Untamed Speech

…always a rage against the blind harmony of an anaesthetized life. Instead, a life amid the salient, the awkward, the pathologized; buffeted and discontent, at peace only in a rough sea.*

Is it possible that the very fight away from our experience of pathology misses the beauty of its necessity, removing us from artful expression of the most rooted, inherent place we find ourselves in, a place that by necessity calls for struggle? Instead of the fight against pathology, which demands that we heal, fix and remove the soul’s infirmities, rather, might we not rather seek a perspective that gives the passions their due, by listening for their mythological background that conjoin the most personal sense of ourselves with the eternal happenings of a world.

Perhaps we must first acknowledge things from a mythological perspective that conjoin to the eternal; seeing ourselves and others not only as products of family, culture, time and place, but also as characters expressing the struggles inherent in every age, time and place. Death then is the primary protagonist. That battle against which remains hopelessly futile, for it is life itself that brings death into being. Can we, like Dante did, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here?”

Crazy talk maybe, especially in a frequently literalized, anesthetized world where the sensibility of ‘life as art’ is often exchanged for artifice, making believers rather than lovers out of us all. In this world, language itself is in danger of extinction, especially the beauty and danger of an untamed speech.

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The gate of Hell. “Abandon all hope ye who enter here,” By Gustave Doré (1832 – 1883) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

For I want to suggest that untamed speech of the widest reach and wildest pitch effects vengeance in itself. And further to suggest, that the docility of speech, the absence of vehemence and hyperbole, the balanced phrases of the nightly news, reporting the facts of worldly horror, force the Furies underground, ultimately, since the repressed returns, and directly causing yet more facts of worldly horror to be reported with that same calm mask and blank smile. Could it be that were our words wild enough, our worlds would be more inhabitable? Could Shakespearean hyperbole be a cultural remedy?*

dante-alighieri

“Love hath so long possessed me for his own And made his lordship so familiar.” Giotto [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Just as we have pushed death underground and transformed the underworld from a place of shades, shadows who awaken us to unseen presence, they’re out of sight, into the hell of the damned, a cavernous fault where the dark repressed lies unseen, and so, feared. Now, speech too must be cleaned up by removing its ugly, so-called hateful words. As if winning the battle against death and language would change the heart and soul of humanity? It is no longer only a personal fear of death daily driving the passions, but a more out of reach fear of a destruction of the entire planet that makes us crazy for solutions, fixes and cures. Which myth(s) provides the background that instills the belief that it is uniquely up to humanity to save ourselves from ourselves? What if the dysfunction, the inherent pathology, lies within the very heart and soul of so-called civilization? What if our very desire for peace, harmony and a world without suffering were driving the very pathology we seek to eliminate?

I am suggesting that the patient’s disorder, that he and she cannot function in the civilization, is the civilization itself declaring dysfunctional bankruptcy. For what is the value of a civilization if its citizens are made ill by it? And what is the value of a therapy if it only abets the growth of civilization; in a civilization that measures its standing rank by gross domestic product (GDP)?*

As Hillman notes, shall we not also consider whether or not fixing our personal pathology means aligning oneself to the pathology of a civilization that is in the grip of its own inherently self-destructive end as it plays out the mythological battle of good vs. evil both within and between cultures? Although sometimes blamed on religious ideology, perhaps the root of apocalyptic endings lies within the heart of any culture that pathologically denies any place for its shadows, ever-believing that light can and should overcome them, striving always to beat them into submission by reforming their contents, rather than accepting the message of struggle that shadows reveal to us.

By shadows I mean not only all that cannot be seen, known and understood, but that which is forever out of human reach to change the nature of: death, both of the individual and the planet; along with all of the little deaths experienced every moment, every day; the loss of a loved one, a job, a home, a friend, a belief, innocence, one’s health or youth. So much in life forever lies unobtainable: truly knowing another’s thought and heart, what the future may bring, security, a life without pain-whether one’s own or another’s, or what happens after death.

