Confessions of a Reluctant Jungian

Further Reflections on “Rilke: Poetry and Alchemy

Len Cruz

If I Ain’t Jungian

(Adapted by Len Cruz with permission from If I Ain’t African by Glenis Redmond.  Her poem is printed below.)

If I ain’t Jungian

someone tell my soul

to stop sounding an ancient meditation bell.

If I ain’t Jungian

someone tell that woman in me

to stop whispering incantations in my ear.

If I ain’t Jungian

someone tell my eyes

to stop looking into the deep

from whence I emerged

Someone speak to my ordered way

of life and tell it to

quit welcoming disruptions.

If I ain’t Jungian

How come I know the way home

to Ithaca’s unreachable shores?

Feel it in my loins.

If I ain’t Jungian

how come my spirit

calls from deep unto deep.

How come every time I find myself breaking apart

I free fall into the next moment.

I I ain’t Jungian

how come I know things I’m not supposed to know

about ancient cultures and the stories

rooted in my deepest parts.

If I ain’t Jungian

someone tell the gods

to stop calling on me,

Apollo, Belenos, Ra,

Selene, Yemaya, Máni!

Tell me why I get dizzy

every time I

see the sun and moon together in the sky.

If I ain’t Jungian

how come I detect spiritus mundi 

everywhere I go:

Hear it in my heartbeat

hear it high

hear it low.

If I ain’t Jungian

someone tell my soul

to suspend its ceaseless arising.

Someone tell their gods

to call another name.

Someone take this bell

out of my depths.

Someone give my intuition

a flatter world to apprehend.

If I ain’t Jungian

someone tell my hands

to speak to my arms

to speak to my shoulders

to press a message on my Orphean breast

to compose a song of life

to gently hum that melody in my ear.

If I ain’t Jungian

If I ain’t Jungian

If I ain’t Jungian


Tell my eyes

‘cause if I ain’t Jungian

I ain’t waking, and,

God knows,

I ain’t AWAKE.

