Why is the Soul So Shy?

I have tentatively started – yet once again – to write in a journal, inspired by Virginia Woolfe, Anais Nin and even Kierkegaarde. My earliest inspiration for doing do was The Diary of Anne Frank, which I read  around the same age she was when she wrote that remarkable book – at the ripe old age of 12. I was so moved by her courage in the face of the horror that surrounded her and her family.

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Every time I tried writing in a journal in the past, I would face my own inner horror which would say: ‘can I dare to be totally open and true to myself and the page?’ This existential terror would whisper…..’what if someone finds it and reads it? There is no hiding place that is good enough’. On a deep soul level this fear always slammed on the brakes.

 Now I am finally beginning  to see this for what is – the shyness of the soul – and I realize I am not alone. I came across this wonderful quote from Maya Angelou the other day and I realized that what I had been thinking about, she had articulated in another way – but that we were talking about the same thing:

 I am convinced that most people do not grow up. We find parking spaces and honor our credit cards. We marry and dare to have children and call that growing up. I think what we do is mostly grow old. We carry accumulation of years in our bodies and on our faces, but generally our real selves, the children inside, are still innocent and shy as magnolias.

We may act sophisticated and worldly but I believe we feel safest when we go inside ourselves and find home, a place where we belong and maybe the only place we really do.

 Maya Angelou

 As a child I lived much of my life in that presence, but I had no words for it. When I was younger I couldn’t speak about my inner reality or my inner truth, because there was no “I” strong enough to do so. As in the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale of  The Little Mermaid, a story that I adored as a child, I had no voice. It took the long, slow process of growth into maturity to understand that like the little mermaid, I longed for a connection with The Prince. In Jungian terms this is understood as the inner connection to the animus (a woman’s inner connection to the masculine).

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 For the complete story from Hans Christian Andersen:

http://www.fairytalescollection.com/HansChristianAndersen/TheLittleMermaid.aspx

 If we look at the fairytale from the Jungian perspective, the little Mermaid suffers and sacrifices herself in order to connect with her prince in the hopes that it will bring her into a grounded relationship with him. The horrible sadness of it is that she sacrificed her voice in order to get legs, so she could walk by his side and be in the same reality in which he lived. Like the little mermaid, the woman’s connection with the animus is the bridge that brings us into the world, but then the soul has to struggle to find its voice.

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In this story, the Prince does not realize that it is the little mermaid who has saved his life when he was on the brink of drowning after a shipwreck. It is a man’s lifework to find and deepen the connection to the inner feminine and to give it voice. It is a woman’s lifework to find and embody the will, the strength and the courage to be and find her rightful work in the world, her true voice, her calling.

 This fairytale is about the longing of the soul for a grounded connection in life, and it also about its essential shyness. Until we are strong and courageous enough to speak from the soul, for the soul – we are silenced by our fear, distracted by our distractions, living a provisional life.

 This is not meant to blame – it takes a lot of time and courage, and perhaps many lifetimes to wake up. We need to be compassionate to ourselves and to others, while not allowing ourselves to be fooled into thinking this is all there is – so that we must rush and grab and step over others to gain a little inch for ourselves.

 When we do begin to wake up to this reality, we can begin to forgive ourselves for our lack of consciousness and our mistakes. Then, and only then,  can we begin to forgive others.  Perhaps they haven’t yet had the strength, courage or enough awareness to listen to their own souls and find their true voices.

 As Christopher Frye says in The Sleep of Prisoners, “It takes so many thousand years to wake, but will you wake, for pity’s sake?”

To listen to Sir George Trevelyan recite this poem go to:

SirGeorgeTrevelyanRecites_A_Sleep_of_Prisoners

A Sleep of Prisoners

by Christopher Fry

The human heart can go the lengths of God…

Dark and cold we may be, but this

Is no winter now.

The frozen misery

Of centuries breaks, cracks, begins to move;

The thunder is the thunder of the floes,

The thaw, the flood, the upstart Spring.

Thank God our time is now when wrong

Comes up to face us everywhere,

Never to leave us till we take

The longest stride of soul men ever took.

Affairs are now soul size.

The enterprise is exploration into God.

Where are you making for

It takes

So many thousand years to wake…

But will you wake, for pity’s sake?

