Crazy

“Madness need not be all breakdown. It may also be breakthrough.” —Psychologist R. D. Laing.

crazy (adj.)Look up crazy at Dictionary.com1570s, “diseased, sickly,” from craze + -y (2). Meaning “full of cracks or flaws” is from 1580s; that of “unsound mind,” or behaving so, is from 1610s.

If by defining someone as crazy, we mean they’re cracked, the cracks might well be openings to an awareness of things most of us can’t see or hear. But does our Western culture’s inability to value the mysteriously ineffable prove the experiences are a form of madness? Whatever “crazy” is, it’s relative to the culture’s expectation of normal, primarily based on a measure of one’s functionality within the marketplace.

Most paranoid schizophrenia is diagnosed in late teens or 20’s, as breakdowns result in noticeable dysfunction. They are so defined against a set of cultural expectations of functionality required to get along.

Why though do breakdowns appear at the time of blossoming into an adult? Perhaps we’re less likely to notice a child’s delusional behavior because we expect and appreciate both imagination and dependence in children.

“Jung, in one of his more extensive explorations of psychosis, described the compensatory role of delusions in attempting to rescue the personality from a pathological one-sidedness; also he saw in delusions the attempt of the pathological complex to destroy itself.” —John Weir Perry, The Far Side of Madness 2

Franklin Russell is the son of author and environmental journalist, Dick Russell. Dick was a friend of James Hillman and authored The Life and Ideas of James Hillman: Volume I: The Making of a Psychologist. Hillman and Russell became friends around four years after Franklin had experienced his first breakdown. Dick’s recently published book, My Mysterious Son: A Life-Changing Passage Between Schizophrenia and Shamanism, is the story of his son Franklin, his illness and the long journey of rebuilding their relationship. After James gets to know more of Dick’s struggles with his son, he offers some advice:

“Well, again, you probably have to re-constellate the relationship. Not in terms of where you’re trying to help him. 

You let go of his being a ‘sick man.’ Then you may find he tells you things that he doesn’t talk about otherwise. You don’t know what is going to come out, but it’s almost as if you’ve abandoned being the responsible father.”

It’s important then, to focus less on looking for normality, and more on meeting Franklin wherever he happens to be at the moment. Go with it. Join him in his world. Sage advice, I think, for all of us. Quantifying the illness with a check list of acceptable or unacceptable behaviors misses the qualitative aspects, and creates an antagonistic tug of war placing the normal person in a position of power. Perhaps the more one measures another’s behavior for its craziness, the more necessary it becomes for the other to retreat into unseen realms.

The book recalls in detail the long journey between father and son where both are transformed through deepening trust and acceptance of each other. They travel to Africa, experiencing animal migration in the Serengeti, consult with African shaman Malidoma Some, and travel to New Mexico to work with ex-football star and author, Pat Toomay. The book recounts in detail how each step changes Dick and Franklin through encounters with the ancestors, beings in other dimensions, revealing the depths of Franklin’s ability to move between worlds and beings whose existence he takes for granted and some might call “unreal.”

“How could you simply explain a life. Laughing and carrying on. That is too simple. Working and sleeping. Far too surface. Satisfying and full. That would be a dream. Dreary and worrisome . That is more like it. Then you need to add in the quality of time. That is what it really amounts to. Time and energy. It is all up to an individual how to spend their time. How to use their mind. How to mix and mingle. How to stand alone.” —Franklin’s Journal

Dick quotes often from Franklin’s vast supply of writing, which I find remarkably coherent. Frank is bi-racial, something that he frequently struggles with.

“What is it like to be black? What is it like to be half black and half white? No matter how much we don’t want it to matter it does matter. It is like one half of you is dancing to the drums of mother Africa, and the other singing in the choirs of classical European music. That’s a lot of rhythm in one person. What is it like to live in a tribe? All of the people share common ancestry, and common skin color. Wouldn’t there be less competition.”

During the trip to Africa, much healing takes place. Franklin feels great kinship to the animals. Perhaps they are easier in a way to understand than humans, for they are not guarded, but readily display their nature, for better or worse. 🙂

Dick readily admits that the journey of his son’s healing necessarily includes his own breakthrough.

“But the breakthrough occurred when my code cracked. It was not about being protected, but allowing myself to be cracked. My son needed entry into me . . . needed to know, too, that I felt him. The snake was the archetype, winding, finding our way to the root of one another.”

Scholar and shaman, Malidoma Some figures greatly in the story.

Medicine Man, Performing His Mysteries over a Dying Man (Blackfoot/Siksika)

“If your psyche is disordered or deficient or overcharged, blocks are created in you that prevent comprehension and remembering. To open up the channels in you so that whatever energy you need can flow freely is not the task of the teacher; it is the task of the shaman.” —Malidoma Patrice Somé, The Healing Wisdom of Africa.

