Archive for the ‘Yucatan’ tag
This image was captured in one of the many caves that I was able to explore in the Yucatan, one of the caves that became part of Mayan culture and survival. It was interesting learning about how the Mayans used these caves for escape as various threats that had appeared, threats such as the invasion by the Spanish during the 1500s. The rugged terrain pockmarked by holes which fell into deep caves, often containing pools of water that were fed from underground rivers as well as from rainwater, effectively allowed the Mayans to “go to ground.”
As my recent posts have been indicating, I have spiritually gone underground. This image is a good representation of just what I mean, especially if you look at the bottom right-hand side where, just above the field of light that is on the floor of the cave, what looks like a man in pale green stands with bend head – a man that could easily be me at this point in time.
Going to ground doesn’t mean a descent into depression though that is what had often happened to me in the past. Now, going to ground is more about a descent into the unconscious, sitting still and letting what light does enter from above begin to allow shadows to become visible at the edges of sight. There is a definite awareness of the light, even when entering into a dark chamber where light is totally absent. Because I made the journey into the dark, I know that there is a way back, a way up into the light. The time spent in this darkness is healing, meditative, not that much different from a meditative moment with my eyes closed in a darkened room.
If anything, going underground is life affirming with the similar intention of the Mayans who saw going underground as a way to preserve life, preserve a culture, and preserve hope.
Again, I return to the topic of transparency and authenticity, something I have talked about here before. I want to talk about “natural” man as distinguished from “civilized” man. This is a relatively old photo taken in March, 2009 while spending the winter in a Mayan fishing village. I chose this photo because it is “safe” and reader friendly. The image is symbolic to me of times long past that are more about young adulthood than about midlife. I am reminded of how over the years I celebrated naturalness in the water. In today’s world there is an element of fear attached to being natural. I admit that I am quite conflicted about the being at one in a natural state, in the world. I am a naturist at small, private moments yet I must choose with care these moments because of the impact it has on others in my life. When I was younger, I didn’t care that much. Isolated beaches, forest meadows, in the privacy of home naturalism was present in small doses. My children grew up knowing the freedom of skinny-dipping and moving from bath to bedroom without body shame. We never passed a camping trip without at least one skinny-dipping night swim. Somehow, for some reason, the freedom has gone, at least in North America.
The world has changed, become more charged with sexuality. With the growing ascendancy of the right, fear is reacting badly attempting to criminalize sexuality, especially when it comes to young people. Who in today’s modern world would take a photo of their children playing in the bathtub with cousins or siblings or parents? Should someone dare this photo, it risks the photographer or owner of the photograph being charged with a criminal offense and being put on a registry of sexual offenders. Walking in the buff in one’s own home is risky as any passerby who chances to look in a window and see a nude body risks being charged with indecent exposure and being placed on a sexual offender registry.
Many psychologists say that clothing is an extension of ourselves. The clothes we wear are an expression of who we are. The Naturist’s comfort with casual nudity, therefore, represents an attitude which is comfortable with yourself as it is in its most basic state, without modification or deceit. (Indiana Naturists Blog)
Naturism. It’s a word that is not held in high regard in the western world for the most part.
Johann Lemmer, in his work, Introduction to Sexology, discusses CG Jung’s concepts in terms of sexuality and suggests that the moral issues that confront modern man are often centered around sexuality and points to the masculine and feminine images and archetypes discussed by Jung as psychology’s attempt to deal with the issues. One needs to remember that Jung’s work was built on the foundation of Freud’s work which has a significant focus on human sexuality.
“FKK” (Frei-Körper-Kultur) or “Free Body Culture”. FKK derives its roots from the philosophical works from Carl Gustav Jung (one of the founding fathers of modern psychology) and Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (German physicist and philosopher), who maintained nudity was a form of returning to nature. Specifically, it was a form of returning to the natural state of mankind, before clothing dictated our social status, and set standards of how much respect we pay to people based on the clothes they are wearing. (Celeste Neumann)
Good information, but how does that solve the moral dilemmas faced by men, women and children in both Canada and the U.S.A. And more importantly for myself, how do I navigate to liberate myself from the attitudes of those around me? I know it is my choice, that I can find the space, place and time for naturism. Yet, my choices always seem to have an impact on others, others who have meaning for me. Regardless, little by little, I am pushing back the straight-jacket that would have me wear clothing even when sleeping.