  On November 9, 2013 the Asheville Jung Center broadcast a conference, Rilke: Poetry and Alchemy presented by Dr. Daniel Polikoff. Polikoff is the author of In the Image of Orpheus: RILKE A Soul History Chiron 2011).  It seemed fitting to start this blog with a poem.  The next live Asheville Jung Center webinar Introduction to Alchemy is scheduled for November 23, 2013 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM.
Nearly thirty years ago, toward the end of my residency, I devoted myself to the task of reading through almost all of the Collected Works of C. G. Jung. Perhaps this reflected a bit of reaction against the strictly Freudian atmosphere that pervaded my residency program, but I believe it has even more to do with my 27 year-old Self recognizing something in Jung whereby deep called unto deep. Decades passed before Dr. Steve Buser and I found ourselves devoting considerable time and energy  to the creation of the Asheville Jung Center. I attended our conferences, I wrote the occasional blog hoping to generate discussion and subtly noticed myself becoming more transparent with my affection for Analytical Psychology. However, I continued to feel considerable ambivalence until I attended the IAAP Congress 2014 in Copenhagen for Chiron Publication’s launch of Hauntings: Dispelling the Ghosts Who Haunt Our Lives by James Hollis. At the IAAP Congress I felt like I had come home to a place where I had alighted in my youth. Perhaps I was too unseasoned and unprepared for my first visit to the shores of that continent called the Self. For years I have sought to avoid over-identifying with any school of psychology or approach to therapy, including Analytical Psychology.  Copenhagen kindled a new phase in that elusive return to my own Ithaca. My daily practice as a psychiatrist involves a great deal of psychotherapy with individuals and couples, but it also involves prescribing medications for symptom relief (even suppression).  I am endlessly searching for the right balance between sensitive listening to symptoms for their deeper meaning and efforts to bring relief as quickly as possible. That tension seldom resolves and I suspect the ambivalence pours out in the poem If I Ain’t Jungian. I hope the poem also speaks to those Jungian-oriented clinicians who practice modern psychiatry or those who work in settings where the tension between listening and extinguishing symptoms is commonplace. But even those who do not live with such ambivalence and tension may find something in the lines of If I Ain’t Jungian.  For many people, their first encounter with Jung’s work hits them like something new but also profoundly familiar. Because we carry within us a collective history whose archetypal patterns can be detected in myth, story, historical sweeps and religious themes across many cultures and many epochs we can locate ourselves in a vast drama. The call to find our own way in the world, guided by large motifs is always burnished by our personal unconscious.  This is one of the many reasons that the Self is like a compass for our journey. There was a time that Pythia’s consultation interpreted through the Delphic Oracles tilted mostly in the direction of listening rather than extinguishing symptom. Currently, there seems to be a much greater emphasis on controlling symptoms and rigorously monitoring the quality of those efforts.   I suspect the same was true in Jung’s time. Then as now, the deepest ways of understanding psychotherapy still required that a balance be struck between listening for latent meaning in a symptom and the sometimes urgent appearing summons to provide relief to the sufferer. The world makes its demands on a clinician while the soul also makes its demands.  During these uncertain times in American healthcare there is a great deal of chatter about improving quality, delivering efficiency, and extending care.  But there is conspicuously little attention given to the larger project of extracting meaning from our circumstances.  There is is a dearth of conversation about how collective unconscious elements exert substantial influence over unfolding events in the world.  But I see reasons to remain hopeful.  In the modest sized community in Western North Carolina where I practice I saw that there is a workshop titled Narrative Medicine: Honoring the Stories of Illness organized by Professor Laura Hope-Gill of Lenoir Rhyne University. In the intervening years since residency the mantle of the Jungian world shifted.  In 1985 there were just two categories in the Jungian world, analysts and all others interested in Jung.  I do not recall there being places like Pacifica Graduate Institute, Saybrook University, the California Institute of Integral Studies, and many others programs (here is a list) when I left residency.  Back then it was audacious to append Jungian to one’s bio unless you were analytically trained.  That unspoken tradition seems to have gone by the wayside.  I still remain convinced that there is no substitute for analytic training.  However, through the Asheville Jung Center and Chiron Publications I find myself in an unexpected position to expand the base of individuals becoming familiar with the important things Jung and his successors have discovered and continue to discover. The publication of the The Red Book may eventually be seen as a watershed moment for the Jungian tradition.  In a few short years it has captured the attention of countless people who might never have been drawn to C. G. Jung and analytical Psychology.  The Red Book’s evocative images have generated enormous interest were featured at this year’s Venice Biennale Art Festival.   In the midst of such enormous change since the early days of my residency training I become aware that there is no room left in my life  for the reluctant Jungianin my life. So If I Ain’t Jungian, what am I. Len Cruz, MD More about Glenis Redmond
If I Aint Jungian is adapted from a poem If I Ain’t African by, Glennis Redmond, a passionate African-American poet, educator, and counselor with an interest in Jung. She has won numerous awards including The Carrie McCray Literary Award in Poetry, a study fellowship from Vermont Writing Center, study scholarships to the Atlantic Center for the Arts and a week of study with Natalie Goldberg. Glenis is the 1997 and the 1998 Southeast Regional Individual Poetry Slam Champion. She placed in the Top 10 in 1996 and 1997 for the National Individual Slam Championship.  See many of her books at  http://tiny.cc/5f6n6w 
If I Ain’t African
by Glenis Redmond If I ain’t African someone tell my heart to stop beating like a djembe drum.   If I ain’t African someone tell my hair to stop curling up like the continent it is from.   If I ain’t African someone tell my lips to stop singing a Yoruban song. Someone speak to my hips, tell them their sway is all wrong.   If I ain’t African how come I know the way home along the Ivory Coast? Feel it in my breast of bones.   If I ain’t African how come my feet do this African dance? How come every time I’m in New Orleans or Charleston I fall into a trance?   If I ain’t African how come I know things I’m not supposed to know about the middle passage-slavery feel it deep down in my soul?   If I ain’t African someone tell their gods to stop calling on me, Obatala, Ellegba, Elleggua, Oshun, Ogun!   Tell me why I faint every time there is a full moon.   If I ain’t African how come I hear Africa Africa Africa everywhere I go? Hear it in my heartbeat hear it high hear it low.   If I ain’t African someone tell my soul to lose it’s violet flame. Someone tell their gods to call another name. Someone take this drumbeat out of my heart.   Someone give my tongue a new mouth to part.   If I ain’t African someone tell my feet to speak to my knees to send word to my hips to press a message on to my breast to sing a song to my lips to whisper in my ear,   If I ain’t African If I ain’t African If I ain’t African   PLEASE   tell my eyes ‘cause if I ain’t African, I ain’t livin’, and God knows, I ain’t   ALIVE!  

