Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Blogger celebrates Care of the Soul anniversary

Daniel Wilson celebrates the publication anniversary of Thomas Moore's classic book in his post, "Care of the Soul is 20 years old": "The book has never been more sorely needed, in my opinion, as we watch our world increasingly bow to money, power, the quest for personal advantage, and arrogance toward nature at unprecedented levels. Depth and sacredness are endangered species these days like never before in my lifetime."

After writing about his interest in yoga, Wilson suggests, "Soul and spirit are also figures of speech, but they are differentiated from chakras and nadis in that they arose from a different tradition. Both traditions work for those who are inspired by them. Without these figures of speech we would be immobilized by fear and wonder."

He shares how his soul is nourished specifically and the human desire for recognition, "I am increasingly patient with work that generates no response, but this did not come easily to me. I like recognition and responsiveness. I like that my soul leads to a state of greater ease, confidence, and trust in these matters. I’m recommending that you read this book if you have not already, but I won’t be bothered if you choose to ignore the suggestion. I’m learning to accept that people have their agendas and I have mine."


Monday, February 20, 2012

How may we experience grace in everyday life?

Assistant Minister, Rev. Angela Herrera of First Unitarian, Albuquerque shares her sermon "Grace" dated 22 January 2012 in which she refers to an article, "The Marriage of Grace and Sweat," by Thomas Moore in Parabola magazine (2002 vol. 27: No. 3 p.6-9). Herrera describes Moore's depiction of Hephaestus fashioning Achilles' shield in the Iliad by Homer. Herrera recounts the story:
"Carefully, precisely, [Hephaestus] combines silver, bronze, gold, and tin. Then he takes it even further, turning the shield into a work of art. He embosses on it the earth, water, and sky; the heavens with constellations, sun, and moon; and then — having crafted the universe upon the shield—he adds to it depictions of “cities, marriages, and arguments; stories of war, farming, and idyllic pleasures.” He encircles these scenes and the cosmos with a great river. Only then is the shield done. By his side as he works is his wife, Charis, whose name means grace. This scene, suggests Moore, is about the marriage of grace and skill, the inseparability of beauty and hard work. It is about 'the place of grace in ordinary life.'"
She shares her own responses:
"I’m moved by the beauty of Hephaestus’s work, and the way he placed that shield in the context of everything else that happens in life, big and small, from a particular marriage to the constellations. If beauty is one manifestation of grace, and I agree that it is, then I think that is because beauty is closely connected with the sacred, with what is meaningful. Grace is what happens when we discover, or tune into, or are unexpectedly overcome by, what is sacred, meaningful, and beautiful."
Read her seven-page discussion of grace to consider its presence in your own life.

Sift your soul's dark night for its alchemical gold

Read how one person uses Thomas Moore's book Dark Nights of the Soul to help her through her own dark stretches and to reconnect through the events of others: "When Darkness Emerges" on the blog Quantum Liminality. Kristin sprinkles quotes from the book through her description of a difficult time starting in March 2011. She chronicles the widening circle from her personal concerns to a friend attempting suicide to events of the world.

She writes, "I can't remember the last time a book had such an impact on how I viewed life's changes, obstacles, and dark nights. I like how he speaks of spirituality; not preaching organized religion. I like how he makes me think." She includes Moore's view:
"Religion, too often avoids the dark by hiding behind platitudes and false assurances. Nothing is more irrelevant than feeble religious piousness in the face of stark, life-threatening darkness."
In Dark Nights of the Soul Moore also writes:
"A dark night may appear paradoxically, as a way to return to living. You don't choose a dark night for yourself. It is given to you. Your job is to get close to it and sift it for its gold."


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Medicine needs to be in tune more with music

According to Thomas Moore "Novalis said, ‘Every disease is a musical problem. Its cure, a musical solution. The more rapid and complete the solution, the greater the musical talent of the doctor.'" A patient writes about Moore's book Care of the Soul in relation to her own cancer diagnosis in today's post "Mystical Music/Paper Accomplishments". Amid quotes from this book, the blogger states, "Moore wonders aloud whether illness is a sign of battle between our bodies and something else in our existence. He asks whether it might not be possible to learn something from illness rather than merely focusing on overcoming it."

She also asks, "If cancer is a sign of disharmony that has caused a mythological god to visit me to draw attention to that disharmony, what have I done to address the disharmony, to befriend my cancer for the purpose of finding what it represents and repairing that condition by repairing something else in my life? If medicine and music have at their core an understanding that life and art have tonalities and harmonies that improve each, have I listened for the dissonance that my ill-health represents? Now that I am undertaking homeopathic remedies, am I drawing closer to remedying not only what is at odds with my body but also my soul?"

