‘Abundant Delicious’, new book out now.

The cover of Abundant Delicious, a book by Andy White

This book is about the peculiarities and issues of crossing life’s thresholds. It’s about why and how we sabotage ourselves. Its about how we get stuck. It’s about how we live out destinies that are not our own. It’s about the process of self-discovery, the encounter with the Unconscious and the difficult journey that follows.

To do so, this book retells the ancient story of Sophocles’ Oedipus and shows, more than the spurious use to which it was put by Freud, that this intricate tale contains a whole string of symbolic events, developments and encounters from which we can gain perspective on contradiction, paradox and appreciate some of our ambivalence to what we want most in life.

Each chapter of the unfolding story contains dream like encounters, challenges and treasures that you will recognise from your own experience. Like a grail legend, or heroic quest, it uses myth as metaphor, to bring to the creative imagination what Sophocles finally addresses as…’the Secret and the Mystery’.


‘A Tao of the Soul’, says Satish Kumar. Editor-in-chief of ‘Resurgence and Ecologist’. Author of ‘You are therefor I Am’ and ‘No Destination’.

Andy White is an internationally recognised writer, teacher, and artist with twenty five years of clinical experience as a psychotherapist in private practice. contact; info@andywhitemosaics.co.uk

Books are signed and cost £12 plus p+p.

The Soul’s Revenge.

James Hillman’s book, ‘A Terrible Love of War’, begins with the story of General Patton surveying the aftermath of his battle field, saying, ‘God, I love it so. I love it more than my life.’

We need to put down our prejudices says Hillman, accept the normalcy of war, try to make sense of our love of it and the (seeming) need to wage war for its own sake.

er, except that psychopathic, ‘lead me, follow me, or get out of my way’ Patton, doesn’t speak for me and, in any case, it was winning that Patton was so high on. What so exulted him was not War itself but Victory.

‘I love the smell of napalm in the morning. Smells like victory’ Kilgore in Apocalypse Now.

Hillman goes on to make the case that War is….

‘a primordial component of being that fathers the very structure of existence.’ J Hillman.

He quotes Emmanuel Kant,

‘The state of peace among men living side by side is not the natural state, the natural state is one of war.’

which we join, according to Hillman, as a result of our failure to imagine into it sufficiently, the blind march of folly that subdues our reason through..

a working of the levers of duty, following the hierachy of command..’

Yet this feels insufficient. It relegates the cause of war to a martial equivalent of the Doctrine of Privatio Boni, that evil is the absence of good. War is then the absence or failure of individuation, failing to think for oneself, the failure to imagine consequences, failure to resist possession by the collective archetypal force of War itself, a

‘timeless theme of human existence.’ ibid

But is it?

I have been to war. I know the thrill of surviving the day, the power of immersing oneself into a collective identity with a common pointy-ended purpose. I  have lived the racial slurs upon the enemy and bolstered my terror with superior malice. Warfare will indeed focus your mind and leave you little uncertainty about who you are or what needs to happen next. Notions of pillage are additionally tempting as are the tacit agreement that the rule of law and all things sacred are temporarily suspended.

You are the law and do as you please. Veeery tempting.

And then there’s Revenge…

But we need to go further than inquiring into ‘the causes’ of war in order to comprehend it, otherwise we are simply in a debate not unlike arguing over which of a bunch of schoolboys lighting matches set ablaze to a pile of wood. Nor is it sufficient to talk about scarcity of resources. The fact that the Chinese were harvesting millet for a thousand years before the advent of war seems to rule out the theft of resources as a primary motive.

If a peasant population is suffering for lack of basic resources, the main cause of that scarcity is unequal distribution.” B. Ferguson.

It is something that begins with centralised power.

”…pursuit of practical self-interest by those who actually make the decision, leaders often favor war because war favors leaders.’ ibid

Is war normal then, or have we simply normalised it, threaded it into the fabric of our being so that it looks like the original cloth?

In the past, a variety of anthropological studies have been keen to emphasise the warlike nature of certain contemporary ‘primitive’ tribes such as the Yanomami and held these up as insights into our ancient past. More recently it has been shown that many of these warring tribes in all their painted ferocity were tightly linked to European presence and even caused by the incursion of missionaries, anthropologists, slavers, miners and the ‘tertiary needs’ associated with the flood of materials and tools into ‘primitive’ culture.

‘It looks as if, all around the world, what has been called primitive or indigenous warfare was generally transformed, frequently intensified, and sometimes precipitated by Western contact.’ ibid

The Talmud says, ‘We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are”. Our  attribution of inherent warlikeness to the contemporary indiginous cultures of today or to our own forebears is a form of collective projection which maintains the notion that we are sophisticated,evolved and superior by comparison, whilst, at one and the same time, commiting heinous crimes against them now justified by our generous wish to subjugate others for their own good.

So, contemporary ethnographic ‘evidence’ for our inherant warlikeness is highly suspect let alone the assumption that it is an adequate guage for our own antiquity or for the mould of those deeper layers of the Unconscious. It is an assumption rooted in the Dickensian philosophy of ”Phylogeny  recapitulating Ontology” (the evolution of the species has the same stages as the development of the individual), a romantic veiw of our own paradisial past alongside the notion of ‘savages’ being  like children whom we have to help down from the trees.

Or, they are comparable to neurotics, if you like your Freud.

But to suggest as an alternative that war is archetypal is a bold and mighty leap.

For starters the fossil records simply don’t support it. Archeological evidence from around the world shows that warfare has only existed in the last 8,000 years. http://www.naturalhistorymag.com/htmlsite/0703/0703_feature.html

The raiding party/hunting pack experience, so ancient we share it with apes and whales, is probably more the kind of archetype in operation if archetypes are to be bought into the discussion, but we still need to be asking how the impulse for an opportunistic raid of the neighbours mango patch gets translated into trillion dollar budgets and cruise missiles..

Eight thousand years is not a long time, yet what has emerged in the Collective Psyche in that twinkling of an eye has the power to stamp out life on earth. So we urgently need to know what we’re dealing with.

If it is not enough to talk about archetypes, or population growth, or the rise of iron weapons how can we account for it?

We could be really radicle and say that war with one’s neighbour is a way of keeping one’s own population under control, a chaotic international situation to divert attention from domestic shenanigins. But even this implies intent. If war is to the collective what a psychotic episode is to the individual there is not much use in talking about intent or conspiracy theories since what is happening is entirely unconscious.

How would it be, instead of looking for the symptoms or preconditions for war, we look at war as a symptom itself, a symptom of something so vast and hideous we can’t see it for what it is….,

‘a wound so common… that hardly anyone knows there is a problem.” R. Johnson

War always seems to be the outcome of real life events, out there in the world. Ferdinand gets shot in Sarajevo and triggers the First World War. Hitler invades Poland and triggers the next…. It all looks so obvious, yet leaders are assasinated on a regular basis without it leading to armed conflict and countries have been invading one another for centuries without it necessarily leading to massive international aggression.

Incidently, Archeduke Ferdinand’s death was as random as you like. The assassins positioned themselves along the route that his open topped carriage was supposed to take, armed with pistols and grenades. But he never showed up. He had gotten lost. So they all retired to a local bar for a drink, like you do when your assassination goes tits up. All of a sudden, who should draw up at the door of the bar all lost and asking the way? Yep. Ferdie himself.

So they killed him.

Which, history tells us, lead to the deaths of 38 million people…

I don’t think so.

I believe that the lynch pin of War’s emergence as a significant, commandeering factor of modern life, is largely down to a favourite pet theory we have about ourselves, a pet theory supported by Darwin, Freud, Neumann, and much of  twentieth century Anthropology, the implicit notion that we White Folks are at the pinnacle of something.

The development of social hierarchies and some being more equal than others requires justification as well as enforcement. That justification is Specialness, more often than not, God-given specialness.

The Special then have to coerse the Un-special into agreeing with a state of affairs clearly not within their interests. How do they do this? By creating a diversion.

Don’t focus on your current abject misery. Don’t live Now, where the sting of the lash is still raising a welt on your back and the gnawing growl of hunger claws at your guts. Think of tomorrow and all the joys of your future liberation in whatever afterlife you have planned or is decreed by your, er, creed.

This is not the real thing. So put up and shut up.  Focus on your future salvation while we fleece you today. This is the principle means by which people are collectively kept in line. So religion has to be hijacked by the Special in order to justify unfairness and inequality. You’ll get yours later. Your reward will be in heaven…

The Special depend on their lordship over the Un-special by luring them out of Now because that  is where freedom lies. We can’t have the Un-special playing outside the rules. It would be like trying to herd cats. Promises of future salvation do the trick. The Un-special then put their shoulders to the wheel in the vain and passive hope for a brighter tomorrow whilst the Special, having been caught up in the gyre of their own PR, are also glassy eyed with the promise of future glory… and ownership. The young Nazi in ‘Cabaret’ sings..