The book is so rich, sensitive, disturbing and satisfying to me. Reading about Franklin has me reconsidering my own definition of crazy, suggesting to me that the way we treat each other often reveals a serious lack of sensitivity for the wide spectrum of human experience. We leave a trail of tragic lives behind us the more we lose touch with ancient wisdom, and the more harm we do to some of our most beautiful and sensitive souls.

“My love is like an eagle’s bones set to dry in the sun. Once flying high trying to reach the sky something happened and the eagle died. The flesh disappeared revealing the magnificent skeleton. Large and standing still, the vultures assumed positions staking claims on the flesh. The spirit left the bones. Now it flies high and free amongst the transient clouds that mark the emotions.” —Franklin’s Journal

If this is crazy, I say, bring it on.

“When you were a young child, you dreamed of climbing. Experiences of euphoria you couldn’t explain. Events unfolded in your life. Things hurt you and things held you back. Moments brought you to the epitome of emotions. What was it that made you evacuate from your soul, anyway there is a direction home. Do not be shocked when I say it isn’t necessarily death. It is work. I once heard that if you can’t find something to live for, find something to die for. And some days you’ll feel like a pin cushion filled with sorrow. Or a voodoo victim. Pick it up. Maybe try a dinner invitation. —Franklin’s Journal,

All quotes from: Russell, Dick (2014-11-18). My Mysterious Son: A Life-Changing Passage Between Schizophrenia and Shamanism. Skyhorse Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Gem Moon Magic: Explorations of the Gemini Moon

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“Gem Moon Mandala” by AmandaSeesDreams of http://www.Dreamrly.com

Welcome to the collaborative lunations of Gemini moon pals, LitebeingDreamrly, and yours truly, The Ptero Card. Yesterday marks the Gemini / Sagittarius full moon of 2014, and through our mutual love of art and writing we’re combining our efforts for a few reflections on our experience of lunar Gemini in our natal astrological charts. Each of our contributions was produced independently, without consultation other than assigning the art work to Dreamrly, poetry to Litebeing and intuitive writing to me. We present here the fruits of our work which we hope enhance your own lunations, where ever they may take you.

The basis of astrology, an ancient wisdom practiced by nearly all pre-scientific cultures, comes from the understanding that external cosmological events have a corresponding affect on our interiority, because human disposition is a microcosm of the macrocosm, or, as the ancients say, “as above, so below.” I suspect the exterior and interior worlds, until quite recently, were experienced as a more unified whole, both symbolic, and meaningful. To the ancients, the visible planets were the gods, each personifying a particular disposition and influence on us, according to our chronological birth placement in their world. The disposition of the cosmos at the moment we enter the world drama, is mirrored in our personality, character and fate.

I often wonder if a cultural agreement that suggests nothing can be true without first being scientifically verified, has cut us off from the ease of intuiting meaning, eroding our trust in the value of personal experience, to the point that we are no longer free to, or sometimes capable of, grasping the immediate animal sense of a thing or event. So, bring your own intuitions to this reading and imagine with us the myriad ways we encounter the moon and the Gemini twins.

Compared to other visible planets, the uniqueness of the moon is evident. 235,000 miles away from earth, she has the closest presence to us in the vastly huge, night sky. As the only planet that revolves around us, her presence and power is both seen and felt here on earth, from the mighty ocean’s tidal motion, to her stabilization of earth’s orbit, we need her. A force capable of pulling the oceans closer to our earthly islands, must certainly have some sway over our watery bodies.Unlike the sun, the moon seems exotically present with no perceptible purpose other than delighting our senses and drawing us outward. Her closeness and visual beauty are too hard to ignore and have served so many throughout the ages, from sailors to poets, from lovers to madmen.

Remarkably, the moon’s rotation is synchronized to her revolution around us, so that we only ever see one side, her dark side remaining forever hidden from our earthly view. It’s no surprise that we may be less aware of her influence. The man in the moon is now the man on the moon; us, and without a deep practice of the lunar skills of reflection that she gives, we risk losing her gift of seeing in the dark, and mistaking her imposing reflective moods and feelings as brain chemistry. With no place or time for occasional lunacy, feelings and reflections are unwanted by-products, brain states we seek to be rid of.

Astrologically speaking, in what ways does the moon affect us? I am no astrologer, and there are many resources available from those whose studies of the ancient art offer much wisdom. What I offer here are my intuitions.

Traditionally, the moon influences our emotional life, the coming and going, waxing and waning of cycles that affect us and any creature with a fluid and watery nature. Besides feelings, thoughts and senses are also fluid. In alchemy, the moon is the queen of the heavens who unites with the solar king, forming a marriage in which cooperation, devotion and love are united in service of the Great Work. The moon’s whiteness may also be significant. Alchemically, whitening is the stage that moves the work from the black and blue periods in which the base materials are yet to be purified. Whitening is an initiatory stage in which much knowledge is gained through the art of reflection. The lunar mind helps us go beyond the physical realm for spiritual knowledge and experience.

