How to be a Brat.

Apparently, the Papua New Guineans have thousands of languages, over a quater of all the languages on the planet are spoken on this one fairly small chunk of land…

How come?

I mean, apart from the arduous climbing across razor sharp mountain ranges covered in brambles to get to a destination at which you might wind up on the host’s menu?

What does having a language for every village say about them?

Well, they don’t get about much.

They don’t need to.

Something common to these disparate groups is a sysem of kinship so elaborate that who you can marry is veeeery limited. They remain un-entangled by the tendrils of excessive option.

Who you get to be with is pretty much a done deal. So, no frenetic dating or anxious wondering if your new beau is ‘the One’. No eternal wandering or having to make the ‘right’ choice from overwhelming eligibility, further disoriented by the tidal wash of hormones induced by fantasies of unlimited potential partners.

You can sit back.

And needn’t learn the languages further than the bend in the river.

Sometimes its not just practical but psychologically more healthy to have less. Children feel more relaxed when choices are made simple and adults find it easier to establish their priorities.

Too many options smacks of being fobbed off. The promise of endless choice is compensation for something, a prelude to manipulation. We are collectively the spoilt brat who has too much, sent mad by excess,  whilst only able to cast about symbolically for what is really needed.

And so we consume rather than feed. Rather than feel the emptiness such that something might come of it, we concretise it into a cupboard of 126 pairs of shoes, the longing for that holiday destination, lottery win fantasises, dream guy, latest gadget, must have….

or just the mundane dreary crud of eternal dissatisfaction.

You should have more.

And its true.

I once asked an African man at a rural bus stop in Matabeleland when the bus would come.

‘Today’, he assured me.

You should have more of that.

The problem with our deification of the persona, culminating in the dark cults of  Celebrity, Bling and Political Correctness, is not simply that it is frivolous.

It’s that it cannot help but oppress you for your own good. Firstly, because it assumes everyone else is an idiot, a role to which many will gladly abdicate and  children in particular are liable to embrace as life’s expectation of them.

But mostly its because any conviction that one has arrived to the point where personal epiphany is codified and exported at the end of a gun has only one thing left to acheive.


The dying without falling down variety of death.

Or maybe that too.

Either way Nature will be done with you.

and we wonder why our culture is anxious.

The fear of death itself (second only in terror to the thought that one might be condemned to sit on a cloud and forced to learn an instrument forever) is one we can scarcely catch from the corner of our eye. Death is something that happens to other people.

Yet there is something way scarier than death.

”The refusal of the loan of life because of the debt of death.” V. Frankl.

This ‘no-ological neurosis’ to paraphrase Frankl, is the provisional life, the narcissistic paddy that eternally wants it’s options and the tossing of everything out of the pram that goes with the wish to be ignorant, counter spiraling into the sweaty warmth of Them, who’ll grant that wish to be alleviated of life’s cares…

but at the expense of aliveness itself.

‘There is only one thing that I fear, not to be worthy of life’s suffering’. F. Dostoevsky.

We clamour for freedom forgetting what it entails, or intuiting it sufficiently to quietly substitute the project of exercising life’s sparkly options instead, pursuing the life that maximises choice, even if having seven types of cola or peanut butter means the oppression, subjugation and un-freedom ofself and others.

It suits us to believe that our freedom, if not our worth and redemption, is rooted in having as much time for pouring over life’s infinite catalogues that the day will allow. It suits us because we need not reflect too long or hard on our actual lack, the loss that goes with not following your own star, the disclaimers we want divine signatures for before we risk stepping the crooked miles that are the Way.

Freedom has never been about having all you want or doing whatever you please despite intense media pressure upon us to swallow such values as tomorrow’s possibility whilst slapping our wrists for stepping out of line today.

What we think of as freedom is actually a form of mental slavery.

The lifestyles we largely espouse, codified in statutes like the right to pursue happiness, as if it were a thing, are really no more than a constitutional promise to look the other way whilst we satisfy the regressive need to have seven types of cheese on our pizza…

….provided you live in debt as a wage slave and swallow the cheese on the nine o’clock news along with your dinner.

