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This Jungian Life

Author: Deborah Stewart, Lisa Marchiano, Joseph Lee

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Eavesdrop on three Jungian analysts as they engage in lively, sometimes irreverent conversations about a wide range of topics. Join them for discussion of news events, family dynamics, personal issues and more as they share what it’s like to see the world through the depth psychological lens provided by CG Jung. Half of each episode is spent discussing a dream submitted by a listener. Lisa, Joseph and Deb went through their Jungian training together, becoming friends and developing working partnerships. Now they are engaged in a new creative venture with a spirit of adventure and hope you will join them.
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The hero’s journey has been the stuff of story from earliest times. Today’s popular heroes include Harry Potter, Frodo, Spiderman, Neo, and Luke Skywalker. They are all ordinary guys who suddenly receive the Call to Adventure, mythologist Joseph Campbell’s term for the beginning of the journey. The would-be hero first declines, then answers the call; he suffers tests and trials, succeeds with help from unexpected sources, and returns with the gifts of all he has learned. The hero’s journey is the human story--we are all called to be more, often in seemingly mundane ways. As we go to work, raise children, and experience setbacks, we are called to sacrifice personal interest and ego-driven desires for the sake of something greater. The hero’s journey is a metaphor for the inner adventure Jung described as individuation, ‘the treasure hard to attain’ and life’s true goal.    Dream The dream consisted of 3 segments. In the first, I was outdoors, looking up, observing a group of men, they were engaged in some project involving large, structural pieces of architecture e.g. old stone walls. One item was made of clay and included a large carving, I think it was of a face. The men had made a mistake in handling the clay, so that it appeared to have become moldy: white spots had appeared on it. I thought or heard a voice saying something like "they didn't appreciate that the clay is alive, it breathes, it absorbs and retains moisture." The men were trying to remedy the situation: they poured red wine on the clay, as if that would destroy the mold. In the second part of the dream, I was indoors with other women, in a small, bright jewelry shop or workshop. A young woman had brought a tiny, delicate watch that had broken. She also brought wonderful, intricate drawings of the watch and the repairs needed. With another woman, I began planning the repair. I was confident we could repair it, but my companion was fretful, fearing we wouldn't be able to. Her worries didn't seem to interfere with my confidence. I continued to explain two possible ways we could repair the watch. In the third part of the dream, I was neither clearly indoors nor outdoors, but in a large, bright space, seemingly boundless, maybe like a marquee or gazebo outdoors. A woman had given me a task: I was to write, beautifully, the list of guest names for a wedding. A man was nearby, I think he was somehow involved, too. He was a little effeminate. I was left pretty much alone, and the paper with the names was crumpled and stained.    References C.G. Jung. Memories, Dreams, Reflections (Amazon)  James Hollis. Mythologems (Amazon).  Joseph Campbell. The Hero with a Thousand Faces (Amazon)
Masks are the symbol of COVID life, and they have archetypal roots as old as humankind. We ward off evil microbial forces with bandanas, neck gaiters, patterned fabrics, and high filtration medical masks. Masks provide access to our shape-shifting potential, connect us to our instinctual depths, mediate our relationship to the spirits, and open a portal to the mythic realm of story and drama. Masks waft us into new identities: children become superheroes or face-painted animals; women apply make-up, men craft beards, and everyone wears sunglasses that shade us from more than sunlight. We also wear a social mask, persona, and present different aspects of ourselves to colleagues, Facebook friends, and family—but if we identify with the faces we present to the world we risk defining ourselves according to fixed and superficial attributes. Masks in all their forms affect the experience of wearer and viewers.   Dream I am staying in a large, gothic house in the countryside while some sort of calamity is occurring in the world. I think it is a weather event, as it is raining heavily outside. My adult daughter screams, summoning me to the foot of the imposing stairs, where she has seen a mouse scurrying. She is desperate that I catch it, and I do, holding it in my fist, against my bare chest. I know it is terribly diseased and that the best thing would be for me to kill it, so I simply crush it. To my horror, and disgust, foul liquid bursts out of the mouse. Now I have this horrible corpse to dispose of and I don’t want my daughter, or anyone else, to see it. I can feel the sticky liquid on my bare skin. I find myself outside in the pouring rain. The rain is soaking me and now I have a large teddy bear in my arms. The corpse of the mouse is embedded in the teddy bear. As I walk, the bear becomes sodden, heavy and cumbersome. I am looking for somewhere to dispose of it, but nowhere seems suitable. I wake feeling anxious.
