Prepared for the Proceedings of the Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology. Presented at Saybrook Institute, Summer, 1991.
CHAOS CONSCIOUSNESS IN PSYCHOTHERAPY
An Experiential Approach and Application to
Creativity, and Healing
by Graywolf Fred Swinney, M.A. and Iona Miller
Aesculapia Wilderness Retreat, Grants Pass, Oregon
ABSTRACT: Experiential therapy sessions and mysticism demonstrate that as we journey deeper and deeper into the psyche we eventually encounter a state characterized either as "chaotic" or void of images. In a therapeutic context, chaos is experienced as a consciousness state--the ground state. This state is related to healing, dreams, and creativity. Shamanic approaches to healing involve co-consciousness states which lead to restructuring both physical and emotional-mental senses of self.
Dreams, creativity, and healing arise from this undifferentiated "chaotic consciousness." Dreamhealing uses images as portals for consciousness journeys to facilitate transformations ranging from mood alteration to profound physiological changes. Imagery (virtual experience) affects the immune system, activating psychosomatic forces, such as the placebo effect. Chaos-oriented consciousness journeys suggest these states reflect complex phase space, fractal patterns, strange attractors, "the butterfly effect," sensitivity, complex feedback loops, intermittency, and other general dynamical aspects suggested by chaos theory. More than an experiential process, this is a philosophy of treatment--"Chaosophy."
"I'm just asking you to hear yourself. Listen to what you're really saying and to what you think you're saying. Control, control, control. When are you going to realize that nothing can be controlled?"
"We live in chaos; it's the central issue in everyone's life. Mack, look around you. Everyone in this parking lot is struggling for control. And you know what it is they're trying to control, each and everyone of them? Fear--they're trying to control their fear."
--Steve Martin character in the film, GRAND CANYON
We all instantly recognize the fundamental nature of chaos in our lives. The archetypal creation myth posits that all originates in Chaos. We all "get it," intuitively. But generally we are enculturated to fear chaos, to hold it at bay through so-called "control." Chaos is a very personal experience. We relate to it viscerally as well as emotionally and intellectually. When chaos intrudes on our lives, we feel pain, and defend against that pain with fear, rather than embracing the chaotic dynamic.
In psychology, we have had the idea that we need a "strong ego," that we need a stable structure in order to function and cope. But nothing exists in complete order or complete randomness. We live in a chaotic universe. When we are "far from equilibrium" change becomes inevitable. Like a bifurcation point in chaos theory, the old system either falls apart or emerges with a higher degree of order. Our bifurcations state changes are personal crossroads, decision points, initiated by perturbations of our systems.
Chaos theory applied to experiential psychotherapy shows us we actually need to cooperate with chaotic dynamics, to enter a less-rigid process of flow, submitting outworn aspects of the ego to dissolution, which increases our adaptability, helping us evolve.
The phase space of non-linear dynamics is analogous to psychic space--our psychophysical construct of our experience of reality. This complex inner landscape can be mapped and has all the features of phase space: stability, chaos, bifurcation points, and catastrophic changes.
This virtual reality is the world of virtual experience. The landscape of information is richly structured with attractor basins, valleys, and mountains with peaks, saddles, and passes. And it is also hyperdimensional containing a vast amount of implicate or enfolded information.
This landscape (self-scape) can be explored with experiential psychotherapy by faithfully sticking to the imagery emerging from the autonomous imaginal flow. It is a dynamic "ocean of active information" in wave form, with which we can commune, transcending conventional boundaries. The inner journey is one of movement without motion--stretching and folding spacetime.
Imagination is the voice of creativity. It is the primary way we experience soul. Creativity expressed in imagination means experiencing multiple states of consciousness. There is an infinity of realities and states of consciousness. Imagination embodies it's own reality. It is self-revelatory. Meaning dwells in the image like consciousness dwells in the body.
We are learning from chaos theory that physically and mentally we need chaotic disorder to function smoothly. Dipping into that disorder shakes everything loose and allows creative restructuring to occur. Self-organizing systems, both organic and inorganic, naturally evolve toward the "edge of chaos." Many natural systems develop their own dynamic stabilities. Dynamic stability applies to development in chaos theory, and research shows that living systems are naturally self-correcting.
Strength is a measure of what force it takes to destroy or break a rigid structure. True power, on the other hand, is a measure of readily-available energy for immediate use. Strength is rigid, while power is flowing. Empowerment flows forth naturally when we come into intimate therapeutic contact with our stream of consciousness. This stream is most easily observed as our dreams, and manifests in our symptoms.
Water is a natural metaphor of consciousness. The turbulent stream of consciousness flows through the labyrinth of the psyche. It is the source of dis-ease and our healing as indicated by its importance in the cult of Asklepios, the god of dreams and healing. In Greece, the springs of his shrine were channeled into circular labyrinths, forming a concrete metaphor of the healing process. Healing "springs" from deep within. However, first the old rigid images must be dissolved, and the "universal solvent" is chaos.
Dreams bridge the gap between the spiritual and scientific worldviews. Most would agree that dreams are a truly chaotic phenomenon. Object of scientific inquiry and healing tool of the psychotherapist, they are firmly entrenched in the scientific worldview, although on the fringe. On the mystical side, most religions teach that God, or the nature of the transpersonal Source is revealed through dreams and visionary experience.
Chaos theory provides a comprehensive metaphor for uniting physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual realities. Supreme insights are always metaphorical in expression. But the relationship of chaos and psychotherapeutic effects may be more than metaphorical and subjective. The empirical connection may lie in the mystery of the true nature of consciousness and creativity.
One of the authors, Graywolf, discovered a way to journey and guide others into the deepest layers of the psyche while practicing Gestalt dreamwork and shamanism. Therapy at its very best is a matter of changing consciousness and so is shamanism. In dream guiding, all the action lies in going just beyond the boundary from the known and comfortable toward the fear and challenge.
Following the images below the ego deeper into more fundamental consciousness states, he found that clients could easily be guided to the level of chaotic consciousness with therapeutic results. Mapping these levels below behavior, emotional-mental process, belief systems, and mythic zones of imagery, he refined the technique and directions for guidance.
This process (Dreamhealing or Creative Consciousness Process) was not originally based on chaos theory, but observed directly in working with dreams, symptoms, feelings, and healing. The theory came later as an analogy for describing the observations. But chaotic dynamics may be the actual mechanism of its action, rather than merely a metaphor of the transformative process, as were the hydraulic and cybernetic models.
Dreamhealing is not an interpretive or analytical way of understanding a dream, but is a non-linear consciousnesness journey into its healing heart. Dreamhealing is not guided imagery. The guide follows the autonomous flow of psychic imagery, while guiding the focus to deeper, more primal imagery. Then letting go of that form, and entering a yet deeper one, much like entering deeper into a fractal image to find yet deeper images.
In dreamhealing one "becomes" the image which leads to sensing, identifying, empathizing with the essence of a color, shape, form, or pattern--then letting go of form. It is a process of initiation--becoming, sharing, feeling, releasing, yielding, accepting, deepening, intensifying, surrendering, healing, and integrating.
Everything in the dreamtime occurs in the present tense--it is happening. But it is linked in a non-linear fashion--through association--with the past and the future. Becoming the image creates the experience of a new state of consciousness, new sensations, awarenesses, feelings, visceral and kinesthetic reactions, responses, acceptances.
Dreams are chaotic by nature and so is much of shamanic practice. Both evoke the irrational, and of all the healing modalities, these two reflect chaos theory. The forte of shamans is the dream journey or consciousness journey, based on the assumed ability to experience multiple consciousness states other than ordinary consensus reality.
The shaman/therapist acts as guide by entering a co-consciousness state or shared experience with the journeyer. This virtual experience has the ability to create natural consequences or results in real-time. The experience of multiple states of consciousness leads away from egocentricity toward a biocentric perspective. A larger sense of participation counteracts existential alienation.
Small changes in initial conditions (sensitivity) are pumped-up into larger changes, via the "butterfly effect." There is a complementary notion in psychotherapy that one traumatic event can shape a life, and a therapeutic event or experience can re-shape it. Small changes can make phenomenal differences in outcome.
A dream is a stream of chaos, a river of turbulent, undifferentiated consciousness and creativity, flowing through the self-scape of the psyche. It is shaped by the frozen states and complex feedback loops of consciousness, the existential images and patterns that define and mold the self and the reality of our perceptions. When it finally emerges into awareness, the images and plots that are presented to our almost-waking self are reflections of these states. They are another way of seeing the self and the reality we create that is less prejudiced by the ego.
The dream is also much like a hologram. The passage of the consciousness stream through the psyche, and its encounter with the frozen consciousness states, causes ripples and patterns that create images of the deeper self that formed them. Like a hologram or fractal, the whole is contained and re-iterated within any part of the dream, though details may be fuzzy.
Our primal existential image of who and what we are begins with conception (universal, undifferentiated consciousness) and is conditioned by our internal and external experiences. But, of course, not all disease originates here. Trauma at any point can trigger a disruption in the primal self image, setting the "butterfly effect" in motion as the consequences of that trauma permeate the life. There may be multiple, or re-iterated trauma. This deep existential image contains the essence of our dis-ease.
Chaos permeates our existence from the sub-atomic to universal level, and we react to it with fear and pain. The primal image is revealed in the ongoing process of imagery: dreams, visions, visceral reactions, symptoms, feelings, beliefs, and behavior. Dreams are shaped by these existential images much as they also shape our lives and destinies.
During consciousness journeys, participants report encountering a place, after moving through the fears and pains, that is totally disorienting, chaotic. They, for example, enter into a gray cloud, and becoming that cloud the mind goes totally blank. Or they enter into a spiral, and giving over to the motion of that spiral, they become so totally disoriented that there is nothing to hang onto.
This experience is what we call "chaotic consciousness," observed within the therapeutic context--undifferentiated, or universal consciousness. It is virtually a place of "all and no structure," a no-boundaries condition, pure potential, the source of creativity. It appears paradoxically as a plenum or a void. The plenum represents hyperarousal; the void hypoarousal. Direct experience of the transpersonal means going back below the ego, into this infinite place, back into this basic formless consciousness--the void or chaos of pre-existence.
Chaotic consciousness is the crucible of our creative spirit. Creativity emerges from chaos. This negentropic, or syntropic principle is the matrix of evolution. Infinite process is constantly creating itself and destroying itself at all levels. Nature repeats herself at all levels of organization, and whatever it is we are that.
Dreams reflect this self-generating, self-iterating and self-organization of patterns, and so does the natural philosophy emerging from the New Sciences. This deterministic philosophy incorporates the human condition, rather than vilifying or pushing it away. Chaos helps us feel our way through a complex, unstable world.
Like the supercritical state of chaotic dynamics, "chaotic consciousness" may be characterized as dynamic, non-linear, paradoxical, self-generating, self-iterating, and self-organizing. It could be likened to an infinite complex of manifolds potentially enfolding infinite information--vortices within vortices within vortices--exploding limitless detail.
There is an essential relationship between healing and irrational consciousness. Irrational consciousness "works" the cure. Somehow that chaotic consciousness, the giving up of the old order, the letting go of the old structure to chaos changes things fundamentally. The next set of imagery emerging out of that chaotic consciousness is always a healing one. So chaos, as the matrix of transformation, seems vitally important at the existential level.
