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Emerging Archetypal Themes: Avatar - Spiritual Earth

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We cannot count on our redemption coming from the heavens (on Pandora, the Sky People only bring destruction) because we need to become responsible stewards of our own world. That was God's command in the Garden of Eden to Adam and Eve.   That is our true place in Earth's ecosystem.     Just as the Na'vi are good stewards of Pandora, so we can become true stewards of the Earth.  

  To change how we interact with each other and the rest of Nature, it would help to "" sit or lie upon the ground " to be able to think more deeply and to feel more keenly; " see more clearly into the mysteries of life and come closer in kinship to other lives . . .     Jake changed as he learned how to navigate in Pandora's landscape.   He changed as he became one with it.

Avatar: Honoring the Earth and Reclaiming Our Bodies

Avatar 's appeal is not just visual, it's visceral.   A story about the body and Nature, it speaks to our deep body wisdom.    Like the ancient myths, this beautiful story gives form to the archetypal energies that are stirring within our collective psyche, energies that sense a big change coming.   Because we see in images and hear it as story, Avatar speaks to our hearts and wakes up our innate love of Mother Earth.   This is what an archetypal story does -- it makes us think about what we're feeling and what we value, so we can do what is necessary to enhance life.     Archetypal stories teach us to see how we are part of the bigger picture, moving our perspective from the small self to the greater Self.  

What we call fairy tales are the remnants of ancient archetypal stories.    Avatar is a modern day fairy tale, build on ancient archetypal patterns.   Its message tells us that our society's values are at war with Mother Earth and our physical nature.   We are out of balance with our instinctual life, our natural ecosystem.    Our Judeo-Christian, enlightened, rational, capitalist beliefs have led to the rape of our environment for economic gain, risking sickness and death in Nature and the human population rather than focusing on what is right and healing.   We are creating a wasteland, and the story shows us what we need to do to protect and defend our home planet from environmental death and from soul-death.   We have to hope that we find a way to make the land fruitful again.   And we have to know that sometimes it's just not possible.  

It all begins with our beliefs.   We need to change our collective paradigm from the pursuit of human comfort to the responsibility of good stewardship, both of the Earth and of our own lives.   What is the best way to live on this beautiful and endangered planet?   We can no longer deny the damage.   We have to face it and deal with it to come back into balance.

The Wounded Earth: The Wounded Warrior-King

The beginning of an archetypal story tells us where the problem or the wound is. And then the story goes on to show us how to heal it.   So let's see how Avatar speaks to our own condition.

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  In the beginning of Avatar, we hear and see Jake, our wounded hero. We hear him say, "I dream I am flying. I am free.   But sooner or later you always have to wake up. Or cry when you can't dream."   His wound centers on freedom, and the disconnect between our collective reality and our deepest wishes, between our minds and our bodies.

Jake/Avatar by James Cameron's Avatar

  When his brilliant scientist twin brother is killed in a robbery -- all that life bled out for money - Jake is enticed to take his place on Pandora to make enough money to heal his spine so he can walk again. The money is emphasized, both the expense of creating the avatar body and the money Jake will make.   It's all about the money.   

As Jake watches his brother's body incinerate, he thinks: He was the brains and I was the brawn.   Right away we see that Jake doesn't value his own knowledge, his common sense, even while he deeply ponders his life and his options.   His learning style comes through his body awareness, which he negatively compares to his brother's intelligence.    We also do this by valuing left-brain rational thinking above right-brain emotional intelligence, mind over body, Heaven over Earth, masculine over feminine consciousness. Jake's paralyzed, cut off from the thing he knows best.   He's been wandering around lost until this new opportunity comes his way.   An opportunity to gain back what was lost.   To make a new beginning.   So he takes it.

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Jake is such a great symbol for our own wounded bodies, bodies cut off from the Earth's energies and unconscious of our own instincts. Besides the obvious ways our health has been affected by our dying environment, we have lost our deep connection with Nature. Who spends more time out in Nature than inside a climate-controlled building?   We have lost touch with our instincts and it paralyzes us. Who follows receding ocean waters to be swallowed by the resulting tsunami?   A wounded body awareness doesn't kill our curiosity.   It just kills us.

Jake's useless legs symbolize the wound to our physicality and to our warrior nature; a wound that affects our standpoint.   By warrior nature I mean the warrior within each of us that is willing to grapple with issues and fight for what we believe in.    When we lose our belief in the system, we lose our spine, our standpoint and become paralyzed.   We begin to question what we believe in and what we're willing to fight for.   That's why the rallying cry of patriotism is so seductive.   We are called to defend our own.   But what happens when our own is no longer worth defending?   This is the dilemma Jake faces.   This is our dilemma.

What happens to warrior energy when it has nothing to believe in anymore?   It works for money, it gets cruel, and in the end, it operates out of fear.   Jake comments on this when he arrives at corporate headquarters on Pandora.   He looks around and sees fellow ex-marines who used to fight for freedom but now fight for money. The Colonial is a character whose outlook is based in fear, fear of something greater than his own prowess, which constellates his violent aggression.   He is afraid of Pandora and its wildness and of the Na'vi because they're better warriors than he is.   And so he retreats to "pumping iron" and encasing himself in a metal monster to fight.   FEAR rules him.   He fears he is not a warrior, but a coward.

The shadow Jake has to face is his fear that he'll never walk again.   The need to heal his body is what keeps his hopes alive as Jake begins to inhabit his avatar.    Jake needs to become "embodied' again -- he wants his legs back, he wants to move forward.   When he gets those legs in his avatar body, he remembers his old skills and opens himself to learning new things. His natural joy, curiosity, playfulness and competitiveness come back online.    

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Cathy Pagano is the author of a new book, "Wisdom's Daughters: How Women Can Change the World". Cathy trained at the C. G. Jung Institut-Zurich in dream interpretation, then got her M.A. in Counseling Psychology in Feminine Spirituality, and along the way became a certified Life Coach. As an astrologer and storyteller, she weaves the Cosmic Stories written in the stars and from The Bard's Grove, comments on emerging archetypal themes in movies. Cathy works with the tools of the imagination - dreams, alchemy, myths, astrology, symbolic language, storytelling, ritual - to awaken the Soul's wisdom.

I believe that Americans are called to a higher consciousness at this point in our history. We are called on to live up to our ideals and create the country our forefathers imagined. Inner consciousness needs to be acted upon for social justice.

Cathy believes that our writers and artists must take up our responsibility to create art that inspires, teaches and heals our humanity.

Cathy writes about political, psychological/spiritual, and cultural issues.

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