Thursday, September 22, 2011

DREAM: THE GREAT MOTHER..november 18, 2009

I was at a teachers' training workshop. There were large open areas or auditoriums where different activities were going on. I was running late and was unsure of which area I was to attend. I was not finding any help or direction. Then an attractive woman appeared who was a teacher. I had known her in some way before and admired her accomplishments. A thought was going through my head and I expressed it to her as she was hurrying to her area. I said, ' Do you think that these days people are beginning to actually think of teachers as being elite and of the wealthy class? It used to be teachers were viewed as somewhat sacrificial, being well educated, working hard and not receiving much compensation for it. If that has changed it may be that teachers are now somewhat resented by the middle and lower economic class?'
A Teachers' Workshop
She agreed that it had become more that complicated way. Then I followed her into an art exhibit area. She commented on some large sculpture pieces. They were female images of various cultures. They were dressed colorfully and stretched out peacefully on their backs. She commented that these were done by a gay man who had been forced out of his political office because of his sexual orientation. She lamented this and said it is a serious statement about our present culture that a person's gifts cannot be fully exercised because of such bigotry and ignorance.

 I was driving down a country road. I saw a teacher colleague from my first teaching experience on the road side of his nice country home. He was proudly showing another man his fine vegetable garden. My inclination was to stop and speak but I knew  I was not fully and comfortably welcome. The reason for that is I had changed some of my religious views from our formerly mutual conservative religious faith. I was sad that without that shared tradition I felt not gladly welcomed as I would have been otherwise.
Teacher-Anima Image
A voice said to me and my friend of long ago, "Why don't you both go back to the Mother you came from and remember her? She still lives on Folpe Street." I had no idea what  Folpe Street was about but I thought to myself, ' We are all from the same source and equally valued and accepted by that source. Why have we forgotten that in the most practical ways?'

Greek 'Great Mother'-Feuerbach, 1875
REFLECTION: The dream sequence builds up to the recognition of the female nature of the ultimate sacred source of all, that in ancient times was called The Great Mother. One of my grandmothers was referred to as 'Big Mamma', no doubt a cultural unconscious reference to this ultimate archetype alive in my Southern culture.  A post-modern expression revealing the same image is ,'The Mother Of All......" The dream begins by honoring the importance of Education. Education is presented as having many  parts but all are connected. It depicts the history of formal education in America as often being supported by the sacrificial service of teachers. It implies that real educators should be seen as a high realm of human service for it is by and through education that other human achievements are possible. The art of learning and teaching should be held in high esteem and perhaps even as an elitist group because of their unique contribution to our culture. If their pay is not consistent with other professions the best and most capable will be less drawn to it. We should expect strong and  creative work from our teachers and give their demonstrated art the pay and respect the profession deserves in our culture.
Student and Teacher Doing Art
But it also points out that there is always a latent flaw in all efforts to educate oneself and others. That flaw is to after separating out the differences in things such as religions, political systems and all other areas where things are seen and experienced as opposites, to then 'pre judge' and value only one side of a seemingly irreconcilable pair. When any kind of education does that, so very common in Western education today, it becomes the seed of all kinds of unnecessary misunderstandings and of evil. This is the same error that creeps into most every religious faith, the mistaken notion that it is the 'one and only' true religion. This is seen, in the dream, in my fear that I had lost welcoming connection with my old friend. So much so I passed him by instead of recognizing our common origins, whether I felt he did or not. The reprimand is to us both that we should both go back and visit 'our common Mother." That is the wisdom that all humans who seek to be truly educated should take to heart. The dream shows my friend having nurtured a garden of nutritious food, food that is good for any human to eat. This should have reminded me that good comes forth from every source and every human situation, not only form the groups and ideologies with which I most personally agree.

The anima makes an appearance as an attractive woman whom I 'had known and admired before'. She has a special interest in 'the arts.' The Arts have always been where human creativity flourishes. In our culture the Arts are considered an 'add on' to formal education, not its foundation. If a school district has to cut something it will be invariably the Arts. This reflects the low value we place on the non rational part of the the human mind and soul. It is from the irrational and the Arts that the new and needed perceptions and creative discoveries have always come. We have been a technological , 'just do it', thinking, logical culture for several centuries now. To survive our present challenges we must come back to respecting the place of the Arts and the Humanities. Our culture has been blessed with the educational concept of 'Liberal Arts.' 
The Classical Greek-Roman Liberal(free person) Arts Education
In twelfth century Europe these were the heart of  universal learning and are alive in most of our Universities today:  literature, languages, philosophy, history, mathematics, and science.(painting to the right) We lose such values at our own peril. The natural religious impulse is one that is of the same nature as the Arts. Religion as it comes forth naturally to human consciousness is creative, not dogmatic. It is truth seeking, not truth defending. Institutionalized religion forgets its Mother and has often become something far different ,even the opposite, of its natural function. The anima raises perhaps the hottest social and moral issue of our day. She says that through the Arts, through the creative side of ourselves, through the naturally religious part of ourselves we would clearly see that gay/lesbian persons are no more or less moral than any straight person. That a full education would lead all to the conclusion that sexual preferences described in our culture as L.G.B.T. should not be a category that carries any negative moral or social value whatsoever. Differences represented by L.G.B.T. should be considered 'colorful' additions to humanity and people who are as harmless as anyone and  pictured in the dream as females stretched out 'on their back' , vulnerably offering themselves and their gifts to the rest of humanity.

