The One Ring.

The genius of Tolkein was not simply that he told a ripping story but that he managed to tap into a rich vein of collective meaning for our time.

A divided, dangerous world in which Power has momentarily eclipsed Love….

Even our spiritual journey can wind up being about ‘gaining’, possessing, wanting the knowledge, rather than the humble journey to return that which is not ours to wield and to make our peace with mystery.

The inheritance of Western Civilisation is an anthology of inflation. We are collectively narcissistic. We crave power and wealth. More than that our society identifies with its God to such an extent that we can impose our freedom on others at the point of a gun without contradiction and subjugate them for their own good.

Doin’ them a favour, innit?

Well, they carn’t govern their frikkin selves, hey?

Moreover we oppress the inner voice of soul because it will not come to heel and refuses to be relegated to the status of an artifact.

And so our aloneness is complete.

The other is ‘nothing but’…

“All modern people feel alone in the world of the psyche because they assume that there is nothing there that they have not made up. This is the very best demonstration of our God-almighty-ness, which simply comes from the fact that we think we have invented everything – that nothing would be done if we did not do it; for that is our basic idea and it is an extraordinary assumption.” CG Jung.

I knew someone who had a terrible rash on her chest and neck that looked like a great burn mark. She scratched at the torment of it endlessly. By and by she spoke of a dragon she dreamt of over and again, some ‘part of her’ she had to ’embrace’. My comment was that trying to integrate a dragon that actually had its own life in the depth of her Psyche would likely result in all kinds of rashes and burns.

Her task was not to ‘integrate’ but to say hello from a safe distance.

The rash improved and she got more humble.

an’ had an inna other….

When a person imagines that the psyche is whatever they know of it and that the Unconscious is ‘nothing but’, then narcissistic strutting and all kinds of symptoms are not far away.

And for as long as the Ring is fought over, for as long as the Unconscious is something we just want to own like jewelery, then love and relatedness suffer. The artery through which love flows will be constricted and the streams of Psyche’s internal dialogue will become clogged.

Despite such cholesterol of the soul we think of ourselves as evolved….

….on the basis that evolution is somehow linear. And so..

we must be the finest and best.

job done.

Darwin and Freud had this in common, they both told Victorian society exactly what it wanted to hear. Not only are people not responsible for messing up their kids, our very existence/survival is proof positive of the right to dominate and exploit.

The price we pay for this delusion is a narrowing of our capacity for relatedness. Either I wear the ring and am narcissistically identified with ‘the power’ and thus pre-occupied and unavailable, or you wear the ring and I become your thrall, romantically enslaved to the other.

This bastardisation of the Principle of Relatedness is very different from the subtle nuances of human affection known, for example, to the ancient Greeks who differentiated almost as many different types of love as the Eskimos have words for snow. Ludus, philia, agape, eros, pragma, philautia…

In our time the predominant models of romantic love and narcissistic love seem to culminate in the culture of ‘Bling’, where persons are both idealised as demi gods and then worshipped from afar. They, ‘have it all’, whilst our preoccupation with what is essentially a projection leaves us depleted and feeling worthless by comparison.

Imagine the folk of ancient times trying to grasp our fascination with bards and mummers!

The Ring and its relationship with Mt Doom is a mystery. Returning it as bearer rather than as owner is a real piece of psychological maturity.  Mainly, Western Civilisation has been about the revelation of mystery, uncovering it for all to see. The last book of the Bible even goes by that name as if to give additional emphasis to its contents. Its not enough to serve a higher principle. Above all we want to know and be shown.

We cannot know.

”Unpalatable as it may be… the idea of mystery forces itself on the mind of the enquirer, not as a cloak for ignorance, but as an admission of.. the inability to translate what s/he knows into the speech of the intellect” CG Jung.

But, we may press on to where Nature refuses to be surmounted by our own efforts.

 

 

Innana and Ereshkigal

Innana’s encounter with Ereshkigal is an encounter with numen, with divine presence. In the West there is the idea that transpersonal experience is just a kind of sentimental oneness where everything is just harmonious and wonderful.

with lambs..

ok

and bunnies

and enough facebook feed to keep you from pondering all the wisdoms on facebook.

but its not like that, mostly… and so

despite the fact that people want to grow they are also heavily invested in maintaining the status quo precisely because transformation has the kind of de-integrating, disorienting effect you might expect from bumping into a bear.

