Symbols of Balance For the Psyche

April full moon on the Canadian Prairie

April full moon on the Canadian Prairie

I tried using both of my DSLR cameras to arrive at a decision as to which is the best for this type of shot. The Sony ?550 was better than the Sony ?6000. I wasn’t surprised as the lenses were quite different. The heavier camera lived up to my expectation. The lighter camera has its uses, great photos taken while backpacking and otherwise travelling. So why another image of the full moon? The best answer is simply that when I saw the moon in the sky, I was pulled to go back into the house and get my cameras. And, I am learning to honour that internal voice much better than I have in the past.

For me, it has become more about balancing the inner and outer world. The full moon is an almost exact representation of the Yin-Yang symbol that has become common in modern times. The shadows are definitely present as is the dominant “white” half – a balance of shadow and light, or consciousness and the shadow [the unconscious]. Looked at another way, it is a balance, for me between the masculine and the feminine. The moon being feminine – the shadows of the moon, with the man in the moon, the sun’s reflection highlighting the white areas, captures this idea for me. And in doing so, remind me that I too need balance between shadow and light, between the masculine and feminine aspects of my psyche.

What do you see when you look at a full moon?

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Putting the Pieces Back Together Again

Putting the pieces back together again with gold.

Putting the pieces back together again with gold.

Kintsugi is a Japanese term that talks about repair –  and treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. As the image shows, we can think of Kintsugi in terms of how a human becomes broken and finds him or herself in need of “repair” or healing.

My book, The Healing of a Broken Man, addresses this very idea. In my case, the breakage began at a very early age and continued for many years until I escaped my birth home to build a home of my own. For the years that followed, with eyes peeled forward and never seeing what lay behind me, no one in my life as an adult had any notion that I had broken apart as a child and youth like some Humpty Dumpty. Even I “forgot” about the past. However, with the onset of midlife, the past came roaring back and I again found myself cracked and falling apart.

With the work of therapy, analysis, meditation, physical exercise, being loved unconditionally; I had found a psychological paste or glue with which to weld the pieces back into place. Like the image, that glue was finished off with a coating of gold, in my case, naturism. I have turned to a life of balance, perhaps for the first time in my life. I encourage you to get a copy of my book and see that the nursery rhyme has it all wrong – Humpty Dumpty can be put back together again.

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Breaking the Silence and Making a Difference

Healing a Broken Man Along a Broken Road

Healing a Broken Man Along a Broken Road

The book is finally published and available for people to read. It is the third and final book in the Healing the Soul, Skyclad series. And as with all the other books in the series, the profits from the book will be given to the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre in Calgary which works to assist youth who have been sexually abused, as well as to work to make our adult world more vigilant in protection of our youth.

Human nature being what it is, sexual abuse will not disappear. Yet, by breaking the silence, we can allow those who are abused to find a way to receive healing in various ways. Those who are abused as youth, regardless of whether that abuse was sexual, physical, or emotional [think of abandonment as an example], the child is traumatized.

Somehow, our society only recognizes the soldiers who suffer trauma. PTSD has become recognized as being a condition that cripples the psyche. Yet intense trauma is also experienced by Emergency Response teams, nurses, policemen, and firemen. But what about the women who are raped and battered? What about the children who miraculously survive abuse without committing suicide? Too often we respond with “forget about the past and get on with life” for these children who have become broken adults. We need resources to help children, and the children who have survived into adulthood if we are to ever reduce the incidences of abuse in the future.

Buy the book and support a vital cause. The print version of the book is found at: – the eBook version is available through Amazon at:*Version*=1&*entries*=0

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Cover Photo – Book Three


I am in the final phase of producing book three for publishing. I am hoping that the book will be ready for mid-April. I do have the cover ready for the book. I am including the cover and the explanation which is included in the book, for the cover photo.

BookCoverPreviewThe cover photo needs some explanation in order for it to make sense. There are five images in the photo collage. The top left image is one that I have called The Magical Other. The book begins with life lived with my Magical Other, the woman who was the place holder for my soul. The top right image shows the practice of meditation, one of the vital strategies that I have used in my journey of healing. The bottom right image illustrates the intellectual part of my journey of healing, the work of Carl Gustav Jung that finds a place for soul and spirituality in the practice of depth psychology. The bottom left image presents a scene from my journey through nature while skyclad in which nature, the sun, and the elements serve as part of the healing process, a physical dimension to match the intellectual and spiritual dimension. The central image is one that reclaims life through the willingness to embrace love.

