Book Review of Aglow by Will Forest

Cover of Will Forest's latest book, Aglow.

Cover of Will Forest’s latest book, Aglow.

I’ve just finished reading Will Forest’s second naturist novel, Aglow. Having enjoyed his first naturist novel, Coed Naked Philosophy, I was anxious to begin reading with high expectations. I wasn’t disappointed. I was, however, surprised.

As a person who views life through a worldview that includes Jungian psychology, the shift from a theme of college life to a blend of Meso-American mythology and contemporary Mexico and Brazil, was something that added value to a tale of naturist exploration. My readers here know I often write about the masculine and the feminine psyche. Will Forest travels back in time through artefacts that have stories to reveal which speak with both a masculine and a feminine voice. Combined, those voices talk of wholeness and a universal oneness.

Will Forest’s writing, as in his first book, shows care and attention to historical accuracy and does so in a manner that avoids having the novel sound too academic. The story emerges with both playfulness and seriousness being present in both the past and present faces of the novel. And in the end, one is left wanting to hear more of the story that involves the protagonists, Marisol and Ze.

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More Than Just Selling Books

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Sunrise coming in Red Deer

It’s early morning while I am in Red Deer, only two hours before I drive north for another book signing event at the Sherwood Park Chapters store.

Enjoying a cool morning sunrise in Red Deer.

Enjoying a cool morning sunrise in Red Deer.

Yesterday in Edmonton I sold ten books, a significant number for a Friday afternoon much to the surprise of the staff at the Southpoint Chapters store. What surprised me was the number of visitors who wanted to talk. As people told me their stories, whether they bought books or not, I realised that none of that would have happened had I not written and published my books. These people told me of their stories of abuse, some while tears rolled down their cheeks. I could tell that their standing in a store, letting the stories and tears come out was something that made the whole journey worth it for me.

I have just put the coffee on to brew and am waiting for my first cup of the day while enjoying the view of the sky’s light show. In another hour my grandson will be up and wanting to play for a bit before I make the drive. It looks like it will be a good day in another Chapters store, listening to more stories.

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Reminders That There is More

A foggy morning on the prairies before the sun burns off the moisture.

A foggy morning on the prairies before the sun burns off the moisture.

It was foggy when we woke up this morning, a result of too much rain for too many weeks. This is typically dry prairie with about seven inches of rain up to this point in the year. So far we are somewhere around twenty inches of rain with some disastrous results for some crops that require less moisture and more heat.

But this isn’t about the weather, but about how we often find ourselves in our own seasons of fog. It seems that after a period of clarity and awareness, we get visited by ghostly shadows which remind us that we are far from being fully aware of very much at all. All I have to do is judge how I respond to the retreat of sunshine behind clouds and then being embraced by the clammy-feeling fog. There is a sensation that there are things out there that surround me that I have absolutely no knowledge of, dark and damp things, stuff from the personal and collective unconscious.

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Daring Full and Transparent Honesty in Relationship

The years have allowed relationship to be playful.

The years have allowed relationship to be playful.

This couple, Melvin and Sandy, are friends of mine in the cyberworld, friends for several years. I look forward to the day when we get together. Like my wife and I, this couple has a long history together, one that has worked to allow them to discover themselves as individuals within an intimate relationship, and to rediscover the “other” fully. What is learned about the other, because of daring to risk being authentic, includes both darkness and light.

Daring to be playful, trusting that respect for each other is never compromised.

Daring to be playful, trusting that respect for each other is never compromised.

The shadows beneath the surface hide most of who we are, even from ourselves. As we become self-aware, a process that requires others, we are better able to see the others as who they really are. Unfortunately, with the projections withdrawn which allow us to see others as they are, we often find ourselves deciding that this “significant” other doesn’t fit well with our own newly discovered self. The result is typically divorce or keeping the relationship together with repressed anger, psychological barriers, and physical distance (no touching, separate bedrooms, etc.). However, for some like this couple, the exposed warts, scars and bruises both physical and psychological, that predate their union, as well as having grown out of unconscious reactions out of fear and anger, serve to cement the union because of honesty.

Some of us are “lucky” according to the majority who are jealous of what appears to be an evident happy union. Yes, we are lucky that we have dared honesty, dared being totally vulnerable to each other, and dared to hold with awe, the other in our hearts and lives.

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Celebrating Togetherness Authentically

Peeling away the layers to find the authentic self.

Peeling away the layers to find the authentic self.

I spoke the last day about censorship and how we censor ourselves in order to protect ourselves, or at least that is what we believe for the most part regardless of whether the perceived threats are real or a construct arising out of our fear.

