Through a Jungian Lens

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Archive for June 2009

Nurturing the Masculine

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Cousins and brothers – family gatherings are important as they provide a safe container for extending relationships to others outside of the daily family unit, the typical limited community within which a child grows up.  It might seem to be just a sandbox, but it is more.  The sandbox becomes a complete universe, a place of fact and of myth.  Listen from the sidelines and you will discover more than you would ever expect to find.

Today I took all five young boys, five grandsons, to climb steep hills in the river valley, hills covered in cactus and other flora found in semi-desert country.  It was time to stretch the minds as well as muscles.  In the process of moving and stretching, a few small falls resulted in a few scratches, safe wounding.  And that, too, was part of the process.  In the end, the day was all the more exciting for the pushing of the limits while creating new memories as a group of males bonding, leading, learning and following.


Written by Robert G. Longpré

June 30, 2009 at 5:26 pm

Ordinary Living

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DSC07072The weekend is over and some of the family have returned to their homes for work duties.  All of the grandchildren have stayed with one set of parents.  The focus is now more about games, competitions, sorting through sibling squabbles and managing quiet times so that naps happen and moods remain relatively upbeat.  Cranky and tired little ones drain a lot of energy so it is worth the investment to do the management work, not much different than managing a team of adults in a workplace.

Today’s photo shows my son and myself enjoying a morning in the back yard yesterday.  Today it is cool and cloudy and windy.  That means, it is time for more active games such as “kick the can.”

Also of good news for me today is that I received my print copy of the Tunnel Vision book, the first SoFoBoMo book, which was published using Blurb.  I am very satisfied with the finished product.  I am including the preview and ordering link here.

While the grandchildren are here, I have put away my “books” as it is time for ordinary living, being present.  The grandfather role doesn’t include research and writing, being quiet in another room, removed from the constant action.  Since some of my grandchildren are older, I also give up my office and computer for them to play computer games when it is quiet time for the younger ones.  This is ordinary living and a family building its own legends and myths.

Written by Robert G. Longpré

June 29, 2009 at 11:51 am

Families and Homes

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DSC07059It’s our annual Canada Day weekend get together even though it isn’t Canada Day.  Two daughters with their families, and son with wife make up our gathering.  It’s a time of celebrating family history while making more memories.

This photo taken in the school playground at the southern edge of town, with the Mondau Hills in the background, features the youngest of my five grandchildren which are all boys.  There is a sixth grandchild on the way, another boy.  I am sure that in the future there will be stories to tell about these youngsters when they get together as adults to relive childhood memories while visiting the grandparents.  Of course, this reliving of memories only serves to create new memories as the past is reworked from the mindset of the present.

Part of the reason for gathering, rather an excuse added on to as though a reason was needed, is to celebrate my upcoming birthday.  I will be turning sixty and for them, that is a milestone that needs recognition.   The same thing was done when I turned fifty and when I retired from school administration.  We gathered together to mark these milestones.  We also gather together for Christmas but not necessarily all at once as that depends on work needs for these young families.  We will likely continue this pattern of gathering to build our family myths, a typical modern, western world family.

Written by Robert G. Longpré

June 28, 2009 at 2:58 pm

Valuing the Feminine

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DSC01990I took this photo in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India in January 2008.  This woman was trying to sell cheap jewelry to passing tourists.  Well, she was sort of selling as there wasn’t much energy evident.  It was as if she was resigned to be there but wasn’t expecting to sell anything.  There was competition in the guise of younger women and girls.  The value of the feminine is low in Rajasthan, a stark contrast to the modern western world where the value is much higher and rising.

There is no doubt in my mind that in societies where the value for women is higher, the quality of life is proportionately higher as well.  It’s all about balance, a balance of yin and yang.  Tilt the balance towards either patriarchy or matriarchy and society is accordingly impovershed.

Taken in terms of the psyche, the work of making the self more conscious of shadow contents, the repressed feminine or masculine allows the individual a fuller life, a more conscious life where one stops being a victim.

