~ from cats, dogs and nature to the flowering of body, mind and spirit ~

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

self and Self

Frieda Fordham's Introduction to Jung's Psychology is a gem for those of us who just want to understand the gist of Jung and his terminology. Because I'm diving into the works of female Jungian analysts as another window into the Divine Feminine, I wanted a quick-reference book. This one was re-published in 1966 (originally published in 1953) with an updated biographical sketch, and, as far as I could determine, is still considered one of the best resources for an overview of Jung. I greatly enjoyed it, I must say!

While this led me into a desire to read Jung's entire collection, as I now find him fascinating, that effort will have to be put on hold indefinitely. I have way too many other projects to do and books to read already, so I must prioritize. Don't we all?

I do highly recommend this thin volume, though, for anyone who is curious about Jung. An additional benefit is that Jung himself approved the work; the editorial note states: "The reader can enjoy all the attractive qualities of the introductory exposition with the added satisfaction of knowing that it is authentic. It has Jung's own Imprimatur and his personal commendation." Nice!

One aspect I hadn't realized was Jung's strong wish that every person be educated in the process of self discovery from childhood, and, if not, then at the very least all adults so that they could provide children with clearer guidance. Fordham also summarizes Jung's disgust with mass manipulation of people by organizations and governments, primarily because of this lack of deep self-awareness; not a surprise considering the wars he witnessed. I can imagine Jung would be even more appalled at the state of our global situation.

Of course, there are a lot of psychologists and spiritual leaders these days emphasizing the need for self-awareness and ritual in the lives of adults and children. I, for one, wish that some form of this was taught in grammar school along with the basics of meditation. We overload kids with information and sports without any framework in which to ground their own unique personalities. One of my favorite books exploring children, phases of life, and ritual is Bill Plotkin's Nature and the Human Soul. If I had children or grandchildren, I'd be recommending it. As it is, I try to talk about the subject with my brother and his kids; most of my brief suggestions are immediately turned away because, after all, he (and most other parents I know) says: "You don't have kids so you don't really have a clue." Granted. But this doesn't mean that I don't hope for a better future for the children of our world.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Magic of Creativity

I enjoy finding those authors and artists who approach creativity with a sense of joy instead of struggle, with an overall feeling of magic rather than drudgery. Yes, there may be -- and probably are -- moments of frustration and challenge in the writing process, but I have no interest in spending the majority of my creative time caught up in angst and despair (it is enough for me that pivotal points in my life dwelt within that conflicted space and led me into healing through creativity).

Over the past several years, I have been tickled to hear various creative types speak to this joy in creation (Thomas Moore, Julia Cameron). Most recently, Elizabeth Gilbert talks about what she refers to as Mystery and Big Magic in her conversation with Tami Simon (Sounds True):

“ … to think of my creative life as a collaboration between one human’s efforts—and that would be me—and the divine Mystery of inspiration. … I’ve spent my work days in collaboration with that Mystery. I can’t think of a more beautiful way to spend my life—sort of talking to it, asking questions of it, cooperating with it. [I sit] down to work every day with the commitment that I will not wrestle it or fight it or abuse myself against it. But I will ask it every day what it wants from me and try to work with it as respectfully and reverently as I can. It leads to a really joyful kind of creation.” 

I held off reading Gilbert's Eat Pray Love until much of the hype had died down, and was, I confess, a bit disappointed in it. Probably as a direct result of all the hype. So, when I saw that Gilbert had released her new novel The Signature of All Things, I decided to get it sooner rather than later so I could make up my mind about it without the influence of reviews. I'm glad I did. I found it an odd blend of lovely style, strange characters, and unique story; I didn't particularly like the protagonist and yet at the same time, I was compelled to finish the story at a rapid pace. I felt that Gilbert was able to immerse herself in a freedom of creativity and choice in this story, and, to a large extent, I was carried along in that wake. Perhaps because she had already achieved "success" and could write the story exactly the way she felt it coming through her?

Whatever her personal path to writing and publishing Signature, I am inspired by many of Gilbert's comments throughout the interview (which, with Tami, is usually more of a conversation than a traditional Q&A session).

Let's celebrate the joy and magic of creativity!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

On Voice

a shift in view
I've become more curious than ever about a writer's voice.

Who writes in authentic voice? How many of us write through the patterns of two thousand years of "patriarchal authority"? After all, "who polices questions of grammar, parts of speech, connection, and connotation? Whose order is shut inside the structure of a sentence?" As George Eliot put it, there were women "who congealed into the literary mold men made for them." (quotes are from Susan Howe in My Emily Dickinson)

I play around a lot with my own voice and style, not just in an effort to develop an authentic voice based within my personal individuality but also to tap into what I feel is a voice that spirals out of the feminine principle.

I am exploring a variety of perspectives on the essence of feminine voice, from Carol Gilligan's In a Different Voice to Leonard Shlain's The Alphabet Versus The Goddess, and from the work of Marion Woodman to those of Emily Dickinson, Helene Cixous, and others.

If you have thoughts or references to share, would love to hear them! Write On!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

My Little Prince

I'm free from classes and studies for the summer!
I've no idea if I will return to UA in the fall, but it's been an interesting experience.
My Latin Final was yesterday; this week is for decompressing.
Let the recovery begin!
And my little prince is happy to show me how to do just that.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Lay Healers


"A popular homeopathic lay healer within her community … , Elizabeth Cady Stanton doctored family, friends, and neighbors armed with a homeopathic domestic medical kit … Stanton was proud of her self-reliance, successfully managing her own parturitions, and of nursing her children through malaria, whooping cough, mumps, and broken limbs. After the 1852 birth of her daughter, Stanton wrote to her friend … 'Dear me, how much cruel bondage of mind and suffering of body poor woman will escape when she takes the liberty of being her own physician of both body and soul!' Stanton denounced both the Protestant and 'medical ministries' for their manipulation of women, arguing that the 'genteel' and 'civilized' woman was made ill and unnecessarily dependent upon their authority." 

The above is an excerpt from the engaging book A Vital Force: Women in American Homeopathy by Anne Taylor Kirschmann. I have been reading this book while working on my assignments in this semester's English class, which focus upon rhetoric, controversy, and, as my topic of choice, homeopathy.

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