JULY: Patricia Damery and Naomi Ruth Lowinsky: Marked by Fire: Stories of the Jungian Way.
“This life is the way, the long sought after way to the unfathomable which we call divine.” C.G. Jung, The Red Book
Each of us has a story about how we found our way to Jung, or to Depth Psychology. Often it is a story about a life crisis: something or someone has died, the old structure falls apart, life as we knew it doesn’t work anymore. We are disoriented, confused, depressed. And then, something surprising happens, something new is born-- in a dream we discover a room in our house we never knew was there. These life altering experiences are our personal versions of Jung’s “confrontation with the unconscious” which he recorded in The Red Book. His courage has encouraged us all.
When Mel Mathews of Fisher King Press asked us to collaborate on an anthology, we knew we wanted a collection stories about the lived experience of the “Jungian Way.” We invited Jungian analysts and teachers to write personally about their own soulful paths, and how the fire marked them. The people we chose were able to do just that, following that trail of mystery Soul presents. Marked by Fire is the result.
We are pleased to be able to converse with you who are members of the Depth Psychology Alliance’s Book Club about Marked by Fire. It is our hope that you’ll feel inspired to reflect on your own life journey, and to share some of it with us.
Marked by Fire is divided into five sections. During our four weeks together in July we plan to focus on each section. We have four groups of questions for you which we will present at the beginning of each week. They correspond with the structure of the book.
We’ll likely add more questions as our conversation sparks them.
Please read the first three stories by Patricia Damery, Jerome Bernstein, and Claire Douglas, all of whose writings come under the Section Heading: The Might of the Earth.
The land is alive, sacred and essential in these stories. Patricia Damery awakened to soul on the farm where she was raised. Jerome Bernstein, a city boy, had an experience of merger with the land when he began working with the Navajo. Claire Douglas credits a farm she had in Oregon with saving her soul. That terrain nourished and cultivated her, and helped her find her circuitous way to Jung.
Question: Has the Earth spoken to you on your own soulful path? Are there riddles you have been required to “live”? Have the ancestors of the land upon which you live influenced and/or helped you? Do you have an early memory or dream that foreshadows your life’s concerns and passions?
Thank you, Ruth and Yvette for addressing the issue around the term 'animus'.
Maybe poetry is the way to 'unpack' the conundrum - I have had dream images that seem to be animus appearances, but I don't want to overlay my cultural baggage or lens in having them come to life consciously.
The book Animus Aeternus sounds promising, thank you Ruth.
It seems to me that ML von Franz brought her animus to life in a very full way (for her) of advocating for feelings and the way of the heart in her last lecture, which is one of my all time favorites. It is
C. G. Jung's Rehabilitation of the Feeling Function in Our Civilization
Marie-Louise von Franz
Jung Journal: Culture & Psyche
Vol. 2, No. 2 (Spring 2008), pp. 9-20
Dear Patricia and Ruth – I have only just gotten to read parts of Marked by Fire, and I am so taken with the experience and setting you have engaged with in the compilation of the book – thank you for prefacing the book and each section with the anchor of the land alive and speaking through images.
I love Truchas NM and have memories of times outside in the surrounds that still bring delight. Reading Patricia’s chapter has elucidated the reason why. It has do with sharing the feeling of the experience of eternity in nature with another person or alone.
I wonder if that mysterious word you experienced “manitou” indicates this feeling state of eternity in nature?
Is this a specifically feminine way of approaching life?
Does the experience of Manitou have any qualities or states that you would care to describe or elaborate from your experience?
Your remark (p. 14) on setting the (manitou) stone, as establishing the intention of harmonious balance between earth and sky is beautiful – now I recall all the standing stones I have seen in my hikes around New Mexico!
I am also struck by Robert Romanyshyn’s quotation of Rilke, on p. 138: “Earth, isn’t this what you want: an invisible re-arising in us?”
IS there something of the emergence of the archetypal hinted at in this quote?
Reading parts of Marked by Fire has given me a feeling of kinship with the Jungian way as described by so many of the authors. Thank you for the gold, and the encouragement to continue with the effort of exploring and expressing psyche – that of the Earth and all of us. I look forward to seeing you at the DPA gathering for your book signing this Saturday.
Thank you for your comments. I do think the experience of what may be manitou is an experience of eternity. I think of it as an absolute presence that is at once objective and personal. It really is an experience that is hard to put into words because it is so beyond language. In my dream, the manitou was mysterious, compelling, but also dark and wingless, like a penguin. It is a combination of the sky and earth, perhaps the dark light of alchemy. And Robert's comment is very appropriate here: an invisible re-arising , something once known, I suspect, but now known in another way.
