Archive for the ‘feminine’ tag
So far it is becoming clear that everyone has a charged energy response to mother and father. For sons, the complex that arises in response to his mother and/or those who mothered him, obviously will influence his relationship with other women in his future, an influence which for the most part is unconscious. Will he find the woman he needs in someone like his mother, or in someone who seems to be a polar opposite? The complexes and neuroses of the mother have been active in conscious and unconscious interaction with the son as well as between the mother and the father (or father substitute in the case of absent fathers). The son having been wounded, and not even aware of that wounding, with the energy that burst forth out of the mother’s activated complexes, is primed to respond to similar patterns of energy in later life. Nothing is going to be simple when it comes to relationships in the boy child’s future as an adult male.
“Consider the obvious, then, that we can hardly have a conscious efficacious relationship with the Other, when we have a deeply wounded relationship with ourselves. Consider, then, how difficult it is to have any relationship at all. All that I do not know about myself, all of my secret projects for healing myself of the wounds derived from my culture and family of origin, I am now imposing on you. All the complexes I have acquired in my life on this earth, you will have to suffer from me. How could I do that to you, while professing to love you? How can you do that to me, while professing to love me?” [Hollis, The Eden Project, p. 30]
Wow! Hard words from Hollis. But, and there is always a but, isn’t there? But, what about love? I fell in love. Everywhere I look people are truly falling in love. I can see it in their eyes, in the way they move in relationship to their new-found love, the person who becomes a Magical Other. Is love based on our wounds and our projects to heal those wounds? Are we demanding our Magical Others to stay magical and to continue to feed us, nourish us, out of the depths of our wounds?
I have to admit, that I am guilty of imposing my wounding on my love, my Magical Other. Over the years, it seems new wounds present themselves, old wounds actually, but long banished into the dark depths of unconsciousness. And each time I discover, feel and am overwhelmed by these wounds, it is to my Other that I turn to and somehow expect her to take in my pain and heal me as if she was my Magical Mother. And, at times, this flows in the opposite direction when it is I who meets the wounds of her life, her childhood, and become her Magical Father, the Other who will hold her in safety and security.
What is love then?
A child, such as the type of child that I was who either adopted or was thrust into the role of mediator or go-between within the family, internalizes the idea of being the good child of the family, one who carries the shadow, the families secrets as a personal burden. I found out early that I was different from everyone else. Others could be messy, but my being special carried the responsibility of cleaning up the mess. Rather than going to a parent, siblings came to me with their problems for that is what my parents did. Not knowing any better, I took on that burden rather than shouting out, “But I’m just a kid!” That’s the problem with magical thinking. Powerless to avoid the burden, one comes to believe that this is the way it is supposed to be, that this is the kind of person one really is.
Typically, a child that takes on this role will engage in relationships with others in school and in play that reinforces the patterns.
“Thus the problem of powerlessness subtly works its way through the life of an individual. One may even go so far as to choose – if that is the right word, for it is surely and unconscious choice – to have relationships only with weak or wounded persons so that the template of care-giving is served.” [Hollis, The Eden Project, p. 25]
When one becomes of an age, one finds that one is being attracted to some young women, but not others. As I reached that age in high school, I found that my female friends as well as my male friends were the obviously wounded souls, those who were rejected by their peers – consciously and unconsciously rejected. Of course, I didn’t understand what was going on within me and within them; all I knew was that with these friends, I was important. I held their trust, their pain, their secrets without divulging anything from my own past. All that existed was the fact that I was there for them as I was for my siblings and my mother.
