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Finding your story in a time of uncertainty

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  • #72649
    jamesn.
    Participant

    As adults we write all the time; we write about all kinds of things; we write on social media; we write at work; we write letters to people; we even write diaries sometimes that contain our secret thoughts; but are we really in touch with our deepest parts of ourselves; our fears and our dreams; who and what we love and hate and what we feel about the things we are connected to?

    One of the things I think that we sometimes don’t do enough of is “write”. I don’t mean quick emails to so and so; or memos or post cards sent about this that or the other as a quick way of touching base; but how often do we write to people or ourselves about what deeply matters to us; and there is where the good stuff is. And you recognize this when you go back later and reread something and it gets to you in your gut. (You know those moments in your life where upon reflection you see that it really was important; maybe even putting a lump in your throat.)

    Now there are all kinds of YouTube videos on writing technique; and one can find plenty of reasons on why “not” to start writing about something. But there is a thing inside each of us that deeply longs for expression. James Hillman calls this the “Daimon”; a kind of guiding spirit that looks over you and helps you; and like the symbol of the acorn seed of an Oak Tree that once planted has a root system that goes deep into the ground anchoring the trunk and canopy as the seasons pass; this seed has a kind of “code” that’s full of potential for this thing that’s been planted. But then ask yourself: “What if this seed never gets planted; what does this metaphor represent?” The answer is: “the unlived life”. And there is an old saying that could be applied here: “That which you bring forth will save you; and that which you deny and do not bring forth may destroy you.” Think of this as your deepest dreams and wishes that lie waiting for you to find and live them.

    Well now; what if you don’t know what they are; or maybe you have doubts that you are worthy enough to fulfill them. Joseph Campbell calls this your “Dragon”; and on every scale of that dragon is a: “Thou Shalt”. And the Hero within is to kill that Dragon and open him up to release the gold that lies within you. So how do I find and recognize this stuff? Well one recommended way is to: “write about it!” (These are just some thoughts to get this thread started.)

    One of my favorite metaphors Joseph used was the: “Marga Path”; a path that leads an animal back to it’s den; which in this case represents the: “Human Heart”. And the Hero Journey one might say is a road that leads one to this specific destination. (That’s my interpretation of this anyway.)
    _____________________________

    So here are my thoughts about this that may or may not be worth a moment of your time. (Some of you may already be doing this); but since we are already in the midst of this horrendous Pandemic; why not “write”? Write about your thoughts and fears and dreams; write about your frustrations; write about yourself; write about what you love and what you think is beautiful; “but Write”! Make a sacred space for yourself to do this and keep a little stash of your musings and your passions; what you think is Funny; what you think is Sad; what you think about Anything; and then come back to it later and reflect on it. And over time a few things might start to work on you; and so you write some more. And as Joseph suggests here is where some of the gold of your life may reveal itself. If you are already into this sort of thing; great; do it some more and maybe share a few things with others; because this virus situation is like nothing we have ever faced before; and maybe it might help to talk about it with someone else! It might even help them; you know like supporting someone. That’s a pretty darn cool idea I think. People are sacred right now; and participating in the sorrows and pain of others is a pretty nice thing to do; (imho). So hopefully some of you have thoughts on this you want to share.
    _________________________________________

    A couple of important addendums I want to add to this topic:

    One is in: “Reflections on the Art Of Living – A Joseph Campbell Companion”; by Diane K. Osbon; on pages 269-271; Joseph goes into great detail about his thoughts on writing and the creative process that in my opinion would definitely apply here.

    Also; here is a link to an article that may be of help to add some clarity on James Hillman’s theme of the “Daimon”:

     

    #72683

    Thanks for this post, James. Allow me to second your motion!

    Writing about what happens to us can’t help but widen our perspective, especially if we do so with a sincere and open heart.

    James Hillman believed that reflection – chewing over and digesting life, if you will – is what deepens events into experience. Ideally, that’s what we do when we journal – step outside ego, outside the “I,” the “me,” that sense of myself I experience as me –  and then psyche (or soul, if you will) washes across the page.

    Journaling is one of the most useful tools in my toolbox. There is plenty of pondering (and wandering) in my journals; in fact, I have an entire file drawer jammed full of loose pages – irregular sized art paper, the back of discarded reams of unused office stationary, and all types of blank paper – that record nearly a decade of travels by thumb across the continent way back when.

    I would write on every and any thing, every and any where – and, in the writing, found myself forging my own soul.

    Of course, the words aren’t all profound observations and nature scenes. There is plenty of hunger and loneliness and sunburn and despair in those pages as well. To this day my journal serves as a portal to shadow realms. I vent frustration and anger, confront jealousies and fears, beat myself up and beat myself down

    . . . which I find now, after decades of keeping a journal, keeps me sane and preserves me from falling prey to those same shadow impulses. And when I am possessed by Shadow, my journal is the place I go to lick my wounds – a safe and sacred space to recuperate.