The fact that we’re living with chronic anxiety, and attacking the world that contains us as our best solution to the problem, gets all shmeered over withpromises of…

the glittering Thing.

The next lover, the dream holiday, the perfect job.

‘The sun will come out tomorrow, so you got to hang on till tomorrow come what may! Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow.’ Barbra Striesland.

Despit all the in-fighting Christianity, Islam and Judaism, all have something in common, the loss of the Divine Feminine has produced an unwitting failure to live in the present a veiw symbolically ensconced in their respective visions of Paradise.

For the Christians… Heaven is the future paradise. The meek shall inherit… tomorrow.

For the Jews… One day, my son, one day God will keep his Covenant with his Chosen people…

And Islam goes even further, with promises of more virgins than you could possibly need or get through to anyone martyring themselves for Allah…at some point.


In the meantime put your shoulder to the wheel. We’ll stuff you like geese from the front whilst we shaft you like dogs from behind .

Monkey Business.

When I was a kid growing up in Zambia we used to go visit a local zoo/nature reserve outside Lusaka called ‘Mundawanga’. I privately called it ‘Mundawanka’ because the Vervet monkeys were always masturating…

and would look you bang in the eye while they were at it.

There were a dozen or so males of various ages in a cage the size of your living room, all with their dicks out…..

all day…

every day.

In their cramped and unnatural captivity, all pressed together in a space not suitable territory for one, they had found a neurotic solution to their claustrophobic situation. After all, as every good Vervet knows, the correct behaviour when encounetring someone having a wank is not to encroach. Leave them alone and let them get on with it.

Space and separation…

which is good..

But rubbing yourself raw…

not good.

The monkeys were also great thieves. Loss of territory had led to loss of honour, relatedness and rules of engagement. Everyone was fair game.  Woe betide any young child with a bar of Aero who thinks he can go put his fingers through the mesh and hang on the wire cage. They know about pockets and will fleece you something rotten.

The Single System system, concentrated power in concentrated space, is just like that monkey cage. They all have their dicks out and will rob you in a heartbeat.

Concentrated power in concentrated space breeds paranoia throughout the cage and the need for space which, barring despair, only compulsive behaviour will give you.

Back in the day, some Pacific Islanders ritually killed their kings once in a while. Any one who wanted to be king could nominate themselves. One would be chosen and for a year he would enjoy all kinds of inflated priviledges and being above the law…..

until your twelve months is up.

Then you get handed a sharp knife. Sometimes you get to have sex at the shaky end of a log pile.

And then they start over..

which seems like a very sensible thing to do.

Culturally, the killing of the king brought fruitfullness to the land and life to the people. Psychologically, it induced an encounter with the archetype of Kingship itself, for anyone can step forward. It would be both terrifying in its awesome power and seduction, overwhelming with its fantasy of limitless possibility, acrid with the fumes of death…

…like Galadriel’s encounter with the Ring.

which is why we prefer the Single System system whether its skull cap or dog collar. We can depend upon it to help us suppress our experience of numinosity for the sake of our ontological security.

‘Religion is a defense against the experience of god.’ CG Jung.

We need our all-powerful and oppressive Caesars who constantly behave as though they were above the law, like Gods, so that we need not differentiate too closely between what to render to one and what to render to the other. We do this despite the loss to our own inner journeying and the raw rub of eternally marking time that this will cost us.

It is our version of the Vervet’s neurotic solution. The loss of inner creative space that is the price of abdicating a personal relationship with Psyche leads to endless masturbation, thievery and the kind of frenetic apathy, the aggrieved restlessness that is the curse of any child who is both intruded upon by a parent/state/zoo keeper whilst simultaneously being abandoned by it….

the monkey in the equation develops a quite understandable conscientious objection to reality.

Any moment that might still retain a bit of it must be evaded with all speed..

‘and so he mounts his horse and gallops furiously in every direction… ruthless in the destruction of potentials that must mature in their own form and season..’ F Wickes.