The authoritative voice suggests that my old friend and I, with the implication that all post-moderns need to, return and remember the 'Mother of us all'. Early twentieth century Psychologist Carl Jung, and to a milder degree theologian Paul Tillich, envisioned the ultimate sacred 'source of all that is' as female. Jung referred to this archetype as ' The Great Mother Goddess' and Tillich used the expression of the creative 'Ground of Being.' Even the concept of the Sacred as a Trinity can be viewed as coming forth from this more ultimate origin. This would also be the great Chaos and Abyss of Genesis one. The idea is  if all people could reach a genuine consciousness that they and all that is has been flung from the same ultimate source it would create bridges between all peoples and would create a stronger appreciation and care for all of creation. It would create an attitude that 'No created thing or being is to be considered without important place and value.'

I had never heard the name Folpe. So I googled it and noticed the first item up was ' Emily Folpe.'  She is an art historian at New York University. She wrote and compiled a book in 2002 entitled It Happened On Washington Square. Washington Square is the heart of Greenwich Village, the oldest section of New York City. It has been an American center of creative thought, public debate of political, social and religious issues for nearly 200 years. It has especially been a center of struggle and debate regarding Urban Development for itself and beyond. I, at Brent Hibbett's insistence, visited Greenwich Village with him two years ago. Here is one brief description from Folpe's book on the meaning of Washington Square: 
Washington Square Park

The heart of New York City's Greenwich Village, Washington Square Park has been a vital public space for nearly two centuries. Lined by elegant townhouses, anchored by Stanford White's iconic Washington Arch, and used by students and professionals, dog walkers and musicians, chess players and toddlers, the park is both an oasis from and an ideal of urban life. Synonymous with the city's artistic identity, the park has also witnessed waves of political and social unrest, and served as a focal point for contentious debates about the future of urban development. This rich and colorful history is captivatingly told by Emily Kies Folpe in It Happened on Washington Square.

Farmed by New Amsterdam's freed African slaves in the seventeenth century, the park was used as a potter's field and dueling ground in the aftermath of the Revolutionary War and then converted into a parade ground for the city's volunteer militia in 1826. Since the 1830s, when it formed the nucleus of an upscale community, Washington Square has been an incubator for American art and a haven for writers, painters, sculptors, and architects. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the area began to attract the artists and political radicals--from John Reed to the Beats--who gave the Square a counter-cultural aura it still possesses. In recent decades, the Square's residents have united against such threats to their neighborhood as the urban redevelopment proposed by Robert Moses and the expansion of New York University. Illustrated with a remarkable selection of historic images, It Happened on Washington Square explains why the survival of this unique public space is so important.

So Washington Square is offered by the dream source as a metaphor for the where the 'The Great Mother' lives. This helps describe a central attribute of the ultimate Sacred, the source of all and everything that is. This ontological description of Great Mother is a full openness and appreciation of all that is. This means a full openness to all ideas that come forth to human public debate, with an appreciation of the need for both sides to be expressed. It means an openness to all aspects of the created world; to all humans and all creatures and to all other forms of creation. 'The Great Mother' exists before there is any separation into myriad forms of existing creation. The Great Mother contains without separation every conceivable and inconceivable opposite pair: male-female, power-meaning, Protestant-Catholic, hot-cold, freedom-destiny, good-evil, sexuality-spirituality, heaven-hell and  every social, political and religious possibility.

Tillich and Jung both saw that the created world exhibits a trinitarian life, from which archetype came the Christian Trinity dogma in the third century CE. A trinitarian reality is seen in every opposite pair(two) and a third element capable of holding together those opposites. In Hegelian Philosophy, inspired by Christian Mystic Jacob Bohem, all of history is interpreted as the trinity: thesis, antithesis and synthesis. The Christian Trinity consists of the opposites Father and Son sustained and united by the Holy Spirit. But the source of all trinities is the Nothingness of the Ultimate which has been described as this Great Mother, the source of all that is or can be. Jim

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