Archive for April 2013
I have used this photo before when I took it last autumn in my back yard. The photo shows all of my children, their spouses and all my grandchildren as well as family pets. The pets were included because they simply belong in the family. I can say “this is my family, we are one” with pride and with love. We are one family. Yet when they return to their homes they find “family” centres around a more nuclear definition – mother, father, and child(ren), a grouping which still holds true. I often wonder about how my family has changed over the years from three children in a house where we laughed, played, worked and cried. We shared it all. We were one, separate and whole, a family.
But the truth is, even then we were more than that. My friends, my wife’s friends, our extended families, my co-workers, my wife’s co-workers, our neighbours, our children’s playmates and even enemies were intricately woven into the very fabric of what and who we were as a family. People we didn’t personally know or meet also became vital forces working on who and what we were as a family – politics, economics, the market place, and other things we had no awareness of at all.
As I sit and look at this photo, I am reminded of the places we have been, of the moments where nature was at the centre in provincial parks, on the shorelines of various lakes and rivers, when we fished, when we hiked, when we played. As we wandered through small sloughs seeing life in front of us, we connected, learned and grew to be healthier. I see in the photo, the love of the outdoors – of water, earth and sun – and I know that nature is at the centre, always present.
Now, my house is empty. My wife is at work, my children are in their own homes with their own children. In spite of the distance and physical absence, we are still one. Joining them in the embrace of my family are people I have met in my travels, people who have touched me, nourished me, and taught me to be more open and inclusive – a gay psychiatrist in America, a teacher in Rajasthan, a guide in Vietnam, a young Buddhist monk in Laos, a nameless girl taking her brothers and sisters to school in a small boat in Cambodia, a young man in China who adopted us as his Canadian parents, fellow pilgrims on the Chemin de Saint Jacques in France – the list goes on and on. And surprisingly, some who join them at the centre of my family I have never met at all. Thanks to the work of countless numbers of people, the world of cyberspace has given me brothers and sisters of spirit and soul – a man in Denmark, a fellow pilgrim in Australia, a writer in Britain, a psychotherapist in Ireland, a psychologist in Mexico, a naturist author and professor in America – and so many more. Each of these people have taught me simply through their existence, that I am more than the sum of my body’s cells. And, they have taught me that the countless billions who I don’t yet know, may never know, are also members of my family.
We are all one with this place we call home, our planet. We are all the children of Mother Earth and Father Sun. We are all One.
I am back home in Canada. I have been home for almost a week and have yet to discover spring-like conditions. With snow still laying on the ground, slowly melting into what can best be described as a wet mess, it is the perfect time for sitting indoors and thinking. I realise that I have been posting very little here or on my other blog sites, but I am not very worried about that in the least. I haven’t abandoned them, but have simply taken some space and time for other things in my life. I will continue to post relevant articles on each of the blog sites that are appropriate for the theme of each site.
I have been keeping busy with a number of different activities such as snow removal, checking out resources and building extended community networks based on Buddhist and Naturist interests. But mostly, I have been writing. The writing isn’t destined for any of my blog sites. Rather, it is an attempt at a book, what could best be described as a non-fiction book. I have created an outline, written the preface and have begun to fill in the blank spaces. At some point I will call on a few of you to proofread the work in hopes of getting it ready for publication. With that said, I will leave this alone and now talk of other things. For this space, Through a Jungian Lens, I intend continuing with the subject of Mother-Complex. There is a lot more to yet be said.
On another front, I am finding a pull back into reading the works of James Hillman and of another Jungian oriented writer, Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul. His books with titles such as The Lost Sutras of Jesus and The Soul’s Religion have piqued my interest. I was led to discover the existence of these books through two separate incidents. The first was a question from my wife about Care of the Soul, a book I read a long time ago. More recently, I received notice from Huffington Post about an article written by Moore called “Catholic Without A Church“, an article that resonated with me. Somewhere along the way, I lost my connection to the church while still remaining a catholic. Other books waiting for my attention are Buddhist in orientation, with titles by Osho, Pema Chodron, Chogyam Trungpa and a few others. Of course I won’t have time this spring for all of these books. Simply thinking of taking time for them is filling me with a sense of anticipation.
With this now said, I will take my leave and return relatively soon with the next instalment in the Mother-Complex series.