As a male leaves childhood and youth, there is usually also a time for leaving the home and his mother. However, regardless of the distance travelled from home, and mother, a male can never leave his mother-complex. The complex buries itself deep into the psyche, into the unconscious where it lays dormant. And when does it show up? Typically, when one falls in love. One finally meets that one special person who allows all the self-beliefs, conscious and unconscious, to be held by her, held unconsciously. Jung calls this the dance of projection and hooks, a dance that goes in both directions at the same time. One doesn’t fall in love by accident. Somehow, the psyche senses the presence of a psyche with which it can mate, that is, have a hook which is prepared to catch certain kinds of projects. A man needing to be in control, finds a woman who needs to be fathered. A man needing to be nurtured, finds a woman who needs to mother. It isn’t as simple as all of that – but then again, it is really that simple if one could just set aside thinking and the illusion that one is really in control of the self.
“Many therapists will recognize this common pattern in a relationship, a ballet of approach and avoidance, where one partner needs reassuring closeness and the other is more comfortable with distance. One draws close, seeking assurance, while the other, feeling invaded, draws back, raising the anxiety level of both. In the latter’s need for protective space is the desire to do what the child could not do, that is, keep the intrusive Other at bay and preserve a fragile psychic integrity.” [pp 25-26]
It sounds kind of messy. And I know from living this dance, that it is very messy indeed. At some point, someone has to wake up and see what is going on in the relationship. And when that happens, the relationship as it was, is no more. I quickly must say that it isn’t the end of the relationship, necessarily, it is the end of the relationship as an unconscious ballet of approach and retreat.
“Every relationship has its particular dignity. There is no such thing as an unworthy love or one to be ashamed of, because each experience corresponds to a profound individual need. And if and when it ends there is nothing to regret, because at that particular time the loved one filled our emptiness, no matter what happened next.” [Carotenuto, Eros and Pathos, p. 33]
These are powerful words, words that heal where often we use words that attack the self or other due to feelings of present discord within a relationship. There is no such thing as unworthy love. What we have a hard time understanding that love doesn’t owe us anything other than the experience. We need to learn to accept the gift of love whether it is for a short time or for decades. And, when that gift of love has disappeared into some other place leaving us alone with ourselves in spite of the presence or non-presence of the one with whom we shared love, we need to say thank you for that time of love rather than engage in interpersonal warfare.
As I walked the beach earlier today, I looked at the people along the way. Most were couples; most of those couples were men and women. It was easy to spot those who were in love and those who were in hate. The rest in the middle ground were for the most part, more into themselves than their partners, but not oblivious of their presence. Most of these others were obviously couples well used to each other’s presence.
I have to admit that both my wife and I are still filling our empty spaces with each other. In spite of more than forty years together, the well hasn’t run dry and there is no taking each other for granted. Not unlike young lovers caught in the throes of Eros, of Cupid’s arrows, we need to see each other and be close enough for touch when the need for contact presents itself. In absence of each other’s presence, we are left holding onto something empty.
And when the need for the Other is no longer necessary, when the holes are filled by whatever love was needed and offered? What then?
I took this photo yesterday evening from the roof top of the condo building in which I am staying until Sunday. The woman in the photo is my wife. We had made the journey to the roof for the specific purpose of taking sunset photos. I have been taking sunset photos that have both her and the sun in a spiritual dialogue. Of course, just saying this is a projective statement on my part. Still, there were no words spoken about poses – this was what appeared before my eyes and then camera lens.
As I have mentioned, perhaps too many times, all relationships are influenced by projections. Since no one is ever completely conscious, unconscious aspects of both one’s self and the Other make their appearance and inject their energy into the relationship. I can only know so much about myself, more than my wife knows about me. Yet, she does know things about me that I am unconscious of – my blind self. The reverse is true when it comes to what she knows of her “self” and of me. This makes for some interesting interactions over the years. As I age and change, change due to becoming more conscious as well as older in physical terms, and as she changes due to becoming more conscious and getting older; we find ourselves frequently encountering a stranger. Past patterns shift and new patterns emerge.