    It’s also where I amplify insights, accept and embrace my strengths as well as my flaws, and discover the elements that make up my bliss. Looking over the pages of journals past I see patterns appear and reappear – and notice what is that I keep coming back to, the situations that draw me again and again.

    I can’t imagine a more useful process right now, when we are pummeled by events we cannot control and Shadow, individual and collective, confronts us at every turn.

    Of course, it’s not easy for those who aren’t used to writing words they will never show another, reflections of their interior world, to just pick up a pen and start. We have so many roadblocks in our head.

    I sense that many who try unsuccessfully to diary their thoughts may be approaching it as I did my first few attempts, back in high school and college (none of which lasted more than a few days, maybe a week or two of feeble, sporadic entries).

    Looking back, I notice those early unsuccessful efforts exhibit two common characteristics:

    First, I would try to detail exactly what happened during the day – the order and times in which events occurred, who said what to whom, etc. – an impossible journalistic task. It had taken me all day to live it; writing it all down would take another day – hence I found the process time-consuming and impossibly overwhelming. No matter how enthusiastic I was at first, my efforts faded and entries soon dribbled away to nothing.

    And then second, I now notice that in those early efforts I was always the star of my story. Everything was about me – everything I did was right, and where there were problems in my life I was either misunderstood, or others were, of course, to blame. I wrote as if I expected all sorts of people to one day read my words, and boy, would they be blown away at what a mistreated, misunderstood genius I was! Can’t say I was writing for me, but for posterity – which also meant a certain amount of editing history, to put me in the most favorable light possible.

    Of course, this wasn’t a conscious process – nevertheless, my early daily diary efforts proved a flood of mundane details mixed with shameless self-promotion and self-justification. No reflection, no coming to know my self better, no point to the exercise at all. That’s not journaling – not in the sense I’m using the word here.

    Journaling is a movement not of ego, but of soul.

    And, years later, that’s how my real journaling began – born out of the sincere anguish of my soul. I found myself writing down truths about myself – truths I did not know until they spilled from my pen. I asked questions, pondered, mused, all with no audience in mind other than myself – or is that my Self?

    Instead of ego directing the pen, now my words carry me wherever they will. I’m not keeping a journalistic account of my day, but am penetrating the depths of the world around me, and the world of my own thoughts – and noting the correspondence between the two. I might describe at length the politics and play of the magpies outside my window, or ramble on for pages about an image in a daydream, or a phrase overheard in line at the cash register in the local market, or explore why my speech patterns automatically and seemingly on their own change when certain people walk into the room.

    I still delve into relationships and personal exchanges, but now my attitude is not that I’m automatically the good guy; before, I thought I knew myself – now, though, I’m as curious about myself and my own motivations as I am about others.

    That openness and wonder strikes me as a hallmark of personal journaling. It’s also subtly altered my behavior. Instead of re-acting reflexively to forces originating outside myself, I am a more conscious actor, moving in concert with forces arising from a deeper part of my Self.

    In this moment, when life can be so overwhelming, scribbling words across the blank page (yes, I’m old school – typing is too close to what I do everyday in the mundane world: an unlined journal and a clean white page is my sacred space),  putting pen to paper slows me down and truly does deepen events into experience . . .

    (Including pics of my journal below)
    Opening page of a past journal
    Sample journal page

    #72682
    jamesn.
    Participant

    Wow Stephen; what an incredible overview you just shared; like a diamond with it’s many facets; each shimmering from it’s own reflection of a larger whole. One of the things I liked most was how you shared your insights of your own experience of your life as it unfolded; and the processes that led to your relationship of the resulting outlooks of your life now. (The journal pictures were especially revealing and gave a wonderful inside look into your process.)

    We all have this potential within us; but do we step into our call to express it? The gifts of this process are enormous if the challenge is accepted; but the Dragon within us sometimes is reluctant to let you pass this threshold. Your insecurities may tell you: “Oh no; it’s too difficult; or it it’s too painful; or I don’t know how or where to start. (There’s all this stuff swirling around in my head and I just don’t know how to put it down on paper!)

    Well; I’ll share a few things that have helped me; and others can add any of theirs if they like. Do you have a cell or smartphone with a camera? Go out and take some pictures of things that have meaning to you and write about them. Do you have some old mementos? Go pull them out of the closet or in the places they are tucked away and reminisce about them; and then try to capture something of these experiences. Do you have a piece of music that moves you or is connected to a deep personal experience? Listen to it and scribble a few thoughts and then go back and reflect on it and then try to put something down of why you feel this way. If this is too much at first then reflect for awhile till something you want to say emerges.

    One thing I try to do is keep something handy I can write on if an important thought comes to me. (I have piles and piles of little scraps of paper crammed full of little messages to myself. They are everywhere; next to my bed if something wakes me in the night; I have a notebook where they are “semi” organized into separate piles; (each pile in a certain order so I can kind of keep them organized; lol); but the main thing for me is this works for my particular thought process. You must figure out your own way; these are just some things that work for me. My point in all of this is within this process I can navigate my inner world; and Joseph’s insights into this inner realm have been incalculable.

