ram, which was sacrificed and became the golden fleece, (which became the subject of a quest).

In this case, there seem to be inner re-alignments involving the pairing and unpairing of different facets of the Self, with a progression toward somewhat more mature masculine energies, because Phrixus and Helle were children, while the Dioscuri were young men—and the energy of Gemini, generally, has an inquisitive, experimental “teenage” quality. Separating from the younger and feminine aspects may well have involved a certain sense of loss, and the sacrifice of the golden fleece may pertain to a diminishment of that youthful sense of inflation, that high flying exuberance of golden youth. Nevertheless, the energies being experienced are still fairly youthful, (though in the Mythic Tarot, these are expressed through the Knight of Swords warrior mode). In a middle-aged person, this could mean re-experiencing the intellectual life of youth, (which for some of us was in the Hippie era). The third card, which I can’t recall, may have indicated where these re-aligned energies are being directed.

Note that there is also a lot of Zodiac symbolism, as the ram applies to Aries, the Dioscuri to Gemini, and the horse they are riding on could apply to Sagittarius. (Last Sunday, the full moon was in Sagittarius, in opposition to the Gemini sun). This could mean that areas in this person’s life that are governed by Aries are currently becoming less of a focus, while he has got matters in the opposing signs of Gemini and Sagittarius working in tandem. There might also be a timeline involved, moving from Spring (Aries) to Summer (Gemini).

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Energies of Twinning

Picking up on the theme of the Sacred Twins in preparation for Sunday’s event, this is in keeping with the seasonal theme of Sun in Gemini.

If you have multiple Tarot decks, you might want to look through them to see which have good images of twinning or doubling. The Rider-Waite-Smith deck utilizes such images in the Hierophant, Lovers, Chariot, Strength, Devil, Moon, and Sun, (as well as Minor Arcana cards, like the Two of Cups). However, not all decks—even RWS spin-offs—bring in the same images. On the other hand, some decks may use images of doubling or twinning in novel ways, as in the case of Hanson-Roberts’ nursery rhyme-themed “Whimsical Tarot,” which features Jack and Jill in the Temperance card. In fact, in preparing for Sunday, I got out a number of decks and asked them to edify me on the theme of twinning; when I shuffled and went through the Whimsical Tarot, the first major “twins” card that came up was Temperance (Jack and Jill), flanked by the Two of Cups (the Owl and the Pussycat) and Two of Pentacles (Jack Sprat and his wife). If you come across any interesting new images in other card decks, I would like to hear about them, because I’m not able to keep up with all of the Tarot decks that are out there.

We’ll also get into the theme of “double fortune,” which the Chinese tie in with the symbolism of the twins, and also with the number “8,” which they describe as “the luckiest number,” (and have different ways of doubling it numerically). You might want to look at the 8s in your Tarot decks, to see how they are portrayed by the artists. Knowing the Chinese associations, we can talk about how some of the more negative traditional Tarot associations can be transmuted, and how 8s cards with positive images can be used in Tarot spells.

Back to the sign of Gemini, you don’t need to know anything about astrology to appreciate the twins symbolism. However, if you happen to be familiar with your personal horoscope, this can add another level to your Tarot reading. If you have had your horoscope done, take note of which of your astrological houses are ruled or over-lapped by Gemini, and which (if any) of your planets or points are in Gemini, because in the way that the Tarot holographically casts light on many different areas of life, the twins cards also offer insights into what’s going on in the areas of your life that Gemini presides over. Furthermore, in line with the double fortune theme, take note as to whether Jupiter or Venus make friendly aspects t your planet Mercury (ruler of Gemini), the cusp of your Gemini-ruled house(s), or any planets you have in Gemini.

Food for thought: the Gemini twins were known as the Dioscuri, and were very important deities in ancient times. (Why would people pray to twins? It’s understandable that people would pray to Venus for luck in love, and to Mars for luck in war, but what sort of human needs would they address the Dioscuri for?) When a number of the old gods were converted into catholic saints, the Dioscuri became the twin doctor saints Cosmas and Damian, patrons of healers. (How can we engage the Sacred Twins in healing issues?) In Santeria, Cosmas and Damian are identified with the twin Orishas known as the Ibeji. They are patrons of children, and people also believe they can double their luck and their money by honoring the Ibeji.