This collage represents my vision of the woman I have become through my time at Goddard, and, thanks to my life experiences over those years, how I see myself as a therapist.
I chose the image of The Birth of Venus by Botticelli, partially because I am Italian and also as a symbol of birth of my own feminine qualities. Her nudity is unapologetic. She wears a crown that symbolizes her being the queen of her life, and fully embracing her power and presence.
The colors around her--Red, Black, Green, Yellow, and White--are the colors of the five latifas. The lataif in the Sufi tradition are forms of consciousness, operating on the subtle dimension. These forms of consciousness when understood precisely will be seen as a dimension of Essence.
The White Latifa known as the Will Essence, it has to do with a feeling of inner solidity, inner support and a sense of value. It is the relaxed confidence that comes when we are in contact with our Being. It is grounded, resourceful and committed. Provides the basic ground to experiencing the truth and staying steadfast and present in the journey of discovery.
The Red Latifa known as the Strength Essence, it has to do with our capacity to be an individual; it brings the strength to separate from old structures that no longer serve our evolution and uniqueness. It is passionate vitality, enthusiasm and the strength to go into the world with all its challenges.
The Green Latifa known as the Essence of Compassion, it gives us a profound understanding and compassion for our ego structure. It is the compassion and understanding which allows us to go deeply into our wounds and heal them. It gives us the capacity to do the same with others.
The Black Latifa known as the Essence of Peace and Personal Power, it is about our Love of the Truth and longing for Peace. It is a very deep dimension of looking in and realizing a state of inner mastery. Here we face our concepts and fears about death and confront the main layers of ego defense. Here we open the doors to the infinite mystery and the Absolute.
The Yellow Latifa known as the Latifa of Joy, this subtle dimension of our Being is like an inner sun shining and is about our innate capacity to live in Joy and Curiosity. It is a place where our old negative self-images and seriousness are dropped and our light-hearted innocence is regained.
In order to experience those dimensions of essence we need to let go of the masks we wear that we believe are who we are--hence the masks in the collage surrounding the Venus.
Some are very beautiful masks, others are a little demonic, and yet despite their beauty they are masks.
I see the work of the therapist, both for the therapist him or herself, and in supporting the therapeutic journey of the client as a time of exploration of how those masks were created, how they have been used to eventually let go of them and experience essence, true nature, freedom…ultimately who we really are.
The sword sitting at the feet of the Venus symbolizes the capacity of the woman represented passionately cut through illusion to get to the truth. She is a warrior and yet she is soft, feminine, vulnerable and loving.
- Mushkan DeFilippo (MA PSY '14)