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Seven of Nine

Jeri Ryan aka 7 OF 9 by Jim Bacon

Jim Bacon – Jeri Ryan aka 7 OF 9

Seven of Nine is a  female Borg, masterfully played by actor Jeri Ryan in the American TV series, Star Trek: Voyager.

Originally a human girl (Annika Hansen), Seven of Nine was transformed into a semi-cybernetic entity when assimilated by the Borg during her childhood.

Seven’s humanity was restored when Commander Chakotay stimulated her human memories through a technologically augmented mind-link.

She joined the crew of the starship Voyager and, through trial and error, relearned how to interact appropriately with her fellow human beings and the other bipedal life forms that constitute the ship’s crew.

Seven is a fascinating symbol of something gone wrong, going right again. She adds a new twist to the fall and resurrection motif so common in mythic stories, old and new.

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The Shadow

Keira Knightley at the presser for A Dangerous Method, a movie that explores the intense relationship between Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud at TiFF in Toronto. September 10, 2011

In the psychology of C. G. Jung, the shadow is the unconscious, evil side of human nature.

The shadow apparently is one of the first aspects of the unconscious psyche encountered in Jungian analysis.

Jung says its positive side is expressed through creativity and humor. According to this view, the representation of the shadow’s darkness in non-violent, socially acceptable channels (e.g. art, music, literature, photography or controlled “acting out”) facilitates mastering it. Otherwise, the shadow could conceivably control the ego.

Marina del Castell Shadow puppetry

If merely repressed, Jung says the shadow might find an opening through the cracks of the psyche and momentarily express itself in disturbing ways. This view depends on a model of the psyche where psychic energy is always seeking expression. If overly contained, psychic energy might boil over and “flip its lid” like a covered pot on a stove with no steam vents.

This might account for the cruel actions toward children by Sister Francesca at the Missionaries of Charity, founded by Mother Teresa.

Another version of the shadow appears as a comic strip, pop culture figure, “Only the shadow knows…” And more recently, the science fiction TV program, Lexx, features His Divine Shadow as the archdeacon of darkness.

Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jung and other figures like Mircea Eliade and Joseph Campbell argued that the shadow carries or evokes some degree of numinosity. So if we go to a movie and become fascinated say, with the Joker (Batman) or Darth Vader (Star Wars), we’re almost having a kind of “religious” experience in that we’re going beyond our everyday consciousness into something different and captivating.

Debates continue in religion, the humanities and social sciences as to whether this kind of practice is a healthy venting (or possibly redirection) of unavoidable negative impulses or something that simply fans the flames of evil.

Related » Archetype, Darth Vader, Demons, Dracula, Hermann Hesse, Franz Kafka, Self, Steppenwolf, Trickster, Vampires, Witch, Yoni



William Shakespeare

Jimmie – shakespeare resources2

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was an English playwright and poet born in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Shakespeare worked as an actor in London, where he began to compose sonnets.

With the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, a company of players to become known as the King’s Men, Shakespeare leased the first Globe Theatre, erected in 1598. The first Globe burnt down in 1613 but Shakespeare and his troupe had already been performing at a new Globe Theatre.

The genius of his work, written mostly for the Globe, was recognized by Queen Elizabeth and her extensive court. So, unlike some ignored geniuses, Shakespeare enjoyed great success and considerable wealth in his lifetime.

Shakespeare's Globe, London (rebuilt 1997)

Shakespeare’s Globe, London (rebuilt 1997) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today, many forget that his plays were written to be seen, not read.

If theatre going isn’t a practical choice, a good alternative is the BBC television series (VHS/DVD) of Shakespeare’s plays. This production boasts authentic costumes, on-location castles and the players’ ancestrally inherited accents to help bring the mystical bard’s works to life.

It has been suggested that Shakespeare is the greatest writer ever, not only in the English language, but in any language. Some feminists contend this idea, suggesting that writers like Jane Austen and Emily Dickinson are equal if not superior to Shakespeare’s wit and wisdom. And others maintain that, if Johann Wolfgang von Goethe had not written in German, he might have rivaled Shakespeare’s literary throne.

Sir John Gilbert's 1849 painting: The Plays of...

Sir John Gilbert’s 1849 painting: The Plays of William Shakespeare, containing scenes and characters from several of William Shakespeare’s plays. Since the artist died in 1897, this work is now in the public domain. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before I converted to Catholicism I visited an Anglican Church (the Church of my baptism). An Anglican minister preaching about the Biblical Book of Job said that it was “like Shakespeare.” The way he said it seemed to imply that Shakespeare was better literature than the Bible. Many might disagree, and popularity is not necessarily an indicator of absolute value, but from 1986 to 1993 Shakespeare ranked third in the Top 10 Authorities cited in academic journals of the Arts and Humanities, with the Bible at 5th place.¹

¹ Institute for Scientific Information as cited in The Globe and Mail, Toronto: Southam, February 11, 1993. I’m not sure if those stats include Religious Studies and Theology. And I would be willing to bet that worldwide readership of the Bible is far stronger than that of Shakespeare. So these stats might be a good indicator of how persuasive statistics can be, depending on the selection, interpretation and presentation of data.

