Living With the Beast

Some interesting events in the diaries and comments today. While I haven’t read it all, this relates tangentially to something I’ve been thinking about, on and off, about dealing with here:

The Dark Side.

And I mean neither evil spiritual forces nor human ‘villains’ of any particular stripe. What I’m referring to is the tempter that lives in our brains. While it seems to be stronger in some than others — I am constantly amazed at how little anger my beloved wife Morgan seems even capable of, much less venting — there is that vicious little imp we call the ‘id’ in all of us, really.

It seems to me that an awful lot of religion is about dealing with this vile little monster. Most of the ‘kennel rules’ parts of religion seem to involve keeping our ids from expressing themselves unchecked (see Planet, Forbidden ;-)). Quite frankly, I don’t think this is a bad thing. While I feel that too much of dogma in most religions makes the punishments for breaking these rules unnecessarily outrageous, the basic concept is good — when you hurt others unnecessarily, it poisons your soul. Faith, religion and spirituality all have their ways of dealing with this poison, which is vital to keeping humanity as a whole healthy. This is not to say that it’s impossible to deal with these taints on the psyche without religion, of course. Huge portions of psychology are devoted to this very topic. However, religion has been dealing with this for millennia, and from it comes much of the best in faith.

This is one area where I actually think that the neo-spiritual movement (New Age, Earth-based/neo-pagan religion, modern shamanism and medicine, etc) is a bit lacking, since we’re rebuilding a lot with very little foundation. I admire what many Christian denominations have done with confession and penance, since both are powerful tools in dealing with the hurts we do ourselves when we hurt others. (Penance, when properly assigned, can also deal with the practical hurts done to others. Very elegant.) Ultimately, though, the goal is to avoid the hurts in the first place by dealing with the id, the perverse imp, that drives us toward extreme measures.

I know this well, since I’ve been dealing with my rage for a long time. It’s not something I’m proud of, which is why it’s taken so long to write this post. On the other hand, I have long and deep experience in choking the little bastard before I get to choking someone more tangible. After all this time, I think the most important thing to do is accept that there’s nothing wrong with having it. Everyone does, and it’s the vestigial remains of a million years of savage survival instinct — perfectly natural, just (usually) obsolete in the modern world. Of only slightly less importance, IMO, is to remember something Morgan and I have been telling our son for years now — emotions are never ‘bad’ or ‘wrong,’ they just happen. It’s what you do about them that matters. That’s where the choking part comes in.

This brings me back to the spiritual end of things. Now violence per se is not forbidden by my beliefs. Neither the Egyptian nor the Gaelic gods were particularly pacifistic — Horus is best known as “the Avenger” and the Morrigan is a teacher of warriors, to name two examples close to my heart. However, one should be very careful indeed how one uses violence in these cultures, as the greedy and tyrannical generally faced the wrath of the gods in the end (this is why Horus became an avenger, after all). I also believe in the overall concept of karma, or to put it more prosaically, what goes around comes around. (I can only imagine what some of my more pacifistic fellow New Agers would make of me. Heh.) Essentially, what it all comes down to is what I’ve come to think of as the theme of my life — balance. There are times when action, even violent action, is not only right but necessary. Such times are rare, however, and usually involve reacting to violence started by others. The rest of the time, we are called on to restrain our baser impulses and treat each other in a civilized manner. Each situation must be taken and weighed for what it is. Then again, I suppose that’s how we liberals are regardless of religion, always concerning ourselves with that blasted nuance. 😉

Anyway, this is my insight on the id, worth every penny you paid for it. I’m interested in what folks have to say on the matter, regarding how people deal with it individually and what might be done to weaken or better channel this aspect of ourselves as we as a species move forward.

(/) Roland X
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last…

9 comments

Tip jar (4.00 / 8)

At Morgan’s suggestion. 🙂

(/) Roland X
…slouches towards the bedroom to get some sleep? >g<

by Roland X on Sat Jan 14th, 2006 at 02:11:20 PDT

There are indeed some weird energies (4.00 / 3)

flowing.

Perhaps it has something to do with this full moon.

I liked what you wrote very much.  I would differ somewhat on the “choking” aspect of dealing with negative emotion.  I think it is best to let it flow out — in such a way that it does not hurt or inflame anyone else.  It’s best to get it out of the body — and if possible, transmuted into something healthier, something friendlier.

