Posts Tagged ‘Archetypal’

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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

PLEASE

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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Of Broken Vessels, Art, and Repair

Of Broken Vessels, Art, and Repair Len Cruz, MD, ME “The more I am spent, ill, a broken pitcher, by so much more am I an artist.”      – Vincent van Gogh On Saturday July 27, 2013 from 12:00-2:00 PM the Asheville Jung Center will be presenting a conference titled, Art and Psyche: A  Jungian Exploration  with Murray Stein, Linda Carter, and Lucienne Marguerat.  The conference originates from Zürich, New England, and Asheville.   Registration is still open. One subject that will be explored is the art of Adolf Wölfli In preparation for Saturday’s conference I read two books on art, and one coffee table book compiled from artwork done by persons suffering mental illness.   They are briefly reviewed below. Creative Transformation: The Healing Power of the Arts by Penny Lewis is an exceptional book.  Published by Chiron Publications, it is not strictly Jungian.  Ms. Lewis is a dance and drama therapist with Jungian training from the C G Jung Institute of New York.  Written in the 1993, its material remains timeless. Reading Creative Transformation: The Healing Power of the Arts is like taking a short course in psychoanalytic theory, Analytical Psychology, and Gestalt and the application of these ideas with patients.  Ms. Lewis maintains that “the dance between conscious and unconscious is choreographed in the transitional space of the imaginal realm.” She relies heavily on Mahler, Winnicott, by personal field between patients and therapist.” Section 2 of the book looks at the use of the arts from a perspective of developmental psychology. She leans heavily upon Margaret Mahler, D. W. Winnicott, James Masterson, and Nathan Salant-Schwartz. The rich use of black and white plates combined with a very expansive index, make this book an invaluable resource. With patients who suffered trauma in early childhood, at a time that was preverbal or prior to the appearance of well-developed abstract thinking, the use of arts media can be a powerful tool for the healer.  Creative Transformation: The Healing Power of the Arts is not a How To book, though the author provides ample illustrations of how she uses art in therapy. It is a clinical treatise, from someone well-versed in several psychotherapy approaches, in which the writer just happens to use the expressive arts media in addition to words. The Creative Soul : Art and the Quest for Wholeness by Lawrence Staples , published by Fisher King Press, is a tightly composed, personal reflection by a seasoned sage and Zürich trained Jungian analyst.  It is precise, yet comprehensive in its treatment of the creative process.  According to Staples, “Psychic tension is at its highest just at the moment preceding creation, just as we experience at the moment of orgasm.” (P.25)  The receptivity to the feminine is vitally important to the creative experience.  Through extremely concise clinical vignettes, poems, short stories, and other examples of artistic creations, Staples explores an impressive expanse of the territory of the creative process.  I have only one critique of this book; it was not long enough.  About one third of the way through the book, Staples introduces a case of a man named Bert, whose story weaves through the remaining pages in an effective, cohesive way.  In just over two pages titled Creativity As An Inner Parent, Staples uses Bert to explain how a good parent can be fashioned through creative expression for individuals whose actual parenting was deficient.  In a section titled Therapy As Art, Staples acknowledges that “Therapists often envy the creative gifts of the people with whom they work.”  He goes on to point out that the work of therapy is itself a creative expression; it is art. Sunshine From Darkness: The Other Side of Outsider Art by Nancy Glidden Smith is simply put a coffee table book.  However, the artists featured in this beautiful volume all suffer mental illness.  The introduction to the book is written by Kay Redfield Jamison, Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins.  Her pioneering research along, with her testimonial about her own struggles with mental illness, have brought attention to the issue of stigmatization of the mentally ill.  She opens the book with the van Gough  helpful in reducing stigmas.  The featured artists are all Americans.  It appears the book is currently out of print but copies are available on Amazon. by Len Cruz, MD, ME

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2012  Maya prophecy

A Look at Eternity through the Maya concept of Time and Reality

Why all the fuss about the end of the world on December 21, 2012? And what do the Maya and Jung have to say about it? 

 By: Nancy Swift Furlotti

 Do we really believe the end of the world is upon us at the end of this year? It is true that our world feels full of chaos, wars, terror attacks, economic collapses, and environmental disasters. But is this really new? If we look back in history we discover that the world has been a dangerous and unpredictable place from the beginning. So, would you really prefer to live in another time with dinosaurs crashing around you, bubonic plague wiping out your community, or the inquisition stripping you of your religious choice and life? I wouldn’t. Each era offers challenges to our human race, and now is no exception. But why do we jump to the conclusion that the end of the world is coming? Perhaps it is our linear thinking that focuses on only one of two possibilities. Many believe the universe began with one Big Bang and will end in a Black Hole. Others are convinced the world began with Genesis and will end with Revelation. There are actually other ways of imagining our existence. The Maya, for example, thought about it extensively and developed a very sophisticated conception and application of time and reality that far exceeded the rest of the world, and perhaps still does. Their surprisingly accurate calculations of dates go back millions of years and forward well into the future. So what about December 21, 2012, the so-called end of the Maya fourth world? What does that mean to them, not just what it means to us? It is their calendar and their date; we can learn something from them if we listen. A Western thinker who wrestled with the concept of time and reality was C. G. Jung, who wrote about cyclical periods of world chaos within the aeons of time.  Interestingly, both the Maya and Jung proposed the idea of circular or non-linear time. Another Western thinker, Mircea Eliade, called it sacred time. Perhaps this is what we are missing in our world today, and is a clue to why we think the world will end. On November 29th we will hold a global seminar from Washington DC and Zurich looking at the question of will the world end on December 21st and what is the meaning behind this.  We will explore the significance of time and reality, the procession of the worlds for the Maya, and how it was a fundamental part of their religion. We will discuss its significance in relation to the most important Maya document to survive the Spanish Conquest, the Popol Vuh. This sacred book of the Quiche Maya, called the Dawn of Life, contains their myth of creation and destruction that lays out the template for how humans participate with the Gods in the ever repeating cycle of life, death, and rebirth. We shall observe how this myth may apply to our world today and what we can learn from it. With all the chaos in our current world, it seems we have a lot to learn! -Nancy Swift Furlotti http://ashevillejungcenter.org/video-seminars/end-of-world/  Mayan Calendar End of the World December 21, 2012?

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The Christchurch Earthquakes: A Jungian Analyst’s Devastating Journey

SELF CARE IN THE MIDST OF INNER & OUTER FAULT-LINES Reflections on the impact and significance of the Christchurch earthquakes An address to the Christchurch Branch of the New Zealand Assn of Counsellors by Joy Ryan-Bloore, Jungian Analyst _______________________________________________________________________________   Abstract Since 4 September 2010, we, the people of Christchurch have been subjected to ongoing, extreme trauma. Whether we have been materially affected or not, we are all swimming in the same collective trauma. Each of us has wounds – what I would call ‘inner fault-lines’. Even if we have done a lot of work on ourselves, these can erupt again if put under enough pressure. Part of the experience of outer trauma, such as we have all endured, is having those personal fault-lines exposed. Our dreams will also show the impact of the earthquake on our inner landscape. These reflections are offered to assist you to explore how we can truly care for our selves in the midst of these unprecedented events, by connecting with the deeper Self, enabling us to be much more conscious and alert to the needs of those who seek our assistance.

