Archive for the ‘dark’ tag
I took this photo on the weekend, a scene from a section that is unmarked by the presence of paths and human footsteps, a natural piece of a young scrub poplar forest. I am attracted to those areas that for a moment are still free of human presence, natural settings that remind us of a time and a place that no longer are the norm in the modern world. These natural settings talk to me of a time long past, a time of mythological gods and goddesses, of tricksters and talking animals of the First Nations stories that I learned more than forty years ago. When I find myself in these spaces I become quiet; listening, watching, smelling the air – hoping that outside of the edge of my vision I catch a glimpse of the alter world that I know exists.
I learned from Nietzsche, long, long ago, that god was dead – dead in the hearts and souls of modern man. Science and rationalism had done in the Christian god. Like the Greek and Roman and Viking gods, the numinous presence of the spiritual that the Christian god embodied, this god had failed to make the cut and was tossed into the dustbin in which we toss all our deities when they fail us. But in spite of what Nietzsche told us, I still sense the numinous alive and well in the world. But then again, who am I to make such as statement, after all, I am just some partly crazy psychotherapist wanting some fame and glory and . . . meaning.
As I wander through the almost quiet spaces I get to feel the presence of those old gods and goddess who have chosen to remain hidden from the collective. I know that they sense my presence and approve. I bring with me my deep sense of spiritualism that isn’t bound to the old images, a spiritualism that is open-ended and has unconditional regard for them. For me, they aren’t dead and that is important for with their continued existence outside of form and institution and dogma, I find a place for myself. I belong in this larger, more inclusive world. I become a part, of the world, not some outsider at odds with a shallow world of science, dogma, corporations and governments.
Sensing these presences, I learn that I am not a victim of anything. I am as I am. I am responsible, fully, for what I become, what I do, how I am. I cannot hide in ignorance and blame the darkness that I see in the world for that darkness is also within me. I must get to know my own darkness which is also the same darkness of my neighbours, friends and enemies. And in becoming aware that there is no one else to blame, I am forced to own my own pain and make the world around me a better place, not demand that others do this work for me. I am responsible.
“If the old metaphysical powers are dead; and if we walk carrying as much darkness as light, then we are now obliged to stand more consciously and responsibly before the universe. In Jungian terms, each of us has become responsible for our own individuation. Individuation is not only the inherent, natural impulse within to become what we were meant to be, but the moral imperative of consciousness to cooperate, to further the mysterious aims of nature through the particularities of the individual . . . we are obliged to take responsibility for the meaning of our lives.” (Hollis, Tracking the Gods, pp 35-36)
I was almost tempted to do a bit of photo editing with this photo taken just a few hours ago just before sunset here in Vientiane, Laos. The scene is the Mekong River as seen from the fifth floor outdoor restaurant in Vientiane, looking across the Mekong River toward Thailand. I was initially worried that there wasn’t enough “light” because I was facing into the west making the picture darker than it was. But, the thought to edit lasted about a half a second at most and I decided to leave it “as is.”
The afternoon spent in various temples as well as a book I am reading on my e-Reader have left me in a pensive mood. I think back to my original foray into Transcendental Meditation in the early 70s, reading Siddhartha by Hemann Hesse back in the same time period and find some peace in meditative approaches that have come to me naturally in the second half of my life. Perhaps it is because I find myself approaching life in the older lane to be a contemplative time. Regardless of the reason, the temples of Buddhism, Hinduism, and a collection of animistic beliefs find a resonance in terms of honouring the unknown.
I am not drawn to any particular “religion” though I am drawn to a more spiritual life. For me, religions and a spiritual life don’t exactly go together. One can be spiritual with a professed religion as one can be rigidly religions without having a spiritual bone in one’s body.I am drawn to the numinous such as is found in this photograph. For me, it is telling that it contains water, land and sunset colours.
I belong to the earth and water, I am made up of both earth and water. And in the natural flow of life, I will return to the natural elements from which I came. And in the meantime, meaning will arise from how I life my life through both my attitude and my actions.
During the days I spent in British Columbia visiting my mother and step-father, I managed to take a number of photos, not all of them with the SoFoBoMo project in mind, including this Iris which I found on one of my walks. This iris caught my eye because of the “glow” that was gifted to it by the sun.
The translucence of the petals reassure me that the sun is present and present me with what feels like a state of grace, of holiness in the light. Yet at the same time, there is a sense of fragility. Being in a state of grace in the light is momentary. Too much light and one becomes washed out, lifeless. With the passage of time, a short time in the larger scheme of things, one wilts and returns to the earth from which one emerged. Too little light and a sickness descends upon the soul and the outer body looses its colour and vibrancy – one becomes a living ghost.
I have decided to place two photos in today’s post, one that glorifies the sun and one that thrives in relative darkness. This mushroom, like all mushrooms, thrives in dark and damp spaces and places.
Both the dark and the light are in balance. Those in tune with the universe already know this. There is no inherent goodness in light or inherent evil in darkness. We need both aspects for survival as individual humans. As we look inside our own selves, it should come as no surprise that the evil and darkness that we fear on the outside is also within. And the pure light and saintliness that we crave, that we see in rare others, is also within.
The kingdom of heaven is within. This we have often heard yet hardly dare believe. But, so is the kingdom of hell. Strange how we so easily accept this last statement.
I’ve been trying, unsuccessfully, to get a clear photo of the full moon, the first full moon of 2010. At least, that is, until this morning. It is an issue of the camera. Since the moon setting was later this morning, I had enough light for the camera. Regardless, mission accomplished. My next camera will have to have better and easier control in low light situations.
That said, the fact that I had to wait until the day in order to fully capture the moon in the photo has many possible meanings for me, psychologically. The first is that of bringing unconscious contents to enough light so that part of the mystery of the unconscious is able to be appreciated. Of course, this is only part of what could be uncovered, so to speak. As I become more aware, I am more able to handle the exposure of more of the unconscious. As I become a better photographer with a better camera, I can capture a clearer image of something so far away, and for the most part, cloaked in darkness.
On another level, I see this photo as an honouring of my own anima, my own inner feminine. It also takes on my relationship to the mother archetype. And, if possible, it evokes relationship.
In an essay in Volume 9i in the Collected Works series by Carl Gustav Jung, the “Psychological Aspects of the Mother Complex,” Jung powerfully looks at various faces of a mother complex, both from a the lens of a woman and the lens of a man. Daryl Sharp added some insight for me into relationships and conflict and how the mother complex can actually be viewed from a positive manner.
To “turn away” from a relationship does not necessarily mean to leave it, or to stop loving someone. It may simply involve paying more attention to oneself that to the other person. But even this much is a heroic feat for a man with a positive mother complex. It requires a ruthlessness, of self-confidence, that is alien to his ego but characteristic of his unsentimental shadow. If he is not up to it – which to someone he’s involved with may look like a lack of relatedness, no heart 0 he will suffer the consequences: loss of soul. (Sharp, Jung Uncorked: Book One, 2008, pp 109-110)
Now this is just what I needed to hear, that “turning away” from an “other” in order to know more about “self” is not the same thing as leaving, abandoning or giving up on the relationship. I think that this is where most modern day couples end up in separation and divorce. The collective level of consciousness is too low for the task of holding the tension between self and other when one or both need to turn away, need to turn within.