But neither fax nor even flesh can satisfy the fantastical appetite. We are impoverished psychologically when we are impoverished linguistically. The bridges are down because the moon is down, imagination beclouded by literal information. We have forgot Coleridge’s warning about “the danger of thinking without images” and so our minds, our very civilization, succumbs at one and the same time to both cynical nihilism and full-faithed fundamentalism.*

We know we have taken the bait anytime we find ourselves within a fantasy of good vs. evil that clamors for nothing less than a real-world outcome of a personal or collective idea of “how things should (or shouldn’t) be.” The more our ideals express purity and perfection, favoring the light over the dark, the darker our world seems, and so becomes.

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Orestes Pursued by the Furies, William-Adolphe Bouguereau [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Although the counter to the argument that we need more untamed speech might rightly warn that limits are necessary in a culture that places emphasis on actions over ideas, but I would suggest that it is this very loss of ideas as something outside of us, and loss of any recognition of the need for reflection, because we don’t own them, they own us, that prematurely urges us to action. We fail to see ideas as actions in themselves, which act on us.

This argument against bombast makes me refine my proposal. It’s not heightened speech as such but, rather, our relation with it. An inverse proportion between words and acts — the wilder the words the less wild the acts — holds only insofar as we enjoy the language for its own sake; the vehemence, the insult, the braggadocio become pleasurable acts, giving a delightful satisfaction.*

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[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

When an individual becomes the owner and purveyor of ideas, to not act is a reflection upon them, as we declare, “all talk and no action.” Who though, hasn’t experienced a rage so powerful that it scares us? While rage was once understood to come to us from the furies (hence the word”furious”), if there is no longer even an idea of the furies, “I” am all that is left to carry meaning and expression into the world.

The archetypal imagination underlies and embraces all together; all the world’s a stage, and we in our seats are in the play, since its words are voicing our souls. How hard this is for us to conceive today, since, for us, all the people we know are people first, and then they speak, words issuing from them as secondary phenomena.*

*All quotes: Hillman, James. Philosophical Intimations, Chapter 5, You Taught me Language (Uniform Edition of the Writings of James Hillman Book 8). Spring Publications. Kindle Edition.

…and in the end

“The love you take is equal to the love you make.” Lennon/McCartney

These thoughts touch upon my belief about beliefs; the nature of belief, and aim at peering into what, rather than how, or why, we have and hold them, near and dear to our hearts, as endings are sometimes necessary ideas along the way.

Along with the plot, characters and theme, stories too are snapshots; they begin, and at some point end. Endings invite reflections; of mortality, the nature of limits imposed upon us by time and other constraints, and also to openings through the movement of the story. We may ask, what happened, what did the story mean, did I like the story, who wrote it, did it end well?

But we might also ask, who am I in the story, and who am I not?

Stories tell us something and we in turn, tell them back, to each other and to ourselves. In many ways we live storied lives, in which we may sense an overarching theme, a calling, purpose or meta-pattern of our life.

We can also find the underpinnings, the ground of our life, as it presents itself in the minutia and detail of each day, each moment. We hear it in the question, “what happened?” We answer in story form, no matter how far or close our answer is to the truth. Truth, always slightly out of reach, no matter how much we desire, eludes us in spite of the hints of its existence we glimpse along the way. We experience A-ha moments, symbols, intuition, beauty, love, hate – and we may say, as I often do, “Oh truth, I know you’re out there. How I long for you, reveal to me your mysteries.”

Por los caminos de Málaga – Flickr: Endrino

But perhaps it’s the mixing of the particulars of what we do know, with a desire for a more unifying view of all that is, that begets our fall into a mythology of Endings, both of our personal existence and the story of the world. The plot of our life story drives us to our beliefs, our cosmology and affinity for the myths we live by. Perhaps we fall into belief too by design and the intentionality of the gods great scheming, which like gravity, maintain their hold on us, insisting that we too, have a part in the play.

Embedded in our telling though, is more than truth in the sense of some all-encompassing knowing. Embedded in our telling is revelation of the particular way we have of making sense of the world. By that I am suggesting that we each carry with us a certain intentionality that we are more or less aware of. The lovely Hawthorn tree in my front yard, from its seedling birth, to now, intends to be a Hawthorn, not an Oak, Maple, or Prairie Fire. We are, like them, limited by nature, historical and geographical circumstances, and yet contain a certain intentionality, ever sculpting and refining as we move toward our unique character and fate. Caught in the middle of absolutes we call predestination and free will, we float between these two absolutes, perhaps tempted to take sides.

