Best Slowly: The Guardians at the Gate
Jumping Mouse, awe-struck, slowly circled the immense being. He had lost all understanding. It’s the feeling humans have when an Angel pays a visit.
And then he came to the eye, which was looking directly into him and seeing with a vision much greater than his own. He felt penetrated to the core.
With great respect and humility, Jumping Mouse asked, “What are you?”
The great being spoke with a voice like distant thunder, “I am Buffalo.”
I can feel myself speeding up; the story suddenly builds momentum. Now the interior realm is truly entered. The outer reality gives way to an older, deeper, inner dimension of consciousness. No more mice.
Barbara Hannah’s book on active imagination starts out with this insight from von Franz: “If we look inward, the ‘other’ looks at us too, but with a strange faraway eye.”
Robert Bly says, “That experience of being looked back at sobers us up immediately. If, as human beings, we have any doubts about the existence of the interior soul, we give up those doubts instantly.”
He goes on to say that the awareness of this hidden one inside us, “is a proper aim for all initiation.”
We need to have our belief taken away. In one of the short stories I’ve written, a young man follows a wounded deer into a forbidden part of the forest. When he looks into a pool, someone else is looking back at him.
It’s my retake on the myth of Narcissus. Instead of falling in love with his own reflection, he sees the other and she’s the reason he won’t leave the pool.
To call her an unconscious complex misses the mark. She is not just Anima and she would turn and vanish if called that.
There are always guardians at the gate. Sometimes it’s a dragon that guards the way into the dream world, and sometimes there’s a maze that must be entered. The cost of admission is high.
Myths can be deceptive. Often the secret to the crossing is a gift: a piece of bread or meat, a few coins. But it’s not that simple. We need to open the story.
Buffalo speaks, “I am dying and the only thing that can make me whole is the eye of a mouse.” Who saw that one coming?
Jumping Mouse jumps at this, and says, “I am a mouse. You can take my eye.” This is an act of deep significance.
Now Buffalo responds, “I will lead you across the prairie to the Sacred Mountains, for I know your vision and your quest.”
What just happened? It’s far too easy to reduce these inner beings to abstract concepts and ideas. They’re real and they’re living. They are also autonomous and have their own free will.
Once again, when the inner one looks back and sees us, it’s not just our face that’s seen; it’s the secrets in our heart. If this doesn’t bother you, it should.