Speaking in Symbols

Learning the language of the subconcious

Archive for the category “journey”

Finding the Stories

One of the problems in using a blog as a tool for coming to grips with depression is, well, the depression. I’ve been hit hard the past couple of weeks, to the point where I’ve been resentful of my dogs because I have to get dressed before I can take them outside to potty. Being in such a state, I haven’t noticed many symbols, and have lacked the motivation to write about the ones I have been seeing.

Jerks

Jerks

Still, even if I’m in a place where it takes me all day to muster up enough enthusiasm to go grocery shopping when I’m out of food, the dogs need to be cared for. And it’s a whole lot easier to get dressed and take them downstairs than it is to scrub various bodily discharges out of the carpet.

Taking the dogs outside has the additional benefit of getting me out in nature, or at least into the suburbs with a few hold-out farmers nearby. I’ve been making a point on our walks to pay attention to things like the sky, birds, the feeling of sunshine and wind, etc.  I especially make a point of watching the sky at night. While it’s true that my neighborhood is inundated with light pollution,  I can still see a few stars.

Northern Constillations, December. Via http://astronomycentral.co.uk/

Northern Constellations, December. Via http://astronomycentral.co.uk/

When I was out with the dogs a few nights ago, I was looking at the constellations in the northern sky.  Cassiopeia is easy to spot, and once you’ve found her it’s easy to locate Andromeda, Perseus, and Pegasus.  While looking at these four constellations, I was thinking about how they share the same story (except for Pegasus–he’s connected to Perseus by virtue of being born when Perseus cut off Medusa’s head, but that’s a story for another blog). The thought “Find the stories” came to my mind. While I don’t think it meant the literal stories in the constellations, I realized that it made sense to have have them there. It’s easier for most people to remember stories than it is to remember the random grouping of stars that kind of almost looks like a bear, and means that north is that way.

The stories served as literal guides for eons, pointing the way for travelers to go. They also served as moral guides, reminding people to, say, not boast against the gods or you’ll have to end up sacrificing your daughter to a sea monster.

Good advice, really.

I’m not sure what to do when the symbol is a story, and not the words therein. If the symbol was the legend of Perseus and Andromeda, for instance, I could easily pull out the symbolisms and meanings. Likewise, if it were the stars themselves, I could find symbols in the constellations, as well as in the science. But, stories?

The best I can figure is that my subconscious is telling me that I need to find my bearings, that I need to find my guiding stories and principles. This makes sense, because I’ve been feeling lost, like I’m spinning my wheels, for months, now. But between the feeling of being lost, and the depression, I don’t know if I can trust myself.

 

Roads

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler,long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

The Road Not Taken

Robert Frost, 1920

Two Roads Diverged in Yellow Wood by Eric Vondy. Link

Two Roads Diverged in Yellow Wood by Eric Vondy. Link

This poem has been running through my head all day. I saw my therapist this morning, and we talked vocation.  Basically, I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. And referring back to the incomparable Mr. Frost, my heart is telling me to forget both roads and a random deer trail. My head doesn’t think this is such a good idea.

In terms of symbolism, roads and crossroads are universal enough that it kinda seems silly to be writing about them. But, this is the imagery that has been following me around today, so here goes.

 Roads and paths are all about movement. It is common for us to speak of our “path in life”. Roads indicate direction in our journeys, be they physical, spiritual or emotional. They also give us a way to gauge our movement.

Roads are indicative of a correct way, a way of safety and security. I love to spend time exploring the desert with my dad. One of the things that he taught me is that all roads go somewhere–even if it’s an old mine or an abandoned shepherds camp. Further, dirt tracks will eventually link on to a graded road, and graded roads lead to blacktop. Once you reach blacktop, finding your way back to civilization is a piece of cake. So it would follow, that in my emotional journey, the best way is to stay on the beaten path.

Except that’s not me.

Copyright 2003, Caroline Myss

Copyright 2003, Caroline Myss

I’ve talked about being a seeker in the past. This part of me wants to forge my own path, to seek vistas and horizons that are not commonly seen. I want to explore freely, and find my own way–and yet I’m scared to do so.

Two roads diverged–one is a safer, but duller path. The other is more exciting, but also more dangerous. And so very rarely are choices between just one or the other.

In The Book of Symbols, “Road” is listed as part of the human world, in the section of movement and expression. “Crossroad” is listed as part of the spirit world, in the section for rituals and symbols.  Crossroads carry a heavier metaphysical weight than simple roads do. Crossroads are by nature liminal, they exists between worlds.  In some traditions, a person can meet the devil at a crossroads to make a deal with him.

Crossroads represent a choice, both in the physical realm and in the spiritual.  These choices are not to be made lightly–as Frost’s traveler says “I doubted if I should ever come back”.

The fear of making a wrong decision is intense. The only thing I know is that not making one will be a worse mistake than choosing the wrong path.

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