    I came to him late in life; late 30’s; so my life trajectory had already reached a certain point where I was in a midlife crisis and not trying to figure out about school or career path; and although for each us our life choices we make may differ; inevitably certain things I think run true for many of us. We grow up into adults; we have dreams and wishes; we have life tragedies; and we must figure out where we our going; and I was at a point of impasse.

    If I had heard the term Jungian; I would have had no clue what that meant at first; and indeed for many years afterward the learning curve was very long and arduous; full of all kinds of emotional roadblocks where the road forward seemed impossible to sort through in my life. I was deep in the forest now; but after finding Joseph; he was there all the time saying; “oh yes you can; you can do this – stay with it and just keep going – others have been where you are – you can figure this out just keep reading and studying and listening and you’ll get there.

    There were people in this community from back then whom I will be forever grateful to; and during all of that time the funny thing is my idea of “getting there” kept getting farther and farther away from where I thought it was; and then step by step things began falling away; and the more I studied him the more certain pieces of the puzzle began to make sense; kind of like: Dorthey in the Wizard of OZ returning back to where she started – but with a new sense of awareness of my life; or as Joseph might have said: “This is it” right here; right now; this is the gift; appreciate it in all it’s horror and glory!

    That doesn’t mean the struggle stops to understand one’s life; and it doesn’t mean that what you do or who you are does or doesn’t matter. But by saying: “Yes” everyday is the challenge; and “writing” about it as Stephen just shared can help you make sense of the part you play in this grand opera of it all; that; and being grateful for the journey.

    So what I’m trying to encourage is for others to share some of their thoughts and experiences. We have no idea what lies ahead with this virus; and by sharing some of our common connection I think it’s possible to make some sense of things going forward. So here were some of my thoughts; I hope you’ll share some of yours!

    #72681

    I wrote a lot about your post here James. I emboldened the things you wrote and then responded to your thoughts in each emboldened section. I am sure this could be a much longer conversation. And then I would also want to respond to Stephen’s response.

    As adults we write all the time; we write about all kinds of things; we write on social media; we write at work; we write letters to people; we even write diaries sometimes that contain our secret thoughts; but are we really in touch with our deepest parts of ourselves; our fears and our dreams; who and what we love and hate and what we feel about the things we are connected to?

    This is such an interesting question, are we really connected to what we feel about things. I write in my journal almost every morning for at least an hour. I find I do a lot of what Stephen describes, of really facing my soul there. Or rather, my soul faces me—yes, it pours out upon the pages. There are times, however, when I find I cannot journal as much. At those times, I am distracted, there is “too much to do.” Sometimes, when I am distracted, I go to social media instead and then there are all the quick interactions to read and respond to and before I know it, I am psychically overloaded,  and at times that overload has a numbing effect. I do not feel those things when I journal. Some of the things I journal about end up on one of my blogs—usually in a much less personal way unless I am describing a dream I have had and revealing the keys to my psyche through the sharing of them. So there is a point I think both you and Stephen are making James, one about the difference between personal and public writing—much the way Campbell stated that dreams are private myths and myths are public dreams, our personal journals are our private myths, or our lived experience. But not just our ego experience as you both discuss, but the soul experience. This is all so beautiful I am getting tears in my eyes. I get very emotional about writing and writing down the soul.

    But there is another reason, perhaps, that I get tears in my eyes thinking about this. For a long time, I have felt that on Facebook I am expected to put my best most positive face forward even when I don’t want to and don’t feel like it. While I am all for the power of positive thinking, some days when  I am miserable about this virus in our world, I just want to visit with my Shadow-misery for a while, to be “allowed” to grieve before moving onward, but most people it seems cannot bear to hear anything negative on Facebook because of what I see/interpret as the positive psychology/positive thinking trend in society now. However, I also believe in paying attention to the Shadow and the negative feeling as part of the healing process. Truth is, I hate this corona virus, I am sick of the sickness it causes, what it has done to us world-wide. I get depressed at times to think this is the world my 7-year old granddaughter and her friends have to grow up in and I worry about what her and their futures will be and then I feel helpless because I wish we all could simply will this virus away. When a teacher quit her job with preschoolers because she felt she could not withstand not being able to comfort a crying child at school and would have to tell the child, “I am sorry, I cannot comfort you because we have to stay at least 6 feet apart,” well, that is how I feel as a grandmother right now and as a mother of an adult child. I would love to hug them both. And then I wish I could hug and comfort my mother or be at the nursing home—plus, I know how much I would love to be comforted too if only I could share a hug with my mother. We are all in one way or another grieving the death of life as it just recently was prior to this virus outbreak. We are trying to piece Osiris back together again.

    One of the things I think that we sometimes don’t do enough of is “write”. I don’t mean quick emails to so and so; or memos or post cards sent about this that or the other as a quick way of touching base; but how often do we write to people or ourselves about what deeply matters to us; and there is where the good stuff is. And you recognize this when you go back later and reread something and it gets to you in your gut. (You know those moments in your life where upon reflection you see that it really was important; maybe even putting a lump in your throat.)