When you’re down, and in trouble, and you need some loving care... You just call out my name, and you know wherever I am,  I’ll come running to see you again…you’ve got a friend.  Carole King song   The companion has a beloved place in our hearts. Famed modern-day teammates include Captain Kirk and Spock, Frodo and Samwise, Batman and Robin, and Sherlock Holmes and Watson. The companion serves and supports the hero, contributing quieter gifts of guidance, capability, and devotion. Every companion is an image of the inner Other, and is present whenever gifts of wisdom, care and guidance are received. Our bodies, instincts, and feelings recognize and respond to the companion: a night’s sleep and dreams ease anxiety, a quandary melts into resolution, a new idea shines in mind. The Companion is already and always there.    Dream I keep making this lucid dream, of bumping into a long-lost best friend of mine. We first happily greet each other, and discuss how long it's been since we last met. But quickly, I realize that I'm indeed dreaming. I try to explain that to him, and ask him for his contact information, such as a phone number, e-mail, or his social media account, to hopefully meet him in the real world... But he always seems either confused, or reluctant. He just stares at me, smirking, as I try to hurry up and get a way to contact him before the dream ends, but he never gives an appropriate answer, he either avoids the question, or simply walks away, as if he didn't truly want to regain contact with me.    References Edward C. Whitmont and Sylvia Brinton Perera. Portal to the Source (Amazon). Henri Corbin. Alone with the Alone (Amazon).
The root of create, “to bring something into being out of nothing,” echoes divine creation. Ideas arise from mysterious sources, yet creativity is such an intrinsically human function that Jung considered it one of five human instincts, together with hunger, sexuality, activity, and reflection (a function of consciousness). Positive circumstances foster creativity: the ability to engage imagination, seek novelty, hone competency, and pursue autonomous, intrinsically rewarding activities. Stress inhibits new possibilities, and rigid societies and personalities fear creators, as new ideas and images challenge the status quo. Creativity can also be quashed from within, and one’s internal cynic, doubter, and deflator often shows up disguised as reason. It takes confidence and courage to surmount uncertainty, obstacles, and potential disappointment. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said: “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” What wants to come into the world through you?   Dream I dreamt last night that my agent (and very good friend) had died, but while she was dead, she was still conscious! She was walking around and we were chatting, but she knew she was dead, too. Over what seemed like a few days she was decaying and there was a smell, but we were still in this one room, chatting. I remember feeling slightly scared, and would hold my breath around her. She knew she would have to be buried soon. And there was a sense of us getting ready for that. But the burial never happened. There was no goodbye or funeral - or perhaps I just woke up.   References Rollo May. The Courage to Create (Amazon). Linda Leonard. The Call to Create (Amazon). Marie Louise von Franz. Creation Myths (Amazon). Allan B. Chinen. Various books on fairytales (Amazon).   
The religious instinct is as basic as the need for food or shelter. Psyche seeks and selects a central, organizing life principle whether consciously or unconsciously chosen. Secular deities range from food, money, or even science, to the gods of addiction; false gods lie behind neuroses and pathology. Traditional religions and cosmologies offer connection to large, well-ordered frameworks of myth and meaning. Realizing one’s place in the context of larger realities has the potential to connect us to mystery and numinous experience; then we belong to something greater. For Jung the decisive question was whether a person was related to the infinite: “It seems as if it were only through the experience of a symbolic reality that man, vainly seeking his own ‘existence’ and making a philosophy out of it, can find his way back to a world in which he is no longer a stranger.”    Dream It is dusk and quickly becoming night. I am hidden from view, lying on my belly in a tunnel of some sort. I am looking out onto a clearing surrounded by trees. I see a small, fluffy, grey kitten--innocent, sweet. I want to climb out to hold the kitten and take care of it. Suddenly, a large, dark-brownish black bear lumbers in, crashing through the foliage; it doesn’t see me. I watch it, and am struck by how coarse the hair of his fur is and that the claws are ivory white but thick, strong and sharp. I stay hidden, watching. The bear moves away and as it does, turns into a wrinkled light grey elephant; it is small, but from my point of view it looks quietly significant as it treads by. I am still hidden from view and feel awestruck and numb watching all this. I look down; I appear to be lying on over-sized slate- green stepping stones--oblong, almost triangular. Then to my horror, the stones begin to slowly shift up and along the ground, undulating! I feel a mix of awe and fear when I realize that the stones are actually the scales of an enormous serpent/snake--and my reclining body is being carried along with it. I wake with the feeling that this dream is important to remember.   References Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death (Amazon).