M.L. von Franz describes her response to the first dream she had that introduced her to the a priori nature of the Deep Unconscious, to Ereshkigal’s lair.

”I pulled my knees up under my chin and stayed in bed all day”

Mostly we think of the unconscious as derivative.

Stuff I’ve pushed down.

the rubbish tip of the psyche

But, actually Erishkigal was there before you…..

and when we refer to Archetypes its often as if they were no more than templates or tendencies. But they

are actually autonomous complexes.

They have their own life.

And they can scare the living crap out of you.

I had a client who repeatedly dreamt of a terrifying figure that chased her. After a while it seemed that, greater than her fear,  was the peevish sense that this character would not come to heel..

‘After all, he’s just a part of me…’

which is precisely the attitude he was trying to scare her out of……

….to wrestle away this grandiose fantasy that we can contain or ‘integrate’ such things. No, relations are simply improved…..

on the understanding that we do not know enough to be pessimistic. ~Hazel Henderson.

The narcissistic streak in us says, ‘the psyche is what I know of it’, and places itself at the centre of the map. Its a belief that is just going to run aground at some point, whether its by the gnawing incomprehensibility of death or by way of a sudden careless glimpse through the  bars of ego’s playpen.

“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.” Joseph Campbell.

An apocryphal story is told about Jung to whom a man had come in crisis.

”I’ve lost my wife and my job in the same week”, he wailed.

”Just wait here a minute,” said Jung and went off, to return with a bottle of champagne and two glasses.

‘What are you doing?” asked the poor man.

‘Celebrating this opportunity for you to reinvent yourself,” said Jung and poured them both a glass.

It’s precisely when we are pinned to the wall and all our normal strategies fail or are frustrated that the deep authentic response of the Self comes through and invariably by way of pain and not knowing.

After all, Jung would be the first to acknowledge, with the clink of lead crystal, that, ‘the experience of the self is always a blow to the ego’.

What does that mean?

It means that out limited personalities cannot contain the boundless life and must be repeatedly cracked open if we are to blossom.

And so a visit to Ereshkigal is Innana’s acceptance of her seasons, a living with anxiety, and participating in that which transcends them.

 

 

 

 

Forest Epiphany

Ereshkigal is a dark goddess from Sumerian myth, an archetype of initiation into greater consciousness to whom her sister Innana goes for renewal.

I had my first encounter with Ereshkigal when I was a young soldier in the Rhodesian bush war. We had been dropped behind enemy lines for a surprise attack on a ‘terrorist’ base camp which, with surprise on our side, we had won after a short but intense fire fight.

We then swept the terrain for weapons, documents, bodies..

I came across the man in a forest clearing. At first I thought he was dead.  Lots of blood. Then he opened his eyes and looked across at me. He was badly wounded but made no sound.

You just stood there staring back at him, silent, stuck between paradigms.

Forever.

He was silent.

Intensely, raging, terrified silence.

My training had been at the extreme end of the scale. I was guarding my dorm mates at boarding school with a lee Enfield 303 by the time I was sixteen. We took it in turns to watch over one another throughout the night in case we were attacked.

Terrorists.

We had night drills at school, crawling along darkened corridors, cursing.

Terrorists.

And armed convoys for a trip to town with mounted machine guns front and rear..

Terrorists.

And grenade screens on the windows and RPG proof blast walls so that rollcall could be safely held..

Alexander,Ball, Barber, Becker, Blick, Bradley, Brightenstein, Butterworth…

At night you could sometimes hear gunfire and the railway line was blown up.

Conn, Crow, Devilliers, Ellman-Brown, Fouche, Garvin, Graziola, Haynes…

I was drafted straight out of school, did special services training and was part of fireforce operations.

Henderson, Hill, Hjul, Horsley, Howden, Johnstone…

my job was to kill the enemy.

But try as I might the humanity and suffering of the wounded man lain there impressed itself on me despite lifelong indoctrination.

I didn’t know what to do. I had run out of rule book. I felt frozen to the spot. Unable to think or move.

After an age I jerked myself forward and had a look at his wounds. He was badly shot up. His eyes never left me as I examined him. It was as if they had teeth.

I called a medic over and began to patch him up. His eyes bored into me. I worked in silence. He had a ring on his finger. A green beryll stone set in silver. I took it roughly, then almost as quickly gave it back, embarrassed, confused, trapped.