”The sun on the meadow is summery warm, the stag in the forest runs free, but gather together to greet the storm… Tomorrow belongs to me.” from ‘Cabaret’

Unfortunately, this arrangement is a tad flawed for both parties..

“If our religion is based on salvation, our chief emotions will be fear and trembling.” – Carl Jung

Moreover, living in the future soon becomes a form of mass neurosis rooted in insecurity, fuelled by the fear and trembling, enervated by the lack of presence intrinsic to Being-Here-Now….

”Awakening as a future event has no meaning because Awakening  is the realisation of Presence.” E. Tolle.

Life is not something passively lived out by us ants-worrying-about-tomorrow. Life has its own agenda. It wants to be lived, Now and to the Full. Eternity  after all…

”is in love with the clocks of time. W. Blake

It doesn’t like being hived off to some glittery hypothetical possiblity.

”Unlived life does not sit idly on the shelf, it will turn round and bite you..” M.L. von Franz.

And what a bite! For there is nothing more designed to sharpen your present attention than a mob armed with machetes storming up the street, bombs falling from the skies or the crack and thump of being shot at. People often describe intense living, even religious experiences during War which is what it is for, to bring people into the aliveness of Now through a window if it will not be let in the door.

The gods are immanent as well as transcendent. If we spurn ‘Now’, then it will behave like an aggreived personality and express itself through channels we might not be too happy about.

”The gods have become diseases; Zeus no longer  rules Olympus but rather the solar plexus, and produces curious specimens for the doctor’s consulting room, or disorders the brains of politicians and journalists who unwittingly let loose psychic epidemics on the world.” CG. Jung.

We do not wage war, War wages us. Like a jilted lover spewing spite and vengeance, disenfranchised Moment, the fresh intoxicating delight of Now which we’re all so keen to abandon, floods back into our lives like an avenging harpie, a possessive and blood stained Kali, visiting poetic justice on our diffidence to the crucible in which life really occurs.

‘Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.’ ibid

So the archetype involved is actually Eternity, Soul itself grown dark and vindictive…

”the Self as Fiend.” P Ferruci

In her rightful place she is the Aqua Sapientia, the water of life. Deposed in favour of her sister, Tomorrow, (who never comes), she becomes the quest for a glorious death and the corner of a foreign field that is forever (state your nation here).

The Chicken Prince.

In my local town there is a putt-putt course. At the entrance a bold sign exclaims, ‘This game is played at your own risk!”

What are they afraid is going to happen? Might some senior citizen misjudge the strength of his swing and fatally club someone? Perhaps he could fall into the churning blades of Windmill or impale himself upon the plastic spires of Castle? Perhaps he might be swallowed by Snake or rudely thrown to the thundering tracks at Bude Station.

One of the hallmarks of Narcissistic Culture is our capacity to live with split realities. The strange torsion of your mind required to make the putt-putt sign meaningful entails a keeping apart, a split, between child and adult worlds that is really crying out for a unifying symbol to help us with the apparent contradiction of adults playing a child’s game.

Our world is full of such split realities. Collectively we fight for peace and oppress in the name of liberation. George Orwell called it ‘doublethink’, the capacity to hold opposing realities, believe in them both and, most importantly, not have your world disturbed by the contradiction.

Such splits are typical of both the Borderline Personality Disorder and the Narcissistic Personality Disorder. They tend to be more obvious with the former which often makes the borderline person appear more ‘crazy’ than the dapper narcissist who rarely looses his cool, but in fact his veneer of calm is only permitted by the split in him remaining unconscious. The wounding that caused it is earlier, more damaging and requires stronger defences.. The borderline is actually a bit tougher and can spend at least some time agonising over their failings.

This is because the borderline has one foot across the developmental threshold responsible for symbol formation and the emergent transcendant function that can deal with splits like self/other, inner/outer, conscious/unconscious. The narcissist however, has fewer tools to bridge opposites. His wounding is prior to the developmental stage of a negotiated reality with the world, before the possible transformation of ‘between’.

The alchemists say that, ‘to those who have the symbol the passage is easy’. This is because the healing symbol turns contradiction into paradox and makes us better able to live with ourselves.

‘How can you live with desiring desirelessness?’ someone asked a buddhist sage. ‘It just doesn’t bother me,’ replied the master.

In the West we achieve this capacity to live ‘au dessus de la mellee’ with much greater difficulty. We devalue relatedness and the feast of alternative perspectives it brings. We also devalue ‘Mother’. Freud never uses the pronoun, not once in all his books on childhood. But it is upon mother that the capacity for symbol formation depends.

‘The main threat to the modern infant is that he is the child of a dissatisfied mother.” S de Bouvoir.

If the child is un-contained by mother’s justified yet grevious distraction, then the emerging facets of himself cannot cohere or reorganise themselves into more evolved forms. Time will pass to no avail. There will be no mediation between self and other, no dialogue between I and me and no baseline for behaviour. The world will be ‘ready-at hand’ to quote Hiedeggar, stock to be used and abused rather than having the world be’ present-to-hand’, which is characterised by care and that which is between.

What to do?

An old Sufi story will help us.

The Chicken Prince was so called because the Prince of the Realm would insist on being naked all the time and pecking the ground like a chicken. He could not be persuded to join in even one of the courtly occasions in the proper attire, nor heed a single nicety observed by the good people of that place. The king was in despair. All his wise men had failed him.

Then, one day, an old herder from the hills came to the gate. He knocked saying that in the woods he’d heard a voice telling him to come to the help of the people and so he was lead before the Prince who was in the courtyard pecking away. The old man threw off all his robes and began to peck at the ground alongside the Prince who was a bit surprised…

but a bit relieved.

They pecked and pecked.

Then the old man began to hum as he pecked. Everything seemed to be okay. The Prince was a bit taken aback but it also soothed and so he tried it and discovered to his amazement that he could peck and hum together. They spent the whole afternoon humming and pecking.

Next day, after much humming and pecking, the old man began to make music like water over stones while he pecked. He quietly gurgled and span his sounds as he pecked. The Prince was a bit startled but he was also comforted by the old man’s undinting pecks and so he was encouraged and tried it for himself . It was delicious. He began to sing and peck and got so excited that before he knew it, it was time for bed.

Next day the Chicken Prince found the old man under one of the tables in the feasting hall muttering words to himself as he pecked and he kept certain things that seemed precious to him close by. He pecked and coddled his treasures and made words. The Prince was amazed but with a whoop he scampered off and found a treasure of his own making words all the way.

All day they pecked and coddled their treasures and made words.

Next day the old man had words and pants. The Prince was deeply impressed. ‘Why are you wearing pants?’ asked the boy, making his words.

‘I can be a chicken and wear pants’, said the old man. It seemed to be true. So he tried it and his pants were wonderful. So were his cool shoes. He found that even knives and forks were no impediment to his being able to express his inner chicken whenever he wanted. When he was in the mood…

which was less these days…

and so the Prince grew up to be wise and just…

and the old herder went back to his hills and wondered about stuff.

So what had actually happened? The kindly herder had done what he did best, he gently herded the disparate fragments of the Prince’s psyche into the same space so that they could get to know one another. He gave the boy the chance of finding his transcendent function, his treasure, by bearing the tension between opposing realities.

”The transcendant function is not something one can do oneself, it comes from experiencing the conflict of opposites.’ C G Jung.

which then,

”facilitates transition from one attitude to another.” ibid

If there is a cultural pattern in early development, a collective trend in response to the schism between mother and infant inevitable in misogynistic society, one in which children are bound to feel they have to supress themselves to live and that being made to feel bad about oneself is for your own good, then we will become collectively split, people of the lie, ever in retreat from the horror that to follow one’s own destiny is a form of self annihilation. The threshold cannot be crossed.

”Madness is not simply a propensity to participate in alternate realities but a loss of  power to move freely among them.” J Nelson.

You can come across any number of examples of this in every day life. I was out walking my dog in the lane. A much older man overtakes at high speed, ‘power walking’, all sweat and gasping. A mile further on he’s ground to a halt. As I pass by he staggers over, grasps my arm and begins a monologue about potholes in the road where he comes from and how the roads here are like silk. The glory of the warm lane actually beneath his feet is apparently being saved for later, for when he in that traffic jam on the potholes. Morning or evening he’s a stranger to now. And the common thread of his day is that he’s never here.