“In all chaos there is a cosmos,

in all disorder, a secret order.” (1)

Introduction The proposed topic for this evening was “Self-care in the Midst of Inner and Outer Fault-lines”.  I am aware that you have plenty of experience looking after yourselves and your clients and I am also sure you are more than competent to do it, otherwise I doubt you would be working as Counsellors!!  Especially in this climate! I am also aware you have had other people talking to you about how to take care of yourself and your clients when afflicted by trauma.   And you will have received relevant supervision. My focus will be a little different – I will try to explore how we can look after our essential and often wounded ‘self’. In other words how do we continue to walk on the particular path we are meant to be on, in the face of what has happened?  And more importantly, how do we make sure we stay connected to the deeper Self – the Mysterious Other – God – Buddha, Christ, the Sacred Presence or by whatever name we give to that which resides in the depths of our being – and connects us to the Whole. Because if we are in possession of a deeper meaning – a ‘world-view’ – one which connects us to Something, Someone greater than our egos – we will cope much more easily with trauma – especially that caused by the eruption of inner fault-lines. And if we remain connected to this deeper Self we will be more able to care for our selves and those who come to us for assistance. However, if we have nothing greater than the perspective of our egos with which to evaluate our life and events outside of our control; or our world-view is too small – or our image of God is too infantile, the present catastrophe may well overwhelm us – for there is nothing Greater than ourselves to hold us in it. I would like to begin with two quotations from Jung. One written at the beginning of his adult life, the other towards the end. The first is from The Red Book – a massive, illustrated ‘tome’ which has just been published – a highly personal record of his immersion and extraordinary journey into the unconscious; his discovery of the collective unconscious and the archetypal forces inhabiting it. This experience provided him with the raw material for all his subsequent theories: the cornerstone of which was his discovery of the psyche, at the centre of which is a religious function operating in the depths of each person’s interior. He writes in a way strangely reminiscent of the great vision in the Book of Revelation.  (2) “May the frightfulness become so great that it can turn (our) eyes inward, so that (our) will no longer seeks the Self in others but in (ourselves). I saw it. I know that this is the way.  I saw the death of Christ and I saw his lament.  I felt the agony of his dying, of the great dying.  I saw a new God, a child who subdued daimons in his hand …” C G Jung  The Red Book, P.254 The second quotation is from Memories, Dreams, Reflections which he wrote as he approached the end of his life, just before he died.  They are the reflections of an old man reminiscing on the significance of his life and the journey it demanded of him. “The decisive question is: are we related to something infinite or not?  That is the telling question of life.  Only if we know that the infinite is the thing which truly matters, can we avoid fixing our interests upon futilities, and upon all sorts of goals which are not of real importance.  Thus we demand that the world grant us recognition for qualities which we regard as personal possessions: our talent or our beauty. The more we lay stress on false possessions, and the less sensitivity we have for what is essential, the less satisfying is our life.  We feel limited because we have limited aims, and the result is envy and jealousy. If we understand and feel that here in this life we already have a link with the infinite, desires and attitudes change.  In the final analysis we count for something only because of the essential we embody, and if we do not embody that, life is wasted.  In our relationships to others too, the crucial question is whether an element of boundlessness is expressed in the relationship. P.356 Likewise for us! The experience of so much death and destruction of archetypal and even apocalyptic proportions to which we have all been exposed, can prematurely precipitate and perhaps accelerate, questions such as the ones with which Jung grappled. The recurring earthquakes may cause us all to stop, take stock of what is important in our life, and perhaps more importantly, compel us to ask the deepest questions of all – why existence?  Why my life? What is it for and what does it mean? My sense of self, what my life was about and my connection to God was severely tested by the events of September 4.  At the risk of inflicting yet another ‘earthquake story’ on you who have listened to hundreds of people’s stories, including your own! I would like to start with a short summary of what happened to me (at the outer level) during 4 September earthquake. I will then spend time reflecting on the inner significance of that event as an example of what can happen to each of us when our inner fault-lines erupt and our world-views are shattered.  I find I can only speak from personal experience! The rest you can find in books! My hope is you might find an ‘echo’ within yourself which will take you more deeply into your own journey. As I am sharing mine, I invite you to consider what particular fault-line, inner wound or ‘Achilles heel’, did you re-visit during the earthquakes? Or re-visited you! And more importantly, what if anything, enabled you to cope with it! And what is happening for you now? At 4.35am on Saturday the 4th September last year I, like every one else in this city, woke in terror. You all know too well what happened – our city was struck by an unprecedented earthquake – magnitude 7.1 on the Richter scale – the beginning of a cataclysmic period of unprecedented destruction few of us ever dreamt we would experience. At that moment, the world as I knew it simply disappeared. There was a terrible roar and our home shuddered and moved to such an extent I thought it was going to break up.  I don’t usually collapse in a crisis – I respond quite well and then collapse afterwards!!  (Part of a life-long defence against my particular fault-line about which I will say more later!!) But in that moment I did collapse. I was stripped of every capacity I previously had and plunged into a place of terror I never knew existed, both inside myself and in the outer world.  It went on for a shattering 46 seconds which is a long, long time.  (I figured it was as long as it takes an extremely competent runner to complete one lap of a 400metre track)!!   Over the next 24 hours alone we were all hit by 431 aftershocks and as I began these reflections on 21 February 2011 the Christchurch Quake Map website showed we had lived through 4,782 aftershocks. The weekend passed in a daze, compounded by the fact that the suburb in which I live had escaped any obvious damage.  It just added to the surreal nature of the experience, knowing that not far from us streets were ripped up, buildings had collapsed, people’s homes were destroyed; power, water and sewerage facilities were out of action. Our TV showed pictures of the devastation, but we had lost the sound.  So we knew there had been a terrible catastrophe but we had escaped for the most part.  I started to feel what I can only call ‘survivor guilt’ – my shock being more about what could have happened to our home – rather than what had happened.  (We didn’t escape the 22 February!) Sleep was impossible and was to remain like that for about two weeks. Allan and I decided to go out into the city on the Sunday – almost like an exercise to test the reality of what had happened – and at another level – to claim back our city and to join in solidarity with the thousands who flocked to the inner city that day doing just that.  People of all ages, from all walks of life. Dazed and sleepless, bewildered and in disbelief.  Children being pushed in prams and held in arms.  People with mobile phones, cameras and videos – all trying to record and come to terms with what had happened.  I found myself looking at buildings which had been part of my life since adolescence, as if seeing them for the first time, sensing a deep grief that many of them would not survive.  It was as if a substantial part of my history and my life had disappeared in front of me and would never be the same again. Later I was to feel an incredible sense of my own fragile mortality and the shortness of life, because the likelihood of being alive when the city was fully restored again seemed remote.  Maurice Carter, a respected elder in the city, since deceased, simply said it would take at least 20 years for Christchurch to really recover because certain areas would have to be completely rebuilt for the 21st century. It felt like the end of an era and a portent for the end of my own life, too. On reflection, I now know that the clinicians would probably diagnose what I experienced as a mild version of PTSD – post-traumatic stress disorder! But what I was feeling was not solely about the outer devastation.  It was something deeper and to do with my soul. For the worst part of the September 4 earthquake experience was what I might call ‘loss of soul’ or ‘loss of faith’.  I felt throughout that ordeal and for long months after, that any religious belief, philosophical container, knowledge or experience which would have earlier held me in the face of that sort of outer horror, had completely disappeared.  Not only did the outer ground shift under my feet.  My inner ground shifted and vanished too.  I found myself without any container.  My religious beliefs simply didn’t seem to ‘do it’ anymore. What had happened outside seemed too big to be held by my previous belief structure.  