The sargent came over to see what the hold up was and raised his rifle to kill my patient.

Stop him.

Call a chopper.

Patch up the injured man.

Finally I carried him over my shoulders to the DZ. When the chopper came I slid him in onto the cool metal floor. He looked me in the eye, took the ring from his finger and pressed it into my hand. ‘Datenda Nkosi.’ Thanks boss.

I never went back into battle again. One thing and another, including a long spell in Casualty, conspired to keep me from the field.

What had happened?

You met yo’ own dark brother, mon.

My analyst always did say I had a real gift for acting out. The main thing is not that I was brave and saved someone, I was brave and saved me.

But not without that brief eternity of suspension,

and being hung like a ham.

incoherant, body slaming, slow motion…

splintering….

shedding..

silence.

Enough to ask,

WTF?

When Innana descends through the seven gates to Ereshkigal’s lair she does so willingly but there is no doubt that the events happen to her in a visceral way. She’s going to feel victimised, humiliated and attacked.

Though she may be doing gladly what she must, it is also the experience of being destroyed.

There is ‘no-exit’ .

Death of the old which is still oneself.

A letting go and an act of will.

Violent silence.

The philosopher Karl Jaspers calls it ‘foundering’. When you have tried everything and failed,

when life brings you to your limits.

and the old way just won’t do anymore.

”Until the final question meets with the silence of fullfilment in which a person’s own essence can speak directly through the inmost self.”Koral Ward 2015

Its the moment when you face that a relationship must end, or that you must uproot yourself somehow without knowing where the wind will take you. Its going into the unknown with heavy heartedness or broken heartedness, sudden separation, the sense that you’re being reinvented without pre-approving the plan.

Czech analyst E. Dabrowski calls it ‘positive disintegration’, a breaking down of psychic structures that have effectively been outgrown, when values you’ve been living by crumble but you have no others with which to replace them.

….an’ it not jus’ some theoretical, beard stroking point for you to make mon, some arsy intellectual cocktail party piece.

I say…

Its switching off the automatic pilot and discovering you don’t know how to fly.

 

 

 

 

Descent to the Underworld

Inanna’s response to her dark sister is very different from the dark brother stories I have been telling, where the dark brother is betrayed or killed leaving the hero divided and incomplete.

Innana intuits that there is some need to visit Ereshkigal. Something in her doesn’t feel right. The adapted self may well have helped the personality through tough times…

but some way-of-being has become time worn or redundant.

Because its too narrow, constricting…

and yet its what she knows of herself,..

so the shedding of it can feel like death itself.

”The hallmark of the transpersonal is its capacity to act upon you” S.B. Pererra.

Innana’s tread into the Underworld is reluctant. Each garment relinquished at the successive gates are a wrench. Finally she is naked and her vulnerablity  is complete. But still she presses forward knowing instinctively that she has to face her sister.

”The truly responsible people of the world are those who accept the fact of their own nastiness, cruelty, things that co-exist with their capacity to love and construct.”D. Winnicott. 1958.

This is death to any conviction in one’s own riteousness. Unfortunately, the alternative is one form or another of narcissistic adaptation.

one that compensates for vulnerability rather than facing it..

It invites us to turn our backs on  ourselves in favour of ever decreasing circles of selfhood the maintainance of which soon chokes off aliveness.

”There is nothing more dangerous than a mild man.” C.G. Jung

And why? Not just because he is liable to project his shadow onto you, or some other neighbour…

but because he who is very determined to live out just a single corner of his psyche wants you to do the same. He’s not just shut down. He wants you to be shut down together. For your own good.

And so the politically correct solar hero becomes a narcissistic bully ramming his truth down people’s throats and sees no contradiction in promoting all kinds of fine ideals whilst preventing the deeper life inside himself and others from flowering.

I grew up in an extreme version of that world. The back end of Empire. Everyone was very polite and carried sub-machine guns. It was all exaggerated sunshine and bonhomie until you failed to respond correctly to a deprecatory joke or were somehow outed in your dissonance.

And suddenly the sunshine falters. You didn’t say the right thing, or use the magic words in the right order. And if you are not with us..

then you are against us..

And either way, growth grinds to a halt.

Thank goddess for Innana!

