The Predator Archetype (part three): Dreams of the Stalker


Last night I had another dream about him…

He is in disguise, this time. We meet in a darkened rain-washed street. We make eye contact and he introduces himself as, not the person I thought, not the one I trust, though equal in size and stature, but a slightly different name. With eyes that flashed cold daggers, and shorter darker hair, he asks me to come with him: “let’s have coffee”. “Another time, maybe”. “No”. He is insistent and pulls at my hand. I can feel the force and make a break – run as fast as I can, away from those cold dead eyes. He is fast and heads me off, behind steel buildings. He grasps me again as I struggle away. But this is public space, out here I scream “LEAVE ME ALONE” I look around and see the young family, the old man, pedestrians on this paved grey dreamscape. “I DON’T KNOW HIM” I yell to them – hoping they will take notice and help. This is not a joke, not a private matter. He is the predator… I am at a party now, with friends. We go out into the night to yell at the predators and scare them away. Behind us, someone turns out the lights in the strange old house. There is danger here, but he is just trying to scare us. It is working. I awaken in fear.

I wrote about the predator archetype before, and again, in relation to his history as the dark magician. He is major archana when it comes to archetypes – that dark force that seeks control, seeks to destroy the light force of the psyche. He is present when we walk dark streets at night. He is the rapist, the murderer, Bluebeard. He is the part of ourselves that seeks our destruction.

Probably, you would have these dreams too, sometimes. Probably, the predator is not entirely unknown to you, in your life experiences, traumas, projections and semi-conscious states. This deadly force invokes chilling scorpionic fear. It is potent, it is transformative, it can be devastating.

I’m not sure why I dreamed of him last night, but I suspect it is part of my recent inner-work, integrating my animus through the shadow, exploring the recessed and deep folds of tattered emotional memories, of abandonment, and anger; psychological abuse and powerlessness. Bringing this into the light is stirring something up.

Is it possible to master this destructive psychic force, to use in a conscious way, to prune the parts of self that are no longer necessary, or is it something that must be watched with a smoldering gaze until he is charred to cinders? Either way. Something is saying: PAY ATTENTION. Watch. Wait. Listen. Be aware… and be safe.

Eating death: Pluto, the underworld, and petroleum based pesticides

Because of my research on food sovereignty, I have thought a lot about pesticides and synthetic fertilisers. People talk a lot about ‘organic’ food, but this mostly means food that hasn’t been grown with petroleum based products. These products are designed to either kill insects, bacteria and fungi, or to add nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous to the soil to compensate for the depletion caused by intensive agriculture. It’s obviously not very sustainable, but it has become ‘normal’.

On a symbolic level this is interesting because for several reasons. The first is that pesticides were primarily developed during World War II for purposes of chemical warfare (Mars/Aries)… so the obvious thing to do, after the war was to put this stuff on our food, and eat it, right? The intense driven energy and economic activity had to be channeled somewhere after the war, and it tended to veer towards the domestic sphere (Cancer/4th house), into more advanced home appliances and into the ‘green-revolution’ of industrialised mono-cultural agriculture. Women became the main consumers, along with the rise of the middle-classes, and the modern ‘traditional’ housewife was born. Meanwhile our food has become more uniform, ‘cheap’ in comparison to the energy expended to attain sustenance at any other time in history, and imminently more toxic.

The second reason it is interesting symbolically is related to petroleum itself, which is connected to Pluto, Hades and the underworld. Fossil fuels are exactly that – the fossilised remains of an old dead world. It it the world’s stored energy and it’s intensely powerful. We are extracting it, burning it up and making all kinds of useful things out of it (plastic, for example), in order to ‘advance’ (Uranus) at unprecedented levels. I have a feeling that we have no idea what we are really doing here, but it doesn’t seem very wise. In putting petroleum based pesticides and fertilisers into our food we are symbolically eating death. Thoughts?

Rescuing the princess, rebuilding the animus and growing healthy relationship archetypes

Recently I have been exploring the common archetype of the princess in the tower, in relation to my life. It is something that crops up from time to time, when I feel helpless or overwhelmed; I feel out of control, like a small child, powerless and desperate; I don’t think I can do things by myself. Whenever this pattern emerges I secretly wish for someone to rescue me, when really I know I always have to rescue myself.

Please excuse the gendered nature of the archetypes presented here – they actually don’t need to a particular gender, that is just the common representation… I do feel, however, that growing up without a healthy father figure/male role-model has stunted and warped the development of my animus, which I have been progressively healing/growing back over the last few years. The animus is commonly known as the ‘male’ or masculine part of the psyche, but is also associated with the warrior or rescuer archetype. If you didn’t have a present or adequate father/male role model, you may well be in the same boat.

Early on, we who need to rescue ourselves tend to fall into the trap of becoming the rescuer – of being attracted to wounded puppies who we think we can save with our love and guidance. This is a massive exercise in projection and gets quite circular. We are seeing our own damaged animus reflected back through damaged people and damaging relationships. Without a healthy animus, we are doomed to repeat this cycle. The good news is that, eventually, we can heal the major inner fractures in ourselves (if we need to). We can piece one together from the aspects of healthy ‘masculinity’ and strength we encounter in our lives. We can make a frankenstein animus and bring it to life – or re-grow an under-developed animus archetype until he reaches maturity – along with culling all the unhealthy/predator/shadow aspects we may have internalized from having painful or exploitative experiences with men.

Even when we have cobbled together a healthy representation of animus inside ourselves, we may find that we still feel tensions and anxieties arising from attachment and relationships – even with healthy significant others who are not wounded puppies. While being attracted to healthy (rather than damaged) people is a sign of significant healing progress, it doesn’t mean it’s all smooth sailing from here. Our new healthy animus still needs to be socialised. Invite him to sit down for a cup of tea. Build a good relationship with him. If you are projecting anxiety onto an external attachment, transfer this projection, along with your needs and desires to your inner animus and practice relating to this inner ‘other’ in a healthy and loving way. He can be there for you, love you, support you and rescue you in an insecure world. Through this inner transformation, the external world can mirror harmonious relationships back to you.

Channelling the Muses

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Today I got an unexpectedly appropriate message: channel your muse. Muses, ancient Greek goddesses, were said to be fonts of sacred inspiration. The epic poets would invoke them at the beginning of their performances and they were often related to water nymphs and other manifestations of the divine feminine.

One of the wonderful things about the concept of channelling the muses is that it involves dropping ego. The weight of the world is no longer on your shoulders. You are free to express creativity, to let it flow through you. You need not fear failure, because it is not your ego doing the work. If you are received well by others, you can remain humble. This is liberating.

Channelling is all about receptivity. Being still. Being present. Being open. This is a beautiful state to practice dropping into. This state is one of sensitivity to intuition, of free-flowing creativity.

When we face internal struggles over self-worth, when we fear failure, when we worry about what other people think or judge ourselves too harshly… This is the time to drop ego. Channel the muses. We cannot fail, and we can only succeed as lanterns for divine light, as beacons for others along life’s dark paths. We are actively performing in this sacred dance, moving through our destiny, celebrating, rejoicing and experiencing. We are here.

I haven’t been living in the forest for a while…

The Forest

‘Living in the forest’ is a metaphor that I drew from Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés‘ monumental book ‘Women who Run With the Wolves’. The final story of the Handless Maiden is a journey of deep and total transformation, the healing part of this takes place over seven years of living in a forest. When I began this blog I was living in a forest and I was undergoing deep transformation and healing, so it seemed an appropriate title. The last two years (at least) have been overwhelmed by thorough psychological restructuring: Saturn in Scorpio, for me, especially by a very long Saturn return before it squared my Sun. It’s now right on top of my natal Mars.

For the past six months I have been sporadic with blogging. I’m trying to write my doctoral thesis, and I moved out of the forest and into the small coastal township nearby because I had been struggling to focus living where I was. To some extent I’m still ‘living in the forest’ in the self-work that I’m doing: in the processing and journalling, but in some ways I always have been doing this work.

I don’t know where I will live next or what I will do. Part of my recent processing has been about coming to terms with uncertainty and change – which are actually the only constants in life. For a long time I clung to the prospects of security – of owning property, of safety, of regular income… but while these things can be nice, they are not actually security or certainty, because that’s not a real-life thing, it’s a fantasy. Over the past two years everything has changed. I don’t want the same things and it surprises me. I don’t know why I want the things I do want, or why I’m drawn to the places that now seem so appealing. Even more surprising is my sense of stability and the noticeable absence of emotional trauma from my daily lived experience. I suppose these are some of the rewards of Saturn in Scorpio work. Anyway, I will continue to blog (more) regularly, because these sacred, private things are important to share, and because that seems to be a part of my journey.

The state, the market and astrological politics of the 4th and 10th houses

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I have been reading anarchist democratic theory for my thesis and the parallels between the 4th and 10th houses and the state and market keep coming back to me. Neoliberals want the market (10th, father) to rule – conservatives want this too but it is the other side of the 10th that appeals to them (control, structure). Neoliberals want a society of competition and progress (there is a Mars/1st element here too), conservatives want a society of rules and order.  Together these two political ideologies create a tyranny of corporate control, social inequality and suffering for most of the population. 

Socialists, on the other hand, want the 4th (mother/home) to rule. They want a more caring, fair society, where things are more equally distributed. Unfortunately, when instituted in a paradoxically top-down way (10th house), this can be equally tyrannical and disempowering for most people.

I wonder if these political ideologies translate to personal childhood experience. I suspect so. If we could just make sure our political class were thoroughly psychologically analysed for mummy/daddy issues we might well avoid all these messes and grow up politically. After all, market/state is a false dichotomy; they are two sides of the same coin. Even if they are involved in power struggles, they co-create each other.

Personally, I have a distrust of daddy/market and a longing for a nurturing mother/state. I’m also aware that the state isn’t as I’d like it to be, it is quite disconnected and covertly violent. We are all probably better off without passive aggressive mother and psychopathic controlling fathers as rulers, don’t you think? It would be nice to see more of a focus on humanitarian/Uranian/11th house politics: a politics that is more aware of what it is actually creating in the long-term, that is inclusive of diversity and seeks to resolve problems through democratic process, not just use the political stage as a contest. This is where contemporary anarchist (no-ruler) democratic process sits.

Parenting by the Moon

You’ve probably heard of ‘gardening by the moon’, of planting at new moon and weeding as the moon wanes. Many people think these lunar cycles are reflected everywhere in the ebb and flow of daily life.  Last year I began to notice distinct synchronicities between the moon and my life. I would suddenly get the unusual urge to clean out kitchen cupboards and spend the whole weekend tidying and organising, only to check my emails on Monday and find that the moon was in Virgo, and that was exactly the sort of thing one ought to be doing.  I started paying more attention, and even deliberately allowing time to sort and organise my messy life when the moon was spending her 50 odd hours in the virgin sign.

This weekend was another-such time. Without giving it much thought I went about my usual Friday night routines only to find my six-year-old on the floor of the room, sorting through her paperwork! Of course, I thought, this is time to do those things I usually put off. I began cleaning the bath, and my daughter came into the bathroom and requested that she be allowed to clean the bath, please. Sure, why not? It occurred to me then that ‘parenting by the moon’ might be quite a good idea.

 

We can clean and sort when the moon is in Virgo, balance and harmonise with Libra, challenge and explore depth with Scorpio, and do magic spells to quell our fears.  We can philosophise with Sagittarius, love nature, and sleep under the stars, then be ambitious with Capricorn, make plans and climb hills.  We can dream and paint under a Pisces moon, then network and socialise with Aquarius while we explore radical new ideas and new technologies.  When the moon goes into Aries we can start new projects and race each-other. With the moon in Taurus we can lounge around together and eat decadent foods. When the moon goes into Gemini we might need to play on a trampoline and write each-other notes, as parents, we can allow ourselves to be more child-like and laugh. Then, when the moon goes into Cancer we can nurture ourselves especially with extra cuddles and warm milk before we emerge, a few days later, under a Leo moon, to be dramatic, create, perform, put on a show and applaud.

I think I might be onto something. Of course it’s not just the sign but also the phase of the moon that can be considered. A new moon is for new beginnings, then the energy builds as she waxes. When the moon is full the energy is manic and intense, it needs an outlet.  As she wanes we take stock and take special care of ourselves, and take respite especially in the time right before new moon, the dark moon.  Last night I asked my daughter what I thought we should do under the Libra full moon. “I think we should put on really cool clothes and do make-up and maybe we can have a fashion show” the girl with the Libran ascendant replied.

The things that make us uncomfortable…

There is power in things that make us uncomfortable. Sometimes they are the shadow element, the big bad wolf in the fairy tale, the predator that we run away from. In that situation they have power over us, but there is another kind of power too: the power of transformation.

For a long time I didn’t want to think about poverty. In my food research I wanted to focus only on the positive: healthy food, community food, local food… I didn’t want to think about corporations, exploitation, corruption, starvation, pesticides, additives, genetic modification, and so on. I figured there was enough focus on the problem. I wanted to focus on solutions, I still do, but one of the things I didn’t want to think about at all was poverty, and lately I can’t stop thinking about it.

Poverty is a wicked problem, that is, a problem with so many compounding factors that there is no simple solution. I didn’t want to think about food scarcity or hunger, only about abundance and how to create it in healthy, sustainable ways, but there is so much ignorance about poverty and so many frustratingly common ridiculous social prejudices that I can’t stop thinking about it.

Underneath all this there is an unearthing or my own childhood relationship with scarcity and powerlessness. When I was growing up there was always poverty around. For us, as a single parent family when I was very young and as a large blended family when I was a bit older, there was the ordinary struggle with finances, with scarcity, and so on, but, even though I had blood-sugar issues that made me often feel like I was starving, and even though I was neglected to the point of not always having lunch at school, we were okay. We were relatively privileged compared to the people around us – at the school we went to and in our wider family. My experiences of poverty through family and school were difficult and ugly. The overwhelming powerlessness tangled with my other childhood traumas into the psychological wound that was painful to touch. I didn’t want to think about it, but now I do.

The “Why don’t they just…” attitude to poverty is really pissing me off. The negative response that vulnerable people often get when they stand up for themselves makes me sick. There is no simple solution here. If there was, people would have figured it out by now. If it was simply a matter of choice, people wouldn’t so easily damn themselves by “making bad choices”, would they? No one wants to live like that.

I feel compelled to raise awareness of the complexities of these related problems. People who have never experienced this extreme powerlessness seem to have trouble relating and, therefore, little empathy. To me, this feels like personal transformation through the shadow.

Doing Shadow Work

I was about fourteen the first time I was introduced to the concept of the shadow through Ursula le Guin’s Earthsea Quartet, in which Ged split off a part of himself out of a foolish desire to prove himself and spent many years running from his shadow.  Later, when I was sixteen, my counselor, Fiona (who was also practiced in Celtic shamanism) explained the shadow as all the parts of a person they don’t like – that they are afraid of – that they don’t want to deal with. She talked about bringing the shadow into the light of awareness and encouraged me to write a list of all the things in myself that fitted this description. It was easy to pinpoint external things: the things I felt guilty about, the obvious things I struggled with. It was harder to dig deeper than that, into the tangled unconscious web of depression and trauma that I wasn’t ready to face. I wanted to make things special and spiritual. I didn’t want to deal with the raw ugliness of reality.

The shadow is the realm of nightmares and the parts of psyche that are hard to face: pain/sadness, fear, rage, the horrific: too hot or too cold for comfort.  A friend of mine who was who was practiced at lucid dreaming was warned never to try to meet his shadow. He took that as a challenge and so one dream, while he was flying along, he decided to do it. Suddenly a figure appeared, a doppelganger of himself, but darker, with a malicious grin. The dream abruptly morphed into his worst nightmare and my friend, an arachnophobe, was being eaten by an enormous spider while his doppelganger laughed.

The shadow is a terrifying concept, yet compelling. We might know there is something there but we don’t know what, and perhaps there is another level of naivete, or several more layers, or hundreds. We will never know until we begin the arduous task of peeling them back. We may hope for specialness, for treasure, but that is unwise because it opens us up for unhinged delusions and losing our path.

I think of shadow work as stumbling in the dark, like the le Guin’s priestess in her underground labyrinth, there is danger in rushing in: the danger of being lost to the blackness, of starving to death. We have to feel our way, to edge carefully around the walls until we learn the map. Then we can be at home in the dark landscape of unconsciousness.   That is why the work is worth doing: because when you face the most terrifying parts of self, there is nothing left to fear and as if we can process these things in the light of consciousness, they don’t need to manifest externally.

Nursing the primal wound

Every now and then someone will treat you really badly, whether it’s accidentally, incidentally or intentionally, and trigger all this horrible emotional stuff, right? Maybe it’s your boss, your current or former lover/partner, your best friend, mother, father or child. Maybe the’re triggering anger, detrayal, anguish, fear. Maybe you react assertively or barely react at all but either way the feelings are there. The projections run wild: “That bitch!/bastard!/creep!/idiot!/scoundrel!” How dare they? We feel wounded, underneath all the other emotions. We feel hurt. We probably feel like the other someone else has hurt us and is doing us damage, but most probably, the damage has already been done – was done ages ago – and we are re-living it over and over, and over…

The primal wound is the center of all other turmoil.  It probably comes from the drastic post-natal separation from the womb or some other very early childhood trauma and every other painful experience has compounded it. It is what Eckhart Tolle calls the pain-body. He describes it as a tangled mess of wounded ego – of trauma, abandonment, betrayal, hurt, fear and general suffering. The pain-body is often dormant. We wander around living pretty sweet lives until something nasty happens and triggers all this shit.

The wound is primal because it predates narrative-memory, it is part of primary human experience.  It is the wrenching separation from the feeling of being connected, of being absolutely safe and warm, of floating in the center of the universe. It is so difficult for us to learn that we aren’t the center of the universe – at least not to everyone else – because everyone is struggling to learn the same thing. This traumatic separation triggers our base survival fear. We are terrified of our limitations, or our mortality, of our insignificance. There is only so much a young ego can take before it ruptures and becomes wounded.

Although it’s obvious that living life through this woundedness is not in one’s best interests, we can become awfully attached to our wounds and the traumas and dramas that inevitably surround them. We construct our identities around them: “I am so-and-so and I am ____” insert addiction/trauma/negative label here. We can even be proud of what we’ve suffered to the point that we refuse to stop suffering. Our woundedness gives us an excuse to opt-out of life-obligations, it gives us an excuse to be nasty because we were once treated that way. Really, you don’t need the excuse. If you want to opt-out, do it, if you want to be nasty, go ahead. Excuses are just more unnecessary justification. If you want drama, there is plenty to create and share. If you’re over it and want to move on then begin the disentangling process.

We feel justified in our suffering, in our anger, in our vengeful thoughts. Maybe we are justified, let’s assume we are, either way justification isn’t useful. If we just stay ‘justified’ we tangle the wound even more. We can hold onto all the crap. We easily get stuck. Let’s try something different. Let’s try disentangling from current projections and old trauma. Drop the other people from the equation for a minute. Good work. Now, what is left? That wound. Over the years it has been pushed down into the unconscious to fester, it has been covered over with all sorts of ugly and pretty things. It has become like a boil, an infection seething under the skin and this new trauma, this new trigger of pain/fear/anger has brought it to the surface. It’s not a pretty sight, but it is a chance to clear out the pus, clean the wound and let it heal.

Awareness is always helpful, like a flashlight in the dark. If we can focus on this wound – not in an unhelpful dwelling-on-it-going-around-in-circles kind of way because that will only get us more tangled up – but in way that is clear of projections, in a way that regularly cleans it out and wraps it in safe thoughts, in a way that occasionally squeezes out more of the pus until there is none left, then we can give it all the right things to heal. We don’t do the healing in our minds, we just remove the barriers. Healing is automatic in the right circumstances. To speed it up we can nurture ourselves. We can eat the foods our body really wants (not the kind our wound-wrapped-mind craves for comfort), we can move and stretch and exercise in the way our bodies prefer. We can create and be with friends and in nature and do all those things that feed us. We can listen inwards to what we really need instead of looking outwards into projections of happiness on the buffet-table of life that may be all empty-calories and no nutrient-density. A special kind of freedom is possible when we can separate ourselves from the drama and projections of the mundane world, and freedom can be terrifying too, but at least it’s not tedious repetitive cycles of pain.