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Izdubar Headshot

Jung, Izdubar, and Enantiodromion

By Dr. Curtiss Hoffman A Response to “Liber Secundus: Individuation as Integration”, an excerpt by Dr. Murray Stein from AJC #10: Carl Jung’s Red Book On the topic of Izdubar, back in 1914, when Akkadian (the language of the Gilgamesh Epic) was only beginning to be well known to scholars, and the much older Sumerian language was poorly understood, the three cuneiform signs which make up the name “Gilgamesh” were all misread as “IZ.DU.BAR”.  It was not until R. Campbell Thompson’s authoritative edition of 1922 that the name was recognized as Gilgamesh.  I go into great detail on this subject in the next Asheville Jung Center Webinar on February 28th titled, “Cross-Cultural Symbolism in C.G. Jung’s Red Book: An Anthropological Exploration”. The first sign is not to be pronounced at all; it is what Assyriologists call a “determinative” – a sign which announces that a certain type of noun is to follow.  There are determinatives for gods, for male and female humans, for birds, for fish, for items made of copper, and – in this case – items made of wood.  (Actually, the original form of the sign was an erect phallus!  Compare the Egyptian djed pillar which replaced the phallus of Osiris when he became king of the underworld.)  The second sign is to be pronounced “BILGA” or “GILGA” and has the primary meaning of “grandfather” or “ancestor”. The third sign is a kind of a visual pun.  It is the sign for goat (MASH) but it is understood to be a gloss for the word for hero (MESH).  So what we have in this name is a heroic progenitor or ancestor, who is – somehow – also made of wood.  Then again, given Gilgamesh’s reputation with the young women of Uruk, perhaps the original reading of the determinative is not inappropriate!  Jung was aware of the change of the reading of the name – in his library there is a copy of J.V. Pritchard’s classic Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, which contains a good translation of the entire epic. While we are on the subject of Jung’s library, in addition to the bust of Voltaire in the study he also had a Neanderthal skull (a model, I think) in the library.  So we have a strong contrast between the urbane, witty, erudite Voltaire and the Neanderthal, who likely reflects Jung’s concept of the “million year-old man”. The encounter between Jung and Gilgamesh/Izdubar itself carries a mythological valance.  Readers who are familiar with Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival may well recognize in it the two encounters between East and West in that epic.  In the first, the unprepared Anfortas, riding from the Grail Castle (of which more in my webinar) in the West encounters in battle the unprepared (and unnamed) eastern knight whose goal is the Grail.  Their collision – symbolic of the alchemical massa confusa – results in disaster for both of them:  the eastern knight is killed, and Anfortas is rendered impotent by a spear thrust through his groin, as a result of which his land goes waste.  In the second, the well-prepared Parzival, riding in search of the Grail Castle, but also in search of his lady-love, encounters in battle a man who turns out to be his half-brother from the East, who fights for love and gems.  In this case, neither can prevail in battle, and they declare a truce, during which they discover that they share the same father.  And the Easterner’s complexion – under European misconceptions of heredity of the day – is a mixture of white and black.  The result of their encounter is the healing of the Waste Land.  So Jung encountering Gilgamesh and each warning the other about going too far in the other’s direction – partakes of this alchemical meeting of the pairs of opposites – a theme which was to occupy much of Jung’s later thought.  He called it enantiodromion:  the running together of the opposites. It is true that Jung in his later writings inveighed against the appropriation by Europeans (and I suppose, by extension, Americans also) of the trappings of Eastern religions and argued instead that we should acknowledge and affirm the spiritual poverty of post-Reformation Christianity.  The metaphor he uses is of a beggar stumbling into a ornate Eastern palace and claiming it as his own.   But now, in the 21st Century, at a time when easterners have increasingly appropriated western materialism, perhaps it is no longer so inappropriate for westerners to seek eastern spirituality!  Or, perhaps, if we do explore that ornate palace, we will find that it is not so unfamiliar and exotic as we at first thought.  As Novalis wrote, “Where are we going?  Always home!” Don’t miss this Thursday night Webinar on February 28! Reserve your seat, sign on live (or recorded), and speak directly with the Dr. Hoffman during this 2 hour Webinar.  This is the fourth installment of our Red Book series titled “Cross-Cultural Symbolism in C.G. Jung’s Red Book: An Anthropological Exploration”.

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Liber Secundus: Individuation as Integration

An excerpt by Murray Stein, Ph.D. from AJC10: Carl Jung’s Red Book

[Join us in our 4th Seminar on Carl Jung’s Redbook, Presented this time by Curtis Hoffman]

The first part of Carl Jung’s Red Book was more about separation, in the second part Jung begins integrating several important things.  You could also refer to the section as a holy illness and the constellation or the birth of the wounded healer because Jung has to accept his holy illness, his craziness if you will, his own psychic reality.