My sixteen year old son was mighty upset about some images depicting animal cruelty on his facebook feed. He went on and on about it, getting angrier and angrier. When he got to the point where he began making physical gestures demonstrating what he’d like to do to the people concerned I was able to point out that his solution was very similar to the problem.

Innana descends to Ereshkigal and has a mirror held up to her that kills the identification she has with her fine adapted ideals. Her sense of self is deepened. She’s initiated into her complexity and, to paraphrase Hillman, propelled forward into multiplicity.

Ereshkigal is also bought into increased consciousness by the encounter. The feelings she embodies are humanised and made more bearable. Suffering finds its context.

Paradoxically, Ereshkigal…

 gives special hope to those who come to her. She is able to encourage and sustain those who seek her certain solace precisely because of her darkness. Within the nature of her being, she holds the paradox: in and through darkness lies a fertile resurgence of life. ” -Cedrus Monte, The Dark Feminine

Innana and Ereshkigal need each other.

Sometimes things need to die. The trick is for it to be a symbolic death.

”If you are going to kill yourself, try not to harm your body.” J. Hillman

Something has to die and it feels like you but its what you thought you were….

And being hung on the meat hook of not knowing what happens next and not being able to do anything is precisely the ground that fresh consciousness needs to seed itself….

“We don’t cross into the ‘sphere of rebirth’ by power but by descent, by being swallowed.” Sue Monk Kidd

We are generally not very good with things that won’t be surmounted by our own efforts. Sometimes it seems as if our very integrity depends upon having the answers. But we are not healed by having answers. We are healed by providence  having asked the right kind of question.

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”  C.G. Jung

The Dark Goddess.

It seems ironic, given how narcissistic our judeo-christian world has become, that most folk with an interest in Revelation think the last book of the Bible has just got to be all about them..

and their enemies…

over whom they will be victorious….!

Yay!

Whatever Revelation is about, it contains the casting out of Sophia/Wisdom, the ‘Whore of Babylon’ and the instating of the new bride, Israel.

Divorce court meets shotgun wedding….

with sundry colourful guests to both events.

Sophia was called the ‘Whore of Babylon’ because She and her supporters were sent in Exile to Babylon by uncle Neb’. So Babylon became her capital for a brief time while all the divorce papers were getting sorted..

Took about three millenia.

Sophia is cast in three pieces back into the sea. This is an archaic fragment of collective consciousness older than ‘In the beginning’,

before the fresh start..

Could these three ancient pieces of the goddess be the components of the Innana story? It would be poetic if it were true.

The classic response to trauma is to become split. This can typically manifest as an inner three way ‘mexican stand-off’, the traumatised self represented by Ereshkigal, the adapted self in need of self discovery and renewal represented by Innana, and the healthy self represented by Nishubar, Innana’s hand maiden who raises the alarm when her mistress fails to reappear.

Innana, the adapted self, is the part that’s developed strategies for life that might well work but may not be really ‘her’. These strategies are effective but not particularly authentic and so she has to re-aquaint herself with Ereshkigal who is a lot less PC but far more gutsy and real.

The problem is that Ereshkigal hates Innana, regards her as a lap-dog and a sell out, someone who is more interested in keeping the peace. To some extent her feelings are justified. Though she forgets what  Innana has endured in order to find a way of living above ground, in the real world, where Being seems like a constant process of costly negotiation.

Adapt or die.

an alla dat stuff, mon.

Ereshkigal might keep Innana captive forever if not for Ninshubar, the healthy self, who can pick up the phone, arrange childcare for the kids, leave messages and raise alarms. She has faith that Ereshkigal might still somehow be reached and Innana saved. She’s the one who intuits what to do and knows there’s help out there.

Enki’s little dirt helpers are the key, all those little acts of kindness and charity to our inner demons, or at least our unacknowledged less-than-perfect selves which can validate suffering such that meaning can be made of it.

“The original abandonment, the original abuse, the original horror has some reason and meaning in it. It is not senseless. It is not like being run down like a dog on the highway.” Clarrissa Pinkola Estes.

The encounter with Ereshkigal is uncomfortable, but she returns us to a more authentic way of being, one that is not so nice maybe, but one which feels like the real thing and is therefor worth its weight in gold.

Sometimes the only thing to do is to acknowledge our own limits and wait to see what happens.

One of the most memorable sessions I ever had with my analyst Chuck Shwartz was when I took him a whole bunch of archetypal dreams full of symbols and mythic encounters.

