Category: Metaphor and Symbolism

My First Featured Article on Beliefnet!

No Comments

I'm so Excited!  My article is featured!

  Screenshot

This is truly a first for me, and I was so excited, I had to share with everyone! 

I've been writing for a website called Beliefnet.com for the past few months — a milestone in itself because I've been wanting to write for them for years! 

Why? They feature ALL beliefs from the all major religions, and then some. 

But today is the first time I've been featured on their front page!  The very first of their 4 rotating banners, and with my name just there beneath it!  (Until Monday, July 21st anyway…) 

As someone who's been a ghostwriter for many years, I feel like I've finally stepped out into the sun.  Aaaaaah!  I am fairly certain it has something to do with my lovely friend, Trish Kusal Wilson, who allowed me to use her photographs.  The glory is all the sweeter when it's shared!

It's also a subject that I've never felt quite brave enough to write about, since it's such a touchy one for so many people: prayer — but I've attempted to translate it into something that intellectuals, naturalists and realists might be able to relate to.  See if you can, and let me know.  If nothing else, click to see Trish's glorious photos

I partly began writing for Beliefnet because I thought it would be a good way to connect with an audience that could understand and appreciate the podcast I co-host on Unity Online Radio, called "Pop Conscious: Where Pop Culture & Spirituality Unite!"  It is exactly my ministry style, actually, as I study to one day become a fully ordained Unity minister — rejecting no one and nothing in the world, just using it all to be more understanding, more positive and creative and help make the world a happier place.

Here are links to check it all out, if you wanna!  And if you know anyone who'd make a good radio guest or interview subject while talking about entertainment and enlightenment, please get in touch!

LINKS:

Learn more or contact me at MalaynaDawn.com!

 

Three Steps to being a Conscious Consumer of Pop Culture

No Comments

Published on Unity.org on February 10, 2014           

By Malayna Dawn

       

   

Three Steps to Being a Conscious Consumer of Pop Culture

If you are familiar with the Law of Mind Action and the Law of Attraction, you know that what we think about, we experience. Being a conscious consumer of pop culture (or one who is “Pop Conscious”) means examining our choices of entertainment and mass media for how they enrich our lives … or not.

We can do so with these three basic steps: Observe, Discern, and Choose.

1. Observe

While enjoying your favorite TV shows, films, music, or other entertainment, assume the role of an observer and pay attention to what you’re watching, listening to, and reading. You might think about it in terms of how someone else would see you, based on your choices. 

A good tool is to examine your presets or favorites on your television, stereo, or any entertainment system. What apps dominate your phone or tablet computer? What’s the music on your playlists? Don’t forget your guilty pleasures! Look for patterns and themes. Awareness is the first step!

2. Discern

Discernment is one of our 12 spiritual powers as taught by Charles Fillmore, so why not use it? We can ask ourselves, “How do these shows, songs, books, make me feel?” “Does this make me think? Do I feel smarter afterward?”

If they’re guilty pleasures, why do you feel guilty? Remember, in Unity, we know guilt is not a constructive emotion … unless we can learn from it. It’s okay to “take your hour of rest” and not think for a while. Even God rested on the seventh day! What about these “guilty pleasures” appeals to you? Look for the underlying value.

For example, one summer Stacy felt guilty because she kept playing Yahtzee on her phone instead of taking the time to meditate. She mentioned this to our minister, Rev. Molly Rockey, who replied, “Oh! That’s your Yahtzee meditation!” Giving herself permission to enjoy the break allowed Stacy to get what she needed from the experience. When she was ready, she renewed her meditation practice.

I found that I spent a fair amount of time not just watching murder mystery TV shows, like Castle and Bones, but also being concerned about the characters for days afterward. Good storytelling can account for some of it, but I found I liked solving puzzles and studying psychology. The sense of justice at the end was satisfying too.

3. Choose, Consciously

Ask yourself these questions: What will feed my dreams? What might inspire me to be my best self? What might educate and inform, and also be entertaining? If I’m staring at the TV just to zone out and relax, what will make me feel better later? Are there other shows that might better serve the underlying values I’m looking for? What are other like-minded people watching or listening to? Check with your Facebook friends or even the real ones that you meet in person!

Venture outside the habitual comfort zone and channel surf a bit! Try channels like Discovery and National Geographic, or OWN–Oprah Winfrey’s Network. You can even try just snippets on YouTube or your cable or satellite provider’s preview channel. Expand your horizons by stepping to the edge of what you know and embark upon adventures you can undertake from the couch—instead of being a couch potato, be a conscious armchair explorer! And don’t forget the resources available at Unity Online Radio!

Stacy and I discussed these three steps on our January 27 show, “How to Consume the Media Without Letting It Consume You,” and we talked about personal examples of how we can be “in the world but not of the world” and make everything a reflection of spiritual principle!

We covered guilty pop pleasures like my one-time Twilight obsession, which lead us to examine social evolution and inner demons. The Grammy Awards lead us to marvel at how music can bring the world and generations together. We discussed how Cirque du Soleil confirms that “with God all things are possible.” We talked about science fiction visionary Arthur C. Clarke and how in life today, science fiction from the past has become our present reality.

In media terms, what we pay attention to is measured in ratings and advertising dollars. If we are watching something that has irredeemable characters, no happy endings, or glorifies a lifestyle we find isn’t worth celebrating, we can turn our attention away—simply by changing the channel! Let’s give our support to something we’d like to see continue and gain in popularity. And in this way, our choices can affect others in a positive way.

Everything in our sphere of experience can become a tool for spiritual exploration and self-growth. Having grown up in Unity, Stacy and I have learned to look for the metaphor and metaphysical interpretations of just about everything.

 

Malayna Dawn is cohost of the Unity Online Radio program Pop Conscious: Where Pop Culture and Spirituality Unite. She and her cohost, Stacy Macris Ros, are lifelong Unity students who are both working toward their ministerial credentials. Malayna is the office manager at Unity of the Oaks in Thousand Oaks, California, and author of a spiritual adventure novel, Echoes Across Time.

 

The Mind Behind the Haunted Carnival

No Comments

BOY0073800What is it about Tim Burton’s creative vision that resonates with so many of us? In a time when fairy tales have been cleansed of anything scary, violent or even hinting at death, Burton revives the darkness that has been removed, but for the delight of grown-ups, and without removing the magic.

Look back to the original versions of fairy tales—at the least the earliest written ones we can find recorded, such as Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and you’ll see that they were indeed grim. There was violence and horror mingled with the enchantment. Endings weren’t always happy, but they served a social function…several, actually. Beyond scaring kids into behaving, they also fulfilled the purposes of mythology: to offer a metaphorical guide through the journey of life (which, let’s face it, can be messy). It’s a path we all travel, though at different times—from infancy to independence, puberty to procreation, adulthood to aging and finally, death.

Read More

Art and Fashion Enchant an English Palace

1 Comment

Enchanted_palace_kensington Before embarking upon my recent trip to London with one of my best girlfriends, she told me she really wanted to visit a palace. Though Buckingham Palace does offer tours, it’s only during certain months, and it wasn’t available to us during our 3 days there, so I checked out what Kensington Palace had to offer.  I was so excited with what I found!

Not only do they offer tours through the State Apartments, but a theatre group called Wildworks  has been brought in to bring the rooms to life, not as it was, but an enchante d version that lets you get a *feel* for the lives of the seven princesses that once lived there. The Enchanted Palace is what Kensington Palace has become, through the fashion and art installation that tells their stories. 

(Image from http://ireallylikedaisies.blogspot.com/2010/10/enchanted-palace-seven-princesses-in.html)

042-5-21-Orangery-cu

 

We started our visit with afternoon tea on the terrace of The Orangery, an 18th century building commissioned by Queen Anne (reign: 1702-14)  with French floor to ceiling windows overlooking a manicured garden.  “The building was supposed to serve as greenhouse for over-wintering exotic plant and citrus trees that ornamented the gardens in summer. Its accomplished interior decoration reflects the Orangery’s other uses as a ‘summer supper house’ and a place for entertainment.” 

The only hints toward the Enchanted Nature of what awaited were: 1) the design printed atop a chocolate tea cake and 2) the whimsical archway at the garden entrance.

Read More

Goddesses of Business – Female Archetypes for Professional Roles

No Comments

By Malayna Dawn

P5270033 As women in business, we aren’t always lucky enough to have role models to follow. But if we look back to the ancient world, we can find that many mythologies included ideal feminine concepts that were not restricted to the care of home and family.

The psychologist Carl Jung (1875-1961) used familiar symbols as models for patterns of behavior or personality traits called “archetypes”. We have many archetypes at work within us, helping us to fulfill our various roles in life. There are numerous images to choose from, but for representations of ideally powerful women, goddesses are probably the best. 

(Photo of Athena at the Vatican Museum taken by Malayna Dawn)

Listed below is a sampling of goddess archetypes we can apply to the business world.  Whether we recognize these qualities in ourselves already, or long to possess them, perhaps with these archetypes as guidance, their traits can become part of our working personas.

Athena/Minerva

Athena was the Greek goddess of wisdom, war, the arts, industry, justice and skill. Her mother was Metis, goddess of wisdom, but she emerged fully grown out of her father Zeus' head.  Her Roman counterpart was Minerva, goddess of wisdom, medicine, the arts, dyeing, science, trade, and war. She was also credited with the invention of numbers and musical instruments.

The Athena/Minerva archetype speaks to women’s ability to multi-task.  The Athena-type’s well-rounded education allows them to communicate well with men and earn their respect, which can be very useful in business.


Read More

Being a Shaman – for self and others

1 Comment

Devil-dancers-sri-lanka-435x279 
Image from Lankapura.com

The word “shaman” may bring to your mind images of medicine men in colorful outfits, dancing around a fire to the beat of tribal drums, much like the image of Sri Lankan devil mask dancers, above.  And you’d be right, though you’d be getting only part of the picture.

The REASON they do all of that is to get past our attachment to the “real” world and connect to our inner workings–to help us travel the landscape of our hearts and souls and make us whole in mind, body and spirit

Now for you and me, their performance probably would not work. This is because they’re not speaking our cultural or symbolic language.  To do that, they’d have to tap into our religious and spiritual beliefs, our cultural upbringing and the images we see in our dreams. 

Wikipedia describes shaman as “intermediaries or messengers between the human world and the spirit worlds… Shamans are said to treat illness by mending the soul…[which] restores the physical body of the individual to balance and wholeness.” They also said “Cultural anthropology approaches shamanism as an integral part of the study of culture, belief, and practice.”

So who are the shaman of our modern Western culture?  Who guides us through the realm of dreams, symbols, metaphor and stories to help us make choices in our lives?  Joseph Campbell said it’s the artists—painters, poets, singers, dancers, actors, directors, comedians, etc.  They take inspiration, which is a message from the spirit world, and communicate it in a language we understand.  And when they really get it right, it not only entertains, but touches our hearts and inspires us.  (Of course, that’s not always their goal.)

 Joseph-campbellHeroes-CmyssArchetypes

Joseph Campbell and Caroline Myss both have said that in today’s world, it is up to us to find our own way through our spiritual landscape.  We have to be responsible for the well-being of our own souls. In other words, we need to become our own shaman.

Read More

Examining Our Shadows – The Symbolism of Monster Archetypes

No Comments

How about some Halloween Spirit-uality?

Before we begin examining the monster archetypes, it’s important to realize that they don’t just represent a dark, malevolent side of us, but rather the part of our being that is least familiar to our conscious mind.

They become hostile only when it is ignored or misunderstood–expressing themselves through behavior that often sabotages our wishes or image of ourselves. But they serve us by nudging us toward the light. The important thing is that if you feel some resonance these or any other symbolic roles, you should examine what they represent to YOU. 

Let’s think of our inner monsters as our as unexplored power, bringing light to what is in shadow.

Vampire Monster-Vampire

  • Vampires survive by feeding off the life-force of another. Carolyn Myss describes the vampire archetype this way: “we sometimes form attachments to others because we desire their energy, a desire that manifests through the need to have the ‘other’ take care of our survival.  What has been defined as a co-dependent relationship could easily fall under the vampire template.  You may find it hard to identify yourself as a vampire, yet it is essential to review this archetype personally.  Patterns of behavior such as chronic complaining, overdependence, holding on to a relationship either emotionally or psychically long after it has ended, and chronic power struggles are all indicators of Vampire patterns.”

Read More

Wandering through Wonderland

No Comments

Alice-In-Wonderland-Theatrical-Poster

Just in time for its DVD release on June 1st, here are some of my thoughts, plus some gathered tidbits to serve as a little guide to help you as you wander through Wonderland.

Symbolism and Themes from the Story 

• From a child’s perspective the world is full of strange things…. We become jaded as we get older because we think we have it all figured out. But this story tries to take us back to that child-like state of awe, wonder, as well as the confusion and fear that come with it. (And really without all of that, life can be pretty boring. Better to be childlike, I think!)

• Nature themes – The flowers and animals talk, (one of the six impossible things listed by Alice), but perhaps that means we should listen. The Red Queen prefers dominion over animals, (which sounds quite Biblical), using them as furniture and croquet sets (much like Flintstones, but with a bitter edge). However her attempts at control failed her. The lovely white queen befriended the animals and that became Alice’s advantage as well. Nature is a powerful force, so it’s much better when it’s on your side!

• The magic of the growing and shrinking potions that are used to reach things that are up high or walk through small doors makes me think of Western society’s obsession with pharmaceuticals – the instant fix for the smallest of problems.  Though the story does show that instant fixes offer a different set of problems – like clothes that suddenly don’t fit, or otherwise not fitting into a situation.

• Our heroine Alice gets a lot of costume changes this time! Including a shiny set of armor that still manages to look pretty!  Perhaps this symbolizes her multi-faceted personality. She learns to takes charge and forge ahead both in the imaginary world and the real one.

Read More

Falling in Love with Angkor Thom

3 Comments

No, Angkor Thom is not the name of a guy who hangs around Angkor Wat. It's not the Cambodian equivalent of Indiana Jones. It means "Big City" and it's part of the Angkor Wat temple complex.

Being raised on Indiana Jones, I have a thing for temple ruins. If I weren't so lazy and squeamish about creepy-crawlies, I might have gone into archaeology or some such thing. But due to my love of comfort, this is the closest I'll probably come to Indiana Jones-esque adventure–being driven to temple ruins in an air conditioned car. Good enough for me! 

I'm glad we went to Angkor Wat first, because this way I got to enjoy Angkor Thom's Bayon and Ta Prohm in the beautiful late afternoon sun. The entrance was entrancing, with it's greenery and welcoming committee. (Click on any photo to enlarge it.)

P1010044 On each side of the road is a line of statues, very close together.  

Read More

Exploring the Angkor Wat Temples

4 Comments

For my 40th birthday, I wanted to do something BIG. Something from my Life List, something that came from my dreams.  Since I was in Sri Lanka for the big event, it made sense to take advantage of being on this side of the world. But having just traveled from L.A., I didn't want to fly too far. So I came up with Cambodia and Angkor Wat.  I'll admit that this was partly inspired by Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, which I dig because of my deep love of Indiana Jones. (I also like The Mummy movies, if you must know.)

Read More