Jung discovered the psyche’s dissociative nature through his Word Association Test. Subjects would delay or make nonsensical responses to ordinary words associated with troublesome personal memories or traumas. Dissociation, our autonomous psychic “circuit breaker,” exists on a spectrum from ”spacing out” to disorders that interfere with life functioning. Psychotherapy could be considered the practice of healing dissociations, as treatment entails bringing banished contents into consciousness with feeling and understanding. Fairy tales such as Sleeping Beauty frequently depict dissociation as enchantment, abduction, or dismemberment. Reconnection with consciousness is the happily-ever-after resolution, for dissociation takes psychic energy that should be available for life. Giving our inner exiles a seat at the table of consciousness is crucial to wholeness.    Dream  I find myself at the bottom of an archaic like pit or well about 5 meters deep. There is very nice warm light coming into the pit, sandy golden and amber colors.  recognize it as a snake pit but the space doesn't feel threatening. A large four-legged snake appears; at this moment I do feel fear but am also intrigued by this creature. I start climbing up a ladder to escape from the pit and the creature stands on its back legs to tug me down with its teeth. The creature is not violent but insistent. I make my way out of the pit that is bathed in warm light.   References:  John Bradshaw, Healing the Shame that Binds You (Amazon)  Bennett Braun, BASK model: scholarsbank.uoregon.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/
The transcendent function comes in all sizes, from “aha” moments to epiphanies. A new orientation to a dilemma arrives unthought, recognized, and right. Perhaps there is a moment where loneliness gives way to solitude, or heartbreak yields to a larger sense of self. Apprehension of a new attitude--sunlight breaking through clouds--has overcome the impasse, bringing freshness, spaciousness and possibility. Engaging the tension of an emotional struggle without giving in to premature, one-sided action can prepare the way for the unconscious to unite with consciousness. The transcendent function can also be sought through practicing active imagination or involvement in expressive arts, a practice Jung encouraged. He said that the transcendent function “is a way of attaining liberation by one’s own efforts and of finding the courage to be oneself.”    Dream I'm on black rocks, like volcanic lava black, and walking from the sea behind me towards the land. I'm with my husband. There's a gap in the rocks--he goes to the left and I walk to the right. There is a channel of water between us. The channel gradually widens and I realize it will be difficult for us to cross it but we keep walking and then the rocks start to climb uphill but in such a way that we will not be able to cross over to each other. I say to my husband that we should cross now. I suggest that it will be easier for me to cross and I have found what looks like the narrowest part of the channel but then look to my right, and he has taken a giant step over at a wider spot and has reached my side but can't hold on--his feet have reached the rocks and his hands are trying to hold on so he can climb up, but the rocks he catches in his hands are loose and start to come undone so he is going to fall backwards. But he somehow manages to hold on. But I am looking at him and then I see myself in the water beside him--I see my body fully clothed wearing black warm wintery clothes and I'm slowly sinking from the surface. My husband says to me (the me that is on the rocks standing looking at my husband and myself sinking), “I'll just get you first” and he dives under the water and grabs me and tries to pass me up to myself. I realize I'm quite heavy and it's awkward to heave my body up. Then I am no longer separated in two anymore and we go into a house and he goes for a shower and I realize I am wet and that I need to go for a shower. 
James Hollis, noted Jungian scholar, teacher and author, joined us to discuss resilience. His new book, Living Between Worlds: Finding Personal Resilience in Changing Times, will be available on Amazon in mid-June.   When life rhythms and habits are suspended or upended, we may find ourselves adrift. What supports us then? For most of history institutional religion, tradition, and tribal mythology unified communities and connected members to the transcendent. Today, however, discovering the capacity for creativity, wisdom and connection to a larger reality has become increasingly an individual endeavor. Hardship and its associates, anxiety, depression and desperation, can be the catalyst for turning from external authorities to the internal world. Our instincts, feelings and nightly dreams are accessible, autonomous and informative. They tell us what we don’t know about our values, issues, and actions—and they insist on re-accessing personal myth and meaning, for that is what moves us to an authentic journey. Real life wants to live in us and through us. 
Racial injustice takes one’s breath away. It reaches back to the psychic asphyxiations of the Middle Passage, slavery, and Jim Crow—cut-offs from home, family, freedom and justice. Racism persists in systemic inequities and ongoing instances of police violence. The death of George Floyd, handcuffed, pleading, and unable to breathe, has inspired a collective rising in protest against current brutality and historic inhumanity. Breath as essence, consciousness and soul gives voice to lamentation and outrage. We cry out for the clean air of fairness, because racism is utterly breathtaking. Dr. Fanny Brewster joins us for today’s important discussion.    References Books by Fanny Brewster, PhD are available on Amazon.      The Racial Complex: A Jungian Perspective on Culture and Race      Archetypal Grief      African Americans and Jungian Psychology: Leaving the Shadows