 

 

Being at the Crossroads

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photo by: http://www.martin-liebermann.de

So much of our real growth in life, whether we think of it in terms of the soul or merely personal, happens when we are at a crossroads in some way. It is a place of transition, change or potential new directions, and its hallmark is suffering. So often at the intersecting points of our lives we struggle with the question of Which Way? The quintessential problem in this place is the seemingly opposing directions, however that is manifesting in your life. Invariably when we are getting ready to shed some part of our life that is no longer healthy for us, we often struggle and debate with ourselves – weighing pros and cons, as if this were a rational choice. Deep down we often have an inkling about what we are being called to do, but the other part that resists change sets up a quarrel. And so we agonize, we angst, we go over and over it in our minds and then we go into stall. And the whole thing starts to feel like a cancerous growth, as we are unsure about what the right thing is to do. We are caught in the crossroads, prey to all sorts of mental and emotional machinations. So how can we approach these crossroads in a way that is helpful?

As I was thinking about this image, I turned to A Dictionary of Symbols by J. E. Cirlot as well as The Herder Symbol Dictionary and looked at the references to the crossroads and to the cross (which is at the heart of this image) which are extensive.

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Here are some highlights:

From Cirlot

“The complex symbolism of the cross neither denies nor supplants the historical meaning in Christianity. But in addition to the realities of Christianity there are two other essential factors: that of the symbolism of the cross as such and that of the crucifixion or of ‘suffering upon the cross”. ……The cross is often represented in mediaeval allegory as a Y-shaped tree, depicted with knots and even with branches, and sometimes with thorns. Like the Tree of Life, the cross stands for the ‘world-axis’.

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Placed in the mystic Centre of the cosmos, it becomes the bridge or ladder by means of which the soul may reach God. There are some versions which depict the cross with seven steps, comparable with the cosmic trees which symbolize the seven heavens. The cross, consequently, affirms the primary relationship between the two worlds of the celestial and the earthly……it stands for the conjunction of the opposites, wedding the spiritual (or vertical) principle with the principle of the world of phenomena. Hence its significance as a symbol for agony, struggle and martyrdom…….Jung comments that in some traditions the cross is a symbol of fire and of the suffering of existence, and that this may be due to the fact that the two arms were associated with the kindling sticks which primitive man rubbed together to produce fire and which he thought of as masculine and feminine. But the predominant meaning of the cross is that of ‘Conjunction’…..  

Under Crossroads: “According to Jung, it is a mother symbol. He comments: ‘Where the roads cross and enter into one another, thereby symbolizing the union of opposites, there is “the mother”, the object and epitome of all union.’ “  

From Herder  

Under Crossroads: “In most cultures it is a significant place of meeting with transcendent powers (gods, spirits, the dead). It is often close to the symbolic content of the DOOR, since the crossroads can also symbolize the necessary transition to the new (from one phase of life to another; from life to death). To win the favor of the gods or the spirits, obelisks, altars, or stones were erected, or inscriptions were placed at crossroads. …..”

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In Women Who Run with the Wolves, the wonderful Jungian storyteller, Clarissa Pinkola Estes recounts the Russian version of the archetypal story of Cinderella, who in Russian is called Vasilisa. In this story Vasilisa, who has been given the task of sleeping by the fire to ensure that it doesn’t go out, is tortured by her evil step sisters who steal the fire while she is asleep, and then blame her and harass her for letting the fire go out. They send her out to the deep, dark woods in search of the evil Baba Yaga who is the only one who has fire. The problem for Vasilisa is that no one really knows where Baba Yaga lives, and Vasilisa has no idea which way to go. Utterly terrified of making a mistake and of dying alone in the woods, the only thing that helps her is a doll that her beloved mother gave her. Every time that she comes to a crossroads in the forest, she stops and waits in agony, hoping to be informed by the doll. The doll acts as the transcendent function and the connection to the archetypal Good Mother. If she is on the right path, the doll jumps up and down with excitement – letting her know her inner ‘yes’. In fact, just touching the doll as she makes her way through the dark woods makes her feel better.