A male Magnificent Cormorant sits on a mast of a small fishing boat called the Black Christ (Cristo Negro) in the harbour of Rio Lagartos, Yucatan, Mexico as evening gets ready to settle in. It’s a photo I took at the end of January of this year.
I struggled for quite some time today trying to find the words that I wanted to put here. A search through a number of volumes of Jung’s works didn’t yield anything that resonated. And so, I decided to simply speak as it “felt” for me. In the end, that is all any of us can ever do. the closest any of us can ever come to what might pass as the truth of who we are.
Black is about shadow, that much resonates loud and clear. However, all that is black isn’t evil. That is the hard part to get past sometimes. For the owner of this boat, obviously, the use of the word Christ is all about hope. So, why not have the two combine? This is where I jump from the scene of the photo to my personal realm of the underworld/inner-world.
Going through midlife, it is only when I dared to look at the edges of shadow country, staring into the fearsome blackness within that I finally began to sense hope, sense that I would emerge from that inner journey better than when I began that journey. The darkness and shadows yielded treasures about self, about personal strength and even validation of my “self.” Like the fisherman heading out into the ocean for the rich yields of the sea, I headed deep within the darkness, blind for the most part because of the darkness. I fought those sea monsters that assailed my sense of fear, my sense of inferiority and somehow, like the fisherman, found myself back in port, back in the outer world of consciousness. The journey had rewarded me with a bit more awareness of self and of the nature of the unconscious – a rich treasure. But more importantly, it renewed hope in something bigger than my ego. This is the promise of the Christ symbol.
There is hope if one does not fear the darkness so much that one flees from it. Rather, think of how San Juan de la Cruz (St. John of the Cross) embraced the dark night and found love, love that burned with its own light, a love that touched Christ. To embrace this, one must go under, one must sacrifice the “what is” for “what could be.” Or as I read in Jung’s works somewhere in words similar to these, “the good is the enemy of the better.”
I love the approach of evening when the light begins to paint everything with a touch of gold. In the bright sun of mid-day, so much looks taudry and flawed. Yet in the last part of the day, this disappears to be replaced by gold. It is as if life is transformed. The photo is a scene from Rio Lagartos in January, 2008.
If one can imagine it, what happens in nature is mirrored with that which happens within each of us. As we move past the middle of life into the late afternoon and early evening, a similar transformation occurs. It isn’t something that just happens overnight, it is something that is gradual, similar to the change processes that turns grapes into wine. It’s an alchemical change, transmutation from dross into gold. All it needs from us is to be present in the moments, even at this time of descent into the inner realms where one discovers that what before appeared to be flaws now becomes character, traces of ancient gods that dwell within as archetypes. Re-visioning and re-awekening to our “self” allows us to finally feel comfortable with ourselves in relation to whatever it is that is the guiding principle of everything,
First, I want to begin by saying that this is my wife. We have been married 38 years. I have avoided bringing her into this blog for a host of reasons, the primary one being her privacy. That said, it is only natural that I include her in today’s post about love. One of our frequent discussions revolves around trying to define what love is. Of course, such a discussion is usually disappointing in terms of finding a common definition. I don’t think that a definition can ever be achieved when looking at it from two separate poles, that of the masculine and the feminine. The best I can do, is speak from my core, from my level of consciousness and the intuitions that arise.
First, the basic premise that opposites attract hold. Magnetism proves this in nature. This is vital for survival of all species. Male attracts female; female attracts male. This instinctual attraction leads to renewal of the species. But, this isn’t enough to approach the idea of love. There is so much more. So many women, so many men; if this was all there was to it, a man could fall in love with all women or a woman could fall in love with all men simply because they were the opposite gender.
No, the opposite has to be much more significant. When we look at personality, even here opposites attract. The more they are opposite, the more the fire, the energy, the clash. One is extrovert and the other is introvert. One trusts intuitively, the other trusts based on what the senses reveal. One processes based on feeling tones, the other cognitively. Now, how can two people who are so totally different, ever possibly arrive at a common definition of something that defies definition even when two other people are paired with the same personality?
