www … What’s with Words?

A word is dead when it is said
Some say –
I say it just begins to live
That day.

Nineteenth century American poet Emily Dickinson wrote this. If eighth century BC Greek poet Homer were here today, his knee-jerk reaction to this might be, ‘Ochi! (No!) A Word is eternally alive—spoken or unspoken.’

‘Insanity’, for example, is alive and well—look around! But it’s not just a word; it’s not just a condition. It’s not even an it. In Homer’s day, Insanity was a ‘person’.

Back then, all conditions, emotions, actions and qualities were considered the stuff of soul. The ancients respected these by bringing them to life in their stories: All aspects of our humanness were given their due in personified form as gods, goddesses, heroes, heroines, monsters, or a bunch of weird creatures. And all were important. Pain, Hate, Hopelessness, Revenge, Weakness were just as valued as Pleasure, Love, Hope, Forgiveness, Strength. In those days, the ugly aspects weren’t shoved into the backwoods of psyche and left there to fester like rotting corpses, just as they have been over the centuries. But RIP? Hardly. They can erupt from the depths into open war during meditation.

Monsters Don’t Sleep Under the Bed. They Live & Breathe Inside Your Head

The Law of Attraction states that what you focus on will grow. True. ‘Think Positive’ and ‘Transcend the mind’. Sound advice. So why even consider giving the dark aspects any attention at all?

It’s about equal rights. All people have the same rights, even the ‘peoples’ of the psyche. Let them be heard (at least by us, safely), then they don’t have to find ways to express through other avenues—through our organ systems or through immoral behaviours.

Better to own our Insanity than have it own us.

One way Insanity owns and drives us is through our pursuit of perfection. The idea that we are made in the image of God has us striving for the impossible ideal, which degrades the not-so-perfectness of our dark depths. In the face of this push for purity, the many gods populating ancient mythology got bad press. Understandable. They were divine but they also displayed the worst of human traits. False gods, though? Ochi! Many facets of the human psyche = many gods.

It’s Just Child’s Play, Really

As little children, we kind of made like the ancients. We uninhibitedly displayed soul (a hissy fit in the middle of a supermarket was explained away: ‘Oh, she’s going through the Terrible Twos’). And everything came to life! That adored teddy bear we dragged everywhere was real. He had feelings. And nobody labelled the authors of our books certifiable—an athletic cow hurdled the moon; a dish absconded with a spoon; a teapot identified itself as a teapot and issued ‘how to use me’ instructions.

Personifying things invites a connection with them. What joy we found in all of this. And frustration. Just like you find in relationships. Our ancient consciousness was plump and full. Still, acquiring strong morals was important. But when instilling morals entails eliminating the negative or shaming our base feelings and impulses, we lose soul. We stop living the deep life.

Could it be that our children wouldn’t be so afraid of the monsters under the bed if we ourselves weren’t so afraid of the dark?


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