The end of a story told then, might move us deeper into our own story. The unique and particular story living through each of us, with its own plots, characters, place and time, where we can sense intentionality wanting something from us. This wanting is, as James Hillman reflects in Healing Fiction, the play between desire, love, and soul. Soul as mediatrix,* an enlivening of events into experience for soulmaking, as Hillman sees in the dynamic of the story of Eros and Psyche.

“Does not this want of the soul reflect the essential nature of Eros whose mother was Penia (poverty, neediness, want)? And is it not this want which is present each time we are in love, whether in the transference of therapy or in the love that develops while engaged with a piece of imaginative work, a poem or novel?”

The endless desires of Eros is for Psyche, or soul. Eros leads to Psyche.

Hillman is speaking here of a patient in therapeutic engagement:

“Our example shows that he did not first love soul and then move his love to the world as a moral  duty: to do unto others. Nor was it that soul first loved him so that he could return this love to the world. The love itself changed its nature, as in the myth of Eros and Psyche. Now it was no longer his loving the soul or caring for it in Sorge, as an Ich vis-a-vis a Du. Now Psyche and Eros had come together indistinguishably: when he was with psyche, there was love that included him as one of its images and expanded “out” of its own accord into fellow feeling. Through feeling the importance of his psychic persons, he felt loved by them. There was no longer some one, a subject, loving some one else, an object.”

Hillman later quotes a dialogue of a patient using active imagination:

“It is not a question of giving space to others, or feeling their space, your patients, but of perceiving the exact place where they each are at, where they move within, what part of the house is theirs, accurately and small. Place qualifies space. The canvas is made of small soft brush strokes, the sculpture of chipping, the symphony of tiny notes. Molecules, each at an exact place. Each image is a placing. You can’t move small enough.”

As E.F. Schumacher says, “small is beautiful.” We live both in and out of the particulars of our circumstances, feet on the ground, and with every step a movement into an engagement with the images and particulars, the details that make up each moment. Love them and you may come to love others and the things in the world and see with soul, a mediation that brings love and engagement to all we encounter.

Orazio Gentileschi exposed the erotic vulnerability of the male figure in his Cupid and Psyche (1628–30)

“The soul wants many things – to be loved, to be heard, to be named and seen, to be taught, to be let out, out in the street, out of the prisons of psychological systems, out of the fiction of interiority which forces it to project itself to gain outer recognition. We know too it has a vital interest in the life and behavior of its keeper on whom it depends; but this interest is not in the life and behavior as such, to help it or cure it. Rather it seems to be an interest in life for soul’s sake. It seems to ask that our sense of first importance shift from life to soul, that life be given value in terms of soul and in preference to a soul valued in terms of life. Thus, it does not brook neglect in life – this above all; and so it is like the ancient gods who considered impiety to consist in one great sin, neglect.”

He is suggesting, and I would agree, that one way in which the world as a whole, and we as individuals, suffer, is through neglect of the small, the minutia of each moment. To live in want with an acceptance of what he refers to as the soul’s inferiority, may help us to recognize the spiritual drive away from soul towards perfection, insisting rather, that we either fix an idealized vision of the world into perfection, or have no world at all. That is very much a current running through our cultural mythology: apocalyptic, dire, either-or, nuclear-powered, climate-changing destruction which is hard not to believe in. It fuels both hope and hopelessness, moving our sights away from soul, replaced by a vision of the future shaped by our idealized beliefs.

“No psychological act can fully satisfy, no interpretation truly click like a key in a lock, no relationship of souls complete the lack and failure that reflects the essence of psyche. Imperfection is in its essence, and we are complete only by being in want. There will always be a mistake which is precisely what gives value to psychotherapeutic courage.”

Yes, the courage to live in the mess of our lives, the wounds that never quite heal, the others we can’t always help, the horrors taking place daily on the world stage, and to live with the intentionality of our unique character and calling.

All quotes from Hillman, James (2012-02-14). Healing Fiction. Spring Publications, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

*My term, not Hillman’s, used here specifically for its feminine, but not necessarily religious connotation.