As consciousness shifts, increases due to unconscious contents being brought into the light, one chooses new ways of being and interacting with the world at large and with significant others, even Magical Others. Well, perhaps using the word “chooses” is a bit of a stretch. In truth, a new unconscious face appears, new triggers are activated, new hooks engaged and one either falls in love again, or one is left empty wondering where love has gone. I have been lucky – we have been lucky. Somehow, the constantly shifting unconscious continues to keep us enthralled with each other in spite of more than forty years together. Well, perhaps “lucky” is a lose term to use as we all learn that “love hurts” as much as it gifts us with wonder.
While waiting for some books I have placed on hold to be freed for me to download from my e-library, I have decided to read one of the e-books I bought last autumn for those “in case moments.” I bought a number of e-books that focused on Jungian psychology and Buddhism so that I wouldn’t have to haul around too many heavy books while travelling. I already own these books as either paperback or hard-cover books and have read most of them. The book I decided to read (re-read actually) is by Robert A. Johnson, a book called, He. It is a little book of only 63 pages long and it was meant to be a reference for the “masculine” series of posts. Te be honest, I had forgotten just how good the book really is. As I began reading, not having the highlights and underlined passages from my hard copy of the book in front of me, I felt like I was discovering new territory. I felt as if I was an old fashioned hero on a quest for hidden treasures.
It didn’t take too long into the Introduction for me to find the first treasure.
“We must remember that a myth is a living entity, and exists within every person. You will get the true, living form of the myth if you can see it as it spins away inside yourself. The most rewarding mythological experience you can have is to see how it lives in your own psychological structure.” [p. 4]
For me, this is particularly important as I sometimes take myth too literally. I am reminded that the myth is a universal representation of the human psyche filling somewhat the same role as a dream which is more of a cross between the universal and the personal psyche.
Johnson’s book is about the masculine and uses the myth of the “Grail” and “Parsifal” as ways to understand the masculine psyche.
“The Grail myth speaks of masculine psychology. This is not to say that it is confined to the male, for a woman participates in her own inner masculinity, though it is less dominant for her. We must take everything that goes into the myth as part of ourselves. We will have to cope with a dazzling array of fair damsels, but must see them too as parts of the masculine psyche.” [ibid]
Now that I have been re-oriented, I find myself wondering where this journey will take me. I know that as I continue reading I will continue to turn the microscope that Johnson is using on the tale, to peer within myself, to shed some light and perhaps understanding about my own wounding and growth into mature masculinity, into a whole, healthy man. I might be getting old, but I am still willing to dig into the depths and undo some of the fetters that have delayed the development my masculine psyche.
Right now, it is time to return to the book. I will be back later to share more of the treasures I find on this journey.
I was able to get close enough to this not so small snake as I neared the end of a small group tour at the Lamanai Mayan ruins. It is called fer de lance, although it’s more correctly called Bothrops Asper, a member of the viper family. This snake is very dangerous. Still, I left the safety of the raised path I was on in order to get down to his level and get this photo, not a great photo, but good enough as I didn’t want to get too much closer. Apparently the lance de fer is commonly found around Mayan ruins and it has been suggested that the choice of location for a Mayan site was dependent upon the presence of poisonous snakes as a protective barrier. Of course, that sent me in search of more information which took me to Och Chan, or God K of the Mayan religion.
I don’t want to tell too much here but perhaps save a bigger tale after I have been to Hell (Xibalba) and back a trip that will occur in the near future. For now, it is enough to know that the snake again figures in the original story of creation and again involves a woman. There, I hope that either sends you searching for more or whets your appetite for when I return to this topic sometime next week.
Each morning I rise early hoping to catch the dawn. Several of the mornings have been cloud-filled delaying the appearance of the sun. When and if the sun appears, there is an up-welling of joy within me. And when the sun hides, I am patient for I know that another morning will be coming and with that new morning, another opportunity to participate in a spiritual ritual that in more about being alive, being aware and conscious of myself in the universe.I become part of the drama enacted with the rising of the sun as though I was some ancient priest of the sun, a magician, a wizard, a shaman. At moments like this I find myself reconnecting to ancestors that trace their roots through bloodlines of the Iroquois, Mohawk and Ojibway; ancestors that wandered the holy forests of Europe, Celtic and Gaelic bards and druids; ancestors that wandered through Persia and Egypt. I consciously bid the sun welcome into the world anew.
