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Rape, Rage, and the Monster

There are timeless myths and stories that speak to the horror of rape. Rape makes us insane, and it can empower us to heal. Then, there can be hope. Hope potentially ushers in a more profound understanding of the incredible force that is rage and the patriarchy that ignites it.

A recent Broadly article notes, “If we go back to Greek antiquity, Medusa was a mighty force endowed with the power to both kill and redeem. Sculptors and painters would use the Medusa head as an apotropaic symbol to ward off evil spirits. But her tragic beauty was even more inspiring. Take the Roman mosaic floor on display at the Getty, where Medusa’s wild, snaky locks are depicted as wind-blown curls, her petrifying gaze an elegantly turned head. Her head peers out from the center of the mosaic, a protective talisman offset by a shield of concentric circles. There are countless other examples, too, where she’s definitely more muse than monster . . . Beautiful victim, monstrous villain, powerful deity—she’s all of those things, and more besides. Perhaps it’s that mercurial nature that makes her an endless source of fascination. She is, in a sense, a site for our collective projections of both fear and desire: simultaneously a symbol of women’s rage and a figure sexualized by the very patriarchal forces she is seeking vengeance against.”

In symbolic dream material treated in depth psychotherapy, the Medussa emerges as an image of rape. When the symbol enters treatment, I wonder about the unresolved sexual pain of the patient. Over time we move into the pain, find our way in and through it, and therapeutically understand the victim’s story. We all have stories, some about sexual pain.

Unresolved sexual trauma is a monster. Visionary fiction may visit the hallowed realm of rape, rage, and the monster. The dark side of the patriarchy is the monster of all manner of violation. Sexual rape is intimate violation. A monster enters and plunders.

In visionary thrillers such as Goddess of the Wild Thing and The Unholy, we experience trauma. Unconsciously we’re drawn to the stories we need to read, must read. They nourish the soul as well as the mind. In them, something within us is touched. It needs to be touched because it’s lying there dormant and in need of awakening.

“Consciousness”, reported one patient, “is so hard.” “There are so many other things I’d rather do with my time than turn within and discover what’s there. I’ve rushed around, done this and that in a frenzy. It’s all been about escaping myself—getting away from the monster and my rage. It’s there for a reason. I’m glad I faced the monster and my rage. I’ve told my story and have come out the other end of that dark tunnel. But, it was no easy task to face the monster and the rage.”

Good stories, thrillers, take us into dark tunnels of mind. We’re hesitant to go there. We should be. They are scary places. But, unless we take things a step at a time, enter into our story we never discover the hope that can heal.

Hope comes at the price of our time, energy, and effort. Nothing happens without time, energy, and effort. There’s an emotional zero, a big psychic zip, without investment into self. Remember, passivity is an investment, a lethargic and fruitless one, but an investment nonetheless. The unique fact about an investment in story, following instinct into the dark tunnel of discovery regarding self and others, is that there can be hope.

When we read, we do it for a reason. The mind nudges us to read. Stories come our way, tug at us. We listen, respond, and discover that when we read, we receive what we need. We find out that behind the rape, rage, and monster is the hope that we can heal.

Changing Your Life, One Visionary Story at a Time…

This morning I was talking to a writing pal. We had a passionate talk about visionary fiction changing your life one story at a time. We got into how hard change can be and how stories help us so much. Getting into the characters and the dramatic thrill of the narrative gets the literary blood boiling. In metaphysical thrillers, with dreams and natural magic, we’re propelled into transformation in a desperate person’s life. Once we finish the story, our head shifts and attitudes get realigned.  Unconsciously, we go about the business of making practical changes without realizing we’re doing it. Stories affect us in a very, very big way.

Visionary/metaphysical fiction turbo charges transformative energy. It’s a different kind of read. You need to be willing to suspend disbelief regarding an unseen world. There are those hard-core empiricists who just can’t do it. They only believe in and trust what they can see, touch, smell, and control. But, there are other folks like you and me for whom the unseen world of the deep unconscious mind pulls and pulsate. It’s what old shamans called the spiritual world. Daily, in my professional practice of depth psychology, I witness numinous images and symbols emerge from the unconscious. They speak to the story of a soul in the midst of gaining consciousness, healing, and transformation.

Consciousness, natural magic, and life changes are birthed when we least expect. Visionary storytelling conjures such inner transformation as long as we are open to the story and being taken by surprise. Our lives can change. And reading visionary/metaphysical stories can help us along this path provided that we are daring to move forward.

Daring to move forward can be the hard part when it comes to change. I’m reading a couple of fantastic metaphysical novels. The Alchemist Awakening by Iva Kenaz is a story about a woman’s spiritual journey and discovery that we are all “alchemists with amnesia.” That’s a line that gets you thinking and your soul moving in the right direction. Then, I’m also into The Goat Foot God, by Dion Fortune. It’s a novel in which the invocation of the god Pan generates uncanny happenings. In my visionary thrillers, The Unholy and Goddess of the Wild Thing, there are also uncanny events laced with fear and hope. A young medicine woman in The Unholy has nightmares that trouble her sleep.They speak of past trauma and how it threatens to prevent her from moving forward in her life and love unless she dares to do what she must do. In Goddess of the Wild Thing, it’s love itself that is at stake. We all struggle with love, and Claire Sanchez wrestles with whether bad love is better than no love. There’s no easy answer; but, she does find an answer, and it’s a wild one!

In a manner of speaking, all answers are wild ones. If they are authentic and genuine to what we need, answers completely turn our world upside down and inside out. They are wild! They upset the ordinary course of things. They bring consciousness. It’s only when the old way—the tried and gone over and over and over again way that bears no results—grinds to an end that light breaks through. It’s a wild light that blinds us at first, and then we can see straight and clear.

In doing depth psychotherapy with patients in emotional and spiritual crisis, I listen to their stories. They are dramatic thrillers in their own right. People go through rough stuff. The wounds and bruises we sustain in life often come out of action-packed encounters with people. We trusted them. We never thought that what happened would happen. We’re wounded and bruised and want to give up. That’s when it’s time to read a story, a terrific story that takes time to get through because it takes thought to get through.

At the end of one patient’s treatment, they related, “You know I didn’t think I’d ever had a chance in life. I was beaten down as a kid. I took refuge in my reading. I guess in a whole lot of ways it’s what helped me to turn within so I could do my therapy. I learned to listen to my dreams. They are their own kind of stories. They told me about myself and gave me hope. And then our work together has been a positive unfolding story. I’m glad I turned within and did therapy. It’s been a good story, and it’s helped me find my way and heal.”

Good stories, like the ones we’ve lived in our own lives, take thought, and reflection. They help us turn within, take stock of our self, our relationships and our lives. And then, if we let their message sink in, they offer us the potential to actually, and possibly profoundly, change our life one story at a time.