On the first day, it says erste tag, this is the 8th of January 1914, chapter eight, Jung is traveling to the east.  He traveled to the north, where he met death.  Now, he is going to the east.  As he goes to the east he comes upon a figure, a mythological figure named Izdubar the mighty.  This is where Jung paints his first big picture in The Red Book, I do not care much for the picture but it is quite an impressive figure.  He is a giant of a figure, Izdubar the mighty, there you see him.  Izdubar comes from the east, he is a figure of the east and Sonu Shamdashani writes something in a footnote about him, that he is related to Gilgamesh and so on.  He is a mythological figure and he is wounded.  He comes from the land of faith and belief and he has been wounded by reports that he has gotten that in the west.

He wants to go to the west, in the west there is a very different attitude towards religion and faith, very skeptical, very scientific, and Jung comes from the west to the east and they confront each other.  Izdubar represents the mythological man, mythological attitude, an early sort of pre-enlightenment, pre-Christian even or eastern religious, people who to this day go to India.  They say it is a very spiritual place, it is so different from the west, from Europe or North America.  Izdubar comes from the east, or rather from the Middle East, comes this way for his meeting with Jung.  Jung wants to go to the east and Izdubar says, “don’t go to the east, it will blind you, the sun is too bright for you there.” So he warns Jung not to go to the east and Jung is sorry for him because he has been wounded by science, he says, “in the west we no longer have faith, we no longer have religion, God is dead.  Nietzsche announced it years ago and what we have now is science and science wounds religion.  If you come to the west, it will destroy you, they will take you apart, they will analyze you to pieces, they will reduce you to rubble.  You can’t go to the west.” And so, they are stuck there and Izdubar is wounded, Jung feels sorry for him but he is too big to pick up.  What is he going to do with him?  How can he heal him?  That becomes the problem and the question.

So Jung comes upon an ingenious idea.  He says, “I am going to treat Izdubar as a fantasy.  I am going to say he is just a fantasy, and then I can take this big figure and I am going to put him in a tiny shell, an eggshell, put him in my pocket and go back home, go back to the west.  And, as long as I have got him in my pocket nobody will see him, they can’t attack him, and I will just carry this mythological attitude home and hold it secretly and that will offer it protection.  And then, while it is there I will try to heal it.”

So he does that, he puts him in an egg, goes home with him, and then when he gets home, having made religion a private affair, hidden it away in his pocket, this is the solution.  This is how you can be religious in the atheistic, scientific, enlightenment west.  You can be secretly, you can be secretly religious.  Keep it in your pocket, do not tell anybody about it.  And so when he gets home with it he realizes it’s still is not healed, it is in the egg and he has to breathe life into it, he has to bring it back to life.  So, there is this section called the incantations which was inserted later where he does these prayers and incantations to bring Izdubar back, to heal him, bring him back to life and here you see Jung as spiritual healer at work, breathing life into this figure Izdubar, and he is successful, he is immensely successful.  He opens the egg in chapter eleven, and Izdubar comes out of the egg, healed and well like a reborn son, and he rises up and he returns to where he came from, to the east where the sun rises.

So he is a healed mythological man but he leaves Jung behind and now there is a separation again.  Jung then realized that he could not go to the east for religion.  He writes about this later, he says, “It is a mistake to try to mimic eastern religions.  We have to stay true to our own history, to our own path, that is not the way for us.”  It certainly was not for him although he learned a lot about eastern religions and he even traveled to India and so on.  Jung was not in favor of leaving your own belief, whatever that is, and in the west it is Christianity, Judaism, whatever your tradition happens to be, but rather to go with it, to try to elaborate or carry it further, but not to leave it behind or go after something else and tried to mimic the people of the east.  So Izdubar returns, retreats, and Jung have realized he cannot regress to being a mythological person, taking on mythological meanings and living in a phony mythology.  It would not work, he was too honest.  He was scientific, he was enlightenment man.  He had a statue of Voltaire in his study, you know, the arch enlightenment figure for another reason, which I will tell you later, so mythological man, heal it and leave it be.

Let us know your thoughts on Liber Secundus by commenting below.  Stay tuned for Dr. Curtiss Hoffman’s blog response to this excerpt by Dr. Murray Stein.

For more insight into Carl Jung’s Red Book you may attend our Webinar on Thursday, February 28th titled, “Cross-Cultural Symbolism in C.G. Jung’s Red Book: An Anthropological Exploration.”  You may also find many other exciting information on our Red Book page.

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