Here is what Pinkola Estes has to say about this tale in Women Who Run with the Wolves:

“To my mind, the old Russian tale “Vasalisa” is a woman’s initiation story with few essential bones astray. It is about the realization that most things are not as they seem. As women we call upon our intuition and instincts in order to sniff things out. We use all our senses to wring the truth from things, to extract nourishment from our own ideas, to see what there is to see to know what there is to know, to be the keepers of our own creative fires, and to have intimate knowing about the Life/Death/Life cycles of all nature – that is an initiated woman.        Stories with Vasalisa as a central character are told in Russia, Romania, Yugoslavia, Poland and throughout all the Baltic countries. In some instances, the tale is commonly called “Wassilissa the Wise.” I find evidence of its archetypal roots dating back at least to the old horse-Goddess cults which predate classical Greek culture. This tale carries ages-old psychic mapping about induction into the underworld of the wild female God. It is about infusing human women with Wild Woman’s primary instinctual power, intuition.” Although Pinkola Estes is addressing this book to the woman’s journey, I believe it can have parallel value to men who are in touch with their inner feminine.

For a short synopsis of the story: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasilisa_the_Beautiful

baba yaga and vasilisa the beautiful

This story goes on, but this part of the story is particularly significant in terms of understanding how to approach the crossroads. Perhaps Jung was right in his understanding of the crossroads, in the sense that here at this intersection there is sacred possibility. It is the possibility of connection with the Good Mother archetype – she who will guide you with wisdom if you but wait and ask for guidance.

So what can we learn from all this? I think the hardest thing we have to do when we are at a crossroads in our life is to wait. There can be an agony of suffering in the waiting, in holding the tension of the opposites. (see blog on Holding the Tension of the Opposites). We are often propelled into action, any action, because it is so hard to wait for clarity. We stew and angst and go in circles, stirring up an inner storm with all the inner community clamouring to be heard, (see blog on Inner Community) until we get utterly sick of ourselves. If only we could get quiet and breathe and pray for guidance, there might be a chance for that still, small voice of wisdom within to be heard. The voice of wisdom has no charge around it, no axe to grind. This is how we recognize it. It is simply an inner knowing or awareness of how things are, and we are often humbled by the realization. When this happens, you must give thanks and then proceed on your journey, trusting your life, trusting that you will be guided if you continually ask for guidance, in all humility.

Seven Habits of the Happy Introvert: Living in the World of Yin

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Notice I didn’t say the “successful” introvert. Self-help books abound on how to be successful: The 10 Habits of a Successful Leader, Seven Ways to be an Effective Leader, The 8 Habits of the Self-Made Rich, How to be a Success and Achieve Abundance: 8 Steps to Achieve Your Goals, etc. Frankly,these titles just make me feel tired. It recently occurred to me that all of these type of self-help books are geared towards extroverts and achieving success in the outer world. What about introverts? For most of us, just having and retaining an okay presence in that world takes up a great deal of our resources. So this blog is for the introverts.

The outer world that dominates western civilization is very yang or masculine in its orientation. We live in a culture that values power, control, domination over the other, war, one-upmanship, aggression, competition, status, speed, technology and capitalism. The winner takes all. And it is a world in which extroverts thrive. They love the social parry and thrust of daily interactions. The best of them excel and rise to the top. There are only a few professions, apart from research, where introverts excel, and those tend to be the ones connected to the arts in some way. And in this category I would include psychotherapists, and psychoanalysts – as this is more of an art form than a science.

So I began to wonder if the inner worlds that introverts live in is more the realm of the feminine, the realm of yin. Many extroverts have very little awareness of the richness of the inner worlds we dwell in. Because we are introverts, only a small percentage of writers, poets and artists succeed in bringing this forward to the busy, outer world. In a world that seems to have less and less value for the arts and for beauty, many of our artists and writers are starving and ignored.

Recently I went to an exhibit of Francis Bacon and Henry Moore at the AGO and had a new insight into their works. In a way both of these artists show in their works how the bodies of their subjects were mutilated and ravaged – symbolizing the ravages to the human psyche.  Given that many of their works are post World War II, we can situate these works in that context. These artists, each in their own way, are compelling because the stark brutality of Bacon’s images and the gaping holes in Moore’s monumental bodies shock the viewer into confronting these realities – the horror and starkness of a world that lives by the dictates of the masculine alone – a world that places little value on the beauty of the inner feminine.

So in order to encourage and give heart to the introverts out there, I am compiling my Seven Habits of the Happy Introvert. This will be a work in progress and I welcome your input and feedback. We need to support and help one another to bring our values into this world we happen to be living in.

