Voices of the Ancestors


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I have included some of my lectures in this section:
(See also 'Seminar' pages)

Lecture 19
The Dream of the Cosmos
The Lunar and Solar Hero
The Great Work: Healing the Wasteland
The Myth of the Solar Hero
Lecture 15
This page
Voices of the Ancestors
A Unified Vision of Reality
A Metaphysical Revolution? Reflections on the Idea of the Primacy of Consciousness
Lecture 12
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Rebalancing the Psyche: Integrating the Feminine Principle Body, Soul and Spirit
Lecture 11
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Love as the Pulse of the Cosmos: Reconnecting With the Divine Ground
Lecture 10
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Seeing through the Veil: Reuniting Three Dimensions of Reality
Lecture 9
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Unexplored Dimensions of Consciousness
and The Visionary Experience
Lecture 8
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An Alchemical Quest
Lecture 7
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Healing the Heart: An Alchemy of Consciousness
Lecture 6
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The Sleeping Beauty - The Awakening of Instinct into Consciousness
Lecture 5
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Rebalancing the Masculine and Feminine
Lecture 4
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The Dream of the Water: A Quest for the Numinous
Lecture 3
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The Evolution of Consciousness
Lecture 2
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Jung's Septem Sermones ad Mortuos 
Lecture 1
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The Relevance of the Visionary Experience to Culture  



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Lecture 15

Regent's Park Zoo, London May 1st, 2004
copyright ©Anne Baring


Amazing things are happening now and happening fast. The realisation is dawning on certain scientists that the universe is conscious - that it does not consist of dead, insentient matter but is conscious in every part of itself. The discovery that we interact with another level of being that is the source and ground of our own consciousness is beginning to shatter the belief that this material reality is all there is; that we exist on a tiny planet in a lifeless universe and that there is no life beyond death. We are in the midst of stupendous scientific discoveries that are shaking the foundations of this way of thinking. Yet these discoveries are not reaching more than a tiny handful of the world's population. So the majority of us live in a prison - a prison created by beliefs that hamper the growth of the human spirit and stifle the soul. There is a very powerful thought-form rooted in unconscious survival instincts that makes us fear and reject the unknown and cling to the known. Because of fixed beliefs, both religious and scientific, our view of life has become so constricted, so confined, that we have lost all awareness that we participate in a greater reality. There is a deep wound in the modern psyche and in our culture. It comes from the fact that we have closed down the voice of the soul and have lost our ancient sense of connection to the earth and the cosmos. That is why we cannot answer the questions humanity has always asked: "Why are we here? What is the purpose of our existence on this planet? Do we survive death and will we see our loved ones again when we die?

How did we lose the ancient knowledge that there is no such thing as death, that our consciousness can live in other dimensions, that there is a vast concourse of souls with whom we are connected - whom we can help and who can help us if we could become aware of their presence. In the mountains recently, asking myself these questions, I was watching the powerful flow of a mountain stream cascading over rocks, foaming and swirling in a kind of ecstatic dance. I compared that water to the flow of the life force of the universe, the same life force that brought our planet into being and flows through each one of us. But if that stupendous energy becomes stuck in stagnant pools, then we get stuck in that stagnant water, clinging to beliefs that hold us back instead of ones that release us to grow and evolve, to dance with the rhythm of life. Because of the loss of connection to an invisible dimension of reality, we fear death. Because we fear death we protect ourselves against it and inflict death on others. Would our behaviour change if we realised there was no death; that we move in and out of this physical dimension; that this present life is one of many, so there is no need for the frantic anxiety that drives and exhausts so many people? The wounded or neglected soul is everywhere visible in the brutality, decadence and depression in our society as well as in our aggression towards each other and towards the Earth. Yet this very woundedness invites healing and thousands of people are responding to the need to heal the soul of humanity. Thousands are reaching for a new vision - a unified vision of life that could help to change our tragically narrow perception of our place in the universe. The call has gone out from this planet to the universe - a call for help. And the response is coming from thousands of souls in the invisible dimensions who are responding to that cry for help.