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

We need a return of patriarchy in a deep sense

BRW's Melbourne reporter Kath Walters reconsiders Thomas Moore's discussion of patriarchy in her post "Kisses for Daddy" when she writes:
"Just 39 pages into re-reading one of my very favourite books, Care of the Soul (I’ll deal with the contentious word 'soul' shortly) by one of my very favourite authors, Thomas Moore, my eyes rested on the following: 'Culturally we are also suffering from a breakdown of patriarchy.' [My jaw drops and I snigger 'bring it on' under my breath, before reading more ...] 'Feminist thought properly criticises the oppression of women on the part of long-standing male domination but that political patriarchy is not the patriarchy of the soul. Patri-archy means absolute, profound, archetypal fatherhood. We need a return of patriarchy in this deepest sense, because to vacillate between embracing symptomatic and oppressing fathering on the one side and criticising it on the other gets us nowhere.'

I was left staring into space with brain cogs whirring.

This idea rings very true to me: We are getting nowhere or at least nowhere near fast enough. The corporate world is a vivid illustration with its glacial movement towards appointing women to boards and senior executive roles.

In his complex, rich and non-religious idea of the 'soul', Moore is arguing that society has a need to find its own internal sense of authority and purpose – its collective father – and that is something we appear to have lost."
She suggests that men and women strive for functional patriarchy to fulfill shared purpose and meaning.

Dark nights of the soul in Downton Abbey story

Spirituality & Practice reviews Downton Abbey: Season 2 with quotes from Thomas Moore's book Dark Nights of the Soul: A Guide to Finding your Way through Life’s Ordeals. A passage by Moore includes, "The darkness of the night implies nothing sinister, only that the liberation takes place in hidden ways, beneath our knowledge and understanding. It happens mysteriously, in secret, and beyond our conscious control. For that reason it can be disturbing or even scary, but in the end it always works to our benefit.'" The review states, "Season 2 of Downton Abbey has some darker plot lines than Season 1. Several characters experience a dark night of the soul  —  Matthew, Lady Mary, and Lady Edith all suffer major disappointments."

Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat ask, "Through it all, as viewers we find ourselves caught up in these dramas big and small. What good will emerge from these challenges? How will these characters, the family upstairs and the staff downstairs, weather the storms?" before including, "'Liberation,' writes Thomas Moore, 'takes place in hidden ways.'"

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Polytheistic approach may aid personal change

James Hillman's exploration of polytheism appears in psychology student Liz's post, "Songs to the gods of my soul". Scroll to the image of ping pong paddles for her introduction to Hillman. She writes, "A polytheistic approach to psychology, therefore, is not about hitching a transcendent wagon to the star of self-improvement, but rather it 'obliges consciousness to circulate among a field of powers,' i.e. our states of being and their soul mates (our god guides) are multiple, relational, and contingent — all the archetypal gods help us evolve as we live through our life's experiences."

Liz adds, "Salting Hillman's account of polythesim is Thomas Moore's discussion of the Marquis de Sade’s provocative writing, which locates polytheism in a different set of archetypes, i.e. so-called sexual perversions. (A former monk and author of Care of the Soul, a book that shook my world views to their core, Moore's chapter devoted to the gifts of depression was game changing for me. Up to that point, I believed that depression was a disease requiring nothing short of a psychological root canal. But I digress ...)"

She continues, "In his book Dark Eros, Moore explores de Sade's account of human nature in all its manifestations, especially the dark, the horrifying, the sickening. De Sade’s overarching principle, paraphrased by Moore, states: 'If nature plants ‘sick’ fantasies in our imaginations, then perhaps nature is expressing an unfathomable and revolting truth.' This notion becomes an entry point for Moore in his role as a therapist, especially after he realized that a moralizing approach to his patients’ dark fantasies did not honour their inner world. Moore learned instead to approach that world on its own terms, opening up to the shadow as something with an important message to deliver."

Liz recounts exchanges with a friend that help her accept his and her own dark fantasies.

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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Historical development of archetypal psychology

New Zealand psychotherapist Walter Logeman posts "Sources of Archetypal Psychology" on his Psyberspace blog today. This description is titled "Archetypal Psychology" by Spring Publications in 2002. It mentions Carl Jung, Henry Corbin, James Hillman and others: "Support for the archetypal and psychological significance of myth, besides the work of Jung, comes from Ernst Cassirer, Karl Kerényi, Erich Neumann, Heinrich Zimmer, Gilbert Durand, Joseph Campbell, David Miller, and Charles Boer."

This description also links archetypal psychology with Greek and Renaissance thinkers: "The elaboration of this tradition by Hillman in Eranos lectures and in articles (1973a), by Miller in seminars at Syracuse University, by Lopez–Pedraza at the University of Caracas, and by Thomas Moore’s (1982) and Boer’s (1980) work on Marsilio Ficino gives a different cast to archetypal psychology when compared with Jung’s."