Gaїa – The Womb of the World

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I took this photo yesterday, a photo of my garden shed.  As you can see, the aluminum shed is covered over with the green life of nature.  In a way, it is not much different that what I see in many places around the world where the works of man, roads and structures, deteriorate and become taken over by nature.  The power of the feminine.  And, it is real power.

For men not in touch with the feminine, for those who resist and deny out of fear of being consumed by the feminine, there is a harshness that rears its ugly head in patriarchy.

It is a common knowledge among most of the men and the women I know, that in “most” marriages, the woman is in fact the boss.  The common expression goes: “If mama is happy, everyone is happy; if mama isn’t happy, no one is happy.”  In this modern western world, men willingly carry the purses and bags, wear the clothes picked out by their mates, are learning to “express” themselves, and are entering the “beauty”  market in a major way so as to lose the “beast” within.

I don’t think that there is a rightness or a wrongness to any of this as that would presume I have answers.  I don’t.  I do know that men that are “in love” or “in lust” are in a hurry to enter into the cave, the dark and moist depths of the feminine.  I think back to stories I have heard of hermits who have abandoned the world of relationships and how many of them have crawled into nature’s caves.  In these caves they also escape the masculine.

Neither matriarchy nor patriarchy are solutions to the messiness of eros versus logos.

On the Pull to Write

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DSC06907This is a detail of Krasne Church, a Ukrainian Catholic church found in rural Saskatchewan.  I took this photo earlier this month while visiting my brother-in-law, Mike.  The reason I am posting it is because I am now in the process of re-writing a book I wrote thirty-two years ago, a book about Mike’s father who immigrated to Canada in the 1920s from the Ukraine.  This is the church in which Mike’s father was married less than a year after arriving in Canada.  The first version was all text telling the story until departure for Canada.  This second version will be mostly text with some photos, retelling the story but adding in the additional part of the story that talks about his life in Canada.  It will be a biography as well as social history as told to me over a period of eight years.  I will be adding to that information with my observations, my way of understanding the world and including some of the voices of his descendents.

It looks as though the Muse is not letting go of me too easily.  For whatever reason, the pull to write is remaining strong.  The third in the Through a Jungian Lens series, the second SoFoBoMo book, will appear in print by the end of July at the latest.  It is in the final process of editing.

Other writing projects that are pushing their way forward are a book of poetry; an mythological approach to telling the story of my grandfather, father and myself; a series of photo essays on China, India and Mexico; and other ventures yet to be uncovered to continue the series, Through a Jungian Lens.

Masculinity versus Patriarchy

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DSC05069This photo was taken in March, 2009 in Yucatan, Mexico at the Mayan site called Dzibilchaltun.  It is a photo of a sundial.  I went in search through my photo archives for this image as I wanted a symbol of Phallos that I had taken rather than to borrow one from the Internet.  It is obvious to anyone who thinks in symbolic terms, that the spire at the centre, pointing to the sun is a representation of Phallos.

In Jungian terms, in alchemical terms, the sun is the father.  The womb is the earth which is mother.  When phallos is erect, there is energy (libido) which is essential for the act of creation.  Creation is a co-creative act, a holy marriage of masculine and feminine.

It’s a touchy subject, that of the masculine, especially in this age of politically correct thinking and speaking.  The human race has shifted from matriarchal to patriarchal dominance and is currently shifting again.  Patriarchal forms still dominate, but in so many ways, those forms are being emasculated.  Men are losing their bearings in a world that is increasingly seeing them as throw-backs to ancient-times thinking.  Rites of passage have almost fully disappeared for boys becoming men.  Monick captures the essence of the problem:

The problem is that patriarchal attitudes and values are no longer obviously true.  Unless masculinity is differentiated from patriarchy, both will go down the tubes. (Eugene Monick, Phallos:  Sacred Image of the Masculine, 1987, p. 9)

So, what do you think?