    I miss the old-fashioned days of letter-writing to a pen pal or friend with pen and paper. When I was young, I even had a bunch of those seals to melt wax on to seal the envelope—I loved that! I can barely remember the last time I wrote an old-fashioned letter to someone. Just the other day, I was searching for some of the waxes and sealers online. I guess during the time of this virus it occured to me to indulge in some “real” letter-writing–tangible.

    Now there are all kinds of YouTube videos on writing technique; and one can find plenty of reasons on why “not” to start writing about something. But there is a thing inside each of us that deeply longs for expression. James Hillman calls this the “Daimon”; a kind of guiding spirit that looks over you and helps you; and like the symbol of the acorn seed of an Oak Tree that once planted has a root system that goes deep into the ground anchoring the trunk and canopy as the seasons pass; this seed has a kind of “code” that’s full of potential for this thing that’s been planted. But then ask yourself: “What if this seed never gets planted; what does this metaphor represent?” The answer is: “the unlived life”. And there is an old saying that could be applied here: “That which you bring forth will save you; and that which you deny and do not bring forth may destroy you.” Think of this as your deepest dreams and wishes that lie waiting for you to find and live them.

    I love what you write here (above), James, and recognizing the “unlived life” is so important We might be able to find potential in our journals, our heart’s desires. Journal-writers might find our vocations that way, meet our daimons in our writing and soul to show us our way. I do know that a large part of my life (soul’s desires) has so far been unlived and I am not getting any younger. I did not have or make enough time in my life thus far to fulfill my life dream insofar as vocation. However, as far back as my 20s, I imagined the type of grandmother I would want to be in my older age—and so my dreams of being a mom and grandma have been fulfilled.

    I also don’t think that the form is that important for one’s journal—scribble words in circles if you want to—it’s not an English essay for a class you’ll get graded on.

    Well now; what if you don’t know what they are; or maybe you have doubts that you are worthy enough to fulfill them. Joseph Campbell calls this your “Dragon”; and on every scale of that dragon is a: “Thou Shalt”. And the Hero within is to kill that Dragon and open him up to release the gold that lies within you. So how do I find and recognize this stuff? Well one recommended way is to: “write about it!” (These are just some thoughts to get this thread started.)

    Yes, exactly—here be dragons!

    One of my favorite metaphors Joseph used was the: “Marga Path”; a path that leads an animal back to it’s den; which in this case represents the: “Human Heart”. And the Hero Journey one might say is a road that leads one to this specific destination. (That’s my interpretation of this anyway.)

    This is beautiful. Where can I find Campbell’s quotes on the Marga Path? I don’t remember that at all or else never encountered it.

    _____________________________

    So here are my thoughts about this that may or may not be worth a moment of your time. (Some of you may already be doing this); but since we are already in the midst of this horrendous Pandemic; why not “write”? Write about your thoughts and fears and dreams; write about your frustrations; write about yourself; write about what you love and what you think is beautiful; “but Write”! Make a sacred space for yourself to do this and keep a little stash of your musings and your passions; what you think is Funny; what you think is Sad; what you think about Anything; and then come back to it later and reflect on it. And over time a few things might start to work on you; and so you write some more. And as Joseph suggests here is where some of the gold of your life may reveal itself. If you are already into this sort of thing; great; do it some more and maybe share a few things with others; because this virus situation is like nothing we have ever faced before; and maybe it might help to talk about it with someone else! It might even help them; you know like supporting someone. That’s a pretty darn cool idea I think. People are sacred right now; and participating in the sorrows and pain of others is a pretty nice thing to do; (imho). So hopefully some of you have thoughts on this you want to share.
    _________________________________________

    A couple of important addendums I want to add to this topic:

    One is in: “Reflections on the Art Of Living – A Joseph Campbell Companion”; by Diane K. Osbon; on pages 269-271; Joseph goes into great detail about his thoughts on writing and the creative process that in my opinion would definitely apply here.

    Also; here is a link to an article that may be of help to add some clarity on James Hillman’s theme of the “Daimon”:

    “The daimon link above is linked to the dragon you discuss above: One of the reasons people silence the “voice of vocation” is due to the perceived risks of following it – one must sacrifice short-term comfort, status, and wealth, and engage in work where the outcome is uncertain. Yet to repress this inner calling is destructive, and often leads to the formation of what may be called a silent rage: “the absence, the anger, and the paralysis on the couch are all symptoms of the soul in search of a lost call to something other and beyond.” (Hillman). The individual who loses touch with their daimon becomes an empty shell of the person that could have been.”  ———-Yep. The only time I do not feel like at least a half-empty shell is when I am writing regularly as my vocation. When I have to squeeze writing in here and there it is not the same (for me) as being happy.

    Thanks for this post.

