Dwarfs, illumination and knowing that everything matters.

11 Sep
Telesphoros,  – Janet Balboa, Anam Cara detail, marker and colored pencil, 19″ x 24″ c. 2014

Telesphoros, – Janet Balboa, Anam Cara detail, marker and colored pencil, 19″ x 24″ c. 2014

 

I think of him as a healer of sorts- but maybe not a healer of symptoms, more of a caretaker of our need to create meaning where it seems none exists. A reconciler that ties things together- a witness to something greater that assures us that somehow what happens to us makes sense – that things are ultimately cared for and brought to completion. That somewhere, beyond our understanding, all is made right in the end.

Telephoros, the strange little ‘Accomplisher’ of the ancient world started out as a Celtic god. His original identity has been lost to us, but the name the Greeks gave him when he was brought to Anatolia in the 3rd century BCE give a clue: telos – meaning end, or purpose and phoros – carrying or bearing. ‘Endcarrier’. ‘Purposebearer’. His name actually means “the accomplisher” or “bringer of completion” in Greek. Telephoros was closely associated with Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine.

Carl Jung also had a fondness for Telephoros. He carved this sentence in a stone at his estate in Bolligen, Switzerland:

‘Time extending through the ages is a child playing at a game of chance. The child is king. Telephoros runs through the dark places of the world like a star sparkling in the depths, leading the way to the gates of the sun and the land of dream.’

To the modern mind, so much of what happens around us and to us seems so pointless. So accidental. So inconceivably beyond our ability to do anything about it. Our world perfectly acts out Jung’s metaphorical child playing his game of chance – great things happen. Accidents happen. Bad things happen to good people. We are overjoyed. We suffer. Despairing because chance implies randomness, suggesting non-order, no pattern, senselessness… one look around us could easily confirm this as truth. And yet…

‘Telephoros runs through the dark places of the world like a star sparkling in the depths, leading the way to the gates of the sun and the land of dream.’

To the ancient mind, most worldly or psychological forces were personified – it’s simply much easier to relate to a person or animal than to a concept of something. So our very human need for completion and purpose became Telephoros, personified as a dwarf, wearing a hood or cap and carrying a lantern. Dwarfs stand as a guardian of the threshold between the conscious and the unconscious realms. They traditionally have a life hidden from mankind, preferring twilight and night to daytime. I like to think Telephoros, when he’s not gatekeeping, carries his lantern through the depths of our personal and collective unconscious, shedding light on that which is in darkness, illuminating through dreams and longings what remains black and unknown in our waking hours. He casts a glimmer of purpose, balance and completion into the darkness of misunderstanding. He runs beyond limited concepts of time and space, acknowledging those things that appear accidental or random or unfinished. Holding his small light, he hurries ahead, urging us to the gates of the sun, the place of illumination, where life can be seen in its wholeness.
If we choose to entertain Telesphoros’ metaphor, we will find it easier if we adopt an attitude of faith that outside of time and mind heartaches will end, opposites are reconciled and healing is accomplished. The price of this faith is our willingness to allow light into our darkness.
Can we allow things the right to exist as they are, beyond our human compulsion to categorize them as good or bad, wrong or right, timely or untimely? Can we begin to conceive of a metaphorical space where opposites are reconciled and everything brought to completion- in its own time? Can we be ok with that? With not knowing? With letting something so important to us be ultimately out of our hands?
Compassion, deep self-love, acceptance, gratitude, mystery – these are concepts that we must personally personify in order to connect with the ancient belief echoed by every great teacher throughout time – that beyond our understanding, somehow, all is made right, things are cared for and everything matters.

 

Meditating on or moving with Telephoros can be particularly enlightening. (puns are good!)
In my drawing, Anam Cara, I’ve put the symbol for the feminine on his cape, indicating his integration with the intuitive feminine shadow world of dreams and the unconscious. Jung seems to have included the symbol for Venus on his Telephoros figure. ( I’m not sure if this is certain, but it makes sense.) Metaphorically balancing all energies,(i.e. healing), contemplating the concept of Telephoros provides a bridge to the idea of completion, integration, acceptance and ultimately surrender. Light a candle placed in a bowl of water. This is a great symbol of light in the unconscious realm.

Now… imagine seeing a book below the surface of a lake that is smooth as glass. Reach into the water and pull up the book. Watch the ripples as they recede and return the water to stillness. Notice the clouds float by in the reflection of the sky. Are you on the shore? In a boat? is the water cool? Is it a hot day? Do you hear birds? what do you smell? This sort of detail really gets your self involved and often allows things to drift to the surface that just as well might have remained on the bottom…. Become aware of what’s around you. Whenever you are ready, go curl up by the foot of an great oak tree and imagine reading that book!

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