The effect on relatedness and creativity is catastrophic….

I once lived in a tiny English village in which there was a little old lady with a title and a massive house. She had been raised in a cage even more gilded than mine. Her capacity for relatedness was shot to pieces. She was a millionaire but the neighbour’s kids had to pay to use her tennis court. I fixed her flat tyre for which she immediately thrust a bottle of wine at me, unable to bear the bonds of simple co-operation. I had to be paid off directly.

Her grasp of other’s needs was catastrophically warped. A local man found a disraught motorist at the side of the narrow lane that wound steeply up through the village. He was clearly distressed.

‘Are you all right?’

”No, I broke down at the foot of the hill but a little old lady offered to tow me up.”

‘Oh dear, you didn’t accept?’


‘Much damage?’

…..  All the energy that might have gone into something nourishing builds up and turns back on whatever, or whoever, is handy. The dissociated potential has grown horns and a tail. Genuine feeling or inspiration gets dumbed down into moods, knee jerk reactions and wild low gear ratios.

though the smooth and satisfied surface of the inner millpond that is the inheritance of God’s chosen people remains unruffled.

But without being affect-ed, there is no affect-ion.

No being rooted in love.

and so we too become masturbating monkeys having passed up…

‘the troublesome germ of individual king/queen ship.’ F Wickes.

Around about the time that humanity started caging monkeys they also started caging kids.

sacrificial dormitories.

Mine really did have cages on the windows. Grenade screens. Our pre-eminence as the kids of the White elite rulers made attack from African terrorists (people who didn’t like us taking over their country) a very real threat. I spent many a night standing guard over other sleeping teens, armed with a lee-enfield .303 rifle and listening for any sound.

Bling has this tradition of sending the kids away, as a display of wealth and obeisance to the centralised power. The very real suffering involved propitiates the Gods and eases parental paths to greatness.

Children become fetishistic objects sacrificed on the altar of Bling. Inner Nobility is projected onto glittering others and then chased after. And you do it yourself. You buy into it. I remember my initial pride and the look in people’s eyes when I told them where I went to school. The lurch of respect, the sage nodding, the rush of power whilst simultaneously knowing, completely and entirely, that it was a crock of shit.

where we wanked and stole.

If not each other’s stuff then each other’s pride and dignity, tutored in deception and some being more equal than others.

We think we’re a child friendly society but along with the chihuahua…

”we have the fairly universal civilised belief that a child’s impulses need to be curbed in order to make him social.” J. Liedloff.

This is germane even at the liberal end of the spectrum. We have the basic..

”assumption that the child has an antisocial nature, in need of manipulation to become socially acceptable.” ibid

When this fails, Freud’s infantile sexuality theory sets the seal on the stupid thing breaking itself. Parental influence and cages are written out of the equation. The Church loves it because it chimes so well with original sin. And so for the first time in two thousand years Church and Science agree on something.

You are the bad seed.

So that’s how you will grow.

But not as fast as we can build correctional facilities to house yo’ ass.




On Wallowing-in-Self-Pity.

Feeling-Sorry-for-Yourself is a curious beast. In his more malign aspect and having swallowed down something nasty, he is Wallowing-in-Self-Pity, a terrible sight, altogether smidging and grimbly. But if you were to stumble across him on the forest floor in the course of your travels, you might be in for a treat, despite his unpleasant demeanor….

and smell.

For if he manages to cough up…

the thing..

…..that now so chokes and deadens…..

…if he can wretch, if he can allow the feeling of being a wretch, if he can be persuaded to nurse the honest feeling of being unloved, then he will turn into an entirely different creature before your very eyes….. different, he will have to introduce himself all over again.


Feeling into the world of being unloved is the beginning of love. So you musn’t drive Wallowing away, or beat him with sticks. Strangely, if you are lucky enough to come across him cowering in the bushes and bewailing loud enough for you to prepare yourself for the terrible sight…

be kind.

be excited…..

He is no Jabberwock to simply be slain.

Just prod him gently with your stick from a safe distance to let him know you are there and then find a comfy spot.