He listened to me reel it all off, nodded a bit, then said, ‘well, Andy, I haven’t the faintest what that is all about, but lets see what the literature says”, scooped a number of books off the shelf, pulled up his chair and we started leafing through them together.

What I remember is not this meaning or that, but one man’s simple willingness to acknowledge his limits so that I could, by extension, be okay with my own. It was a massive relief.

The Story of Innana

Around about the same time, mid third century, as the church councils of Nicaea and Laodicia had finished deciding what you could and could not read, where you could pray and to whom,

And so prescribing the size and shape of experience..

we also find the first accounts of intervention in cases of madness.

which you might expect given the whole square peg, round hole..

on pain of pain..

dilemma.

And converting the gold of individuation back into the lead of corporate man.

for god.

So, we are fucked; is that what you sayin’?

Not at all, the prototype of Gilgamesh……..

http://andywhiteblog.com/2015/06/16/the-archetypal-narcissist/

…….is not the only possibility for us. The ancient Sumerians were kind enough to leave us a companion volume to the story of Gilgamesh, the story of Innana.

Wot?

Yeh, carved on clay tablets 5000 years ago..

why didn’t you say that before? Forty posts it’s been, forty frikkin posts of doom and gloom..

I was getting there, it takes time to tell a story…

So, let me get this right, the Sumerians, poised on the cusp of a brave new world of intolerance, persecution and eradication of the divine feminine in the shape of beardy, fast moving Assyrians, coughed up two volumes you say…

and some poetry…

One, the tragic story of Gilgamesh who thought he could mess with the Gods and this Innana, please tell me it ends differently…

Very different, because the story of Innana is the counterpoint of Gilgamesh, the proud king who wanted to eradicate the Goddess.

The story of Innana is about the death of one’s old self and being redeemed by something other than one’s own efforts.

It is about surrender and renewal rather than the heroic club of one and self estrangement we find in the dark brother stories.

tellthestorytellthestorytellthestory..

Ok. So, Innana, who is herself a goddess, decides to visit her dark sister, Ereshkigal, in the bowels of the Underworld. Ereshkigal, who is very mean, gets veeeery pissed at the thought that Innana would just show up like that without..

making an appointment,

and sends her guards to meet Innana at the topmost gateway to the Underworld where they take from her a garment at every one of the seven subsequent gates until Innana is naked before Ereshkigal who kills her with a single blow and hangs her up on a meathook..

you said it would be better than Gilgamesh….!

it will, just wait..

a counterpoint you said…

but I’m not done. Ninshubar, Innana’s servant, doesn’t hear back from her mistress and sends out word to ask the other gods for help. Enki responds, taking the dirt from beneath his fingernails and breathing life into it. The little dirt creatures visit Ereshkigal who is in terrible pain…

‘Oh my belly,’ she moans.

‘Oh your belly ‘, they moan.

‘Oh, my head’, she cries.

‘Oh your head’, they cry..

and eventually the compassionate little dirt creatures manage to beg Ereshkigal for Innana’s body back and restore her….

Booyakasha!

What saves Innana is not the heroism of her own inflated efforts. She submits to Ereshkigal willingly and allows herself to be stripped of what she knows.

How often is life like this? When we cross a threshold and have to go forwards feeling naked and exposed. When we have to submit to what is happening around us, when some way of knowing ourselves dies within us…

When we are hung up like green meat and cannot help ourselves yet somehow it pans out..

because the Universe is just a bit bigger than we gave it credit…

and all the trouble we go through is preparation for the self we are to become.

Ereshkigal compells us to face ourselves, to accept the grief and rage, to let ourselves be gutted, devoured, consumed….

…and precisely so that we may, in some unforseeable way, be not only redeemed but reborn.

 

 

Rennaisance Shadow

I came across a line in Wikipedia that so surprised me I wrote it down,

”The sociological causes of the witch-hunts have long been debated in scholarship.” wiki

The sociological causes…

hmmmm,

lets see…

Narcissistically inflated, gargantuan megabody, driven to dribbling insanity by its own self-importance seeps all its underlying aggression and unresolved sadism onto anyone who..

strangely..

had the courage to live on their own terms…

job done.