Not even a fairly conscious faith informed by psychological understanding!! The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, which has been part of my life for the last 25 years or so, had been severely damaged and was no longer available as an outer sanctuary in which to take refuge. I was stripped and I was terrified.  I felt like a small particle of sand floating in a vast, impersonal cosmos – my human plight seemingly of no interest to the mighty forces which create, sustain (and disrupt) creation as we know it.  I was deeply afraid.  Six months later I was able to articulate it more accurately: On 9 January 2011 I wrote in my diary: 4pm While resting … I suddenly became aware of my ‘smallness’ in the face of the universe and became very frightened.  It was as if I was simply a speck (which I instinctively know I am) but that knowledge somehow terrified me causing me to profoundly doubt how could I have any purpose and/or meaning and how could there be any Other who was interested in me?  It felt like that everything I had previously thought or believed; all structures which gave my life meaning  … simply disappeared.  All I could do – was simply allow those feelings to be there. I remembered reading something about this by Teilhard de Chardin and later found it. He wrote: “I felt the distress characteristic to a particle adrift in the universe, the distress which makes human wills founder daily under the crushing number of living things and stars. And if something saved me it was hearing the voice of the gospel guaranteed by divine successes, speaking to me from the depth of the night: “ego sum noli timere”- ‘It is I, do not be afraid’.John 6:20 (3) The purpose of sharing this is to show that what happens in the outer world has a corresponding impact on the inner. We are all connected – not only with each other – but we are connected to the very planet on which we depend for our existence – we participate in the same energies and are made out of the same ‘stuff’. And in a mysterious way – due to the stage we are now at in our evolutionary journey towards consciousness, we now know everything in this vast universe, in which we float on planet Earth, is similarly connected.  Consequently, recurring earthquakes of the magnitude to which we have all been exposed, can not only destroy our outer landscape, but can expose each of us to what I would call our inner fault-lines, which shake up the inner ground on which we stand upsetting our ‘normal’ psychic, emotional and spiritual stability.  Like huge gaping cracks in our psychic edifice through which pours the disturbed, uncontained unconscious – inner liquefaction!! Each of you will have your own way to ‘be with’ or interpret the deeper significance of what has happened to you over these last few months. Or you may be struggling to find one. Finding meaning in our lives is essential – a life lived without meaning is one of the deepest causes of emotional and psychological turmoil a human being can experience, as each of you will know.  Jung puts it this way: “For thousands of years the mind of human beings has worried about the sick soul, perhaps even earlier than it did about the sick body.  The propitiation of gods, the perils of the soul and its salvation, these are not yesterday’s problems. Religions are psychotherapeutic systems in the truest sense of the word, and on the grandest scale.  They express the whole range of the psychic problem in mighty images; they are the avowal and recognition of the soul, and at the same time the revelation of the soul’s nature. From this universal foundation no human soul is cut off; only the individual consciousness that has lost its connection with the psychic totality remains caught in the illusion that the soul is a small circumscribed area, a fit subject for ‘scientific’ theorizing.  The loss of this great relationship is the prime evil of neurosis.” (4) I still draw meaning from the symbols and rituals of the religious tradition into which I was born – Roman Catholicism – but in a much broader and deeper way than what I inherited – but at this stage in my life, the nature of that belief is vastly different and has been enriched by encounters with other religious traditions – both within Christianity and outside it. Especially Buddhism. Coupled with this I have some slight ‘smatterings’ of understanding about  the extraordinary insights coming from cosmology, archetypal astrology and quantum physics. However, what gives an even deeper insight into all these ‘smatterings’ of inter-connected disciplines, comes from my growing knowledge and experience of Jung’s discoveries of the depth sciences – especially the collective unconscious and the purposeful nature of dreams, symbols and religious rituals in the human psyche. So my processing of recent events is inevitably interpreted in the light of my own meaning ‘structures’. I say this by way of sharing where I am coming from … not in any way seeking to impose that on you!! But all this seemed to disappear on the morning of 4 September! I struggled to find some foothold.  I remembered I had heard an Australian Priest say: “God reveals himself to us in all the events of our life and the revelation is complete when we reflect on these events in the light of the scriptures.” (Gerald Manley – 1973)  Those words have often returned to me. But what event in scripture could inform the horror the earthquake had unleashed in me?  I knew there was only one possibility.  The silent cry on the Cross – Jesus’ cry to his Father “My God, my God why have you abandoned me”. The gospel writer, Matthew interprets the event this way: “At that, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, the earth quaked the rocks were split …  Meanwhile the centurion, together with the others guarding Jesus, had seen the earthquake and all that was taking place and they were terrified and said, ‘in truth this was a Son of God.” Matthew 27:51,53   Except an earthquake didn’t cause his cry.  In a synchronistic way, his cry, his surrender to death –  this archetypal event at the level of the Spirit – caused an equivalent response at the level of Nature – an  earthquake.  These two poles – the world of the Spirit and the world of Nature – synchronistically (5) connected and impacted on each other. It was like the earth went out in sympathy – it paralleled the shocking nature of what was happening at the level of Spirit.  Nature rebelled at what humankind was doing to its Creator. Christ crucified.  Deicide.  There are only a few references to earthquakes in the Christian Scriptures that I am aware of.  I wondered, as I reflected, were the recent earthquakes connected not to Deicide – the death of the Son of God – but to Divine Matricide – the death of Mother Earth? Was the earth in fact reacting to how we have exploited her over the last century?  This may seem a rather far-fetched, esoteric or “New Age” hypothesis, an attempt to soften the experience –   drag some meaning out of an event which many feel has no meaning  – “after all” they say – ‘its just nature.” But if we have time I will share some personal experiences of synchronistic events which seem to suggest something deeper might be happening. The forces we are dealing with are apocalyptic in nature and in some people a parallel experience registers in the psyche, threatening their psychic stability.  It is totally unpredictable.  There is nothing one can do about it.  It is absolutely beyond our control.  That is the worst feature.  Not knowing when and how and with what force it is going to strike. I have also had some prospective-type dreams which only ‘made sense’ in the light of both earthquakes and many of my analysands have had some extraordinary dreams as well.  The outer chaos has acted in many cases, as a powerful and somewhat premature accelerant for change and increased consciousness.  It is a bit like what happened the night of the September 4 earthquake.  A record number of babies were born that night or the next day.  Something like 23 in 24 hours as I recall.  Like Mother Nature was making sure they all got out safely! I think the same thing has been happening on the inner level.  The birth of a new level of consciousness – a more inclusive world-view – is vital if people are going to be able to cope creatively with the outer threat to their current world views, be they religious or philosophical.  And those of us responsible for the process of others need to be even more tuned to what is being demanded of each of us – otherwise it will visit us in the form of negative transference, counter-transference or inexplicable sickness and/or accidents. The fact is that enough conscious individuals need to emerge – be born  – if we and the planet on which we depend for our very existence are to survive. The medieval, metaphysical, dualistic world-view coupled with scientific materialism which has informed the collective’s world-view over the last two centuries, is dying. Needs to die. As does the current ego-driven economic rationalism plaguing our world, a philosophy which denies the existence of anything greater than itself:  which is even insidiously infiltrating vocations like Counselling which take place at a soul level and cannot be quantified, evaluated or rationalized by market forces! The old order has died in Christchurch.  The new one has yet to be constructed.  We are ‘in between stories’ as the cosmologist Thomas Berry said recently.  Edward Edinger, using the Christian myth as a basis for a similar conclusion, once said that we were living in the ‘Holy Saturday of history’. (6) That’s what it has felt like to me as I have walked round the empty tombs of every major Church of every major religious domination in our city – and all the destroyed landscapes and other buildings which have previously held the history and the myth of this city. Two weeks before the 22 February quake I had a prophetic dream.  (Dream) I pondered the demise of all the Churches since the 22 Feb earthquake. I wondered how people will ever get to the spiritual and psychic truths behind these archetypal symbols if they are deprived of the outer rituals and liturgies in which these symbols are most profoundly encountered. I was grateful I had been brought up in a religious tradition and spent many years in a Religious Order – and lived its then somewhat monastic horarium in which these archetypal symbols had been embraced so intensely.  For only now, can I begin to more fully appreciate the inner, psychic truths they embody – a living, dynamic process to be encountered within my own psyche. But how, I ask does one come to this without the outer bridge to the interior which these archetypal symbols provide?  For despite my knowledge, when the Cathedral closed after the 4 September, I realized how much it contained me. – against what?  I do not know.  But slowly and persistently, the earthquakes have collapsed the outer structure – to an extent that now the Cathedral may even have to be demolished – forcing me – reluctantly – to find even more deeply within, the inner meaning of these treasures which the outer structure and symbols contain.  I feel I have been ‘shifted’ ever so subtly and at times violently, into a new level of consciousness, as if something has been waiting to be shifted for some time.  The earthquake has somehow precipitated and completed it. But I am ahead of myself … let me go back to last year … my dreams continued and by late October they were starting to show the impact the earthquakes were having on my psyche and on my physical health generally.  They also showed that although I was being supported; my energy levels were much lower than I realized and a part of me was pushing me to do more. Throughout this time I have had incessant questions – which brought about a sense of panic and increasing terror.  I faced the deepest questions once again.  Who am I? What is my purpose in this world?  What meaning do I have and what meaning do I bring to the world?  Has my existence a meaning?  Is there a purpose to the vastness of the cosmos as we now know it?  And if there isn’t what point my existence?  Any religious, philosophical, psychological belief or system simply didn’t ‘cut it’ anymore.  I felt suspended in a terrible place.  At the same time as this inner destruction was happening, it was being mirrored outside. I watched all the places in Christchurch which held memories of my life, damaged or demolished.  Both my past and my present ‘holy ground’ were being destroyed. I faced into a dark void – a place which made me feel like a terrified child exposed to the impersonal forces of an uncaring and remote universe.  Which reduced me at times to a state of terror and once of inconsolable sobbing.  This was the vulnerable, fragile side of myself – the inner fault-line – which I was so afraid to own and expose – both to myself – and certainly to my colleagues.  After all I’m supposed to be able to help others in this state!  And a voice whispers in my heart – “Physician heal thyself”. I can’t”, I heard myself say. I faced into an empty place – devoid of all meaning and purpose.  At the same time I knew that these feelings were the only real ‘truth’ I could trust.  All other systems, theories, beliefs were simply ‘translations’ of reality.   Images.  It took my Buddhist friend and colleague in Zurich to remind me, that the first commandment in the Old Testament forbade images!  “I am the Lord Thy God, thou shalt not have strange gods before Me”.  I have attempted to live my life according to many ‘translations’ supported by many ‘images’ – all attempts to make sense of, create images of the Great Unknown, the Holy Mystery.   She also spoke to me about the Void – or the Nothing that holds us behind all the images.  As she spoke I was very aware that all the great mystics within Christianity had also written about the experience of the Nothing: Meister Eckhart; the unknown author of the Cloud of Unknowing; John of the Cross; Teresa of Avila and in recent times, Evelyn Underhill and Thomas Merton. How did I cope? With great difficulty but primarily by clinging to what I knew ‘professionally’ and from previous experience – trusting, hoping – that the feelings were purposeful – even though I was terrified. That if I remained with them they would take me to a different place. I also trusted that whatever I needed would be given.  It came in many different guises: my husband, a close friend, books, resting a lot more, just being with what was without wishing it would go away or ‘get better’. I also found a strange solace by continuing to go to Mass – even though I felt bereft and strangely distant from it. It was the sacred music which contained me. And I remembered what Don Whelan Music Director of the Cathedral Choir and Orchestra had said not long after 4 September “Music, unlike art or buildings, is infinitely renewable.” Paradoxically, I felt quite calm when I was working with others.  In hindsight I think because I was consciously working with what was happening to me, I was more able to be with others without my process getting in the way.  Not that I didn’t succumb to some counter-transference issues once or twice! 11 September 2010 I read Bede Griffiths book “The Marriage of East and West’ – and realized that even though my belief structures had collapsed with the earthquake, there must be a Mystery behind all the forces of Nature. But how could there be – Nature was so huge.  Then I realized that one self-reflecting human being was more significant than all of created matter because they knew it existed.  And somehow something ‘clicked’.  All that ‘stuff’ had an energy whose ultimate goal was human consciousness.  All religious rituals, beliefs, symbols, images were attempts to ritualize, make conscious, come to grips with that inner process by which we are connected to the Whole – and within that painful evolutionary journey – become more and more aware of this Holy Mystery, this divine presence, Sacred Centre, the Nothing: the ‘Divine Milieu’ as the French Jesuit Paleontologist, Teilhard de Chardin described it. (7) So what was happening?  It was not so much a fear that the earth no longer supported me as I initially felt, but more like an inner shattering of all previous world-views – all were reduced to rubble and found lacking.  I was being forced, rather brutally, to look even more deeply inside – and more paradoxically, look outside – but in a new way. For nights after the September 4 quake I had broken sleep punctuated with ongoing ‘after-shocks’ – each shock sending a rush of adrenalin through my body, causing extremely high blood pressure and a pounding pulse-rate. There was nothing I could do to stop it. In the beginning, nothing would comfort me or make  me feel secure.  There was a blankness and a silence in the face of Nature’s violence. I found myself reaching for my Mother’s Rosary Beads – the pair of Irish Greenhorn beads which I associate with her for as far back as I can remember.  I held them in my right hand and tried to sleep. They were the only thing which gave me any sense of security.  The fact that her hands had held these beads through her long years of life and journey into death, somehow said that if anyone was beyond time and space, she would be the one who would take care of me and keep me safe.  I held on to them for about four nights. My deepest experience has been that of profound silence in the face of something too big for me to comprehend – yet somehow I also knew I needed to let go ‘the need to know’. Even this 7.1 earthquake paled into insignificance before the might of planet earth itself, let alone the vast cosmos in which this solitary planet is but a speck of sand.  What or Who is the Author of such vastness?  And how can that Who or What be remotely interested in me?  Does my life and does Life itself have an ultimate  meaning and if it doesn’t, then what is the purpose of my existence? These were the questions which uncovered the fault-lines in my own psyche – shattered the ways I had previously made sense of my life – and thrust me not into outer chaos, but inner.  It was like an experience of cosmic agoraphobia.  Too much space and too much of everything. At some point I thought of John Mattern, my first analyst.  I remembered talking to him about being overwhelmed by the immensity of the universe. He had said ‘you are allowing yourself to be overwhelmed by the immensity of matter – and forgetting psyche’.  At the time (1993) I didn’t really understand what he was saying. But as I began contemplating my ‘cosmic agoraphobia’ I gradually became aware that the fact I was conscious of the immensity of what I was a part of, was actually of greater significance than the cosmos of which I was aware.  I realized then, that human consciousness, was the crowning point of evolution – and that all matter – all that exists in creation – converged, and continues to converge in one direction only – the ongoing evolution of human consciousness. Towards what Teilhard de Chardin called the “Omega point”. The fear and the agoraphobia have not totally diminished, but somehow I know that being aware – being conscious of what I am afraid of is more ‘immense’, more significant than the immensity of matter itself which was threatening to destabilize me psychically and emotionally. I was immensely comforted by Bede Griffiths’ book during this time. Phrases like Ultimate Reality, Mystery, The Vastness and the Void started to describe much more accurately what I was experiencing – more than any of the religious or psychological paths I had walked to date. He said things which I already knew, but didn’t.  Like the paths were just that, paths.  Not an end in themselves. That each great religious tradition was a face – an image of the Ultimate Reality which is finally beyond description. That Jesus Christ embodied in his life and being the destiny of every human being viz the marriage within each person of the human and the divine.  