A bit further on and my neighbour storms out of his cottage, flapping the sleeves of his jumper in frustration at the gorgeous indian summer sky. ‘You just don’t know what to do!” he yelled. As if the sun lacked the etiquette of observing proper form for the season.

On the way to the shop I bump into a mate with a long face. He’s certain his future is blighted despite the fact that he has just qualified in a new vocation and has been given a work placement. It doesn’t add up. Though this feeling of dependence and being unfed is congruent with his life script. His wife joins in the wail of inevitable poverty and miserlyness. It didn’t seem to occur to them that life is people and that they were therefore talking about each other, taking pythonesque comfort from the shared agreement and mutual head nodding of just how awful they really are.

Further along an aquaintance asks what I’ve been up to. I tell him I’ve been walking the dog and in the woods. ‘Ah the woods’, he muses wistfully. ” I love the woods but I’ve never got a good enough reason to go there,” .. all imparted jovial and calm, yet how it must tear at him not to have sufficient cause to do what he loves. Upon what precedent must such a double bind be nested? What can be inferred about the quality of life itself from such a trap? Does he feel the same about sex, friendship, a vocation? And if so what kind of fractious, driven, inner hell can it be when the richness of life is not a sufficient reason to live it?



Soul Loss, Soul Retrieval.

When I was an ardent young fascist and subjugating already impoverished people on their own ancestral lands, a Commanding Officer from HQ came to give us macho fighting lads a pep talk in the bush.

In those days and in that part of the world most people smoked but you could only buy two brands of cigarettes. Madison was for your man’s man, ‘strong and full of flavour’, Kingston was for women and Madison smokers trying to give up.

The tobacco company noticed the trend and decided to capitalise on the gender variable so they launched fags-for-girls, Berkeley.

The C.O. arrives, men at attention, eyes front. He invites us to stand easy and to smoke if we wish, producing a pink packet of Berkeley, removing the wrapper with all the curiosity of a novel occasion, oblivious to the faux pas unfolding. He lights one, coughs a bit and then delivers his spiel for as long as it takes the cigarette to burn down to clenched fingers behind his back.

It wasn’t just the social gaff, not just that we Madison guys would rather gouge out our eyes with a rusty spoon than be seen smoking Berkeley. It was his clumsy attempt at manipulation, the pretence of the man trying to be one of the lads which he assumed everyone was too stupid to see. But more than this, way more, what he actually did, despite his intention, was to suck the life and vitality out of the very group he was ostensibly there to enrich.

As he spoke, words slithering, tone masticating, hands ever hidden, I could feel something essential being drained out of me. It seemed that for the duration of this brief and otherwise unmemorable speech, all the soul consuming influences of my young life suddenly condensed about his quietly malevolent person; my deceiptful father, the toxic pedagogues of my hateful schooling, the cold calculation of imperial culture that sends its youth to their deaths for profit. By the time his Berkeley had burned down to nothing, so too, had I.

Whilst the C.O. was not playing the traditional narcissistic gambit of dumping his inferiority on us, something he reserved for the contemptuous enemy, to be in his presence was still an ennervating experience given his need to fill himself up with other people’s energy.

It took me decades to make sense of the experience…

… his covert agenda was to feed from the buoyant mood that already existed amongst the men to quell his own unacknowledged fears and insecurities.

This garnering to oneself of another’s qualities or energies is the flipside of narcissistic ‘gaslighting’. Gaslighting is when a person disowns their own behaviour or motivation by calling any attempt to point to it ‘projection’. It’s not me it’s you. What the C.O. did was the opposite, he filled up the gnawing gaps in himself with our morale.

The fact that we can be intruded on and depleted both by the Unconscious and by one another is what gives rise to the universal use of protective amulets against the ‘evil eye’. We can only understand these apotropaic objects as superstition if we fail to take into consideration the psychic fact that this kind of inter-personal robbery is a real thing.

When C. G. Jung was in Kenya he asked the headman of the village he was visiting if the people there had dreams. ‘No,’ replied the elderly African, ‘the District Commissioner has our dreams for us these days.”

We are uncomfortable with the permeability of the Psyche because it suggests us humans are a great deal less discrete from one another than we’d prefer to imagine. Our feelings of superiority depend on the conviction that consciousness is master of its own house. And yet somehow the collective imagination is still repleat with the mythologems of blood sucking vampires, brain eating zombies and witches that eat children, archetypal containers for the reality of the fact that people can get inside you and gobble you up.

You might experience it as finding it difficult to think clearly in another’s presence,  knowing what to do or how to respond, or simply that you feel drained and exhausted by some apparently innocuous exchange.

The chronic form of this is the ‘negative introject’, an undigested and internalised complex of unacknowledged attitudes from significant others that got inside you as a child and made its home there, like a parasite, but one which also serves as a nucleus of identity to which a person can become attached and with which they identify..

”as though it were something precious.” F. Perls.

…despite the fact that a nasty  introject can spend a life time cutting ego consciousness to pieces and gobbling down its confidence/wellbeing/autonomy from within..

This devouring aspect, can lead to a very real sense of loss of soul, as though one’s very essence had been stolen.

”If you ask a group of people, “How many of you feel you’ve lost part of your soul?” it’s typical that everybody raises their hand.” M. Harner.

To the extent that Narcissism is endemic in our society, so too is there this sense of loss of soul, and the need to go find lost or denied aspects of oneself.

In early development the ‘special’ child can’t realise at first that their elevated status is a trade off, compensation for being robbed of a unique destiny that invariably leads away from family and so..

”never gets a chance to develop his own personality, because he is so busy holding down the foreign bodies he has swallowed whole.” ibid

‘Close’ relations can sometimes be no more than that the child’s own path has simply been hobbled by co-dependant parents whose sense of self includes the attributes and qualities of their children, and thereby smothers the child’s unfolding destiny.

But sometimes its not historical. You just meet someone who has this practiced ability to drain the life out of you, your new best friend with a knack for ferreting out and spoonfeeding your deepest needs whilst plundering your inner grain store.

What to do?

There’s any amount of advice out there. My suggestion is that what’s required is a primal response, something ‘primitive’.The intellect is useless in this territory. The lost part of Soul has to be grabbed back in active imagination, acknowledged through ritual, tended in symbolic ways such that the malaise which draws our attention to that missing core, to its value, also mobilises our quest for Wholeness.

For years after I had bought myself out of the military I had a repeating dream  of truncated men, men with limbs missing, ripped torsos, agonizingly incomplete. Throughout these scenes the recurring image of a deep, dark, menacing pool. No amount of interpretation seemed to hit the mark.

I decided on a radicle course of action. I knew of such a pool in a dark wood, so I went there one winter’s evening with the intention of spending the night, to see what happened. It was freezing. I walked around the pond endlessly trying to keep warm. A spontaneous phantasy arose in my mind that my ‘treasure’ lay at the bottom and that it was guarded by a troll like the one from the story of Billy Goat Gruff. It felt important and I paid attention to it. He had a lot to say for himself and so had I. We argued back and forth most of the night. Eventually he said, ‘well, if you want it back you have to come and get it.’

Dawn. There were patchy sheets of ice on the pond. I stripped off and waded in.

On the way back home, having ran the four miles back to the train station to get warm, I realised I had slept fitfully at some point in the night, curled up in the roots of a great Oak to take shelter from the wind. While I slept I had dreamt.

”Paying the Unconscious tribute more or less guarentees its co-operation.” C. G. Jung

I was visiting a ‘half-way house’ for damaged and handicapped men. There was a great party going on. Their wits had returned and they had all grown dense and luxurious beards. Then they gathered around the pond and pulled out a wealth of fish. A grand old man appeared on a white horse and magically drained away the dark water. I went over to him, seeming to recognise him. I shouted in delight, ‘I am your grandson!’ He looked at me with infinitely compassionate and twinkling blue eyes, reached down his hand to me and said,’ Of course you are.’




Narcissism, Compulsion and the Soul.

There were once two psychiatrists. The one invites the other for dinner. The guest arrives, asks to use the bathroom and disappears for an hour. Eventually he emerges with a knowing look.

”You have a serious obsessive compulsion,’ he says to his collegue, ”there are 542 bars of soap in your bathroom. I know, I counted every last one.”

Of course psychological conditions are bound to overlap but Narcissism and OCD seem to have a special relationship.


I was watching a Ted Talk, Elizabeth Gilbert, author of ‘ Eat, Pray, Love’. She made the point that people who became very successful had a tendency to go mad and top themselves because they confuse themselves with the ‘Genius Loci’ who served as their muse.

The solution, she said, is to remember that ‘genius’, is its own thing. Not-me.

Very Interesting, but what is your point?