The idea that the evolution of consciousness through time is a macrocosm of individual human development suggests that we are at the cutting edge of the human race..

oh dear… so it does…

where you might want to be a bit cloudy about sociological factors..

given that killing people for their own good

isn’t very nice

but still

waaay more evolved in consciousness than even those of a few hundred years ago.

supposedly….

Actually this ‘more evolved’ that we’re supposed to be than even our recent ancestors feels like the same kind of prejudice we have against ‘primitive people’.

not a microwave between them…

Freud even suggested that the primitive mind ‘corresponded’ to neurotic states . (Totem and Taboo)

I wonder if  Western Civilisation hasn’t all been a bit of a detour, a hiccup in the plan,

instead of all the noble questing through history up to the glorious present that kids are still sold in school.

The chronic inflation of Monotheism and its kings is just not the same as ego development. In fact it prevents it because the belief in our own rightness…

…..requires splitting off and projecting the dark brother.

And so we’re eternally divided.

buuut… with permission to behave like toddlers..

with a three scoop cone…

and a box of matches….

The number of people burned at the stake by the Church for heresy is hotly (sorry) contested, with wide ranging estimates. Whatever the figure is, its genocidal.

but what can you do wiv anyone wot got their own ways but burn them?

Yeah, so they get purified…

Understan’?

Leaving the fold is the sin qua non of the individuation process. If you just swallow what you’re spooned, the limit of your potential is set at being a law abiding citizen. Part and parcel of this is to be on the side of ‘good’, wherein the dark brother is projected and growth grinds to a halt.

The hieght of persecution against heretics is given by Wiki as 1560 – 1630, curiously tucked into the same time period as the Rennaissance. Would it be too much to suggest, given all the puzzling over ‘sociological factors’, that in order for the golden era to flourish the shadow had to be projected onto, well, millions of others, who were summarily tortured and put to gruesome deaths?

Individuation was forced underground as alchemy, hermeticism and gnostisism, all of which could get you into rather a lot of trouble.

Bellini for the few and the Inquisition for the many.

For those not moulding salt cellars out of silver or painting the Cistine Chapel, life was short nasty and brutish, not to mention full of fear at the possibility that some untoward remark might be overheard in the street.

Or someone just don’ like you maybe..

Simply refusing the Pope’s authority over your spiritual life could get you burned at the stake and having the priest as ‘intercessor’ effectively put a barrier between common people and religious experience. Anyone claiming to have had their own insight into spiritual life would be liable to a late night visit from horrible men with clanking bags.

Ah, the Golden Age…

of chivalrous kings!

an’, an’, an’,… Richard the Lionheart!

Most noble of them all!

Wot nobley executed 3000 hogtied prisoners, men women and children in cold blood at Acre in 1200 AD!

Yay!

yeah, but only cos the Sarascens didn’t give him what he wanted.

The True Cross

that’s it!

Which they didn’t have..

and a ton of gold

yeah, gold, loads of gold

which they didn’t have…

well that wasn’t his fault was it..?

And so the insignificant and paltry details of what actually happened and how people actually behave is lost in a blaze of archetypal glory and proudly beating hearts where one party takes the ermined route of least resistance, generally strewn with corpses, whilst the other party line the same streets waving flags.

Narcissistic collusion.

Mind your step now.

 

The lonesome pine.

What does it mean for consciousness to evolve?

To know more stuff?

And how do you know if you are evolved?

Does it come with a chart?

Or an evolvomometer?

there’s no such thing..

no, but if there was that’s what it would be called.

Let’s say it did exist. What would it measure?

I knew a woman who  had married her more spiritual side in the form of a genteel analyst rather than develop that side of herself and so despite the art, philosophy and culture in evidence on the surface of their lives she was possessed by that with which she was unconsciously identified, matter.

Regardless of her exquisite house in pristine wilderness, with lakes and endless garden, she was unhappy. And she couldn’t resolve her dissatisfaction because it seemed to stem from outside her.

‘Look at that veiw’, she indicated up the majestic valley with its mighty forests and breath taking craggs. ‘Perfect, except for the eyesore’.

I searched about for the offending item.

‘There!’, she gestured impatiently at a distant tree. ‘That Scots Pine…’ and clucked further disapproval.

Waaay up onna faar hillside…

Despite the sophistication, or, actually because of it, there was a deep split in the woman that wouldn’t permit her to drink in the Spirit of Nature even when her priviledged circumstances handed it to her on a plate.

