Jenna Farr Lugwig's Posts (4)

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Ring the Bells that Still Can Ring

9142445873?profile=originalPhoto by Kevin McElheran

“Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack, a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in…” ~ from the song “Anthem” by Leonard Cohen

In the blog post titled “Follow Your Bliss” (May 14, 2013), I write about a tree in a dream, followed by a string of synchronicities that led to my attending a week-long women’s retreat at the Ocamora Center in Ocate, New Mexico. The retreat, Feeding the Moon: Creativity and the Divine Feminine - facilitated by Jungian analyst and author Monika Wikman and “Holotropic Breathwork” specialist Diane Haug with support from Kirsten Kairos, body, breath, and sound healer - was so much more than I’d hoped for that I could not put into words here all that I experienced. So, bear with me as I work to bring only a few of the pieces together that are relevant to the theme of this post.

Speaking of bearing with me…there was a bear!

On the day of our arrival at Ocamora, many witnessed an adolescent black bear strolling toward us on the path to our cabins. After chasing Bear off with some noise making, we decided that her appearance heralded the Creative Feminine energy we 11 women retreatants (as well as the three facilitators) were bringing to Ocamora.  It was also a sign that the bears were hungry this year due to spring weather conditions that destroyed much of their food sources (Monika began working on a solution to that right away). I was reminded of Bear’s entrance into my house in a dream I had last summer when the bear actually did find its way into one of the Ocamora cabins that had food in it that evening!  That shook us up a bit, and caused us to engage in more thinking about the meaning of Bear energy and what it represented in our individual lives. For what were we hungering? In my own life, as stated in the “Heart of the Matter” post in this blog (August 28, 2012), Bear symbolizes in part a connection to my inner wildness and longing for the ‘living water’ of my own instinctive and natural life rhythms. The desire to reconnect with these parts of myself for which I did indeed hunger was the primary reason I was at Ocamora. So, a big “Thank you!” to Bear for showing up at our retreat! That being said, I am grateful that it wasn’t my cabin he/she chose to break into - once in a dream is enough!

One morning during retreat, we brought our dreams to Monika to work her magic on and discovered creative and negative Animus symbols (masculine archetypes within the psyche) that were connected to Tree imagery in many of our dreams. Because of the confidential nature of our work together, I won’t go into the specifics of the participants’ dream sharing other than to rephrase some of Monika’s insights into the tree images that were showing up:

·      The “World Tree” is in danger of being cut down by the actions of the “Negative Masculine” as it is being played out in the psyches of both men and women at this time in our quest for more and more production and acquisition of ‘stuff’ as we disregard the impact this has on the biosphere

·      Trees have root systems that pull nutrients from the ground soil and waters just as the chthonic webbing in our psychic depths pulls up the “Living Waters” of our dreams, visions, instincts, and intuitions that support consciousness

·      A tree symbol depicts the Divine Marriage between the creative Masculine and Feminine principles because of its connection to both the ground (body/roots) and spirit (branches reaching toward the heavens) of beingness

·      Trees are grand examples of being of service in the Web of Life as well having their own inherent existence that we humans may know nothing about

In one of Monika’s intriguing discourses, she explained the three birds of Alchemy - Blackbird, White Bird, and Redbird - each being a metaphor for a process of psyche within the parameters of Analytical “Depth” Psychology.

1.     Blackbird/Nigredo ~ Not knowing, being ‘lost,’ rebirthing, darkness, depression.  This descending into the Dark is the first step in the Transcendent Function. Here, we are seeking, suffering, diving into the Shadow material and other contents of the unconscious before we can see through to the light of higher consciousness. This is the work of our animal bodies, emotions, and feelings where we begin to get in touch with our instincts again.

2.     White Bird/Albedo ~ Height, peaks, outside of matter, spirit. This stage, following the psychological work of the nigredo is where the transcendent function begins to manifest. Here in the ‘opposites’ within the conscious and unconscious realms are brought together in support of wholeness. New life within the psyche begins to flow again.