The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside, as fate. That is to say, when the individual remains undivided and does not become conscious of his inner opposite, the world must perforce act out the conflict and be torn into opposing halves. ~Carl Jung.

Narcissism notoriously lives out only one corner of (an idealised) life. Both the dark Brother, the less than salubrious aspects of himself, and the unlived potential, The Self, have to be projected…

and then come banging at the castle gates again and again.

And because the contents projected are always the same…

the banging is also the same…

and so interpersonal scenarios are endlessly repeated..

as are ritualised patterns of behaviour behind closed doors.

We live in a time of relative spiritual malaise. We also live in a time of marked obsessiveness and compulsive behaviour.

Could there be a connection?

Its curious that the definition and symptoms listed by DSM5 for a diagnosis of OCD (which includes praying!) sound distinctly like the ritual contents of religious ceremony. These include,

”repetitive behaviours, according to rules that must be rigidly applied.”DSM5

like a church service….

Precisely. Sacramental acts are also, ‘aimed at preventing or reducing distress or preventing some dread event.’

What’s the connection with Narcissism?

Waaal, Narcissism is particularily prone to OCD not just because the dark brother is eternally projected, but because the ego is identified with the Self. This means that there is no real spiritual life.

I don’t get it.

Spiritual life necessitates a relationship with God..


but if you are identified with God then there is no relationship. Instead of having a religion, the religion has you…

By the scruff…

And marches its children off to war….

or down to the supermarket for a dozen bottles of bleach and a pack of toothbrushes so you can purify the pelmets of your appartment at 4 in the morning…

or out in the rain to buy cigarretes while every bone in your body is screaming, ‘DON’T DO IT!!’.

or muttering shameful babble to appease the fates whilst not realising that the person next to you on the bus is lookin’ at you strangely…

or washing endlessly in lieu of a genuine cleansing.

”It is not a matter of indifference if one calls something a ‘mania’ or a ‘god’. To serve a mania is detestable and undignified. But to serve a god is full of meaning and promise.” CG Jung

Narcissism won’t share, has no story, nothing to be a part off…

because there is no relatedness or participation in that which transcends it.

And for the want of partness in the greater whole we have compulsive patterning instead.

Like a stuck gramaphone record doing the same thing over and over. Round and round. Instead of meaningful sacrament we have chaotic excrement.

Instead of being drawn we are driven.

The fantasy that we are the captains of our own ships beckons the raven’s claw.

”Whoever sets himself up as judge of truth and knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the Gods.” A Einstein.

For want of having a story to belong in we are caught eternally on the same page.

And more than that, for want of the Principle of Relatedness that gifts us with both belonging and the internal flexibility of a conversation between I and me, we are robbed not just of meaningful context but of our own humanity..

which is perhaps why the DSM5 definition of OCD uses the language of automation, describing the phenomenon as ‘the brain’s junk mail.” Though it significantly acknowledges that OCD is responsible for, ”communication errors among different parts of the brain.” Ie. there’s a problem with internal dialogue.


That without the capacity for self-reflection we are driven along like leaves in the wind.

The legacy of Western Civilisation is effectively the deification of consciousness. Having cast out the divine feminine, the principle that mediates between Logos and ego, the two are bound to get confused…

like when you don’t have a soap dish and so you leave the soap in the bath and it gets all mushy and your mum yells at you?

Exactly, ego gets ‘god-almighty’, which is all very well for a bit…

until the mush begins..

and soon starts behaving as though there were no limits and as if nothing mattered save itself.

The psyche responds with a big fat neurosis to bring about some sense of proportion in lieu of actual awareness. Instead of the cleansing renewal he was hoping for the bath room hero finds himself compulsively feeling about the teensy yet glorified space into which he’s soaped himself.

…pretty sure he’s in there somewhere.

On Being Enviously Attacked.

I dreamt I was fighting my brother. Back and forth we went. Evetually I pushed him back and said, ‘Dave, do you know why we’re fighting?’

He shook his head.

‘It’s because of all the cool stuff you have,” and I indicated the lavishly furnished place. Wood panelled walls, expensive carpets, fine art…

He looked puzzled. ‘I thought it was yours…’

We both thought the other got the goodies but actually they just weren’t there to begin with. We thought, oh, the other must have it, to keep alive the hope that the goody could actually be a real thing…

but it wasn’t…

which might come our way one day…

but it didn’t.

When mothering is diminished in value and in availability, siblings fight.

This is a rule.

We would rather kill each other rather than admit that what we were fighting over wasn’t available.

Which is all very well  except that it means being eternally consumed with envy.

You have to keep refloating the hope that one day the goody may become yours, perhaps by some mighty effort. Or at least, let you fuel the easier angry fantasy that some rival predatory suckling is secretly hoarding it all for himself.

We think of our inner world’s as being quite discrete and yet the context for my dream echoes back through the myth and legends of Western Culture. Romulus and Remus, Esau and Jacob, Cain and Abel, Gilgamesh and Enkidu.  All these stories have as their context the Divine Feminine being killed off by Her consort.

When a divine aspect of the whole is missing, every generation is bound to re-enect the consequences of it’s loss one way and another.

”What you cannot remember is condemned to be repeated….” Santayana

Kill the dark brother! For centuries the children of Single System systems have dealt with the divine split between Yahweh and Sophia/Wisdom by splitting themselves into good and bad just as we do when our personal parents become irreconcilable.

Its so deep in us that psychological theories are developed suggesting that such splitting is innate and that the resulting paranoia is just part of growing up.

”The ‘paranoid-schizoid position’ refers to a constellation of anxieties, defences and internal and external object relations that are characteristic of the earliest months of an infant’s life.” M Klien.

So we blame baby so as not to call culture into question..

But if there’s no divine faminine (typo left) to preside over the sanctification of birth and motherhood how can baby be anything but paranoid and split…?.

trying to make the best of it….

Where’s my promised land?

This is not what it said on the broshure..

The feeling that there is something awry, something that makes it all just a little bit too scary to go off and do my own thing means, maybe, I’ll just settle for being special instead…

…whilst being secretly consumed with envy for everything we now imagine to be in the sole possession of some greedy, predatory other; imbued with gnawing hunger and riteous indignation.

Good breast/bad breast are redacted from good Jeruselm/bad Babylon, a split in Humanity 5,000 years old, engendered by God’s need for a subordinate partner…

…and not simply because we are that way inkliened.

The Sacred Marriage.

Jung and Assagioli spent an afternoon at Bollingen arguing about the nature of the Self. It got quite heated because they were in some disagreement, Jung arguing for a totality of the Psyche, Assagioli arguing for Contentless-ness and No-thing-ness.

You could say these very different perspectives were like yin and yang but that doesn’t quite cut it. You could invoke the story of the four blind mullahs all trying to describe an elephant from its trunk, foot, ear and tail respectively. Of course, they say different things, though its all the same creature.

But that isn’t right either. What Jung and Assagioli were doing was wrestling with the cut and shut legacy of Single System systems to our collective spirituality which mangled together spirit and soul such that we tend to use the terms interchangeably despite their great difference.

If the early church was to have the unity required to fend off persecution, it needed to pitch salvation as something that could only be attained through Itself. To this end people could not be having their own experience or finding anything ‘within’. So a great many of the spontaneous metaphors which sprang up to express ‘spirit’, the divine spark which transcends mediation by cultural organs, like those contained in gnostic texts at the time, were denounced as heretical.

‘The Divine Spark is not subject to the Law’, said second century Gnostic Valentinus.

Emperor Constantine was outraged. He not only outlawed Valentinian ideas. He made it a mandatory and summary death sentance to own his writings. And yet Valentinus was very nearly made bishop of Rome within a mere hundred years of Christ’s death so his interpretation of those events must at least have been popular.

And so they were, except the idea that Wisdom /Sophia had slipped a divine seed into Humanity via her gardener, Yahweh, without him noticing, through which Eternity-as-Ground could be glimpsed, and more, this side of death and contrition…. all this was bound to undermine allegiances to The Corporation.

At its inception, the Church conflated these two very different aspects of spiritual life, so that people would stop inquiring once they had arrived at Fearing-the-Lord and dutifully pay their tithes on time. ‘Spirit’ was allocated only to God and ‘soul’ became something you could only save in the fullness of time via the appointed means of culturally defined convention..

or die.

In the main we plebs have heartily embraced the sensible option and not just because we don’t like branding irons or having our nails pulled out. The prospect of keeping your nose clean for a future place in Paradise is an easier ride than finding your own way through thorny undergrowth which has a ‘de-integrating’ effect on the personality, a kind of stripping away or stripping apart that may be tougher than whatever the Inquisition has in its bag of tricks.

German born buddhist master, Anagarika Govinder describes his first encounter with Nothing-ness..