Jung said that we are the inheritors of questions that our ancestors could not answer and of tasks they could not complete and he said that a collective problem, when it is not recognised as such, appears as a personal one. The cause of the disturbance in millions of individuals is, therefore, not to be sought in the personal situation alone, but rather in the collective one. If the collective problem is not identified and addressed, then we will not be able to heal the individual at the deepest level. The basic collective problem of our time is our fixed beliefs about the nature of reality, our archaic concept of God and our loss of relationship with the cosmos. It is reflected at the personal level in the breakdown of relationships - whether between men and women or in the theatre of war. The unconscious distress and conflict within the psyche between conscious mind and unconscious instinct manifests in all kinds of violent behaviour and all kinds of physical and mental symptoms. Jung said this: "Everywhere, at all times, in all cultures and races of which we have record, when the greatest meaning, the highest value of life man called gods or God needed renewal and increase, the process of renewal began through a dream."

I would like to share with you three recent dreams - the first two are a woman's, the third is a man's.
Dream 1:"I am walking down a street with a wise older woman past holes cut in the street where work is being done underground. I ask the woman if she thinks that one day humans will have evolved to a state where we will have a more conscious, visual, verbal communication with other realms, and she says "Yes, absolutely." Dream 2: "I am walking down the street and I look up at the sky in absolute amazement. A beautiful rose falls from the sky and lands at my feet. Then the entire sky opens up and another world reveals itself. I see beautiful fish flying in the sky and remember that I had once been told that when you see fish flying in the sky, extraordinary things will begin to happen. Other wonders appear here and there in the sky. I celebrate the appearance of this other world." (Kovacs, The Miracle of Death)
Dream 3: "I am back in the army, assigned once again in my old role as a sharpshooter. I have all my equipment, and I am methodically putting it together, preparing to shoot my target, who is some distance away. Finally, I get the telescopic sight attached to the gun and trained on my target so that I can actually see who it is. And, to my great surprise, it is my brother. I am shocked and stopped in my tracks -- I can't continue. Then I wake up."

These dreams could be read as messages to us from the cosmos, messages that have been trying for millennia to wake us up to the existence of another dimension of reality, to connect our soul with that reality. Dream, vision and shamanic experience belong to a tradition that lies at the very root of our civilisation, at the root of the whole structure and formation of our thinking. But all three have been pushed to the fringes of our consciousness - first by religion because it feared Pagan beliefs and then by scientific rationalism, yet it was not always so. In the greatest cultures of the ancient world there was a stairway between the human and the divine - reflected in this image of Jacob's great dream. People felt they participated in a great cosmic Mystery in which they had a role to play. People experienced spirit as immanent in the manifest world. There was no polarising duality in our thinking as there is today. Nature and cosmos were ensouled with divine presence. Stars were cosmic beings. People communicated with gods and goddesses in dream and vision and entered into dialogue with daimons or angels who were seen as personifications of the realm of spirit. Birds were recognised as messengers of spirit, very possibly because people dreamt about them in this role. Music was used to heighten sensitivity and receptivity to the presence of an invisible dimension, a world that was felt to be as real as the material world we know and the foundation of this world.

For thousands of years in all cultures there have been contemplatives and mystics who sought out the solitude of forest and desert and mountain. People went to them for spiritual counsel and healing. The emphasis of this contemplative and shamanic tradition was on a gradual awakening of subtle faculties through practices which heightened the ability to see, hear and understand things which are not accessible to our normal range of consciousness. The visionary imagination was expressed in art, in poetry, in fine craftsmanship, and always in beautiful and harmonious forms, in those cultures which saw no separation between earth and heaven. So what happened? How did we lose the visionary imagination, the sense of our connection with the earth and the cosmos? Einstein said that with the splitting of the atom we had changed everything save our mode of thinking and thus we were drifting towards unparalleled catastrophes. I ask myself these questions: How did we come to split the atom and use the power derived from that act to destroy life without any apparent awareness that this was wrong - an unbelievable act of sacrilege? What was the root of the mind-set that led to the bombing of Hiroshima and the crisis we are in now? To answer them, I will try to describe how I see the three phases of consciousness spanning the last 10,000 years or so, following the theory of the philosopher Owen Barfield.

