Brothers by Puddi Kullberg, Jungian Analyst

get-attachment     As a lover of the movie The Hours, based on the book of the same name by Michael Cunningham, I was interested to see the review of his new book in the on-line NYT’s Arts section this morning. The headline caught my attention, “Two Brothers in the Icy Grip of Midlife.” Michiko Kakutani reviewed Cunningham’s new book The Snow Queen in which “two brothers yearn for a sense of purpose in midlife.”

Having spent most of yesterday working on a class about individuation, I thought, “Aha, midlife, here is something that might enliven the discussion.” Not to mention that a pivotal ingredient of the novel-named-after-a-fairy-tale involves one of the brother’s having had a numinous experience, a vision of beauty and grander, on a snowy evening in Central Park, kept secret from his sibling. How Jungian can you get? Could I assign a novel for my class or might that be too much reading?”

As I read the review though my mind wandered from individuation to brothers. I couldn’t help but connect it to another current brothers story.  The indie rock band The National is made up of two sets of brothers and the singer/lyricist whose brother is not part of the band. As it turns out though, the non-band brother is now intimately connected to the group via his recent movie Mistaken for Strangers. And the poignant Mistaken for Strangers turns out to be as much about brothers as it is a documentary about The National.

Maybe someday we’ll have a movie of The Snow Queen that is not Frozen. At any rate, if brothers captivate you, I can recommend Mistaken for Strangers and if you love Cunningham, you can look forward to The Snow Queen, the book.

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Snakes as Symbols of Transformation by Deborah Bryon Ph.D., Jungian Analyst

References to snakes and serpents as a universal symbol of transformation are found throughout mythology across the world. As a student of Jung, I have found references in his writings to snakes which have also enriched my understanding of this powerful image. Jung has stated that the image of a “serpent in a cave is a common image associated with baptism or beginning[1].” The cave or Underworld represents a layer of the unconscious where there is no discrimination; male and female are no longer distinguishable. Snakes exist in the primordial realm of creation.

In Greek mythology, Asklepios, the god of physicians for healing, wisdom and prophecy is represented by the serpent.[2] In Asia, Kundalini is the snake fire that burns and cleanses the chakras in the body. Nathan Schwartz-Salant described these kinds of snake symbols as Dionysian, involving the lower anthropos, chakras or energy centers in the subtle body and etheric field.

What continues to be most meaningful to me about the snake – beyond providing me entry into my own shadow and dismemberment process – has been the deepening of my “felt” connection to Peruvian cosmology. In Peruvian Shamanism, Uhupacha, the Underworld, is ruled by Amaru the great snake. It is the womb of the Great Mother, Pachamama, and the place of manifestation. This is the primordial realm where a complete “union of opposites” exists.

 


[1] (C.G. Jung, CW Vol 18 (1989), p.116)

[2](C.G. Jung, CW, Vol 18).

Women’s Voices by Puddi Kullberg, Jungian Analyst

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In Praise of When Women Were Birds: Fifty-Four Variations on Voice (2012) by Terry Tempest Williams

Women’s Voices

I am now 67 years old. The summer of my 16th year I sat on the dock at Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire, and over the course of several sunny days, I simultaneously tried to get a good tan and read Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique. It changed my life forever. Not the tan.

Don’t get me wrong, I went on to follow a very conventional life-style for the next two decades. However, the seeds of discontent had been planted. My inchoate considerations of my life in my family, in the Catholic Church, in the patriarchal academy and employment sectors and society of the United States in the late sixties had not escaped my observation. Here was someone who was articulating my dilemmas and puncturing my various denials.

After seeing the movie Tom and Viv  in 1994, I refused to read anyone but women authors for many years to come.  The whole “women are crazy” just got to be too much for me to bear – think Sylvia Plath, Virginia Wolf, Zelda Fitzgerald, Viv of course. Not to mention the prevailing etiology of serious mental illness at that time? The crazy (frigid) mother and/or penis envy.

Neither did I buy the tag line, “But it is symbolic” about Thelma and Louise having to sail the car off the cliff or “But it’s the myth” when Jen in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon leaps into the ethers above the valley to escape an impossible life.

Women’s voices saved my life. During my self-imposed male author hiatus, I became accustomed to the sound of women’s voices speaking to me from all realms of endeavor. Eventually and without any conscious decision on my part, I was back to reading men authors as well as women. It had taken a seriously long time, about ten years I would say, of immersion into the realm of the sisters, mothers and daughters to heal the women-are–crazy wound in my psyche.

I have just come across a Holocaust book, Where Every Single One Was Someone (2013) by Phil Chernosfsky. The entire volume is a repetition of the word JEW, six million times. Some say it is more a work of art than “a book”. In the spirit of repetition, if I was to write such a book, here is my list of names that would be reiterated over and over and over again. The women’s voices who saved my life – provoked, enlightened, sustained, entertained and educated me – from the time of that 16 year old teenager until now (excluding family and friends).

