(Essay) Through a Darkened Door—Light, Part 1 by Mary Ann Ghaffurian PhD

Radiant Sun Figure. Revolutionary context, c.4000BCE[i]



My name is Mary Ann Ghaffurian, aka Dr MAG; my work unheralded on the world stage or any stage, in particular.

During postgraduate years, my research focused, over a broken 30 year period, on the psychoetechnologies and archaeology of human consciousness; the structure of mind, soul and psyche over historical periods; and the interior passage or alchemic journey of the individual, then society in an atmosphere of nightmare and awakening.

However, an academic journey into the undercurrents of time, space, history and consciousness was something I didn’t foresee, when suddenly catapulted into a luridly, stark awareness before the age of 3. Up until then, I lived in a watery, cocooned world of motheriness and hovering, benevolent faces in a leafy place opposite a beach. But something changed, dramatically. It was not just the appearance of a new baby in the family (a very sick baby), but because the cocoon of care I lived in was summarily snatched from me.

Deposited in a hospital to be looked after by unfriendly people (probably because I was screaming continuously) while my mother recovered, I was left to fend emotionally in a sterile environment without parents or visitors. The rush of the outside world hit me with all its detached ano­nymity and separativeness. It was an experience of the ego of the child, who as the sun of itself, abiding in glowing beneficence, is suddenly and summarily expelled from its orbit, as the thing around which everything else turns, capitulating the solar being into the impossible— cold, empty space. From cushioned padded warmth and the wholeness of oneself unconditionally, to the outside crushing in with its abject Newtonian mental constructs of imprisonment. I became super-aware of different mentalities, barriers separating human to humans, without flow and each as a separate world with vast gulfs between. So out­side reality hit, not just as separation, but as existential catastro­phe.

Once the floodgates to this awareness were opened, they remained open and I began from that time to deal with the conflict of inner and outer, internal and external, self and other, abyss and connection, coexisting uncomfortably together. Of them alone, that was enough, but the floods brought more, the multidimensional cacophony of memes and memories with the plight of child-consciousness being pressed up against a membrane of existence-as-it-was, as well as memory itself that was much longer and larger than the memory of the singular child.

This last was the hardest to abide. Day or night I felt perniciously close to the thumping heart of milliard existences clambering for attention in memory, if I, just a little, dipped in to that drum-skin membrane that separated my little world from a vast teeming ocean of life just bustling to get in. At the same time I could not discern who or what memories, voices, memes were in that swill, because it wasn’t sorted, so the child became overwhelmed and exhausted.

So there was a notional 3 year old struggling to get on in a household of adults and a new brother struggling with life, plus the new inner and outer world opened up to a child who had no-one to talk to, and indeed was just beginning to talk coherently herself.

This beginning set the stage for the unravelling of a dedicated, seeking life. But it wasn’t just that I was alone in my new state of the inner and outer being merged somewhat, or threatening to merge all the time, and my valiant efforts to keep them apart, so I could get on with a normal kid life. No, many other scenarios developed out of that prescient clarity which was completely undesired by the child.

I also felt interferences from another world, domain, dimension, technologi­cal intrusion, or worlds, with no apparatus of incarnate maturity to deal with it. And that was the thing, I was completely aware that the membrane that separated me from the deluge behind the screen was also the gift of forgetfulness that came with coming into this world, yet again. And there was the rub. Existential anguish at 5.

Yes, there was the world of Father Christmas, The Nativity, Easter Bunny, Birthdays, Mickey Mouse Club, kindergarten, Mass on Sunday; books of Binkle and Flip and The Faraway Tree, although the story of Terra, the terrapin, remained the most significant (a book I never found again later, no matter how hard I searched).

Then there was that other world, the world of the dead of night, when dark doors of dimensions opened and I (psyche, emotions, and vital energy) was at the mercy or behest of forces, powers, I had no vocabulary of skills to manage the terror of. “They” were without respect of person, violating one’s “personal space” uninvited. No boundary was holy or sacrosanct then. How do you deal with lack of boundaries or “no boundaries”— introduced from the “other side,” —when you are 4 or 5. The beautiful sanctum of non-interference is what babe and children revel in, in total enveloping trust: warm smiles, snuggly toys, nice smells, shining eyes and hugs. To whom do you turn when you call out to an adult, “Mummy!” who switches on the light and no one, no one else at all is there in the room? Night paralysis began and became continual.

But there was more, there was always more. In hindsight I can look back and show you how I dealt with each issue case by case, unravelling the core of each situation incrementally by the grit of struggling awareness, and by digging into and clinging to the seed of my being.  It coexisted in the experiential melange one was hurled into body and soul before one could barely give utterance to what was happening, and there were no mentors to help.