Naturists and nudists know only too well the fear that holds one a prisoner to clothing. We each take a long journey of self-discovery in search of “self,” a heroic journey that is described by Joseph Campbell.

Authenticity in relationships. Nothing is hidden from the other.

Authenticity in relationships. Nothing is hidden from the other.

It is only after conquering the initial fear of self-exposure that we begin a different journey that leads us to accept the truths of the body, our individual body. We then take that truth and take another risk, that of presenting our authentic self to others. We risk others seeing our naked body, others who risk us seeing them as well. It is a difficult individual journey that rewards the individual with a sense of relief that comes with letting go of fear.

Many, if not most of us, find ourselves caught into shared journeys – we fall in love with another person. Not fully aware of what has just happened, we simply call it love. We don’t realise that most of what we see in the other person, who for the most part is a stranger in so many ways, especially when it is love at first sight, is based on projections from within the self, projections buried deep beneath the level of consciousness. Over time the projections get withdrawn as we bump into the reality of the other’s differences. They don’t seem to want to stay within the bubble we have constructed, the pedestals we have placed them. It’s a rough awakening that often has us engage in conflict with the other person, blaming them for not being who we fell in love with anymore. And thus begins another journey of shared awakening if we dare to enter that journey.

That shared heroic journey leads us to lay ourselves psychologically and physically bare, everything exposed, totally vulnerable. It is only in this way that we can finally come to see the fullness of the other, the roots behind the initial falling in love. The, we can, like the couple above, joyfully celebrate togetherness with no other agenda than being together.

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A Return to Consciousness and Sunshine

Tending the hummingbird feeder in our garden.

Tending the hummingbird feeder in our garden.

A different photo that almost hides my face yet is blatant in exposing the fact that I am a man. I hesitated for quite a while before accepting the photo for use here. I was excited about the return of the sun and taking care of the things in our yard that have been neglected. I even cut the lawn though it wasn’t too long just in case of another rainstorm deciding to make an appearance. A low-level of standing water in the northeast corner of our garden made mowing more difficult than normal but I would have to wait for several more days with total sunshine before it had any chance of drying up. Of course, the lawn was mowed while I was skyclad.

Now, I have to wonder why I chose to use this photo rather than a cropped one, or even why the photo was taken. Of course, for the most part, the photo was taken on impulse to become part of my skyclad journal which like most journals, is filled with the trivia of daily living. The photos are an integral part of that journal. It was only after, a few hours later, that the idea for bringing the photo here made its appearance into my consciousness. Of course, I asked myself “why?” and that becomes the raison d’etre of this blog post.

In yesterday’s interview I talked about the first conscious choice I made to be nude at the age of 17. I had been sexually abused by my grandfather seven months prior to this point in time. For me, stripping off the clothing and taking my place in the sunshine to read poetry from a book his wife, my grandmother gave to me. was an act of protest. It was a declaration that I was taking control of my body and my life. I refused to become a sexual plaything for others. I was daring the world, the universe. I was taking control. Of course, it wasn’t as simple as that, for I was still at home and under the sway of parents and the parental archetypes that worked within me through complexes that had developed in my earliest years. Today, I still find myself “caving in” to those complexes, though not as much as in the past. And usually, I am able to look at my behaviours and emotional surges to understand why I do what I do.

The photo is a reminder that I am my own authority. Though I don’t usually post genital images, it is valid to do so to remind myself about who is really in charge. Being in charge doesn’t mean always posting full-frontal images. To always do so can be a sign that the shadow is in charge, and not the conscious ego. It’s not so easy to differentiate and it is important to make note of that fact consciously.

With that said, it’s time to return to the sunshine.

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Skyclad and Healing

After the interview which involved explaining the word skyclad.

After the interview which involved explaining the word skyclad.

This afternoon, a reporter from the local newspaper came to interview about my “Broken Road” series of books. Unlike other interviews I’ve given over the past few years which dealt with our walking the Camino de Santiago, and our experiences in China, or even the interview for a radio program about the books, the reporter didn’t seem to have his questions in order. For the most part, it felt as if he was struggling to ask anything. Rather, he just sort of hinted at directions and I took those opportunities to talk about the series, about how one deals with trauma, and how we move forward based on both conscious and unconscious dimensions.

He did ask one clear question, “What did I mean when using the word “skyclad” in the series. I sensed that he was stuck on the word though it was clearly explained in the book. I knew he had gone over the books and guessed that he was struggling with the idea that naturism was a strategy as a healing tool. I gave him an answer that spoke of the need for honesty in breaking the silence around trauma, sexual trauma. There is a need to expose all of the sores to allow the air to heal. As well, I let him know that it fit with the approach the ancients used to present themselves to the spiritual centre, or god. To approach a deity, one had to be cleansed allowing themselves to be vulnerable and open to whatever it is that would become a holy moment.