I also feel that whenever someone is wrestling with their devils, it is best to be kind — because whatever anger comes out of them is not, at base, personal — generally, it does not have anything to do with you (unless you let it).  And we all get our turn at devil-wrestling now and again.  

by Rain on Sat Jan 14th, 2006 at 02:29:17 PDT

Many faiths are almost martial arts (none / 1)

In most yogas (yokes) the whole idea is to repress oneself …

I remember being struck by this when I began doing it in the 70s …

That “expression” was discouraged, and “freedom” was not a positive value …

I rebelled, being rebellious …

but when I cam back the yoke or harness of servitude was still thre waiting to be put on …

In Christianity it is there, too…

Jesus spoke about the yoke he offered people as being easy …

You just have to surrender …

The id I need to understand better …

I always saw it as the promptings of the most selfish part of us …

greed,lust, covetousness …

but the the three parts of Freud’s person seem capable of sin …

  • id for greed …
  • ego for garden variety pride …
  • superego for more exalted “soulful pride” …

SO it seems grim in every part, so I avoid that paradigm …

looking outside the self for an instrument of salvation

but maybe i’m misunderstanding the categories

by Mike Finley on Sat Jan 14th, 2006 at 04:49:42 PDT

We are all doing alchemy from the inside (none / 1)

out — burning the dross material to reveal the gold — whether we know it or not.

And it is only on the inside that we can connect with the Divine — through the heart.

I wouldn’t say it is the id that is so fiesty but the ego.  What Roland calls id I call ego.

by Rain on Sat Jan 14th, 2006 at 11:44:17 PDT

Me too! (none / 0)

by Mike Finley on Sat Jan 14th, 2006 at 15:29:51 PDT

slippery slope (4.00 / 4)

I like and agree with a lot in this diary. I too have wrestled with rage, and by the grace of god have somehow gotten a handle on it most days. I do, however, find it troubling when you seek to justify some violence as righteous and necessary. When we start rationalizing and justifying violence, we walk a very slippery slope. After all, it is only ourselves that we seek to convince with this argument.

Last year, I joined Pax Chirsti as an extension of the various social justice groups that I’m a part of. And I learned a huge lesson when I joined them. Peace MUST start within, with this wrestling with the id., as you call it. We begin each meeting talking about our week, what challenges we faced personally. We support each other in the quest for Inner peace, so that we can then extend that to others.

I used to think that way, that violence in some instances was entirely necessary. Now I believe it is one of the greatest lies we tell ourselves. Psychologically, it’s nearly impossible for most of us to follow Jesus’ command of “turn the other cheek.” There is a strong human urge to protect oneself and “avenge” injustice.

by valleycat on Sat Jan 14th, 2006 at 06:46:02 PDT

Necessary violence (4.00 / 2)

If someone’s in the process of inflicting grievous harm on me or my son, I’d much rather Roland go medieval on them than stand by and ask the person nicely (or even not nicely) to stop, or call on the gods to stop them without taking any action himself, or taking some other nonviolent response.

Same with me — I have too much wolf and lioness in my nature to stand by nonviolently while someone hurts someone I love. And remember Roland mentioning the Morrigan being close to his heart? It’s partly because She’s one of my matrons.

I do think nonviolent action is preferable whenever possible, but, for me at least, not to the point of standing by while someone is assaulted. I’m called to “harm none,” not “turn the other cheek,” so harming someone through inaction would be just a wrong as harming someone through action. The version of the Rede I use includes the phrase “Lest in self-defence it be,” which means harming someone in self defence or rightful defence of another is sometimes the better choice.

YMMV.

by Morgan on Sat Jan 14th, 2006 at 11:32:43 PDT

It’s funny you should mention the Rede (none / 0)

as a particularly rage-ful friend of mine managed to convince me in changing my own views on its phrasing. We tend to agree more with Aleister Crowley’s (oh please don’t laugh :P) version “Do what ye will, an it be law.” This meaning create your own law of life (figuring out when harm is okay and when its not; figuring out the balance that makes your life the best; etc.) and put your will into following it.

My accepting of this version came after I had serious problems with war vs. pacifism. I had become too much like the hippy who just wants free love and didn’t understand that the world just doesn’t work that way.

And in following up from irishwitch’s “Thou shalt not…” dairy – sometimes we need to be a bit pro-active using the pent up aggression we have to get anywhere with certain types of people.

“The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.” – Dante Alighieri

by Devious Kitty on Sat Jan 14th, 2006 at 17:38:48 PDT

Beast in harness (none / 0)

The particular path of Wicca I was taught deals with the id by diverting and sublimating it to the individual’s needs.

You take the rage and you put it into action that is positive against chaos and injustice and powerlessness. You take the fear and you put it into making safety in one form or another. But the one thing that you have to do is to know exactly what it is you’re doing,and why, and what forces are pushing on you.

And when all else fails, one rages and screams and acts petty and…well, tomorrow is another day and you’ll deal with the consequences and move on, and hopefully in a better direction.

The greater the circle, the more the love grows.

by Alexandra Lynch on Sat Jan 14th, 2006 at 21:05:23 PDT

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