Gem Moon Magic: Explorations of the Gemini Moon

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“Gem Moon Mandala” by AmandaSeesDreams of http://www.Dreamrly.com

Welcome to the collaborative lunations of Gemini moon pals, LitebeingDreamrly, and yours truly, The Ptero Card. Yesterday marks the Gemini / Sagittarius full moon of 2014, and through our mutual love of art and writing we’re combining our efforts for a few reflections on our experience of lunar Gemini in our natal astrological charts. Each of our contributions was produced independently, without consultation other than assigning the art work to Dreamrly, poetry to Litebeing and intuitive writing to me. We present here the fruits of our work which we hope enhance your own lunations, where ever they may take you.

The basis of astrology, an ancient wisdom practiced by nearly all pre-scientific cultures, comes from the understanding that external cosmological events have a corresponding affect on our interiority, because human disposition is a microcosm of the macrocosm, or, as the ancients say, “as above, so below.” I suspect the exterior and interior worlds, until quite recently, were experienced as a more unified whole, both symbolic, and meaningful. To the ancients, the visible planets were the gods, each personifying a particular disposition and influence on us, according to our chronological birth placement in their world. The disposition of the cosmos at the moment we enter the world drama, is mirrored in our personality, character and fate.

I often wonder if a cultural agreement that suggests nothing can be true without first being scientifically verified, has cut us off from the ease of intuiting meaning, eroding our trust in the value of personal experience, to the point that we are no longer free to, or sometimes capable of, grasping the immediate animal sense of a thing or event. So, bring your own intuitions to this reading and imagine with us the myriad ways we encounter the moon and the Gemini twins.

Compared to other visible planets, the uniqueness of the moon is evident. 235,000 miles away from earth, she has the closest presence to us in the vastly huge, night sky. As the only planet that revolves around us, her presence and power is both seen and felt here on earth, from the mighty ocean’s tidal motion, to her stabilization of earth’s orbit, we need her. A force capable of pulling the oceans closer to our earthly islands, must certainly have some sway over our watery bodies.Unlike the sun, the moon seems exotically present with no perceptible purpose other than delighting our senses and drawing us outward. Her closeness and visual beauty are too hard to ignore and have served so many throughout the ages, from sailors to poets, from lovers to madmen.

Remarkably, the moon’s rotation is synchronized to her revolution around us, so that we only ever see one side, her dark side remaining forever hidden from our earthly view. It’s no surprise that we may be less aware of her influence. The man in the moon is now the man on the moon; us, and without a deep practice of the lunar skills of reflection that she gives, we risk losing her gift of seeing in the dark, and mistaking her imposing reflective moods and feelings as brain chemistry. With no place or time for occasional lunacy, feelings and reflections are unwanted by-products, brain states we seek to be rid of.

Astrologically speaking, in what ways does the moon affect us? I am no astrologer, and there are many resources available from those whose studies of the ancient art offer much wisdom. What I offer here are my intuitions.

Traditionally, the moon influences our emotional life, the coming and going, waxing and waning of cycles that affect us and any creature with a fluid and watery nature. Besides feelings, thoughts and senses are also fluid. In alchemy, the moon is the queen of the heavens who unites with the solar king, forming a marriage in which cooperation, devotion and love are united in service of the Great Work. The moon’s whiteness may also be significant. Alchemically, whitening is the stage that moves the work from the black and blue periods in which the base materials are yet to be purified. Whitening is an initiatory stage in which much knowledge is gained through the art of reflection. The lunar mind helps us go beyond the physical realm for spiritual knowledge and experience.

Moon placement in the natal chart perhaps shows the ways in which lunar influence affects and styles your senses, perceptions, reflections, and therefore your relationships not only to others, but to all that is differentiated from yourself. Lunar pals Litebeing, Dreamrly and I have our natal moon in the sign of Gemini, the twins. Initially, Gemini may be experienced through some form of duality. Perhaps duality manifests in different ways. For me, I think it manifests as a heightened sense of opposition, ambiguity and separation between self and other, driving a need to articulate distinctions and give voice to them through ideas, language and music.

Gemini Gals

Image: Artist Unknown

I find the symbolism of the twins ambiguous. Twins may share an identical nature, and yet in mythology and historically, they are frequently seen battling with each other, as Cain and Abel, or in stories of the evil twin. Opposites we see, can share a likeness, as they appear together and depend on each other as in the Gemini twins, Castor and Pollux. According to Wiki:

“When Castor was killed, Pollux asked Zeus to let him share his own immortality with his twin to keep them together, and they were transformed into the constellation Gemini. The pair was regarded as the patrons of sailors, to whom they appeared as St. Elmo’s fire, and were also associated with horsemanship.”