The process of creativity is one of new forms emerging from the void, new forms that have not existed previously. Not merely a juggling of existing forms or ideas into a new configuration, it is more of a quantum leap, a disruption of the old perception into new levels of consciousness and awareness. Chaos theory provides an apt metaphor for this process. In a nutshell, chaos theory states that in all apparent structure is hidden chaos and in chaos there are hidden forms.
We exist in a twilight zone between chaos and order. We flow back and forth between them and that keeps us healthy. Consciousness always strives to take on form. We build a structure and it begins to develop flaws and rigidities. Our illness comes when we hang onto that worn-out structure. But when we let go, we let ourselves flow back into that primal chaos and into total freedom. It is like a heart that periodically develops a chaotic beating pattern to renew itself. We seem to need that within our consciousness, too.
The Transformative Process
Consciousness, creativity, healing, dreaming, and chaos are fundamental to the human condition. They are crucial to our health and ability to move through life. Creativity is also evolution. Dis-ease may be seen as a crisis that forces the organism to expand beyond its limits and evolve. It is part of the evolutionary action of natural selection.
Current research shows that dreams reflect an individual's strategy for survival. Those who adapt, survive. Those who adapt better, thrive. Much of this has to do with our states of consciousness, which lead to creative choice-making. All of a sudden we are free, we are flowing again, and that is the natural condition of health.
Disease, as a crisis, presents the organism with the opportunity to dissolve the old structure and evolve into a new one better adapted to survival. Evolving into a new form, the process of recreating oneself, makes a difference in our view of the disease process. There is no heroic search for a cure, or compulsion to "get rid of" symptoms. The focus of transformation goes to the deepest level.
The implication is that form and rigidity need to periodically give way to non-structure and chaos for renewal and recreation. Much as the "dance of Shiva" destroys the existing forms so that new reality can be created, we can foster the disintegration of outworn images of ourselves, even those seemingly "hard-wired" into our perceptual system.
The process creates a new primal self image, a new attractor as the core of the organism. In chaos theory, when an attractor disappears due to sudden catastrophic change, the system becomes structureless and experiences a term of "transient chaos" before another attractor is found. Order emerges spontaneously from chaos, and tends to degenerate into chaos when forms are obsolete. Creative Consciousness Process follows nature's lead by amplifying and intensifying the movement toward chaos, rather than heroically defending against it.
But letting go of the old forms is frightening. We identify with them, and to a large degree define our sense of the self by them. To forsake them is to dissolve that part of self, to let it die. Most of us are only comfortable in the known territory within the limits of our belief systems, which define our reality and existence. The creative solution often exposes the limits of our beliefs by moving beyond them, thrusting us into unknown territory, which is frightening.
Typically, we try to hang on to the old limits even if it means we are destroyed or have to hang on to our problem rather than letting go to move into a broader awareness and reality. We mark the boundaries of our belief systems with fear and discomfort to keep ourselves safe and enclosed.
To journey into undifferentiated chaos we need to go through the fear which surrounds the pain, then through and beyond the pain to the healing core. This profound and creative state of consciousness provides our form and the core of our being. Here, we create our healing from within. We experience first-hand that personal power (empowerment) arises from within.
To transform we must break free and let go of the cocoon of fear and pain which has kept us prisoner of our own device. We must pass through the discomfort and confusion and let go of what we know and are comfortable with. We must make a quantum leap in consciousness beyond the known into chaos--into the void, like The Fool in the Tarot.
Chaos is inherent in our being and structure just as science has shown. We've always known it intuitively, but the ego seeks to deny it by heroically, one-sidedly adhering to the principles of order and light. Only by entering the dark, by entering chaos, yielding to it, do we allow newly evolved form to come into being--to arise spontaneously, yet deterministically, out of chaos. It is a journey through fear to a Way in which each moment is an act of personal creation and freedom.
The primal self-image functions like an attractor. It forms based on the organism's interaction with the "Not-I" or environment. Under conditions which could be characterized as "far from equilibrium" this image may suddenly dissolve (bifurcation), leading to confusion, disorientation and fragmentation of the personality.
The same process, facilitated (rather than defended against) in therapy can lead through the confusion and ego death to healing, renewal, and rebirth. The new self image is better adapted to current reality. In chaos, the search for information is open and novel solutions emerge.
We are attractor-centered, whether we conceive of that primal attractor as divinity, the higher self, the core self, the Jungian self, the Gestalt self, or that deepest sense of self--our primal self image (including its unconscious aspects). Its pattern appears in all the sensory and extrasensory modalities. The attractor embodies the long-term qualitative behavior of a system.
As an attractor, it contains an infinite complex of potential forms and images which are unfolded over time in unpredictable yet characteristic ways. The personality "revolves" around its strange attractor until a bifurcation occurs and another stable center is found. It might be conceived as a new existential myth, or a different dominant archetype. It is a dynamic multi-sensory image that is not different from our very essence--from ourselves.
By entering into chaotic consciousness new forms arise organically out of chaos. Consciousness is reborn after its sojourn in the underworld of the deep psyche. The "lost soul" is found and retrieved through the shamanic journey in the dreamtime. In embracing chaos, we tune in to its self-directing flow.
In dreamhealing we move deeper into the images, becoming them, rather than interacting or interpreting them. So too with other states of consciousness we encounter. As long as the image is followed back faithfully, the connection can be made from any feeling, symptom, or dream image, old or new. In dealing with illness there is always a specific image that underlies the ailment. That is what to look for when guiding a dream journey.
In each dream journey we encounter a state of consciousness that is personal experience of primal chaos. The disorienting, dizzying surrender to the tornado or whirlpool is a surrender to chaos, an experience of no-form and total confusion and disorientation. It is like the whirling, twisting molecule of water in the chaotic world of non-laminar flow.
The experience of committing oneself to the fire and becoming it, and as the random flickering of the flames, and the torrid heat, disintegrating into pure energy. Becoming the boiling, flowing every-changing body of molten magma at the core of the earth is felt as a visceral sensation. These are some of the personal, subjective responses to the experience of total chaos.
The closer one is to the chaos consciousness field, the more undifferentiated the imagery is. Archetypal states define its borders. Visual images dissolve into impressionistic colors, visceral sensations, intuitive perceptions, vague awareness, and often culminate in total blankness or lack of any form, or an overwhelmingness of sensation. There may be grayness or cloudiness, and paradoxical sensations of falling or falling-floating within vast emptiness.
Another perception is characterized as a spiral or vortex. It exerts a magnetic draw on the journeyer who is drawn into it. Sensations of spinning and being drawn deeper often cause intense dizziness and disorientation. There may be feelings of flying apart--dismemberment in the centrifugal forces of the vortex. Dissolution might, for example, be experienced as a deep red which leads into a magma-like flowing sensation in which intense heat melts the journeyer.
The imagery tends on one side to zero, and on the other, infinity, like the paradoxical concept of the plenum which is also a void. It appears void because it contains a vast amount of undifferentiated information which is chaotic and overwhelms the senses. It is invisible because it is not-yet-visible. Reaching this state, one has the sense of transformative forces at work--a feeling of almost palpable relief.
The sense of peacefulness and security is the essence of the journey itself and what the guide brings to it. Many other aspects of this "whole brain" state have been described, such as feelings of dimensionlessness, timelessness, and boundarylessness. It has also been called cosmic consciousness.
Many sensations are involved, such as the experience of bubbles or effervescence and tingling in the body, often at the site of a symptom. It may be specific or generalized. It may be expressed as a new primal image that is seen, heard, or perceived in a deeply felt way. Healing manifests as a new emergent order--the implicate becomes explicate as a new perception of self and one's relationship to the whole, of essence to source.
Evolution in consciousness comes with a quantum shift in awareness. That quantum shift occurs during the period in which the evolving structure is in chaos. So if one is in a dreamhealing process, experiencing for example, the multiple consciousness of the Earth Mother as decay, one may follow that to the point of total disintegration.
Since one is identified with that state of consciousness at the time, personal awareness dives down into the chaos, journeying to the most fundamental, primitive or primal condition--the ground state of being. Here a shift is possible as consciousness is totally de-structured, non-linear, yet dynamic, and Here we are simultaneously everything and nothing. We are not separate from the universe: both science (holism, holography, new physics, philosophy) and mystics (shamans, saints, and gurus) tell us so. The whole is reflected in the part and the part is seamlessly unified with the whole. Chaos theory is the result of unitary, iterative processes. Chaotic systems exhibit holistic behavior.
"Solve et Coagula"
As we watch the cycles of nature, we observe that things go into life and death, and rebirth, as energy changes form. If this is happening all around us, what is to make us think we are any different than that?
We are part of nature, unlike the "civilized" or "objective scientific" views which set us apart. So we may, quite naturally, expect to go through the same cycle ourselves, in consciousness as well as in biology. Further, we can trust that and embrace that evolutionary flow of life, death, and rebirth, because in this transformative change lies true stability.
Always, passing through this state, the new order of imagery, thought, emotion, sensory perception reflects a new and less dis-eased sense of being. The deeper self image undercuts the old belief system, and begins to create a new order of being, a new way of perceiving the self and the world.
Chaos provides a new image around which to order the personality and often the physiology. This is an application of the old alchemical maxim, "solve et coagula," dissolve and reintegrate. One half of the process is being able to let go of the focus of attention and enter the chaos. The other half is being able to seize the new order that arises from it. Order is present in the most chaotic state of mind, just as chaos underlies even the most rigid and orderly intellect.
The primal images, the deep multi-sensual experiences and perceptions act like psychic magnets, attracting and ordering energies around them, which echo their shapes and forms. Like fractal patterns displayed on a computer screen, the quantum shift comes when the attractor values are changed. The old image that lies on one side of the chaos experience gives way to a surprising new image that arises from the chaos. Emotions, thinking, and behavior are all affected.
Condensed from the book Dreamhealing: Chaos & the Creative Consciousness Process, by Graywolf Swinney and Iona Miller, c1992. For further information, contact Aesculapia, P.O. Box 301, Wilderville, OR 97543.
RELATIONSHIP TIDAL WAVE
In this session a young woman, who has been separated from her alchoholic husband for some time, recounts a dream which comes up when her divorce proceeding go to court. During the session she re-owns her projected ANIMUS (inner male) and finds new power in her center. Graywolf's comments are ALL CAPS, while her responses are lower case.
WHEN YOU ARE READY TO LET THE DREAM COME IN, JUST ALLOW IT TO ENTER INTO YOUR MIND...THE IMAGES...FEELINGS...AND SENSATIONS. THEN, WHEN YOU ARE IN THE PLACE WHERE YOU ARE READY TO SHARE THE DREAM, DO IT...BUT TAKE YOUR TIME.
I can see John lying on the couch...all I can see is the couch and him. And he's pretty drunk...he can't sit up. I wish he'd just pass out...
BE THIS DRUNKEN MALE...BE THAT BODY...BECOME...AND AS YOU BECOME, SHARE...[she describes her state of consicousness ending with the word "toxic"]...THAT IS A VISCERAL SENSATION...THAT TOXICITY. FOCUS ON THAT NOW. WHAT COLOR IS IT? WHAT SHAPE IS IT? WHAT CONSISTENCY DOES IT HAVE?