“The Magician energy is the archetype of awareness and of insight, primarily, but also of anything that is not immediately apparent or commonsensical. It is the archetype that governs what is called psychology “the observing Ego.” [Moore & Gillette, King Warrior Magician Lover, p. 106]
I understand this participation is as much conscious as it is unconscious. I don’t pretend that I really am a shaman or wizard or magician. I don’t believe that I am any of these as well for to believe that I was would only put my conscious self in peril.
It is fatal for the ego to fuse with any one of the archetypes, and those who encourage such fusions must be counted as the enemies of humanity.” [Tacey, Remaking Men, p. 19]
I sense the presence of archetypal forces at the edges of perception and acknowledge them with respect and wariness. To deny them would also be dangerous for ego for denial leads only to eruptions of shadow that would make me a victim of my own unconsciousness.
So, with a day begin honouring the spirits I sense but can never see, I can then move on to participate more fully in my daily life, aware of even the small things that make their way into my life.
“As no popular culture has built itself upon the idea of romance more than twentieth-century [and 21st] America has, so no one has founded itself on more shifting ground. A necessary corollary, then, is that no culture has more set itself up for disappointment than the one which seeks its affirmation in projection, illusion and delusion.” [Hollis, The Eden Project, p. 45]
As I have said a number of times before, Romantic love for a man is projected love, a love based on one’s response to one’s personal mother and to the activated anima archetype that represents the feminine, the archetypal lover and mother and whore. Beneath this gossamer web of projection lies a real woman who either accepts and joins in the fantasy of Romantic love, or rejects it and walks on in her life in search of her Magical Other. When all aligns as it will and should, two souls are joined as one, similar to the images of sun and moon together or the yin-yang which has the two in a perpetual dance always reaching and retreating at the same time.
This image has blurred edges that face each other, barely discernible faces in dialogue with each other while the self lives oblivious to the presences of shadow and anima, the unknown masculine and feminine archetypes that pull and push. With time, the pushing and pulling forces a man to begin to question himself and his Magical Other who is also suffering the tidal forces of her shadow and her animus. First one, then the other feels betrayed as their Magical Other becomes less magical and more human.
”the public face that hides a thousand cuts. For how many couples grow roughly in the same direction at roughly the same pace? Seldom do both perceive life at the same level of consciousness or possess equal capacity to process difficult matters. More often, one partner has outgrown the unconscious premises of the relationship while the other clings to the original implicit bargain. The former feels frustrated, depressed; the other feels anxious and controlling. My experience has been that most often it is the woman who seeks change and growth.” [Hollis, pp 44-45]
And whether it is the man or the woman, the sense of being alone again, like this young palm tree above, is brings the pain of loss; a loss of the Magical Other and often a corresponding loss of the marital partner. When the marriage holds together in spite of the loss, the face of the marriage rarely betrays that loss. Rarely does the public face of a marriage match the psychic reality beneath that surface when projections fall away revealing the scarred, scared and complexed individuals that have been joined in the marriage.
“Everything, everything, seems to ride on this thing called love. We love nature, we make love, we fall into and out of it, we pursue love and ask it to save us. Romantic love, by which we mean that élan, that heightened ardor, that intense yearning for the Beloved, that frantic grappling, that profound sorrow when the Beloved is lost, that anxious uncertainty about the fixity of the Other – all this and more is both the greatest source of energy and the chief narcotic of our time . . . one may even suggest that romantic love has replaced institutional religion as the greatest motive power and influence in our lives.” [Hollis, The Eden Project, pp 42-43]
I met this woman more than forty years ago. It was love at first sight for both of us, the classical tale of Romantic Love between two strangers who cross each other’s life paths not even searching for love. Whatever plans and dreams that had been in placed disappeared as all of our energy shifted, all of our individual histories vanished as if by magic. Hollis has it right, for both of us, Romantic Love was our ticket of escape from childhood and youth woundings. We looked to Romantic Love to save us from our own histories, to open a doorway into a Garden of Eden where love is everything, and love would last rever.