The second part of the cover photo that needs some explanation is the use of different hues for four of the photos. The reason for these hues – black focus, white focus, yellow focus, and red focus – has to do with the four stages of psychological transformation as a healing process. The dark stage is called negredo and it is characterised with a loss of life force – depression. The second stage is called albedo, the whitening stage. In this stage, there is a gaining back of energy as one moves from darkness into awareness. The third stage is called citrinitas, the yellowing stage. It marks the removal of projections, especially those projections that place one’s positive qualities onto others. It’s taking off the rose-coloured glasses that blind one to the realities of others while keeping one blind with regards to oneself. In other words, one gains real wisdom. The last stage, rubedo, is the reddening stage. This is where the self is “reborn” as a whole person. In simple terms, one has finally got his or her “shit together.” It is only when this process has repeated over and over again that one can finally be able to see both self and others with clear eyes.

It is only at this point that a union of a man and a woman can hope to become a truly equal and holy marriage – not the original marriage of a couple blinded by the light of the other.

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Review of The Survival Papers – Daryl Sharp

survival papersI first read the Survival Papers: Anatomy of a Midlife Crisis in the 1990s when I was beginning a delayed journey through my own midlife crisis. As I read these words in the introduction to Daryl Sharp’s book, I saw an uncanny image of myself. Daryl Sharp had nailed it:

“This book is written for those in their middle years, male and female in more or less equal numbers, who have always managed quite well, have held down a job, perhaps married and had children, and then one day find that nothing works any more.”

This was me, a male who had held down a job, got married, had children and not quite all that sudden, found out that nothing worked any more. Like so many others over the years since Sharp’s book appeared, people such as myself have discovered hope in the story of Norman, a fictional character who serves a role of analysand in the story, and a second role of illustrating complexes in action, the various faces of archetypes who lay beneath the surface of the human psyche. Norman becomes all of us and we recognise ourselves in him.

Likely the greatest value one is gifted with is the guidance through the unknowns of what happens, and the value of psychoanalysis. When midlife crisis disturbs one’s life with a conflict between the life one is living, and the sense that something is gravely missing, then and only then is there a need to enter into analysis.

“That is why the process of analysis is unproductive unless there is an active conflict. As long as outer life proceeds relatively smoothly, there is no need to deal with the unconscious. When it doesn’t, there’s no way to avoid it; we are automatically confronted with the other side.”

When I found Sharp’s book, I was already seeking counselling help but felt frustrated because it just wasn’t much more than a bandage approach to trying to fix whatever it was that felt broken. Reading the book, I gradually realised that Jungian analysis was my only hope for dealing with the shadows that hid in the darkness, shadows that had declared war on my ego.

I continued reading, highlighting so many sections that spoke out to me as though I was hearing echoes of a buried voice. Bit by bit as I turned the pages of his book, I began to believe that analysis might just be what I needed. There was no promise of being fixed. If anything, the only promise seemed to be that I would end up digging deeper and deeper into the layers, peeling one layer away at a time as if I was an onion. As Sharp went on to wander through the process of analysis with Norman, I saw that I had been invited to begin a journey that would be both enlightening and threatening. I immediately thought of the journey that Odysseus had taken across seas and foreign landscapes, a journey that ended with him finding his way home. In the process, Odysseus had changed and home had changed. That was the only promise that was given as I read the book. It was enough. I was hooked.

It wasn’t long before I found myself devouring other books by Daryl Sharp and the other Jungian analysts who were featured in Sharp’s publishing venture called Inner City books. Encouraged by all that I read, I was ready to commit to working with a Jungian analyst, especially when I finally fell flat on my face and didn’t think I would ever stand upright again. Sharp’s book, The Survival Papers turned out to be exactly that for me, a route to survival.

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Part of the Story of Emergence from Darkness

I am very busy lately with the writing of volume three in the Broken Road series that tell the story of being broken and the road back to wellness, a journey that has embraced depth psychology (Jungian mostly), naturism, and Buddhist meditation. I have arrived at the point in the journey where I was approaching the Great Meltdown which signalled that the final confrontation with the darkness and then the journey back home is about to begin. I want to share with you, a post from the past [November 2011] that marks the entrance into the darkness with the first hint of light beyond that darkness.