Take out your sandwiches and wait.

The Madness of Caesars.

Around the time that the Roman Empire made itself Holy and Emperor Constantine became the first Pope, historians noticed a rather disturbing trend in the leadership..

they were all mad as hatters.

it was partly down to inbreeding but mostly it was about having unlimited power over more than imagination could encompass.

‘Absolute power corrupts absolutely.’ Machiavelli.

and it corrupted them in some curious and interesting ways. Caligula made his horse a senator. Nero fiddled while Rome burned, largely because he’d set the blaze himself, just to see what happened. When challenged on this he displaced the blame onto a new and unpopular sect called Christians, rounded up every one and fed them to wild animals,

‘a vast multitude were convicted, not so much on the charge of burning the city, as of “hating the human race.” Tacitus.

and so he had them torn apart and burned for evening torches to light the Coliseum before announcing himself God.

Wiki have an entry for ‘mental ilness in monarchs’. You have to scroll a bit. Edward II seized power by the imaginative route of assassinating his father with a red hot poker.. up his bum.

Charles VI  of France thought he was made of glass.

Vlad the Impaler had a thing for …well, impaling.

but the list does seem a tad conservative. Notable exceptions include Louis the Sun king of France who needed the daily adulation of 400 hand picked spectators, nobles all, to witness the amazing feat of him slicing the top off his boiled egg at breakfast.


and then there was Catherine the Great who had a thing about horses, the well-hung stallion kind. Unfortunately it was the death of her and not in the way you might think. Having endured the girth of his member the queen was crushed by the entire beast, accidently dropped by rope and harness bearing servants who must have momentarily found something else to do with their hands.

And dear Leopold II of Belgium who enslaved the entire Congolese people in their own country , mutilating and murdering them by the millions. That’s a bit mad.

….but there must have been some good ones, what about Richard the wossname, LionHeart….?

You mean the great liberator of the City of Acre in 1191 who butchered 2,700 civilian prisoners bound hand and foot…?

or..or..or.. Charlemagne, yeah he built Uninversities an’ stuff.

….architect supreme of the Dark Ages who entrenched and consolidated a paralysing system of feudalism that would persist for 500 years until the er.. social levelling of the Black Death.

Not to mention his little tea party in the forests of Verdun 782 AD, where 4,500 enemy saxon prisoners were decapitated one by one…, not because they were enemies who’d tried to kill him and would do so again given half a chance but because they refused to sniff the glove and convert.

This system, with its mad monarchs has not changed with the democratizing of nations. In fact Democracy is a stage of its evolution, currently in its underground puppating stage, like a big fat Witchety grub. The old kings take off their crowns, retire quietly, marry into money, themselves, and carry on behind closed doors. They have ‘extensive portfolios’ and pull the strings of government just like before…

except on silent running..

and now veiw the battle not from the traditional nearby hill atop a white charger, but by drone, whose feed you can veiw by the pool half a world away..

if you can be arsed.

There seems to be something inevitable about the madness of monarchs.

But why? And why is nearly 90% of Wiki’s list of mental monarchs the various glittery crowns of Western civilisation?

Only one crazy Chinese Emperor, though he was a real humdinger. Quianfei, who had a taste for eyeballs in honey and regularly had his female relations raped  while he watched. Those that resisted in any way were beheaded. When his advisors protested he ordered them to commit suicide.

Curiously the record contains a final note on Quianfei..

..that he dreamt of a woman prophesying his death within the year on account of his entirely ungoverned passions.

He duly succumbed.

No African kings on the list. Idi Amin doesn’t count. He only imagined that he was the last king of Scotland.

The, ‘ how do they get so crazy?’ question is easier to address than, ‘ why do we have it like this’?

In nearly all other kingship systems around the world the king is a custodian of the nation and there to ratify natural law, the law of Harmatia, the Principle of Relatedness. In the West the king does not ratify, he codifies the law. He conceptualises it and then lives above it.