The next time I visited the tree had vanished.. but you may be sure the eyesore had not and was busy materialising elsewhere.

This kind of behaviour is typical of uninitiated puer energy and is the unhappy lot of anyone who feels that they are special. You can’t take in what you need.

To do so entails feeling the need..

which isnaa very special…

but whether you like it or not..

You become enlightened, not by imagining beings of light, but by going down into the dark. CG Jung

And so, paradoxically, being evolved means knowing you’re not, discovering your own darkness and diversity..

and being a bit chaotic in the process…

that, or the chilling madness of sneaking out with a chainsaw before dawn one day….

How much more truly evolved might it have been to notice the antipathy to that scots pine, wondered about its significance, meditated on it as a symbol or dressed its roots with wild flowers in curiosity and un-knowing?

The pine, by the way that it grated on her nerves, gave this woman a niggling shard of her story and the implicit challenge to discern its meaning in her life as that piece of Nature which spoiled itself.

Hacking down the tree was just one more stitch in a whole crochette work of compulsive repetitions and going around in circles in lieu of being able to participate in something greater than her own wants or babyish demanding.

She robbed herself of learning about herself from that tree, why it bothered her so much, what it represented, what the inevitability of ‘imperfection’ might signify and if it were to have a voice what it might communicate.

And whatever the content of those musings might amount to, they all rest on a premise..

that I can talk to me..

that i can reflect on stuff..

from different points of veiw

and not get bogged down in any one corner of the psyche..

till eventually you have to ask yourself…

who is this that moves so enthusiastically about the psyche….

finding value in diversity?

 

The Piranha and the Puddle.

A mate of mine bought a piranha.

Up and down it swam.

Then, another.

Each at its own end now.

Then a third.

They took to the corners of the tank and so they were ok with the fourth….

But then….

No!

yes the fifth..

and they all ate each other.

In the goldfish bowl of the Near East circa 600 BC, Nebuchadnezzar was like that fifth piranha..

all teeth and…more teeth,

snapping for space.

We humans need a lot more space than we think, precisely so we can think and be receptive to our creative daimons.

So its not just about jobs and food production.

Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse – and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness –
And Wilderness is Paradise enow. Omar Khayam

Up until ‘ol Neb’ wars between incipient nations were largely about honour. Your missus has gone of with some bloke to Troy and so you’re gonna get your brother’s help and then get some mates together and whip his ass.

Which is actually quite noble..

on one level.

With Neb’ and thereafter war gets a lot stranger, its about territory, incorporating people, wrestling their beliefs off them and exporting religious ideals. Neb’ didn’t just take over their land. He took people’s stories.

An’ broke their altars…

Like Gilgamesh before him Neb’ was a vanquisher, not just of nations but of gods. His name is accosiated with Nabu, son and co-conspiritor in the demise of his mother the goddess Tiamat.

So, not a people person…

He swallowed them up, them and their stories.

He realised that kingly subjugation by force of arms was not enough. The paralysing blow is to suck out a people’s mythology.

Which is why Empires deploy missionaries before soldiers.

Meantime the king goes mad with all those stories he’s gobbled down and like Phaeton stealing Apollo’s sun chariot, threatens everyone with his inflation.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Machiavelli.

Till he’s laid low by a divine thunderbolt and has to spend seven years in the desert living on grass to reflect upon his smallness.

In order to realise that the smaller he is the more space he actually has….

till this insignificant tract..

is Eden itself.

Space for a story.

A feature of my own story is’ the dark pool’. Sometimes it’s just a puddle….

but sometimes its a bog..

and sometimes its a sea of electrified shite.

Not all these dark pools are to be crossed or messed with. Some are a great deal deeper than I am tall.

And it doth oftimes behoove me to gettafugout.

Mysteries are not there to be uncovered..

Nor are stories to be dissected with some poncy what-it-means interpretation.

Much better is, ‘wow, this has something to do with me!’ and musing on it with respectful fascination knowing all the while that you can only get one corner of it in your mouth at any one time.

The trick is that you belong to the story and not the other way around.

 

 

The epidemic.

I was conscripted into the Rhodesian bush war at eighteen. I was part of a special forces helicopter and airborne assault squad. When I joined I believed I was protecting my family and neighbours from communism. Then I began to realise it was just more western imperialist expansion, and finally that I was just a wind up doll in somebody else’s violent fantasy.

