Pride, or the Peacock’s Tail

%When through intense pride
I wander in samsara (confusion)
On the luminous light path
Of the wisdom of equality%

From Tibetan Inspiration-Prayer for Deliverance
from the Dangerous Pathway of the Bardo
by Chongyam Trungpa

The Seven Deadly Sins are often associated with specific colors and animals.

Lust is usually blue and associated with the Bull (blue balls for instance)
Envy is usually green and associated with the Dog
Gluttony is usually orange and associated with the Pig
Sloth is usually light blue and associated with the Goat and Snake
Greed is usually yellow and associated with the Frog
Wrath is usually red and associated with the Bear
Pride is usually violet and associated with the Peacock, the Horse, and the Lion.

The Peacock’s Tail, a wondrous and beguiling swirl of colorful changes, marks the process of spiritual transformation in the alchemical crucible. Wolfram notes those characters in his story that have gotten caught up in the drama and excitement of this stage instead of moving through it with feathers from the peacock’s tail. Anfortas, the wounded Fisher King of the grail Castle as well as the equally impotent Clinschor who rules the Castle of Wonders and his champion, Gramoflanz, all wear colorful hats adorned with the peacock’s multi-hued tail feathers.

I recently encountered this type of Narcissism, as we now label the Deadly Sin of Pride, in an encounter with a psychic healer. While I had asked for help surviving last winter as my situation was rather dire, I was thinking more along the lines of keeping food on the table and the heat turned on in the winter cold. I am still contemplating why I agreed when an elder acquaintance responded by insisting what I really needed was a phone session with a self-proclaimed healer of thousands who somehow made home visits to gullible, lonely, single older ladies his priority and primary source of income

The man had learned how to precipitate an altered state in himself and apparently others through purposeful changes in his speech (click here), and in doing so had managed to trigger a remission in his own autoimmune disorder a couple of years ago. However, he had first managed to spend years in deep depression, working himself into complete disability including stage four symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and completely alienating his wife and the mother of his daughter, and so on.

One of the repeated observations from every competent healer I have worked with is how remarkable it is that given my family history of auto-immune disorders, ranging from asthma to lupus to rheumatoid arthritis to multiple sclerosis, and my own history of trauma, I do not suffer from any form of such self- destructive disorders. In my experience, auto-immune disorders are rooted in a fundamental inability to recognize and respect our truest selves, and part of my spiritual path has been to gain and maintain sufficient clarity that my body knows when and what to attack and when not to. While my personal preference and focus has been prevention, one of the reasons I accepted the offer to interact with this man was some curiosity about how he managed to turn his situation around.

Now, I have great respect for the healing qualities of the ecstatic state (click here) in all its many forms and I did not mind the heavy breathing in my ear so much as the repeated insinuation that I was an oblivious self-destructive incompetent ass whose salvation depended entirely on my kowtowing to this utter strangers every demand and command. He was adamantly not open to discussing his own process, so I finally had to confront him and flat out ask:

• why his healing modality required that he insisted that I was not in contact with my higher-self,
• why he felt privileged to make such a judgment on the basis of a few moments conversation over the phone, and
• why he repeatedly belittled, ridiculed, and demeaned my private, personal, and intimate connection to spirit
• why I should allow him to interfere with my eminently success in maintaining my own long-term auto-immune health

The response was explosive and appalling. Apparently, in his eyes, all of my untoward physical traumas and life-long suffering could be reduced to one single factor, my unwillingness to abdicate any responsibility for myself and make him the only and infinitely superior source capable of contact with ‘my higher self’, to make him the sole arbiter of my well-being. In my experience this type of belief system, this refusal to recognize and maintain one’s own boundaries and sovereignty, is actually THE precipitating influence that triggers a nascent genetic predisposition into displaying the full-fledged symptomatic auto-immune disorders.

I made myself more unpopular by commenting that beyond the total lack of integrity in claiming temporary remissions were complete cures, basic arithmetic put the lie to his claims as he would have had to have not only acquired but cured around 30 new clients each week for the last two years. Even in credulous densely populated southern California that is a marketing and logistical challenge, especially given the time involved in suburban driving to make home visits. Never mind the reality that such a track record would bring the attention of both the talk show circuit and the FDA to the poor soul responsible.