Here are Jung’s words on the topic that might be of help. But in saying that, one has to be of a mind to hear and understand the world, humanity and the human psyche from a Jungian point of view. Complicated, isn’t it?
Love has more than one thing in common with religious faith. It demands unconditional trust and expects absolute surrender. Just as nobody but the believer who surrenders himself wholly to God can partake of divine grace, so love reveals its highest mysteries and its wonder only to those who are capable of unqualified devotion and loyalty of feeling. And because this is so difficult, few mortals can boast of such an achievement. But, precisely because of the truest and most devoted love is also the most beautiful, let no man seek to make it easy. He is a sorry knight who shrinks from the difficulty of loving his lady. Love is like God: both give themselves only to the bravest knights. (Carl Jung, CW X, paragraph 232)
Curious thing for me, numbers. I have posted 230 times since I began this site on November 27, 2008. So far I have received just over 5800 visits to the site, about 25 per post or 22 per day. On average, there have been about two comments per post over the whole period. Of course, trying to find even one post that falls within this set of stats would likely find no such individual posts. So why does one even bother with statistics since they point to something that is anything other than objective reality? I know why I look to the numbers. I don’t expect them to point to a particular thing. All I expect to see is a generalized canvas, I get to see the forest rather than the trees as I look at the global picture.
So what does this global picture tell me? Well, first, it tells me that I am not writing words that disappear into the ether unread. Somewhere in the numinous space of cyberwaves, others have paused to glimpse, if only briefly at the words and the images. I learn that a few have spent more than just a passing moment with my images and thoughts. A smaller group have spent enough time to offer comment or to ask questions. In some amazing way, connections have been established and a curious set of relationships have taken shape, cyber relationship.
All of this serves to cause me to rethink some of my words and thoughts. In a way, this is like walking into a hall of mirrors in which “others” serve to resonate/reflect/mediate the words that have found their way to this space. In the end, I become hopefully, more conscious of my “self.”
This photo was taken in March, 2009 in Yucatan, Mexico at the Mayan site called Dzibilchaltun. It is a photo of a sundial. I went in search through my photo archives for this image as I wanted a symbol of Phallos that I had taken rather than to borrow one from the Internet. It is obvious to anyone who thinks in symbolic terms, that the spire at the centre, pointing to the sun is a representation of Phallos.
In Jungian terms, in alchemical terms, the sun is the father. The womb is the earth which is mother. When phallos is erect, there is energy (libido) which is essential for the act of creation. Creation is a co-creative act, a holy marriage of masculine and feminine.
It’s a touchy subject, that of the masculine, especially in this age of politically correct thinking and speaking. The human race has shifted from matriarchal to patriarchal dominance and is currently shifting again. Patriarchal forms still dominate, but in so many ways, those forms are being emasculated. Men are losing their bearings in a world that is increasingly seeing them as throw-backs to ancient-times thinking. Rites of passage have almost fully disappeared for boys becoming men. Monick captures the essence of the problem:
The problem is that patriarchal attitudes and values are no longer obviously true. Unless masculinity is differentiated from patriarchy, both will go down the tubes. (Eugene Monick, Phallos: Sacred Image of the Masculine, 1987, p. 9)
So, what do you think?
I have to admit that this photo is an old one, one that I took at the end of March this year while in Mexico. More often than not, the plain-looking birds get overlooked in favour of those which are more colourful and more “in one’s face.” The quiet plain-looking birds that sit on the sidelines, almost hidden are dismissed as though they don’t even exist. When pointed out, a quick glance soon turns to disinterest.