Creation emerges from womb of the Great Mother Earth and Cosmos are sacred Human beings experience themselves as belonging to an organic, living and sacred whole

God is transcendent to Creation Earth is a place of punishment for primordial sin Man is exiled from the Garden, no longer part of the Divine Order

Earth and Cosmos are recognised as sacred Humanity consciously reconnects with Nature and the Cosmos. Humanity co-operates consciously with the Divine Order

This painting describes the middle phase of Separation - the phase we are still in and need urgently to move out of. As we developed the faculty of self-awareness and a highly focussed intellect - everything that we now call human consciousness, we lost touch with our instinctive sense of belonging to the whole, of participating in a sacred earth and a sacred cosmos. We began to see everything objectively, as something separate from ourselves. The myth of the Fall of Man reflects an immense change in human consciousness, the beginning of an entirely new perception of life. Spirit or God becomes remote. As spirit withdraws from nature, nature become something to be conquered and subjugated by man. The emphasis is no longer on relationship but on control - above all the control and eradication of what was named as evil or sinful. Religions placed the emphasis of their teaching on transcending the world, subjugating the instincts, teaching that the world was basically illusory and deceptive. The loss of connection with nature and the idea of power and conquest over nature and body were transmitted to science and contributed to the bleak philosophy of scientific materialism which now rules our culture. Over many centuries, these beliefs contributed to an increasing polarisation between certain categories of our experience. These oppositions became fixed in our consciousness because of what we were taught to believe, generation after generation. This diagram shows how the two aspects of our experience became polarised.

THE POLARISATION OF OPPOSITES IN THE PHASE OF SEPARATION from c. 2000 BC to c. 2000 AD Spirit (God) ................Nature (Goddess)
Light ..........................................Dark
Life ............................................Death
Good .........................................Evil
Masculine .................................. Feminine
Heaven .......................................Earth
Man ...........................................Woman
Right Hand .................................Left hand
Spirituality ..................................Carnality
Rational Mind .............................Soul/Body/Matter
Thinking ..................................... Feeling/Instinct
Reason .......................................Imagination
Rational ......................................Non-rational
Order .........................................Chaos
Observer ....................................Observed

During this phase of Separation, life and death become polarised as opposites and death became something that was deeply feared. The more we lost the older instinctive sense of participation in the life of nature and the life of the cosmos, the more we fell victim to the addiction to power, seeing other people, other tribes, other religions, as enemies whom we had to conquer and subjugate, or as an evil that we had to expunge from the earth. Whole cultures engaged in this pathology as a way of life and I stress that it is a pathology because it has been responsible for such incredible barbarity and unnecessary suffering. Sadly, Christianity and Islam copied the ethos of conquest for the greater glory of God.

For many centuries, a colossal amount of human suffering has been caused by the insistence that certain belief systems are true and infallible, and by the tendency to demonise and persecute anyone who held other beliefs. At the root of this habit of polarising an issue are not only very powerful survival and territorial instincts which can override the conscious mind and throw reason and compassion to the winds but also a very powerful mythology, derived from ancient Mesopotamia and Persia (but also found in other cultures such as India). The theme of this ancient mythology is the cosmic battle between light and darkness and a solar hero god who conquers the dragon of darkness and evil. The familiar tale of St. George and the Dragon is a late incarnation of this myth. We can see the enduring power of it in the current war against the "axis of evil." George Bush's words "Those who are not with us are against us" and Osama bin Laden's "You love life, we love death" reflect a polarised habit of thinking that is deeply entrenched in the human psyche. In this mythology there is no possibility of relationship, compromise or dialogue. It is a mythology of warriors, engaged in a fight to the death with all darkness projected onto the enemy. Its imagery has entered into the language of science as well as politics. Think of how often the words conquest, battle, struggle, fight are used today by our leaders and by the media.

The end result of this phase of Separation is the current belief that the entire human endeavour is emptied of meaning and purpose because it is the product of blind chance. It is this belief that has led to the inflated arrogance, greed and depression of the modern psyche and to the increasing devastation of the planet. Politics, religion, science and the media are all transfixed in the mind-set of the phase of Separation and this is a huge problem for the whole of humanity. If we were to seek one example to illustrate where thinking is split off from feeling, where mind is dissociated from soul, we could find it in the invention of ever more terrible weapons of mass destruction. Here thinking is split off from any feeling of empathy with those who are to be annihilated by our weapons. It shows that, as a culture, we have lost all awareness that life is sacred, that it is one and indivisible. So what are we to do? We need to bring together the two aspects of our nature, to heal the wounded and fragmented soul. Following the journey of the sun in the ancient mythologies, we need to to stop projecting darkness onto events and people in the outer world but rather to make the descent into the darkness of the realm of the unconscious to reconnect with this lost and despised aspect of the soul and to learn how to recognise and transform the atavistic habits of our own primordial nature. The unification of the conscious and unconscious dimensions of the soul is the ancient theme of solar and lunar myth and the key to regeneration and renewal at the personal and collective level.

