Through a Jungian Lens

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Tree of Life and Black Holes

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Holes sometimes talk about safety, sometimes they talk of danger

This photo shows a pair of holes that serve as nest entrances in a tree that is dead though still standing. I immediately thought of woodpeckers which are abundant on the Canadian prairies where the prairie bumps into forested parkland. As often as not, these holes find a use as a safe place for building a nest in which to raise a family. But I also saw a different story in these holes, black holes.

I think of the tree, an older tree that is still alive but is suffering diseases that somehow attract forces that feed on suffering and disease as though those forces sense that perhaps here there is another soul to claim for the darkness. The tree is a symbol of life, a symbol that is as ancient as man.

In Ancient Egypt, Isis and Osiris emerged from the acacia tree which Egyptians called the tree of life, a tree that was both the tree of life and the tree of death. In looking at this tree, I see both life and death present and get some sense of what those ancients saw and understood. This idea of being about both life and death is represented in the cross in Christianity. Trees, symbols of life find a place in ancient Celtic religion, something that resonates within me as I have Celtic roots that go back to Ancient Gaul and the Brittany area of northern France; and to the Norse Yggdrasil, the world tree. I could go on with more and more examples, but there are enough here to show how rooted the tree is in our human psyche as evidenced my our mythologies.

Looking again at the image, I see the shadow eating away at the tree of life, two shadows: a personal shadow and the collective shadow. The image has now become larger for me and I see it not only representing my life, but the life of the planet with is also being sucked into destructive black holes by the collective unconscious running rampant.

“The conquest of the earth, which mostly means taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much. What redeems it is the idea only. An idea at the back of it . . . something you set up and bow down before, and offer a sacrifice.” (Conrad, The Heart of Darkness, p. 7 – cited in Hollis, Tracking the Gods, pp 45-45)

What god is this? What darkness is this that threatens us with growing black holes, sucking our spirit and our soul and leaving us husks like the gods who have left their temples, their forests, their mountain tops, leaving their former homes and former symbols empty, as empty as these two holes on this tree? I have to have to admit my own culpability in this, my own fleeing from consciousness and responsibility  as I join others and say “Someone (else) is responsible for this mess! Let’s pass a law! Let’s limit our rights! Let’s give up our personal responsibility to clean up the mess ourselves!” For in truth, I may not had literally made this particular mess, but I have cooperated in the collective and in the wake of my cooperation, have made messes which eat away at the soul of the world, the hope of the world, and perhaps more importantly, dig another black hole in my own psyche.

This image is desperately trying to tell me to “Wake up!” become conscious and don’t let the darkness win because of default. We have a term for that in our modern world: “If you are not part of the solution, YOU are the problem.” Okay, so I took a few liberties with the real expression. Sue me!


Written by Robert G. Longpré

March 8, 2012 at 1:14 pm

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