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Masks Teach Us About Ourselves

Updated: Jun 26, 2022

We all wear masks in life. There’s the parent mask, the teacher mask, the victim mask, the child mask, the bitch/asshole mask, the guru mask, the lover mask, the saboteur mask...

Carl Jung called them personas. These guises are often a necessary part of our personality development and coping strategies in life. We are a collection of characters and sometimes we become so identified with them, that we forget who we really are. It’s not a bad thing, unless we lose sight of the essence of our being and allow the cast of personas/characters to hijack the show!

Enlightenment is one’s ability to be in a state of truth and love. It is therefore important to let go of the armouring definitions and identities that keep us small, safe and predictable- that keep us from love.

When we take part in a mask exploration journey and sit in front of a mirror and ask the mask, “who are you?”, expect to be intrigued, informed, humbled, embarrassed, shocked and surprised! I like to call this process of self inquiry “unmasking”. It’s a bit of a mind fuck, (pardon my French), because the person behind the mask is being asked to get out of the way so that the intelligence of the mask (which is actually an aspect of you) can come forward. Often the session is playful, unpredictable and profound. There’s always the light side and the shadow side to contend with and it’s often very surreal.

Reality is what we choose it to be. Can we get that? The symbolic wonder of life comes from experience- all of it! The good, the bad and the ugly. Who’s to say that we can’t transform our experiences by giving them over to the highest expression of creativity and love.

To be courageous in life means taking risks- going out on a limb so to speak (where the fruit is). Playing with masks is no small endeavour because they are, in essence, vehicles of the energy of primitive wisdom derived from the Source. There is a reverential sense of wisdom about the masks because I believe, they bring us closer to God. When we participate in the wonderful process of creating art (mask making) and delve into the unconscious world (truth) via therapeutic mask journeying, we are left in awe! Like a breathtaking sunset our sense of awe is an expression of divinity.

The American professor of literature and comparative religion Joseph Campbell states that; "having an experience with mystery brings us to a state of reverence". For me, as a mask maker and spiritual seeker, I perceive this work to be the highest expression of love. It’s also super silly, theatrical, delightful, poetic, curious, metaphorical and intense.

We are all a mystery. We aren’t meant to be gotten. But perhaps, just perhaps, we are meant to be revealed at the deepest and most enchanting layer of the beautiful emanations we came here to be.

Photo: Fractal Dancer (me)

by Dan Schmidt

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