People are like that as well. I am like that, more inclined to sit on the sidelines away from the brouhaha that surrounds others. Every once in a while my presence on the sidelines catches someone by surprise as if to say, “Where did he come from?” This is by choice as it is about control – or so I thought. One of the disadvantages is that it not about being “present” in life, but being a passive observer of life. Now entering my seventh decade, I am “working” on being present. Of course, a few knocks on the head during the last decade have helped me gain some insight and perspective with regards to being “present” rather than being in the past or some alternate universe. Hear what James Hollis has to say about the topic:
Though we are historic creatures, that is, creatures of what fate and flawed choices have provided, much of what we do is on automatic pilot, genetically, cognitively, reflexively programmed. We need a rap on the head from time to time to bring us into the present, to be here, not en route from somewhere to somewhere. (Hollis, Celebrating a Life, 2001 p. 82)
Today’s photo was taken in the small Mexican city of Peurto Progreso. In many ways, I see myself in this photo – not necessarily the cowboy hat, as that is not something I would feel comfortable wearing; but in the posture, the moustache, the body size and the apparent attitude toward life. I wondered if this man was comfortable in being different from most of the other Mexican men to be seen in this city. The city of Progreso isn’t cowboy country. I also wondered what he was waiting for in the square where busses from various parts of the Yucatan meet to disgourge passengers and pick up new people heading out to other places. My guess is that there was a woman involved. The flowers tell me that he is patiently waiting rather than just hanging out. I saw way too many men in Mexico, India and even here in Canada who were simply putting in time as though waiting for it all to end somehow.
As you read this, I will be travelling or have reached my destination for the weekend, a medium-sized town in central Saskatchewan where I will be visiting extended family. I’m not too sure if I will be able to access Internet, so I thought it would be a good idea to post this ahead of time using a posting scheduler. If you have been reading this lately, you will remember that I am reading James Hollis’ book, Celebrating a Life. As I read any post-Jungian book, I read with a highliter in my hand marking what I feel are significant thoughts. Earlier in the reading, I had found this particular quote that I thought worth bringing up here:
The more you are like others, the more secure you will feel, yet the more your heart will ache, the more dreams will be troubled and the more your soul will slip off into silences. Finally, one day, you will have forgotten you have a soul – you will rise, drive through the traffic, arrive at work, and not remember how you got there. Once you reach that condition, there is no further need to think about much or face painful choices. You will have developed enough conditioned reflexes to make it through your life on automatic pilot. Maybe that was the freedom you sought, the release from torturous thought, colliding emotions, and the burden of growing up. Maybe now you can relax, hang out, wait to die … (pages 11 & 12)
Are you hanging out just waiting for the end? Or are you heading the same inner thoughts that say “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night,” as was written by the Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas? Or, are you simply not fearing death but at the same time, determined to make your brief span of years in the history of humankind, have meaning? I want my life to mean something so that it is more than simply eating, sleeping and waiting …
It is a beautiful morning with a temperature of 17C and only a hint of a breeze in the morning sunshine. Breakfast on the back deck watching the birds. I have a few tasks that I want to accomplish this morning such as re-hanging the door for the basement bathroom and doing a bit of silicone sealing in the bathroom. All is pretty well ready for our little family reunion in two weeks time.
I take pride in my workmanship but I do have to admit that my workmanship is not that good. I want it all to be so perfect but I lack the skills for this to happen. And, as I look at the finished projects I see the small cracks, the faults and often miss the overall effect.
This photo was taken in a small town called San Crisanto along the northern coast of the Yucatan. In Mexico there is a war on drugs. The drug cartels are waging battles amongst each other to see who will dominate. And at the same time, government and law forces find themselves waging the same war. When a person thinks about it, war is about hubris.
Hubris is found in our capacity to convince ourselves that we really know what is going on. It is found in our capacity for self-deception, in the notion that we can choose with impunity, that we are in control, that we have covered all the angles. Such delusion is a form of magical thinking, whereby we seek to manage existential anxiety through the fantasy of control and domination. (James Hollis, Creating a Life, p. 13.)
Guilty! I have to admit to such magical thinking at times. The latest tangle with this has been with regards to publishing my SoFoBoMo books. The problem with such magical thinking, of attempts to convince ourselves that the world is chomping at the bit waiting for us to gift them with photos and words which will save the world, will change the destiny of all humankind. Needless to say, such delusional thinking is often followed by a crash. You’d think a person would learn from repeated cycles of this kind of thinking and retreat to safety into a real humble existence. Sigh … I must be a slow learner.