1)     You have found a way to carve out some sort of daily meditation practice. This might involve sitting or walking meditation, solitary walks in nature, yoga or tai chi. This has become an essential part of your routine because introverts take the world into themselves. The world actually flows through them, as opposed to extroverts who bounce themselves off others or outer situations in order to find out who they are. It can be very difficult for a young introvert to figure out their core self because as the world flows through them they can be easily overwhelmed by the energies of other people or toxic situations. As introverts learn to plug back into their Source, they can release all these outer energies and influences and find the still, clear core within. Core is linked to Coeur (heart) in French, which is no accident. When we find that still, quiet place within we are in the place of the Heart. Refreshed, cleansed and renewed we can face into another day.

2)     You have learned to march to your own drummer. Introverts are in the minority – there are many more extroverts than introverts, and society as a well-oiled machine depends on the extroverts. They make it all work. So introverts often appear awkward or shy – they don’t seem to fit in very well unless they have learned to adapt and disguise themselves as extroverts. A lot of us have learned to do this, but at the end of the day we are exhausted and depleted. Moreover it is easy for introverts to develop an inferiority complex because they so often seem maladapted. The successful introvert knows he/she is different, accepts this and has learned to value, protect and cherish his/her inner world. The judgements or critical valuations of the extroverts do not faze him. He/she has come to peace with feeling alone and different. The successful introvert accepts the fact that a third of the people will love him/her unconditionally no matter what, another third will hate him/her or think them weird – no matter what, and the other third simply don’t care. So the successful introvert has learned to be him or herself, and therefore radiates an inner strength and peace – which paradoxically gets noticed out there – simply because a quiet, confident Presence is SO RARE.

3)     The happy introvert has given up trying to wear the extroverted shoe, despite huge pressures from family, schools and society – all of which usually show a preference for the extroverts on the big stage of life. The happy introvert chooses a profession that will honour and make use of his/her gifts. She will not try to continuously push herself into an extroverted path because she knows it will be at a huge cost to her soul. This is not to say that he/she does not learn to adapt to the extroverted world – but she must know that she is accommodating for a short while in specific situations. Jung said that in the latter part of life extroverts must learn introversion and introverts must learn extroversion. This is very wise. However, the problem is that so many introverts just feel defective and are constantly trying to fit in, without having an awareness of their own unique gifts and orientation. This calls to mind the story of The Ugly Duckling, who when he finally realized he would never be a duck in the duck family, woke up to his own awareness of his unique swan beauty and elegance.

For the Story of the Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Anderson:

http://hca.gilead.org.il/ugly_duc.html

4)     The happy introvert strives to find a way to bring the realities of his/her inner world to the outer world. While this can feel very challenging, it is the path of your individuation or self-realization. I firmly believe there is some reason you chose to come into this world with these gifts, through your specific life situation and family. Your karma has shaped you and continues to shape you. You have a unique perspective and gifts that no one else in the world has, and if you do not bring them into this world, they will be lost. Do not be defeated by the ways of the world. Always continue to try and find a way to bring your gifts forward. In your own way, Be the Swan. If you do not honour yourself in this way, your light will be hidden from the world. After all, what else can you do with your life? Be all of who you can be in your uniqueness. You will have to find enough extroversion within yourself to make these gifts manifest.

Watch this beautiful rendition of the Dying Swan as danced by Maya Plisetskaya

David Whyte’s wonderful of Rilke’s beautiful poem The Swan:

5)     You will have learned the power of No. In an extroverted world that values go, go, go, do, do, do…..you will inevitably feel pressured to conform, join the party, the committee, the excursion. You have to honour your own need for down time, for decompression time. It is very difficult for extroverts to understand this, but you will have to be okay with finding soft and gentle ways of saying no, sorry, I wish I could, but….. You may not be understood. Offer your authentic truth and get okay with the fact that a third of the people might be unhappy, and the other third won’t care.

6)     You understand the value of a few close friends. Introverts are not hermits, they just don’t particularly like crowds or large gatherings. Introverts chose quality over quantity – something extroverts have a hard time comprehending. Introverts prefer to go deep rather than to go wide. Young introverts often suffer at school because young people often tend to travel in tribes or cliques. The young introvert needs to be taught that it is okay not to conform, that it is okay to be different, that it is okay not to join the crowd. They need to learn early on to stand in their values and not be swayed by the crowd. This can be particularly painful for a young person, so if you have a young introvert in your midst, reach out and support and encourage them. It seems they have to grow up and mature a little faster in order to survive in the extroverted world.