Beside the bereavement of being in that condition, it is important to tell, there was a very narrow band of a sense one could talk to someone or something else, very distant and knowing, who would never show. Why? Because one had chosen this condition/manifestation, this flesh-and-bone, and insignificant, patchy little life willingly, so one just had to tough it out.


Are Seekers Made, Not Born?

With this brief introduction, it can be deduced it was not unnatural, but necessity-driven to seek answers, even though there was total concatenation of conflicting influences and psychic babble, that this child did not know if she would be able to sur­vive it. A sort of game ensued of terrifying hide-and-seek, to flush things out and piece them together, in a maddening puzzle, regardless of whether one was an adult or under 10.

Equally, you might see why in later years, the same person might seek to qualify the search through the historical, psychological, philosophical, anthropological, linguistic and spiritual vocabulary of the Western world, its mind and civilisation, and to go on to other cultures and civilisations, plus exit strategies from the vagaries and pres­sures of confusions upon consciousness and psyche (without expla­nations or salient pathways), that living this situation wrought.

At least this is what this person moved towards, artistically, then academically, pref­aced by the fore-acknowledged experiences from almost babyhood, which included intimations of the cosmic and what is called the divine.

I share this at the outset with you, and in a way declare all the above for two reasons:

1. With internet access there has become a blurring of lines between what is academically or scientifically achieved at university (Degrees, Masters, or Doctorate), and what anyone can know anyway. Thanks to the narrowed education system not encouraging either “free” thought or “pure” research, being married to the religious ideology from its inception, then “Enlightenment” science, and more recently the corporate agendas, it is almost as if anyone with no qualifications has to be better informed than one who has. My position was clear: to pursue a doctorate in a disciplined area to lay down a theoretically and experientially -tested interior path through the morass I discovered of the Western mind I met and was born into. Academia or scholarship does not replace all the other ways and means I have learnt also, nor another’s, but adds clarity, structure and definition to my original search, distinguishes a path, and by default, may perhaps add to the collective con­sciousness of the current human search which also needs to ground knowledge and experience into new educational models.

2. It has been assumed (ass-u-me) by a number of people I have met, family included, now that I mention it — That because one has achieved a high level of education distinctions, that one has, therefore, missed out on life. This idea draws whole body mirth from me, crowned by a peal of laughter; nothing could be further from the truth. More times than I care to remember, in arguing or contention, people have railed me as being separated from the life everyone else lives, of living in an ivory tower, or being separated from their reality, the reality that everyone else lives! They have no idea how that “tower” they perceived was not made of ivory but of psychic protective matter as this person tried to work out, from the multidimensional and multileveled strands and twisting rope of experience, how to live in a world that was not what it seemed.

So now you know a little of my story, and I have got something off my chest.

A  Door to the Labyrynth, the Watery Realm[ii]

©Mary Ann Ghaffurian PhD. All Rights Reserved

[i] Shrine of the Goddess artefacts  are often covered with “meanders,” intimating the watery and energetic realm of the Great Goddess. These are not simply “meanders” (an often-used anthropological description of these spiral forms), but energetic coils  into which an entrance, a doorway is offered to go in. Temple item, Vinca culture of South-West Romania, c.5200-5000BC; H.40cm. From the Marija Gimbutas collection, ibid.

[ii] Figure with head radiating as the Sun. Branches (leaves or antennae) in the hands suggest combing and connection. The Sun Goddess and head as a Sun/star in a binary system,  with 12 planets, is a revolutionary image, c.6000 years old. Male writers who present Sun-king symbols do not engage that the Sun  might have been  a feminine symbol also. Athena was born from Zeus’ head in the Greek era, but here, the Goddess is the Sun. The beheading of Sun-kings occurred much later in recorded history and alchemic imagery.  Looking at this image from a consciousness structure point-of-view, this is the Archaic. The simplicity  of Sun as radiant god-head, and the hourglass (and double-axe) triangular body, connecting what is above with wehat is below,within the body, is given most direct, simplified form. An innocent expression of perception or experience,  shown to many thousands of years before Assur—Masonic symbolic downgrade. This image accompanies the telling  of my own experience as  the child, just out of babyhood, who, through its head, turning in cot, or on shoulder, being bathed, or in pram, basking in warmth and self-enjoy, experiencing the world as moving before it and for it, complete as the Sun (god-head). Then comes the shock of awakening. Ozieri culture, Sardinia, c.4000-3800BCE H.11.3cm.  Image from Marija Gimbutas, The Language Of The Goddess, Thames &Hudson Ltd., London, 1989.

(Read Part II Here.)

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Glenys D. Livingstone

thank you for this Mary Ann … I resonate with the experience of trauma being an opening to the Search, and with your experience of the place of academia and scholarship in the Search … not an ivory tower at all.