King David rapes Bathsheba and  orders her husband Uriah into the thick of battle to ensure his death. Natural law doesn’t apply to him. Without relatedness he becomes unhinged.

but its allowed, so long as you’re sorry..

and worship no other gods..

yes, and worship no other gods…..

whom we shan’t mention…or name.


More important than describing how this happens is why we’d have such inflated leadership in the first place.

And I’m afraid the answer is because its convenient to have distant others rule our fate. We don’t have to evolve. We can project all the symbols, responsibilities and struggles for human value and meaning onto celebrity, wealth and power.

and be their bitches.

”So long as we are blind to the inner tyrant, we blame an outer tyrant when we fall into darkness”. M. Woodman.

… loading them down with the myriad archetypal projections that constitute those deepest hopes and aspirations of a people. The mental monarchs and celeb equivalents are psychically cut to pieces by the collective claws of a nation’s disowned individuation. In what Moore and Gillet call ‘the Abdication Syndrome’, we live in a culture where others are elected to ‘make it’ on our behalf. We bask in their regal glow and participate vicariously in a fantasy of acclaim and adulation..

whilst having to do nothing.


the rare hope of newborns.



The King’s secret Curse.

Dying is a tricky business. Even at the best of times..

if there is such a thing as a good day to die.

There are no rehearsals to attend and no on-line courses you can download. We know we have to go and that we can’t know when, just that it gets increasingly likely. There is no wrong time or unfair moment.

Having banished the containing vessel of the Great Mother who might make a better job of consolation where it’s needed rather than the other side of bikes for Christmas, the horror of it all is just too much to bear…

and so we quietly collude with the crippling expectation to be someone else’s golden child, or their whore, and find some croutons of succor and semblance of omnipotence over death in the shared identity, the participation mystique of the collective self, the inheritance of dashing, archetypal roles, though they do like the easy way out and would just as soon you fell asleep in the snow.

In Greek mythology king Midas is given Ass’s ears by Apollo as a poetic affliction for this tendency of the golden child to collude with the very thing that prevents him from being himself, the heady cocktail of mother’s ambition fizzing with the instinct to acheive his own potential…

see if you can get that right…

all puffed up with this unholy expectation, Midas stupidly questions Apollo’s judgement in a music contest.

So Apollo zaps him with Ass’s ears as if to say, ‘lets see if you can hear better with these’…

and maybe the God is simply making visible what just happened..


Midas has been contaminated by some psychic content that doesn’t belong to him such that he would speak to the God as though he were one himself.

The Ass has long been associated with the Divine Feminine and in its horned aspect as Unicorn, the Self.

being slapped with such a pair of ears is going to give you the mother complex from hell.

and whilst it might preserve from overdue concern about niggly things like mortality or life’s meaning and purpose in the meanwhile, it also devours his essential humanity from within and gives him instead the living death of being a bit player whose actions, attitudes, goals and ambitions are now no longer his own…

and whilst he functions perfectly well, and swans Elysian fields unbegnighted by either death’s spectre or the risk of an unprotected life, that life is still someone else’s.

Midas tries to keep this from being known and swears his barber to secrecy. But the poor man is overwhelmed by the burden of such a secret and whispers it into a hole in the ground. Reeds grow up. A musician cuts one for a flute and the first notes played tell the story….

Not only is the Emperor knaked, he is not his own man.

Eaten up from within.

The idea that a psychopathic adaptation, the beginning of Narcissism, is simply because of the absence or lack of something is not unlike the Catholic doctrine of ‘Privatio Boni’, that evil is the privation of good. Clever old Augustine. What a lad. He gets to terrify you with visions of hell and damnation whilst dismissing Satan with a papal bull that says he’s not a real thing.


The Psychoanalytic proponents of deprivation as causal in Narcissistic Personality Disorder are at the liberal end of this spectrum.

More  hardcore than Augustine.

You did it to yourself.

We’ll pay lipservice to..

‘the lack of a sufficient containing environment..’ Lederman

and in the next breath will say that..

‘a baby who experiences the breast as noxious can barricade itself off from the mother…’ ibid

You are the problem. You barricaded yourself.

all of which precludes the possibility of being noxiously fed.