Betty Freidan Erica Jong Madeline Albright Willa Cather Gerda Lerner Elaine Pagels Alexandra David-Neel Beryl Markham Anne Morrow Lindberg Lucile Clifton Betty Meador Linda Leonard Sherry Salman Annie Liebowitz Louise Bourgoise Mira Nair Deepa Mehta Jane Campion Taiye Selasi Abi Maxwell Amy Cutty Betty Freidan Erica Jong Madeline Albright Willa Cather Gerda Lerner Elaine Pagels Alexandra David-Neel Beryl Markham Anne Morrow Lindberg Lucile Clifton Betty Meador Linda Leonard Sherry Salman Annie Liebowitz Louise Bourgoise Mira Nair Deepa Mehta Jane Campion Taiye Selasi Abi Maxwell Amy Cutty Betty Freidan Erica Jong Madeline Albright Willa Cather Gerda Lerner Elaine Pagels Alexandra David-Neel Beryl Markham Anne Morrow Lindberg Lucile Clifton Betty Meador Linda Leonard Sherry Salman Annie Liebowitz Louise Bourgoise Mira Nair Deepa Mehta Jane Campion Taiye Selasi Abi Maxwell Amy Cutty Betty Freidan Erica Jong Madeline Albright Willa Cather Gerda Lerner Elaine Pagels Alexandra David-Neel Beryl Markham Anne Morrow Lindberg Lucile Clifton Betty Meador Linda Leonard Sherry Salman Annie Liebowitz Louise Bourgoise Mira Nair Deepa Mehta Jane Campion Taiye Selasi Abi Maxwell Ami Cutty Betty Freidan Erica Jong Madeline Albright Willa Cather Gerda Lerner Elaine Pagels Alexandra David-Neel Beryl Markham Anne Morrow Lindberg Lucile Clifton Betty Meador Linda Leonard Sherry Salman Annie Liebowitz Louise Bourgoise Mira Nair Deepa Mehta Jane Campion Taiye Selasi Abi Maxwell Amy Cutty …

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The Subjective Experience of Time by Deborah Bryon Ph.D.

2012-07-28 20.45.36-2  Time is experienced differently depending upon the subjective psychological state of the person having the experience. The use of language can offer the framework to understand time as a linear, sequential cognitive process that defines the way time is experienced in consensual reality. Whenever we talk about time in this reality, space automatically becomes a factor because it provides context. Non-ordinary reality can only be accessed in preverbal, somatic states because it is non-temporal experience that occurs outside of a time/space continuum. The problem with the experience of non-temporal reality is that it is near impossible to understand conceptually as it is occurring – within the context of ego consciousness.

When we have moved outside of “other world” experience and begin describing it we have returned to ordinary reality – and ego consciousness. Based upon my own experience, nonordinary reality is predominately perceived as a formless, energetic state. I have learned that I can only (partially) assimilate the experience consciously as it is occurring if I have experienced the state before and have already laid done the cognitive neural pathways that can map and organize the experience in ego consciousness. Both shamans and analysts say that the can only help others materialize material (heal) if they understand the experience from “the inside out.”

Psychoanalytic theory (Ogden, 1989) offers rich scaffolding to further develop a conceptual framework to hold undifferentiated experience.  At birth, an experience of being a feeling of pleasure, (i.e. anger, fear, etc.) occurs before the ability to identify having a feeling exists. In this phase, we are our feelings because there is no separation between ourselves and the outer world. I have discovered in working with analysands in these kinds of preverbal states that the analytic session can become a fertile, multi-layered microcosm that holds the opportunity to access nonverbal state experiences – parallel to experiential work in Andean shamanism.       

Whatever we experience as time outside of a “time and space” continuum is an energetic state, without space-defined boundaries. Jung described the unconscious as “an extremely fluid state of affairs: everything of which I know, but which I am not at the moment thinking, everything of which I was one conscious but have now forgotten; everything perceived by my senses, but not noted by my conscious mend, everything which, involuntarily without paying attention to it, I feel, think, remember, want, and do: all future things that are taking shape in me and will sometime come to consciousness: all this is the content of the unconscious. (“The Structure of the Psyche,” CW 8, par.342).

 

Creative Instinct and Individuation by Nora Swan-Foster, Art Therapist and Jungian Analyst

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Nora Swan-Foster © 2011

The Swiss Jungian Analyst Elizabeth Ruf said the following in her lecture on “Patterns of Sacrifice and Initiation”:

“The creative challenge of our time is to take our own path of individuation under our feet because if we do not no one will do it for us and we will be forever undone. To live one’s own life is to take these first steps of creativity.”

Jung declared creativity one of the five instincts. When our daily life lacks the space to consciously attend to our creative instinct, we wither and dry out. We feel brittle, breakable, and often times more vulnerable. We may wonder why we are melancholic.  Without the creative instinct having a channel of expression, our daily life loses its purposefulness.

Finding our way back into relationship with our creativity looks different to everyone, yet it is essential nourishment for our soul.  Sometimes the path is through cooking or cleaning, arranging some flowers or taking the dead leaves off our houseplants. Other times we come home to ourselves through using art materials, singing in the shower, recording our dreams, or listening to music. Nature is a constant reflection of our creative instinct. When we are in nature, we see ourselves in constant flux and transformation.

As winter approaches, rituals that honor the movement of the creative instinct fertilize our soul and honor the transformations that have occurred in our life or that are yet unknown to us. Sacrifices most certainly will need to be made; we may feel utterly alone in the darkest hours, but when we release and offer sacrifices we make investments to our soul and fertilize our individuation journey. Each day we are asked to find time to maintain the quiet readiness for the next movement in life. The movement becomes known when we take up our individuation path with the steps of creativity as if they were our first steps in life.