Unlike the tragic stories of Tristan and Isolde/Iseult, or Romeo and Juliet, My love and I survived our unconscious submission and submersion into Romantic Love. Like all who fall in love and get married, there was (and remains) an implicit contract that this love must last and stay as the foundation of the marriage. The differences that brought us together, a magnetic attraction of opposites, and not just opposites in terms of gender, were not seen. Each of us was caught in private projections which kept the real person hidden beneath a veil.
“Many marriages simply evolve beyond the implicit terms of the invisible contract. Whatever complexes or programmed ideas of self and Other may have inspired the marriage, the psyche has moved to another place. It is not so much that people fall out of love, but that the original controlling ideas have waned in favor of others – or the complex has decided that the Other cannot meet the expectations of the original agenda.” [Hollis, p. 44]
So this is the answer which perhaps explains why more than forty years later – the psyche has stayed in the same place for both of us. In spite of being different in just about everything that can be compared, we still meet each other’s expectations of Other. That and the fact that in bumping into each other over and over again, we dared face the realities and contradictions which forced us to continually re-evaluate the Other. The shock and pain of withdrawing projections didn’t result in a withdrawal of love. Rather, the withdrawal of projections allowed us to discover newness in each other. With all this newness, we remain awed by the magic of the other, still looking to each other for salvation, for safety, for love.
As I lay beneath the rays of the sun on the beach in Puerto Morelos allowing my body to darken without tan lines, I listen to music on my mp3 player. While listening to the music with the waves rolling onto the shore, the time passes quickly making it easier to be still and at peace, my mind was caught by one song I had listened to many times, Bruce Springsteen singing Secret Garden. I knew immediately as I listened that the song had touched something much deeper than normal. I knew that the song would become today’s post. I wasn’t yet sure, nor am I now as I am writing, exactly what I would say. Before going further, I want to put the song here. The lyrics will be added at the end of the post for those who want to have them in text form.
I know that I typically write about the feminine on Wednesdays, but this deserves being brought here a day early. With the words that talk about being allowed “in her house” should one come during the night immediately brought to mind the she that is a man’s anima. This mystical woman of the Secret Garden is the Magical Other to whom we sewomb farch for in our wives, consorts, our significant others. Of course, no human female can hold all of this and stay sane. At some point we have to realise that this Magical Other is found within our own psyche, not projected out onto other humans. Think of the Garden of Eden, the womb of humankind where the essence of all that is masculine and all that is feminine unites in a holy marriage; a garden where Ego gets in the way, and effectively destroys the garden. This is the guiding principle of individuation in Jungian Psychology, and in Buddhism. We must learn to set the narrow limitations of ego aside and allow the fullness of our psyche to escape from the shadows.
Secret Garden – Bruce Springsteen
She’ll let you in her house
If you come knockin late at night
Shell let you in her mouth
If the words you say are right
If you pay the price
Shell let you deep inside
But there’s a secret garden she hides
Shell let you in her car
To go drivin round
Shell let you into the parts of herself
Thatll bring you down
Shell let you in her heart
If you got a hammer and a vise
But into her secret garden, don’t think twice
Youve gone a million miles
How fard you get
To that place where you can’t remember
And you can’t forget
Shell lead you down a path
Therell be tenderness in the air
Shell let you come just far enough
So you know she’s really there
Shell look at you and smile
And her eyes will say
Shes got a secret garden
Where everything you want
Where everything you need
Will always stay
A million miles away