That in a unique way, he experienced  the truth of the inner presence of the Divine Ground, that he called ‘Abba’ – residing in the depths of our interior. Suddenly, without warning, being committed to Catholicism and my vocation as a Jungian Analyst, seemed to fall away.  None of them ‘did it’ completely.  Nor do I now think, they are meant to.  They are all paths, symbols – ‘bridges towards an unseen shore.”  But in the ‘falling away’ something different was returned. My particular religious tradition is still a valid path for me – even more so – despite all its human failures. I have simply seen a little bit further along the bridge than I used to, but I don’t yet quite know what it is that I have ‘seen’.  I am also acutely aware that what I have ‘seen’ is still very elusive and can slip from sight. Final Thoughts While reading Richard Tarnas’ book Cosmos and Psyche (8) this afternoon and looking out into my garden, I became even more aware of the source of my ‘cosmic agoraphobia’ and the dualism still subtly lodged in my thinking.  It was as if I was trying to come to terms with Something or Someone ‘outside’ of the Cosmos who was its source and who had created it.  Set it in motion.  An old, metaphysical, mechanistic, medieval world-view: instead of seeing that the cosmos itself is an unending vessel in which the Soul of the Universe resides and has been evolving into human consciousness over light years.  Suddenly I looked outside differently.  Not only was I physically part of what I contemplated; my soul, my consciousness, my ‘self’ was connected to the World Soul – the Unus Mundus which informed it all. The inner fault-line through which this new awareness had been painfully born, somehow had its origin in the experience of a little girl – myself – whose mother had nearly died giving birth to my brother. Her near death had caused a terrible fear of abandonment – of death and loss – of floating endlessly in an alien universe, against which I defended myself by developing a life-long capacity to somehow cope with whatever life ‘threw at me.’ Somehow that two-and-half-year-old decided that her life’s task was to take responsibility, probably for everything! but especially for her mother – to ‘make it all better – or something terrible would happen’. It was only when something ‘terrible’ did happen – totally beyond and outside my control or capacity to ‘make it all better’ – like a 7.1. earthquake!! that Something, Someone much greater could begin to break through. And in its dark, frightening, but somehow compelling presence, I returned once again to Teilhard de Chardin’s experience and found the same words tentatively rising in my heart as it did in his: “ego sum noli timere” – ‘It is I, do not be afraid’. John 6:16-21  (9) In that moment I gave thanks for the faith of my ancestors, particularly my mother and father, who initiated me into Catholicism – the heart of which gives ultimate meaning to trauma, suffering – particularly of the innocent – and death. And I also give thanks for all those whom life has placed on my path – enabling me to find meaning in my life and support for my inner fault-lines!!  And ramifications thereof!! Finally – in the midst of my reflections I came across an extract from an anonymous letter written in the 15th century which seems to say all I have attempted to say – and more. I have entitled it “Thou Silent Cry.” O deeply buried treasure, how wilt thou be unearthed? O elevated nobility, who can reach thee? O rushing fountain, who can drain thee? O luminous radiance, power that breaks forth, Hiddenness laid bare, security that is hidden, assuring confidence, harmonious stillness in all things, manifold good in the silence of concord, thou silent cry, no one can find thee who knows not how to let thee go.  (10) Thank you. NOTES (1)     Found on the home-page of the Irish Psychoanalytic website. (2)     “Now a great sign appeared in heaven; a woman, adorned with the sun, standing on the moon, and with the twelve stars on her head with a crown.  She was pregnant, and in labour, crying aloud in the pangs of childbirth.  Then a second sign appeared in the sky, a huge red dragon  … it stopped in front of the woman as she was having the child, so that he could eat it as soon as it was born from its mother.  The woman brought a male child into the world, the son who was to rule all the world with an iron scepter, and the child was taken straight up to God and to his throne, while the woman escaped into the desert, where God had made a place of safety ready, for her to be looked after in the twelve hundred and sixty days”.  (Revelation 12:1-6) (3)       Teilhard de Chardin’s The Divine Milieu P.76-80 especially p.78 (4)     Carl Jung, Collected Works 10:367 (5)     Synchronicity A term coined by Jung to designate the meaningful coincidence or equivalence (a)     of a psychic and physical state or event which have no causal relationship to one another. (b)     if similar or identical thoughts, dreams etc occurring at the same time at different places.  Neither the one nor the other coincidence can be explained by causality, but seem to be connected primarily with activated archetypal processes in the unconscious. Jung writes: “My preoccupation with the psychology of unconscious processes long ago compelled me to look about for another principle of explanation, because the causality principle seemed to me inadequate to explain certain remarkable phenomena of the psychology of the unconscious.  Thus I found that there are psychic parallelisms which cannot be related to each other causally, but which must be connected through another principle, namely the contingency of events.  This connection of events seemed to me essentially given by the fact of their relative simultaneity, hence the term ‘synchronistic’. “It seems indeed, as though time, far from being an abstraction, is a concrete continuum which contains qualities or basic conditions that manifest themselves simultaneously through parallelisms that cannot be explained causally, as for example, in cases of the simultaneous occurrence of identical thoughts, symbols or psychic states.” (The Secret of the Golden Flower pp 142 following – modified) …. “Synchronicity is no more baffling or mysterious than the discontinuities of physics. It is only the ingrained belief in the sovereign power of causality that creates intellectual difficulties and makes it appear unthinkable that causal events exist or could ever occur … Their inexplicability is not due to the fact that the cause is unknown, but to the fact that a cause is not even thinkable in intellectual terms”. (Ibid pp 518 ff) Extracts from the Glossary of Memories, Dreams, Reflections, P.418-419 Collins Fount Paperbacks 1977 (6)     Edward Edinger, P.119 The Christian Archetype   (7)     After his horrendous experience of war through his chaplaincy in the trenches of the First World War, Teilhard de Chardin describes the process of evolution this way: “Seen from the viewpoint of our human experience and drawn to our human scale, the world is an immense groping, an immense enterprise, an immense attack; its progress is made at the price of much failure and many wounds.  The sufferers, no matter to what species they belong, are the expressions of this austere but noble condition.  They pay for the forward progress and the victory of all”. … “The Cross is the symbol of this arduous labour of evolution, rather than a symbol of expiation.” Teilhard de Chardin; Pensees Number 4 (8)     www.cosmosandpsyche.com/AuthorInterviews.php (9)     The following is a contemporary reflection by Lionel Corbett on this process, reflective of Teilhard de Chardin’s insights in Note 6 above. “… our emotional (and physical) suffering always contains an element of the divine.  The archetype at the centre of our complex, no matter how painful, is this element, (the divine); so there is no escape from the numinosum (divine presence) at the core of our difficulty. This is why the Self images which appear to us always contain elements of our deepest needs and fears.  If the divine is never further away than our suffering, then our suffering becomes the beginning of our spirituality.  Any attempt to develop spiritual techniques that do not penetrate and understand suffering, run the risk of avoiding the sacred itself.” P.51 Lionel Corbett, The Religious Function of the Psyche Brunner-Routledge 1996 (10)    Sited by Dorothee Soelle in the frontpiece of her book The Silent Cry – Mysticism and Resistance, 2001 Fortress Press, Minneapolis Copyright 2011 Joy Ryan-Bloore   Joy Ryan-Bloore (High Dip Tchg, Dip Theol (Undergraduate), BA, Dip Analytical Psychology) is a Jungian Analyst and Psychotherapist working in private practice in Christchurch. In 1993-1997 she trained at the C.G. Jung Institute, Zurich together with her husband Allan, and complemented her analytical training with body therapy. She has been a member of the New Zealand Association of Psychotherapists since 1984; is a member of the International Assn of Analytical Psychologists; and an Executive Member of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Jungian Analysts. She has a particular interest in the inter-face of psychological and spiritual development and since her return from Zurich has facilitated ecumenical retreats and seminars for people in New Zealand and Australia, particularly in Melbourne and Perth. Earlier in her life she was a Religious Teaching Sister with the Sisters of Mercy working for 18 years as a primary and secondary school teacher in Christchurch. Her current work involves psychotherapy, and/or Jungian Analysis with specific attention to dreams; and supervision of Counsellors, Teachers, Spiritual Directors, Psychiatric Nurses and Social Workers.   Contact Details Phone +64 3 389 6010  Email ryanbloore@xtra.co.nz

