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The Metamorphic Journey,” with Craig Deininger, Ph.D.”

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    Yes, Marianne. I think that Gregor’s plight is an excellent example of metaphor, and as you mention, of shadow. After all, it is a bug that he transforms into. And for most, I think it is our tendency to push the insect-qualities down into the shadow. I mean, who wants to consciously associate oneself with a cockroach when there are other supposedly nobler options like eagles and dolphins, etc? But the shadow work is so healthy. I’m a big fan of keeping an eye on it as best I can, so that I don’t inflate into the too high up regions and then have to suffer (another) fall–not to mention, the value of integrating “my” totality, which is greater than simply all the conscious, and supposedly “better” stuff all stacked-up one-sidedly on the scales.

    But more to the point, you illustrate how the hero’s journey can transpire entirely internally. In which case the metaphor gives the internal condition a body visible. Now we have the image, the matter to work with. And I think this is relevant to myth in these times. While we’re engaged in the mundane of taking the subway to work, brushing our teeth, fielding emails and texts, the hero’s or heroine’s adventure in the day to day is greatly internalized. So all the more need for metaphorical directions, they can deepen the ordinary. And I find a freedom in that, however big or small it may be.



    Stephen:While we are engaged in the mundane…

    Yes! As a young dancer (15/16) had to take the “train” (subway) for classes in NYC. I was coming from out of town (so would spend a few months/summers up in the city over the years.)

    I remember the train tunnels underground, the heat, the sound…it felt quite mythic. The subway was never just a “subway.” Those trains (were dragons.) And I wrote a poem ode to them entitled “Dragons of the Underworld,” which was published in a small periodical.
    The trains “roared,” you could feel the electricity in the air…the heat of the tunnels, the ogle of the yellow eye of an oncoming train…and the power of these metallic beasts roaring past.
    My favorites were the “red dragons,” the express trains now sadly long since retired. The whole underground tunnels would vibrate with sound and wind of passing trains…you could feel it in the bones…it was exciting!

    Then as I referenced in the ode after queuing up like billiard balls, we would hop onto a dragon and fly into the dark!

    After a long day of dance (tired and hungry) the roars of passing dragons in the tunnels never failed to inspire and excite as everything else was drowned out except their presence. I needed the trains to be dragons…something vibrant and alive and magical living in the urban jungle.
    I felt for the other commuters who were exhausted from work and life and only wanted to get from point A to B.
    But the dragons were mostly my secret. Except I was lucky to have a Mom who supported my “imaginative stance.” Grin. She too would reference the “red dragons.” And it was worth a poem after all!

    The reason perhaps for my mythic experience also related to having seen CBS’s “Beauty and the Beast,” which has all the mythic symbols of a “real underworld.” A blend of reality and fantasy and classic literature/poetry.
    Central Park as well has its own wonderful mythic feeling…it’s incredible even years later walking out of the city and into the park how the sound of traffic begins to mute as one passes through this “invisible,” barrier and is surrounded by the green.

    And to be fair there are many wonderful parks in NYC, Brooklyn etc.

    If one knows where to look!!




    Well, you have me at “dragons.” I love the creatures. In fact, so much that there’s always been a part of me that is sad when a dragon is slain in a story, even if they were the bad kind hoarding treasure and breathing fire on everything for no good reason and all.

    But to me, they’ve always been the treasure. All mythic beings are to me. Though I wax literal, the tangible image has always moved me more than realizing the connotations–I know, you wouldn’t think so for all my scribblings on metaphor and symbol. Ha.

    But that brings me to your poem, and to poetry per se, which, in the language arts, is the quintessential image-making genre. I simply am enthralled by the image alone, and like Dylan Thomas, by the shapes and sounds of the words. And that may have something to say about getting to the metaphor. That we can intellectualize and interpret what it means all we want, but there’s no getting there without the image. And maybe by creating the art, making the image, as you did in your “Dragon of the Underworld” it is not the train that shows itself, but the dragon in all its dragon-ness that is the heart of the red train. Or should I say, that is the red heart of the train.

    And as your post reads, you now have an image that your mother and you could come back to, to really get to that heart imaginatively. I guess what I’m circling here, is that the dragon is the main event–to me at least–and that being imaginatively present with that image, the rest follows. I still like to carry the residue of the intellectual understanding of the mechanics of metaphor so that I can feel its application to my life. But just enough so that it’s on automatic, so that I don’t have to think about it during the encounter, and instead just get to remain there, fully in the myth.