It's a yellowish-green, sort of like a blob...sort of frozen. WHAT KIND OF BLOB? IN YOUR IMAGINATION, NOW, BECOME THIS BLOB...THIS YELLOWISH-GREEN BLOB. EXPERIENCE YOURSELF...AND WHEN YOU ARE READY...SHARE WITH ME WHAT THAT EXPERIENCE IS LIKE. [She gives an obviously mentalized description so the therapist urges letting go and she becomes "blue-green"]. SO YOU'RE FEELING THE POTENTIAL OF THE ENERGY? LET GO OF MIND AND INTERPRETATIONS...AND JUST FEEL THE ENERGY AS ENERGY. JUST NOTICE HOW YOU FEEL NOW.
There's a huge, huge tidal wave...STAY WITH IT...STAY WITH THE ENERGY...There's things floating in it, obstructions...there's a lot of power in it...WHERE DOES THAT CARRY YOU? STAY WITH THAT AND TELL ME WHAT YOU NOTICE...Down at the bottom are little things that swim through it, small particles at the mercy of the tide...little things...(AT THIS POINT WE DON'T KNOW IF SHE WILL REGRESS INTO THE HELPLESSNESS OF CHILDHOOD OR DISCOVER SOMETHING NEW).
BRING ONE INTO YOUR MIND NOW...BECOME ONE OF THOSE REALLY TINY THINGS...They're like little pieces of grass, and... BECOME ONE...It's really pleasant--the force--swimming...I AM...I am...FEEL THAT...I am absorbed by the tidal force, it's like a spiral. I DON'T KNOW QUITE HOW TO SAY THIS, BUT BECOME BOTH THE STUFF FLOATING IN THE BOTTOM OF THE TIDAL WAVE AND THE WAVE...THAT RELATIONSHIP...BECOME THAT VISCERALLY. It's very physical...GIVE IN TO THAT PROCESS AND EXPERIENCE IT...JUST NOTICE, AND REPORT WHEN YOU WANT...[long pause].
I see a shiny black thing...its like an opeing I can go into...it opens into another place..and it seems to open into forever...JUST FEEL...THE SENSATIONS...THE VISCERAL THINGS...WHAT IT'S LIKE IN THERE...[pause]. STAY WITH IT AS LONG AS YOU WANT...WHEN YOU'RE READY TO BRING IT BACK JUST TAKE TWO OR THREE DEEP BREATHS...DON'T HURRY...TAKE YOUR TIME...
It feels like everything is in there [she indicates her abdomen, her power chakra]. THIS IS ABOUT EXPRESSING FEAR...Its like some huge ocean..in there...like in Journey to Center of the Earth, when there is that giant ocean...with power....
AND THERE IS A SENSE OF MALENESS IN THERE WITH THAT, TOO?...Yes...BE AWARE THAT YOU FOUND THAT POWER IN THE PART OF YOURSELF WHICH YOU GAVE THE SYMBOL OF BEING A DRUNK EX-HUSBAND...Rejecting maleness?...UH-HUH! OUT-OF-CONTROL MALENESS...SCARY, LIKE THE TIDE. FROM THE OUTSIDE, IT LOOKED TERRIBLE, BUT WHEN YOU WENT INSIDE, YOU FOUND SOMETHING. I WOULD SAY THAT SOMETHING ON THE SURFACE, YOUR PERSONALITY AND YOUR EGO, KEEPS YOU FROM THIS PLACE. IT IS AS CLOSE TO BEING ABLE TO FOCUS ON IT. IT IS ALREADY IN THERE, IT IS YOU...IT IS A STATE OF YOUR CONSCIOUSNESS.
I CAN'T TAKE YOU ANY PLACE THAT ISN'T IN YOU ALREADY. YOU'D BEEN SCARED OFF BY THIS POWER WHICH WAS HIDING BEHIND THIS IMAGE OF A DRUNKEN MAN. That's right. Now my whole body breathes with it. Being in the blob was not a pleasant thing...later it felt good, but I didn't see colors at that time. It became pleasant when I became the tidal wave. The pain turned into pleasure. THAT IS CHARACTERISTIC OF THE DREAM JOURNEY. YOU HAVE TO GO INTO THE PAIN, FEAR, OR DISTRUST TO FIND THE POWER.
We are a really a powerful form of energy which takes on the form of a mind and body. That form is based on the kinds of experience this life energy encounters, and it stores that experience in the form of images. Essentially that is the essence of this work, to go to those images, and change or transform those images, to make the energy available for us. In this case, the toxicity was where the energy was being held.
As we hit traumatic experiences in childhood, they rob us of some of our power, manifesting as defenses which just keep us from getting there. In the image itself is where all the stuff is stored. The purpose of the work is to get to that image. For this client, this was tied up in the image of the drunken man. Within that was this image of toxicity or poison. The poison had the shape, the essence of an unpleasant green color. What that yellow-green told me was that it has to do with love expression and power expression.
That fits in with the fact it was expressed as a male power-figure she was once intimate with. That is an image she had carried around in her. She chose to express it that day as a sort of blue-green, which when she became it, gave her access to the tidal power.
Those images that we store need to be transformed, because when we restructure the images, our personality and body take on the actual new shape of these images. Change the image and you change the attitudes associated with it. If you only understand it intellectually, it just changes the defense systems. We go deeper into the image, into CHAOS, and shake it loose. That brings catharsis.
CONCEPTION DREAM JOURNEY
This healing took place over a two-day period during our annual gathering on CHAOS AND CONSCIOUSNESS. This is a mature, cosmopolitan woman, with a beautiful poetic spirit. She recounted her dream the morning after her arrival.
I go into a bedroom where Jeannie Eagle is sitting on a large bed in a flowing white dress. Her dark locks of hair fall around her shoulders, and the contrast is like a photo negative of Mt. Shasta. I go forward and lightly kiss Jeannie on her forehead. There is a shadowy presence in the room that I take to be Graywolf.
Graywolf initiated the process. JUST LIE DOWN AND GET COMFORTABLE...START BY JUST BREATHING...RELAX AND ENTER YOUR DREAM...RE-EXPERIENCE YOUR DREAM...AND THEN WHEN YOU'RE READY, WALK ME THROUGH THE DREAM WITH YOU.
I'm approaching the bed...slowly, not cautiosly...just very confidently...I'm seeing a person sitting on the bed [a woman]...I'm experiencing contrasts...the pristine whiteness of the clothing, and the very somber, dark and black hair...I'm feeling...ahhhh, the edges of the white and the edges of the black meeting, kind of jagged...
JUST GIVE OVER TO THAT SENSATION OF JAGGED MEETING PLACES NOW...JUST EXPERIENCING...AND TELL ME WHAT YOU NOTICE...I'm coming to where they...ah...possibility of interchange...the black becomes white and the white becomes black. JUST EXPERIENCE THAT...BE THAT...FEEL THAT AS YOU BECOME THAT AND GO THROUGH THAT...FEEL IT VISCERALLY...WHERE DO YOU NOTICE THAT IN YOUR BODY? In my stomach, here. BRING YOUR ATTENTION TO THAT SENSATION OR FEELING...DOES IT HAVE A SHAPE?...ANY DISTINGUISHING THINGS YOU NOTICE ABOUT IT?
It's like it comes and it goes...The black is blacked and the white is frozen...JUST GIVE OVER TO THAT NOTION...THAT THOUGHT...LET GO NOW OF ANY OTHER SENSE OF SELF YOU HAVE...AND JUST BECOME THAT FLOW...FEEL YOUR SIDES...YOUR LEFT SIDE, YOUR RIGHT SIDE...JUST FEEL THE FLOW NOW...BECOME NOTHING BUT THAT KIND OF MOTION...
The black side's getting very violent like dark waves lashing...its like shark's fins, the jagged part. GIVE IN TO THAT BLACKNESS, THE SHARKNESS, THE ANGRYNESS...BECOME IT...LET GO OF THE REST NOW AND JUST BECOME THE BLACK...THE SHARKNESS...Feels like a sword...darksword...FEEL YOUR ESSENCE...BECOME IT NOW...TRUST YOUR IMAGINATION. I press into soft flesh...BREATHE DEEP...IS THAT IN YOUR STOMACH, TOO? It's in my legs, in my thighs...GIVE OVER TO THAT...FEEL IT NOW...STAY WITH IT...I'LL GO WITH YOU INTO THE PAIN...COME WITH ME INTO THE PAIN.
It feels like penetration...OK...JUST EXPERIENCE THAT NOW...It's very painful...STAY WITH IT...I feel I'll cry...IT'S OK...It's myyyy...JUST FEEL...DEEPER, DEEPER...FEEL...WHAT'S HAPPENING NOW? I'm feeling like there's a knight with armor on...it's black...all of its black...BECOME THAT...BECOME HIM...COME INTO YOUR SHADOW WITH ME...STAY WITH IT...WITH ME...IT'S OK, I'M WITH YOU...STAY WITH IT. Hmm...I'm seeing a lot of yellow flames; its like I want to jump in...DO IT!...I walk in and its just like red coals (YEAH) and I feel like a devil dancing on them...FEEL THAT ENERGY...FEEL YOUR HEAT...Horns!...I'm all red, and...STAY WITH IT.
WHAT'S HAPPENING NOW? It's all turning into ashes and turning into snow!...it's a lot cooler...FEEL THAT...it's very soft to touch...Hhhmmmm...I'm going into the ground like a seed...FEEL IT NOW....JUST FEEL IT VISCERALLY...hmmmm, roots...going down...deeper...DEEPER....deeper...ALL THE WAY NOW, WITH THEM...AND BECOME THE ROOTS...
I'm finding gold down under the earth...it's some kind of light...BECOME THAT LIGHT NOW...MOVE OVER TO IT...LET GO OF BODY, LET GO OF FORM...BECOME THE LIGHT...DEEP, DEEP LIGHT...It's all like a ball, very white, and all around is the darkness...like a void...and the lower I get, the lower it goes, and I can't quite reach it...but I'm trying...JUST STAY WITH WHERE YOU'RE AT...EXPERIENCE THE VOID...BECOME THE VOID...LOOK IN NOW...BECOME THE VOID...FEEL YOURSELF AS THE VOID...WHAT YOU'RE EXPERIENCING...[she breathes very deeply]...SHARE WITH ME...
Ah...I was there...I think I thought that if I breathed it would go away, but it's still there, and I could breath and it's still there...WHERE ARE YOU?...I'm like in a...ah, a quarry hole all filled with water and the sun shifts down it, and I'm inside it and I don't need to breath, and I'm just like part of that water, and at the same time, its like air...it has a lot of little motes...motes...STAY WITH THAT...JUST ACCEPT THAT...FEEL...THIS IS ONE OF THE GIFTS OF THE DREAM TO YOU...IT'S A HEALING PLACE FOR YOU...
MY THOUGHT IS THAT THERE IS A SENSATION OF TINGLING WITH THIS...yes!...JUST ALLOW THAT TO BE...LET THAT WORK ON YOU...THAT'S THE HEALING...IT COMES FROM WITHIN. Wow!!!...hmm,hmmmm that was the primal energy! Oh, I can feel it in my whole body as I said that, all the way up my legs! I can feel my whole body tingling!!!