Moon placement in the natal chart perhaps shows the ways in which lunar influence affects and styles your senses, perceptions, reflections, and therefore your relationships not only to others, but to all that is differentiated from yourself. Lunar pals Litebeing, Dreamrly and I have our natal moon in the sign of Gemini, the twins. Initially, Gemini may be experienced through some form of duality. Perhaps duality manifests in different ways. For me, I think it manifests as a heightened sense of opposition, ambiguity and separation between self and other, driving a need to articulate distinctions and give voice to them through ideas, language and music.

Gemini Gals

Image: Artist Unknown

I find the symbolism of the twins ambiguous. Twins may share an identical nature, and yet in mythology and historically, they are frequently seen battling with each other, as Cain and Abel, or in stories of the evil twin. Opposites we see, can share a likeness, as they appear together and depend on each other as in the Gemini twins, Castor and Pollux. According to Wiki:

“When Castor was killed, Pollux asked Zeus to let him share his own immortality with his twin to keep them together, and they were transformed into the constellation Gemini. The pair was regarded as the patrons of sailors, to whom they appeared as St. Elmo’s fire, and were also associated with horsemanship.”

So twins may look the same, but may be oppositional, and, or complementary. Either way, we have an image of two selves facing each other, or two sides of one coin. Like the moon itself, Gemini is a relational influence with dual aspects, so this placement in a natal chart may heighten some deep, ambiguous feelings about self and other. True for me anyway.

Much of my life’s work has been to make peace with the sense of an ambiguous, often conflicted, sense, of not only myself and others, but also of ideas and feelings, some of which remain slippery, inconclusive, up in the air and unsettled. But each effort to solidify thoughts and ideas about who I am, who you are, or attempts to define this mysterious existence, only brings pain and disappointment. Like Gemini’s ruler, Mercury, or Hermes, traveling, communicating and intellectual movement are vital to me. Perhaps blogging itself, is one more stone-heap left here for all fellow travelers.

— Ptero9

 

Next, a lovely poem from our resident astrologer, Linda of LiteBeingChronicles, shedding light on the lived experience of a Gemini Moon Goddess!

 

Lunar babbles

 

Chatter, breathe, jump, sing,

Laugh, scream, analy-zing

Heart and mind racing together

Yet the split appears forever

 

The smell of paper, words in my hands

Fill me with excitement, freedom from demands

Hand me the keys of a quick, shiny ride

Throw in a CD, sound/motion collide

 

Chatter, breathe, jump, sing,

Laugh, scream, analy-zing

Heart and mind racing together

Yet the split appears forever

 

Quick wit so handy to block my pain

Why not let Mercury have free reign?

Jabber, chuckle, wax poetic

To hide my fear, how pathetic!

 

Chatter, breathe, jump, sing,

Laugh, scream, analy-zing

Heart and mind racing together

Yet the split appears forever

 

Lovin’ the teacher, but nary the lesson

Hermes’s so sly, always guessin’

Take every shortcut, prefer the easy

Inner currents prevail, surface seems breezy

 

Chatter, breathe, jump, sing,

Laugh, scream, analy-zing

Heart and mind racing together

Yet the split appears forever

 

Need to know, compelled to ask

My soul’s calling, a sacred task

Yearn to uncover hidden glory

Encoded within each human story

 

Chatter, breathe, jump, sing,

Laugh, scream, analy-zing

Heart and mind racing together

Yet the split appears forever

poem written by litebeing chronicles © 2014

  

We end our lunations with a few words and images from AmandaSeesDreams of www.dreamrly.com, who came into this world on the night of a full moon, and has long felt a deep connection to moon’s voluptuous power.

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Photograph by AmandaSeesDreams of www.dreamrly.com

 

The moon has always owned me in some ways. I have always been entranced by her beauty, by the one side she shows me, by her silent currents ruling my state of mind. I find it impossible to sleep when she is full, the waters of life flow through me with such vigor I am almost forced to admire her. She fills me. Over the years I have taken photographs of her crescent, of her full bare body, of her red eclipse. She even shows up when my inner child comes out to play, painting from the heart, with abandon…

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I paint my dreams of sailing through the unconscious, but not without a purple moon.

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I paint my daytime visions of buffalo medicine, but not without a purple moon.

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I paint my twins, honoring the gemini gift of balancing complex ideas and communicating dual truths – mixing pleasure and pain, fingerpainting bright colors that soothe a conflicted soul. Sweet Gemini Moon, gifting me with giggles and tears, pensive contemplations and wild dances in your light. Dear Moon, I love you, and am faithfully yours, for you chose (little old) me to live inside.

Love, Amanda