7)     Give up on the guilt. Because we live in a world dominated by extroverts, we often feel guilty for not fitting in, for not behaving in the ways others expect us to. Think of the lone salmon fighting its way upstream. This is how it often feels for the introvert, striving to find his/her way back to the Source, fighting against the expectations of the collective. But the salmon can only do what is in its nature (see blog on Life of Pi), as can the introvert. The salmon might disappoint the schools of herring that want him to join the fun of swimming and dancing together, but there is no point in the salmon feeling guilty. In fact, guilt can ravage the soul of the introvert, tearing the flesh off his back. As long as your actions are not damaging someone else, you must do what you need to do without guilt and without shame, and honour the calling that carries you forward towards your true home.

Listen to Susan Cain’s TED talk on introverts:

http://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts

 

Healing the Mother Complex or Learning the Power of No

images-1Beware. Many therapists, social workers, ‘do-gooders’ and ‘good mothers or fathers’ have a raging mother complex lying underneath the calm, kind exterior, and it’s a killer. This complex knows no gender boundaries and can be equally present in both  men and women. In my blog on The Inner Community, I talked about complexes in general, and how they can raise their ugly heads when you are least expecting it.

Well the mother complex can be one of the most surprising and disturbing of all the complexes, because it seems so, well, out of character. And when the mother complex is raging, you don’t want to be around. If it is raging in you, walk out that door. If it is raging in a significant other, walk out that door. Wait until the waters have calmed down before you try communicating, and if you are the one grappling with it, do everything in your power to try and understand it. The ONLY way to dismantle or at least disempower a complex is to bring consciousness to it.

Here’s how you know if you have this one running in the underground of your psyche. A big part of your conditioning has taught you to ‘turn the other cheek’ and put everyone else’s needs ahead of your own. You feel that you should be good and kind to others even if that means you put your needs aside, to your own detriment. You are much better at discerning the needs of others than you are at identifying your own needs and desires at any given moment.  You do, do, do for others and then inexplicably feel burnt-out and resentful. You feel guilty when you do assert your own needs, and then are especially guilt-ridden and hurt when others get annoyed that you aren’t being the ‘good mother’ anymore.

When you are caught in the great mother complex, you become so focused on the needs of others that you are not in touch with your own needs. In other words, YOU are not taking care of YOU. On some level, you have abandoned your own inner child and feel hurt and angry that no one is taking care of you the way you are taking care of others.

So here’s the deal. Ultimately we all have to become responsible as mature adults for taking care of our own needs. It is unfair to put that responsibility onto someone else. Of course it is lovely when we have the time, energy and grace to extend to others in kindness and with a generosity of spirit,  but when it comes out of obligation and a big ‘should’ for too long, there is hell to pay.

Another problem that surrounds this complex is that if it has been a large part of your persona (the image you present to the world), the people around you come to expect you to always be there as the good mother. When you stop buying into this image of yourself and begin to become more authentic, it can feel like a rude awakening to those who want you to continue in your old role. However, the individuation process wants you to be in touch with your deeper Self and purpose, and not be trapped in any persona. You will know when you are not being authentic and true to your Self when you feel that you are going through the motions because of expectations from others. You might begin to feel a fierce rage and frustration because you feel trapped in this role.

So what to do? In the myth of Amor and Psyche Psyche (which means soul in Greek) has to journey into the underworld. She has been given many impossible tasks by the raging Aphrodite. (In this story she is not the beautiful goddess of love, but the raging mother). In this final and horrifying task, she has to journey to the heart of the underworld and meet with Persephone, Queen of the Underworld. She is given some very sage advice before she embarks on this journey. She is told that many poor souls will clamor most piteously for help, but she will have to remain focused on her task and refuse to help any of them. If she extends her hand to help them, she will be dragged down and all will be lost.

This seems like shocking advice to Psyche because it runs against the grain of everything she has been taught. But she also realizes that the transcendent help she has been receiving all along in order to accomplish the superhuman tasks that Aphrodite has set for her, is the only thing that has been getting her through. So she follows the advice and is able to get to the heart of the underworld, meet Persephone and then return to the world above. In other words, Psyche had to learn the power of her No in order to deal with the raging mother.