Many listeners have expressed interest in Jungian analytic training. We welcome those inquiries and outline the prerequisites, practicalities and processes which lead up to and constitute Jungian analytic training--a life path of ongoing growth, challenge and satisfaction. We encourage all who are interested in becoming a Jungian analyst to consult the major Jungian organizational and training resources below, and to research additional educational and Jungian institutes around the world. There are many routes to training as a Jungian analyst and we hope to help you find yours. References www.IAAP.org www.irsja.org www.cgjungphiladelphia.org
How can we understand the psychological wild fire of rioting? Jung, who lived through two world wars, understood that mass movements had the power to manifest archetypal energy. The urge to unleash destructive chaos is depicted in mythologies around the world. Early Norse warriors attained battle-crazed states as "berserkers," and Cu Chulainn, a mythological Irish warrior, killed both friends and foe. Eris, the Greek goddess of discord and strife, started the Trojan War, and Kali, a Hindu god whose name derives from suffer, hurt, startle and confuse, also incited war. Riots--contagious states of regressive possession--belong to this archetypal realm. Jung said “collective man threatens to stifle the individual man, on whose sense of responsibility everything valuable in mankind ultimately depends…the true leaders of mankind are always those who are capable of self-reflection.”   Dream I was in a forest next to a fortress wall. A little boy appeared with a cotton hood over his head that covered his face. The child was riding a white pony. I could see his blue eyes through slits in the hood. They looked sideways. I don't know if the child saw me, but he felt I was there because he clung to me. I hugged him and the pony with great love and tenderness. The child needed my love and protection. At that moment, a man in green clothes and armor approached me. Without being aggressive, he told me that I had to leave the child who was the king's son and had his own guard. The man kindly invited me to go with him. I was divided in my feelings. I felt great love for the child, but I also felt guilt that I was breaking some high rules I didn't understand. I followed the man, who was now dressed in a long red robe and looked like a royal nobleman. I was walking about 10 meters after him. We went around the fortress and took the streets of the city. We walked for a long time. He entered a building, I followed him at a distance. When I entered the building, I heard his voice from below, he was walking down the stone stairs. He told me to pass him a big black hook on a chain. I obeyed unquestioningly and handed him the hook. At that moment, for the first time, I doubted the man and his intentions. Horrified, I realized that, guided by my guilt, I was following a torturer who made his prey prepare their own torments. I realized that I had to do something right away and I regretted that I had not felt the threat before, when I could easily escape, because moving away after him, we were often in different places - for example, he had already entered the entrance, and I was still walking down the street. All I had to do was rush back up the stairs before entering his dungeon. I woke up in horror.   References: Donald Kalsched. The Inner World of Trauma: Archetypal Defenses of the Personal Spirit. (Amazon) Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Women Who Run with the Wolves (Amazon).  
Oppressed, repressed and regressed, the forced restrictions of the Covid Complex have us in its grip. We may see friends and family more often than ever, but only on a screen. Work, school, home, weekdays, weekends—time and tasks slide around like Jello on a hot plate. Loss of structure, variety, movement and touch are destabilizing. Confined to tight physical and emotional spaces, we may collapse into ourselves or lash out at loved ones. We hear contradictory messages on the news and go outside only if masked and defended. The Covid Complex is both personal and collective—it affects each of us differently and it affects us all. Most of us have been forced inward physically and psychologically; perhaps this time is also an opportunity to rediscover inner resources and experience depth of being.   Dream I am viewing media footage filmed from a helicopter looking down onto the forward section of a fast moving 60 foot solo sailed yacht that is heading out to sea. The yacht is hard to the wind, heeled over, plunging through a 1.5 meter sea, with ocean spray sweeping over the bow. The sky is overcast, the sea grey, the wind is blowing over 25 knots and the land is out of sight and astern. A man (solo sailor) of approximately 70 years, dressed in yellow wet weather gear, is steadily making his way aft from the bow of the yacht toward the stern. He is moving in a crouch using a hand for support in an experienced and careful manner. As he moves he is also tending to the headsail that is temporarily impaired by the life lines; he is caring in his attention to the sail. A news commentator is wishing the sailor well as he embarks on a long offshore passage. I am yearning that this will one day be me embarking on such a passage and I am empathizing with the harmony that the sailor is demonstrating toward the yacht by smoothing the sail and his experienced movements in challenging conditions. Suddenly the sailor looks up toward the stern and breaks into a run, toward the stern. However, his foot catches on a fixed piece of rigging and he trips, falling forward, hitting his head hard on the deck. The news commentator is saying that this is the last time the sailor was seen or heard from and is now missing at sea. I am thinking how could it be the last time he was seen as there were people recording the footage and flying the helicopter. I can’t understand how he could be missing. I wake up feeling shaken and bewildered.