So twins may look the same, but may be oppositional, and, or complementary. Either way, we have an image of two selves facing each other, or two sides of one coin. Like the moon itself, Gemini is a relational influence with dual aspects, so this placement in a natal chart may heighten some deep, ambiguous feelings about self and other. True for me anyway.

Much of my life’s work has been to make peace with the sense of an ambiguous, often conflicted, sense, of not only myself and others, but also of ideas and feelings, some of which remain slippery, inconclusive, up in the air and unsettled. But each effort to solidify thoughts and ideas about who I am, who you are, or attempts to define this mysterious existence, only brings pain and disappointment. Like Gemini’s ruler, Mercury, or Hermes, traveling, communicating and intellectual movement are vital to me. Perhaps blogging itself, is one more stone-heap left here for all fellow travelers.

— Ptero9

 

Next, a lovely poem from our resident astrologer, Linda of LiteBeingChronicles, shedding light on the lived experience of a Gemini Moon Goddess!

 

Lunar babbles

 

Chatter, breathe, jump, sing,

Laugh, scream, analy-zing

Heart and mind racing together

Yet the split appears forever

 

The smell of paper, words in my hands

Fill me with excitement, freedom from demands

Hand me the keys of a quick, shiny ride

Throw in a CD, sound/motion collide

 

Chatter, breathe, jump, sing,

Laugh, scream, analy-zing

Heart and mind racing together

Yet the split appears forever

 

Quick wit so handy to block my pain

Why not let Mercury have free reign?

Jabber, chuckle, wax poetic

To hide my fear, how pathetic!

 

Chatter, breathe, jump, sing,

Laugh, scream, analy-zing

Heart and mind racing together

Yet the split appears forever

 

Lovin’ the teacher, but nary the lesson

Hermes’s so sly, always guessin’

Take every shortcut, prefer the easy

Inner currents prevail, surface seems breezy

 

Chatter, breathe, jump, sing,

Laugh, scream, analy-zing

Heart and mind racing together

Yet the split appears forever

 

Need to know, compelled to ask

My soul’s calling, a sacred task

Yearn to uncover hidden glory

Encoded within each human story

 

Chatter, breathe, jump, sing,

Laugh, scream, analy-zing

Heart and mind racing together

Yet the split appears forever

poem written by litebeing chronicles © 2014

  

We end our lunations with a few words and images from AmandaSeesDreams of www.dreamrly.com, who came into this world on the night of a full moon, and has long felt a deep connection to moon’s voluptuous power.

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Photograph by AmandaSeesDreams of www.dreamrly.com

 

The moon has always owned me in some ways. I have always been entranced by her beauty, by the one side she shows me, by her silent currents ruling my state of mind. I find it impossible to sleep when she is full, the waters of life flow through me with such vigor I am almost forced to admire her. She fills me. Over the years I have taken photographs of her crescent, of her full bare body, of her red eclipse. She even shows up when my inner child comes out to play, painting from the heart, with abandon…

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I paint my dreams of sailing through the unconscious, but not without a purple moon.

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I paint my daytime visions of buffalo medicine, but not without a purple moon.

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I paint my twins, honoring the gemini gift of balancing complex ideas and communicating dual truths – mixing pleasure and pain, fingerpainting bright colors that soothe a conflicted soul. Sweet Gemini Moon, gifting me with giggles and tears, pensive contemplations and wild dances in your light. Dear Moon, I love you, and am faithfully yours, for you chose (little old) me to live inside.

Love, Amanda

 

 

Alchemical Psychology, Part III – Silver

White and silver share a lot of the same qualities but Hillman breaks up the next chapter into two parts starting with silver; all things lunar and reflective. Silver allows reflection and is the means by which we mediate between psyche and the physical. The risk here is one of identifying with depersonalized images, becoming cold and detached from human life rather than using images as a bridge beween the psychic and physical worlds.