THAT'S THE HEALING...JUST STAY WITH IT NOW...Hmmmm....STAY WITH IT, AND FEEL IT AS LONG AS YOU NEED...WHEN YOU ARE READY TO COME BACK, BRING THE HEALING WITH YOU...AND ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS JUST TAKE THREE DEEP BREATHS AND LET YOUR EYES OPEN...BUT DON'T COME BACK UNTIL YOU'RE READY...WHEN YOU DO COME BACK JUST COME BACK TO THE SURFACE OF THE DREAM, AND I WILL MEET YOU THERE BECAUSE THERE IS ANOTHER PLACE I'D LIKE TO TAKE YOU.
I feel like a very fuzzy caterpillar...MMM-UHUH....that's eaten a lot...it's so fat and it's soft....hmmmmm. ARE YOU READY TO GO BACK UP TO THE SURFACE OF THE DREAM NOW?...hmmm...Uhuh. THERE'S A PRESENCE IN THAT DREAM...A GUIDE...DO YOU FEEL IT? I'm seeing all of her now...a woman like a fairy with butterfly wings. DO YOU FEEL THEM ON YOUR OWN SHOULDERS?...Yeah, Ok, Ok, uhuh...they're sprouting...irridescent wings! OK...STAY THERE...those wings, its like the same irridescence as those motesMOTES [spoken simultaneously]. [NOTE: in Greek, PSYCHE means butterfly]
GO JUST A LITTLE BIT DEEPER NOW...AND FEEL THE ENERGY THAT YOU RADIATE...THESE COLORS...Uhuh...what's in my mind is that passing over the clouds over the mountains coming into Medford there is a double circular rainbow around the shadow of the plane...below. The shadow of the plane is in the exact middle always, and I'm sitting right beyond the wing, and I'm looking down and seeing this rainbow...and it's now like I'm in the center of that rainbow...mmmm-huh...two rainbows...I see all these colors over here. JUST LET THEM ENTER YOU...FEEL THEM...FEEL THE CENTER...I'm the center spot...MAY I TOUCH YOU?...Yeah...[touches heart center].............[long pause]........[eyes open]...WELCOME BACK!
Now I'm feeling...oh, I'm feeling like integrating the feeling of the movement of the plane and all those vibrations...and at the same time the rainbows and the shadow of the plane are constant. That's what I'm feeling. I'm feeling like there is a constancy in the movement, you see? UHUH...It can't be but it is...THAT'S A GOOD LESSON, ISN'T IT? Yeah, yeah...yeah....THERE IS WISDOM THERE, YOU'VE TOUCHED SOME WISDOM THERE...Yeah, I'm a very wise person...YOU BET...Oh wow!
THE STRUCTURE IS THE ILLUSION; IT'S THE MOVEMENT THAT IS THE REALITY. THE STRUCTURE OF THE PLANE, THE THINGS WE THINK ARE PERMANENT, THEY ARE THE ILLUSIONS. Yes. FEEDBACK....COMMENTS?
Thank you...I've got my mama's tit again. When I was saying I'm a wise person, I usually can't say that, like its not good to be presumptuous, right. And it's like its OK to be yourself...UHUH, THAT'S A NICE GIFT FROM THE DREAM, TOO.
She recalls her song where she wrote, "Woman trust your body's wisdom..." Graywolf asks her if she has had trouble in her legs. She says "No," but refers to month-old distress on the bottom of her forearms, slight arthritis, etc.
THE TINGLING IN THE BODY, THOUGH, THERE WAS SOMETHING WITH THAT. Oh, [emphatically], the tingling was...SEEMED INTENSE...yes, it was very intense, yea. At the beginning of this session I was asking myself what this is about. And its about coming here. It's about my mother going 50 years ago to Farther South Camp, a forerunner of Outward Bound.
I stayed home on the farm to cook, sweep, and wash for my father and brothers. And my mother went galavantin' off, just like I am now. Only no one has to cook and sweep for me. My kids are grown. Still, though, I was having the image of the woman going off to the wilderness to find herself. THAT'S SOMETHING OF THE ESSENCE OF WHY YOU'RE HERE THEN. Hmmmhuh. And I was hearing this morning a poem that my mother loved, I think by William Blake or John Dunn, someone of the mystical faith. It goes:
Every morning lean thine arms upon the windowsill of heaven; And contemplate thy God. And then with a vision freshen thy heart and go forth into the day.
I am not knowing if I have permission to lean my hands on the windowsill of Heaven. [she rubs her arms where she has complained of the distress]. YOU JUST DID...SO YOU MUST...Like I just did right now...So I do...So I don't need that! [She makes shaking motions as if to let go of that energy].
SO AGAIN, JUST ON THE OTHER SIDE OF FEAR IS THE POWER. JUST ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FEAR AND THE PAIN. JUST EXPRESSING THE FEAR AND THE PAIN DOES NOTHING MORE THAN HONOR IT...IT DOESN'T TAKE YOU TO THE OTHER SIDE OF IT. ALSO, THERE WAS AN INNOCENCE OF SHADOW IN THIS DREAM. YOU WENT INTO THE SHADOW SIDE IN THE SHARK...aimed at the light...I had a momentary flashback to a time when my husband with Alzheimer's tried to make love to me. It was scary, but I saved myself from that situation. Before that fear of my father that summer my mother went to camp.
I'D LIKE TO SUGGEST THAT YOU EXPERIENCED EVEN ONE LEVEL DEEPER...THIS IS CONJECTURE AT THIS POINT...I THINK YOU EXPERIENCED THE MOMENT OF YOUR CONCEPTION. Hhmmm...the sperm, yes...going into the egg...the motes. I HAD VERY MUCH THE FEELING OF THAT WHILE YOU WERE THERE. Uhuh, uhuh. That thought was the penetration there--that's very interesting--AHA! THAT'S WHERE SOME OF THE INITIAL IMAGES WERE FORMED. SOME OF THE VERY MOST PRIMAL IMAGES THAT SHAPED YOU. Hmmmm.
Graywolf...Now that I just am this ovum being penetrated by the sperm, I'm no longer violated...how about that! I'm created, I'm not violated! THAT'S A BIG CHANGE IN IMAGE, ISN'T IT. Uhuh, tremendous! Tremendous, tremendous. ITS A VERY FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE IN YOURSELF IN TERMS OF WHO YOU ARE NOW. I feel like Jesus when they pierced him in the side...aha, aha, aha. That tingling...now its in my back and it's in my arms.
I was still resisting until now that sperm penetrating, and until it did, I couldn't be whole. Now I'm feeling like I'm in the Fallopian tube, and going into the uterus, and I can implant, and grow to where I am now. Its a wonderful feeling, because I can be inside my mother and here at the same time. I can be in all of those places. It's wonderful!
This article appears in PSYCHEDELICS REIMAGINED,
Thomas Lyttle, Ed., Introduction by Timothy Leary, Autonomedia, NY, 1999.
CHAOS AS THE UNIVERSAL SOLVENT
Re-Creational Ego Death in Psychedelic Consciousness
by Iona Miller, c1992
ABSTRACT: There is a generic process in nature and consciousness which dissolves and regenerates all forms. The essence of this transformative, morphological process is chaotic--purposeful yet inherently unpredictable holistic repatterning. The Great Work of the art of alchemy is the creation of the Philosopher's Stone, a symbol of wholeness and integration. The liquid form of the Stone, called the Universal Solvent, dissolves all old forms like a rushing stream, and is the self-organizing matrix for the rebirth of new forms. It is thus a metaphor or model for the dynamic process of transformation, ego death and re-creation.
The alchemical operation SOLUTIO, called "the root of alchemy," corresponds with the element water. It implies a flowing state of consciousness, "liquification" of consciousness, a return to the womb for rebirth, a baptism or healing immersion in the vast ocean of deep consciousness. It facilitates feedback via creative regression: de-structuring, or destratification by immersion in the flow of psychic imagery through identification with more and more primal forms or patterns--a psychedelic, expanded state. Chaos Theory provides a metaphorical language for describing the flowing dynamics of the chaotic process of psychological transformation.
"All substances are part of my own consciousness.
This consciousness is vacuous, unborn, and unceasing."
Thus meditating, allow the mind to rest in the uncreated state. Like the pouring of water into water, the mind should be allowed its own easy mental posture in its natural, unmodified condition, clear and vibrant.
--Leary, Metzner, Alpert; THE PSYCHEDELIC EXPERIENCE
To summarize, I have spoken of seven major aspects of SOLUTIO symbolism: (1) return to the womb or primal state; (2) dissolution, dispersal, dismemberment; (3) containment of a lesser thing by a greater; (4) rebirth, rejuvenation, immersion in the creative energy flow; (5) purification ordeal; (6) solution of problems; and (7) melting or softening process. These different aspects overlap. Several or all of them may make up different facets of a single experience. Basically it is the ego's confrontation with the unconscious that brings about SOLUTIO.
--Edward Edinger, ANATOMY OF THE PSYCHE
THE MEDICINE OF PHILOSOPHERS
Alchemy had one great prescription for the accomplishment of the Great Work: "Solve et Coagula"--reduce or dissolve all to its primary, most fundamental essence and embody that creative, holistic spirit. The ancient alchemists sought to transform "lead" into "gold." We repeat this process as modern alchemists when we seek the transformative medium which allows us to recognize our rigidities ("lead") and facilitates our healing and expression of our full creative potential ("gold"). That medium is the ever-flowing river of our consciousness.
The organic, regenerative process of "re-creational ego death" is common to mysticism, experiential psychology, and psychedelic journeys. Spiritual exploration, or soul travel, is shared by all three modes of immersion in the universal stream of consciousness. They are all variations on the theme of the consciousness journey, and echo our shamanic roots, and the mythemes of eternal return and hero/heroine. Participants reach a deep, integral level, and direct experience of Higher Power, often merging with the Creation or the Creator.
All these modes facilitate psychedelic consciousness, though any given experience may vary in duration and depth. Their prescribed frequency varies: meditators are advised to "die daily;" in psychotherapy once a month may be enough for regenerative therapy; psychedelic use varies from single experiences, to monthly, to annually. Despite different modes of induction, all these experiences reflect the illusory nature of time, space, and ego as reality constructs. The primary nature of consciousness is revealed.
The word psychedelic has its roots in the Greek psyche, soul, and delos, visible, evident. It is direct evidence of the soul, the pure manifestation of soul. Stace (1960) identifies nine qualities of the psychedelic experience as follows: 1) unity of all things; 2) transformation of space and time; 3) deeply felt positive mood; 4) sacredness; 5) objectivity and reality; 6) paradoxicality; 7) alleged ineffability; 8) transiency, and 9) persisting positive changes in subsequent behavior.
In the practice of mysticism there is identification with progressively more subtle "bodies" or vehicles of consciousness, culminating in a transform from a mental or causal body to a vehicle of pure Light. In experiential psychotherapy, transformation results from deepening within the flow of psychic imagery, progressively identifying with more primal forms, and ultimately with formlessness. In psychedelic experience, expansion of consciousness dissolves ego boundaries leading to morphological transformations and ecstatic communion.
In alchemy, one sought not only to find or create the Stone, but also to apply it, or use it creatively in the everyday world. Now, we might speak of integrating or actualizing the results of our transformations in daily life. Thus, self-actualization or self-realization implies the grounding of the spiritual fruits of inner exploration.
