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Life Arts    H4'ed 1/31/19

6th installment of Gary Lindorff's memoir, "Finding Myself in Time"

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My Ouija Board wants me to return to the storm in my dream. Why is it obliterating Catonsville? I could understand, if I was suffering from Alzheimer, that I might be witness to different regions of my memory, my story, being obliterated by an overwhelming power that might look like a cosmic storm. (I saw how such storms ravaged the landscape of my mother's memory.) But as far as I know this is not the case. I think whatever it is, is more alchemical, or more likely, mythic. The energy of the sky, which I associate with the spiritual realm, is angry, and has become aggressive. In dreams this kind of explanation works. In the waking world we have tampered with these ancient realms for so long that a powerful storm doesn't "mean" anything. We might have caused it by warming the global atmosphere, so in that limited sense it does mean something- that because of us, nature is out of whack, which is close to breaking through to a mythic perception of the behavior of the weather-spirits, or the storm god, or Father Sky but not really! We are getting closer, but it's like that mind-stretching logical conundrum, that if someone approaching a wall (or in this case, a mythic perception) keeps stopping halfway, splitting the remaining distance to the mythic perception in half, they will never reach it. That is how close we are to attaching mythic meaning to weather events. We are halfway! In other words we are closer every day but unless we stop stopping, we will never make it to a mythic perception.

Dreams, especially big dreams, arise from an older part of the brain. They tap the vegetative nervous system when the oldest archetypes are activated, such as the storm. (Gods do get angry.) The brain stem keeps the body functioning during a coma. And if the world begins to really fall apart and we go into semi-shock mode, our deep brain will kick in to keep us functioning at a very basic level. It is fun trying to guess what part of our brains are activated when we enter very ancient psychic spaces deliberately (such as the great mound at New Grange, Ireland, or a vision quest or sweat lodge) and it isn't the same for everyone. Some get stuck in their fears (phobias) or self-consciousness, like a student in a classroom, afraid they will be singled out, afraid they won't measure up. Unfortunately for contemporary "modern" cultures, it is more common for a primal experience to be thrust upon us with no warning, such as flood or fire, or a death . . . our loss. The alternative to that would be seeking such an experience and preparing ourselves for it.

If I want the meaning of my life to outlast me I must be open to how the gods feel about my business on Earth. They don't see things the same way we do, and dreams can open a window on how we are doing from the primal or archetypal perspective.

This is part of the task I have set for myself in my quest to discover what my life has meant that has lasting value. What have I done right that has kept me going that can help my descendants? What has given my life deep meaning, but also, what will give my life meaning going forward that resonates with what others find meaningful? Name it, cultivate it, celebrate it. There are young communities popping up in certain regions in the country that are doing this but I think we can all afford to be a little more celebratory, a bit more like Walt Whitman in his Leaves of Grass.

Mythic perception is our default sub-intelligence, the intelligence we return to when our brain waves slow down. It is there when our rational mind relinquishes control. We were immersed in it when we were little. We default to it in sleep, we default to it under the influence of various mind-altering substances, when we fall in love, when we engage in meaningful ritual, when we watch a fantasy movie or bury ourselves in a fun novel, when we give ourselves to a creative project, when we allow ourselves to be emotionally affected by powerful places in nature, and we ease back into mythic perception as we enter old age. As a veteran dream worker, I know that we never stop dreaming. We just need to expand our definition of dreaming to include projection. As Joseph Campbell says, we are born myth-makers and one reason for that is, we are born projectionists.

The feeling tone of the dream continues to color our day, just as, for many of us, the atmosphere of a particularly engrossing movie continues long after the movie ends. Projections bypass our conscious filters, charging up certain situations, even triggering events that, because of the projected content, seem to ensnare us, casting us as involuntary characters in a drama that plays out some aspect of the same complexes that animate our dream world.

When we remember our dreams we project less or at least our projections are weaker, as the urgency of our dream-life is dialed down. When we aren't projecting we naturally enjoy more autonomy in our waking life to skate around others who are projecting. If projected content could be rendered visible in our worldly interactions (picture a blue halation) I think we would be shocked by how much of our reality is tinted blue.

Extraverts tend to project less because their dreams are less weighted or less critical; they don't carry as much psychic energy, but, because of their outgoing orientation, when extraverts do project their projections are more tenacious. Extraverts are better adaptors to the environment of our extraverted American (and Western) culture, which is, in fact, for those of us who live on the margins, a creepy funhouse of outrageous projections! Extraverts are better suited to function in the conventional world (the haunted funhouse) and at finding what they need in their waking life without constant reflection and processing. (The collective- or consensus reality, that extraverts accept as their world is, to an introvert, a weird pastiche of collective projections, many of which have reified into institutions, wars, cities, businesses, schools. . . . Schools of thought have become real schools!) However, as an introvert, I would never trade my less solidified psychic orientation with an extravert. In fact I see my introversion as a blessing because it has forced me to live ever nearer the source.

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Gary Lindorff is a poet, writer, blogger  and author of several books, the latest: 13 Seeds: Health, Karma and Initiation. Over the last few years he has begun calling himself an activist poet, channeling his activism through poetic (more...)

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