“The cool, silver psyche, though seemingly “unrelated,” can establish relations between the most burning issues and hold them together, yet without fusing them into a false compromise (amalgam). It mediates, attaching molten factions by means of its own detachment.”

042Hillman begins the chapter with a very startling idea that may be difficult for many moderns to hear. Particularly those who prefer to stave off pathological states by avoiding the black and blue stages whenever and however possible, but without which the alchemical journey has nothing to work with. For alchemy is often referred to as the Great Work and starts with the disintegration of the black and blue stages.

“Allow me to set forth as clearly and rationally as I can what I shall be about in this strange chapter. It starts from two large ideas. The first comes from Hegel who said that in insanity the soul strives to restore itself to perfect inner harmony. For Hegel, insanity is an essential stage in the development of the soul, and a stage upon which the soul purposefully performs.  Insanity belongs to soul-making. The second large idea comes from alchemy. In alchemical soul-making, gold is necessarily preceded by silver. This means that gold comes out of silver, red comes from white, sun from moon, brighter awareness from lunacy.”

Hillman frequently suggests that it is within our pathology we often find its cure – reminding us of an important understanding of the idea of homeopathy in which like cures like. Sometimes we must delve into our own craziness to find out what it is asking of us. For example, fighting off sadness will rarely make one happy but trying to be as sad as you possibly can might do the trick.

There is in this chapter a long discussion on the physical properties of the metals as understood by their elemental nature. The baser more corruptible metals were understood as moist and in need of heat and fire for transforming them. He reminds us that the root of the word metal, meaning search, “induces the activity of searching deeply into nature for the deus absconditus.”

Silver, the lunar mind is the means of reflection in which we see through images and allows the gold to be hammered into specific shapes to become useful. Silver also has the quality of mirroring.

“If silver mirrors because it is both receptive (moist) and solid, then solid receptivity is the kind of consciousness that serves to mirror. Notice how necessary it is for mirroring to have incorporated or digested one’s own moisture and to be limited by one’s own boundary. One cannot mirror if one too easily flows; and one cannot mirror everything, but only what one can receive and to which one is solidly present within the limits of one’s own borders. Mirroring is not blank receptivity; it requires focusing.”

Next comes the warning that silver may cost us carrying with it the potential for debasement into lead which can then weigh us down.

“Though we may extract a silver moment from our leaden body, these extractions leave behind an even heavier and denser condition. Depression is the price of silver. Melancholy has, ever since Aristotle’s Problemata, been the disease of thinkers. The more white reflection the more burdened lead; as we produce silver, we increase the lead. This is surely familiar: an insight may be shining in itself, but it makes no dent on the gray mood from which it came.”

Silver remains vulnerable to other elements such as air.

“Silver requires polishing, attention, a bit of rubbing and fussing; it calls for worry. Since exposure makes it lose its shine, it is best hidden, protected. It is covered with blackness, by silence and dullness, and by hiding itself invisibly in lead.”

It’s a long chapter, too much to bring in here. Through the careful mining of silver we begin to notice the subtle body, and become comfortable giving metaphor equal footing in our sensing and knowing of the world.

“Metaphors are psychological language – and all alchemy is metaphorical, the luna metaphorica that Benedictus Figulus spoke of – making subtle everything we ever may have assumed to be only empirical fact, whether events in the world, our own flesh, even the elemental minerals in the earth. Alchemy transmutes the world to the dream, which it does in the laboratory of its language. ”

It’s easy to miss that it is through psyche, the soul, that we experience the world. We moderns prefer the language of brain chemistry, genetics, computer models – forgetting that those metaphors come straight out of psyche as does all of our reflections. Taking care of the silvering for reflection helps us create a bridge between what we sense and understand of the physical world remembering that all we experience comes to us primarily in images.

“Silver is hidden because it is buried all through the alchemical work itself, within every word, as the metaphorical resonance that transfers everything said and done to a psychic level. Silver is necessary from the beginning, else we cannot rightly hear the instructions. “Throw away the books,” say the alchemists, meaning “discard the literal,” so as to hear the spirit in the letter.”

Hillman, James (2011-10-10). Alchemical Psychology (Uniform Edition of the Writings of James Hillman) (Kindle Location 3128). Spring Publications, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Thank you to Yes for the song, I’ve Seen All Good People.