”I felt like a meteor drawn onto the orbit of a bigger celestial body _ until it dawned upon me that once I allowed myself to ‘fall’ without reserve, the impact would be my inevitable end. Suddenly a terror siezed me, the terror that this body and this mind would not be mine anymore, the terror of losing my identity for good: the indescribable, inexpressible fear of emptiness…. to fall into the nameless Void!” Lama Govinder

Govinder recalls that he ‘struggled tenaciously’ against this experience by getting up and frantically drawing a self portrait,..

”in order to assure myself of my own reality..” ibid

So we cast a blind eye to the churches embargo on our experience of spirit because of its de-integrating effect and go along with the mish mash of treating spirit and soul as though they were the same thing.

Unfortunately this conflation has had the effect of arresting our collective spiritual development because it discourages the spontaneous joy in spirit which is already redeemed, already One, something here and now, something not subject to God as-we-know-him.

What this means is that the experience of spirit or pneuma as Valentinus called it has to be had outside the auspices of church. With the God above god, Sophia.

which annoyed the church to the point of banishing him forever-and-ever-and- ever.


and killing his mates.

So the Hierosgamos, the Sacred Marriage, had to go underground. The symbolism that represents the relationship between Spirit and Psyche could not be explored without treading on ecclesiastical toes and so it was cast on the dung heap as mere..

” conjugal productions of their fancied aeons” Bishop Iranaeus.

Valentinus described three different types of human experience. The first, and most numerous, were ‘Hylic’, the kind of person that just lets themselves live, that feels the psyche is whatever they know of it, who live in their appetites and fears.

The second he called, Psychic, people who become aware of the Unconscious as an objective fact that has to be reckoned with, that can give meaning and purpose beyond the satisfaction of personal desires.

What nearly got him martyred was his assertion that there was yet another stage after this, the ‘Pneumatic’, variously called Emptiness, Sunyata, the Void, which, with the greatest irony, was then left to the East to elucidate after the church had finally wiped out everyone who could attest to what was in fact the essence of Christ’s message.

And so the Hierosgamos got downgraded to being wedded to the Architect, rather than the coniunctio of Spirit and Soul that it was meant to be, with the ego sitting a couple of rows back from the main show quietly trying to keep from being overwhelmed by events.

On Being God.

Roberto Assagioli, progenitor of Psychosynthesis, tells the story of a patient in the psychiatric wing where he worked in Ancona, who’d been admitted to hospital for the determined conviction that he was God. Apart from this he was entirely  well behaved, so much so that he had been entrusted with the keys to the medicine cabinet.

‘His only lapse in behaviour was the occasional appropriation of sugar to give pleasure to some of the older inmates.” R. Assagioli.

Assagioli makes the observation that the man’s problem was not pathological as such but constituted a confusion of levels, confusion between..

”the metaphysical and the empirical levels of reality, in religious terms, between God and the soul.” ibid

Thankfully the resulting inflation can be quite mundane…

I was playing my cigarbox guitar in the barn. It wouldn’t do what I wanted it to. It should be playing more easily. I was struggling with the music, feeling dissatisfied and frustrated with my instrument..

and I got a sore finger…

Then I realised I had become ‘better’ than my situation.. I was playing God and my morning was not coming up to scratch.

I got annoyed at my whining…..

and wondered just how many folk there were priviledged to be playing in their barn, if they had one, first thing on a Friday morning. People who’d never thought to play or who didn’t have the means. People without a barn, some private space, to get away from it all. Suddenly it was a glorious morning simply by being re-connecting to my situation, to the richness of the day, to the gratitude of being able to take time out, creating the time to create…

and my morning improved.

because I could tell myself off… and not be God.

The proper relationship between ego and Self has plagued Western Civilisation since its inception with a vast array of unfortunate and often mortal consequences..

”If an individual identifies with the [Self], a positive or negative inflation results. Positive inflation comes very near to a more or less conscious megalomania; negative inflation is felt as an annihilation of the ego. The two conditions may alternate.” C. G. Jung.

You tend to notice positive inflation more easily because its narcissistic, in your face and at the head of some cause..or army.  Negative inflation is less easy to spot but just as problematic in that ego and Self are still not in right relation.

for instance..

A man posts a facebook meme of himself playing the dulcimer. All well and good but he starts out with a rambling apology about technical hitches which of course the veiwer at their laptop has not in fact had to endure, though we are indeed now being put upon by this lengthy piece of unwarrented groveling.

So, then he plays the piece and it is truly amazing but when he’s done he shrugs and says, ‘that’s all I’ve got….’ enviously spoiling his performance.

and of course you want to rush up to him and take him in your arms and weep on his shoulder saying, ‘don’t be so silly dahling, you were wonderful, wonderful..’

”Paradoxically, overwhelming desire to please turns us into a walking power principle, by pleasing others we are better able to manipulate them, albeit unconsciously.” M. Woodman.

The heaping of reassurance on top of praise would be doubly insufficient because it is precisely human warmth and affection that erodes the defences of the Eternally Unworthy. So appreciation and gratitude cannot be allowed in.

though it is what he wants most….

… because that would be to acknowledge that he had some worth which immediately challenges the dominant paradigm…

So he’s as wooden headed and unavailable as his boasting brother. And way more numerous. Armies of Ever so ‘Umble.

Collectively, the ego-Self paradox expresses itself in our culture as Christology, the debate about Jesus relationship with ‘the Father’, which seems a bit technical until you consider that there’s something sufficiently significant in the issue for people to kill one another over it in Uncountable Heaps through the Ages.

When the Council of Nicaea met in 325 AD, to agree on the books that you could read without being killed for it, they actually spent most of their time arguing about the relationship of the Self and the ego. Gnostic Arius said that if the son was begotten of the father he came from nothing and only after a while, so… he can’t be Eternal. Orthodox Nicholas of Myra said they were One and the Same and punched Arius in the head to prove it.

At the Synod of Tyre, ten years later, Arius was exonerated and no longer going to be killed if we find you out on a dark night, but only because Constantius II was about to take the Roman throne and liked him. After Constantius died, suddenly, Arius was again anathematised, cursed with looks of death and the waving of pointy sticks at the Council of Constantinople in 381 AD, despite the fact that he’d meantime expired in a pool of his own diarrhoea…

under suspicious and bloody circumstances.

poisoned with something that caused him to pass his own spleen…

behind the shambles in the collonade..

Socrates Scholasticus, a bitter rival of Arius who just happened to be strolling by at the time with stylus and clay tablet poised to record his terrible demise, claimed it was an act of God, which of course didn’t mean that he hadn’t been a part of said Divine Plan.

In Single System systems, some confusion arises in the ego’s relationship with the Self, giving rise to murderous Paranoid Anxiety.

Some, because they think they are the right hand of God..

Others, who just want to Help and Are Sorry for any Inconvenience…

Unfortunately, Arius’ veiw that the ego is derivative and subordinate to the Self did not prevail. It was a missed opportunity for ego differentiation. Total identification between the Father and the Son was decreed the order of the day, codified in the Nicene Creed and emperor Constantine, whose forbears were only too used to identifying with the Gods, made saying otherwise hazardous to your health.

And so emerged a regressed Homo Contritiens, a species of humanity characterised by being eternally repentant whilst regretfully hoovering up everyone else’s stuff and then, apologetically and sheepishly, bombing detractors in the name of God to dislodge the eroneous belief that we do anything but come in peace.

”All the wars in this world are not fought over money or material things. They are all fought over belief, more specifically, the primacy of one man’s belief over another man’s.” Golding in Lucky Man.

If you lose you are a martyr to the cause. If you win you are doing God’s will. What could possibly go wrong?

I was trying to locate an old Commando aquaintance of mine and found a gravestone inscribed, ”killed in an ambush.” Its not the same as ‘killed in action’ is it? It implies he was somehow killed unfairly…

because the lowly and coniving enemy pounced on him from behind a rock…

or because he had his fingers crossed at the time..

So there’s no equality, even in death.

which might seem preferable to the isolation and comfortlessness of being God.

For those who feel they have arrived there is only death, as all the blooming of Nature shows us.

The Enemy of Now.

In very ancient times the leader and the medicine wo/man were distinctly different roles within the group and they shared power in such a way as to bring, if not stability, then at least dynamic tension into the tribe.

When Kings started to take on the role of High Priest as well, from the Pharaos up until the time of Constantine’s conversion and his unprecedented incumbancy as a Holy Emperor, this maintainance of dynamic tension was ended, leading to all kinds of repercussions in our collective consciousness.. particularly on what it meant to lead a spiritual life.