This man’s egotism led him to make outrageous utterly unfounded claims of curing ‘thousands’ of people, when in truth he had only managed to maintain his own remission for a couple of years. Instead of building on his experience of self-healing, learning about it, and finding a community of like-minded people to share it with, empowering other to heal themselves, he had short-circuited what could have been a genuine gift by his arrogance in:

• refusing to test and reconsider his interpretations,
• denying how they held up in the turmoil of life,
• justifying the use, abuse, and deception of people in need
• failing to even consider the influence of the biochemistry of emotions on the immune system,
• rejecting the universality of the trance state
• ignoring the well-documented patterns of re-occurrence and remission in auto-immune disorders

Instead he chose to seduce himself with the glamour of the Peacock’s Tail, to feed his self-importance with grandiose illusions and flowery delusions of the visionary state. My elder acquaintance’s response to my rejection of Jon the Con’s insults to my well-being was equally caustic. She informed me not only had I unworthy of receiving healing, it was obvious that I was not a ‘real’ shaman because I was suffering adverse affects from being hit by lightning.

That the lightning strike was astonishingly precise in cooking any and all foreign material and/or traumatized tissue in my body while leaving healthy tissue untouched was irrelevant to her, as was the impressive eruption of every single stagnating and hidden conflict and condition in my life that promptly came boiling to the surface demanding to be resolved. While I can see how the conflict that arose between the two of us was part and parcel of that general explosive energetic clearing; that she could rationalize how my needing help to give my body time to process that experience and to recalibrate my position in my community made me a lesser and unworthy being in her eyes is still appalling. Telling me that I failed her expectations by not gracefully disappearing in a puff of sweet-scented smoke was a flowery and pretentious way for my elder acquaintance to maintain deniability while still saying what she really wished, which is that I had just gone ahead and died already. When I asked myself what kind of mental disorder allows such individuals:

  1. to relieve themselves of any sense of empathy,
  2. to refuse to give aid to those in need,
  3. to disregard the reality of another’s suffering,
  4. to deny any obligation to reciprocate time and energy invested in them

I ended up right back at Narcissism. Distorting the extra-ordinary human gift of speech to insulate ourselves against the raw realities of relationships is a truly Luciferian expression of the Deadly Sin of Pride. Such behavior not only undermines one’s own potential to genuinely heal themselves and others, it discredits all those who do make the effort to follow their soul-paths, to learn to see clearly, and who are committed to genuinely aiding their fellows along the way.

This particular individual had a serious Messiah complex, complete with martyrdom. Despite his clearly Christian upbringing and value system, he seemed unaware that very early in the Bible there is an alternative path through the visionary initiation. Joseph and his coat of many colors is the Biblical Peacock, and of this seventh Old Testament tale, Matthew Woods writes:

Isaac could see,
but he could not interpret.
Another stage (Jacob) was necessary
before the inner world was not only seen
but understood.
The hallmark of the seventh stage
is the ability to interpret
the things of spiritual vision.

Joseph’s ability to interpret his visions so that they bear fruit is repeatedly challenged. He is only worthy and capable of genuinely interpreting dreams and visions, of offering worthwhile guidance to the Pharaoh of Egypt, after he has survived being betrayed by his brothers, sold as a slave, and thrown into prison. Unfortunately, there are far too many neo-shamanistic and new Age Peacocks who do not realize that like Joseph, their dreams have to be tempered in the ruthless arena of survival before they can be of value to others.

When we follow the images that rise up from the depths of our soul,
it may appear a foolish path to others,
even to ourselves at times.
Our promptings start as seemingly adolescent dreams of glory,
but they lead to true authority.
As we follow this path
we become more and more innately who we are
because the images that emerge from within us
are the expression of our inner self.
Simultaneously, the imagination becomes our friend.
We are allowed access to it
and it offers us opportunities for advancement
according to the theophanic,
rather than the material scheme.