Emerging out of darkness

I have to admit that I haven’t been doing as well as I thought since the day my mother died.  I had thought that I was prepared for her death knowing that it was coming and having had a week-long visit with her in order to say our good-byes.  It took four days for the tears to finally come and allow the pressure to ease up.

I descended into a darkness.  I felt an intense guilt about still being alive even though it seemed a part of me had died; it was almost as if the creative inner force within me, my very soul had died.  I wanted to disappear, forever, into that darkness.  I was forgetting to breathe.  A vise had seized my lower stomach and was squeezing for all it was worth and all I wanted was for it to stop, for stop to the pressure and pain.

But, I was not alone through this.  My good wife was there as well.  It is not easy being with one who is often not in this world. That we were on holidays, whose dates were of our choosing more than a month ago, when my mother died was yet another blessing though it tainted the idea of this being a holiday.  I didn’t have to bury feeling even more while I would have gone through the motions of teaching.  I had a time, space and place to go through this process.

Meditation in a small cave near the sea

Meditating at least twice a day while here in the Philippines, having adopted this routine of a morning meditation on the balcony and an afternoon meditation in a secluded beach location where the sound of the waves add to the meditative experience, has provided me no small measure of additional release.  Now, with this post, it feels as though there has been a shift and I am now emerging out of the darkness.

Today’s photos were taken by my wife.  The scene is a cliff-side cave quite a distance south from where we are staying.  The rock was hard and sharp, but for some reason, this was okay.  At least it let me know that once again, I can feel.

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Blinded By Our Personal Lens

I am re-posting this blog post from March, 2011 when I was a university instructor in China. The ideas spoken in the blog are still relevant today.

This is a scene that I love to see over and over again when I go for a walk in Hong Mei Gong Yuan in ChangZhou.  With the sun out and being in a “sunny” mood, it is easy to buy into the illusion created in the park, an illusion of a time and place that has existed only in the heart of the people, a place dreamed about and wished for as the people went about living in a world that never matched the illusion.  But still, the illusion is taken as a reality of a golden era from the past and celebrated as “heritage.”

Ever curious, I wondered how this illusion would look from the other side.  I know that there must be balance which has to lie somewhere between the two versions of reality.  I think of myself when all is right in my world and the sun is shining and all of my needs have been met.  At that point in time, there are no blemishes, no ugliness in the world.  People smile and embrace me and I smile and embrace back.  Yet, when I am in a depression, the world is dark and colour is almost non-existent.  I am alone and the world looks a forbidding place that is ready to destroy me, to swallow me up.

When somewhere in the middle, I see both beauty and ugliness.  The world is a shifting mass of conflicting colours and ideas.  It is impossible to find right or wrong, the perfect good or the perfect evil.  Yet, evil is present.  But somehow, even in the evil there is goodness.  And in the good, shadows are present.  I think here of the world today where the Arab world is viewed with many different lenses with some seeing it as a dark pit of evil while others see it as the hope for a new world.  I also think of America which is also viewed with so many different lenses which cast it in the role of demon and of angel.  The truth is, somewhere in between.

Though knowing this, I am guilty of wanting perfection, wanting to be an angel of truth, deathly afraid of being a demon in disguise.  Perhaps the greatest fear is being a nobody trapped in between, invisible to my self and others.

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For the Women In My Life

When you look in the mirror repeat after me: "I am beautiful."

When you look in the mirror repeat after me: “I am beautiful.”

I am writing a different kind of post today, one that is for my daughters, my daughter-in-law, and all the women and girls that fill this incredible planet. This image is borrowed with hopes that no one takes issue with it’s use. This has been a man’s world for too long. It has been this way for so long that we think that this is the natural order of the universe. We have it encoded in our religions written and directed and lead by men who place women a step below men on the hierarchy of evolution.

Men rule the world by force and by subterfuge. We dominate by sheer muscle power, especially when our women are vulnerable. We built law codes that, for the most part, condone the practice of making women chattels of men, women as property. Century after century of male dominance has left both men and women believing that it has to be this way, that it is natural. Men rule the world by force out of fear. When humans are afraid, they flee the scene or they fight. Men fear women. The fight or flight response is instinctual. Men abandon women or they beat them.

