Friday, July 22, 2011

Dream- Total Woman

Dream -Dec11, 2009 Total Woman  (edited July22, 2011)
A black woman's waste-up image is centered in a square. Adjacent to her in another square are twelve children. She takes much responsibility for these children and cares for and protects them with a full range of love. The Greek words for love the dream implies are all applicable to her love for these children. That love quality consists of Agape(unconditional care and commitment), phileo (a genuine liking of each child's presence and personality.) and Eros( A strong desire for the bodily presence and reality of each child, to touch, smell and hold.)

Scenes flashed showing her making sure that each child was safe and was getting the attention, care and resources the he/she needed to grow and develop in body,soul and mind. This woman was shown as a nurturer, protector and model to the children.

And the dream showed her having an equally strong and developed interest in a love partner in her life. These same qualities of love were experienced deeply in her desire, need and care for an intimate life with an adult love partner. It was an amazing thing to see how the woman was capable of having such a rich deep and effective love for  children but did not exercise that at the expense of  her seeking to be nurtured herself by an intimate, committed, erotic relationship with her lover.

REFLECTION: It has been written and well documented that Western woman, under the influence of church orthodoxy, has been placed into a conflicting role by male patriarchal systems. She is considered either Madonna or whore, angel or witch. I can remember hearing discussions in my youth about girls by older males. They would describe the 'kind of girl' that they wanted to take out as being very erotic and sensuous but such a girl not being the 'kind of woman' they wanted to marry. In their mind a woman was not able to be both in every way. This attitude and double standard is unveiled in the expression of young males 'sowing wild oats' before they marry indicating that in marriage there will be no ' continually renewed real lusty erotic sexual experience.' This meant that for a woman to exercise her erotic  side put her at risk of being considered slutty, unreliable and loose; in short of being whore like. This split is alive in Christian tradition by the conflict between the nature of the 'virgin Mary' and the supposed prostitute 'Mary Magdalene.'

That contrast could be used in a healthy fashion if the two were to be united as a 'total woman.' If 'virgin' were interpreted in its ancient mythological meaning  a woman being her 'own self ' and not an attachment to a man(which has been nearly economically impossible for a woman to survive in most of Western history) we would move in the direction of this dream. Similarly if we used the more ancient meaning of 'purity' describing woman not as sexually inactive but as being loyal to her loves, 'true blue' and honest in her caring and relating to others. And if the Magdalene’s earthy erotic nature, such as imaged in the story of the woman washing Jesus' feet and drying them with her hair were fully endorsed in its erotic emotion involving Jesus. But the church failed to make this connection and viewed the two as 'opposites' to keep separated. Then they picked one, the virgin Mary, to be the spiritual example to follow. Orthodoxy gives woman no clear model with which to identify, especially since it chose to make physical virginity a sign of superior morality and woman's natural Erotic nature as the opposite of spiritual.

Women frequently have bought into this split of personality as being woman's true nature. This results in, even and maybe especially in marriage, her having to repress full parts of her capacity to love. She becomes primarily a 'homemaker' and 'child nurturer' and even 'second mother' to her husband. She represses and forfeits her deeply important Erotic nature. This is likely a key dynamic in the prevalence of unsatisfying marriage for both men and women. A thoughtful person learns these are not matters that respond to will power but involve the deep matters of the heart, thus unconscious factors. Both men and women have contributed, and Western patriarchal systems have insisted on it, to woman being split in her true nature, pressuring her to choose either the pure Madonna or the lusting whore. As a result she is not allowed to find and live out her total self and everyone ..... her, her partner, her children and her community, are the poorer for it.

Many women , especially as they become mothers, have been destined to live out their adult lives striving to the Madonna/mother role while some others are destined sometimes to play out literally the role of the adulteress or whore. All the instinctive archetypal parts of human life will be played out but they will be played out negatively if important parts of human nature are repressed or denied. The Christian book of the sixties called the Total Woman, in spite of its title, was actually selling women on forfeiting their genuine erotic nature and complying to the submissive , 'husband pleasing' role that has been approved traditionally. The church, with much help from interpretations of Paul, has been the primary source of such a view of woman in American culture. It's the interpretation of the Eden story where woman is first and indelibly pictured as the lustful origin of 'original sin' causing the downfall of both herself and Adam. This view of that story has thus been a key support of the ' Madonna or Whore' split view of women.

What is rarely examined, in the more modern conservative Christian claims of encouraging women to be more their erotic selves in marriage intimacy, is that the Erotic nature is not, and cannot be, a passive one. Love , especially Eros, is not passive. The Erotic, desiring , sexual nature is expressive and insists upon and clarifies to its lover what it wants and needs. It is only in the absence of Agape(trustworthiness) and Phileo(liking) that such Erotic self awareness and seeking becomes 'selfishness' or without commitment and mutually enhancing boundaries. Unfortunately because the N.T. does not use the Greek word Eros, typical Christian teaching has always placed a negative value on it, has treated it like a problem we'd be better off without; instead of perhaps a most important path to experiencing the Sacred. Such teaching has successfully separated sexuality from spirituality and everyone suffers for that mistake. The typical American, religious or not, has a hard time imagining the female lover in the 'Song of Songs' O.T. book and the 'virgin Mary' image as describing the same woman. This dream is suggesting just such a reality. Here again is an example of how some Bible stories can point us in ways very different from entrenched orthodoxy and ways so needed for human joy in our time.

The dream is presenting the 'whole real human woman.' She has and expresses this full range of love, both in her love of her lover and her love for others. I remain convinced that the development and honest expression of the Eros nature of women and men would result in an unparalleled expanded level of personal and collective joy and love in Western culture. I believe the present chaos in the 'love and marriage' scene, along with the 'women's movement' have been necessary important factors in the move toward the greater possibility of the 'Total Woman' upheld in this dream.

Note: This dream, though a man's, is about woman. The 'twelve children' image does not suggest these are her children. But displays that her care for others, including the 'children in our midst' as with the Jesus image, is full and whole(the number twelve and the 'squares.')  It should not be taken that this woman is the sole caregiver and parent of these children. The dream is not about men. But I should not forget that the same possibilities of the fullness of love are for men as well as for women. And that man is just as capable and needed at nurturing children as women. He too can expose himself to the vulnerability of intimate love by expressing his tender desires and needs for intimacy. It is likely, in fact, through his inner anima function, along with his relating to real women, that he can discover these 'feminine' capabilities that will bless his life as well as the others with whom he lives. Jim

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