Archive for the ‘Jamestown’ tag
“The finest of all symbols of the libido is the human figure, conceived as a demon or hero. Here the symbolism leaves the objective, material realm of astral and meteorological images and takes on human form, changing into a figure who passes from joy to sorrow, from sorrow to joy, and, like the sun, now stands high at the zenith and now is plunged into darkest night, only to rise again in new splendor.” (Jung, CW Vol. 5, Symbols of Transformation, par. 251)
I took this quote out of a smaller book called C,G. Jung: Aspects of the Masculine, published by the same folks who publish the Collected Works. Bollingen has a series of smaller books based on themes which make it easier to follow Jung’s thoughts on these themes across the huge body of Jung’s published works. For those who haven’t invested in the Collected Works, these smaller books make for a less daunting foray into the larger books.
The photo above is reflective of the last post on storms and on some of the comments made by some of the readers here. I took this photo shortly before the arrival of a storm. I knew it was coming and I wanted to capture reflected light as well as the foreboding background of darkness. What I particularly liked about this image was the inclusion of the directional arrow which suggests that there is a safe path through the storm that is coming.
Storms are a fact of nature – human nature and that of the planet. In many ways, nature mirrors the psyche. However there is a difference that is notable – nature is authentic in both its periods of calm and storm. What one sees is what “is.” With the human, it isn’t quite that simple. We have learned the art of creating masks and mirrors so that what we see isn’t often what is the truth. We hide the self as a way of protecting the self. And in the process, we often lose ourselves.
The journey to rediscover the self is one that appears too threatening for most. Rather than take the risk only to find that one is meaningless, most build even stronger masks and do all in their power to silence the inner voices that now become monstrous threatening our very sanity. We have taken a wrong turn and flee. We flee from the inner self who has become the ultimate stranger, the dark and dangerous “other” that takes on the visage of a demon.
Perhaps it would be best to listen to the inner voices, which, like the sign above, show us a path through the storms.
I was walking with one of my grandsons moments before it decided to rain, looking for pictures. I would show him something then take the photo which we would then both look at; then he would point out something and I would look at it before creating another photograph. Needless to say, the process kept us outside and active for as long as the rain held off. Once back in the house, we shared “our” photo treasures with his dad. This was the ultimate test for my grandson. His dad is his number one authority, the greatest of all.
Watching the interplay between my grandson and his father, I got to see what likely was the same dynamic in the life of my own son as he grew up. Looking at it at a distance reflected in others creates a sense of humbleness and almost shame. The “father” swells with pride in the adoration, a worship that brings the child as much pain as it does joy.
The “son” mimics all that he senses in hopes of becoming his “father.” And when the father doesn’t know his role, when he gets caught up too much in his “greatness,” it doesn’t take long before the son can’t support the weight of that hubris. The slender branch holding this illusion snaps and the father falls.
It is painful for all of us when our heroes fall and become human again. I know that my first reaction was anger, anger that my hero became as ordinary as I was. His greatness was not all that spectacular in the history of humankind. And, this coloured my view of those heroes of history as well as those heroes in the modern times. Somehow I knew that underneath the mantles of hero status, these heroes were conflicted humans who suffered as much, if not more, than I suffered.
In thinking about what CG Jung had said in my quotation that began this post, I realise that he was talking about something bigger than what I have said here. But perhaps this is an appropriate interpretation for what happens in the dynamic of the nuclear family, the roots of most of our complexes.
I was able to get out for a short while in the mid-afternoon yesterday in order to go pick up two of my grandsons from their classes. It was a walking opportunity with the camera that I took as I had earlier noticed a fruit tree in blossom, a crab apple tree. It was overcast and threatened to storm. On the walk I took a number of other photos as well in order to have a few more that are destined for these pages over the next few days.
It isn’t too hard to see these blossoms stretching to catch whatever sun’s rays are available. In return, I imagine the sun makes its own valiant attempts to please, to meet the needs of life forms. Though the sun is the source of light and life, it isn’t as all powerful as one would expect. Clouds wait in the background to show their power as well. Clouds hide the sun and cast a pall over all. Yet, they are needed as much as the sun. Without the clouds and the moisture they bring, life would wither and die.
The human psyche is no different. There is a needed balance between consciousness and unconsciousness. Though many, including myself, are struggling to bring light to personal or collective darkness, to make the unknown known; too much consciousness will result in the soul withering, too much unconsciousness will have the soul drown and be swallowed into a vast sea.
