I started by imagining going into a dark cave and finding an exit somewhere at the back. Once out of the cave I went across a river and had to wait for an animal to come along. For me it was always a horse and it lead me to a glade in a wood where I would always find my inner guide, a friendly chubby man called Ben. Part of the process involved using a set of archetypes (in the Jungian sense) and I had previously decided to use the set represented by the major Tarot cards.
On this occasion I was setting out to gain some insight into the difficulties I was experiencing dealing with the people in a research group I had founded eight years earlier. I asked Ben for help with the problem. He reminded me of the symbols of strength that I had gained from previous encounters with him and recommended that I visit the Tower. As we walked out of the glade I asked him what the Tower was like. He just laughed and said “Wait and see”. The image of the Tower on Tarot cards is a stone tower being struck by lightning with people being thrown off. I couldn’t imagine talking to a stone tower!
We emerged from the wood a looked out across a plain. There was a castle in the far distance, with a few stone towers. Ben called out for the Tower to come. As he called I saw the drawbridge of the castle lower and a black knight, armed with a long black lance, rode out. He was a very menacing figure and even though he was long way away I could see that his lance was aimed directly at my heart. He steadily rode across the plain and only came to a stop when his lance was a few inches away from my body, right on my heart.
I now started the negotiation with him by asking, “what do you want from me and my life in order to be my friend and ally?”
“Submit” he said in a threatening voice, “just submit.”
I didn’t understand, this wasn’t how negotiations were normally conducted. “I am afraid”, I said, “and you are very destructive.”
“That’s right”, he said, “and you have to submit to me!”
By now I was genuinely afraid that I might become caught up in some negative energy. So I asked Ben what I should do.
“You should submit to the negative energy”, said Ben, “in the sense of owning that you feel destructive and was therefore the same as the Black Knight.”
“OK”, I said to the knight,” Yes there is a destructive side of myself. I want to get revenge and to punish. So I submit to you, and I am very afraid. I know the destructive forces are in me and I really don’t want them to be and I’m afraid of being taken over by you.”
“I will take you over if you carry on fighting me – submit!”
“Yes, yes I submit. I want to kill those fuckers in the research group. I nearly killed myself trying to help them and the bastards rejected me. I want to annihilate Mark and Dave and put Mike down and …. Argh! I really want to kill them all..” At this point I started to scream and sob. I recognised that these were the feelings that were holding be back in dealing with the people in the research group – and admitting it was scary but an enormous relief. As the crying died down I knew that I had complied with his demand, so could enter the next phase of the negotiation.
“What do you have to give me in return?” I asked.
“Love and creativity”, he said immediately. “If you can own and express your destructive side then I can give you your loving and creative side. Your ability to build up is hidden behind your desire to destroy and punish – you cannot find ways to help the group because you have secretly been wanting to destroy the group and all the people in it. Now you can let that go and really find ways to help.”
“And do you have a gift for me?” I asked
“Yes” he said. He got off his horse and laid down his lance. I wondered whether he was going to give me armour or his shield. Then from behind his shield he brings out a beautiful, delicate pink flower. It’s a rose, just opening. He placed it in my heart. “The rose will radiate your love and enable you to be powerfully creative – but only if you have a pure heart” he said.
I knew he meant that I had to own my destructiveness to do this. I sobbed again, this time with gratitude and feeling the love in my heart. As this wave of tears subsided I turned to Ben and asked “Have I finished?”
“No”, said Ben, “Ask him what nurtures the rose, what makes it grow.”
I face the Black Knight once more. “What nurtures the rose?” I ask.
“Loving yourself. You also need to own the fact that you want to punish and kill yourself for what you have done. If you can forgive yourself, and so love yourself, then the rose will be nourished – you’ll feed the rose and increase you capacity for love and creativity.”
I sobbed once more knowing the truth of what he had said and relieved that at last it was recognised and I could start to address it. As the tears subsided once more I said “Thank you” and the ‘Tower’ left. Ben and I walked back towards the glade.
“Every step I take in my inner journey seems to take me so far”, I said, “yet when the next step comes along it seemed still larger – it just goes on and on.”
“You are doing fine”, said Ben, “just remember to keep working on yourself and everything will be fine.”
“I don’t even know who you really are”, I said – and as I said it I felt my contact with him fade and found myself back in the room.