How do we change this mind-set, this mythology of conflict and conquest? Because fear of death is one of the roots of this mind-set, we need to change our attitude to death. Because science has been so dismissive of the non-rational and of what cannot be proven, virtually no attention has been paid until very recently into what happens to us after death. Fortunately the climate today is very different from what it was 50 years ago. Raymond Moody's book "Life after Life" and the work of Elizabeth Kübler-Ross have brought the whole subject into the open. Many people have reported near-death experiences and given very clear descriptions of them. Researchers have gathered together a great deal of material relating to messages from those who have moved to another dimension and communicate with us here, in this reality. There is even now a scientific study undertaken here and in the Netherlands into whether consciousness can be proven to survive clinical death. (Southampton) All this is very encouraging.

However, we have ceremonies of remembrance but we do not have ceremonies of healing and release to help and to heal those whose lives have been sacrificed to human cruelty and barbarism, or who have simply died unexpectedly and violently through accident or illness, unprepared for leaving this world. I would like to give some thought here to the plight of those millions of souls who were brutally thrown out of this world in past centuries and in this one as well - with no time to prepare for the transition: shocked, bewildered, traumatised; dying in agony, in terror, grief and loneliness or in rage and hatred; perhaps condemned to remain fixated in these states until they can be released from them. The lives of 200 million people were sacrificed in the last century to war and totalitarian regimes. Countless children died helpless and alone. Countless women were raped before they died. What we have done is unspeakable. Why not create rituals of healing to help these souls and comfort them in the invisible dimensions, rituals that would release them from their fear and grief. I would like to see sanctuaries established everywhere for the healing of mind and body and, since the well-being of the living is connected to the well-being of those in other dimensions, I would like to see rituals to release the millions of souls whom we have neglected.

I would like to tell you this dream described in the book called The Miracle of Death - written by a woman who lost her son and her husband in separate car accidents and who, through this terrible loss, came to understand that there is no such thing as death and to see the depth of the wound that the soul of the world carries because of our ignorance of the fact that there is no death. "There has been a great disaster on the earth. There is a need for someone to work with us all to heal "the raped heart." I stand without hesitation and begin to lead the ceremony to heal the raped heart. I know exactly what must be done, and I respond to the need. People are open and grateful for the healing ceremony that everyone knows is a very sacred act. Slowly and carefully, we begin to dance the Round Dance. I begin to speak out of a great universal center and my voice itself is healing. It is the voice of the Earth Spirit that flows through all life. People around the world hear and respond. Then, gradually people all over the earth begin to dance the Round Dance to heal the raped heart."

There is a wonderful saying of the Baal Shem Tov, a kabbalist sage of the nineteenth century: "When the moon shines as bright as the sun, the Messiah will come." The word Messiah in this kabbalistic context does not stand for the coming of a redeemer but for the higher level of consciousness that humanity will attain when the feminine principle is given equal value with the masculine one. That is the formidable task of the present time - to transcend the dualism in our thinking by restoring nature, soul and body to the realm of spirit.

CORONATION OF THE VIRGIN This painting offers us an image of the sacred marriage of the masculine and feminine archetypes, of Spirit and Nature, Mind and Soul, and the act of redemption and restoration that we will have to accomplish if we are to save ourselves from extinction and the earth from terrible devastation.

MAN LOOKING INTO SPACE A hundred years ago a man called Richard Bucke wrote a book called "Cosmic Consciousness" in which he predicted that the human race was in the process of developing a new kind of consciousness, far in advance of the kind we have now, which would eventually lift us beyond fear and ignorance, beyond the brutalities and atrocities that we inflict on each other today. I believe we are returning now to the idea - held by the greatest philosophers, healers and teachers of the ancient world - that we are part of an immense web of relationships, part of something that was once called anima-mundi, the soul of the world, the soul of the cosmos, and to the idea that this greater entity is conscious and that our psyche interacts with that consciousness, that it belongs, root and branch, to it. I believe we are re-awakening to the ancient awareness that we and the phenomenal world that we call nature are woven into a cosmic tapestry whose threads connect us not only with each other at the deepest level but with many dimensions of reality and multitudes of beings inhabiting those dimensions. An immense sea of consciousness interacts with our own, asking to be recognised by us, embraced by us.