‘Not so readily do we give up what we drink with our mother’s milk’. Dostoevsky.

And so despite ideological differences the Pew and the Couch agree on a fundamental issue.

You are bad.

In fact, because of the restrictions placed on her, mother buries her own deep treasure in the vessel of her child, in lieu of being able to realise it in her own lifetime. Like an ancient priestess burying forbidden sacred things in earthenware jars…

for the future….

sometimes the story of the whispered secret and the reed flute surface like the Gnostic gospels at Nag Hammadi, and other times, less fortunately, mother’s inheritance, made necessary by the oppression of her own sacred heart, comes to fruition as a big fat psychiatric label.

‘One of the most wicked destructive forces, psychologically speaking, is unused creative power … If someone has a creative gift and out of laziness, or for some other reason, doesn’t use it, the psychic energy turns to sheer poison. That’s why we often diagnose neuroses and psychotic diseases as not-lived higher possibilities.’ Marie-Louise von Franz

This story of unlived possibility finds collective expression principle in the ancient Talmudic rendering of the story of the Flood.

Its way more interesting than our version.

yeah, tales of unresolved conflict, desecration and betrayal an’ fings…

So, the story goes that only the great and the good get into the Ark as you’d expect and all the sinful who foolishly wanted to live life on their own terms were summarily deluged and drowned.


Buuut…. The Unicorn, aka She who must not be named


..who was so huge that only Her nose could fit on the Ark, was lashed to the side of the craft and towed along in the waves.

there’s more…

Lashed onto the other side of the hull was a giant, the mighty king Og of Dashan. Like Midas with his affliction from elsewhere stuck onto him, these Beings that had to be suppressed for consciousness to be ‘afloat’, plague the Ark on both sides.

the return of the repressed..

The Patriarchal barge finds itself afflicted by archetypal contents it hoped to leave behind but now has to deal with in their less sophisticated animal and giant forms.

It turns out Og is a descendant of the original angels kicked out  of Heaven for siding with you know who. He called the city he founded after the flood, ‘Ashtaroth’ in honour of,


And so the Ark is carrying a great secret, hidden in the rolling waves, living symbols of the Sacred Feminine and her son lover, the very pair

at which the flood was aimed..

them and their sort..

but half submerged, exhausted, vengeful, and most dangerously, adhered to consciousness rather than a part of it and manifesting in an undifferentiated destructive way that dogs our culture. Marion Woodman calls it the ‘Death Mother, the critical inner Harpie that kills innovation, novelty, enthusiasm, which pours cold water on spontaneity, spreads doubt and clips wings and turns life to stone, the fate of Midas’ daughter whom he accidently turns to gold.

This phenomenon is quietly endemic in our society. A recent survey of one hundred elderly folk were asked about their greatest regret. Their response was unanimous.

and not for some rash act or sinful shortcoming but for the self they had failed to become, the things they’d talked themselves out of doing, the aliveness they’d choked off, the beat of their own drummer that Ass’s ears had stopped them hearing.

Baba Yaga and the Wooden Child

There is a Jewish joke about a mother and son out for a day on the pier when a wave comes along and washes the boy out to sea…

too close to the edge…

The horrified woman turns to a crowd of fellow daytripers carefully stood a sensible twenty metres further back and screams…

”Who will save my baby….?’

After much shuffling of feet a hero steps forward, strips off and dives into the furious brine. After an eternity of battling mountainous seas our brave swimmer drags the half drowned boy from the foam.

Mother scampers across the pebbles, takes one impassive look at her bedraggled son before turning angrily to the saviour,  ”and the hat?”

Deeper than the expectation to be helped in her plight is a bedrock of belief that says life is always disappointing. Not even having her child restored to her can shake this conviction.

The hero goes away feeling like a failure but what of the boy? Can you imagine what it must be like trying to live up to the expectations of such a mother on a daily basis?

…perhaps that he somehow has to keep mother herself afloat…?