The Greeks myths do not tell us much about Celeano, the Pleiadian Sister who guides this step, other than that she lives in the West and bears children fathered by Poseidon, Lord of the Seas, of the visionary realms. In seeking context for the the name Celaeno which translates of as a ‘melon’ , along with the recurrent note that she was hit by lightning, I came across a story of creation currently attributed to ancient Persia:

In the beginning
The primordial oneness divided itself into two,
an endlessly dark and quiet clod of earth
and an infinitely bright and mobile ray of light.
For eons, both were the sole and satisfied beings of their realms,
the light traveled freely
\and the earth sat quietly.
Then, by some happenstance, the two collided.
The earth was shocked by the brightness and speed of the light,
the light franticly bounced around within the dark confines of the earth.
When they finally came to terms with each other,
both had been transformed.
Their union produced a sweet melon,
full and ripe,
that contained all the secrets and possibilities of creation.

Sir Gawain as Hawk of the May (click here) is Wolfram’s ray of light that shatters into the Peacock’s Tail when he enters the prism of the Wonder Castle. We know he has succeeded in being seeing clearly and remaining true to his own nature when the ladies of the Castle fan him with white peacock feathers. The most apt illustration I have come across for this transformation from multi-hued to white is the Enneagram, one of the primary metaphors the spiritual teacher Gurdjieff* used to demonstrate how people could transform themselves. As it turns out, the mystics were correct all along in claiming that we create our own short-lived Newtonion deterministic linear world, and the alchemical key actually to sustaining it is learning how to square the circle.

Pure white light breaks up into the rainbow spectrum of visible colors when refracted through the triangular prism. When the outer circle of the Enneagram is taken as the symbol of divine oneness, as white light, the inner triangle is the prism of the three dimensional world that breaks the light up into seven primary rays of color, the Peacock’s Tail:


Like our original divine nature, the primordial ray of light begins pure and focused. It, like our intentions, promptly shatters and scatters when it hits the reflections and obstructions of the material world. Our very human ability for self-reflection allows us to recreate our own inner prism. In learning how to mirror the original, we become closer to our own divine nature and more aware of the divine nature of illuminating the path for others to do the same. If you look carefully at this illustration of the hall of mirrors, rays of the same color are always as parallel as I can get Microsoft Word to show.

Hall of Mirrors
The ability to focus our desires and maintain our intention is the ability to appreciate the wondrous display of the Peacock’s Tail without getting lost chasing our reflections through the hall of mirrors. It was the infamous determinist Sir Isaac Newton who actually documented that the essential nature of the rainbow spectrum of light was unchanged by its passage through the prism, showing how it is possible to return the rainbow to a single ray of light in the material realm by doubling the prism, making it a square.***

The most notable effect of white light shining through the doubled prism is that the path of the light is changed just enough that what it shines on appears to be slightly closer to the observer. Those who have completed their passage through trails of the Castle of Wonders successfully perceive the world just a bit closer to the divine. Which takes us right back to our first guiding light (click here), and our ability to maintain our intention in a chaotic world (click here). Like Parzival, whose name means ‘through the middle’, our path becomes clear and we are able to make conscious choices about how we respond to the world around us:

Squaring the Circleclick for the Seven Sisters, for notes on trance states, and for the first deadly sin

All quotes in italics are thanks to Matthew Wood and from his book ‘Seven Herbs, Plants as Teachers’

*My discussion on the Enneagram is based on J. G. Bennet’s work. His books are a concise and accessible window into Gurdjieff’s teachings and are published by Bennet Books of Santa Fe New Mexico

**On an archeo-astronomical note, I do realize that butting two equilateral triangles up against one another results in a parallelogram, not a true square. However the relationship between the movements of the sun and moon only result in 90o angles in a very narrow band around the planet at approximately 36o latitude north and south. Way up north at 51o latitude the Externsteine( and Stonehenge for that matter) are located, tracking the positions the lunar standstills and the solstices does not result in 90o angles. Since Wolfram writes that the originator of his tale read it in the skies, chances are he was well aware of those archeo-astronomical quirks. 


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