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Our most ancient stories are full of brothers who lack respect or don’t get on. These stories are more than quaint tales. They are archetypal patterns that can run us from within, default positions that we are patterned for like an old pair of comfy shoes that can, nevertheless, dance you to death.

Tell de story, mon.

I see a lot of people grappling, not with this issue or that, but the fact that we keep doing the same thing over and again. It suggests to me that the repeating stories we find at our earliest beginnings might shed some light on the compulsive repetitions of our own time.

De story…

The theme we find over and again is the one of divided brothers. One of the most fascinating and relevant to our time is the story of Isaac, Esau and Jacob.

I want to ask what this story is doing in such a prominant place, at the birth of a nation-rooted-in-one-God, and what the psychological consequences might be for those who inherit it.

tell de frikkin’ story, for cryin’ out loud…

I’m getting there, shuttup. The story of Esau and Jacob  moves the older story of Gilgamesh and Enkidu on a notch. If you recall, our earliest ever recorded tale is from Sumeria and describes the fate of a king who would not be bound by natural law, who caused the death of his dark brother, Enkidu and built the first city walls to separate himself from the natural world.

Him come to a bad end…

Esau and Jacob, sons of Isaac are likewise divided, light/dark, hairy/smooth, with Esau clearly personifying the natural man, the dark and primitive brother who gets it in the neck.

But dis time with a twist, mon.

A thousand years have passed since Enkidu had to die. And in his absence, the golden boy imago has had the stage more to himself and we find that he has deteriorated quite badly.

De split mo’ subtle…

The demise of the dark brother is now ontological. Esau has his birthright stolen by Jacob who pretends to be his brother by covering himself with the wild skins that Esau wore, then goes to his father Isaac who is almost blind and ask for the blessing that would confer the family inheritance on him…..

So Jacob get de land…

But there’s more. The main piece of this is that despite this awful desecration of natural law and the wicked deception involved, Yahweh sanctions Jacob’s claim rooted in the fact that he was the one to be blessed by Isaac their father.

How he went about it was not material to de case…

Jacob gets to be big boss of twelve tribes and Esau gets…. Edom, you know tucked in there by Moab, washpot thingy..

The significant thing in terms of collective existential security is that you can now no longer count on anything. A blessing is more important than a birthright under even the most deplorable circumstances. Doing now has precedence over Being, and trickery is fine so long as it is sanctioned by authority.

… days of natural law are over…

and Yahweh will hand over the whole of Israel into the hands of a callous cheat simply because he punctuated his betrayal of everything you might hold dear, with submission to the patriarch. The submission is more important than the deception and of greater weight than the Principle of Relatedness which is sacrificed in the process.

But what does this have anything to do with anything…?

Because its the forge in which the Western psyche was shaped. We’re already strapped with the double bind of original sin:

carrying god’s shadow:

but this is a new and different landscape of depersonalisation.

Him get worse…

The way you behave is no longer of any account, for good or ill. Your personhood and character are no longer of interest.  And if I have to stamp all over the ageing bones of my loyal servant to do it I will. Without noticing that I have just emancipated myself from my Conscience…..  and caused the Chosen to Doubt…

God’s mental state is deteriorating. He’s not even trying to justify it by pointing and shouting, or roaring about sin. The ignominious betrayal of Isaac is just shrugged off. He seems less able to give feeling responses to situations, cannot reflect and seems less present as though he were preoccupied with something or some one


I wasn’t… no…. . sorry…. I was just saying, you look a bit… off colour,… bit peaky..


Something particular keeping you awake?


Nothing,.. its just that ….sometimes our conscience keeps us awake, perhaps something you might have… regretted.


….or perhaps inuited, in a sleepy kind of way,  that you just gave us permission to destroy the planet provided we do it in your name.


and that because of  your centre-stage-for-eternity-caper you’re lonely and going a bit mad,


and that without Her we’re all going a bit mad…


and it matters, Oh jewel of my heart, because this is all a bit borderline now.


and as the split grows in you, Oh bounding deer of the Verdant Meadow…


it grows in us.


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Psychotherapist/writer/artist/ author of, 'Going Mad to Stay Sane', a psychology of self-destructiveness, about to come into its third edition. Soon to be printed for the first time, 'Abundant Delicious.. the Secret and the Mystery', described by activist Satish Kumar as, ' A Tao of the Soul'. This book documents the archetypal country through which the process of individuation occurs and looks at the trials and tribulations we might expect on the way. In the meantime..... Narcissisim is the issue of our age. This blog looks at how it operates, how it can damage and how we may still fruit despite it.

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