Love and fear are our primary emotions. They are also the elemental forces of motivation. Love is the impetus for connecting to our world so that we develop and thrive, while fear compels separation as a means of protection from threats. The fundamental relationship of love and fear offers a profound context for inspiring narratives of crisis, conflict and transformation. At life’s fateful crossings of love and fear, our individual and collective strength and fortitude, our courage of conviction, are forged. This is why the ancient traditions and wonders of story medicine—the fantastical and heroic adventures of love’s triumph over fear—hold such sway.
As observed by Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung in their seminal work on the human psyche, and later expounded upon by renowned mythologist Joseph Campbell, the symbols of hero mythology appear to exist as archetypes within our subconscious mind. On a psychological and spiritual level, we identify with the hero of the story, who conquers fear and overcomes insurmountable odds in order to claim victory and salvation for loved ones. The storytelling traditions of our indigenous ancestors are the foundation of the hero’s journey, which evolved into the archetypal right of passage common to world mythologies.
“To acknowledge the power of myth is to realize that one lives amongst all these ancient tales. And is not we who make sense of the stories, but rather the stories that make sense of us.”
As the oldest form of psychology known to mankind, storytelling draws our truest sense of self into the tale in meaningful and insightful ways. The metaphor of an unfolding adventure of discovery, a journey filled with confounding problems and challenges, motivates us to embrace the power of faith and possibility in our lives. We are inspired to consider new viewpoints of ourselves and the world around us.
I was moved to study and master Therapeutic Imagery because it conjures this symbolic and mythical realm of adventure inside of us, where we find deeper and yet familiar realizations about ourselves and our challenges. As a trance state healing medium, it continues to teach me lessons through the transcendent revelations of my clients. These story-based experiences are profound at bringing new perspective to the trials of love and fear that occur in our everyday lives. We become unstuck. We move beyond limiting beliefs and negative emotional attachments that have held us back and undermined our well being.
THE GREAT LION
Aslan “the Great Lion,” who despite his loving and benevolent nature is not tame and can be both powerful and dangerous, has a particularly profound meaning for me. I read the Narnia stories just before the occurrence of a life shattering event. I was thirteen at the time and the subsequent loss of these books haunted me for years. Of course, I bought them again but the memory lived on as a reminder of the fragility and tragedy of our family . . . and of life itself. Yet Aslan remained steadfast in my heart. Courage was still possible. Inspiration welled up inside of me in music and the calling of songs. Love was bigger than betrayal. And I persevered.
Someone recently asked me why they should trust me to help them. It was a fair and honest question, and a challenge to my ‘license’ as a motivator and inspirator. I told them I am a survivor of childhood trauma and PTSD. I said simply that I understand the landscape of suffering and shame, and I know from my own life how it is necessary to vibrate from a place of love in order to overcome fear. I teach my clients that compassion is strong enough to change individuals, dangerous enough to challenge paradigms, and powerful enough to transform the world.
Indeed, just like the mighty Aslan, love is not always tame.
©2016 Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht. & Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery. All Rights Reserved.
Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery specializes in innovative approaches to workplace wellness, mindfulness training, and personal development. Via private coaching, presentations, workshops, training events, and our partnership in the unique online wellness community Your Wellness Room—used by Kaiser Permanente, EFactor and other notable companies—our nationally recognized programs and practices help people and organizations make positive changes. Please call for a free consultation at (818) 512-4371 or contact us via email.