The liquid form of the Philosopher's Stone was known as the UNIVERSAL SOLVENT. According to the alchemists, the operation of solutio (liquification) has a twofold effect: it causes old forms to disappear and new regenerate forms to emerge. To a rigid consciousness, the primal ocean of the unconscious is experienced as chaotic, violent, irrational processes of generation and destruction.
Through "creative regression," the generic form of ego death, consciousness recycles, recursively bending back upon itself. The direction is a recapitulation of, a re-experiencing of sequences from earlier life, conception and birth experience, ancestral awareness, genetic and physiological recognitions, molecular and atomic perception, and quantum consciousness.
As consciousness explores and expands, ego dissolves. Pure consciousness, the fundamental luminosity, is the ground state of unborn form. The generic purpose of ego death is to liberate our embodied being, precipitating communion with and re-patterning by the Whole. When all forms finally dissolve into unconditioned consciousness, the ground state of the Nature Mind is revealed as the mystic Void, the womb of creation.
When the constructed forms which hold personality together are voluntarily relinquished, consciousness "liquifies" and rapidly moves toward the unconditioned state. Though easy to say, it is sometimes difficult to achieve such liberation from the mental-conceptual activity of the nervous system. When we do, the quiescent nervous system is open and receptive to the conscious recognition of pure energy transforms with no interpretations.
The Universal Solvent dissolves problems, heals, allows life to flow in new, creative patterns. These new patterns embody the evolutionary dynamic. According to chaos theory, free-flowing energy is capable of self-organization. In consciousness this means that the obstructions to free flowing energy must first be dissolved. Through re-creational ego death, consciousness dissolves into healing communion with the whole of existence, renewing itself, emerging with a new creative potential.
The need for the periodic destruction of outmoded systems implies the value of recycling consciousness through death/rebirth experience. The universal solvent is not ordinary water, but "philosophical" water, the water of life, aqua permanens, aqua mercurialis. It is also the panacea, "elixer vitae," "tincture," or universal medicine. To periodically dip into these healing waters has a tonic, rejuvenating effect which pervades all aspects of being, like a soothing balm.
This divine water signifies the return of The Feminine, a reflective consciousness with inner awareness and archetypal spiritual perceptions. This Feminine Divinity is the Anima Mundi, or Soul of the World, the universal animating principle, the upwelling spring of the creative Imagination, the dynamic flow of imagery, pattern, and form. This dynamic has been known as Isis, Shakti, Maya, Shekinah, Sophia, Demeter/Persephone, Mary.
In psychedelic mysticism, the animating principle is being referred to as Gaian Consciousness (Abraham, 1992), which we might view as a rebirth of ancient ecstatic, communal consciousness. It is the psychobiological basis of deep ecology, the flow of relationships. The return of chaos heralds the "greening of consciousness," the greening of the cultural wasteland.
Hillman (1985) describes the anima not as a projection of, but rather the projector of psyche. We are contained within Her fantasy, not She within ours. Grinnell (1973) describes the transformative process of solutio which facilitates the fluid, mobile basis of consciousness:
For aqua permanens is a mode of the arcane substance; its symbol is water or sea-water, an all-pervading essence of anima mundi, the innermost and secret numinosum in man and the universe, that part of God which formed the quintessence and real substance of Physis, at once the highest supercelestial waters of wisdom and the spirit of life pervading inorganic matter.
The arcane descriptors of this paradoxical liquid Stone are cryptic, couched in metaphor. But what does it mean experientially and pragmatically? How does this chaotic transformative process engineer our consciousness? The divine water, as a liquid symbol of the Self, can be experienced in many ways. It has been described as innocuously as the "stream of consciousness," and as poetically as the "Heart of The River of Created Forms."
Solutio implies the liquification of consciousness through the dissolution of rigidities which inhibit free flow. They include roles, game patterns, defense strategies, rigid attitudes and beliefs, interpretations, complexes, "old" myths, and "frozen" energy surrounding traumas which manifests as fear and pain.
Fossilized or ossified energies create obstructions to free flow, like boulders in a stream produce turbulence. Destructuring transformative processes can dissolve them, increasing the sense of flow. This "liquified" consciousness is psychedelic, a nonordinary expanded awareness which dissolves fixations and habits, and loosens cramped attitudes.
Mystic ecstasy, or the psychedelic state is mind-manifesting, consciousness expanding. It dissolves the identification of our consciousness with our histories, bodies, emotions, thoughts, and even beliefs. We are free to explore myriad forms, structures, and patterns, and/or become formless, resting in that unborn, unconditioned, unmodified healing state.
We experience the essence of other forms of existence. The Oneness of all life and existence is directly experienced through a variety of transformations ranging from plant and animal identifications to planetary and universal consciousness.
Entering the turbulent flow of the stream of consciousness, we can ride its currents back to the Source, pure unconditioned cosmic consciousness. We can imbibe the life-giving qualities of this "water" through mind-expanding experiential contact with this deep consciousness.
The transformative process is also reflected in our modern physical worldview as chaos theory, which we can view as a modern "myth," a new metaphor for the dynamics of consciousness. Chaos is ubiquitous in nature, pervading all dynamic processes, perturbing them unpredictably. Chaos theory shows us that nature is continually unfolding new forms from the chaotic matrix of creation.
Our dynamic consciousness is an essentially chaotic process. Chaos tracks a time evolution with sensitive dependence on initial conditions. When we "return" experientially to the "initial conditions" of our existence, our whole being is holistically repatterned. Our historical limitations are superceded by the creative power of the eternal Now.
We can allow chaos, as the universal solvent, to liquify consciousness and re-create ourselves. This presumes a therapeutic atmosphere, a "safe" set and setting, because each phase of the journey is an encounter with uncertainty.
The journey into deep consciousness appears inherently chaotic because the state of uncertainty pervades each moment of transition. Underlying moments of transience there are momentary blanks in awareness--little voids--flickering microstates which repattern each phase. Whether the experience is one of loss of personal boundaries or direct perception of stark, raw reality, or visionary dreams, there is no predicting where the chaotic orbit of consciousness will roam next.
To embrace chaos in our consciousness journeys, therefore means to cooperate and flow with the transformative process, opening ourselves to our deepest emergent potential. It's O.K. to let go periodically and temporarily become unstructured nothingness and open to holistic re-patterning.
Chaos is self-organizing, self-iterating, and self-generating. It is an evolutionary force. The tendency of new forms emerging from chaos is toward a higher degree of adaptation, hence evolution (Kauffmann, 1991). This "recycling" of consciousness leads to a self-referential vortex.
Chaotic systems revolve around nexus points, known as strange attractors, because of their unpredictable quality. Rather than being "point-like," they are more like vortices within vortices. The Philosopher's Stone is like a psychic lodestone (or vortex). It acts like an inner magnet, ordering the contents of our consciousness around it (through feedback loops) in chaotic, yet meaningful fashion.
The Philosopher's Stone may thus be seen as a "strange attractor" in the life of anyone engaged in the quest for transformation. It is an instinctual attraction toward processes which dissolve the ego and liquify consciousness, leading to transpersonal experience after symbolic death/rebirth. Freedom in the exploration of imagery comes from the creative capacity to experience loss.
Experientially, it appears as being channeled into the swirling mass of interacting symbols, an overwhelming vortex of pure information. We are sucked inexorably into interaction with the self-symbol, sucked into ourselves, like flotsam is pulled into a whirlpool. This is the vortex of the system, the vortex of self, where all levels cross. It overwhelms or tangles the mental processes, the self-imaging processes that maintain the illusion of stable personality and individual boundaries.
In solutio, the body is joined with the soul and spirit. The skin-boundary dissolves into visceral as well as spiritual perception. Awareness of physical processes may be greatly amplified, appearing as impressions, intuitions, sensations, sounds, odors. The body is always speaking silently. Through this raw, physical expression, that which was solid becomes liquified, dissolved, deliteralized. The concrete image of the body "morphs" into the flow of pure energy, in a variation of Transubstantiation. It is the "rapture" of being siezed up into the heavenly realm.
The flow of dynamic energy from the deep Self reawakens and activates the body, and also that portion of the unconscious that the body carries. The body not only carries, but is the memory of the entire evolutionary cycle. Consciousness can access any portion of this material memory through creative regression. The body manifests kinesthetic, preverbal, and preconceptual memory of its direct experience. Immersion in the healing creative energy flow is like a spiritual baptism, which facilitates creative reformation of ordinary consciousness, and even the physical body.
Solutio, as a state of consciousness, unites the powers of above and below, transpersonal and personal. It is the integration of the higher spiritual powers with personal experience that embodies the healing dynamic. This produces the paradoxical poison-panacea. The dual nature of the universal medicine points to a consciousness state beyond both opposites.
In Greek myth, Athena gave Asklepios, the divine healer, the blood of Medusa as the universal medicine. In its negative aspect it was toxic and produced death. The positive aspect brought healing; this mysterious potion is the "cure-all," the "solution." Divine water (sometimes symbolized as blood) is dangerous, poisonous, seductive, addictive, even deadly in its primeval, untransformed state--madness.
In the science fiction novel, DUNE, the new messiah and the Reverend Mothers of the Bene Gesserit sisterhood imbibe the psychoactive "water of life" with impunity. Moving past the fear and pain, they transcend time/space and commune with the continuum of all existence. What sets them apart from others, on whom the potion has a fatal effect, is their ability to withstand and convert its initial toxic effects into a religious ecstasy. They know how to navigate in that turbulent flow, during their consciousness journeys--"moving without travelling."
The alchemical solution to this problem of primordial, raw experience is to "cook" it into a reflective consciousness. Recycling itself, the ego cooperates in its own "re-creational death," connecting with the transpersonal forces of rebirth and renewal. The reborn personality is resurrected, restored to life through new meaning.
The ego acknowledges the Self as its new center of gravity, and personality heals. Experiential connection to the living reality of the Self, the "waters of life" is the panacea, the magical elixer of life. Solutio (and its prime agent, chaos) arises spontaneously from the depths as irrational images, dreams and fantasies.
In dreamhealing, the dream symbols are followed deeper and deeper down to the primal level where all structure dissolves into its original source. This journey into the depths, and subsequent emergence, is the basis of shamanic healing. As we journey in the autonomous consciousness stream, guided movement deeper into and beyond the fear and pain brings up the classical imagery of the solutio, as resistance subsides. There is no part of it that is not us. The transformative process dissolves blockages, obstructions or "frozen" consciousness which disturb and distort the free flow of energy.
1) RETURN TO THE WOMB OR PRIMAL STATE
The alchemist Paracelsus said, "He who enters the kingdom of God must first enter his mother and die." That death-like silence is also our mother, the virgin womb of the imagination.
The dynamics of "creative regression" are common to mystical experience, psychedelic exploration, and therapeutic consciousness journeys. All lead to immersion in the flow of the stream of consciousness. Creative regression is a generic form of the myth of the eternal return, chronic recurrence, reiteration. In the dynamics of chaos theory we find this recursive motion in the concept of iteration--self-similarity--which produces the similarity in infinitely descending scales of fractal generation.
Iteration is like a stretching and folding of the spacetime continuum. Experientially it manifests within us as a spiritualizing instinct, a recursive "bending back" of instinct toward that which is primordial and divine. Thus, whether induced through psychoactive substances, mystical transport, or experiential psychotherapy typical imagery recycles, recapitulates, or reiterates cascades of impressionistic transformations spanning the entire spectrum of archetypal experiences--morphological transformations.