     

     

    #72680

    Stephen,

    I want to respond more to your response here later, but for now I just want to say it is so cool to see pics of your journal! Thanks for sharing pics of it! Maybe I will post some pics too! That sounds like a fun idea!

    Mary Ann

    #72679

    Stephen, Jamesn and Mary Ann,

    Thank you all three for rich and generous pourings of your journey to journaling.  Extremely valuable reflections. I’ll have to copy all three posts, and reflect on them at some later time.

    Mary, on our lives through COVID-19, I am reminded of Joe Campbell’s words: “…  but when you come to the end of a time, and the beginning of a new one, it’s a period of tremendous pain and turmoil, and it looks like that.”  Yes we are coming to the beginning of a new one.

     

    #72678

    Mary Ann writes:

    For a long time, I have felt that on Facebook I am expected to put my best most positive face forward even when I don’t want to and don’t feel like it.

    Heck yeah – though I have a tendency to overshare on social media, it’s a far cry from journaling. There is no soul satisfaction in the cyber Etch-a-Sketch that is Facebook (so ephemeral – even the most profound thoughts scroll off the screen after an hour or two, a day or two at most).

    I often go days, even weeks without journaling. But the longer I do, the more disconnected I feel (the same applies to meditation, Tarot spreads, dream work, and other tools I use for plumbing soul – when life is in disarray they all fall by the wayside … until I am so overwhelmed that I hit the re-set button).

    And then a happy by-product of journaling is that it helps me discover – or uncover – my personal myth.

    I thought to recommend a book by a friend – Dennis Patrick Slattery, who co-edited Correspondence, the collection of Joseph Campbell’s letters (served two years  with him on the committee planning the Study of Myth Symposium held on the Pacifica Graduate Institute campus eight years ago this coming weekend; at the last minute he couldn’t attend due to unexpected health issues, so Pacifica put me up in the spacious secret apartment on campus [kitchen, bedroom, living room, office area] that Dennis used when he’d fly in from Texas to teach there). Dennis has devoted a lot of thought to writing qua writing, and collected his wisdom in Riting Myth, Mythic Writing: Plotting Your Personal Story.

    Wouldn’t you know, just as I started to compose this post, an email landed from Will Linn (another friend I first met at that same symposium), sharing this event:

    Dennis Slattery on the Myth Channel

    Synchronicity? This will happen tomorrow (Wednesday, August 26), at 5 p.m., via Zoom. Drs. Kwame Scruggs, Will Linn, John Bucher, and Dara Marks will join Dennis for a panel discussion – a presentation well worth it if you can spare the time. To register, visit this link.

    I’m going to do my best to attend . . . maybe see you there!

    #72677
    jamesn.
    Participant

    Stephen; what a wonderful moment to bring all of this material together. I’ve been in the process of preparing a reply to both you and Mary’s posts; and just saw Shaheda’s entry earlier and was going to respond to that as well when your very insightful update appeared!

    I must admit I’m not familiar with Dennis Slattery and was quite stunned after a quick search on the foundation website with what came up. (Here is a link to the Dennis Slattery page for more background on him for anyone interested. Click the green button to go to his website. ) I’ll have more to add later but your thoughts about personal writing and social media were most welcome to read.

    Also speaking of welcome; a hearty hello to Shaheda; and will look forward to hearing your thoughts when you’ve had a chance to digest everything.

    #72676

    Thank you Jamesn for your hearty welcome. I have been here for a short while, but a long time Joe Campbell fan, a life-time, I’d say. I have been following Stephen and his writings for almost 20 + years now, and Mary Ann for a number of years too. It’s wonderful to see you here and read your insights. Would love to read more of your explorations.

     

    #72675

    As always, Shaheda, I appreciate your way of including a quote or concept of Campbell’s to fit an event or a post.  The quote you include here is so accurate a point. Do you recall which work/book it comes from/was in? I would like to read more of the content in text surrounding this quote–such an interesting idea and aligned with the notion of Pluto energies in archetypal/mythic astrology. Seems Campbell’s words/thoughts are as timeless as myths.

    #72674

    Thank you for the link to Dennis Slattery, James! I have never met him, but find I have many friends who know him or have worked with him, including a couple of friends I often hang out with where I live, one a musician and another a huge Campbell fan. I will invite them to the forum!

    #72673
    jamesn.
    Participant

    Mary, Stephen, and Shaheda: my apologies for taking so long to get back on this but truth be told this thread is practically all I have been thinking about for these last few weeks; so I’ll bring you up to where I am right now.

    Mary; your extremely moving post sent me off on this journey picking up from where Stephen left off with his very kind offering of Dennis Slattery’s panel discussion; (which I missed); but none the less I was glad to have his website to go back to at some point. And I want to reference a certain section of Diane Osbon’s: “Reflections on the Art of Living – A Joseph Campbell Companion”; on pages 180-186 where in my view Joseph addresses these themes.