Is that how he managed to find himself so close to the jaws of danger in the first place? Flushed with heroic power and entitlement?

i cannot drown and drown me now

What symbiotic, omnipotent collusion between mother and son places him so close to the edge?

He is carrying something, or rather, being run by something,a construct so powerful, so destructive, that it overrides the instinct for self-preservation.

But, what?

Parental expectation might parade as ‘I only want what’s best for you,’ but it has a pernicious and hidden aspect that impacts on the child and shapes Being itself, one powerful enough to warrant the construction of narcissistic defences.

answer the frikkin question, expectation of what?

..that the child lives out and fulfills the secret and unintegrated aspects of the parental psyche…that s/he carry parent’s archetypal expectations, do heroic deeds on their behalf and redeem them from their fate. Nature abhors a vacuum and top of the inheritance ledger for kids is the dubious legacy of their parents’ unlived lives. All of which leaves the child with a mechanical or wooden approximation of their own.

A story that shows us how this happens comes from Russia. It is one of many  about Baba Yaga and Vassilisa the Brave.

In this version of the story a childless couple wrap a log of wood in a blanket. The old man chisels a babe from the wood which becomes the child, Vassilisa.

We have the expression ‘a chip off the the old block’ for a person carrying on the legacy or destiny of another, their own unfolding compromised.

Such a child grows super-alert to signs of parental expectation since their emotional world depends upon anticipation of the chisel’s line.

‘If you project the shadow long enough, it will appear.” CG Jung.

…all the disallowed parental creativity, sexuality and symbols of spiritual life will be picked up by the child. Once they’ve taken root in a psyche other than the one that spawned them these contents are bound to lend that life an automated and perfunctory appearance as spontaneous being is swallowed up by efforts to compete for affection with the idea of itself, intojected from the other.

Jung tells the story in his autobiography of a local girl he knew who became a prostitute. He knew the family, a puritannical wife and a henpecked husband who seemed to share only a loathing of the body. The daughter was loaded down with all the unintegrated, primitive sexuality in the family. Once she grasped that her motivation to prostitute herself had been unconsciously engendered in her and that she was living out her parents’ shadow, she got a day job.

If the child is a’ blockhead’, ours to mould or carve, when we fail to trust her own innate knowing of how to be, then the child’s instinct to live up to expectations becomes a cruel trap.

because the expectation is to betray herself….

‘My Mother said, I never should
Play with the gypsies in the wood.
Your hair shan’t curl and your shoes shan’t shine,
You gypsy girl, you shan’t be mine!’ Children’s folk song

What happens when someone says, ‘be nice’…?

especially, three seconds before knocking on the door of the people you’re about to have dinner with…?

Why would you say such a thing unless deep down you felt that I was not nice and had to be reminded to bolt social convention onto my rough hide?

I’m expected not to be nice.

Ok, so… that’s what I’ll be. The instinct for social co-operation pays more attention to conviction than imperative.

Vassilisa is told,  ‘don’t go into the forest whatever you do’,.. stupid wooden headed girl who is bound to just wander off…

and so she does.

Such expectations..

’cause much traffic in lost child departments and when mixed with a ‘watch out, you’ll hurt yourself!’ promise, a good number of drownings, serious falls and road accidents.” J Liedloff.

At a local independent senior school a teacher become so frustrated with students loosing their pens that she buys a barrel of them and sets it up at the front of the class. After a week all the pens are gone but still nobody has one….

the underlying reality is that the kids are being excessively babied by the teacher’s unconscious needs. They aren’t expected to be responsible. So they aren’t, their maturity is gobbled up by Baba Yaga, cruising the playground in her ‘hut on hen’s legs’…

on the lookout for tasty boys and girls.

Baba Yaga is somewhat like Kali from Hindu tradition only Kali is also depicted giving birth as well as devouring her babies. In the West the fragmenting of the Divine Feminine has lead to a more demonic, chaotic version of the goddess, contaminated with unlived potential that lends millenial weight behind mundane situations.