Jung was particularly interested in the second half of life, perhaps because after his own midlife crisis he found himself so surprisingly generative. We tend to spend the first half of life oriented to familial values and cultural norms for success.    Education, work, partnering and child rearing are some of the mile markers for speed and distance on the road of life—until midlife strikes. We may then discover that worldly successes feel flat, or blame discontent on bad breaks.    Although dramatic lifestyle changes at midlife are the stuff of story, malaise at the midpoint is psyche’s signal to attend to unlived inner life. It is time for meaningful encounter between ego and unconscious, worldly rewards and true fulfillment, obligation and freedom. Midlife crisis is a call to deepened feeling and the unique meaning of your life.       Dream   I am walking with a group of my "clients" (developmentally disabled people). I have to work to keep the group together as some straggle here and there. I'm responsible for their well being so onward we go. I look on the ground/sidewalk and see a small round brown object which looks like a tree nut. I pick it up and upon closer inspection realize that it is of animal nature rather than plant - and alive. As I hold it in the palm of my hand, it morphs into a tiny creature, tinier than my pinky finger. I can't just leave it there so I slip it into my pocket and keep walking, trying to keep my rag-tag group together.    After a while I look into my pocket to check on it and it has grown some and looks a bit like a fetal kitten. It looks unwell and I think it might not live. We continue to walk. The third time I look into my pocket, the creature has turned into a baby bird with black, red, and white feathers. The bird is in tremendous suffering with its stomach cut open and a look of horror, pain and grief on it's face. I feel these emotions too and think, "Oh no! It's going to die.” I keep it in my pocket and try to soothe it, but still we keep on walking.    Toward the end of our escapade, I look into my pocket a fourth time. This time the bird is fully grown and leaps out, startling me. Now the bird is pure white, luminous with three round feathers on slim stalks atop its head. Among its body feathers are multicolored zinnia flowers sprouting along with the feathers. It hops into a landscape planter along the sidewalk and establishes itself amid the vegetation.    I back away in shock, completely amazed. I pull out my cell phone to try to take a picture of it but can't because a survey keeps popping up on the screen of my phone, preventing me from using the camera. I curse and search my bag for another phone and finally do manage to snap a pic, but I still don't know what to make of it. 
The Pentagon recently released a film of a UFO made by Navy pilots. Although such credible documentation is new, UFO sightings go back to ancient times and surged after World War II.    Interstellar travel then seized the collective imagination, and the ongoing abundance of books, television shows and films signals the emergence of a new mythology. In his treatise “Flying Saucers,” Jung took a phenomenological stance, acknowledging experiences of sightings without concretizing them as physical or dismissing them as fictional.    Alchemists projected psyche onto matter at a time when its transformational properties inspired reverence and awe. Today, no matter what other truths are out there, UFOs reach “beyond the realm of earthly organizations and powers into the heavens, into interstellar space, where the rulers of human fate, the gods, once had their abode in the planets…”     Dream I’m in a Catholic Church that is crumbling down with my mother and a priest. At the bottom of the building there are some wooden boxes and there is a big, brown female marsupial there. I am told by the priest to kill her, but I don’t want to, so instead I hit her repeatedly on the head with a book.    At some point she reacts and moves. She does not attack me but opens her mouth like a vagina, and before leaving she tells me: At least you won’t have kids that make you older and make you fat. She departs and I feel somehow relieved to have some definition about the topic of having children or not.     References Jung, C.G. Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies(Amazon). Harper, Patrick. Daimonic Reality: A Field Guide to the Otherworld (Amazon).