    ________________________________________________________________________________

    (Mary): ” So there is a point I think both you and Stephen are making James, one about the difference between personal and public writing—much the way Campbell stated that dreams are private myths and myths are public dreams, our personal journals are our private myths, or our lived experience. But not just our ego experience as you both discuss, but the soul experience. This is all so beautiful I am getting tears in my eyes. I get very emotional about writing and writing down the soul.

    But there is another reason, perhaps, that I get tears in my eyes thinking about this. For a long time, I have felt that on Facebook I am expected to put my best most positive face forward even when I don’t want to and don’t feel like it. While I am all for the power of positive thinking, some days when I am miserable about this virus in our world, I just want to visit with my Shadow-misery for a while, to be “allowed” to grieve before moving onward, but most people it seems cannot bear to hear anything negative on Facebook because of what I see/interpret as the positive psychology/positive thinking trend in society now. However, I also believe in paying attention to the Shadow and the negative feeling as part of the healing process. Truth is, I hate this corona virus, I am sick of the sickness it causes, what it has done to us world-wide. I get depressed at times to think this is the world my 7-year old granddaughter and her friends have to grow up in and I worry about what her and their futures will be and then I feel helpless because I wish we all could simply will this virus away. When a teacher quit her job with preschoolers because she felt she could not withstand not being able to comfort a crying child at school and would have to tell the child, “I am sorry, I cannot comfort you because we have to stay at least 6 feet apart,” well, that is how I feel as a grandmother right now and as a mother of an adult child. I would love to hug them both. And then I wish I could hug and comfort my mother or be at the nursing home—plus, I know how much I would love to be comforted too if only I could share a hug with my mother. We are all in one way or another grieving the death of life as it just recently was prior to this virus outbreak. We are trying to piece Osiris back together again.”

    ______________________________________________________________________________

    There are several pieces that for me fit together that form a kind of vehicle that our inner world responds to: “The Sacred Space”, the Labyrinth and Ariadne Thread; the ego/shadow complex that is particular to each individual; the sense of Bliss and destiny one is moved by; and the separation between public and private which is affected by the individual response to outside events. I’ll try to explain my thoughts on this rather confusing combination of themes and how they fit into this thread.

    ___________________

    The title: “Finding Your Story in a time of uncertainty” is really the focus of this topic I am attempting to address; not personal writing per say. And this refers to many of the other various Art forms as well in that these are vehicles of consciousness that help us to express what’s going on in our inner world; and indeed to communicate these: feelings, thoughts, impressions, and problems we are experiencing. And as we progress through life; (as Jung points out): “we are in a constant state of becoming”; that is a manifestation of these combined experiences that reflect this process toward wholeness through the different stages of life Joseph talks about throughout his work. Myths are metaphors; (like a language that help us to decipher this bridge between these 2 worlds that we must learn to navigate; and “our story” is the way we make sense of this journey from the: “womb to the tomb” without cracking up.

    People look for meaning; and as Joseph points out on page 16; “Life is without meaning. You bring the meaning to it. The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe it to be. Being alive is the meaning”. So that our dreams, metaphysical, and spiritual insights give us clues to theses realms and messages of consciousness to help us to get in touch with not only with what we are doing but where we need to go to answer these inner needs; yet the outer world is one of killing and eating and survival that we must come to terms with throughout our allotted time we exist.

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    On pages: 180-186; Joseph goes into great detail about not only: “what a sacred space is”; but also how one might implement this: “vehicle of consciousness” into one’s life as a kind of support system that will help one make sense of and give purpose to their individual life. It’s like your own personal tabernacle in which you are enclosed and there is nothing that can penetrate this inner rescue land so that you can discover your own personal myth by which you are living. For instance he states on page 180: “Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again”; “A place that lets you experience your own will and your own intention and your own wish so that, in small, the Kingdom is there”. Much like a children’s playground like on page: 181; “If what you are doing seems like play, you are in it. But you can’t play with my toys, you have to have your own. Your life should have yielded some. Older people play with life experiences and realizations or with thoughts they like to entertain”. And further down he states: “When Jung decided to try to discover the myth by which he was living, he asked himself, “What was the game I enjoyed when I was a child?” His answer was making little towns and streets out of stones. So he bought some property and, as a way of playing he began to build a house.”

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    On page 182-183; Joseph goes into this idea a little further by explaining what happened when his family home was destroyed and how he realized his favorite: “sacred space”; was his little library and used this as: “a reconstruction—a reactivation, if you will—of my boyhood space. When I go in there to write, I’m surrounded by books that have helped me to find my way, and I recall moments of reading certain works that were particularly insightful. When I sit down to do the writing, I pay close attention to little ritual details—where the notepads and pencils are placed, that sort of thing—so that everything is exactly as I remember it having been before. It’s a sort of “set-up” that releases me. And since that space is associated with a kind of performance is play.”

