If someone had a dream of the massacre of children; a mother slain by the son’s own hand who then takes his life, what would it mean?

            As the world searches for answers – and perhaps new questions – in the wake of the slaughter in Connecticut, I struggle to imagine what I would do if I were sitting with the author of this dream.

            “But this is no dream,” you cry. “This is a horrible reality.”

            Yes, but as we search for meaning, exploring multiple dimensions of reality, including images from the unconscious mind, may be instructive.

            If the dreamer of such a horrible nightmare came to me, I would begin by listening to the story, in every detail, simply honoring the level of horror.  A Greek tragedy of such epic proportions, Sophocles could never have conceived of it, even in a culture that enslaved and exploited children.

            Is this a possible theme: something is not being honored in the sacred child, in American culture, and in other cultures around the world. To honor the sacred in  a child is not to “spoil” her, but to cherish her. 

Perhaps I should use the pronoun “him”, since the perpetrators of recent massacres have all been young males. This begs the question:

is there a wound in the infantile masculine that runs so deep, and echoes of such rage, it finds expression in these heinous acts?

            And, what do we mean by “the masculine”? Is it about gender, or about the spirit, the animus, the creative drive in all human beings that to flourish, requires the nourishment of the inner life.

            Return to the dreamer. Was he or she “assaulted” as a child?  Are the bullets in the dream symbolic of emotional attacks? Does this express the genesis of the dreamer’s profound self-hatred? If so, where does this hatred of the self come from? A boy who could never “fit in”, in a culture where not fitting in feels like emotional death?

            Does the inner child of the dreamer still suffer from an undernourished soul? If so, how do we bring more of this nourishment into our relationships, our families, our schools, our art, games and communities?

            Can we replace video violence and aggressive games with a new spirit of adventure that truly nourishes the soul? What would look like? It could take many forms, including creative art, rituals, journeys into nature, discovering new or your own neighborhood in the spirit of a life-long odyssey to redeem the Sacred, for our children, and for the child within every adult.

            “Naïve”, you say. “Children growing up in poverty don’t have access to these enrichments.” True. But, the massacres did not take place in the inner city. They took place in the community forums of middle-class America: shopping malls, movie theaters, universities, high schools, elementary schools…

And, I may not be a question of shifting the form, ie, children can still play baseball, climb trees and have imaginal play. It is the motivation, the goal, and the content that needs to change, from a focus on prevailing, conquering, or getting esteem at all costs, to nourishing, honoring, and cherishing the growth of inner creative being.

            Ironically, at least one of the young victims of the Connecticut massacre, the little girl called Emily, was, according to her Dad,  “a wonderful artist; the kindest person I had ever known.” 

            Can we take full advantage of this global grief, to take action that goes to the archetypal roots of this slaughter? Yes, enact strict gun control laws! Yes, please, dear God, improve the mental health system!! And yes, address the other level, of reality, moving with power and conviction, to nourish the sacred child soul in us all.

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Comment by Elizabeth Clark-Stern on January 21, 2013 at 11:42am

Dear Linda, thank you for your email. I bought The Red Book when it first came out, so wasn't aware of the 2012 edition. I think your instinct about Jung's reference to Toni Wolff has merit. She was like a graceful shadow behind so much of his work. I read an interview with him once, in which he was brought to tears, remembering "her". He never spoke her name, but I couldn't help but think it was his muse, his love, Toni.

Comment by Linda AK Thompson, PhD on January 20, 2013 at 6:18pm

Good evening Elizabeth - I was reading The Red Book (TRB)  - The Readers Edition and Jung writes about the  child and there is one part in there where I wondered if he was referencing his muse, Toni, but does not speaking nor writing (documenting) that those particular thoughts/feeling arose in relation to her being in his life?  Are you involved in TRB and if so, do you have this 2012 copy?  Regards Linda

Comment by Elizabeth Clark-Stern on December 19, 2012 at 3:40pm

Dear Linda and Patricia, many thanks to both of you for your insightful and meaningful comments. Much soul nourishment to you in this sacred season.

Comment by Linda AK Thompson, PhD on December 18, 2012 at 3:05pm

Good afternoon Elizabeth - I was thrilled to see your post to engage us in 'nourishing the sacred child soul in us all,' so enjoyed our last book club conversations as solid foundation to join you in the depths of this all.  I have a story about "The Duck Boy" that dates back to 1979, that has been looking for a safe place to land, and this blog with your expertise and leadership, feels like the right ground and time.  Another dream come true for me and more out-of-darkeness stories to share.  Regards Linda

Comment by Patricia Wexler on December 18, 2012 at 12:18pm

 Dear Elizabeth, Thank you for posting such a heartfelt response to this terrible tragedy including some thoughtful,generative replacements for the mind numbing games these young people play.

      I would enlarge our concern to include the past tragedies at schools and the movie theater,mall,Fort Hood and even 911 and to most importantly our health care system or lack thereof.They are not isolated events but have common fields,archetypal actions and the same outcomes,and ,as you have said, it is this which we must address . Patricia

 

Comment by Elizabeth Clark-Stern on December 18, 2012 at 8:16am

Oh, Judith, thank YOU for your beautiful post. While it is lamentable that the archetypal perspective is not more "Mainstream", I think we must not underestimate what it means to the world that we carry this perspective. Our goal is not to make a perfect world. If one follows the wisdom of the ancient Jewish mystical tradition, the Kabbalah, the "shattering of vessels", the manifestation of evil in the world will happen, again and again, but consciousness can repair the shattering, and so, our job is well cut out for us. Bless all this season, Elizabeth

Comment by Judith Harte,Ph.D. on December 17, 2012 at 5:37pm
Thank You Elizabeth for that beautiful, thoughtful commentary. It is truly an in-depth, and I might add seemingly "ideal" response to this tragedy. Ah, if only it could and were so on a more collective level. The archetypal themes gathered together in this tragedy boggle the mind. To nourish the sacred child is a beautiful IMAGE and gift that I have taken away with me after reading your response. I often think of the astrological sign of Leo as psyche's hungry child. Indeed this is an instance in which both the archetypal, and literal child were/are starving for nourishment. Judie Harte


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