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“Stone” – A Film Analysis

The movie “Stone” directed by John Curran, dropped like one from the theater marquees before you anyone knew it and so when I ask anyone of they have seen the film, the answer is “Oh yea! What happened to that one? I saw the trailer and that was it.”  So “Stone” will be remembered for its trailer which is misleading anyway.   In fact, “Stone” sneaks up on you and catches you off guard.  If you expect something plot driven with action and a high speed chase forget it. Instead, it is a film about transformation of character based on archetypal elements. Edward Norton plays a convict, as he has done before, but this time he portrays a man seemingly struggling with his dual nature, the sacred and profane, or is he?.  He is intent on manipulating Jack into freeing him on parole or contributing to his release. But in the process of struggling to understand his nature, the part of him that could allow his grandparents to be brutally murdered and then burn down their home, begins struggling to reach consciousness and Stone discovers an obscure religious teaching that teaches him about moving through stages in life.  Stone’s wife is played by Milla Jovovich.  Jack Mabry is played by Robert DiNero and Stone is played by Edward Norton.  Jack Mabry is a man tightly wrapped in a life hanging from a thread. Stone begins to work on Jack by asking him questions about whether he has the right to judge anyone, has he never done anything wrong? His life is being honed by Stone and by these questions that begin working on Jack and begin to wear him down.  He is wearing his ego down, weakening his fixed stance against the world.  Jack does not know his particular view of the world has died and is decaying and makes him vulnerable to someone like Stone who provides him a different pedagogy to his Episcopalian upbringing.  Stone knows Jack’s life is meaningless.  Stone’s accomplice is is his wife.  Stone and Lucetta (which means light) remind us of Elijah and Salome for Jung.  Lucetta seduces Jack sexually and Stone seduces him intellectually by making him doubt his life.  Jack was long overdue for such a change in life.  There is much in his life he needs to come to terms with including his marriage to his wife, played by Francis Conroy, the mother in the HBO series written by Alan Ball called Six Feet Under.  This is a Faustian tale and Jack, just like Faust, thought he had everything figured out.  But also like Faust Jack Mabry is dead from the neck down.  There is no passion in him and early in his marriage his wife tries to leave him because he keeps her “…soul in a dungeon” but Jack threatens to kill their child if she ever left him. Their marriage is coerced and the only two things that sustain it are alcohol and religion, both of which they consume on a daily basis.  In fact, the only intimacy between them is in reciting prayers and sharing drinks with each other. There is a scene in  Goethe’s Faust, before Faust is given the gift of youth as part of his agreement with Mephistopheles, when his companion shares with him a natural way to youth that doesn’t require witch’s brew and potions. Mephistopheles suggests he work the “yonder fields” with the ox, as an ox and spread manure and reap the benefits of the earth.  Faust would have none of this for he is a learned man, not a common worker.   The part of Faust that is unlived is his instinctual nature, connected to the earth.  His passionate side remains in shadow deadening Faust’s outlook on life now in middle age.  He never married, never was with a woman, never had children.  Jung once said between Faust and Mephistopheles he thought the latter much more interesting than the dead cerebral Faust. In fact, Mephistopheles is Faust’s shadow and as his life is destroyed in taking his guidance, he also finds salvation. If Stone is Jack’s shadow figure then Lucetta is Jack’s anima figure.  Lucetta connects him to his own instinctual nature again over which he now seems to have no control. This is his nature he denied his wife their whole marriage.  But by sleeping with Lucetta he has broken every law to which he clinged his whole life and career.  In a way Stone and Jack were shadow to each other. Each honed their character off the stone of the other.  Jack unforgiving, inflexible approach to his life required a conflagration and Stone’s chaotic drug-bathed unreasonable and unreasoned life required the discipline and Logos to bring order out of disorder.  As Jack descended into chaos after meeting Stone, Stone arose from it. When Jack begins his descent he goes to his church minister for advice who tells him to remember what is in the Holy Scriptures, “Be still and know that I am God”.  The minister suggests that Jack needs to listen and that God works in mysterious ways.  This stillness is what Stone is searching for himself.  There is the incessant chaotic noise in prison that is parallel to the incessant noise Jack experiences with the radio talk shows discussing religion and God and righteous pathways and the sinfulness of human nature.  Jack has been listening to these voices for years just as Stone has been listening to his prison soundtrack for years and both now are becoming unbearable for each. Even the sensual and sensate Lucetta struggles with these changes Stone is going through and at one point feels left out of the lives of both men as they come to terms with each other. There is some symbolism to the sounds in the film that cut through the chaos as one sustained sound of consciousness which we choose we listen to or not.  It is the sound of the insect that is extinguished when Jack threatens to kill his daughter.  It is the sound Jack hears perhaps for the first time at the end of the film before he turns his gaze above.  It is the sound that Stone tried to discern from the chaos in the prison.  It is also the sound that Jack cannot hear over the din of the religious rhetoric on the radio. I began this review on the anniversary of September 11th and felt it was fitting that a film that is about self-reflection, self-transformation through coming to terms with our own shadow and reminding us of the work we have to do.  If we only mourn the loss of life on this 10 year anniversary we would have short-circuited the process of self-examination which would serve better those who died on that day and since.   Faust did not do the hard work needed to expand his life and consciousness; he did not take his shadow’s advice and work the fields.  He chose the short cut and that was his downfall.  That is our downfall.  And as for the film, we are not sure at the end who or how the characters are transformed but as Stone suggests “Let it burn, let the whole thing burn” and Jack’s life does burn up.  In alchemy fire is represented as the calcinatio which is a purification process by firing elements down to their purest form. It results from prolonged frustration of desires unfulfilled.  Jack blames Stone for his own house burning down at the end of the film but there is reason to suspect his wife who felt she was acting out the will of God. Perhaps the reviews were right, what starts out as a film noir complete with anti-heroes and sexy dame is unraveled by the end in ambiguity and paradox.  “The paradox is that what they try to subvert in “Stone” — namely, your viewing habits — are intrinsic to your enjoyment of the movie.” (New York Times)   So amidst the din of high-budgeted, high-tech sound and fury films waiting to assault us this Oscar season, “Stone” requires we ponder a little bit about ourselves and how we may be transformed by the simplest, quietest, easily dismissible sound or image.   It requires us to listen very closely.  At the very end of the film Jack has gathered his belongings at work and is preparing to leave for retirement, his life now in shambles, the only role he knew was as a parole officer, as a judge of other men’s lives, to begin a journey in which, we suspect, he begins to rebuild his own life , a more complete and conscious man.  So as the film “Stone” falls fast and hard from our collective memory it hits the sidewalk not with a bang, but a whimper. – Daniel Ross

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Thoughts from the Black Swan Seminar…