    Poetry… that call came from Beauty and the Beast (my parents vetted it for me) and I am thankful. Ron Pearlman was a former Shakespearean actor.
    And not only was there this mythical/real underworld below the (dragon tunnels) but also worlds of poems and poets…Shakespeare and Frost I knew…but new names echoed in my young head…and I had to find every poem recited…every poet mentioned!
    Libraries and bookstores called! I eagerly scanned shelves and flipped through volumes searching for these treasures made of words and sounds and images!
    I gained a reputation among my friends of being someone who memorized a lot of stuff. Heh heh. But I loved it! It must have seemed strange but in my preteen and early teen years names like Percy Bish Shelly and Walter De la Mare and Lord Byron…danced in my head!

    During a break in a youth play production, I recited (Xanadu-Samuel Taylor Coleridge) to the musical arranger. She looked at me and said “I have a challenge for you. Look up Alfred Noyse, “The Highwayman.”
    I did…and it became my new favorite! That one was “acted out.” To be clear no one was making me memorize…I had zeal for it!
    The greatest challenge because of the rhythm and wording was “Fern Hill,” yes Dylan Thomas. I loved and love it…moving through the images…walking through the orchards hearing the foxes bark “clear and cold” and the “sabbath ringing slowly in the pebbles of the holy stream.”

    the wishes “racing through the house high hay…”

    It’s especially poignant and freeing at the same time. The last line always catches me. “I sang in my chains like the sea.”

    And one of my very favorites but I have no idea which translation I memorized…Renoir Marie Rilke…

    And to wind back to dragons but only the opening lines Rilke: How should we be able to forget those myths at the beginnings of all people? The myths about dragons who at the last moment turn into princesses?

    Because of all these poets including “ “new”poems I learned from Frost and Shakespeare…I began writing my own poems.

    B&B was a call to adventure!!

    Yes, there was a beast in the tunnels but the treasure was not a prince or princess…the treasure and beauty was words and poetry!









      Thank you for the mythblast …

      The theme of metamorphosis is both ancient and timely it is an eternal metaphor of organic change … From insect moth butterfly ,The Golden Ass & Ovid to Kafka & Metamorpho, real name Rex Mason of DC comics. The allusion are quite profound and lots of fun to play with. Such exquisite metaphysical connotation can be aroused with the words and imagery of the metamorphic process. After all is said and done

      “You’re a Butterfly and the Butterflies are free to fly”

      There is also the shadow side of those that believe they have transformed and risen above the heard of common humanity.

      Monarch Mind (Mind Control, MK ULTRA) comes to mind. Pun intended 😀

      But then again there is also the Light side of the process. The moth that is drawn higher nearer the flame compelled to speak in “Conversations Of A Higher Order.”

      Which brings to mind the cautionary compelling words of Paul … “ If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. … But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.“ Lots of fun to seek those Kenshō Samadi Satori moments as One rises to the Flame .… Within …




      I love what you wrote, much to dwell upon. “Yes, As for Campbell, perhaps this is a hero’s journey threshold moment when it is not the others he sees that are alien at the threshold but himself he sees as he ha crossed the threshold overnight into the new strange life as a bug being the threshold because he is still in his own home–so there is a twist on a hero’s journey step, perhaps. ”  Yes, hero’s moment of finally committing to the journey.  IN my dreams, I have encountered a few, on the threshold.

      There are so many variations in the hero’s journey, and as you somewhere elaborated that hero’s journey is part of the Lit curriculum in colleges now.  On the internet, just yesterday, I came across another writer, whose paper, perhaps thesis was ‘change management’, as a hero’s journey.  What more is to come?



      It is refreshing to hear of someone committing to memory the poems that speak to them. And although I don’t categorize mythology definitively as poetry, I often call it that. It surely is poetic. And is so all over the place.

      During my MFA, I committed 60 pages of poetry to memory, some of which in other languages–about 5 pages of Beowulf in Old English, some Baudelaire, Neruda, a longer piece in Sanskrit from the Puranas and, yes, Fern Hill (since we almost need to merit Dylan with having his own language–ha. And these continue to work wonderfully to sustain the language the piece was written in in my awareness–and with that, all the possibilities of syntax or whatever that are normally not amenable to English can become more so–in short, it offers ways to bend the ‘rule’ and refresh/renew the expression).

      But more important, I think memorization is a bit of a lost art, and with that loss, we’ve lost the opportunity to integrate particular pieces that resonate with us into our repertoire, our minds, even, perhaps, our bodies, and language that is somehow both mythic and magical at that.

