A Modern Mystic

Musings on life, work and contemporary spirituality


The Apollo Archetype

self portrait by Asher Daniel

self portrait by Asher Daniel

Archetypally speaking,  if we’re going to move from the Fossil-fuel Age to the Solar Age, we’re going to need a mascot, and the Greek god Apollo is the likely choice.

My recent fixation with Apollo started several months ago when I took the diagnostic self-test in Peter Lemesurier’s fine book, “The Gods Within.”  Who knew that I was a prissy, controlling, self-centered, overly rational and eternally boyish adolescent trapped in the body of a middle-aged woman? The truth is that I am not alone.  No matter one’s gender or station in life, our western culture prizes staying in our heads. Orderliness, youthfulness, and the fascination with science and technology rule the day.

I sat with a client the other day to use her Sacred Contracts chart to access higher wisdom about a thorny life issue.  As we settled in, she opened her spiral-bound pad to a drawing that stunned me because the day before I had made the same sketch. In her version, a circle filled with third-eyes radiated six paths and six negative spaces, twelve rays in all. Each ray pointed to an idea or course of action, like a solar-powered TO DO list. We had both taken our personal mundane issues and applied symbolic sight using the image of the sun.

I saw the Sacred Contracts sun-dial illuminating our way, and I felt connected to the wisdom of the ages. After all, mystics have always sought their answers in the larger perspective, and in doing so have “discovered” every human science from astrology and astronomy to physics and meta-physics. Apollo shows us that our discoveries in the world are fueled by the search for the self.

Just as a magnifying glass can concentrate the vast solar rays to burn a pin-hole into a blade of grass, we can use the powerful Apollo Archetype to harness overwhelming universal themes and bring them to bear on our own earthly issues.

For me, it’s easy to conjure the Apollo Archetype because I live with an adolescent boy. My son (pun intended), stands right on the precipice of puberty. He is poised at the perfection of childhood energy, innocence, purity, and light-hearted joy. Not afraid to play, he is in love with discovering his own mind;  he is giddy with appreciation for technology; and he is innocently enthralled by competitive team sports. He has left sloppiness behind and arrived at gracefulness.  At the end of his 12th year, not yet sullied by the messy chaos of falling in love or the trauma of making life-altering decisions, Asher is the very embodiment of the Greek god Apollo.

Everyday I am inspired by Asher’s energy and enthusiasm. I am amazed by his ability to stay in the batter’s box, feet planted, a fast-ball racing toward him at 60 mph. He knows going up that even the best batter has only a 30 percent chance at hitting the ball, and a much slimmer chance of making it to first base. Yet he stands in the box and faces doubt, fear and distraction. I challenge myself to do that same dance at my desk each day.

It is no wonder that the first step in healing and integrating Apollo energy is to bring everything into the light of day, where shadows lose their power. Thus, cities pass “sunshine laws” to expose lawmakers’ actions and redress corrupt back room deal-making.  Daily, all over the world, hidden banking practices come to light during these trying economic times. There is a new level of transparency of human endeavor as scientists discover the most detailed mechanisms of the mind and body. Spiritual bookstore shelves burst with modern stories of enlightenment, examples of the harnessing of Power (the sun simply radiates energy), rather than the exploitation of Force (fossil fuels must be extracted by mechanical means).

As Lemesurier points out about Apollo Therapy, “We need to let his heavenly light back in to dispel our self-imposed darkness. And not only on the psychological level,  but on the bodily level too.”

Clearly, it is time to lighten up, to see ourselves in a new light, and to shine our lights. I would encourage anyone in the grips of depression, despair or hopelessness over personal or global issues to study Apollo and become intimate with his true nature. Consider being a spiritual solar-panel. Harness the power of symbolic solar sight to generate and radiate your own individual contribution to the world.

Like it or not, we must expose ourselves to illumination while integrating the deep shadows cast by this important archetype if we are to redeem ourselves and our world in the Solar Age.

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Turn magical thinking into symbolic sight

My magical friend Clare

My magical friend Clare

Is there somebody in your life or in your own head who constantly tells you to be realistic?

“Get real! Don’t be such a dreamer!” Or how about my father’s favorite saying during my childhood: “Get off your high horse!”