“Don’t surround yourself with yourself
Move on back two squares
Send an instant karma to me
Initial it with loving care”

Links to all posts in the series:

Colour My World , Alchemical Psychology, Part I – Black http://wp.me/pZ0y1-T7

Alchemical Psychology, Part II – Blue http://wp.me/pZ0y1-TA

Alchemical Psychology, Part III – Silver http://wp.me/pZ0y1-Um

Alchemical Psychology, Part IV – White http://wp.me/pZ0y1-UT

Alchemical Psychology, Part V – Yellow http://wp.me/pZ0y1-WV

Alchemical Psychology, Part VI – Red http://wp.me/pZ0y1-XT

Alchemical Psychology, Part VII – Air http://wp.me/pZ0y1-11b

Alchemical Psychology, Part VIII – Caelum http://wp.me/Z0y1

Reflections

Not sure why I never thought to poke around in the blogosphere here on WordPress but having recently done so, am happy to have found a few kindred spirits who also have a passion for ideas and writing. Many of you have been quite kind and inspiring, which is very much appreciated! Thank you!

185This morning I woke up a little earlier than usual with a vague, dreamlike, can’t-quite-remember-it, song from the past trying to find its way into my waking world. All I could recall from the lyrics was the word reflection. No surprise, as I have been pondering how much the reflections between self and other shape us after having a sudden insight and appreciation that so much of my analytical nature comes from my relationship with my father.

Eventually enough snippets of the song, Reflections, by a Scottish band called Marmalade, surfaced just enough to go to the computer and look up the song. So, it prompts me to reflect here a bit about the self/other relationship, opposition and ideas.

Perhaps I am slow to realize this, but it occurs to me recently how absolutely necessary the other is to self and how throughout our human experience we assume and consume the self/other relationship. It is only over time that we slowly build a self of our own out of all that we take in, as it is reflected back to us from others.

Little wonder that our primary experience of family and friends is not only a lasting impression, but incorporated into all that we are and continue becoming. Our language, our sense of meaning and purpose, assumptions, choices we make, all are reflected in the back and forth between ourselves and the people we experience early on, and expanded upon throughout our lives, as we continue to engage others which in turn shapes and forms who we are.

Not that we necessarily become like others, for each of us seems to have a unique way of taking the other in; digesting and making sense of the world that shapes us, and frees us to a certain extent – depending on how much daring and separation both we and those around us can tolerate. And it seems too that we each are called, in a most mysterious way, to articulate and express some facet of human beingness, whether it be through a creative pursuit, or relational pursuit or more likely a little of both.

Pondering just how much we humans are always in relationship – to people, things, places, ideas, it occurs to me that ideas too are in relationship with each other.

Seeing that ideas are in relationship helps me to understand the emotional tone that seems immediate in their presence. For example, there is often a temptation to polarize ideas and so to view things in opposition. Perhaps because oppositional pairing is so primary to our experience:

Dead, alive

Good, bad

You, me

Male, female

Day, night

Coming, going

North, south, east, west

Hero, villain

…and my favorite:

Fantasy, reality

Ideas, whether oppositional or not, are as much in relationship to each other as we are to them. They sit face to face and define each other having meaning only in relationship to what connects them. The temptation in language is to forget that words are words, giving them the power to concretize our understanding, removing the fluidity and gradations that we know from experience, in much the same way as a picture might come to define an entire era of our personal or shared history.

But face to face, I try to remind myself, does not necessarily mean a conflict, a battle stance, but may also be a lover’s embrace, a visit with a long-lost friend, a confession to a priest, therapist or family member. Here is where the emotional tone can change from one of anger, fear, loss or hatred, to curiosity, admiration, compassion and abundance. Perhaps when we broaden the possibilities of meaning  in our ideas, the meaning of the oppositions that we find between us may also expand – inviting curiosity, admiration, compassion and abundance as we look into every strangers eyes.

I am reminded of, and will leave you with a lyric from Roger Waters’ album, Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking;

In truck stops and hamburger joints

In Cadillac limousines

In the company of has-beens

And bent-backs

And sleeping forms on pavement steps

In libraries and railway stations

In books and banks

In the pages of history

In suicidal cavalry attacks

I recognise…Myself in every stranger’s eyes

And thanks to the Marmalades for the theme…