Most of my guys were killed. The unit was disbanded because there just weren’t enough of us left alive. The rest were mostly destroyed by their own darkened consciences, because they could not square what they knew of themselves with what they had done/endured. Accidents, addictions, suicides.

Swallowed up from within…

I wound up in hospital myself,

opiated fractures and torrential rain..

An accident.

You could call it karma. I prefer to think of it as Conscience, but in the way you might think about an actual person who was mad at you.

The philosophers of ancient times called themselves philosophers because that’s what best described them. They were lovers of Wisdom/Sophia, philo-Sophia. It was a relationship with the unseen.

Conscience is the same.

Freud had the idea that Conscience was simply the internalisation of cultural mores. The Super-ego. A derivative structure.

Its understandable. Conscience is part of the Principle of Relatedness or if you like, the instinct for social co-operation which many branches of science prefer to ignore. It conflicts somewhat with the tooth and claw/ survival of the fittest/linear progression of consciousness to our-fantastic-selves model.

So we can’t consider the a priori nature of structures like Conscience without having to re-think a lot of other stuff.

The fact remains that Conscience is way more than a guilty reflex.  It is a semi-autonomous archetypal complex that we’d do better to treat as we would anyone else who actually came and knocked on the door. My men did not destroy themselves out of guilt or remorse. It was precisely the opposite. It was because they refused to heed Conscience. And so she drove them to drink, broke their bodies and blew their heads off.

‘Unlived life does not sit idly on the shelf. It will turn round and bite you.’ ML von Franz

In Western Civilisation, Conscience as knowledge-within-oneself was originally embodied by Sophia/Hokmah. When Solomon consulted his Wisdom it was not just some ethical part of himself. He would confer/pray for divine inspiration. The church fathers dumbed down the story just by writing her name with a small w to big up their man Solomon, a ruse entirely foiled by Psalms 3;

14 For her profit is better than the profit of silver And her gain better than fine gold. 15 She is more precious than jewels; And nothing you desire compares with her. 16 Long life is in her right hand; In her left hand are riches and honor.…”

The notion that consciousness simply evolves means not only that we are readily seduced into beleiving that we can do no wrong, it means that we can’t find our psychological bums with our own hands and so our fate has to come to us from ‘outside’.

”To a quite terrifying degree we are threatened by wars and revolutions which are nothing other than psychic epidemics. At any moment several million human beings may be smitten with a new madness, and then we shall have another world war or devastating revolution. Modern man is battered by the elemental forces of his own psyche.” CG Jung
These psychic epidemics are a form of possession from within. Whatever we repress in the Unconscious grows horns and a tail. So we have the eternal battle with Islam which is this millenial representation of our conflict with the Dark Brother…
But it worse than that…
The deposed Goddess hasn’t gone quietly. Though its true that from the earliest  beginnings the church fathers have done their level best to write her out of the literature entirely she has a way of cropping up precisely because you can’t heave a divine being out of your pantheon without consequences.
Right from the word go she’s there in the story as lilith, Adam’s first wife who leaves him because he won’t acknowledge their equal status. A little parallel process perhaps…
then she appears as the serpent in the way that things that cannot come in by the door will come in by the window….
In some ancient sects incantation bowls were unearthed that had been buried beneath the foundations of people’s houses asking her please to leave them alone…
I adjure you by the Strong One of Abraham, to turn away from this Rashnoi b. M. and from Geyonai b. M. her husband. [Here is] your divorce and writ and letter of separation, sent through holy angels. Amen, Amen, Selah, (Wiki Lilith).
We may chuckle at such ‘superstition’, but actually its a really healthy piece of psychological hygiene. The ritual containment of archetypal forces grown angry is conditional upon acknowledging them in the first place. But this impinges on our fine assumptions about our marvellous sophistication. So we make a little snort..
and take a little snort
and go back to our cocktails on the lawn.
or whatever ratrace we’re in that holds that up as the prize…

”We’re so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget that the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive, is what it’s all about”. Joseph Campbell

This rapture begins with the humble acknowledgment that we are not masters of our own houses, that Conscience has her own life, and that any fine ideal we might manage to live out, any conviction we might have about our being at the pinnacle of anything when its all on the back of third world subjugation, sweat shops and the effective enslavement of millions is not just deluded, its part of the epidemic.