This isn’t such a difficult idea to understand when one looks at it another way. Take this tree for example. Though it is beautiful as it displays its blossoms, the sense of its beauty would disappear if it stayed in bloom at the time. Not only its beauty would be affected, but also its bounty. If the blossoms stayed forever to gift us with their appearance and gentle aroma, there would be no fruit.
“Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.” (Carl Gustav Jung)
I am currently in Jamestown, North Dakota where I am visiting three of my grandchildren and their parents. Since this place is further south than my home in Saskatchewan, nature is found further along its journey toward summer. These sand cherry blossoms remind me of time spent in China. I used early morning sunshine to accent the emergence of these blossoms. There is something special about light in the early morning and the very late afternoon. I imagine that for me, it is about transitions, about emerging into new realities, new ways of being.
But, when I see these images and live the experiences of discovering these images, I get a sense that it about much more than uncovering hidden aspects of my own developing “self,” I “know” that the experience and the image points to something “more.” Perhaps I invest so much in these images because they take me deeper and allow me to connect with that numinous “more.” Some would call this a religious experience, or a meeting with the god-head. But, I hesitate to go there. I find it too hard to separate my “self” from the image and the experience. Whatever it is that I touch includes “self.” CG Jung knew this as well and expressed the idea much better than I ever could. His quest for understanding led to a word that encompasses that religious feeling, that wholeness and holiness while at the same time including the individual – through the self, one meets the SELF.
Okay, I can sense that there is a protest that this is nothing more than a playing with a word using capital letters. I can sense that the protest says that nothing really has changed simply because of the use of capital letters. But I ask you to consider what that means. In our various books of religion we are continually pointed inward in order to discover that essence of “God” regardless of the name given by each religion. If God is truly found within, then “self” is not strong enough to encompass that god. We need to shout it out, to exclaim and wonder about that with which we connect. With this approach to understanding that which we might call God, we can use the One, or as CG Jung puts it, Self.
“The God-image is the expression of an underlying experience of something which I cannot attain to by intellectual means.” (Carl Gustav Jung)
I can’t believe how tired I am. This photo taken on Sunday of a spider’s web sort of illustrates the muffling of energy I am feeling. Allergies are weighing on my enthusiasm levels leaving me feeling quite unmotivated for most things. That said, I continue to push through and “DO.” It is too easy otherwise just to vegetate and get lost in lethargy.
I took the photo above with a different camera, a Sony Cybershot that is my wife’s camera. Somehow I had forgotten to take my camera along for our walk and she remembered she had hers in her small backpack. The webs were found all over the cut grass that edged the walking paths we took. It looked like harvest season for spiders as well as for farmers.
Of course, I had a motive for the photo. I wanted it for posting here. Of course, it is mostly about the Native American Spider Woman myth. But in checking further, the roots of the myth reach into Japan and Ancient Greece. The web is symbolic of the creation of the world, how all the parts are woven together by the great mother. The web is also symbolic of good luck.
Strange how time and cultures change the meaning of symbols. Now, cobwebs are associated with abandonment, of ruin and decay. It is as though in modern times we have lost the gods and are only left with the husks such as one finds in cobwebs, the husks of those caught and consumed.
Another photo of the white buffalo found in Jamestown, North Dakota. A second white buffalo, a young calf, is also to be found in Jamestown. I watched the buffalo interact for a while as I searched for photo opportunities. It wasn’t as if I could get all that close to the animals, but a decent camera and good luck made for a good time. One of the things that I was surprised at was how White Cloud was isolated by the others. Each time she came close, a large dark bull would chase her away. Still for all of that, she hangs around the edges of the small herd. And, as time has shown, she does interact enough. In spite of being white, males do get drawn to her when she is in heat. And, she becomes mother again and again to young calves as the years pass.
The white buffalo, the buffalo woman in myth, speaks of mother earth, her power and her promise. The white buffalo is about vision, a promise for what is to come if one would follow the way. There is a sacredness, a holiness that rises out of such visions, dreams which feature the white buffalo.
In my opinion, the white buffalo is another symbol of individuation, perhaps one that calls to women more than men. I can’t help bu think of how women both in the present and in the past have suffered when they are perceived as different from the rest of the herd. Though forced to live a different path, the desire for connection remains strong and vital. The need to nurture that very community that rejects them. Interesting …
This photo of the James River was taken while I was walking two of my grandsons home from Friday’s classes. Along the way, we stopped to play in a playground beside the river. Playing with the boys was as much about make-believe as it was about reality. Strange how make-believe has so much power for children …
“… myth represents the crystallization of basic experiences of life construed through various forms of imagery. Such imagery lies beyond intellectual comprehension yet is experienced meaningfully. Mythic images hlp us to approach the mysteries. Myth draws us near the profound depths of love and hate, life and death – precincts of the gods, the mysteries, where categories of thought falter and slip into dumb-founded silence.” (James Hollis, Tracking the Gods, 1995, p.23)
Of course, children enter into this realm more easily than adults. For them, the need to make sense is not a priority – they are open to the magical, the mythical For adults, there is a real need for reason and logic to mediate all the data coming to us via our senses. And in the process, we miss all that lies at the outer edges of reason.
The Legend of the White Buffalo
One summer a long time ago, the seven sacred council fires of the Lakota Sioux came together and camped. The sun was strong and the people were starving for there was no game.
Two young men went out to hunt. Along the way, the two men met a beautiful young woman dressed in white who floated as she walked. One man had bad desires for the woman and tried to touch her, but was consumed by a cloud and turned into a pile of bones.
The woman spoke to the second young man and said, “Return to your people and tell them I am coming.” This holy woman brought a wrapped bundle to the people. She unwrapped the bundle giving to the people a sacred pipe and teaching them how to use it to pray. “With this holy pipe, you will walk like a living prayer,” she said. The holy woman told the Sioux about the value of the buffalo, the women and the children. “You are from Mother Earth,” she told the women, “What you are doing is as great as the warriors do.”
Before she left, she told the people she would return. As she walked away, she rolled over four times, turning into a white female buffalo calf. It is said after that day the Lakota honored their pipe, and buffalo were plentiful. (from John Lame Deer’s telling in 1967).
Another photo from last week when I travelled to North Dakota, a flood photo. This water is fourteen and a half feet above normal levels, burying the beach buildings as well as the beach and marina. Below is another entry from the PDF book project for SoFoBoMo. I have finished 14 of the 25 photos and text entries – 40% done – in one week. The pressure is off and it looks as though I will finish well within my 31 day limit.
Dimly felt night trails
Through tunnels of time and space
Peopled with monsters
Entering the “Road of Trials,” one is faced with a constantly shifting landscape. The shifts match the shifts in consciousness. Each trial on the journey involves a small death and a rebirth as one moves from dependency to self-responsibility. In a conversation between Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell, Campbell states:
“You are in no way a self-responsible, free agent, but an obedient dependent, expecting and receiving punishments and rewards. To evolve out of this position of psychological immaturity to the courage of self-responsibility and assurance requires a death and a resurrection. That’s the basic motif of the hero’s journey – leaving one condition and finding the source of life to bring you forth into a richer or mature condition.” (Campbell and Moyers, The Power of Myth, page 152, 1988.)
Now, the work begins, the work of digging through the layers of confusion, of wounding and banished dreams and fears. In the process, obstacles seek to dissuade one from continuing the journey, testing one’s true spirit. The battleground – consciousness versus the unconscious.
Separation from his instinctual nature inevitably plunges civilized man into the conflict of conscious and unconscious, spirit and nature, knowledge and faith, a split that becomes pathological the moment his consciousness is no longer able to neglect or suppress his instinctual side. (Jung, CW vol. 10, “The Philosophical and Psychological Approach to Life,” paragraph 558, 1958.)
The struggles within are matched with struggles in the outer world. One’s dreams are key to charting the journey. Overcoming a monster in the shadow lands, one learns to deal with a difficult outer world situation such as in a work relationship in which one is engaged in conflict. One begins to take ownership and ceases being a victim.
I am tired, very tired and sore. I am not as young as I used to be. Four days working in the basement of my daughter’s home has left me stiff and feeling more than my age. The sub floor has been laid and the bathroom walls are put up again. One more day and it will be time to return to my home in Canada and begin the SoFoBoMo project. The photo above was taken in one of the parks here in Jamestown, North Dakota. This type of fence seems to be characteristic of the area with even modern homes in the city sporting short sections and corner fencing of this type – fencing that has an aged look, even when newly constructed.
I have just finished reading another of Daryl Sharp’s books called Not The Big Sleep. Like his other books, this one is short like all of his books, and filled with quotations from Jung. One would expect such an approach to be dull reading, but Daryl manages to make a story of it all, this type a romance. I am looking forward to the next book in the series. This one was book four of a six book series featuring a fictional character called Adam Brillig. Next on my reading list is another book by James Hollis.