These include but are not limited to childhood, birth, embryonic development, ancestral, mythic, genetic, evolutionary, universal, and quantum consciousness. Access to the entire continuum of organic and inorganic evolution as well as the collective unconscious becomes available. That information most pertinent to the whole self emerges in the stream of consciousness as virtual experience. What is pertinent is what gets spontaneously "downloaded," and it repeats and reiterates the basic issues in yet another, eternally creative way. Stan Grof has catalogued an extensive taxonomy of these states, most notably in THE ADVENTURE OF SELF-DISCOVERY (1988).
Such experiences of cosmic consciousness constitute a "return to the Mother," the blissful fusion of primal union, at both personal and universal levels. The direction of this dynamic process is recursive, bending back through deep time, ontology, and phylogeny. It echoes the semantic roots of the words religion and yoga, which imply a "linking backward" in the bond between gods and man, a craving for ecstasy, and transcendence of the limitations of physical form (Milkman, 1987).
Jung called this dynamic an opus contra naturam, a work against nature. But chaos theory shows us it is actually quite organic, natural, and instinctual. In alchemy it was the Great Work. Consciousness turns back on itself, reiterating each level of organization, de-structuring each strata as it dives deeper toward the unconditioned, formless beginning, or "unborn" state. This primal state is amniotic bliss experienced as the Void, the cosmic womb.
Images of the Great Mother system become reactivated, though not exactly in their original form. Imagery like fractals is self-similar, but not entirely identical. This creative regression is to the prepersonal domain, the preverbal, preconceptual domain, not the transpersonal spiritual domain (transverbal, transconceptual).
Typically in the first few dreamhealing sessions, a person will enter a dream symbol doorway which leads back to a conception memory. They may or may not recognize it as such during the journey. But in content, the symbolism is very clear. The imagery is fundamental or primal, appearing as a dance of energy, matter, and consciousness--the body-ego's conscious experience.
These images are close to the stuff of our creation -- the prima materia -- of our existence. We may experience it as free-floating: a paradox of chaos and a deep-felt sense of flowing and peace. The imagery here is psychedelic -- consciousness expanding -- an autonomous manifestation of imagination. The panoply of the ceaseless transformation of energy may overwhelm the senses, leading to a sense of total chaos. There is nothing to do but let go, surrender to it, merge with it, flow with it.
The dancing energy waves and patterns are perceived as deep whorls, spinning spirals, black holes, infinite voids, gray clouds of nothingness. There is melding of the senses -- synesthesia -- such as "tasting" music, "seeing" sound, etc. Simple throbbing and other extremely primitive sensations may be experienced. Experience of this state produces a new acceptance of the original conditions of conception, and re-structuring of the primal self-image.
We go into the primal chaos to begin the process of reformation from our pre-structural beginning. In essence, we re-enter the womb as we are initiated in the mysteries of the psyche. We re-conceive our primal self image, healed by communion with the creative Source.
2) DISSOLUTION, DISPERSAL, DISMEMBERMENT
The classic text of re-creational surrender or sacrifice of self is THE BARDO THODOL, or THE TIBETAN BOOK OF THE DEAD. It is explicitly for the living who undertake the death-like regression into the unconscious, as well as the dying. Because of their orientation toward consciousness journeys, THE PSYCHEDELIC EXPERIENCE and THE AMERICAN BOOK OF THE DEAD are useful translations or contemporizations of the transformational classic.
The realm of death is the twilight zone between consciousness and matter. Here psychoid phenomena manifest through the mingling of these modes. Here mind/matter duality ceases, creating enchantment, uncanny synchronicities, time warps, psychic experience, revelation of the mind of matter, the Nature Mind.
The moment of ego death is heralded by certain symptoms of transition. Resistance by the mind to this creative dissolution brings about physical symptoms which range from shaking and a sense of increasing pressure and anxiety, to paradoxical flashes of hot and cold, to extreme dizzyness and disorientation. As the classic psychedelic manual says, "The hard, dry, brittle husks of your ego are washing out; Washing out to the endless sea of creation." (Leary et al, 1964).
Distressing or disturbing symptoms symbolize the violence of the passage of consciousness from form to formlessness. Images of the body disintegrating or being blown to atoms (fear of exploding = fear of expanding) are characteristic psychedelic experiences. Perhaps the very elements of our bodies "remember" their formation in the crucible of some supernova. There may be identification with merciless destruction, the Dance of Shiva, the raging elements of nature, a variety of forms of explosive discharge. Here are visions of fires, floods, raging storms, earthquakes, volcanoes, turbulent lakes of magma.
Consciousness "breaks up" into its elemental forms, manifesting as overwhelming imagery. This first phase of dissolution may be characterized by the futility of resistance, magnetic downward spirals, gravity wells, loss of morphological identity.
E.J. Gold describes the second stage of the voyage as one of being overwhelmed by illusions produced by conditioning. Yet the primal element of pure forms breaks through and the voyager recognizes "the basic component of consciousness which when combined produces what is called the element Water."
In consciousness journeys, chaos functions as the universal solvent, that which dissolves all patterns and forms including the rigid, outmoded aspects of the self. In the dream journey, one might enter a spinning vortex and become dismembered by centrifugal force, torn limb from limb. We remain in this state of dis-integration until we re-member our essential self, embodying the wounded healer.
That sense of disintegration comes as the ego gives up its "unified" linear perspective (bivalent) to the multiple consciousness or awareness (multi-valence) of the deep self. Fear makes it feel like fragmentation, but in truth there is nothing in that imagery that is not us. The death throes of the ego prepare it for rebirth, through communion with cosmic consciousness, a new incarnation of the spirit, death and resurrection.
The nature of universal consciousness is oceanic. When the ego is in danger of "getting in over its head," it panics as if faced with drowning in the depths of this vast ocean of consciousness. It overwhelms the ego which cannot fathom this abyss.
This aspect of solutio brings mythic images of the dying god, of violent death and sacrifice, and of the isolation of the hero. It means nothing less than the sacrifice of the old self. The dissolution phase may mean myths of the triumph of darkness; myths of floods and the return of chaos, of the defeat of the hero.
In Gold's words, "Death comes to all forms; everything eventually is broken up by dissolution, so there's no point clinging to yet another biological form out of desire, longing for stability, or from fear and weakness."
3) CONTAINMENT OF A LESSER THING BY A GREATER
The ego "takes the plunge," it lets go and dissolves its old matrix, its old boundaries. When its boundaries melt, ego-consciousness dissolves into deep consciousness. The "wave merges with the ocean," and experiences its own deep transpersonal nature. It moves swiftly through the fear and pain, awakening to an infinitely wider reality of universal energy waves. In the ocean of creativity, "your own consciousness, shining, void and inseparable from the great body of radiance, has no birth, nor death." (Leary, 1964).
Experience of the pure, unmodified state of consciousness transcends all opposites, and therefore consciousness journeys provide an experiential "container" for the reconciliation of paradox within a larger field of experience--a broader, transcendent perspective. The transformational process acts as a "container" (alchemical retort) of the contents of psyche. But these contents, reduced to their essence are "nothingness," simply dreams and imagination. Emptiness is the real Philosopher's Stone.
By dissolving into non-relative consciousness, mood swings or identification with conflicting polar positions may be transcended by an enlarged state of consciousness which embraces and contains the entire continuum. Flow replaces polarity.
Jung spoke of the transcendent function as a symbol-forming force continuously creating emergent imagery which facilitates whole-self realization. It is thus an evolutionary and adaptive force. Mindell (1985) speaks of the flow in alchemical terms:
The alchemists called this flow the 'aqua permanens', or permanent water. Aqua permanens is the fluid process, the energy or life which was locked up in the tension of conflict which has now been freed through the flow between the opposites. Fluidity comes from conflict. Whereas before there was a boundary between conflicting opposites, between intent and reality, streaming energy now transforms therapy into natural science.
Dreams, visions, or the stream of consciousness can be used therapeutically as an evolutionary force to guide people from a small sense of self and expand them toward a larger image. This expansion of the sense of self may require some adjustment. The illumination (awakening to larger Reality) may also come through a nature-mystic experience, intense sexual experience, E.S.P., a consciousness journey, or meditation. Enlightenment (even the "seed" of enlightenment) is an experience of awe, bliss, and infinite possibilities.
The ego realizes it is not the center of the whole person, but only "manages" the personality. There are autonomous archetypal forces which inhabit the psyche with their own agendas, patterns, and goals. Our psyche is transpersonal; it has no boundaries. Our conscious awareness is only a manifestation of this larger consciousness. Within this larger consciousness, we are at home with a plurality of visions. The parts contain the whole (to a degree), enfolded or embedded like a fractal or hologram.
Containment may take place symbolically in the therapeutic relationship. The consciousness guide, therapist, or shaman functions as a guide to the netherworld. The "wounded healer" has a numinous quality which provokes the projections of others. Shamans work within the belief systems of their subjects to expand their sense of what is possible. Those subjects' experiences generally reflect the style and beliefs of the shaman--the shaman's positive expectation of particularized results.
Exposure to the infinitely broader worldview of a shamanic personality will automatically move a "smaller" personality into solutio, dissolution. This rapport or participation mystique is an unconscious, automatic process--a positive sort of psychic contagion. This unconscious dynamic may be responsible for the phenomenon of "contact high."
4) REBIRTH, REJUVENATION, IMMERSION IN THE CREATIVE ENERGY FLOW
Psychedelic, as well as mystical literature contains many examples of surrendering, letting go, accepting, merging, and joining the flow of the "Nature Mind," where all is consciousness--the audible life stream. This "Diamond Consciousness" is awareness of creative flux of the Void, the fluid unity of life. We flow within it, and it flows through us.
The death-rebirth sequence typically opens a person to the transpersonal domain with its virtually infinite creativity. It reveals and unfolds our future potentials. In dreamhealing, chaotic consciousness is also creative consciousness. Terence McKenna reminds us that, "Riverine metaphors are endlessly applicable. They represent the flowing of forces over landscapes, the pressure of chaos on the imagination to create creatively. . .The key is surrender and dissolution of boundaries, dissolution of the ego."
When we immerse ourselves in that creative energy, we find healing on many levels of our being. It may feel tingly or effervescent, or like streaming energy. Direct experience of this level brings a true sense of oneness with all that exists, the seamless fabric of existence. It opens us to re-patterning by the whole--a re-construction or re-patterning of personality through holistic change at the most fundamental level.
Immersion in the oceanic experience of universal consciousness is a life-changing experience. It is experience of the web of life, the biological life flow, an ineffable current of bliss. Once we experience that larger world and self--the rhythmic pulse of all life--we are never the same again, so long as we remember.
Communing with this energy, experiencing these states of consciousness, has been the practice of shamans since the dawn of man. Shamanic consciousness means the ability to enter and exit altered states at will. This power is connected to the liquid expression of life--the sap of life--the vegetable forms of the liquid Stone, and its identity with psychotropic plants. This notion reiterates that of the "greening of consciousness."