The Planets Within: 
The Astrological Psychology of Marsilio Ficino
by Thomas Moore
Paperback: 230 pages
Lindisfarne Books; Revised edition (January 1, 1990)
ISBN-10: 0940262282
ISBN-13: 978-0940262287


Monday, February 06, 2012

Quiet solitude allows clarity and creativity

One. Alone. Lonely. Loneliness.  — Sole. Solo. Solitary. Solitude.
Today's post "How to enjoy being alone" quotes Thomas Moore about our general busyness: "'We live in an extremely externalized culture,' Moore says. 'We are constantly pulled outside ourselves — by other people, by the media, by the demands of daily life. Nothing in our culture or in our education teaches us how to go inward, how to steady the mind and calm our attention. As a consequence, we tend to devote very little time to the life of the soul, the life of the spirit.'"

In this post Alexandra Bacon offers things to do to feel comfortable by yourself, "tips for embracing solitude." She suggests, "Alone — in moments of prayer or meditation, or simply in stillness — we breathe more deeply, see more fully, hear more keenly. We notice more, and in the process, we return to what is sacred." 


Saturday, February 04, 2012

Let's look at deep sensuality as enhancing life

For the site Handbook for Heroines, Jill Hinton writes "Why I have the hots for Jesus" that offers a possible online dating profile for him. Hinton assures readers that she doesn't mean to sound irreverent as she describes Jesus as a possible love interest. She writes, "The idea that Jesus would make an awesome boyfriend first showed up while I was reading Thomas Moore’s The Soul of Sex: Cultivating Life as an Act of Love. This is hands down one of the most influential books I’ve ever read, one I think should be required reading in college. It posits the revolutionary idea that there’s a positive, life-enhancing way to look at sensuality that leaves behind all the self-loathing and inauthenticity that comes along with modern views of sex."

Hinton imagines, "Although I don’t really consider myself a Christian in the traditional sense of the word, I do believe Jesus embodied just about every value I try to live. He was an amazingly compassionate and influential man who encouraged us to be open to life, to deepen our understanding of others and to deepen our convictions of kindness. To paraphrase Thomas Moore, Jesus’s life 'reminds us that the kingdom of heaven is not a destination, but something that resides in and around all of us.' In other words, deep conversations with him at Kava House would be amazing (I picture him ordering dark roast, free-trade certified coffee)."

After acknowledging a traditional view of Jesus as celibate, she quotes Moore directly:
"'…it may seem a contradiction to be chaste and morally tolerant, but Jesus’ celibacy never seems anxious or repressive. It allows him to love in an embracing way and is so comfortable a part of his philosophy and style that he doesn’t have to judge others for their sexual ways.'”
Hinton continues, "Jesus was a guy who was in love with life. He embodied a beautiful audacity and was 'able to live with an intensity inaccessible to most,' according to Moore. So it’s not all that surprising that this is exactly what I’m looking for in a guy who I want to spend the rest of my life with." She includes a picture of Jesus for his online  profile.


Cultivating soul includes reading the signs

The blogger of Livefromafar considers the possibility of "making life over 50 vibrant and fulfilling" in her post "Paralysis: Two months later" that quotes Thomas Moore's book Care of the Soul as backdrop to the idea that life will be fulfilling when she participates in social programs "such as land conservation, hunger mitigation, improving opportunities for women..." She writes:
"In my dining room, I redesigned an alter to my soul, adding photos of my children and some of my own watercolors to the religious sculptures already sitting there. I lit three candles instead of one every evening to bring in more flame. I accepted the “Hera” part of myself that is impatient and unkind – the revengeful Hera that Moore says the Greeks celebrated along with their better well behaved deities. He says on Page 106, “Its curious that in Greek mythology the wife of the greatest of the gods is known primarily for her jealousy.” He says on page 95 that “Outward community flourishes when we are in touch with the inner persons who crowd our dreams and waking thoughts.” Boy am I in touch with them – they leave me no rest from 2:30 a.m. onward!
The response to following her soul's desire? "And here is the rub: now that I am wholeheartedly ready to give, the non profit world closes its doors, and says in effect, 'at your age, over 50, we want you to volunteer, not get paid.' That presses my fear button." Three months ago the blogger mentions Moore's book in her entry "Care of the soul means ...?".

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Blogger listens to Thomas Moore on creativity

The sentimentalization of creativity resonates with Gary Lee Joyner as he listens to Thomas Moore's audio lecture, The Soul of Creativity. Joyner writes about this in his post, "Layers of Creativity": "I have listened to this recording many times. I could recite some of it from memory, but I always get something new and fresh out of it. Like all ideas that have legs Moore’s are amplified by whatever is on my mind at the time I listen to them." Joyner layers Moore's work with  Bill Martin's book, Avant Rock: Experimental Music From the Beatles to Bjork (2002). His post includes ingredients for creating tasty pancakes.

Thomas Moore writes about "Daily Creativity" on his own blog.

5 minute audio sample from Thomas Moore on Creativity.
A different audio sample from this program.

Thomas Moore on Creativity
Available for download
ISBN-10 1-60407-488-4
ISBN-13  978-1-60407-488-8   
Publisher: Sounds True
Cassette: 2 Tapes
Run time: 2.5 hrs