The seminar on Friday (still available for viewing) was an extraordinary opportunity for several people to come together, both on line and in person in Asheville.   There was so much to discuss with the Black Swan. It felt like the more we uncovered the more expansive the material became.  I was struck by the energy in the room and also the feel from the internet participants because we were participating in something global.   There was a sense of community around this glorious film. Michael De Meritt’s contribution was fascinating for his perspective on film-making which I think added a different dimension in contrast with the Jungian perspective.  We discussed Nina’s dark journey as the nigredo in the seminar.  This journey is our journey.  We discussed Nina’s addiction to perfection, her neurotic symptoms as aesthetic component of the emergence of Nina’s shadow life, her black swan nature. We discussed the making of the film, the contributing ideas from other films, novels and of course the Tchaikovsky’s ballet, Swan Lake.  We moved deeper then into the underlying mythologies of Demeter and Persephone.  I encouraged the participants to see the HBO film Mildred Pierce, directed by Todd Haynes as a companion film to Black Swan. This film is a remake of a film with Joan Crawford and was more loyal to the book than the latter.   The fusion of mother, played by Kate Winslet, & her daughter is the common factor between Black Swan and Mildred Pierce but the latter is a film told more from the perspective of the mother, while Black Swan clearly moved our sympathies to the daughter.  Finally we discussed alchemy and the images from alchemy as being most consistent with dream images.  Jung believed alchemy provided an uncontaminated view of the collective unconscious. We compared Nina’s transformation to that of Jung himself reflected in his writings in the Red Book. One of the questions of the participants on line was around the idea of Nina’s scratching and woundedness as depicting the narcissistic wound.  We would expect, as Nina emerges from this early narcissistic phase characterized by over identification with the mother, a wounding would appear as manifested by the wounds Nina seems to be self inflicting.  This is one way to view Nina’s wounding.  Another way is to see the wounds as containing the emergence of her instinctual nature as the black swan.  I am reminded of the David Cronenberg film, The Fly, another film in the horror genre (Black Swan does some cross over into this genre) in which a scientist who is unbalanced in the direction of being too scientific, too rational, performs an experiment on himself in which his nature is merged with that of a fly and over time the fly nature (instinctual nature) begins to emerge in similar fashion to Nina.  It begins with a scratch on his back made by his lover in the midst of passionate lovemaking. Soon black insect hairs start to emerge from the wound. Over time his fly nature completely takes over his human nature and destroys him. The Black Swan continues to instruct us and the seminar was a wonderful opportunity to bring these ideas together in a live forum.  I want to thank those who participated and to remind them to let us know what worked and what didn’t so we can prepare for an even better film seminar next time.  And if you have interest in a particular film for future discussion, please let us know.  Thank you. -Daniel Ross Our seminar on the Black Swan will remain available for viewing through October 1st, 2011. Registration is still available.  Click here to Register.

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The Alchemy of the Black Swan: Nina’s Magnum Opus

Len’s posting last week about the film the Black Swan addresses not only an aspect of the protagonist’s nature, the pursuit of perfection, but it also reflect’s our society’s addiction to perfection. We not only want perfection, we want a shortcut to get there. Over the last few months postings on this blog regarding the Black Swan reveal many different aspects of the film that have touched many people.  Here are a few of the comments: Cynthia commented “Throughout the whole movie we are never sure what is “real”, there is a constant weaving of images from Nina’s internal and external worlds. Nina was under the spell of her mother’s unlived life and needed to breakaway and begin her own life process.”   Constance Myslek-McFadden commented: “To me, the movie was one of the most brilliant, beautiful, psychologically and emotionally accurate and evocative movies I’ve ever seen. I loved it!”   David Pressault commented: I found that the years of training in an aesthetic that is so far removed from the natural tendencies of the body often results in one loosing some basic connection to certain instincts. In a sense, the connection to our body as the animal part of us, so often is lost in ballet training. We will be discussing the Black Swan from many perspectives on Friday. I welcome your thoughts and ideas about what you would like to discuss as there is so much archetypal material from which to draw.  I will be incorporating more of the fascinating and intelligent comments posted on our two blog postings on this film.  The commenters provided varied backgrounds in therapy as well as dance and brought a  richness to the discussion that was brilliant and provocative.  I look forward to that same liveliness and level of participation at Friday’s seminar. If nothing else the Black Swan got us to discuss how a film like this can move us.  The reactions of many to this film were often extreme. Some really loved it and some were repulsed by it, but I did not hear anyone say it was boring or average. We are also fortunate to have a second presenter, Michael DeMeritt, join us.  Michael has been a producer, writer & director on numerous film and television projects over the last 20 years. He is a member of the Director’s Guild of America and has served as assistant director on such well known series as LA Law, Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise. He has won numerous awards including an Emmy recognition certificate for special effects and currently resides in Los Angeles.  Michael will be adding another dimension to the film analysis, namely an inside perspective on film making. Why has there been so much written about this film?  Why does it provoke such polar and polarizing reactions?  Why do some of us love this film and why do so many of us hate it?  Let’s find out.  Let’s dive into the archetypal themes of the dark feminine, twinship, the shadow and anima/animus. Let’s look into the film from an alchemical perspective to understand the nature of transformation and finally let’s compare this film to Jung’s real life confrontation with the unconscious as described in the Red Book. I look forward to Friday and I hope you can join us. – Dan Ross (Seminar Presenter) [Click here for Registration Page on Upcoming Seminar]

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Eating “The Book of Symbols”

The Asheville Jung Center would like to thank Thomas Singer, M.D. for allowing us to republish his captivating review of The Book of Symbols in our blog.
(Thomas Singer, M.D. is a psychiatrist and Jungian psychoanalyst with particular interests in contemporary political and social movements. He has written and/or edited several books including the newly published Psyche and the City: A Soul’s Guide to the Modern Metropolis (editor) which has been published by Spring Book Publications, The Cultural Complex (co-edited with Sam Kimbles), The Vision Thing, Who’s the Patient Here? (with Stu Copans, M.D.) and A Fan’s Guide to Baseball Fever: The Official Medical Reference (with Stu Copans, M.D.).
The publication of The Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images is the child of an unlikely marriage between ARAS, a hidden gem of an archive, with Taschen, the daring and brilliant world wide publisher of fine art books. The union of ARAS and Taschen is not so strange when one realizes that both organizations are passionate about depth and beauty. Each is willing to spend the time, money, and human energy to bring a unique vision into the world. The result is a gorgeous bargain of a book which follows in the ground breaking tradition of C.G. Jung’s Man and His Symbols. For most of its seventy five year history, branches of what is now known as ARAS (The Archives for Research in Archetypal Symbolism) have pursued its mission in relative obscurity, hidden away in the filing cabinets of a handful of Jungian Institutes. A few years ago, ARAS created ARAS Online by digitizing its collection of 17,000 images and 90,000 pages of cultural and psychological commentary. ARAS Online and its free quarterly ARAS Connections offer stunning public access to the archive. The Book of Symbols is the newest and richest offering of ARAS which is now sharing its treasures and wisdom with the world. The publication of the book represents the culmination of a fourteen year effort by a large team of collaborators who were led by Ami Ronnberg and Kathleen Martin. The emergence of ARAS into more public arenas has caught the eye of both the Huffington Post and the Wall Street Journal. In August, 2010 Arianna Huffington turned to ARAS Online to help understand the symbolic power of Sarah Palin’s identification with the mother bear. And just a few weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal reported with some fascination on the ARAS approach to the archetypal world of images! This is astonishing because ARAS has about as much to do with financial markets as the great German mystic, Meister Eckhart, does with the derivative bond market. According to C. G. Jung “psyche is image” and The Book of Symbols is all about the evocative power of images to move us in profound and mysterious ways. Most books of symbols manage to kill the symbol by reducing it to simplistic equations. The Book of Symbols moves in just the opposite direction by allowing the living symbol to shine through poetic evocations of beautifully chosen images. It follows the lead of Eckhart who taught us that “When the soul wants to experience something she throws out an image in front of her and then steps into it.” The mission of ARAS is to collect and research examples of archetypal symbolism from every culture and every age. For example, if you go to ARAS Online and select “snake”, you will get the following “cultural time line” which displays by culture and age every image in the collection related to “snake”: 2010-12-13-snaketimeline.jpg The Book of Symbols follows this principle of using images from around the world and every era to explore a symbol. Here is a small sampling of images and shortened, accompanying text offered in The Book of Symbols: 1. Creation and Cosmos: Passing through the Fire of Purgatory, manuscript illustration from Dante’s Divine Comedy 15th century C.E. 2010-12-13-image1copy.jpg “In myth and in reality, fire sometimes merely destroys, but often destroys so that from the purified residue or ashy essences a new world may come into being.” 2. Plant World: Pine Trees, detail, by Hasegawa Tohaku, screen. 16th Century C.E. 2010-12-13-image2copy.jpg “With a few brushstrokes, a Japanese painter conveys the strong, standing presence of pines amid the grey mists of winter. Associated with Confucias and the Taoist immortals, the pine is a favorite subject of Chinese and Japanese painters and poets. Because of its hardiness and the fact that it retains its green leaves even through the winter, the pine has become a symbol of long life, immortality, constancy, courage, strength in adversity, and steadfastness unaffected by the blows of nature.” 3. Animal World: The Ba or soul bird from the Book of the Dead of Tehenena, 18th dynasty (ca. 1550-1295 B.C.E.) Egypt 2010-12-13-image3copy.jpg “In our desire for boundless freedom, we identify ourselves with the flight of birds. In our imagination, we transcend the ordinary world by leaving the earth and the weight of the body. Wings lift us.” 4. Human World: The Bleeding Heart (Lamb of God) anonymous, oil on tin, 19th century, Mexico 2010-12-13-image4copy.jpg “Stop the flow of your words, open the window of your heart and let the spirit speak.” Rumi 5. Spirit World: Rock Painting by San Bushmen, South Africa 2010-12-13-image5copy.jpg “In the very earliest time, when both people and animals lived on earth, a person could become an animal if he wanted to and an animal could become a human being. Sometimes they were people and sometimes animal and there was no difference. All spoke the same language. That was the time when words were like magic. The human mind had mysterious power. ….. Nobody could explain this: That’s the way it was.” Translated from Innuit by Edward Field In the early stages of creating The Book of Symbols, one of the contributors dreamt of the emerging book in the following way:
“I am in a library, looking in a reference book. The first page is ‘A’ which has a listing for ‘apricots’ — except the apricots are real and I can take them off the page, put them on a plate and eat them. A man next to me is looking at the entry for ‘beans’ under B and he can do the same thing with the beans.”
Many readers of The Book of Symbols are finding this prophetic dream to be true as they partake of the book as an unexpected and magical feast of living symbols that they can ingest. About the phenomena of the edible book, one can only follow the lead of the Inuit poet and say:Nobody can explain this: That’s the way it is.
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Obama’s presidency and International Cultural Complexes