      That a particular poem or segment of a myth resonates with someone is enough to merit memorization. And I don’t believe in having to extrapolate “why” it resonates with me, it just does.

      Technology has supposedly relieved us of the burden of memorization–don’t need to remember a phone number, for example. But there’s a loss in that, I think. Well, obviously. So good for you for practicing that art. I think it can only deepen ones relationship to the myths or poems, and on a level that I don’t think technology can yet evaluate. Perhaps it will though soon enough.


      Thanks for sharing this. I’m a big fan of the puns. And not just because of the humor part, which they often carry. But often a deeper meaning accompanies as you point out with “monarch.”

      I mean, I appreciate their ambiguity. I remember my creative writing mentor once quoting John Ashbery, and rather sternly “…and ambiguity is clarity!” It struck me. Each of the term’s meanings is the meaning, yes. But more importantly, all of the terms’ meanings are, simultaneously, it’s meaning in a sort of linguistic synesthesia. And I suspect that one need not focus on each to receive the meaning, (or better, experience of the meaning), but rather that their collective meaning is experienced in some way that I am incapable of putting words to. But it certainly opens the vista of possibilities.

      Yes, monarch being both ruler and a butterfly. And in the context you provide, a ruler that abuses power and then the butterfly which I don’t think is very bully-ish.  But an excellent symbol of transformation being caterpillar, chrysalis, and finally wings, a sublimation from crawling on the ground to fluttering in the sky, transporting the creature vertically from the lower to upper realms.

      So you show in the ambiguity you provided, the two sides of the political monarch, high flying and then the caterpillar shadow, as you say, of potential abusive ruler.

      And then there is a sort of third pun, well, actually a slant-pun, if we look at the Greek word for soul psyche, we find it also means, in Greek, a kind of butterfly. How fitting, seeing the butterfly’s individuation (caterpillar/chrysalis/wings), and also even in its flight pattern, reminiscent of scissoring, going in a particular direction yet doing so in an almost frenetic or unpredictable manner. Much like the psychic journey. Reminds me of a famous quote from Jung:

      “But the right way to wholeness is made up, unfortunately, of fateful detours and wrong turnings.  It is a longissima via, not straight but snakelike, a path that unites the opposites in the manner of the guiding caduceus, a path whose labyrinthine twists and turns are not lacking in terrors.”



        All of our lives are a metamorphosis , a journey of the  spirit rising through the mythic chakras in the chrysalis of flesh. An ascension journey from the jungle of our lower beastial nature of ignorance and error allegorized as  base chakra up the spine to the pinnacle of intellect rational thought logic reason intellect . Taking flight from the imprisoning flesh as Papillon  !!! It is A broken , Long And Winding Road … a journey of anguish sorrow trauma awe beauty Love trembling release … may all be enlightening on their Odyssey …

        May all get their wings at their appointed time !!!

        And plant those flowers great for Butterfly gardens metaphors and puns !!!

        Bloom said Leopold … Yes said Molly … Spill some fermented seed said Finnegan !!! It’s all about the metamorphosis of distilled vegetation !!! Spirits , I tell ya !  Spirits from the vine !!! Saluté !!!

        Nature the source of the best allegory and parable …




        Butterflies, transformation/metamorphosis  yes R-3!

        In many cultures butterflies represent the soul.

        And here is my shortest post of the year!


        Yes, and I will follow suit, sunbug,

        and add that the National Geographic butterfly-transformation

        is beautiful. Love how the body at the end resembles a pitch dark

        nightsky dotted with stars.–my new shortest-post record as well 🙂


          Yes !


          shortest post , yes , transformation/metamorphosis/change yes !!!





          O yes e yes !!!

          To Ithaca !!!

          Where Papy Rus and Pen elope !!!

          Record the Journey , metamorphosis ,

          of Married Life … Hieros Gamos

          The Cocoon and Womb of Humanity …

          civilization …


          The butterfly is realized…

          This evening as I waited to enter a dump site….a bright orange and black monarch flickers up above my hood and flies into the tall trees above.


            From Dump Site …

            Through  the

            Flight of the “Sunbug”

            the scarab of Egypt

            that metamorphosis of

            Mere mortal is achieved …

            Through the Synchronicity of

            Individuation …

            The metaphor & metamorphosis

            of the life cycle , the cycle of change ,

            from worm to wing …

            The stages of ascension

            Nigredo, Albedo, Citrinitas and Rubedo.

            in the Magnum Opus

            Are realized …

            Within …

            The Enso …

            “Think you’re escaping and run into yourself. Longest way round is the shortest way home.”

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