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Healing America’s Narratives: How One Guy Unwittingly Invites Us to Heal

[Part of a series, this essay is adapted from Chapter Ten of Healing America’s Narratives: the Feminine, the Masculine, & Our Collective National Shadow — Now available] Healing America’s Narratives’ exploration of our collective American Shadow began as a brief essay in September 2016, which made the case that the Republican candidate for the presidency, all by himself, embodied America’s Shadow elements — ignorance, arrogance, fear, bigotry, violence, greed, excess, bullying, and untrustworthiness. As the book’s direction emerged and evolved, his role and embodiment diminished in importance but offered both a gift and a threat. The gift manifests because, even when he doesn’t actually believe what he says,…

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Healing America’s Narratives: Bullied, Woke, & Canceled in the Polarized State(s) of America

[Part of a series, this essay is adapted from Chapter Nine of Healing America’s Narratives: The Feminine, the Masculine, & Our Collective National Shadow — Now available. An earlier version of this piece, which was a precursor to Chapter Nine, appeared in April 2021.] In its healthiest manifestation nowadays, being and/or staying ‘woke’ refers to becoming aware of social justice issues that need to be addressed, and ideally, taking action that addresses them. More generally, being woke involves being increasingly able to see ‘what is’ beyond the limitations of one’s personal, familial, and cultural biases. No one that I’ve met, read, listened to, heard of, or been…

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Healing America’s Narratives: And That’s Not All

[Part of a series, this essay is adapted from Chapter Eight of Healing America’s Narratives: the Feminine, the Masculine, & Our Collective National Shadow — Now available]¹ Both beyond and within the narratives explored in the first five essays in this series — selected excerpts from the histories of women, Native Americans, African Americans, the Vietnam War, and the post-9/11 “war on terror,” other manifestations of our collective American Shadow beckon. Each, as with those first five, deserves more consideration than it gets here. Again, we are exploring denial and projection — those tendencies to deny both historical and current American manifestations of…

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Healing America’s Narratives: Lessons Not Learned

[Part of a series, this essay is adapted from Chapter Seven of Healing America’s Narratives: the Feminine, the Masculine, & Our Collective National Shadow — Now available] In September 2003, six months after the U. S. began bombing Iraq again, Jonathan Schell wrote a long, crystal-clear sentence, employing some 250 words and quite a few semicolons, that pointed out what “the basic mistake” of the Bush policy in Iraq was not. Schell then wrote a fourteen-word sentence, in italics and with no semicolons: “The main mistake of American policy in Iraq was waging war at all.”¹ Despite reports from two separate teams of U. N. weapons…

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Healing America’s Narratives: Dominos, Defoliation, Death, & Democracy

[Part of a series, this essay is adapted from Chapter Six of Healing America’s Narratives: the Feminine, the Masculine, & Our Collective National Shadow (available October 2022)] Decades before the 2003 U. S. invasion of Iraq, the United States invaded Vietnam — initially with “advisors” and eventually with bombs, troops, and bullets. After its defeat in World War II, Japan was forced to leave the former French colony, Indochina — as Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia were then known — which it had occupied during the war. After Japan’s departure, France’s attempt to reassert control of the area was thwarted by popular support…

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Healing America’s Narratives: Slavery, Civil Rights, and Whose Lives Matter

[Part of a series, this essay is adapted from Chapter Five of Healing America’s Narratives: the Feminine, the Masculine, & Our Collective National Shadow (October 2022)] In the conventional history of the United States, we tend not to hear or read too much about the actual moments of invasion of African communities, the violent kidnappings, the wretched conditions for those who made it onto the ships, the watery graves of those who died in transport, the felt experience of any one of these human beings amid those unimaginable episodes, and the many subsequent episodes of being bought and sold and charged with forced, unpaid,…

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Healing America’s Narratives: Trails of Tears and Broken Treaties

[Part of a series adapted from Healing America’s Narratives: the Feminine, the Masculine, & Our Collective National Shadow (October 2022). This essay is an overview that scratches the surface of Chapter Four of the book.] Some five-hundred-plus years ago, European explorers began bumping into land masses now known as South, Central, and North America and the islands of the Caribbean. The indigenous inhabitants of these areas include the Taíno, Aztec, Lakota, Yucatán, Iroquois, Inca, Nez Perce, Huron, Apache, Cherokee, Navajo, Olmec, Inuit, Toba, Quechua and Chibcha, among many, many more. These peoples had been on these lands for some 10,000 to 20,000…

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Healing America’s Narratives: Fear of the Feminine & the Subjugation of Women

[Part of a series, this essay is adapted from Chapter Three of Healing America’s Narratives: the Feminine, the Masculine, & Our Collective National Shadow (October 2022)] True for a boy as well, a girl born in 1774, 1862, 1917, 1963, 1971, 2001, 2017, 2022,* or any other year received cultural givens and expectations that were unique to the time, place, and familial, ethnic, racial, and financial circumstances of her birth and childhood. That she was born a biological female provided an additional given that would impact what was expected of and available to her. While an investigation of any aspect of our collective…

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Our Collective National Shadow

[Adapted from Chapter Two of Healing America’s Narratives: The Feminine, the Masculine, & Our Collective National Shadow by Reggie Marra (October 2022)] In mid-March, 2003 I sat with Animas Valley Institute’s Bill Plotkin and others in Payson, Arizona, for five days of an experience entitled “Sweet Darkness: The Initiatory Gifts of the Shadow, Projections, Subpersonalities, and the Sacred Wound.” On the evening of our first day there, the United States began bombing Iraq. So while we were exploring our respective individual Shadows and projections, our country’s collective Shadow and projections — “the evil out there” that we tend to see in other nations,…

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Cultural Givens & the View From Here

[Adapted from Chapter One of Healing America’s Narratives: The Feminine, the Masculine, & Our Collective National Shadow by Reggie Marra (October 2022)] Everything we do or say arises through our worldview, which arises through our experiences, beliefs, values, relationships, aspirations, and development. It includes those aspects of ourselves of which we’re not yet aware — our Shadow. Each of us, in our earliest moments and years is given a view of the world — “cultural givens,” — direct experiences of and beliefs about the world that our family of origin holds to be true. These experiences and beliefs include everything from ethnicity…

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