In our modern world, it isn’t acceptable any more to do either.  So how do we keep women from realising their natural power as goddesses of creation? We use psychology and teach them that they need to buy a never-ending stream of products to use in order to be worthy. We create false models of perfection that teaches women to hate themselves, to hate their bodies, to devalue their power. We distract them from anything that might re-affirm their true worth as humans. We honour them and reward them when they accept these lies as truths.

So women starve themselves, punish their bodies to reach unrealistic models of perfection that becomes celebrated with riches and fame. Women are reduced to simply being bodies. When they look in the mirror they see the lie. They know that the image celebrated isn’t really who they are so they punish themselves even more in a desperate effort to be that mythical Madonna in a Barbie body.

Hidden inside, within these bodies tortured to excess, those bodies which have been abandoned, somewhere deep, are souls, the soulmates of men who are desperate for honesty, desperate for women who will allow them to be equals.

To all the women in my life, look deep within your eyes to find that light. Look into the mirror at your eyes. Suspend judgement and wonder at the depths that are there. Regardless of the body that frames your eyes, the body that is host to your soul, know that you are beautiful. Your body is a vessel that holds your essence, it isn’t your essence. Wonder at that and then re-approach your body with dignity, treating it with loving care. Embrace your body and your power as a woman.

Once you have ascended once again in your own eyes, you begin to teach men by example. It begins with love, not hate, embracing what is instead of fleeing from. Then it becomes a man’s task to love his own weakness, to embrace his vulnerability and his strengths. When this happens a man and a woman re-approach each other as equals with their union becoming the stuff of legends. The union of opposites that make a complete whole.

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One Does Not Become – Soul Loss – Loss of Libido

Where has the energy gone? Where is my Magical Other?

Where has the energy gone? Where is my Magical Other?

Loss of soul. The loss of libido, one’s life force and energy is tied up with loss of soul. Most forms of psychology and psychotherapy have no room for the idea, even the existence of soul. The word is too wrapped up in religious dogma and as a result it has lost its original meaning. My studies of psychology with the completion of the Arts degree soon led me into a place I had once wandered as a youth, the world of depth psychology and philosophy. It these areas, the ancient idea of soul were still alive and well.

It is hard to believe in the existence of something, anything, until that something disappears and leaves one with a sense of loss, the feeling of emptiness. This is probably the truest for the soul. For most people, the soul is a religious concept that one accepts without question, without a need to find evidence outside of the religious authorities and doctrines. As a result, anyone who is not a “believer” generally accepts that the soul is simply a delusion, a figment created to have people ignore the bad things happening to them and those around them by “others” who use the concept to “control.” Yet, there comes a point when some people, in spite of their religion or their lack of belief, come to look at life from a point of searching through the rhetoric in search of answers that resonate with more than just what the head, the ego tells them.

Perhaps, it has to do with the fact that the word has become too broad and as such, meaningless in the process. Carl Jung suggested that a more relevant term, anima which is a Latin term that means the vital principal of life, along with a fuller definition, would allow us to look and understand loss of soul, which leaves a human shrivelled like a raisin, a shell of a person, following midlife.

The anima is not the soul in the dogmatic sense, not an anima rationalis, which is a philosophical conception, but a natural archetype that satisfactorily sums up all the statements of the unconscious of the primitive mind, of the history of language and religion . . . It is always the a priori element in moods, reactions, impulses, and whatever else is spontaneous in psychic life.”[1]

Depth psychology goes on to explain that all that we hold as soul is projected onto others, particularly others who are of the opposite gender identification. For me, that projection of soul was placed on my wife. When in the presence of someone upon whom we have projected our soul, we feel “alive,” and all is well in the world. However, when the projection of soul is withdrawn, especially unconsciously, one falls into a depressive state of soul loss. For so many, midlife is an unsettling time of life when all the knowns that have served as the foundations upon which we have built our lives and our belief systems, come crashing down. We suffer loss of meaning, loss of libido, loss of soul.

I, like so many others, had felt my world falling apart. Yet, when I looked at my outer world, everything was going on as it had always gone on, oblivious of the panic and fear that raged through me. I didn’t know it at that time, but I had been given the “call” to take back ownership of my soul. The life path I had been following had hit a crossroads. Which way would I turn?

