It is often a great relief in the midst of our busy lives to create some ceremony and space for the larger and sometimes unseen questions we otherwise ignore, forget or stuff down into the unconscious. Ahh, at last, here is an hour, a day, a weekend to strip myself of the daily accumulation of demands, directions, distractions and disassociations, to allow the bare elements of meaning and value in my life to take center stage! Oh and look, right outside my door here as I step through the threshold and into this new (and old) naturalness of being at the root of me, there are the bare and natural elements of nature to greet me on this journey. Sky, cloud, sun, star…ground, tree, bird, and flower…are all here to meet me at the threshold! There is some alliance, some coincidence and connection between my new embarkation in this way and the world outside the door. Is it a mirror? Do they, the wind, the rain, the leaves, have something to say to me about my life? Or do I perhaps have something to share with them? Regardless of the question or the answer, when you took that step across the threshold you entered a ritual, you created a ceremony for inner and outer communication.
Taking our deepest longing and inquiry with the world and this life on quest, walking one foot in front of the other into the outer world with our precious inner landscape-- introducing the outer to the inner landscape--has a magical effect. By carrying the question of the quest in this human body into the body of nature we create and enter a ritual that brings great relief to both the conscious and unconscious aspects of ourselves. At last the two are introduced and in dialogue. Worldly consciousness, here is your unseen sibling, often living in darkness and mystery, source of creation and creativity, your unconscious. And deep, dark unconscious, filled with unseen light, here is your hard working friend and ally, the conscious self and ego, great figure of action and manifestation. Walk together here now on quest and see what new life you may spy that can be lived forward, that will allow some new wholeness and healing to occur in this living, breathing, walking being.
Some dream workers, working directly with the material of the unconscious, believe that their work is not done until some physical activity, enactment, or ritual is undertaken. The stories of Toni Wolffe, an analyst and ally of Carl Jung in Zurich, and her advocacy for “doing something” with unconscious material are entertaining and poignant. If a patient returning to her office after working with dream material the previous week had not actively and physically engaged with the material in some way the door was quite often barred. They say that some patients who had not “done something” physical were sent out the door with the stark demand to “come back when you mean business.” Going outside, questing in some physical way, performing a physical ritual, to address the otherwise unseen movements of our psyche is the best way I know to tell all the unseen players in our story that we mean business.
*From a longer work in progress, "The Art of Quest"