That was music to the ears of my Magical Child. Whenever I got the message that I was unrealistic in my expectations, too idealistic or just weirdly creative, I took my dreams inside and spun fantastic scenarios of the life I would lead when I became an adult, the sovereign of my own material realm. I’m grateful that my childhood magical thinking generated friendly companionship when I was lonely, spiritual guidance when I was lost and a creative life plan that I am just now beginning to understand and implement. To put it another way, no matter what went on during my upbringing, I never stopped meditating on my own happiness.

Yet we all eventually outgrow adaptive or self-soothing childhood day dreams. We arrive one day at a decision point. Do I take this job or that one? Do I stay home with my child or go to work? Do I marry or stay single? Many of us decide, then and there, to throw away the dreams, do the right thing, GET REALISTIC!

Now the good news. After years of laboratory testing, I have reached my findings on how to achieve lasting happiness. My studies show that becoming more realistic is not the way to go.

Please don’t quit your day job or stop flossing your teeth regularly. But neither should you throw out the inner dreamer just because the reality-Nazi in your head screams more loudly.

I recommend transforming your childhood magical thinking into adult symbolic thinking. There are several advantages to this strategy.

First, your inner child is more in touch with what really makes you happy. She is also gentle, innocent and motivated by love. She is neither expecting to get hurt nor bent on hurting others. Imagine a world — I often do — where EVERYONE is doing what makes them happy. I dare say that is a shang-ri-la worth visualizing!

When we access symbolic thinking we shift into the realm of potential. We open new possibilities for ourselves and we inspire others with our newfound vision. Often, a paradigm shift, alone, is enough to resolve our issues.

Take my mole “problem,” which has generated a fair amount of discussion on Facebook. Some have expressed squeamishness. Others have inquired about the causes of the problem and compared my situation to the state of their own lawn. (The funny part is that I don’t even have a yard.) Still others want to know what can be done about them, you know, the moles. All these approaches, quite normal and rational, belong in the realm of reality.

Funny that, aside from the question of how to properly dispose of a dead rodent, I bypassed reality and ran straight for the symbolic. My Magical Child loves the creepy factor of stepping on dead rodents in the middle of the night. That always gets a squeal and a giggle. She laughs at the irony that the former owner of the house is a Ms. Moles. She’s enthralled by the fact that there have been five moles in five straight days. She is inquisitive; who knew that moles came in so many different sizes, shapes, and nose lengths? And she breath-takingly awaits future mole sightings, especially in the bedroom.

My grown up magical child, the one who provides my faculty of symbolic insight, knows that I have been working with facing my fears: resistance to making a living for myself (bringing home tasty rodents for my family); fears of digging down deep to get the bottom of my current life challenges; procrastinating job “hunting” and researching (digging into) my field. And, wouldn’t you know it, there is my life-long phobia of rodents. HAH! Symbolic sight helps me laugh at myself. It’s pretty funny to find myself projecting my fear of earning a living onto my nine pound brown tabby!

A friend replied after reading my last post, “I wish I had your positive attitude.” Well, I attribute my attitude simply to the stubborn habit, born long ago, of looking for the symbolic meaning first.

Sigh. I still have to pick up the dead mole at the foot of the bed, but I’m so grateful for the new insight dragged in with it.


Mole medicine

Photo 75For the third morning in a row, my cat Havana woke me up today at precisely 4:45 a.m. And for the third time I stumbled out of bed right onto a dead mole. Three days, three moles. And they’re getting bigger.

She’s trying to tell me something.

Later I sat at the table sipping a cup of tea. The morning sunlight glinted on the dead mole which Havana had moved from the bedroom to the kitchen so that I could get a better look at it. As I sat ruminating about the many mole funerals I have conducted since moving here a year ago, I realized that I had indeed purchased the house from a person with the last name “Moles.”

Now I was really paying attention.

Mole medicine. That’s how the Native Americans phrase it when an animal totem appears in one’s life. Apparently I am a slow learner, my cat is a patient spiritual guide, and mole has many lessons to teach me.

Symbolically, I’m being asked to ground myself. I have written recently about landing the plane, peeling potatoes, and falling. All the signals in my world now conspire to show me the quiet humility in returning to my roots and family. I have been spending more time alone, in my home, taking care of simple necessities.

Mole teaches us to pay attention to sense perceptions, to trust the wisdom of the body, to balance thinking with feeling and to touch others. As I retreat from my head to sit more in my body, I notice that even my teen-age son wants to hug and snuggle more.

Mole likes to dig beneath the surface of things. His natural predator the cat, a nocturnal creature, also feels comfortable in the dark. How much of our lives have we spent afraid of the dark, the subconscious, our own hidden thoughts? I, too, have begun to explore the hidden aspects of myself with the clear goal of getting to the bottom of things.

Mole is blind, yet he digs for treasure nonetheless. For that reason mole teaches us to follow our intuition, feel our way and work steadily toward our goals.

Finally, mole is also the perfect totem for me now as I search for a job. Perhaps once a steady paycheck arrives, Havana will no longer feel the need to provide for the family.

We’ll see.

A mole

Digging in a hole

Digging up my soul now

Going down, excavation

Higher now

In the sky

You make me feel like I can fly

So high


U2, “Elevation”


A mundane mystic faces her fear of loneliness

one of my early visitations

one of my early visitations

Last Monday I left Chicago, and the second part of the year-long CMED Sacred Contracts Workshop, all pumped-up about my experience.. During an intensive four days led by renowned teacher, Caroline Myss, I worked closely alongside five other individuals, a crew of six navigating the waters of personal transformation. In the end we each produced a Chronos/Kairos/Cosmos Chart, a holographic depiction of the obstacles sabotaging our personal growth. As every spiritual seafarer knows, one must be able to see below the tip of the iceberg in order to safely navigate the chilly depths.

During the workshop and in the presence of my crew, I asked to transform my fear of being alone. This is a deeply protected fear that prevents me from fully expressing my gifts. My struggle looks like a craving for distractions, anything to divert myself from the privacy of my own soul. I would rather go to lunch, watch a movie, call a friend, or throw a party than to sit silently listening to my heart. In the past, such avoidance created a lengthy depression and broken marriage. Lately I am more prone to to take time for myself, no matter how uncomfortable I feel. Still, I sometimes resort to an unhealthy focus on others. It’s not that I choose activities that are a waste of time, it’s that I use them addictively, to avoid rather than to confront myself. Soon I have squandered a whole day or a whole week, and still I am fearful, lonely, and searching for an antidote. I have run headlong into the states of mind that I hoped to avoid!

Working with my Sacred Contract has helped me to see that when I shun solitude I resist the full expression of my true self.  I am, by nature, a reclusive Mystic/Renunciate dressed as a vivacious, hedonistic Lover and Storyteller. Through the voyage into my archetypes I have come to know that these paradoxical identities illuminate my own personal path to liberation. Still, the Hermit and Lover spar constantly; the Renunciate and Hedonist challenge one another at every turn.

In her seminal book Sacred Contracts, Caroline Myss describes the oft-misunderstood Mystic:

“Many want to believe that they have mystical inclinations, yet underestimate how arduous the genuine mystical path is. When they find out, they’re usually happy to let someone else have this role.”

I’ve been looking all my life for that someone else to play my role for me. Others may approach their life path through the pain of illness, the chaos of anger and blame, the grief of abandonment and loss. My lifelong challenge is to accept the excruciating loneliness of the mystical path. I have tried everything to avoid my destiny, but none of my plans have worked out. So these days I pray for acceptance and peace, that I may gracefully fulfill my dharma.

With the Mystic in the 6th House of my Sacred Contracts Chronos Wheel, my acceptance is to be found in the humble act of “peeling potatoes,” as St. Theresa of Avilla, dubbed it.  The Sixth is the house of fetching wood and carrying water. There is nothing glamorous or ecstatic about getting up each day, making breakfast, caring for my child, going to work, tending the pets and the plants. My work is to accept the humanity of my earth-bound existence rather than to pray for a heavenly release from suffering.

I don’t know that I will achieve my highest aspiration, to attain enlightenment for the sake of others. But if I do, perhaps it will be by staying home, listening to my child, making hot soup, and quietly chronicling my own mundane mysticism.