Parent and child on a garden path.. the child is fascinated with all the bugs…  sees one, a big beetle and goes over to inspect it. Mother shouts, ‘don’t kill it!’ The child stops short having learned something new and unpleasant about herself. The beetle survives but the child’s curiosity does not. It lies crushed upon the path.

To whatever extent the parent prescribes for the child some fragment of their own forbidden heart they devour the child’s own unfolding life by the same measure.

Baba Yaga captures Vassilisa. The child is overwhelmed by unintegrated parental shadow..

worthless child…!

and archetypal expectations to fix everything that is wrong in that parent’s’s life..

my hero….!

Either way Vassilisa is prevented from going further on her way through the forest.

She is in the belly of the beast….

…not quite a real girl for as long as she remains unseen apart from all the hopes and dreams and nightmares that others have invested in her which, paradoxically, her instincts for self preservation, rooted in learning by example and social expectation, are urgently trying to assimilate.

The conflict between the wish to be a real girl (but with all the hurts and betrayals of life) and the false self (with all its perks and free dinners) renders her response to life mechanical, even robotic.

she’s havin’ the life sucked out of her.

Deprivation is not just the absence of something….

not just..

‘the unfulfilled expectations of a linking (or) lack of emotional linking.’ Lederman.

It is the presence of something that is devouring, life consuming, alien.

Psychoanalysis has trouble facing this. After all Baba Yaga is pretty scary. But for the want of acknowledging the impact of parental projections with their gamut of expectations onto children the subsequent narcissistic adaptations are  bound to be made baby’s fault. The child is made to feel that she is ill because of …

‘her defence against introjecting the maternal environment…’ ibid

as though Mama was all cream puff and apple pie.

the baby is …

‘a baby that does not link….’ ibid

Perhaps, just perhaps, she had a good reason for that.

and cannot draw on good memories of infantile feeds…

hard to enjoy if its interrupting mother’s busy schedule, if she’s frustrated, depleted, crashing through the undergrowth and secretly looking to baby to make it better.. or holding baby responsible..

and so the cart is put before the horse.

‘the defences of the self prevent the baby from using any of his sense organs to introject the breast and the maternal environment.’ ibid

he died not because he was pushed from the cliffs but because he fell upon the rocks..

…and yet allowed a moment of whimsy as to the fate of Frankenstein’s monster, a more modern symbol for the constructed child, Lederman acknowledges in poetry what she cannot in psychoanalytic theory..

The constructed child..

‘on account of utter rejection and forced isolation is driven to destroy…’ ibid

If you have gone away I must have destroyed you so that is what I do. I attack myself and those I love.

Stay in the belly, it is at least a familiar hell..

though paranoid

for what else is paranoia other than poisoned expectation?

Baba Yaga holds Vassilisa the Brave for a long time. She uses the child’s instinct to live up to others’ expectations against her. Eventually, Vassilisa’s true self wins through, but only after an eternity of sweeping Baba Yaga’s hearth and fulfilling all her bidding. One day she up and stuffs Baba Yaga’s daughter in the oven, a bit like in ‘Hansel and Gretel’, and escapes onto the roof during the ensuing mellee.

A passing goose, who happens to be there at the right moment, who is the right moment, carries her to safety and freedom. What seems to happen is that when something is instigated to tip the balance of life in our favour, when longing for authentic experience becomes a great need, then something unaccountable, mysterious, turns up out of the blue to save the day.

The goose is ‘avis hermetis’, Vassilisa’s own wild soul, restored to her once the spell of having to live out the destiny of another can be resolved.

With a boot.

The problem with the hut on hen’s legs as a containing vessel and the reason Vassilisa spends so long there is that for her to escape she has to trade in the heady magic of being so important to her captor, the buzz of being invested with Baba Yaga’s need. She has  begun to identify with her aggressor.

And so the burden she carries begins to feel like priviledge, her true being, which authentic feeling would contradict…

annihilate, in fact.

So tricking Baba Yaga’s daughter, the self she’s supposed to be, and escaping up onto the roof is a brush with death..

flushed with the kind of feelings you might associate with stuffing someone into an oven….