The problem for the new bishop-kings, is that social control has to be levened with honouring the gods… a very tricky balancing act.

People need to make their observances because within those gestures lie the seeds of civic order but you can’t have people getting inspired or liberated from the burdens with which its taken so long to weigh them down.

Which is why the persecution of Christians escalated after Constantine’s conversion. You now have to be the right kind of Christian to avoid being thrown to the lions.

To this end the bible was endlessly re-written to accomodate the pressing and immediate concerns of those in temporal power, keeping their heads. The ideal scenario, if at all possible, is for people to be utterly controlled whilst believing themselves to be entirely free.

The best way to do this, to pull the teeth from a crowd that is only three square meals away from being a mob, is to get it to form an orderly queue in anticipation of some goody, something tangible but just out of reach…

…and have everyone’s reward for staying in line be… later, in the Fullness of Time.

Very different from virtue being its own reward, the immanence of gratitude, the feeling grace of being blessed as you are, right here, right now, warts and all… that typified the earlier Wisdom tradition.

You can’t control people who feel that lucky, who already have a feeling of being fed. Luck is created by counting oneself amongst the blessed, so, we can’t have that.. but we don’t want to deny the possibility entirely….. otherwise folk will despair and the despairing rebel, so we’ll tuck it just out of sight…. but not so far that it becomes something we can no longer imagine.

”Tomorrow! Tomorrow. I love you tomorrow, its only a moment away….” Dorothy from Wizard of Oz.

Much biblical re-writing had to do with emphasising the faith in that..

One Day..

God will keep his word and everything will be made alright.


This is most telling in the canonical formulation of the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount, which many veiw as the core of  the most famous speech in the New Testament.

Here is how they appear in their modern rendering..

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. (Matthew 5:3)Blessed are those who mourn: for they will be comforted. (5:4)Blessed are the meek: for they will inherit the earth. (5:5)Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they will be filled. (5:6)Blessed are the merciful: for they will be shown mercy. (5:7)Blessed are the pure in heart: for they will see God. (5:8)Blessed are the peacemakers: for they will be called children of God. (5:9)Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (5:10)

Whilst the content is all very well and beautifully poetic, the way it has been written down for posterity lodges redemption in the future, at some hoped for point in time-that-is-not-now, where your worth will be subject to final book keeping. It minimizes what may be realised or embodied in the present moment between one another, the kind of lived experience that creates communal solidarity and individual confidence.

Such a rendering, whilst it speaks of love and charity, does so in such a way that the emphasis is more about having faith that god will deliver as a result, rather than in the unacknowledged reality of the immediate, redemptive effect of loving kindness, that is not concerned in the least with storing up merit.

It turns out that Matthew was edited beyond belief by powerful men with an earthly axe to grind, who even by 100 AD. had set to work rewriting the gospel..

”to provide Christian converts with moral instruction and took it upon themselves to reformulate Jesus’ version.” J. Olar

In the process The Principle of Relatedness and being-in-the-moment were written out of Jesus’ Beatitudes entirely, which is not consistent with what you might expect from a man who also says, ‘look at the lilies in the field, how they grow…’

These earliest re-writings, by a man called Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis, at the time of the Council  of Nicea which first agreed an ordered bible, were bound to include the unconscious prejudices of a man scrambling for a power base in a persecutory world.. In deed, Matthew was rewritten precisely to serve the advantages of those in power. Epiphanus’ work, ‘Panarion’, was reprinted a millenium later as the tome,’ Against Heresies’, the handbook of the Inquisition.

In fact the original Hebrew gospel of Matthew, the only document contemporary with Christ in the language used at the time, was not strictly rewritten. It did not survive at all, except as fragments. The original… sadly, lacked a virgin birth story and insisted that people could experience spiritual fulfillment without recourse to church or state.

The Historian Jerome is said to have translated the original but then.. ahem, ‘withdrew’ it. The Ebionite movement that housed it for several centuries was actually wiped out by Epiphanius , so the ‘rewriting’ was a euphemism of sorts. Matthew and the Beatitudes as we know them are a fourth century cut and shut.

Just look at the difference in meaning between these two lines from the apocryphal Ecclesiastes, the precursor to the Beatitudes, interpreted by the NRSV and the NAB respectively.

“Better is the wickedness of a man than a woman who does good; it is woman who brings shame and disgrace.” (Sirach 42:14 NRSV)

“Better a man’s harshness than a woman’s indulgence, and a frightened daughter than any disgrace.” NAB

The first rendering is an unforgiveable piece of misogyny whilst the second is the regret that sometimes you have to be hard on your kids to keep them safe.

Fortunately for us, the Beatitudes have antecedants in ancient scriptures that haven’t been messed with.  By Jesus time there was already a long tradition of the Beatitudes which abounded in the Wisdom literature and Old Testament.

If we take one such book, the ‘Wisdom of Ben Sirach’, which was buried along with other gnostic gospels for 2000 years at nag Hammadi and therefore comes to us undoctored, uncensored by the personal whim of prelates and kings.. we find the Beatitudes represented in a very different light.

Ben Sirach was primarily thrown out of the Vulgate and the Septuagint because he would insist on adoring the Goddess..`

`Wisdom praises herself, and tells of her glory in the midst of her People. In the Assembly of the Most High she opens her mouth, and in the presence of His hosts she tells of her glory. `I came forth from the mouth of the Most High, and covered the earth like a mist. I dwell in the highest heavens, and my throne was in a pillar of cloud.”ben Sirach 24;1

and the Protestants had it in for him because he would insist on giving away his stuff to the poor….

”Those pious souls who do good to gain the Kingdom of Heaven will never succeed..” M. Luther

but what annoyed them most of all, was that ben Sirach and his merry gnostic mates would insist on being in the moment and feeling blessed, Now. The Beatitudes we find in Ben Sirach, anticipating Christ by 250 years, are quite different, not just in content but in their temporal framing.. its all about you and me, Now.

The gnostic tradition so unacceptable in Matthew’s original rendering of Christ’s words holds that every human being is born with a small piece of God’s soul lodged within his/her spirit. God is thus intimately connected to and part of his creation. Salvation then lies in embracing the God-like qualities within yourself and others..

Blessed is a man who can rejoice in his children; 25;7

Blessed is a man who lives to see the downfall of his foes ;7

Blessed is the man who lives with a sensible wife, 8

and the one who does not plow with ox and ass together. 9

Blessed is the one who does not sin with his tongue, 10

and the one who has not served an inferior” 10

Blessed is the one who finds a friend,10

and the one who speaks to attentive listeners.10

How great is the one who finds Wisdom!! 10

He even expressly critisises those who look to the future for their redemption,

”Say not, ‘what profit is there of my service and what good shall I have hereafter.’ ben Sirach 11; 23-24

Redemption is now/between…

”Do good unto thy friend before thou die and according to thy ability stretch out thy hand to him.” ben Sirach 14;13

More, in-the-moment, from the Dead sea scrolls at Quumran… which scholars now recognize as the prototype for Christ’s Beatitudes, the remaining original fragments of Matthew’s actual hand…

4Q525  [Blessed is]…with a pure heart, and does not slander with his tongue.
Blessed are those who adhere to her laws, and do not adhere to perverted paths.
Bles[sed] are those who rejoice in her, and do not burst out in paths of folly.
Blessed are those who search for her with pure hands, and do not pursue her with a treacherous [heart.]
Blessed is the man who attains Wisdom, and walks in the law of the Most High, and directs his heart to her ways, and is constrained by her discipline.

And finally one from Thomas 54..

”Jesus said, “Congratulations to the poor, for to you belongs Heaven’s kingdom.”

All these latter renderings of the Beatitudes, whatever their source, have something in common. They are Now.

So, why would the Church Fathers introduce this subtle but profound temporal change of emphasis in Jesus’ rendering of the Beatitudes?

The Hebrew Gospel of Matthew, …. ”was cast to one side, for the reason that it was a standing argument against the Alexandrian ideas of the Logos.” G. Reber.

The Codex Alexandrinus, an early Coptic/Greek version of the original Hebrew, has the pages about the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes ripped out. It wasn’t sufficiently concerned with the problems of centralised power and deference to authority as the one that replaced it.

Wearing both temporal and divine mantles does require that tad bit more control over the people than had hithertoo… been necessary.

”The truths contained in this Gospel stood in the way of a gigantic scheme, conceived by corrupt and arrogant men, who saw in a church established by the authority of God, the road to the highest point of human power and grandeur…” S Rives.

And so the people must be.. discouraged from depending upon one another..

We can’t have..