    How important is this thing he calls: “a sacred space?” He further explains: “Of what value is that? It is an absolute necessity if you are going to have an inner life.” And on page 184 he goes even further: “I was thinking in terms of the sorts of conditions you set up for yourself to achieve the visit to the Grail Castle—-for that’s what this sacred space is; the space where your associations are not with the field of phenomenal experience, but with the field of your own inward life. You do not get there in the normal run of life. To visit the Grail Castle, you have to have a scared space. Then once you have found the connection in your sacred space, you can perhaps translate it into other parts of your life. But first you have to have a little oil well, that goes down deep.”

    ______________

    He expounds on this idea further on page 185; by showing how one might transfer it into a more modern mobile application: “I’ve been traveling around a lot the last ten years, and when I’m not somewhere I’ve been before, the kind of hotel room I prefer is a completely noncommittal room, the kind you find in a Holiday Inn. I open my bag, put my books on the table, hang my clothes on the open rack, and that’s it: here is Joe Campbell and here are his books—so what more do we have in the world? You can turn any place into a sacred space once you have your own sacred space. However, you can say that sacred space is everywhere only after you have learned, through a meditation discipline or the experience of sacred places, what sanctity is. It is the metaphoric relevance of the object.”

    He shows the mythical relevance of this idea through metaphorical references further on by using the Indian and early man’s interpretation of the mystery manifestation of the Brahman and finishes up on page: 186: “I’m thinking specifically of those Indian temples with a great wall around them: when you enter through the door, everything within that space is symbolic, the whole world is mythologized.

    The earliest sacred spaces of which we have any evidence might well have been the little shrines of Neanderthal man, where there was a cave-bear skull and a lighted fire to build up a little atmosphere. The first real sacred spaces were probably caves in southern France and Northern Spain, dating from 30,000 B.C. When you go into those caves, you are in a magical sacred space, and your consciousness is transformed. I remember going into the big cave in Lascaux. It was fantastic. That universe down there seemed to be the primary world. The animals above ground were simply reflections of those on the walls of the caves. You don’t want to leave a place like that. The majesty and magic of it all somehow brings you into your own center. And once you are there, the sacred space is everywhere.”
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    Stephen and Mary have so brilliantly and movingly articulated these themes related to this subject far beyond my meager ability to express them; so I just want to refine this focus a little bit so that others might want to add their own perspectives concerning other art forms along with writing.

    So my point in relating this idea to the original topic is that with one’s personal story: biography: journals; dairies, or anything connected to this type of contextual relationship to one’s personal myth or story are mainly vehicles of access to this scared inner world of the individual. You can use many types of metaphors that can reference it: The sanctuary of a church; the Labyrinth and the Ariadne thread of the analyst; the various metaphoric stories throughout religious texts; the different cultural myths, stories, and legends throughout human history; the list is endless; as Joseph said it has: “A Thousand Faces”; but to me now more than ever mankind needs these things to keep it’s sanity; to remind us of our humanity and that the value systems these things transfer can not only help to heal us; but to bring out the best that is within us.

    No one knows how all of this is going to work out concerning this global pandemic. Many of us are locked down or shut in with little access to personal human contact. And by finding and utilizing our individual  sacred spaces through whatever way or method that works for us is not only important but vital for our future as human beings. So I don’t want to limit this dialogue we are engaged in to just writing; there are many other forms of expression that can serve this purpose; some can even be combined. (I’ve wrestled with this a lot over the last few weeks; and I keep coming back to this same place of our inner world that needs to be addressed; and perhaps even harmonized; but at least accessed in some way; otherwise the shadow will force it’s way out when least expected; and without the knowledge of what it’s saying can wreck havoc on mankind. Jung knew it; and Joseph knew it. So I think it’s an important aspect to include in this conversation. (There is more to include such as one’s sense of destiny and one’s Shadow complex for just two examples; but I think this is enough for the moment; plus others may have their own thoughts to share concerning other ideas not necessarily related to mine.)

    Shaheda; I hope this helps to answer at least some of your questions from your earlier post; and I’m sorry it took me so long to post this; (like I said I’ve been wrestling with this subject for awhile); and you may have some ideas of your own to include.

    Thanks everyone for your patience

    #72672

    James.

    Your post is so wonderful. You bring so many of the points made prior in others’ posts and find meaning in them in reference to Campbell’s works. I would in no way consider this a “meager” contribution to this thread.

    You write, “this bridge between these 2 worlds that we must learn to navigate; and “our story” is the way we make sense of this journey from the: “womb to the tomb” without cracking up and continue with Campbell’s concepts and give us the source–you have a way of telling us what has come “straight from the horse’s mouth regardless of what the topic is, finding an “application” to Campbell’s works. For all those who do that, such as Shaheda and Stephen, I very much admire how you all seem to do this with ease, almost like Campbell-speak is a second language to you. You continued,

    People look for meaning; and as Joseph points out on page 16; “Life is without meaning. You bring the meaning to it. The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe it to be. Being alive is the meaning”. So that our dreams, metaphysical, and spiritual insights give us clues to theses realms and messages of consciousness to help us to get in touch with not only with what we are doing but where we need to go to answer these inner needs; yet the outer world is one of killing and eating and survival that we must come to terms with throughout our allotted time we exist.

