Searching for Soul #13, December 1989
Soul to me means embodied essence. When we experience ourselves and others in our full humanity; part animal, part divine …Metaphor is the language of the soul. Through a physical image metaphor reveals a spiritual truth or condition.
~ Marion Woodman.
I write this post in early 2016. … If only our eyes saw souls instead of bodies how very different our ideals of beauty would be.
Over many centuries, the feminine soul principle has been beaten, imprisoned, burned at the stake, imprisoned, colonized by the patriarchy, and overruled by rigid institutions including religions that still to this day either actively or passively resist the full inclusion of the Divine Feminine. And I am not just speaking of women. Men too are in search of their feminine soul. It is difficult.
The journey in search of my soul began in earnest in my forties. I had heard all about souls….from a religious perspective I “knew” I had to pray, follow the rules, and “save” my soul. Unlearning is more difficult than the osmosis that occurs as a child. I had been colonized.
As you read this dream, remember that dreams are the language of the soul. These symbol meanings are both collective and personal. Archetypal images in dreams hold meaning for a lifetime. I have only to think for a second about the construction of dreams as dramatic theatre and this dream comes alive in my mind.
In my dream there is a large room like a theatre. I am in the audience. It feels like the Performing Arts Center in the school where I worked in the 1987-1988 term. The director is a kind, very skilled English and drama teacher loved and respected by students and colleagues alike. I do not recall the details of the play. Black hair grows out of my nostrils. The director gives a speech about someone I do not know. Her name is Pearl. I have strong negative feelings in the dream but no fear. Most of the audience leaves. The dream ends.
All the world’s a theatre. The inner world is filled with the millions of actions over millions of years. My own unconscious has many actors and actresses as well. My inner director has the attributes I so admire in the English Drama teacher at the Comp. Using the well known dream work technique, I write a list of aspects I admire –which is a long list. There are no items in the dislike list. All this is a part of me. I admire his kindness, patience, teaching skill, knowledge of literature. I admire the attention and love he lavishes on his students and his kindness toward me. Not all the staff in the school are kind, to put it nicely. Although the director is filled with praise toward Pearl, she is someone I do not recognize. His speech produces deep inner anxiety. I do not know my self! Dreams come to bring new knowledge. New ideas. Dream in our Hollywood culture has been reduced to indicate fantasy, wishful thinking and too good to be true! When I think of the stage I walk on every day of my life, I see now many many years later that I knew not my self. I did my best to hide behind the many masks of the persona. I stayed, or so I thought, out of notice. Yet, my dreams tells me there is a great deal to know and that my own inner director knows.
Searching the Symbols
Dreams emerge as three act plays. When you write and there seems to be different parts? Write them as a play. Like a play, the dreams asks many questions: What is the theme of my life that have hidden away? What is stopping me from seeing myself as my own director? Where in my life am I hiding from my self? Why am I afraid to take my place in the world? What is so dreadfully embarrassing about my feminine self that the black hair grows out of my nose? How am I tyrannized, immobilized by anxiety. What is the symbolism of Pearl? I have no answers.
The black ugly nostril hair is rather self explanatory….in the beginning. Gradually, I realize it is a self-image. This morning I draw an image. I recognize it encompasses embarrassment at being seen naked in public. Hair is a symbol of the feminine. Long, flowing tresses the mark of the Goddess. But nose hair? Not so much.In my imagination I see myself cowering before the crowd in the theatre. Wishing not to be seen. Disgusted. Also, the nose is masculine when I draw it. The hair like a nose mustache. Like Hitler. Is this my inner Tyrant? The enemy in my own household refocusing my thoughts on how irrational I will seem if I continue this path of dreams?
Public acknowledgment. Pearl. Sometime ago, my inner voice spoke lovingly of “Faith and Old Treasures” as my soul name. I am embarrassed to even write it down. Then, I tell myself the dream Director has spoken kindly. In dream work, research is always the LAST thing I do. I have had these thoughts but it seems too pretentious. Then, I that my inner Tyrant, Inner Censor, Inner Editor is really part of myself protection. I thank him for coming but remind myself my real purpose these days of healing are days of truth. And the truth shall set you free. I seek the truth, even if painful.
Biblically, and in healing workshops, the Pearl of Great Price is created through irritation, through grinding and torment. A grain of sand or a bit of strange organic matter enters the shell of the oyster and can’t get out. The oyster can’t expel it. Calcium carbonate rings begin to build up around the grain of sand until it is covered and the irritant becomes a pearl. “Whatever is most valued, most beloved, most beautiful, from a child to the Kingdom of Heaven, we have called “pearl”.”
What if the dream has come to point me toward the beauty of my own soul, as created in the image and likeness of the Divine? We hear this said among religious people. Created in the image of the Divine. Do we believe it? The dream tells me I absolutely do not. And it points the way to being kind, gentle, and teach myself lovingly about my self.