A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter;
he who finds one finds a treasure.
A faithful friend is beyond price,
no sum can balance his worth. – (Sir. 6:7-14)

And people must be dissuaded from refering to their own grateful experience…

”Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”.  Eckhart Tolle.

but that means the State has less… appeal, less.. protection to offer, so let’s destabilise their security by focusing… on that which is  nebulous and anxiety provoking.

”You can always cope with the present moment, but you cannot cope with something that is only a mind projection – you cannot cope with the future.” ibid
Since we cannot cope with the future, given its overwhelming unknowableness, contemplating it gives rise to anxiety.
 Nietzsche decried the Beatitudes as represented in the canonical Matthew as ”the slave revolt of morals”. Harsh at first glance, but if we are only to be redeemed in  a hypothetical future and by an unknown yardstick, and if the fate of our immortal souls depends on the outcome, this is going to produce a tremendous sense of lack, incompletness, and feeling anxiously torn from the groundedness of Now, wherein we are much more likely to know what is what and can refer to our own lived experience.
People will need therapy.
Clinical experience shows us that attempts to live for tomorrow, trying to second guess our fate, gives rise to disocciative anxiety. ”When I get thin, people will love me.”” When I leave home, I will be free.” When I’m a best seller, I will be happy” but what all these things do is to confirm that I could not be those things right now and have to project the value of life and my own personal worth into a moment where it is not available to be lived…
but can only be contemplated as a potentiality that must remain unrealised. Tomorrow never comes.
This is all good for the State which needs its citizens anxious, incomplete and yearning for approval. It keeps their noses to the grindstone. It stops them thinking about what’s on their doorstep, being more effective, engaged with life and most of all, it stops people gaining strength from one another.
But what are the implications for a psychology of the Self?




Goddess Eroded .

Anathema to believers, irrelevant to infidels, reading the banned books of the Apocrypha takes someone who believes and wishes they didn’t to go searching for clues into our collective spiritual malaise and for healing stories to tend the soul afflicted by Single System systems.

Most of the books are banned because they make some reference to Wisdom/Sophia, Yahweh’s old wife…


who was dumped for the new bride, Israel…

He’s a bit touchy on the subject and the Apocrypha reads like the dream journal of a troubled deity with interrupted REM sleep…

What you are forbidden or discouraged from reading says a great deal. It is about way more than social control or extracting taxes. Its also about identity and the state of your relationship with the gods.

Ontological insecurity can be more threatening than death anxiety itself (how much do you exist in the first place?) which makes it all the easier to kill one another over who reads what. The unearthed sacred texts at nag Hammadi were buried there by someone who was afraid for his or her life and did not survive long enough to reclaim them….

Some of these books to-die-for are not so obvious as to their wickedness. Some were made canonical on pain of death but then, after several centuries of sober reflection, banned on pain of death….

At the apex of the period we euphemistically call the Renaissance, owning such a book, even asking about it or wanting a peek, could get you torched quicker than you can say ‘psychotic delusional paranoia’.

The majority of Christendom’s searing scream-fests, for they were intended as spectacle, held during these noble and enlightened times, were not of witches, but of ‘heretics’, anyone who had no mates and whose toe had strayed from the path: who had perhaps asked an imprudent question, wondered out loud about the doctrine of transubstantiation, or why angels might rebel…

So, what’s in these stories is dynamite of some kind..

But what?

Take the seemingly innocuous Book of Tobit, cast down by a mighty ecumenical quilling at the Council of Trent in 1546,  from being the equal of Isiah to being the cause of your nasty end if you say otherwise…


..Tobit was a wealthy exile living in Ninevah circa 800 BC. One hot night after burying a body, Tobit slept outside. Sparrow droppings fell into his eyes and blinded him. He prayed to God to let him die. On that same day in Media, Sarah, one of Tobit’s kinsman, also prayed for death because she was constantly ridiculed for having been married seven times. Each time, after the ceremony, the demon Asmodeus had killed her husband before the marriage could be consummated.

God hears both prayers.


With Tobit expecting to die soon, he sends his only son, Tobiah, to Media on an errand. Tobiah is accompanied by the angel Raphael. En route, Tobiah is attacked by a large fish which Raphael shows him how to kill. He also instructs him to remove its gall bladder, liver, and heart, because they “can be used as medicines.” Upon arriving in Media, Tobiah marries Sarah at Raphael’s insistence. He uses the fish heart and liver to magically dispose of the demon and protect the marriage bed. When Tobiah returns home, he applies the gall and restores his father’s sight.

No big deal, right? Everyone is riteous and the good are rewarded. And anyway the book was made canonical by the Council of Carthage in 397AD…

So someone, somewhere, must have looked at it one day and saw something…

something threatening…

and here’s what it is..

They weren’t rewarded by the mighty arm of Yahweh at all. Yahweh doesn’t come into it. They rewarded themselves. Tobit’s peity was rooted in the Principle of Relatedness, in the Old Ways, in virtue being its own reward and not in the abstract faith required by Holy Emperors, which, by 1546 had become an establishment celebrating a millenium of its own divine status.

”There’s this sentence in the gospel about rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s. Jesus said that in the context of a pagan Caesar. Once Caesar is Christian, the things line up differently. There’s a kind of theologizing of secular power and a secularization of episcopal power.”     W. Godwin.

Tobit was an exile from the northern kingdom of Israel which still adhered, in some degree of secrecy, to the Goddess,  Wisdom/Sophia..


oh, do shut up.

The focus is on redemption through relatedness. His burial of the body in the beginning of the story is against the rules of Establishment which he breaks in order to honour the spirit of the dead.

”The moral teaching of Tobit shows endless parallels with the Wisdom tradition in it’s solicitude of social justice and service [to one another].” F. Bruce.

being blinded with birdshit seems like poor recompense or even punishment for his devotions which he does not recant but just wishes to die. ‘If you’re going to be like that, just kill me…’

not a lot of faith..

which the Council of Trent now required of prophets. Faith in redemption, in judgement, in god’s promises, in heaven, in forgiveness..

all of which will be dolled out tomorrow…

and not the ghastly grime of  moment present, in which redeeming acts of random kindness might occur, eruptions of spontaneous charity,

wherein humanity is redeemed via the recognition of divine immanence in one another rather than by fearful deference to a remote and transcendent  god.

Moreover, Tobias is pally with Raphael who is never named in the Old Testament on account of him being part of the angelic mob described by Enoch, equally persona non gratis, as having quit Heaven to consort with mortals, particularly the ladies, and treacherously taught them all kinds of cool stuff conducive to self reliance….

like how to defend yourself from man-eating fish and what parts of it can be used for apotropaic purposes…

to defeat demons..


You can’t just have random people swanning about the countryside being given inside information on how to prevail against the Lord of Darkness and rescuing damsels without official documentation.

It won’t do. It makes those in power look redundant and foolish. Moreover it frustrates the wonderful loophole that allows for us to perceive ourselves as pious without having to actually look out for one another, the joy of being able to do what we like so long as we are sorry later.

It’s not acceptable that Asmodeaus is defeated, not by God, but by a naive young fool from a tribe with dodgy inclinations and love in his heart who values betweeness-in-the-moment over faith-in-tomorrow.

and then he has the gall…


to go and cure his father, who was clearly in the process of  being punished by God for his indescretions and wasn’t even sorry for his sinful adherance to tradition.

bin it.

and pull the toenails out of anyone who protests.


What Feelings Are For.

What are feelings for? Psychotherapy is all too quick to point out the problems that occur when feelings are repressed, but doesn’t say much about the function of feeling itself. Ever since Descartes’, ‘I think therefore I am’, feeling has come a poor second to thinking as a basis for experience. To be emotional is to be misguided.

Yet our values and opinions are largely rooted in a feeling response to the world. Thinking is rarely primary and does not afford action with value. It is feeling that guides action. Without the full range of your own feeling response to life, behaviour has to be regulated by external authority

”Feeling always binds one to the reality and meaning of symbolic contents, and these in turn impose binding standards of ethical behaviour from which (the intellect) is only too ready to emancipate itself.” C. G Jung.

One of the defining aspects of the psychopath, who doesn’t know how to behave, is that he suffers from ‘flattened affect’. I.e. he does not feel. His riding roughshod over others and behaving as he wishes is synonymous with not feeling. Not knowing what he feels deprives him of the means to know what others might feel and so the only guide to behaviour is external constraint.

Madness is often a question of the absence of something ordinary as much as it is about the presence of something exotic.

Of course it could be said that some forms of dis-ease are full of feeling. There are even some studies that have been made which seem to link the onset of schizophrenia with excessive expression of feeling in the family. Closer inspection reveals that what the researchers are describing is not feeling but hysteria. The hysteric is not expressing feeling. He is manufacturing emotion in a dramatic attempt to compensate for the want of genuine feeling. He makes histrionic mountains out of mole hills in order to try and induce some sense of aliveness into an otherwise desolate life. Such counterfeit feeling is an exercise in unreality. Schizophrenic responses to these misrepresentations are only to be expected.

