You are Mine...I Love You...

This is a story about Synchronicity.  About Embracing the Shadow.  About Healing.  And indirectly, about Dreams.

A few years ago, as I was cruising through Facebook, I came upon a post from Brother Jim, a monk at the Pecos Benedictine Monastery in Pecos, NM, that caught my attention.  One of my Teachers, Sister (Sr.) Miriam, was nearing the end of her life.

Sr. Miriam, the Benedictine nun.  Sr. Miriam, the Dreamworker.

Sr. Miriam, a Harbinger of Compassion, a Spiritual Director, a Reconciler of the Soul.  

Way before I knew the "parts work" of Internal Family Systems, this Wise Woman guided me, with direction and example, of the power of embracing ALL of my self, even those aspects that I wanted to reject, deny, or somehow relegate to the dungeon of unacceptability.  She showed me how to reach these pockets of energy as they appeared in my dreams.

It "just so happened" that I was at the start of a class on Jungian Principles at the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin.  And was in the middle of a synchronicity, involving that class, that lead me to deepen my understanding of my own inner journey of re-connecting with the Feminine, and the ways that society, and particularly the Church, has become disconnected from Her.  Read that story here.

Having been trained in Jungian Depth Psychology and DreamWork, Sr. Miriam was a much sought after Spiritual Director and Retreat Guidess.  She sent me, and many others, off to Love the areas of personality that are hard to Love.

The anger.  The shame.  The entitled.  The parts that could hurt others.

A wash of emotion came over me when I learned that she was dying, even though I had not seen her in many years, and even though I had only sat with her for a handful of hours.  Nevertheless, she had left her mark on my heart, and in my work. 

I had consistently been acknowledging her as part of the lineage of Teachings that I offered on working with dreams, on inner work, and on working with the Shadow.  Her Presence had been with me often throughout the years!

Not only that,  I had just visited the monastery, not 2 months prior, and had some affectionate time with her cat, Mineu, who repeatedly came to nap on the extra bed in my room, or on my suitcase!  The first of this degree of intimacy this tiger-like cat had ever offered me in the 15 years I had been visiting the monastery!

I'll share an example of Sr. Miriam Wisdom...After she had guided me to a part of myself that was disconnected, that had been rejected by my "good" parts, she would instruct me to have an energy toward that part that was welcoming and embracing.  She would move her arms in a gathering motion, as if bringing a person toward her for an embrace.  The way we motion for someone to come close so we can hug them. 

She modeled compassion and acceptance, saying, (as if to the disconnected part), "I see you.  You are mine.  I love you."  

Powerful Stuff!  To be Recognized.  To be Claimed.  To be Welcomed.  To be Accepted.  To be Loved.

The woman who stayed with Sr. Miriam during those last weeks of her life, graciously read my letter to her, and I kept in touch through Facebook, to know how she was doing, and when she was finally able to cross over into the next life.  I felt such a strong re-connection with her.  I was very touched that, when arrangements had been made for her memorial service, this woman sent me that information.

A Huge Synchronicity continued to unfold!  I noticed that the celebration of Sr. Miriam's life was to be held in Natick,  MA.  Even though I met her in New Mexico, I knew she was from Boston.  But I didn't expect to see Natick!  You see, I had been traveling there (from Texas)  for almost 20 years to visit my brother and my niece and nephew.  I called my brother to ask if he would be willing to attend the service on my behalf, which he readily agreed to do.  When he saw the announcement, he noticed that Sr Miriam had been living out these last days of her life in a nursing care facility where his wife (then girlfriend) worked.  As it turned out, my sister-in-law actually helped to care for Sr. Miriam!

This just blew me away! As you can imagine!  With the synchronicity that synchronistically was taking place simultaneously (redundancy intended!!) in the Jungian Dream class, I knew it was for me to pay attention!.  During some of those days, the ground under my feet eluded me, caught up as I was in the spirit that transcends time and space.

I felt like a mantle was being passed, energetically.  From a woman steeped in the traditions of the Catholic Church from early in the 20th century, yet able to be open to the Feminine energy of deep inner work.  A woman who taught by guidance, and by example, that it is Compassion that Heals.  And that Nothing is beyond welcoming, healing, loving.

As you may know, doing DreamWork is one of my favorite things!  It is for that reason that I included a session for it, close to my birthday, within A Year of Spiritual Practices - A feminine Lens, a series of Sacred Circles.  (It's next Tuesday, May 21, from 7-9pmCST.)

DreamWork is definitely a spiritual practice, as well as a regular way to open the doors to our hearts, minds, and souls.  As I often express to my clients, dreams can help guide the whole process of healing and transformation, if you are able to listen to them in a deep way.  

Are synchronicities lining up in your life?  Have you had a big dream lately, or a series of them that won't let you go?  Are you on the cusp of a shift or change, a time of expansion, and want to be intentional about moving into the new, listening to your dreams and your parts for guidance?  I would love to accompany you on that journey, if what you read here resonates with you!  Email me so we can chat a bit more!