We have moved our lives online. But can we experience authentic human connection through virtual technology? Can we date, mourn, or have psychoanalysis on a screen? If screens offer some surprising intimacies—close-ups of wedding vows and eulogies—they also deprive us of embodied participation. Staying at home has made us newly eager to socialize—separately. Dating means conversation, not cuddling. We enter the homes of colleagues, clients, and even newscasters, but despite this implicit amity we’re not guests. Psychoanalysts refer to “the analytic third,” physicists propound unified field theory, and Jung had these words carved over his door: Called or not called, God will be there.  There is an autonomous spirit and independent intelligence that lives in and between us and even onscreen. It can hold us in the mystery of meaningful connection that is not contingent on physical presence.   Dream I was a magician’s apprentice. The magician was old and dying, and was in a hurry to pass on his legacy to me. He showed me a wooden box with jewelry. The box was placed on the lid of a deep well to the underworld. He opened the box and gave me two black diamonds, and told me he had locked a dangerous demon inside the well by casting a spell with the diamonds. If the diamonds were ever to fall inside the well the demon would get back its power and escape the well. It was my job now to make sure no one threw the diamonds into the well. The magician then turned into an old man (who I think was my grandfather). He was suffering from dementia and kept trying to put one of the diamonds in the well, which he succeeded with when I turned my back on him for a moment. The demons came out--one was a big blue lobster. They were free but had lost their evil powers, since I still had one of the diamonds in my hand. The lobster-demon demanded I use my power to lift the spell from the diamond, which I did. But nothing happened. The demons were still powerless. I realized that the demons had been in the well for so long that they had forgot how to be evil, and now they were loving creatures that just wanted to be free.
Astrology is a 4000-year-old discipline rooted in the mystery of man’s relationship to the universe. It is an archetypal frame for human experience that influenced Jung, depicts our connection to the heavens, and anticipates future trends. We are now beginning an approximately 38-year Pluto-Saturn cycle—and Covid-19 has appeared at its outset. Pluto is associated with the underworld; Saturn is a stern taskmaster and enforcer of boundaries. The virus is forcing us to face fear and death—and also consider what egoistic attitudes may need to die. We can relate to these dark times with despair or as opportunity to create a healthier relationship with self, community and earth. The Age of Aquarius inspires the possibility of greater consciousness, for which Jung strove in his life and work. We can attend to planetary influences that point the way ahead. Dream I am on or in the ocean. Not sure how I got there or where I am going -- also strangely not in something. From my left a huge ship appears. In the "window" of the ship there is an elephant and a giraffe next to each other. They "smile" at me as they pass me as if to say goodbye and there the ship disappears on the horizon. Then I wake up. I am now left with the image of Noah's Ark but can't make sense of the symbolism. References Christina Becker’s website: www.cjbecker.com. Classes with Christina Becker: Jungianmasterclasses.thinkific.com. Cosmos & Psyche: Intimation of a New World View by Richard Tarnas. Jung’s Studies in Astrology: Prophecy, Magic & the Qualities of Time by Liz Greene.
The dictionary defines authority as the power to “influence or command thought, opinion or behavior.” Authority’s Latin roots are master, leader, author—thus it lives next to its tough cousin, power. Families, organizations, and governing bodies influence and command us, whether slightly or mightily. Authority has legitimacy, from a traffic officer’s directives to a mentor’s wisdom. An authority may reward desired behavior or provide expert advice. We can rebel against authority, be coerced into compliance, or fall into identification with a leader. Ultimately, we must claim our own authority in determining values and making decisions. Jung says, “Life calls us forth to independence, and anyone who does not heed this call because of childish laziness or timidity is threatened with neurosis. And once this has broken out, it becomes an increasingly valid reason for running away from life and remaining forever in the morally poisonous atmosphere of infancy.” Dream There is a viral outbreak. I'm in a car pulling out into the street. I see a lot of police cars parked to monitor traffic. I'm pulled over by the police and taken to a medical facility for testing. The police officer gets tested first by a shot in the arm and then I'm taken downstairs for a "cheaper, less reliable test for the virus." This seems stupid and vindictive. My perspective shifts to a news flash vignette showing how amidst the pandemic, young men have regressed into grotesque testicular forms who engage in tribal rituals of dysfunctional, impractical sex, chanting "me to me" or "us to us" like in the sex scene in the film Requiem for a Dream. Very dark and disturbing. The global birth rate is plummeting. From elsewhere on the planet a "pure as the driven snow" baby girl is born and mankind is redeemed. References: Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind (Amazon).