In the town where I grew up one of the boys was very disturbed. He was bright but couldn’t concentrate in class and continuously failed his grades. Eventually he took to drugs, anything he could lay his hands on, and dropped out of school. The last conversation I had with him consisted in his concern that the electrical appliances in his home had turned against him. Apparently the fridge had been particularly belligerent and thrown spears at him.

Both of this poor boy’s parents were hysterics. His mother was the more florid of the two and had once attacked him with a kitchen knife for failing to do his homework. Was she the emotional refrigerator who threatened him with sharp ‘spears’? Of course in public she contained herself a little better but there was always something exaggerated in her gestures. It wasn’t possible to ask her the time without her feigning shock, clutching her breast and sweeping her eyes to the heavens.

The boy’s father was the local vicar. He was peaceable and friendly but peaceable and friendly from fifty paces. When you met him in the street he would throw his arms open wide and run towards you as if you were a long lost brother whilst staring avidly at a point just past your left ear. One day I was sent around to their house on some errand. The vicar was in his study poring over a box of old sepia photographs. Would I like a look? He had been a big game hunter in his time and this was the record of his trophies. One photo impressed me deeply. It seemed to be his favourite and he spent some time telling me the story attached to it. A large bull elephant with great tusks dominated the picture. Hanging from one of these tusks were the entrails of his companion that the elephant had just gored to death.

His friend had died horribly. But he isn’t connected to this event in the least. There is no shred of horror, shock or loss. There is no sense of any feeling about what had happened at all. It has all been replaced by the drama of the intrepid journalist getting the ultimate action shot. How pleased he is with his photography. The focus is crystal clear. The composition is just perfect. It’s a shame the way the colour is faded though.

His sermons had a similar feel to them. They always left the congregation slightly bemused. His gusto made everyone a little depressed. It wasn’t that he was always reminding folk of their sin or painting lavish pictures of hell and damnation. On the contrary, his was a vision of love and light. It was that his message was forced. He was a priest pretending to be a priest, which left his flock playing at being a flock. This was confusing for them because they were already a flock. Perhaps his son was similarly befuddled.

Many forms of dis-ease seem to hinge upon the problem of inappropriate feeling, the lack of it or the faking of it, which can then leave a person unclear about both their identity and their values. Who they are and what they hold good are cradled in feeling which connects them to themselves, to one another, and to the world.

‘’Feeling is vital to the sense of reality and relatedness. When feeling is inhibited or repressed, people and things hold little meaning or value.’’ J. W. Perry.

You hear a lot of talk in counselling and therapy circles about ‘negative feelings’. I get a lot of people who want help with them as though it were possible or desirable to cut them out like some cancer. They forget how lucky they are to have these troublesome feelings where they belong rather than having them somatically expressed in the body where suppression would have them develop into truly problematic symptoms.

There’s really no such thing as a ‘negative’ feeling, just feelings that reflect an uncomfortable reality, that don’t fit with our preferred self-image or seem to lack meaning because they have lost their context. As such, these feelings are like an internal compass pointing to a reality we may prefer not to name or indicating a direction we prefer not to take but without which we cannot be whole.

In his account of Nazi concentration camps Bruno Bettleheim, a Freudian analyst who was in Dachau and Buchenwald, was repeatedly surprised that certain men failed to cope when all his psychoanalytic experience suggested that they would do better than others. He believed that those with strong superegos would survive and could not understand why they did not.

In the famous story by Antoine Exupery (2001), the fox says to the Little Prince,

‘’It is with the heart that one sees rightly’’.

He might have added, ’’and acts rightly too’’. Bettleheim (1991) observed that prisoners would commit suicide at the point that they no longer felt able to respond emotionally to their situation.

‘’One had to comply with debasing and amoral commands if one wished to survive,’ but it was necessary to stay aware of whether this were ‘’good, neutral or bad.’’ ‘’The freedom to feel… was what permitted the prisoner to remain a human being. B.Bettleheim.

What killed the prisoner,

’’was the giving up of all feeling, all inner reservations about one’s actions, the letting go of a point at which one would hold fast no matter what.’’(ibid)

Values, humanity and the will to live itself could only be maintained by retaining the freedom to respond emotionally to circumstance even if one was powerless to effect change.

Conversely, the SS were trained to forgo basic human values by expunging their own emotional responses to the extreme situation of the camps. One of the methods employed in SS recruitment was to have the soldiers rear Alsatian puppies during their indoctrination. Of course the men would become emotionally attached to their charges. At the end of the process they were commanded to throttle the dogs with their bare hands, demonstrating both literally and symbolically their capacity to choke off all feeling that then made their inhuman purposes possible.

People commit inhumane acts against one another because their own humanity has been choked off. When I was a boy at public boarding school, a colonial throwback that made Tom Brown’s schooldays look like a summer picnic, the new-boys always swore that when they became seniors they would never treat the juniors with the violent contempt that they themselves were having to endure. The culture of the school was steeped in institutionalised bullying. Twice daily roll calls were necessary to stem the flow of runaways, a roll called so frequently I can still rattle it off after 35 years.

Sexual abuse was an organised part of a new boy’s inauguration, as were regular beatings and various forms of psychological torture. In fact those same new boys were just as sadistic when they became seniors. It was necessary for them to become so in order for them to repress the memory of their own humiliation. Any real protest, except in the vaguest terms, would bring renewed punishment from above and accusations of being wet from one’s own dormitory. No-one wanted to see their own terror laid bare in another’s suffering.

Lights out provided enough cover of darkness for the privacy of muffled crying. There would be no concern but no condemnation either, for comment either way would validate the fact that someone was in pain. Occasionally the entire dorm would be whimpering, blankets and pillows stuffed into mouths to deaden the sounds. No-one said anything to anyone else and there would be no mention of it in the morning. The bell would ring and it was business as usual.

We could only refer to our experiences indirectly by saying that we would never treat the next generation of new boys in the way that we had. But the actual feelings involved were always dismissed and so the values that might have prevented a boy from repeating what he had himself suffered could not be informed by experience. My first day as a senior is dominated by the memory, not of one event or another, but of being drunk with power.

I sent a new-boy to the tuck shop to get me a coke. When he returned I could see from the level in the bottle that he had taken a sip. My response was to hold a knife to his throat and threaten to kill him.

Years later, aware that there was something un-nameably wrong with my life, I took myself off to the Sierra Madre (mother mountain) for space and reflection. One day I was walking along a narrow path in a shallow valley when I became aware of a great pressure wave, a  force of Nature, like a racing storm front, approaching me from behind at speed. I began to run, then dived off the path and into the brush as it overtook me, throwing me down, dissolving me in a grief that only began to take coherant form as it found its expression. It started out as the regret and self recrimination for all kinds of terrible things that I myself had caused others to suffer. Then it became for want of my parents who I hardly knew, and finally I found myself crying for my childhood nurse, Suzzanah, terrible gut wrenching loss.

Finally, as it all subsided, I crawled over to a Yucca cactus and propped myself up. I got out my billy and brewed some tea. There was a little shade, a soft breeze and some friendly whisps of grass. I got to my feet thinking that this was a good spot and if I could triangulate my position I could find my way back here. What I saw was an endless valley dotted with a thousand Yuccas, all with their measure of shade, their bit of breeze, their whisps of friendly grass.

I didn’t need to find my way back to anything. What I needed was always right in front of me.

Later still, as a psychotherapist in private practice, I am often asked, ‘how do you get in touch with grief and pain?” The answer is always the same. It will find you. Once you have interrupted the strategies and lifestyles put in place to occlude it. And you don’t need to go to Mexico to know this to be true, though it does take the realisation that propping up relationships that don’t work, getting sick, and staying in dead end patterns may well preserve you from life’s difficulties and pain, though it does so at the cost of aliveness itself…

The metaphor of the endless Yuccas means that opportunity is always exactly where you are so long as you do not fight what life has to offer.

”Our suffering is as much from resisting the circumstances at hand as the circumstances themselves.” M. Israel.

Years later still, I lost the care of my son in a custody case. I had raised him from a baby and was utterly disraught. In the wee hours I cried and wailed, begging providence to return him. A small voice in me said, ‘your pain is because of your love, would you like for your love to be removed so you hurt less….?”

This article is based on an extract from my new book, ‘Abundant Delicious… on attaining your heart’s desire.’    .http://andywhiteblog.com/2016/06/11/abundant-delicious-hot-off-the-press/