3.     Redbird/Rubedo ~ Reddening, grounding, birthing our new consciousness into “the red blood of life.” We know we are in the ‘Red’ when we become aware that “new instincts are being born.”

The energies of descending, ascending, and grounding are in constant circulation in our lives. The shadow work of uniting the opposites eventually brings light and rich color back into the areas of life that need healing. In Jungian methodology, this is likened to the “Philosopher’s Stone,” the combined alchemical processes that are capable of turning base metals into gold or silver. In Monika’s words, “Rejoice if your stone goes black, for that is the beginning of the work.”

That’s encouraging because we have plenty of work to do. Today, there are places in modern culture where we are darkly out of control and causing suffering, hurting our environment and ourselves. Our work, then, is to head fearlessly into the dark of our collective Shadow to bring up the disparate pieces of our alienated selves and shine the light of consciousness therein. As in the picture of the church above, the light often shines through what is broken, needing dissolution and restructuring. This is not about perfectionism, far from it. In her book “The Woman in the Mirror: Analytical Psychology and the Feminine,” author Claire Douglas writes: “The alchemists emphasized completion rather than perfection, good combined with evil, matter combined with spirit, and the feminine with the masculine.”

I am thankful to have had mentors like those at Ocamora women’s retreat who have created the space for us to begin the work of digging in the fertile muck of our lives to bring forth something that will nurture our hungry spirits as well as allow - without judgment - the light to shine through the broken places within. Now that I’m back home, whenever I need to be reminded of this important work, I just ring the little bell that was a gift for each of us to take home from the very talented Holotropic Breathworker and sound and body healing musician, Kirsten. I have not covered in this post the breathwork that Diane Haug and Kristen led us through...but stay tuned!

I leave you with a quote by Jung:

“…the heart glows,’ and a secret unrest gnaws at the roots of our being…"

Monika Wikman website:

Ocamora Retreat Center website:

Diane Haug on GTT webpage:

Kirsten Kairos Page on Holotropic Breathwork Intern'l page:




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“The heart is a living symbol. With conviction, we speak of the 'heart of the matter' to refer to something essential or central without which an issue could not exist.” ~ from the article “Heart” ARAS - Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism


9142442869?profile=originalToday, I opened and read the ARAS article "Heart"  that Jungian analyst Steven Parker shared with those of us who visit his always-interesting Facebook page, Jung Hearted. Attached to the article was a copy of a Bear totem in which the bear’s lifeline, starting from the heart, is depicted (Textile: trade cloth, with trade beads, sinew. USA, ca. 1900 A.D). I immediately recognized this ancient reproduction as similar in meaning to a recent Bear totem/symbol from my own dreaming. 

Back in mid-July I had what I consider to be a Big Dream, one that I will ponder its deeper meaning in my life over time.

In the dream, titled “Heart to Heart” ~

We – a bunch of people, including my son Dylan and his wife Angela - are in a house in the woods. I go to the front door and attempt to open it. Blocking my way are several black bears. I close the door and call for everyone in the house to come see the bears, because it is highly unusual to see bears in this part of the country. In fact, I had never seen a bear this far south in Michigan before. Before the others make it to where I am watching through the window, one of the bears pushes the door wide open. I attempt to close it, but the bear’s strength is too much for me. I run into the interior of the house calling to everyone to go into their bedrooms and lock the doors because now a bear is in the house. In one bedroom with only a curtain for a door are two young children, totally unprotected. I grab them and run to a room with a door. We make it inside, but as I attempt to shut the door and lock it, the bear pushes it open and grabs my left hand and wrist. I am frightened, but Bear’s long, sharp claws don’t break the skin as he holds my hand so he can get in. Because of this gentle handling of my arm, I realize that this bear and I can be friends. I begin singing and crooning to him and smoothing down his facial fur. Soon I'm experiencing love instead of fear, and feel the love from the bear in return. Bear and I begin to communicate telepathically. He tells me that he’s a maverick in his group, and that he broke into our house because he was lonely. After 'talking,' we go out into the main part of the house. Eventually, Dylan and Angela and I walk Bear into the woods so that he can go back to his life in the wild. We stop at a wilderness store to get some provisions at the beginning of our journey. A woman shows me a map and asks if we are going to all the places on the map. She seems very impressed if we are. I tell her that it’s not my map…but I am interested in what all the symbols mean on it. Bear and I step outside for the sake of others who are uncomfortable with a large black bear in the store. I know on some level they think he is my pet, but Bear is not tame. His home is in the wild. After we go on a walkabout together, he will be returning there. Soon, Dylan comes out of the store carrying an over-sized drink that he’s bought to share with everyone…water, I think. I ask Bear where he finds water in the wild when he’s thirsty, concerned that he will have enough to keep him healthy. (EOD)