Related » Arjuna, Atlantis, George Berkeley, Glamour, Hamlet, Homer, Iago, John Keats, Macbeth, Madness, Merchant of Venice, John Milton, Othello, Pericles, Psychosis, Radha, Reincarnation, Romeo and Juliet, Shylock, Unconscious


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Angela Marie Henriette Dance of Shakti

Shakti is a Sanskrit term for female power, sometimes called “serpent power” because it is said to rise upwards like a serpent through the chakras of the meditating yogi or yogini.

Shakti also denotes a general principle of creative, cosmic energy. When personified it takes the form of a goddess, such as Siva‘s consort Parvati, or Krishna‘s playmate, Radha.

In New Age parlance the term arguably signifies the empowered, aware and holistic woman, as we find with figures like Shakti Gawain. Another meaning is the idea of the Cosmic, Divine or Great Mother.

Related » Kundalini, Tantra, Raja yoga


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The Shamans vision by seriykotik1970 / Ian

The Shamans vision by seriykotik1970 / Ian

A shaman (From Evenki, saman: ecstatic one) is a healer or wise-person, believed to have the ability to perceive spiritual beings and matrices of power, and in some instances perform magic.

Shamans believe that their otherworldly focus may bring tangible results into the mundane world.

Shamanic practice often involves entering into trance states induced by rhythmic music, drumming, dancing, the wearing of animal pelts or paraphernalia such as feathers and horns, and imbibing in naturally occurring psychedelic drugs like peyote.

The visions and journeys of the shaman are said to transcend the usual boundaries of space and time. And some shamans apparently perform unusual feats such as creating a butterfly out of thin air.

Many shamans adhere to a cosmology of three interconnected worlds:

  • The underworld of demons and spirits of the unhappy dead
  • The middle world of everyday earthly life
  • The upper world of helpful spirits

In shamanism mental and physical illness is often seen as a loss or theft of the soul. To heal another person, the shaman apparently embarks on a spiritual voyage to recover a soul to its rightful owner. Alternately, they may remove a spiritual object from a sick person’s soul that is presumably responsible for the illness.

Because it is believed that illness may be brought on by spiritual attack or molestation, the shaman battles negative spiritual forces, beings and objects, which in subtle planes may be tampering with a sick person’s soul.

Most negative forces are said to emerge from the underworld into the middle world, where the shaman battles them by harnessing the helping powers of upper world spirits.

dream of the shaman by Cornelia Kopp

dream of the shaman by Cornelia Kopp

Anthropological research on shamanism suggests that many shamans undergo some form of crisis at a young age, which in contemporary society would likely be viewed as a breakdown or the onset of a mental illness.

This crisis may involve an inner experience of being dismembered, seeing one’s skeleton or being skinned alive.

While some may uncritically accept the enchanting and miraculous truth-claims made by shamans, others would probably say we have no way of knowing whether or not shamanic altered states are genuinely spiritual or mere personal wishes, physiologically induced hallucinations or the activation of memory or primitive brain regions. As for stories about magic, these in large part remain part of an oral tradition, sometimes recorded by anthropologists but clearly not part of the mainstream media or scientific community.

Some traditional Christians see the whole shamanic experience as somewhat egotistic, perhaps compensatory, and spiritually inferior to the Christian light. Some may see it as demonic deception.

Regardless where one stands on this issue, it seems valid to ask the following questions:

  • Are some shamans opportunists capitalizing on the vulnerability or gullibility of others?
  • Do some shamans deceive themselves and truly believe they’re doing valuable spiritual work when, in fact, unresolved psychological issues contribute to their spiritual deception?
  • Or, conversely, might the shaman truly have access to realms, powers and abilities that most of us do not understand nor possess?
  • And a fourth option – Do some shamans access actual realms and do real work but, nevertheless, could “graduate,” as it were, to a higher level of spiritual work?

The Romanian scholar Mircea Eliade notes that not all initiated into shamanism emerge as successful shamans. Some fail to regain a sense of psychological balance deemed meaningful by self and society. Others choose to pursue another vocation if being a shaman is not economically viable within their community.¹

¹ Eliade stresses that shamans experience “ecstasy” but some feel that he doesn’t define that term very well. See

Related » Animism, Controlled Dreaming, Evil, Fasting, Jimi Hendrix, Odin, Saint, Song, Soul Loss, Ticket, Witch, Yoda

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Colors Aglow by Sanford Kearns

Colors Aglow by Sanford Kearns

Many world mythologies, religions and occult practices suggest that some beings and objects have the ability to change shape. Today this is collectively called shapeshifting.

In ancient Greece, for example, Zeus transforms himself into a Swan to entice Leda. And in ancient Rome, Ovid‘s Metamorphosis is mostly about gods, animals, people and objects that continually change shape.

The idea is also found in Europe, Africa, South America, North America and China. Among these cultures, the wolf, tiger, fox and jaguar figure prominently as shapeshifters.

