Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Over Anne's piano we have a large, intricate drawing by her grandmother. (Her brother's wife refused to have it in their house.) It depicts a woman in long robes, holding a mask up to her featureless head, a string of discarded masks trailing to the ground at her feet.
I've been thinking lately about gods and angels... and archetypes, and how this all connects. One influence was a friend's post about 'The Angel of a Meeting' (here); another was getting caught up in a misfunctional interaction here on Quakerquaker. I started thinking about the sheer difficulty of communicating across mutually-alien ways of thought: What was this difference that made everything I wrote vanish into her blind spot? And finally a realization knocked me staggering: It's all about admiring different personal qualities.
It's about worshiping different gods!
Hmmm. Idealized humanoid images symbolizing various spiritual forces at play in the world? Physical or psychological qualities, personified as spiritual beings? Potentially-available roles that might "possess" anyone who embodies them too uncritically?
I once found it utterly confusing that Jung could talk about various figures in people's dreams as being (incognito) 'Archetypes'-- which he evidently conceived of as independently existing beings, as real as (or even more real than) anything in the outer world.
Let's digress briefly into astrology (a useless study, if I've ever seen one-- but please bear with me on this!) You could consider a person's chart as a map of how 'the gods' allegedly interact in his personality. There's no telling how any given person will respond to and embody such influences, but the basic astrological claim is that the influences prominent in someone's chart will be powerful in his personality. In my case, Mars seems to be prominent, closely tied to Venus and to Neptune... which suggests, I think, a somewhat combative style linked to personal affection and a love of fairness ('Neptune' in Libra)-- but potentially distorted by vulnerability to illusion ('Neptune' again.) And another aspect: 'Mercury conjunct Sun' square Uranus, well, to me it suggests ornery contentiousness, with a playful love of superficial intellectual prowess, in sharp contention with the deeper mind... Regardless of whether astrology "works", we've got a rough portrait here of Forrest and the values he finds, er, valuable!
Imagine me interacting via blog comments, with a person whose values differ, both in emphasis and in how she conceives their relation to one another! Why-- she wonders-- is this Forrest-person so pushy?! (There are people to whom an argument can feel like a loving interaction-- and people to whom it doesn't!)
So long as both of us went on 'worshiping' and embodying differently-conceived ideals, our communications got addressed to different faculties than their respective recipients could take seriously. Oy-and-1/2!
A 'god' is an 'Archetype' because qualities get embodied in roles, because people enact whatever roles feel "right" to them.
Habit, familiarity is a consideration-- but someone who worships Reason will tend to play the role: "Being 'Reasonable' " (This is not, of course, the same thing as actually being reasonable...) Someone who values Passion will behave passionately; someone who worships Peace will not look kindly on seeing their god mocked... and people who worship Action, oh help!!!!
One notion has it... that before Christ, people were bound to the destiny their stars imposed, but that Jesus gave humanity the power to overcome astral influences.
So, what do modern Friends worship? Is Christ helping you free yourselves from idealolatry?-- or might you be clinging to some pious Christian ideal in His place? Or in thrall to more modern deities?-- Reasonableness and all his minions, for example...
There is One who transcends all of that, One who created it all, One who (as the Rabbis said) stamped everyone with its image and made us all different! For those who don't yet know "Him" it can be hard to convey His reality-- or the urgency of seeking to know! And for me, what I think of as "strengths" seem to be obstacles to that.