The alchemical term nigredo means black or blackening, and is associated with decomposition and putrefaction. As a psychological state, nigredo is “the great suffering and grief” which the detached forces of nature inflict on the soul. We realize in sorrow that what we thought were truths were illusory. Individuals may have taken pride in their virtues, talents or good fortune; societies may have touted their cultural superiority, military prowess, or wealth. When we are stripped of easy beliefs, we have no defense against the desolation of nigredo. But as surely as a seed releases its urge to life underground, blackness is also a place of incubation. Jung states, “Everything psychic is pregnant with the future.” Our task is “to be at home in the darkness of suffering and there find germs of light and recovery” from which new life will come.   Dream I was arriving to a commotion in a beautiful open-space garden beside the university building where I graduated. As I was approaching the crowd, I wondered who it was that everyone were so excited about. I was carrying a sort of notebook and was wearing a sort of girly school outfit that indicated that I was a student again. I was surprised to see a slender gay man who was topless and with a floral headpiece dancing in a circular motion or like he was just so free and flowing and everyone was hoping he would notice them. He was dancing backed up by 3-4 women with floral crowns and white flow-y gowns. He was just so fluid and beautiful. Then he looked at me. And I knew he liked me. When his dance was finished and everybody had left, he came to me and said hi. And then, we kissed. It was a deep and profound kiss; I have never been kissed that way. With our tongues doing the talking, we communicated to each other. He told me, 'Why are you so sad?' I said I was afraid. Then I woke seeing my sleeping baby beside me.   Reference Edinger, Edward. Anatomy of the Psyche: Alchemical Symbolism in Psychotherapy (Amazon).
In the Chinese language, the two characters representing crisis are danger and opportunity. Can that possibly be true of these days of pandemic crisis, with physical, economic, and psychological destabilization? Voices of experience and wisdom speak to us about finding potential in desperate situations. Victor Frankl, imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp, discovered he had the power to choose his attitude toward brutal circumstances. Erich Fromm felt that isolation and fear could lead either to experiencing or forfeiting personal freedom. Carl Jung valued the human capacity for consciousness: “As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.” We can be heartened in hard times by those who have gone before, turned inward, and found treasure.  Dream I’m walking into my high school dressed in school uniform for the first time in years. I walk through the cafeteria and people are all looking at me and whispering. I sit at some seats by myself. I see some classmates I recognize and ask why they’re all still here when we left high school 5 years ago. They tell me it’s because of the coronavirus outbreak. I ask, “Why would it be the coronavirus outbreak when that has only just started?” They don’t give me a proper answer. I am not aware of why I am here either but I have just rejoined after some time away whereas the others have been here for a long time. References (Books available on Amazon): Victor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning Erich Fromm, Escape from Freedom
The archetype of origins is in resurgence since the advent of ancestry-mapping programs. What are the psychological and symbolic meanings of ancestry? Identity is often strongly linked to ancestry in its ethnic and cultural aspects, and as the carrier of personal traits. Genealogy gives rise to meaning-making narratives such as: I get my talent for storytelling from my Irish forebears. Jung knew that family complexes are handed down when he said, “Psychologically, the central point of a human personality is the place where the ancestors are reincarnated.” Genograms, another mapping technique, allow us to trace those intellectual and emotional family patterns. Every individual rests on a historical foundation of family, tribe, clan, and nation—and, at levels below consciousness, we are also affected by our common roots in the primeval past and the mysterious central fire of life. In order to differentiate from this multi-layered context, it can help to know it.   Dream I was in a quaint English village. Next to the village ran a river, and on the other side of this river were fields. A traditional Cotswold stone bridge joined both sides of this river. Suddenly, I seemed to be competing in some sort of local race. I was competing in this race against 2 friends/girls (unknown to me). I remember pushing myself past one of the girls to place first in this race. I remember feeling a little self-conscious of the fact that I had not let this friend of mine win, and hoped that she didn't think I was being a "dick". The race centered and finished around the bridge joining both sides of the river. As I stood on this bridge and looked down at the river, I noticed a dog (possibly a Springer Spaniel) was drowning. I felt a strong urge to save this dog, and felt sad that it was in such distress. As I looked on in horror I noticed some netting was beginning to cover the surface of the river (a bit like when you cover a pond or swimming pool). I knew at that point the dog was going to die, as it could no longer come up for air. I could hear sirens in the distance, which seemed to indicate both the possibility of help and danger in the form of police sirens (something/someone coming to reprimand me). It was forbidden to jump in the river but I did it anyway. I pulled the dog out of the river, at which point I noticed it had morphed into a Seal. I began to care for this Seal, and in doing so, it again morphed in to a small, podgy young boy. I held the young boy in my arms, and I told myself, "I'd do it all again despite the potential danger". I was relieved I had saved the dog - seal - young boy. There was a sense of heroic accomplishment. References: Monica McGoldrick: source of multiple books on genograms (Amazon).
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Comments (10)

