Through a Jungian Lens

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The Dark Side of a Prairie Slough

with 2 comments

The last number of days I have been posting photos taken featuring prairie sloughs, the prairie swampland.  In each of those photos I focused on the positive, on the source of life that the water provides.  However, like everything else, there is an opposite side, one that is negative and dark, one that embraces shadows and death.  It would be unwise to enter into this swampland unaware of both of the faces of a swampland.

This photo was taken just a few steps from the previous photo of a duck.  This bush is dead, drowned in the stagnant water that has overwhelmed.  It seems that too much water, the source of life, kills.   Getting lost in the unconscious contents means losing the conscious world and becoming trapped in the underworld and appearing to be insane in the outer world where one has left one’s body.

One needs to enter the unconscious domaine to discover more, to become more conscious.  There is no question that the high one gets in discovering treasures (and consciousness is treasure) that point to a higher and more valued “self” can become addicting leading one to dive in too often or too deep.  One must protect the self by constructing a safe container.  That is the job of the ego.

Since we live in community, even the timing of journeys into the unconscious must be considered.  It isn’t any different than my needing to time my physical journeys to visit a slough or a forest or the hills.  I must weigh my need for presence and connection with others and then carve out my private time accordingly.  It can’t be all private time or all relationship time.  As always, there must be a balance that is individual specific so that the individual can maintain optimum psychic health.

There is something more to be gained than greater self-awareness, there is also the “bonus” in that one can now be more aware of others, being able to see the dark as well as the light in those others.  Of course, Jung says it best when he said:

Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.”  (Carl Gustav Jung)


2 Responses

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  1. I tell patients going into the unconscious can be scary work. it is not some yuppie hobby. It can be dangerous and overwhelming.
    It invariably causes depression and some madness – apparently the price for the process. it is best to go in there with assistance or a companion.


    May 24, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    • This is the key, take a guide with you so that you can find your way back whether the swampland by a physical place or to the unknown regions of “self.” Thanks, Doctor Urspo.

      Robert G. Longpré

      May 25, 2010 at 7:28 am

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