The interview ended and I found myself returning to a clothes free state to think about the interview. I will see the results in Monday’s newspaper.

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Another Very Rainy Day on the Prairies

Lamppost in the rain

Lamppost in the rain

This is the scene this morning, a sharp contrast from yesterday’s warm and sunny conditions. It is raining and quite cool, a good day to stay inside where it is warmer and dry. Before too long into the day, I returned to my indoor meditation corner as it wasn’t kind outdoors for nude meditation.  Then it was the perfect time to engage in continuing the writing of the second novel until my late morning client appeared for another round of therapy.

After lunch my wife and I began the process of preparing some sauerkraut from scratch. Before that task was done, another task appeared, that of dealing with water seepage along a basement wall that wouldn’t create problems, but still needed to be attended to for our own peace of mind. Too much rain and the ground was saturated. Over a period of ten hours we had received about seventy millimetres of rain – just over 2 1/2 inches. There wasn’t time to return to writing with our dealing with weather conditions and our sauerkraut project. Now in in the early evening, we have finished the first part of making sauerkraut. Now all we have to do is wait for it to cure so that it can be canned for future use, something that likely will happen in the next two weeks.

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Return to the Garden of Home

Return to the garden

Return to the garden at home

I am back home after an absence of nine days with five of them being spent in company of naturists. Four days were spent in Helios, a naturist site near Edmonton after a few nights in nearby Camrose where we attended a wedding. The weather was quite active bouncing between sun and rain accompanied by thunder and lightning. Another pair of days saw us at another wedding before we headed off to a Prairie Suns event, an impromptu affair as two new couples wanted to see what this Saskatchewan group was like.

Prairie Suns is a non-landed club though most of the events do happen in the same place, an acreage less than two hours from our home. We spent the day playing bocce and bunnock, two different kinds of throwing games that saw newcomers mix with eight of the regular attendees which we seem to have become in the eyes of the hosts who own the acreage. We were fortunate to end up with warm temperatures and sunny skies for most of the afternoon though the morning was quite chilly in windy and overcast conditions. Ample use of the sauna helped ensure that being nude didn’t have to be uncomfortable.

And now, we are home. Hopefully I will become more regular in my posting in the next several weeks.

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Quietly Shifting From Demons To Plain Strange

Mowing the lawn skyclad.

Mowing the lawn skyclad.

We are busy with preparing for a ten-day excursion away from home which will involve two weddings book-ending a four day stay at Helios Naturist Club near Edmonton, Alberta which is about six-hours drive towing our small camping trailer.  Of course, one of the things that need taking care of is the mowing of our lawns, the neighbour’s seen in the house in the background, at least the part behind the white garage top left, and the chain link fence area along the back lane. I also mowed my next-door neighbour’s back yard as well. The only time I had to wear anything was when mowing our front lawn. The town is almost empty and there is no fear of being seen. And yes, you see right, our back fence is not what anyone would call a privacy fence.

But enough of the small talk. As I listen in on the conversation of other naturists from around the world via social median, I am seeing something that contradicts the words spoken. In spite of the collective belief that naturism is under attack by the society at large, the evidence points to something else, a quiet no-comment most of the time. Of course there are incidents of negative response to being seen nude. But so many times, that negative response doesn’t appear. Perhaps there is a deep, almost unconscious acceptance of the validity to live as one chooses as long as it doesn’t interfere in the lives of others in a significant manner. For the most part because of media, the naked body has become just another choice that isn’t much different from dressing in various fashions. The key is that the naked body is becoming less threatening.

The threats are coming from elsewhere, real and imagined. Politics, economics, global warming, political protests, religious unrest, etc. – there is an overload of change staring all of us in the face. Will we be able to keep our jobs, our homes, even our country? Media blows every event into crisis status regardless of the event. An example would be the response to a speech given recently that had very strong echoes of a speech given eight years earlier. Not a good thing, but certainly nothing that warrants the pundits and talking heads of media to basically lose it. Rather than simply point the fact out to the public, a decision was made to treat the issue as though it was equal to the shot that started World War I. Nothing is said about the “heroes” of modern day, our professional athletes who basically say the same few sentences week after week, sport after sport, as if there was nothing else worth saying. For these “heroes” the media and the public don’t hear the echoes, but rather treat the inane statements as folk wisdom. Who says that there is any common sense in the world.

The world of naturism exists with less defensiveness as it wanders the back lanes, the silent spaces in nature, and within their clubs and homes. As long as naturists don’t decide to become the perverts and sexual predators that have been the irrational beliefs by the opponents of body freedom, society will continue to move very, very quietly into unconscious acceptance.

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