I send a strong wave of gratitude to Sr. Miriam - that she was willing to follow her own inner guidance, that she taught with such humility, humor, and compassion, and that she opened up the power of DreamWork for me!

Dreams, Synchronicity, and The Myth of the Handless Maiden


Look for my blog posts about how I have used sacred circles to do my own inner work, and a little about where the concept comes from.  It's the idea that actually marking off physical space helps our psyche get the message that we are serious about this inner work business, that we really do want to meet what is in the underground of the unconscious.

I want to share here what I received as an amazing experience of synchronicity that helped bring the whole idea of sacred circles into my awareness in a powerful way! Here is that story...

I was very excited to have the opportunity to take a class on Jungian principles in DreamWork at the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, taught by Pittman McGehee, in the Winter/Spring of 2015.   I had already been working with my dreams for over 15 years, reading and studying with the writings of recognized teachers in the field - John Sanford, Robert Johnson, Joyce Rockwood Hudson, among others.  I had attended a dream conference at the Haden Institute, and had been offering dream retreats and groups, as well as guiding my clients in their own dreamwork.

All that to say that I was quite familiar with the principles, but enjoyed the teachings of Pittman McGehee and believed I had much to learn from him.

Following the first week of class, I received a detailed dream (CAUTION: it's a little graphic!!) in which, along with other symbols, there was an image of an intricate replica of a piano, the size of dollhouse furniture or a music box. Also in the dream, my sister's right ring finger was cut off in the process of chopping vegetables. There is much action that I am involved in to reattach the finger, which is unsuccessful, the dream ending with the detached part of the finger dried and shriveled, and the hand bleeding.

Also that same night I dreamed that my baby grand piano had been burned out (actually a recurring dream). As I sat in that next class, the discussion became centered around feminist issues, with some conflict within the class arising. Pittman spoke in a very relaxed manner, saying something like “this is the issue of how the patriarchy has cut off the feminine, what the myth of The Handless Maiden is about.”

Immediately I recalled my dream, and was curious to explore this. I knew exactly where I could find The Handless Maiden, as I had read it some years previously in The Women Who Run with the Wolves, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.  It was on my bookshelf.  Within 5 seconds, Pittman then said, “You know, that's what the movie The Piano, is about.”

My mouth dropped open - “Oh my God!” I thought. If I may have not received the message the first time around, here it was delivered to me again.  (Remember the pianos in my dreams??) There was no doubt that his comment was for me, and that my next task was to reread The Handless Maiden.

I proceeded to pull out my copy as soon as I returned home that night. In the very beginning of the story of The Handless Maiden, the young woman is inadvertently sold out to the Devil by her unawares father.  It was in reading this story and Clarissa's interpretation of it in light of the feminine journey of healing and awakening, that I came to understand the concept of a Sacred Circle in much more depth!

"The day the Devil came to fetch her she bathed and put on a white gown and stood in a circle of chalk she'd drawn around herself.  When the Devil reached out to grab her, an unseen force threw him across the yard." (p.422)

The maiden's act of drawing this circle of chalk around herself was the signal to her unconscious mind that she was ready to grow, ready to See herself, ready to take on the shadowy parts of her nature, and ready to bring forth her own inner and intuitive wisdom.

So, you see, that's what all this sacred circles and container energy is all about!  It's hard work.  It's deep work. And it's exciting work.  It takes a great deal of commitment, time, energy, and financial resources.  Probably the greatest investment you could ever make!  The individual offerings I have designed - Indigo, Turquoise, and Emerald of Becoming Your Heart's Treasure  - will guide you on that journey, just like The Handless Maiden reflects.  (In person, phone, or Zoom sessions)

Or possibly you are in a place along your path where belonging to a group that is intentional about connecting with the Divine Spirit, and connecting within, is the thing that would assist you on your spiritual and healing journey.  That's where Sacred Circles can meet you.

Re-reading The Handless Maiden, in the context of all that I had learned and in looking back over my dreams (turns out I had lots of images that were related to "handless," including one in which my own hand had been severed, and began to grow back!), and with Clarissa Pinkola Estes' brilliant commentary, I saw each step of my own journey reflected in this tale.  As all fairy tales go, it tells many truths of our psychological unfolding and growth in a symbolic way.  This is what we will begin to explore in the online group, Sacred Circles in May.

For now, I just wanted to share with you this additional layer of how it is that I came to be so passionate about doing inner work, and creating sacred space in which others can do theirs.  There is another story of synchronicity (actually 2 of them) that came out of that Jungian class.  I actually didn't learn much more content, and I was kind of disappointed in what the professor did NOT share.  But, these synchronicities and how they guided my own work was definitely worth the time and money!  I'll tell those another time!

with gratitude and love, peace and healing!  Alisa