Rezvan

This topic is very amazing

Jun 22nd
Reply

Orsolya Tóth

At 39.40 they mention a book about transgenerational imprints. I couldn't understand the author, could someone help me?

Jun 15th
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Moira M

Totally disagree with Deb's take on alcoholism. Wow. Just wow.

Feb 3rd
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Moira M

I love this podcast. It's so good listening to three intelligent and compassionate people. Thank you so much.

Jan 13th
Reply (1)

Ursula Bronicki

hello, I'm having issues playing episode #86; it seems to have cut off half way. Now I get a message saying it cant be played due to a broken source (unknown error)? the other episodes play fine...any recommendations?

Nov 22nd
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Love Life

one assumption made that being a slob is low functioning. is it?

Apr 22nd
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Daniel Taylor

This episode reminded me of the concept that God, as an architype, is possibly being replaced with other types or images. For example, the idea that sacredness as being applied to many nonreligious ideas, like food or politics or even morality, like do no harm is, maybe, a reflection of our secular society and the idea that God, whether consious or unconscious, is an important part of being human. By that I mean, that the idea of God or God himself is a need or a manifestation of our need for a God.

Mar 11th
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Daniel Taylor

ok, the only issue I have with this discussion, is that maybe it's possible that the only power a person may have is to cut off ones family of origin. If a parent or any individual in any relationship refuses to modify their perceptually abusive behavior the person repetitively abused may have no other choice, but to remove themselves from that behavior.

Mar 5th
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Vanessa Hannah Bright, LAc, LP

What an incredible podcast, thank you for taking the time to produce it. It is immensely inspiring and enriching.

Aug 27th
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