In the Book of Symbols, Reflections of Archetypal Images, some 27 years later, I read:
In the Gnostic Hymn of the Pearl, the pearl is the gnosis or self-acquaintance “that reunites the soul forgetful of itself with its divine origin (Layton, 367). Pearls have been likened to drops of rain that bring moisture and renewal to the sere land, and to teardrops that are the priceless emollients of bitter sadness. (p. 784)
I search many writings I have done. Books I have read.
I understand deeply the bitter sadness of those many years of depression. I will focus on the Pearl. I am a woman in search of my own soul.
January 21, 1989, now 27 years ago I attended a Catholic Charismatic Healing service at St. Basil Ukrainian Catholic Parish in Edmonton with a friend. I was in the struggle of my life for my life. I was reading Julian of Norwich, Thomas Merton, Sister Faustina and more. I was questioning every rule imposed by the Church. I couldn’t understand why there was so much talk of miracles from thousands of years ago but now we needed scientific investigation. I was sick, sad, angry, furious, seeking and livid with the thought that somehow “good works” were far more holy ad profitable than inward meditation and silent contemplation. Before long my fears would push me to read the history of the Benedictine Fathers and the meditations of the mystics.
That service remains embedded in my being as energy filled, loving, healing and all manner of glorious attributes. You led me beside still waters, you restoreth my soul.” The man and woman who were praying over me exclaimed, “And a great insult has been healed.” I had no idea what the “great insult” was. Love energy poured.My body vibrated, convulsed and shuddered. The inner energy soared. I left the workshop somehow deeply changed.
But those days in January 1989 began the real restoration project to return my soul to my body. I felt literally broken, fragile in the extreme. The reintegration of the Divine into my being is an ongoing process. During this time, I was moving through serious physical issues. I had serious difficulty breathing, there were iron bands around my chest. “Your central nervous system is shutting down, Pearl. I don’t know why.” And I hurt. Depression is physical. The hurting had begun so many years before, even before I went to school. I wore warm leggings…to keep the cold out. The doctors prescribed little red pills…for childhood rheumatism! I have no idea if that was a real diagnosis or something to get me out of his office. I am seriously beginning the search for my medical records…The little red rheumatism pills are mentioned in a letter home to my parents in September, 1961, “Mom, can you send me my little red pills. I can’t stand this constant aching and I forgot to pack them.” Thanks goodness for Mom. She had kept every letter. I know I am not “just” imagining the little red pills!
The reiki practitioner, kinesiologist, and a bit later, the psychotherapist and the yoga teacher all said, “Stay in your body, Pearl.” I had no idea how to do that. My friend, Verna, worked with me to “stay”. Stay with the pain, let it move through you. Feel it. Stay in your body.
What’s in a name?
How did I come to be Pearl. So the story goes, my Dad wanted to call me Pearl. Close your eyes. Imagine. Its 1945. Its Crooked Creek, Alberta, one general store, a church and a school. Caroline has just given birth to the couples’ fourth child. Their three sons are 7, 6 and 4. After a difficult pregnancy and having to stay in Grande Prairie some 50 miles from home for 10 days due to spring thaw and complications, my Mom finally has a daughter. Names? Elaine…well, knowing Mom that would have some literary significance but she never said. Dad, he insisted on Pearl. My godmother, my Dad’s younger, much beloved sister, with more energy than a squirrel and a killer smile, Aunt Cecilia? That’s an easy choice! So, I was baptized Elaine Pearl Cecilia and all went just fine. But. Life happens.
Fall 1955. Clarkson Valley School, a little log school about 2 miles east of home. What are the chances that with between 19 students in spring and fall and 26 in winter when Moon’s Mill was in operation, that there would be 2 out of 19 students named Elaine. Our community was very small, very rural and 250 miles from Edmonton. Teachers were hard to come by in the 1950s. My favorite and BEST teacher ever, had left to have a baby! Even teacher pregnancy was frowned on! The previous year, with Mrs. A. I had completed grade five and half of six. She had also left detailed instructions on how I was to complete the second half of grade six and move onto grade seven. I was 10. The new teacher didn’t quite understand. She spent hours after school picking daisies in the ditches. She constantly mixed me up with my older classmate, Elaine. Her solution? Just call me Pearl. It stuck. After 10 years of being Elaine, I was now Pearl. Dad just smiled. My classmates made the change easily, as children do. The teacher, well let’s just say it didn’t work so well for her. And 15 years later, on my wedding day, my Aunt Anne would whisper in my ear, “You will always be Elaine to me.” Now, in the midst of inner healing and discovering my soul, I am searching for Pearl. As
I cannot recommend more highly the works of Carl Gustav Jung. If you check out the www you will find dozens of audiobooks from his writings and speeches. Look for tapes about or arising from his book, Man in search of a soul. I especially recommend the audio Approaching The Unconscious. Resources such as these were simply not available in 1989. Carl Jung died in 1961. He was outside the established medical world for many reasons. Today, you will find it nearly impossible to study his works at Alberta Universities. It is possible; just not probable.
The Play of a lifetime.