Traditionally, shapeshifting may involve transformations among people, spirits of the dead, gods or animals. Sometimes it involves a man or woman becoming a beast-man or a beast-woman.

Ethically speaking, shapeshifters may be good, evil or something in-between, as with the Native American trickster.

The ancient Chinese distinguish between legal and illegal shapeshifting. Legal shapeshifting brings increased knowledge through the study of ancient classics. Illegal shapeshifting is gained through a form of tantric sex where female power is stolen by the male though the act of coitus reservatus—that is, intercourse without male ejaculation.

Promotional cover art for Mystique #11, by Mike Mayhew – Wikipedia

Contemporary ET and UFO lore talks about alleged alien shapeshifters from other planets or dimensions. These ET shapeshifters are often said to be living on Earth and masquerading as human beings.¹ Some conspiracy theorists believe that ET shapeshifters have arrived on Earth to dominate and oppress humanity. Others take a less alarmist approach, saying they’re benevolent creatures trying to guide us to a brighter future.

In science fiction the shapeshifter is widespread. Actor René Auberjonois, for instance, plays Odo in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, a character who can assume any form he chooses. And from Marvel comics we have Mystique (Raven Darkhölme).

¹ A variation of this idea is the “walk-in,” where an ET soul apparently resides in a human body. It’s not always clear if this would be permanent or, perhaps, temporary or periodic.

Related » Loki, Tantra, Werewolf

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Tuwinische Schamanin, Ai-Churek (Moon Heart, gestorben 22.11.2010) während einer Zeremonie am Feuer bei Kyzyl, Tuva, Russland – Dr. Andreas Hugentobler via Wikipedia

Shamanism is the practice and anthropological study of the shaman.

Some say the word shamanism is an academic construct and an umbrella term applying to a wide range of phenomena. And different people do, in fact, use the term for distinct ideas and purposes.

For example, in her forward to Shamanism, Jean Houston hopes that

[the book’s] scope and depth…will cause us to rethink our tendency to label and pathologize that which may be one of the most valuable and courageous forms of our human condition.¹

Michael Harner, at the time of the last update to this entry in 2009, emphasized the healing and creative aspects of shamanism, but didn’t always. In the 1970’s Harner defined the shaman as

A man or woman who is in direct contact with the spirit world through a trance state and has one or more spirits at his command to carry out his bidding for good or evil.²

These days, Harner seems more ambitious. At his website he now seems to be in the same league as a leading Hindu yogi and Japanese scholar:

What Yogananda did for Hinduism and D.T. Suzuki did for Zen, Michael Harner has done for shamanism, namely bring the tradition and its richness to Western awareness.³

The late Terrence McKenna said that shamanic cosmologies surpass current scientific models which, like any hegemonic idea, dogmatically influence our culture and outlook.

An excerpt from Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution by Terence McKenna - originally uploaded by oceandesetoiles

An excerpt from Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution by Terence McKenna – originally uploaded by oceandesetoiles

However, the word shamanism, extends beyond the realm of academia, self-promotion and New Age book publishing.

Jim Morrison from the The Doors was interested in shamanism, at times envisioning himself as a kind of flower power shaman. The Doors wrote successful songs like “Shaman’s Blues,” “Break on Through” and “Celebration of the Lizard” that evoked shamanic ideas.

Artists like Norval Morrisseau use the words “shaman artist” to describe themselves and promote their work. And graphic artist Heidi Reyes puts an interesting twist on the idea of shamanism with her work “Me at The Shamanism Centre.” Her artwork seems to imply that shamanism can exist in virtual reality without being grounded in any specific earthly location.

Heidi Reyes Me at The Shamanism Centre

Like some magicians and pagans, a few enthusiasts of Shamanism seem unduly impressed by alleged miracles. One student of Shamanism once told me with amazement about a Shaman who (apparently) can create butterflies out of nothing. Big deal, I thought. The whole idea of spirituality is to try to do God’s will, not to amaze and befuddle with paranormal tricks.

But I guess this critique could be leveled against adherents in most paths who fanatically seek the magical or miraculous as a kind of compensation for unresolved psychological complexes. It’s easier to see oneself – or exalt others – as “special,” “unique” and “gifted” in place of dealing with unresolved psychological pain.

"Hamatsa emerging from the woods--Koskimo...

“Hamatsa emerging from the woods–Koskimo” “Hamatsa shaman, three-quarter length portrait, seated on ground in front of tree, facing front, possessed by supernatural power after having spent several days in the woods as part of an initiation ritual.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

¹ Shirley Nicholson ed., Shamanism, Wheaton, Il.: A Quest Book, 1988, p. xiii.

² Michael Harner, Hallicinogens and Shamanism, 1973, cited in Michael C. Howard, Contemporary Cultural Anthropology, 2nd ed., Toronto: Little, Brown and Co. , 1986, p. 448.


Related » Animism, Controlled Dreaming, Mircea Eliade, Evil, Fasting, Soul Loss, Spiritual Attack, Witch


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