Franklin Merrell-Wolff (1973) spoke of the distillate of his mystical experience as follows:
"The Current is clearly a subtle, fluid-like substance which brings the sense of well-being already described. Along with It, a more than earthly Joy suffuses the whole nature. To myself, I called It a Nectar. Now, I recognize It under several names. It is also the 'Soma,' the 'Ambrosia of the Gods,' the 'Elixir of Life,' the 'Water of Life' of Jesus, and the 'Baptism of the Spirit' of St. Paul. It is more than related to Immortality; in fact, It is Identical with Immortality."
When the ego is completely dissolved in this renewing bath, we experience timeless consciousness, and are reborn based on a new, healthier primal self-image. This rejuvenation comes from connecting with pristine consciousness, the eternal aspects or forces of nature. Even though we cannot conceive of it, we can experience the infinite, the eternal, the transcendent. Visions of Creation, Emanation, the upwelling Source, emerge.
Spiritual reincarnation means bringing to life that which was formerly dead or unawakened, through connection with the original creative power. It is the theme of the Quest -- the greening of the Wasteland. The process of rebirth is the mythic enactment of "the one story" whose pattern is found in every narrative. Beneath the differences, the meaning -- having to do with the loss and recovery of identity -- does not change.
This story of the loss and regaining of identity is the framework of most literature, from which comes the hero with a thousand faces. Some variation of the hero's adventures, death, disappearance, and marriage or resurrection are the focal points of most stories.
The original sense of identity (romance and comedy), its loss (tragedy and irony), and its recovery in the regenerate world of romance and comedy is mirrored in the mythic quest. Myths of the birth of the hero, revival and resurrection, creation and defeat of the powers of darkness and death are perennial themes.
The descent and subsequent ascent, going deep into the consciousness journey and emerging transformed, is a form of death/rebirth, a powerful archetypal theme which is initiatory in character.
5) PURIFICATION ORDEAL
Aesculapian dreamhealing, uses many ritual forms of purification, such as diet, sweats, and baths. But the psychic purification is a process of shedding fears and pain which prevent us from flowing. Fear and pain are what keep us "stuck."
Each initiation contains an ordeal within its enfolded nature. At least it feels like an ordeal to the old ego structure which must dissolve or die. The quantum leap of initiation, being seized from one state and moved to another, involves a sudden and profound change. It requires an adjustment. Also, life may present synchronistic challenges, outside the dreamhealing sessions.
One dreamhealing participant was having a sweat. She was sent to look for an offering in the form of some wood to burn in the ritual. She finally returned with a huge gnarled log, which was quite representative of her twisted back (scoliosis). That wood really stank when it first was consigned to the fire--but as time went on, it burned pure and smelled extraordinarily sweet. She emerged with more mobility than she could remember every having and the healing persists.
In yoga, we hear about clearing blocks at the various chakras through purification practices. Progressive stages of purification allow the energy of the serpent power to flow or rise ever-higher through the chakra system. Thus, the yogi realizes the true nature of self. Mindell (1982) has commented on this process in regards to flow and healing:
In healing ceremonies, light, water, love, release of emotions, energy flow, circulation, harmony and crystal clear water are all descriptions of curative experiences. The water is a description of free flowing energy which cleans the body by unlocking egotism and its resulting cramps. . .The sap of plants flows in the body of the enlightened yogi. In India lack of flow in the imaginary veins and arteries which carry energy and blood is blamed for illness. Cleaning these conduits and reestablishing flow is all-important. . .there is a resistance at some point to the flow of energies. In fact, all disease is merely a restriction of the flow of life force in a particular area.
Speaking more of the mental aspect of the process he uses water as an image of purification ordeal:
Whenever a complex exists, consciousness rigidifies and tries to steer around the strong emotions connected with the core of the complex. Water therapy allows the complexes to speak, encourages the body to dance its own rhythm and lets the unpredictable come alive. A water experience is holistic and unifies the entire personality so that ego, Self, dreams, body, inner and outer come together in one human being.
The more rigid the ego and the more powerful a governing complex, the more threatening the flow of the body or the psyche appears. A rigid and frightened personality becomes terrified, split off from nature, and cannot believe that a Self or a body consciousness exists that can organize behavior once ego rulership is given up. . .Water is medicine against the rigidification of intuition, physical mobility, and feelings.
Another expression of purification ordeal occurs with psychedelics. It is a mental purge of gross karma which manifests as wrathful visions or second bardo nightmares. These visions, as well as the peaceful ones must simply be endured, despite awe and terror. They may be horrific visions of apocalypse and catastrophe--bloodthirsty hallucinations.
They come as the ego struggles to maintain its boundaries, as the mind seeks to reconstruct the personality. But the experience of this hellish state of consciousness is not mandatory with every journey. Recognition of the greater Reality brings instantaneous liberation from this ordeal.
Edinger (1973) uses Job from THE BIBLE as a classic example of an ego's confrontation with the awesome powers of the unconscious through its trials and travails. Job's encounter with the Self brings about a death/rebirth experience. Job feels like he is being punished, and insists on discovering the meaning of his experience.
Job encounters Jahweh in dreams first, anticipating later conscious encounter. Job is shown the abysmal aspect of God and the depths of his own psyche with its monstrous aspects, much like the wrathful visions of THE BARDO THODOL. Finally, Job's questions are answered, not rationally, but through living experience, conscious realization of the autonomous archetypal psyche. The realization comes to birth only through the ordeal.
All these struggles in the cycling of death/rebirth may be linked back through symbolic similarity to the individual birth ordeal. It is characteristic of chaotic systems that events originally separated by time and space can become enfolded closely together.
Events linked by the same state of consciousness are related; learning is state-related (Tart; Rossi). Our lessons and our ordeals are related to our states of consciousness. Thus personal and transpersonal experience of this eternal cycle of the generation of forms become fused and conditioned by the individual aspect of archetypal experience.
6) SOLUTION OF PROBLEMS
There is more than a linguistic link between the metaphor of a liquid solution, and the solution of a problem. The moment of "a-ha" comes frequently in process-oriented therapy, as direct realization brings fresh understanding through the "empty mind," or "beginner's mind."
Solutions come through creativity. They may appear effortlessly. The relationship between healing and creativity is implicit--healing is the physical analog of creativity, like attitude changes and intuition are its emotional and mental analogs. Healing is a special case of creativity, or creative problem-solving.
During reverie states, the mind goes into chaotic patterns for problem-solving. The more difficult the problem, the more chaos. Dreamhealing facilitates entry into these healing states of consciousness.
McAuliffe (198 ) reported in OMNI on the work of Paul Rapp detecting chaos in brain wave fluctuations:
After analyzing the EEGs of humans, Rapp has also come around to this friendlier view. "When we are healthy and alert, the interval between electrical waves is never rigidly fixed," he reports, "but always vacillates around a certain frequency range." Moreover, when we are mentally challenged, the interval between the electrical wave becomes even more variable--or chaotic. This suggests, in Rapp's opinion, that chaos "may actually be highly beneficial during problem solving.
Clearly the greater the mental challenge, the more chaotic the activity of the subject's brain. . .What does all this mean? In Rapp's opinion, chaotic activity may be an asset in problem solving. "You want to be able to scan as wide a range of solutions as possible and avoid locking on to a suboptimal solution early on," he explains. "One way to do that is to have a certain amount of disorderliness, or turbulence, in your search."
We can draw a direct analogy between the dreamhealing process and creative process. Dreamhealing begins with the pilgrimage, which expresses one's intent or commitment. The creative process begins with receptivity, which includes interest, preparation, and immersion in the subject matter.
Next in dreamhealing comes the confession, or the identification of the problem, where you have missed the mark. Creativity also requires the ability to identify the problem, see the right questions, to use errors, to have detached devotion.
The purification or cleansing of dreamhealing parallels the generalized sensitivity to problems that come during creativity, an attunement to the realization of what needs to be done.
The offering is a sign of letting go, sacrifice of the old ego form, the commitment to healing. Creativity requires the surrender of time and self to the process of flow; fluency of thinking; flexibility; abandoning old ways of thought.
The heart of the quest is dream incubation, a reverie which seeks connection with higher power. Creativity also requires incubation, reverie, serendipity, spontaneity, adaptation, tolerance for ambiguity, and originality. This permits uncommon responses and unconventional associations.
Healing occurs in a moment of oneness, chaotic consciousness. In creativity it is paralleled by the moment of illumination, redefinition, invention, vision.
Dreamhealing requires amplification, or work on dreams and validation. Elaboration is its counterpart, the use of two or more abilities for the construction of a more complex object or theory, plus verification.
Re-entry implies actualization, renewal, grounding, maturing. Creatively it means real-time application, follow-through, product, utilization of the result. It implies choosing the post-session personality, as re-calibrated through the imprint of the whole. It means stabilizing that state of creative consciousness which emerged in the session.
In all cases, guided or not, the creative or healing process follows approximately this model. The resources are contacted deep within and they well-up in sometimes unexpected ways from the deep Source.
7) MELTING OR SOFTENING PROCESS
Melting turns what was solid into a liquid. Variations on the theme include moistening and softening. Whether we look at modern consciousness journeys, ancient reports, or psychedelic experiences the metaphors are the same. Melting or softening is the result of incubation in dreamhealing, yoga, and alchemy.
THE PSYCHEDELIC EXPERIENCE offers such suggestions as "Let the feelings melt all over you," "Let your body merge with the warm flux," "Allow your own mind also to melt away very gradually." Feelings of the body melting or flowing as if wax are typical of the psychedelic experience, as boundaries dissolve.
Leary et al note a state of consciousness where, "All the harsh, dry, brittle angularities of game life [are] melted. You drift off -- soft, rounded, moist, warm. Merged with all life. You may feel yourself floating out and down into a warm sea. Your individuality and autonomy of movement are moistly disappearing."
An older report is this passage from THE BOOK OF LAMBSPRING, a seventeenth century alchemy text:
The Father sweats, surrounding his Son,
And pours out his prayer to God,
To Whom all things are possible,
Who creates, and has created all things.
He prays that his Son may be led from his body,
And he be reborn as he was at first.
God grants his prayer, it is not ignored,
Telling the Father to lie down and go to sleep.
God sent down rain from heaven
Through the clear stars; in truth,
It was fruitful silver indeed.
The Father's Body is moistened and softened.
By the help and Grace of God, at the end,
We may obtain Thy gracious Gift!
The Father strongly sweats and glows,
While oil and True Tincture from him flows.
The feverish father sweats the tincture of the wise from his body. The hidden fire causing the sweat is the antithesis of the moisture that it produces. This heat is the warmth of incubation, which is equivalent to a "brooding" state of meditation. The aim of this meditation is self-incubation for transformation and resurrection.
This liquefaction is a characteristic state of consciousness during psychedelic sessions. When the normal structures of awareness break down, consciousness transforms to a flowing or fluid state.
Speaking of his fusion of non-linear dynamics, post-structuralism, and psychedelic experience, psychonaut Manuel DeLanda was interviewed by MONDO 2000 (Issue 8; Winter, 1992). He reports on his experience in the language of chaos theory.
The metaphor they use is solid, liquid, gas. If the system is solid, too crystallized, its dynamics are completely uninteresting. If it's gaseous, it's also uninteresting--all you have to do is take averages of behavior and you know what's going on. Liquids have a lot more potential, with all kinds of attractors and bifurcations. Now what they're coming to believe is that the liquid state in nature--not just actual liquids, but liquidity in the abstract sense of being not too rigid or too loose--these liquid systems "poised on the edge of chaos" are natural computers.