But it didn’t feel like a journey that I wanted to take. All I could sense was that I was risking losing everything I had treasured. I had only fear of what would be found within myself, stuff that I intuitively knew was what needed to remain hidden. The inside was so dark, filled with so many ghosts of the past, not a good place. Of course I didn’t know that this was what was going on within me at that time. All I knew was that my certainties had come tumbling down. And so I found escape routes to avoid that advancing darkness within me.

There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”[2]

I didn’t want more pain. I had more than my fair share of pain, I had worked hard to escape the poverty I lived within while growing up, have a family, and become a respected member of a community. What was I to do? My wife had become human in my eyes, no longer a goddess on a pedestal.

[1] Jung, Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious, CW 9i

[2] Jung, Psychology and Alchemy, CW 12

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Being Ripe For the Call of Relationship

Romantic love, magnetic attraction, activated complexes, and unfinished business.

Romantic love, magnetic attraction, activated complexes, and unfinished business.

So you fell in love and before you knew it, all hell broke loose. “What the hell just happened?  Who is this stranger and what do I do now?”

The stranger who captured the heart is no stranger at all. The parts of self that have been cast out, pulled out by the resonance of something buried deep beneath the surface of the stranger, know intimately, the soul of the Magical Other.

Depth psychology tells us that what is cast out are projections of denied self, that we see the denied gold within ourselves in this Magical Other. Our histories, our complexes serve to form and shape these projections which have found a home, a hook upon which they can be caught by the unconscious shadow of the Magical Other.

Yet there is more to it than this. It is more than projection, it is as much, if not more, attraction as though the self is pulled to the other. I think of it in terms of energy. After all, what and who we are is as much about energy as anything else. Science, Physics tells us that everything, including people, is composed of subatomic particles called quarks which somehow arrange themselves. Interesting to note that for every quark there is an antiquark, its opposite which “differs from the quark only in that some of its properties have equal magnitude but opposite sign.

Magnetic field or lines of flux of a moving charged particle

A magnetic field is created between the opposite fields of energy as shown in this model I borrowed from the Basics of Magnetism. The movement of the energy in a magnetic field includes both attraction and repulsion in a constant flowing away and returning to form what we have long called the symbol of eternity.

This idea of opposites being necessary movement around each other is also found in ancient Chinese science and philosophy with the image of yin-yang representing that necessary co-existence if there is to be matter.

In Chinese philosophy, the feminine or negative principle (characterized by dark, wetness, cold, passivity, disintegration, etc.) of the two opposing cosmic forces into which creative energy divides and whose fusion in physical matter brings the phenomenal world into being. 

In Chinese philosophy, the masculine or positive principle (characterized by light, warmth, dryness, activity, etc.) of the two opposing cosmic forces into which creative energy divides and whose fusion in physical matter brings the phenomenal world into being.

Of course all of this information has simply the task of pointing to awareness that I want to use in hopes of understanding something about what the hell happened when I found myself falling in love. And as soon as I realised what I had discovered, I saw the connection with falling in hate. It seems we can’t have one without the other. Where there is no affect on the unconscious psyche, or very little affect, we have separation with space which allows others to have an identity without our projections foisted upon them.

Does this make any sense? Not all that much. What does make sense is that feeling of being pulled into relationship and then finding myself pushing back in order to reclaim my sense of being an individual only to find myself being pulled once again back into relationship. It is some sort of magic that has entranced both my wife and myself over the decades. Somehow we have held together during the moments and sometimes seasons of repulsion to slip back into that embrace that has the self “fall” into the other.

Others don’t have it so lucky and so find themselves repeating the first cycles over and over again as they spin lost in the dance of attraction and repulsion. I, and likely you, have seen so many others give up on the romance and the person only to enter into new relationships with another Magical Other that is like a clone of the one abandoned. We comment about how they always choose the same kind of “loser” or “lover” (depending on our prejudices) and seem stuck, unable to evolve. It’s as if the “call” to self-discovery is attempted until it gets too fearful, to difficult having us flee into a drab existence where we can hide from the pain and confusion that “woke” at the intersection of attraction and repulsion. When the pain has been numbed enough, we again are ripe for the “call.”

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