And I am glad that you share the feeling of the numinous of Truchas. It too is dark and light, full of presence and pain. The landscape is spare, full of mysterious history and otherness.
Thank you, Julie, I haven't read that von Franz lecture, but I will. - Yvette
I've been thinking about my experience of animus since it's come up in our book club discussion. I think the break through for me was when my experience of the masculine in dreams and in life burst out of the patriarchy and I found myself accompanied by wild men, green men, Shamans, helpful cthonic types who moved rocks for me, creative figures who supported my poetry. Truly my inner life and access to my creative fire was transformed when the Shaman of the Stones, years ago, showed me the Older Brother Stones, and then said: "There are even older stones, they are the Older Sister Stones." He then informed me that when a stick, dipped in menstrual blood, is struck on one of these stones, there is fire. This dream has been working on me for maybe twenty years, informing my poetry and prose. The shaman, of course, is the early form of the poet.
Hope to get to meet many of you tomorrow at the Depth Psychology Alliance event for "Marked by Fire>"
Most of my therapeutic work has centered around the feminine. My mother was psychologically and physically abusive, while my dad sat by as a ghost of man and did nothing to intervene. I don't recall having even one conversation with my dad about me. I had lesbian relationships in my 20's and was an outspoken gay activist. In my 30's I worked at a public policy think tank in Washington, D.C. where I married my husband and had two daughters. When my youngest daughter was diagnosed with Leukemia (as I mentioned in an earlier post), everything changed for me that would be too long to explain in this group. Most of my dreams and meditations have featured feminine symbols, goddesses and other women-centered themes in an attempt to heal the feminine which has caused me a lot of trouble in my life and led me into a rigid Christian church experience that was strictly patriarchal. Since then, I have encountered very few animus-type images. Naomi, when I read the chapter about the male muse in your book, The Sister from Below, I could feel the rage building in me when your initial "muse" appeared oppressive and controlling. I didn't think I could read any further. Thankfully, I relaxed into your true male muses. I'm hoping that in the future, I will meet my own male muse/animus in a healthy way.
It's wonderful that you have been so nourished by the feminine, Yvette.
My own positive animus showed up later in my life, and dreams with the powerful creative figures I mentioned only came after I'd raised my children. I think I then had psychic space to entertain this new/ancient masculine energy.
I do hope your creative animus shows up for you in meaningful ways. Each of our paths is so different. It's quite a mystery.
Naomi--I've just finished reading your essay in Marked by Fire and have been so struck by your portrayal of Jung--and your relationship to him. It's really touching to understand that not everyone--even Jungian analysts :) -- always understand him, agree with him, or even feel they can necessarily always relate.
The entree you provided in seeing Jung as an artist, and in engaging with him in such a rich creative way (Thank you, Sister!), also allowed me a container to examine my own relationship with Jung. In spite of the Red Book (which I have yet to spend some serious time with), I realize how much I still regard Jung as a scholarly bookish patriarchal type even though I know of the shift he made toward the spiritual the older he got.
Engaging with Jung personally and peering into his soul clearly gives each of us a chance to peer into our own souls and discover the poetry there. I'm inspired to discover my own relationship to Jung more deeply--and to finally open that Red Book and give it the attention is deserves. It's been calling me--and now I feel I have a bit of perspective to enter with a framework that will help me read it with soul in mind. Thanks so much for sharing your story here. It's truly lovely.
I'm so glad my essay spoke to you. And if it has inspired you to engage with The Red Book, which is quite an endeavor but so well worth it, I'm delighted.
Thanks so much for this opportunity to engage with the Book Club about our work. I've deeply enjoyed it.
Patricia and Naomi: I think I speak on behalf of many of us in the Alliance community in expressing so much gratitude for your generosity and presence in sharing your work--both here in the Book Club and in the world.I've been so lucky to not only read Marked by Fire, but to follow your personalized comments here--as well as to hear you both speak about and read from the book last Saturday at the Bay Area Alliance event.
I think what you've done by bringing together this powerful collection of stories makes the field of Depth and Jungian psychology so much more human--and opens it up to so much more soul. As the month of July--and your formal tending of the Book Club--draw to a close, I, for one, feel very fulfilled. Thank you so much for all you've done.
It was truly our intention to make the field of Depth and Jungian Psychology "more human", as you put it. I'm so gratified you think we've been successful.
We are grateful to you and to the Depth Psychology Alliance for your enthusiasm and support. I too, feel very fulfilled by this experience.
Bonnie, This was a special experience for me with an internet book club, and particularly, Depth Psychology Alliance Book Club. I very much enjoyed the people I "met" and appreciate the format that you have offered. Thank you all!