The word 'Soul' describes a sea or web of energy so fine that as yet its existence can only be inferred by science. This sea or web of living energy embraces all universes. Soul is a word that carries the resonance of the feminine principle, the connecting, containing, relating principle of the universe, the principle of love, beauty, compassion and wisdom and, above all, the visionary imagination. Imagine this web as a multi-levelled system of dimensions nested within dimensions, with information continually being exchanged between these dimensions, at the molecular level, at the level of planetary life, at the level of galaxies and perhaps universes of which we know nothing. If we could see through the physical forms, including our own bodies which we experience as opaque and solid, we would see patterns of energy interacting with each other and connecting us with the life around us. We would see light irradiating every cell of our bodies and everything we perceive. We experience ourselves as distinct, separate beings, but if the whole universe is one integrated, living organism, one flowing, undivided energy, one symphony of cosmic sound, then we are participants in that organic whole.

1. The field of human consciousness = the memory of all the experience of our individual lives is contained within...
2. The field of the collective consciousness of our species = the memory of all the experience of life on this planet is contained within...
3. The field of cosmic consciousness rooted in the quantum plenum = the ocean or sea of being All of this is what I would include in the idea of soul - the invisible matrix of being.

DIAGRAM OF DANTE AND DIVINE WORLDS What might it be like to listen to the soul of the Universe? Like Dante and Beatrice in Dante's great vision, we could begin to listen to its voice and its longing to communicate with us. Here is an extract from a book called Dark Night, Early Dawn which describes an encounter with what the author (Christopher Bache) calls Sacred Mind. "…the most poignant aspect of this experience," he writes, "was not the discovered dimensions of the universe themselves but what my seeing and understanding them meant to the Consciousness I was with. It seemed so pleased to have someone to show Its work to. I felt that it had been waiting for billions of years for embodied consciousness to evolve to the point where we could at long last begin to see, understand and appreciate what had been accomplished. I felt the loneliness of this Intelligence having created such a masterpiece and having no one to appreciate Its work, and I wept. I wept for its isolation and in awe of the profound love which had accepted this isolation as part of a larger plan. Behind creation lies a Love of extraordinary proportions, and all of existence is an expression of this love. The intelligence of the universe's design is equally matched by the depth of love that inspired it."

Because, at the quantum level, we are all connected to each other, when thousands of us begin to transcend the old dualistic way of thinking and acting, millions are affected. The more conscious and connected we become, the more help and inspiration can flow to our individual soul from the soul of the cosmos. To move into this state we need not only time for contemplation and meditation but also time to cultivate the visionary imagination. The role of the visionary imagination is to connect us with the wider aspects of soul and to help us to enter empathically into the life around us, the life we are intrinsically part of. With the help of the visionary imagination we could, in Einstein's words, widen our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. We could direct our power to heal the soul of humanity, to heal the vast concourse of the dead as well as the living. To bring healing to all at the deepest level we could begin to connect with the invisible dimensions of the universe, connect with the souls of our ancestors, helping to heal the past suffering held in the memory of souls whose existence has been all but forgotten, asking ourselves what else we need to do to regenerate our dying culture and heal our heart. Out of the chaos and terror of our times can come a new order. The new order might be expressed as this unified vision of reality:
          The visible and invisible dimensions of life will no longer be separated but united in a sacred marriage.
          We will no longer be isolated from the universe but connected to the heart of its being,
          We will be able to communicate consciously with beings in other dimensions, asking for and receiving their help and guidance.
          Spirit will no longer be imagined as remote and transcendent to ourselves but experienced as the very process of life continually pouring into manifestation - expressing Itself as our life as well as the life of the universe.
          Nature will no longer be treated as our servant but respected and protected as the expression of spirit in this manifest dimension of reality.
          Body, mind, soul and spirit will be seen as vital components of a single cosmic organism.
          Death will no longer be feared because it will be seen as a rite of passage into another dimension of reality.


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