...When you trip, you liquify structures in your brain, linguistic structures, intentional structures. They acquire a less viscous consistency, and your brain becomes a super-computer. You are able to think concepts you were not able to think before. Information rushes in your brain, which makes you feel like you're having a revelation. But of course no one is revealing anything to you. It's just self-organizing. It's happening by itself. ...free-flowing matter and energy are capable of self-organization.
I don't think there are higher states of consciousness. You liquify yourself, and you go through phase transitions, and then it seems to you that you are in a higher state of consciousness. When I'm tripping, I'm thinking concepts I'm sure no one's ever thought before, and in a way it's like a higher state of consciousness, but it's not a plane that was waiting there for me to access it. It's something I'm building that moment by destratifying my brain.
There might be an ethics here: how to live your life poised at the edge of chaos, how to allow self-organizing processes to take place in all the strata that bind you. In your life, you could create maps of attractors that bind your local destiny--those behaviors that are habitual and so on. And try to find those bifurcations that would allow you to jump, if not to complete freedom--that doesn't exist--but to another set of attractors less confining, less binding, less stratifying. Or learn to lead your life near a bifurcation without ever crossing it--the lesson of being poised on the edge of chaos.
In reducing all to pure water, the prima materia and the ultima materia become synonymous. That primal consciousness state, that creative and chaotic consciousness is the beginning of the operation of "water", and its ultimate realization.
It becomes easy to see why the operation of water is the "root of alchemy." Through consciousness journeys which liquify our rigid notions of self and world, we re-create the adventures of the hero or heroine. The theme is the loss and recovery of identity.
The hero is deserted, betrayed or even killed, but then comes back to life again. They may be swallowed by a huge sea monster, or wander in a strange dark underworld and then fight their way out again. The shift is from abandonment and isolation, to struggle, to the triumph or marriage phase, (unitive consciousness).
The myth of the defeated hero (rigid ego) brings images of the triumph of dark forces, myths of floods and the return of chaos. Then the stage is set for miraculous rebirth--The Son is born from the Father, as in THE BOOK OF LAMBSPRING passage. This process of rebirth is the universal medicine.
Aaronson, Bernard S., "The Hypnotic Induction of the Void," Journal of the American Society of Psychosomatic Dentistry and Medicine, Vol. 26: No. 1, p. 22-30; No. 2, p. 63-72; No. 3, p. 114-117; No. 4, p.129-133.
Abraham, Ralph; McKenna, Terence; Sheldrake, Rupert; TRIALOGUES AT THE EDGE OF THE WEST; Bear and Co., Santa Fe, 1992.
Davis, Erik, "DeLanda Destratified"; MONDO 2000, #8, Winter 1992, p. 45-48.
Edinger, Edward F.; ANATOMY OF THE PSYCHE, Open Court; LaSalle, Illinois, 1985.
Edinger, Edward F.; EGO AND ARCHETYPE, Penguin Books Inc., Baltimore, 1973.
Evans-Wentz, W.Y.; THE TIBETAN BOOK OF THE DEAD; Causeway Books, New York, 1973.
Gold, E. J.; AMERICAN BOOK OF THE DEAD; Gateways
Grinnell, Robert; ALCHEMY IN A MODERN WOMAN, Spring Publications, New York, 1973.
Grof, Stanislav; THE ADVENTURE OF SELF-DISCOVERY; SUNY Press, Albany, 1988.
Hillman, James; ANIMA; Spring Publications, Dallas, 1985.
Kauffman, Stuart A., "Antichaos and Adaptation"; SciAmer, August 1991, p.78-84.
Leary, T., Metzner, R., Alpert, R.; THE PSYCHEDELIC EXPERIENCE, University Books, New York, 1964.
McAuliffe, Kathleen; "Get Smart: Controlling Chaos"; OMNI
Merrell-Wolff, Franklin; PATHWAYS THROUGH TO SPACE; Warner Books, New York, 1973.
Milkman, Harvey & Sunderwirth, Stanley; CRAVING FOR ECSTASY; D.C. Heath & Co., Lexington, Massachusetts, 1987.
Miller, I. & Miller, R.A.; THE MODERN ALCHEMIST (formerly The Book of Lambspring); Phanes Press, Chicago; in press (available Spring 1994).
Mindell, Arnold; DREAMBODY; Sigo Press, Boston, 1982.
Mindell, Arnold; RIVER'S WAY; Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1985.
Rossi, Ernest: THE PSYCHOBIOLOGY OF MIND-BODY HEALING, W.W. Norton & Co., Inc., New York, 1986.
Stace, W.D.; MYSTICISM AND PHILOSOPHY; Lippincott, New York, 1960.
Swinney, Graywolf and Iona Miller; DREAMHEALING: CHAOS AND THE CREATIVE CONSCIOUSNESS PROCESS, Asklepia Press, 1992.
Tart, Charles; STATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS; E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc., New York, 1975.
Washburn, Michael; THE EGO AND THE DYNAMIC GROUND; SUNY Press, New York, 1988.
by Iona Miller, 5/25/00
Learn to trust the process to find a way through the wilderness,
From psychosomatic distress to natural healing consciousness.
The nature of creativity reflected in fire, water, earth, and air,
Works together in the Journey with R.E.M., to restructure and repair.
In stress, dis-ease, nightmares, and dreams we are drowned quite;
Entertaining consciousness dynamics find we dream not just at night.
The potentially healed structure is flowing silently in secret veins,
Realizing new perception and holistic healing can ease all pains.
Running the psycheís rapids there is no need to withstand,
Like the snake eating its tail, flow with it to fully understand.
Synergetic imagination, vision and dreams help us enter the flow,
Visitations by Asklepios and Hygeia help us to heal and grow.
Immersion in the consciousness field is mentored by shaman/therapist,
Who guides and helps us to enter the fear and pain to de-stress.
Once entering that healing dreamstream with co-consciousness,
Let go and trust the navigating guide or mentor with emotional finesse.
In olden times creative consciousness appeared as a healing serpent,
The results today are the same when immersion in the field is fervent.
Escape the cage of perceptions, following leading strange attractors,
Journeying deeply ferrets out hidden variables and other factors.
The way was outlined in ancient Greece in the Asklepian cult,
Employing pilgrimage, purification and dreams to heal and exalt:
Close your eyes, breathe and relax, just fill your mind with a dream,
Walk through, going deeper now, notice and share what is supreme.
Whatís happening is visceral and need not be at all logical,
Trust your imagination, feel your primal essence as literal.
Release and let go of old notions like a serpent sheds its skin,
Allowing whatever happens, nothing appears that wonít fit in.
Give in and accept those sensations, staying with it going deeper,
Even though it hurts or scares you, Iíll be with you as a waykeeper.
Stay with that energy just a little while longer and let it develop,
Become it, and in that fundamental image revel, and let it envelop.
Find the healing heart of the dream after the vicious maelstrom,
Through all the zones let those healing energies from within come.
It becomes part of you, cellular and genetic; take it in as new resource,
A renascent primal self-image forms, as a matter of natural course.
Creative consciousness may lead to reliving your conception,
With full awareness of the situation surrounding first penetration.
Some find within their journey a voyage to the reiteration of birth,
Imagery may inspire fear and terror of which there is no dirth.
Its OK to weep and wail and grieve, to let go finally and lament,
In the natural healing process it is creative, and not a detriment.
It may be alleged you exist and are therefore bad and stand accused,
Life may have buffeted you with insults which damaged and abused.
Perhaps you still feel cowed and suppressed, like a little child frail,
Out of control, depressed or rageful as those forces continue to assail.
Without intervention, symptoms and patterns persist and never rest,
All the unhealed traumas keep happening and perpetually molest.
The mentor or guide takes your lead and helps give the pain a face,
Expressing oneís weakness is safe now, and its appearance no disgrace.
Nearing the dis-ease structure, the memories and images are monstrous,
We are assailed by mighty natural forces, violent and truly furious.
But they only herald sensory memories of forthcoming dawning light,
Creative consciousness redesigns our core and brings welcome respite.
Your earliest formative conditions may indeed have been horrible,
Diving into the unknown territory may seem disorienting and terrible.
Deep knowing at the organismic level can alleviate that hollowness,
And salve the woundedness within that defended this wretchedness.
The journey moves through a spectrum of zones that leave you aghast,
And at the most intense part of the catharsis may feel like a harsh blast.
The first steps of the journey, of course, begin with pilgrimage,
A visit to another world, sanctuary of a more primal healing village.
Identifying the problem, where youíve missed the mark, is a confession,
This is a baby step in releasing what has harmed through its retention.
Bathing in spring waters and sweating for opening and purification,
Can bring a sense of the Holy Grailís elixer that is a healing libation.
To secure the gifts of the gods, it is helpful to profer an offering,
Something of symbolic value to you which implies a sense of suffering.
Then comes the core of the process--the ritual of dream incubation,
That starts the alchemical process, leading to concentration or titration:
Through a quantum leap of consciousness restructuring and emanation,
Followed through close attention to the serpentís rhythmic undulation.
Zone 1 includes behavior patterns, games, rackets and symptoms;
Zone 2 is the dance of emotions and thoughts that hold us victims.
Zone 3 is the region of adopted belief systems, largely unconscious,
Zone 4 is personal and transpersonal mythology, the collective in us.
Zone 5, quantum consciousness, edge of Creation, strange attractors,
Which draw us down to 6, blank mind of Chaosí unknowable factors.
This is the most fundamental perception, healing restructuring energy,
A dwelling place like finding Home, open to lifeís infinite possibility.
Find your sanctuary there, completely immersed in deep knowing,
Not needing even to recognize the healing seeds Chaos is sowing.
The river of consciousness dynamics is a stream thatís ever-flowing,
And the natural healing process can be visited by simply freely going.
Re-enter now, come back renewed, emerging from the crucible of chaos,
Self-organizing heals; those forces that assailed no longer betray us.
Flowing with it, we have liquified, dissolved in the universal solvent,
Restructuring echoes a holographic model of evolutionís involvement.
Changes are real and permanent and entail automatic integration,
And this whole-self healing has a by-product of spiritual elation.
Asklepios knew the inherent healing power contained within the dream,
Giving mankind a chaotic winding pathway to healing, serpentine.
and TRAINING PROGRAMS
VOLUNTEER PROGRAM AND
ASKLEPIA HOMEPAGE TOP OF THIS PAGE IONA MILLER HOMEPAGE NEXT
File Created: 6/2/00 Last Updated: 7/18/00
Webdesign by Iona Miller and Vickie Webb
Table of Contents
I. CHAOS AND POSTMODERN PSYCHOTHERAPY
Chaos Consciousness in Psychotherapy
Chaos As the Universal Solvent
Chaos Theory and Psychological Complexes
The Creative Flow of Meaning
II. POLYPHASIC CONSCIOUSNESS
The Un-Named Dream and Parallel Universes
The Varieties of Virtual Experience
The Unborn Dream
Have You Been to the Paradox?
III. THE HOLOGRAPHIC PARADIGM
The Holographic Paradigm and CCP
The Holographic Concept of Reality
Self-Organization in Biological Systems
IV. CHAOS CULTURE
Disruption: Life Beyond the Circle
The Empty Medicine Bag
Relativity of Body and Soul
The Guide Wave