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Creativty, Healing and Shamanism: Part 5

by Carlisle Bergquist, M.A., Ph.D.c.

A Dynamical Systems Model of exceptional encounters in Brazil.
© 1996 Carlisle Bergquist, MA, Ph.D.c.

Phase portrait #6

Appearing before me out of the dissipating green light stood a shinning white female figure. She looked at me steadily with a comforting smile; her head bowed slightly forward with her hands at her side. It appeared to be the Virgin Mary. I was stunned. I thought I must be generating the image myself. It surprised me since I was not Catholic. I held no strong affinity with the Blessed Virgin. Nevertheless, there she stood before me as if to reassure me of the healing work in which I engaged. I opened my eyes and the image remained though not as distinct. I still wondered if I had programmed myself to see her because the Santo Daime Doctrine mentions her as Our Lady of Conception (Richman, 91). Likewise, the Candomble religion has a saint or Orixas called Jemanja who is a similar to Mary as an archetypal figure thus adding to my suspicion. Jemanja is the great mother of all Orixas in the Afro-Brazilian religions (Levy, 1990). Closing my eyes again, I held the vision of this mystic lady for a few more seconds and then she faded away. To my astonishment, a few seconds after my vision faded the congregation broke into a hymn thanking Jemanja for being present and evoking her blessing and return. The synchronicity of the event defied my definition of the event as a projection of my personal unconscious. It suggested that others in the group had seen or sensed the same presence concurrently.

I see this vision as an example of the appearance of the cyclic attractor around the personal unconscious shown in phase portrait #6. It is bifurcation #3. In this catastrophic bifurcation, matter-energy and information from the undifferentiated consciousness and, the personal and collective conscious and unconscious, redifferentiate as evoked by the collective need that appeared in the first bifurcation shown in phase portrait #2 as the cyclic attractor around the collective unconscious. In this example, Mary's appearance seems a congruent symbol in response to the collective wish for healing. She is the "Ah-ha," the inspiration symbol, in this creative event of spiritual healing.

Phase portrait #7

Bifurcation #3 is the creation of the new form. As described above, in this case it is the healing act symbolized by the appearance of an archetypal figure of Divine grace. In phase portrait #7 the new creation begins to move from its fused state with the evocative collective need and form a new relationship to the whole. This fragile state balances between dependence and individuality. I believe the next in my series of Santo Daime images is a symbolic representation of this interdependence.

Earlier I mentioned the golden light that ascended and transformed into the healing emerald luminescence. Gabriel Cousins (1986) explains the classical description of Kundalini's path up the sushuma as meeting with three knots. The first is its awakening at the base of the spine (the Brahmagranthi chakra) and the second is the opening of the heart (Vishnugranthi chakra). This seems congruent with my experience of the ascending golden light rising to the heart thus bringing forgiveness and healing and the emerald light. The vision of Mary was of the silvery white light and seems as mentioned to be descending grace. Thus the Kundalini moved upward and at the third knot (Rudragranthi, or brow chakra) the golden light and the silvery light merged. This conforms with Cousins depiction. The following is my description of that merger as I experienced it.

The silvery vision of Mary faded and again above my head there was a silvery light. The light was indescribably bright and searingly intense. I almost felt forced to crouch beneath its power. I allowed the light to wash through me as I had done with the others, aware of its intensity. Somewhere in the process I became the light and felt my self transported up and out though I don't know to what destination. I shortly found myself in what I can only describe as a hologram made by the combination of the golden and silvery lights. The illustration below roughly portrays these "Holographic Rooms."


The illustration shows part of a honeycomb that extended infinitely in all directions. I was in one room, of many, made of light. I was aware that I was both the room, and in the room. I further understood that I was simultaneously in the same state in all the other rooms. Words are not adequate to describe this ecstatic experience. I remained in this state for quite awhile but felt some presence inviting me to go beyond the light. Overwhelmed by the series of events and, particularly by my intense experience in the room, I hesitated about allowing myself to go further. I wanted to, but felt I needed time to absorb the current experience before venturing further. At this time the serving indicators went on again and the group lined up for another serving of Santo Daime. I felt I needed a few more minutes and was aware that I needed to relieve myself so I left the congregation to find the rest room intending to continue with another serving upon my return. Unfortunately, they stopped dispensing the Daime before I was able to collect myself again. Thus, I returned to a meditative state and allowed myself to descend into normal consciousness over the next hour.

The experience in the holographic room is a stretch to fit into the bifurcation sequence as in many ways, being a transcendent experience, it is beyond modeling. The correlation I wish to make is that, after my "re-creation" or healing (shown as bifurcation #3) my more forgiving consciousness could individuate, yet move into and experience the divine presence. This would not have been possible I don't believe if at that time I still carried the hatred in my heart. I was able to take a new place in relation to my hurts, and the people around me.

Psychiatrist John Nelson MD. (1993) in an address titled Madness, Mysticism & Creativity at the American Transpersonal Psychology Convention described ayahuasca as a sixth chakra drug. My experience in the hologram seems to be a sixth chakra phenomenon. The illusion of duality had faded but I did not transcend it completely: I did not merge with the godhead though I felt as if drawn into God's presence.