So this is the lesson. You must dig deep into the heart of your complex and journey into your own underworld. You must understand it in yourself. If you are feeling an inner rage, then something is afoot, and only consciousness can bring it into the light of day. You have to take responsibility for your own feelings and stop blaming others. If you are operating out of a mother complex, you have to realize it and get in touch with your needs and your feelings and then determine what action you need to take. If it means saying no to what others have traditionally expected from you, try to do so in a kind but clear and firm way.

You may have to negotiate your way out of this. It is not an easy journey for you or for those around you, but tremendous growth and new responsibilities for everyone are in the offing.  As they come to terms with you as a full person, and not just the good mother, they will begin to see you differently and to respect you in a new way. It may be a rocky road in the beginning, but it is a journey worth taking.

Alchemical Psychology: Why does it matter?

backgrounds-world-fantastic-wallpapers-70497One of Hillman’s last gifts to us before his death, Alchemical Psychology, is perhaps one of the most important contributions to Jungian thought because it sheds light on the importance of alchemical metaphors for the soul’s journey. For many followers of Jung, myself included, the difficulty of penetrating the alchemical mysteries in order to grasp Jung’s fascination with it, has been a daunting and mysterious task. Hillman’s book brings many fresh and meaningful insights to this arcane subject matter, and allows us to glimpse behind the veil. I feel he peels away the layers, using poetic but modern language, unlike Jung, whose language and train of thought is often very dense and labyrinthian.

One of the ideas that Hillman throws into question is the whole notion of the goal of individuation, one of the sacred tenets of Jungian depth psychology.  He feels that inherent in this concept is the idea of the goal as something to be obtained – the end product of a linear process that proceeds through stages.  If one were to become fully ‘individuated’, totally at one with the Self, or fully enlightened – to use an Eastern metaphor – then one would have achieved the goal – or as it is imagined in alchemy – one would have attained the gold or the treasure of the highest value.

Hillman asks, why does the psyche invent goals? And what do goals do for the soul? Hillman quotes Jung as saying, “ The goal is important only as an idea; the essential thing is the opus which leads to the goal: that is the goal of a lifetime.” In other words, Hillman explains, the goal-idea serves primarily to impel the psyche into the opus.

“ We shall have extraordinary and marvelous goals, like gold and pearls, elixirs and healing stones of wisdom, because then we shall be motivated to stay the course, that via longissima called a lifetime. Were the goal not imagined as gold, the highest value possible, were the goal not healing, were redemption and immortality not promised in the image at the outset, who would risk the leaden despair, tortured mortifications, ageing putrefactions, the sludge, and the corrosive fires? An inflated vision of supreme beauty is a necessary fiction for the soul-making opus we call our lifetime.”

In exploring the image of the pearl as the goal, he addresses the notion of the materia prima, another fundamental precept in alchemical language. In this particular image, the sand in the oyster shell is the material prima – the ‘worthless gritty bit we call a symptom or problem, (which) when worked on constantly, slowly becomes coated. An organic process turns the bit of grit into a coagulated jewel. The work goes on in the depth of the sea, where light does not reach, inside the hermetically sealed oyster. Then it must be fished up and pried loose, extracted. It is not enough to have a pearl in the depth of the sea, not enough to be gifted with riches and blessed with talents. For they may remain there, still sealed away in the oyster when we are sealed away in the coffin. It is a ‘goal hard to attain’ – it must be worked at as does the oyster, and it must be dived for, deep into the dissolving waters.”

Hillman tells us that concealed jewels or hidden treasure are of no use to the world.  As we do our own soul work, we also must bring these gifts into the world.

“Rather than emphasis upon the closed vessel as the modus for self-knowledge, we are to ‘freely give.’ Revelation. If the goal is an idea that motivates the opus all along the way, then ideas of display and exposure must lead the mind. Extraverted display not as the last stage of a long process of introverted secrecy; instead, disclosure. Man revealed is man known; as if self-knowledge were only truly that in the act of revealing that self.”

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This is an extraordinary statement – self-knowledge is only truly that when we reveal the self, when we ‘truly give’ of ourselves to the world.  Jung tells us that alchemy has two main purposes, “the rescue of the human soul and the salvation of the cosmos” – in other words, they go hand in hand. He goes on to say “……From the alchemical perspective the human individual may be a necessary focus but cannot be a sufficient one; the rescue of the cosmos is equally important. Neither can take place without the other. Soul and world are inseparable: anima mundi.”

Watch this stunning video of earth from the astronauts’ perspective: