…root imagery just makes sense…

“Intuition is the clear conception of the whole at once.” –  Johann Kaspar Lavater

Why does root imagery intuitively make sense?

Remember the post …unpacking the image…?  It talked about the Unique becoming the One (or the whole)?  It described how we name “who we are” because we sense the uniqueness of our experience.  And what feels unique is really just a partAnd that part doesn’t want to be alone — and it doesn’t want to lose its uniqueness just to be included.  So how do we do both?  How do we become part of a whole without losing our uniqueness? … by becoming self-aware. 

Being self-aware and being “larger than ourselves” are the same.  Being self-aware allows us to leverage our uniqueness so we can join in.  Our uniqueness becomes the reason why we choose to take part.  We want confirmation.  We want to know that our uniqueness is part of the world around us.

Let’s see if I can get at this idea through a couple of jokes: 

  • Why did the elephant cross the road? Because the chicken retired.
  • An Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman walk into a bar. The bartender turns to them, takes one look, and says “What is this – some kind of joke?”  
  • Two men walk into a bar… but the third one is too short and walks right under it.

What all of these jokes have in common is that they are already self-aware.  The punch line comes from the awareness of prior experience.  The unique experience which listeners have precedes their understanding.  The elephant joke is funny because of all the earlier elephant jokes; the ethnic joke is funny because we already know the “set up,” and the “walk into a bar” joke  is funny because, we “know” the expected meaning of “walk into a bar.”  We involuntarily and imaginatively fit our experience in.  It just makes sense.

So what does this have to do with root imagery?  The more self-aware we become, the more we use self-awareness to involuntarily and  intuitively fit in.  Involuntary awareness pulls us above the immediacy of the moment and allows us look at the “whole,” from our perspective.  We imaginatively and creatively allow ourselves to join in and contribute; without expending that much effort.

Let’s take an example:  Joe needs to complete a report.  He knows that Jack is always late.  To fully participate with his unique knowledge, Joe asks Jack to report early.  Joe knows “the game he’s already in” and he wants to contribute effectively.  His action is rooted in self-awareness.

So too with root imagery.   We already know the game we are in (even if we are unconscious of it) because these root images “just make sense.”  Intuitively, Imaginatively, Involuntarily.  We’ve met the questions they ask a million times before.  Desire plays into a dynamic and then we ask ourselves:  What impact can we expect?

  • The Self-Stone questions us about our decision-making and integrity.  “What impact will I have?”
  • The Containing Well questions us about our faithfulness and belief.  “Am I being true to myself?”
  • The Mirror questions us about our experience and conscience.  “Can I trust my experience?”

The Uroborus is a special image since it points directly to self-awareness.   Knowing “the game we’re in” means that we must have “eaten” the knowledge of previous experience.  The world is familiar.  We relate to it based on our experience.  A heavy object falls from above, and we move without even thinking.  That’s how fast self-awareness works.  So with the Uroborus, we  are constantly eating our “tale,” gaining more self-awareness, identifying with the Unique so we can be part of the Whole.

Thanks for listening!


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