Thomas Singer recently gave an enlightening 2 hour seminar out of Sonoma, California, on the idea of how unconscious forces affect cultures and nations as they engage on various levels.  One of his main concepts is that of a “Cultural Complex,” a charged unconscious archetype that grips entire nations without our awareness.  Part of what happened on Sept 11, 2001 was the triggering of an enormous cultural complex, both in the attackers and in our collective psyche’s response in the United States.  Cultural Complexes are pervasive and subtle.  You know you’ve triggered one when a person or nation responds in a highly charged manner.  In the 10 minute video below, Tom Singer introduces this powerful concept.   Please feel free to post any thoughts or comments you may have. ____________________________________________ ____________________________________________
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Jung’s Betrayal of Father Victor White (Catholic Priest)

The Glory of St. Thomas Aquinas, detail. Paris...
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This week’s blog is the conclusion of Murray Stein’s lecture on Betrayal, given at Jungian Odyssey 2010.  In it he looks at the intense friendship and later dramatic breakup of Carl Jung and Father Victor White. If you watch the performance of The Jung-White Letters (now available on DVD), featuring Paul Brutsche in the role of C.G. Jung and John Hill as Victor White, O.P., you will witness the trajectory of a relationship begun in the summer of 1945 just after the end of WWII with high hopes and enthusiasm for collaboration between the psychologist on the one side and the Roman Catholic theologian on the other. The arc of their collaboration and friendship rises with rapid acceleration to a zenith (around 1948), then begins to flounder when they enter into a more earnest exchange of views on the nature of God and on the Roman Catholic doctrine of evil as privatio boni (1949-1955), and finally lose its basis and falls into severe disarray and finally into a rupture around what Victor White perceived as a betrayal and Jung then responded to as an unwawarrented attack from White on his integrity. The causal agent of White’s sense of betrayal was Jung’s publication of Answer to Job. “I wonder what induced you to publish it; when you gave me the manuscript to read you were so emphatic that you would not!” (Lammers, p. 259), White writes bitterly after the book was published and translated into English. Earlier he had found the work fascinating, but when he had to answer pointed questions about its contents from his priestly colleagues and his Catholic followers and analysands, he became extremely uncomfortable and felt that Jung had cut the ground out from under him with the publication of this heterodox work. Certainly from a Roman Catholic theological perspective rooted in the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas, which White knew backwards and forewards and had taught to seminarians for many years, Jung’s views were completely indefensible and out of bounds. How could he, a priest, work with Catholic students and analysands, when the founder of the psychology he was using and had been advocating was putting forward a view of God and the Bible and what must be done by modern men and women that so utterly contradicted what the Church would ever condone? White found himself strangely in the position of Job when betrayed by God – the very basis of his livelihood and professional existence was pulled out from under his feet. Unlike Job, however, he vented his rage with the transference object, C.G. Jung, and separated himself from him, going his own way: “It seems that I am destined to be a wanderer & as homeless physically as I am spiritually.” (ibid.) Ironically, Jung repeated almost exactly with his Answer to Job the very thing he had been dealing with so passionately in the book itself – betrayal. Perhaps it was inadvertant. From White’s side, it must have seemed like the betrayal of a faithful and pious man (i.e., himself) at the hands of a mistakenly idealized transference object (i.e., Jung). Jung retorted to White’s letter of accusation saying that he had never promised such a thing: “Should I set the light of such an insight ‘under a bushel’?” he cries out. (Lammers, p. 261) He was burdened with a message for humanity, which he felt was urgently needed in the time when the world was on the verge of catastrophic splitting and destruction. He was advocating for consciousness, for individual responsibility, for maturity. Only under such advances in humanity would the world survive, he felt. And White was trying to protect an illusion that robbed people of their initiative, diminished their consciousness of individual responsibility, and had been helpless to prevent the European nations from entering into two horrific wars in the 20th Century. As Jung looked at the world, the Christian religion, as it had been presented and lived to this point in Europe, was not adequate to contain the powerful splitting tendencies at work in history. It simply hid people’s heads in the sand and foolishly let them believe that everything would come out alright in the end since a good God is in control of history. For Jung, the example of Jesus Christ taught the opposite – the image of the wholly good God is shattered by betrayal, on the cross and ends in tragedy. People have to grow up and take responsibility for history and for the planet and not wait passively for a good God to put things right. One must take a less naïve view of God. This is the message of Answer to Job. I do believe that Victor White achieved wisdom and did not fall into cynicism as a result of his betrayal at the hands of Jung. In the end he was able to see Jung’s person more clearly, for better and for worse, without casting him utterly aside. The transference object was broken and a new consciousness had space to dawn in him. In a final exchange of letters shortly before White’s death from inoperable cancer in 1960, both men showed gratitude for what they had learned from the other. They had separated but not become antagonists or enemies. Splitting was overcome in favor of holding together the opposites and achieving object wholeness. This is the psychological basis of wisdom. -Lammers, A. (ed.) 2005. The Jung-White Letters. London: Routledge.
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