    I like how you bring up the other arts too as vehicles for that feeling of meaning in being alive! Some people write or perform music, others do visual arts, some dance, some make films, and some find meaning in walking through the woods, bird watching or star-gazing, swimming in the lake, or travel to exotic places. I think too that while many people dislike their jobs and wish they were doing something else for vocation (finding/living their vocational bliss!), many people do live their dream-job and find meaning in teaching or the medical field, etc.

    This pandemic as you say is bringing many people to re-think their vocations, whether in surroundings or an overhaul to do something else entirely, and perhaps something they have always wanted to do. Several people I know left their jobs to finally launch their own business. Some Campbell quote that comes to my mind in regards to this time are “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are” and ““Follow your bliss and doors will open where there were no doors before.”–The Power of Myth.

    Jung wrote of similar circumstances that people in mid-life often encounter, when at that point in life they look back over their path in life thus far and vocation and feel there is something more meaningful to them they have always felt the call or the tug to do but never had or made time while they were busy at another job.

    It is such an odd time with this little to no contact with other human beings, and one way to reach out with the arts is social media and YouTube. So many musicians I know have had gigs cancelled all last summer as the venues shut down and shared their performances on social media. So true that this pandemic has changed most everything. To do something new is one way many people will be working with the shadow–that on top of the social isolation alone. I like your mentions and reminders of the “inner world” we are all facing now. In our social isolation, perhaps many of us are more alone with our thoughts than usual and for many people lack of social connection brings depression to various degrees in each of us. Some of us thought we would be more creative in our isolation away from our “regular” jobs with more time to write or compose songs or paint, while others find their creativity when with other writers or artists and able to discuss their work or the works of the greats over the centuries. I wonder how many new Facebook groups have arisen at this time. Perhaps the collective is telling us that we need self-exploration at this time and soulful creativity in the world; it is certainly making so many people as you say go inward, into the inner life. I coulld not possibly add anything more than you already wrote about–in a sense my whole response is merely in agreement with you, so other than saying “I agree so much with you,” I really did not have to write all this and am taking up space here! In a nutshell, it is wonderful that you have reminded us about the inner life and perhaps finding not only the Shadow but our creativity in there–sometimes they go hand in hand, and Jung did say that not everything in the Shadow is negative and dark–like Campbell saying that in the cave is the treasure–often a creative work.

    Best,

    Mary Ann

    I really enjoyed your post.

    #72671

    James, such a wonderful post. I read it with great interest. Your wrote:” . For instance he states on page 180: “On pages: 180-186; Joseph goes into great detail about not only: “what a sacred space is”; but also how one might implement this: “vehicle of consciousness” into one’s life as a kind of support system that will help one make sense of and give purpose to their individual life. It’s like your own personal tabernacle in which you are enclosed and there is nothing that can penetrate this inner rescue land so that you can discover your own personal myth by which you are living. For instance he states on page 180: “Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again”;

    I have thought a good deal about one’s sacred space, and as Joe writes, “Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again”

    At different times in my life, I worked on locating my sacred space, (not necessarily where I meditated) sometimes my dream world, where I found myself again and again. These days, it’s my inner world, the fondest memories of people and places that I am  reminded of. Of  moments where my heart skipped a beat when I looked at that one person I love. And as I dwell on some of those moments, my dream world becomes richer. Or that moment when a friend appeared at the airport to bid me goodbye, the beautiful expression on a friend’s face, the feeling that stays forever thinking of those moments. Sometimes there are sad sacred times too. In my mind, I visit them over and over again. More so now, as I am given to reflection, and recollection of those years gone by.

    Some years ago, I thought, my sacred space was the “Justice System”, the various courts in Washington DC, where I found myself again and again. But not so anymore, it’s very much like, “or that’s what this sacred space is; the space where your associations are not with the field of phenomenal experience, but with the field of your own inward life. ”  So the field of my inward life and where I find myself again and again, remembering the sweet times, and maybe not so sweet either, is where my sacred space is.

    And yes, a few years ago, my sacred space was where Joe Campbell’s books were, and I did find myself there over and over again.

    Thank you James, Mary and Stephen for this thread.

    #72670

    Thank you for a wonderful post Mary Ann.  So much to write but very little time. Just wanted to share some of what I did in the past few months. So, my research paper on “Death and Dying and End-of-Life  Care”, inspired by Alan Watts, was accepted and published in the “Journal of Environment and Public Health”.  Why am I mentioning it here and now? Well, it sort of links to public writing and personal writing, that you mentioned somewhere in this thread or an earlier thread.  Except one person, who shared the editing and collecting of data, no one, yes no one read that paper. I spent hours and hours collecting the data, checking it for accuracy, yet not much interest. But my personal writing, which is on varied subjects, is sometimes received with interest, and even appeals to me.

    On another thread, you mentioned that you were now in your new house and settling in. I am very happy to hear that, and happy to hear that you have the space you needed.  Enjoy and post a pic when you have time.

     

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