Upon awakening, I felt a deep gratitude to Bear for connecting me to my inner wildness - a longing for my own instinctive and natural life rhythms - that has been breaking into my conscious awareness since I retired from a marketing career two years ago. When I talked to Dylan about the dream, I discovered that he and Angela had taken an impromptu trip to the west rim of the Grand Canyon after visiting her father in Texas, and that Dylan had expressed a wish, before the trip had even begun, to see a bear as part of his wilderness travels! 


Alas, no bears were encountered during their travels except those in my dreaming. That in itself is a gift of meaningful coincidence; one that leads me to hold fast to my belief that connections of the heart cross all barriers of time and space. For, while my night dreams of Bear provided a heart connection to my own inner longings, it also connected my mother’s heart to the waking dreams of my son. 


In my opinion, synchronicity doesn't get much better than that...



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Finding My Life's Mission


Several years ago, I came across a dream I had recorded in a journal months prior to beginning work on the Finding Your Mission in Life course materials that were part of my transpersonal studies master's program. My focus in the program was Spiritual Guidance Mentoring. The symbolism in the dream had a lot to do with my then current studies:


Baba Yaga Dream: I come out of a building and start to go down a road. I soon realize that it is the wrong way to go, and choose another road. It is a dead end – ends with a brick wall. I apologize to the people I have to cut in front of to turn around, and begin going the other direction on the first road I was on, realizing that I am now going the right way. I am carrying a broom that causes a big stir with the people I pass. A small group of them start making fun of it (the broom), calling it a special name (I remember it to be “Baba Yaga” when I wake up). I carry the broom past the people on the side of the road. Once I am clear of them, I start riding it like a pogo stick. It is so fast and so fun to ride that I pass a lot of people up on the road. Eventually, I come to an open field and keep bouncing along joyfully.

I came across this dream just minutes before I began work on the “Self-Discovery” learning module for the course. I am writing about this, because I believe that finding the dream at that time was a special synchronicity. It still illuminates inner states of mind for me as they relate to my life’s mission in this second half of life. It warrants being included here as well, because working with dreams and synchronicities through reflective journaling has been a real joy for me and a process that I work with in my spiritual mentoring practice.

In the above dream, some of the symbols signify choices I have made – wrong turns that delayed my progress and other decisions that turned me around to move ahead quickly in discovering passion and freedom in my life. As the dream shows, I am a person that doesn’t always follow the norm. I feel more at home in my own skin when I am off the linear, main road of life and checking out its mysteries in a more circular, spacious way that is portrayed by the open field symbolism in the dream.

When I had the dream, I was not familiar with the specific characteristics of the Baba Yaga archetype per se, but found this excerpt on the Internet describing her in part: Baba Yaga is the Arch-Crone, the Goddess of Wisdom and Death, the Bone Mother. Wild and untamable, she is a nature spirit bringing wisdom and death of ego, and through death, rebirth (“About Baba Yaga” at I see a connection with this symbol and my own path of transformation of late. I was 60-years old when I had the dream. Now, at 64 and having retired from a long-standing corporate marketing job, I feel I am finally entering the Crone stage of archetypal feminine development that the dream presaged. The soul work I am engaging in in this second half of my life is shifting from the more culturally masculine focus, engendered by a career in business, to re-birthing the Feminine in ways that include focusing on unity, communication, creative writing, storytelling, and opening.

Dreams, synchronicities, stories, myths, and visions are the energy sources that charge my psyche and point me intuitively in the direction my inner life is beckoning. When I work with the symbols of my dreams and synchronicities, I feel in synch with the larger picture of my life. Finding ways to apply the lessons from my meditations, dreams and visions to my daily life is the grounding mechanism I use to stay focused. Writing about my experiences is the best way I know to share them with others. However, learning to apply my inner knowing to my everyday life has been an ongoing process for me. I have never found the work easy, and consider myself a late bloomer in the Life Mission department. I have certainly experienced my share of hitting walls at the end of dead-end roads along the way. But, by taking up the proverbial “pen,” or broom, again, I am finding a way to share my insights with others (creative writing is a gift that I exhibited in early in childhood and gave up in adulthood for the more formulaic writing called for in marketing and sales). I also intuitively know that I am on the right road that is leading me to greater passion and freedom in my life as experienced in the exhilaration of bouncing in the open field.

Another synchronicity worth noting here happened during those first weeks of working on my spiritual mentoring courses. I took a break from a Finding Your Mission in Life writing assignment and went to the local library in St. Petersburg, Florida where I then lived to get a few books for a research project I was working on. A laminated peace of paper fell out of the first book I picked up. It was a bookmark from Fountain Street Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I am well acquainted with Fountain Street, as a non-denominational, metaphysical church in the Grand Rapids Area where I lived for part of my life and the city where I have strong ancestral ties! On the bookmark, these words were printed: “We strive to be a vibrant church community that challenges individuals to craft their own spiritual journeys and engage in creative and responsible action in the world.” I humbly thanked the universe for giving me those special words (italics are mine). I couldn’t have expressed my life’s mission as a writer and spiritual mentor any better for myself.

Link to Jenna's blog:

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A few weeks ago, I Woke-up with words in my head: “As long as you have self-knowledge, you don’t need much else.”

Later that morning, while going through some of my old journals, I opened one at random to an entry having to do with Pramila Jayapal’s story about the matrilineal village in India where she was born titled A Pilgrimage to India: A Woman Revisits Her Homeland. Jayapal writes about her birth village as having good drinking water, higher wages, good education and how all these contributed to a higher standard of living. But the most important thing, in her opinion, was a pervasive  “Knowledge of self and realizing one’s place in the world (universe).” She explains that out of self-knowledge one develops gifts and makes contributions to society through self-expressions, thus benefiting all.

Last week, I was reading a book I’d started, Gurdjieff; An Introduction to His Life and Ideas by John Shirley, and came to this passage: ”But if it can happen, if self-knowledge can change people, then isn’t it a vibrant ray of light in a dark, brutal world?”

That same day, I 'happened' across the words of the seer Edgar Cayce in an Association for Research and Enlightenment update, ” For the beginning of knowledge is to know self and self’s relationship to God, then the relationship to the fellow man, then material knowledge so any entity, any soul, may become valuable, worth while, aggressively advancing in success” ~ 1249-1.

And yet another meaningful coincidence occurred today that helped to underscore the meaning of self-knowledge and pull all the information in this post together in my mind: coming across Carol Tavris's Wall Street Journal book review of social psychologist Jerome Kagan's latest book, Psychology's Ghosts. In the review, titled "Society and Its Discontents," Tavris writes:

"Many people will tell you that having many friends, a fortune or freedom is essential to happiness, but Mr. Kagan believes they are wrong. 'A fundamental requirement for feelings of serenity and satisfaction,' Mr. Kagan says, is 'commitment to a few unquestioned ethical beliefs' and the confidence that one lives in a community and country that promote justice and fair play."

We have a long way to go to bring our culture back to a country that promotes ethics, justice, and fair play if information on the nightly news - both mainstream and alternative - is any indication of the sad state of affairs we now find ourselves in. But, I do believe, as more of us follow a path of inner-directed self knowledge we will, in the words of Primila Jayapal, develop gifts and make contributions to society through our unique self-expressions, that will help remedy the mess we are in and ultimately benefit all.



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