Phase portrait #8

As a new, healed, individuated creation, the task remained to reintegrate my own personality and maintain the new insights. In the expanded awareness of the Santo Daime I had transcended my ego and its attachments. Maintaining the lessons gained in transcendence has always been the true spiritual task. I returned to normal conscious with a new hope inside. Earlier in this essay I proposed the Creatosome model including a process of evolution that occurs in a creator or healer through immersion in the creative act. The process changes the very structure of the creator. I extend that thesis here with another model of the process in which the dedifferentiation of the personal ego and its redifferentiation upon another of the many potentialities evolves and heals oneself and others. The Santo Daime insights were such an evolutionary experience.

Figures #7 & #8 show the verification of the new creation. After undergoing the changes described in this experience I had to incorporate them into my life as a reintegrated personality. I came back from Brazil with many insights and a new awareness and forgiveness in my heart. Healing, no matter whether through conventional medicine or, through the processes described here, requires after care to maintain the new form. For example, when one breaks a bone, the bone remains weak even after removing the cast. If exposed to the same stress again it is likely to break in the same manner. My emotional healing is the same. Change has occurred, but the weakness remains. I easily break when similar stressors affect my heart. In time, and with continued care, the healing that occurred at Ceu do Mar will strengthen and become a permanent part of me.

Fusion and Fission

The bifurcation sequence depicted and its application to the four examples show an evolution that affects both the creator and the created. They show the disintegration and reintegration that occurs in an individual when they open in response to an evocative collective urge. The product transcends the individual. This is the visionary art referred to in this essay that evolves the society through the work of the individual creator. This is the first form of any creative process. Once this process has occurred it may repeat and each time with the same personal peril and difficulty as shown in the Process View, figure #9. Unlike the process depicted, the second form of the creativity, fission, does not disintegrate the individual ego. It is a replication of the existent creation with slight variations. The cyclic attractors shown in phase portrait #8 continue to yield variations on the creative theme represented in their limit set. Speculatively, this process might be like fractal generation of the Mandelbrot set wherein a given value Z is manipulated by the equation Z2 + C = Z (Briggs and Peat, 1989). In a creative work that might mean the new creation (Z) is equal to the previous creation inspiring another creation (2) plus the input of a fixed amount of work (C). The collective work ends up replicating its part. This aspect of creativity allows the creative individual to develop a theme, style, and the craftsmanship of their work.

These two process forms must exist in consort. A creative individual held in the fusion-like process exists without personal boundaries in a manic flood of images and ideas. S/he is in constant evolution with only fleeting moments in which to integrate the materials flowing through them. An individual who remains in the fission-like form of the creative process is quite the opposite. S/he will become rigid and distant from the flow of information and matter-energy and remain trapped within their personal boundaries. Their creative work may become exceptionally skilled but cease to be relevant to the collective urge. They become stale and reified. Together these two aspects of creativity produce endless yet sustainable variety. Together they behave like a strange attractor cavorting through endless possibilities of change.

Attractors exist in a mathematical construct called phase space. Phase space expresses the "complete state of knowledge about a...system" (James Gleick, 1987). Phase space provides a way of turning numbers into pictures and accounting for all the dimensions of the system. It is a mathematical metaphor illuminating the processes of the systems with which we interact and of which we are a part.

I have used repellors as the center point in the system modeled above because information markers and psychic energy enter the system in abundance through the unconscious. The cyclic attractors are points toward which these unconscious materials and, towards which materials from the undifferentiated consciousness flow. In this dynamical system these trajectories create an endlessly changing pattern. Thus, the creative system itself becomes a "strange attractor" changing its environment just as a shaman affects his or her community or as Amyr assists the suffering in a leper colony outside Brasilia.

Though Dynamical Systems Theory is a hypothetical mathematical construct, it provides a useful view of the creative process and of a transcendental creative system. The patterns that form around the various attractors are created in phase space by the periodic sampling and mapping of systems. They may be analogous (though isomorphic) to forms created in "real space" as our senses sample operative systems in the world around us and thereby construct our experience of it. The creator-shaman-healer masters the art of deconstructing and reconstructing forms in real space as well as replicating his or her successes. The creator-shaman-healer must become an adept of both forms of creativity.


The examples discussed in this essay exist in real space. The experiences happened in real time. Yet, as the plane rolled down the tarmac in the midnight darkness departing Rio de Janeiro it felt as if I was leaving a magical time and space that might not easily be recaptured. Like the series of bifurcations modeled in this writing, I had undergone a set of catastrophic changes. My control parameters had been exceeded and I, as a system, had shifted to adapt to the input of new knowledge. The expectations with which I had journeyed to Brazil had been met and surpassed. The process of dedifferentiating into the chaos of undifferentiated consciousness to find a new pattern upon which to redifferentiate happened to me. Peter Gorman's (1992) article on Ayahuasca is titled The Vine of the Little Death; I had gone on a journey of the little death. The death of an ego that was then recreated by exceptional experiences. So, as the lights grew distant outside the airplane window the task remained to verify this new creation. To make it real in the world to which I returned. I had undergone the process described by the phase portraits in this thesis. Now I was to individuate with this new insight, this new creation. So in conclusion, this essay has been a further effort to verify the process and the events witnessed in magical time. It is an effort to make it real in the world to which I return.

Carlisle Bergquist is a psychotherapist, psychological researcher and relationship counselor skilled in Psychosynthesis, spiritual emergence and transpersonal issues. Visit his site at

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