Men, all men, are wounded in some fashion by their mothers and fathers, as are all women. But as I am a man, I can only speak as a man. When I was a youth of 18, I went to see a live production of Oedipus Rex at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. I was captivated by the story. I wondered why, in later years why a teenager would like a Greek play such as this where the pull into an incestuous relationship with the mother lead to so much destruction. The presence of Eros is always there between a mother and a son (as well as between a father and a daughter) despite all conscious intentions. Thankfully, most parents manage to navigate the relationships of parent and child without falling into the unconscious expression of Eros upon a child.
With the death of my own mother, the veil was lifted to reveal my own Oedipus story. Men are wired to find an Other that evokes the mother either as a positive or a negative figure. Regardless of the dark or light aspect of personal mother, each boy child wants to be loved by his mother, the person with whom he has had the most intimate of all relationships from birth until separation. So, it should come as no surprise, that following separation, the search begins for someone else who will then love the boy child grown into a man. But, it would be a mistake to think that this someone else is necessarily a woman; it just isn’t that simple.
The person we find becomes a Magical Other.
“Behind the search for the Magical Other lies the archetypal power of the parental imagos. Our first experience of ourselves is in relationship to these Primal Others, usually mother or father. Consciousness itself arises out of that splitting of the primal participation mystique which characterizes the infant’s sensibility. The paradigms for self, for Other, and the transactions between, are formed from these earliest experiences. They are hard-wired into our neurological and emotional network.” [Hollis, The Eden Project, p. 37]
Yes, what then is love? I know it exists and that it blossoms and often withers turning into bitterness, sorrow and even sometimes hatred. I that magical attraction in others, and even see it in birds and animals. And most importantly, I have lived the experience of love, and still continue to find myself held within its bounds. Is it simply chemistry? Or, is there more to it? Sadly, I don’t have the answers but I do know that love exists.
For a man, it is confusing, this thing called love. Perhaps it needs to be called lust, or need, or dominance, or perhaps simply just love. Because of my history as a child, and because of everyman’s history as a child, the Mother creeps in to claim her share, to voice her approval and disapproval, to give or withhold as we enter into relationship with a woman once we have left childhood behind. The mother-complex influences us, directs us, pulls at us within our unconscious. For us as men, we simply find ourselves fascinated by a particular woman, a stranger or someone we have seen often, but yet have never really seen. We don’t see the energy of a mother-complex at work. For us as men, we simply fall in love. We don’t need explanations or reasons. It’s simple. We fall in love.
“We say we love, yet we know not what it is. We say we love many things in many different ways. We borrow words from the Greeks who sought to differentiate these states of desire: eros, caritas, philos, storgé, agape. And yet we sense the shadowy beast behind our purest motives.” [Hollis, The Eden Project, p. 30]
But, it turns out not to be so simple after all. After time has allowed us to discover the real person beneath the fascination, with in turn that person discovering the real man beneath her fascination, we are faced with dealing with loss, real loss that demands that we go through the stages of grieving for what has been lost, that Magical Other. For some, time and effort allows a new kind of love to emerge. For others, the grieving becomes destructive of the relationship creating even more grief. And for more than a few, the desire for answers to pull us out of depression, dysfunction and confusion sends us into therapy. We need to find ourselves and know ourselves as we find ourselves lost in some dank and dark swamp. With loss of the Magical Other, we are left questioning our own identity. If only we would know then perhaps we could again be in relation with our Magical Other.
“So we bring ourselves to relationship. With scant knowledge of ourselves, we seek our identity in the mirror of the Other, as we once did in Mom and Dad. With all the wounds of this perilous condition we seek a safe harbor in that Other who, alas, is seeking the same in us. With the thousand adaptive strategies derived from the fortuities of fated time, fated place, fated Others, we contaminate the frail present with the germs of the past.” [p. 32]
Hang on, there is hope. There is a way out of the swamp.
So far it is becoming clear that everyone has a charged energy response to mother and father. For sons, the complex that arises in response to his mother and/or those who mothered him, obviously will influence his relationship with other women in his future, an influence which for the most part is unconscious. Will he find the woman he needs in someone like his mother, or in someone who seems to be a polar opposite? The complexes and neuroses of the mother have been active in conscious and unconscious interaction with the son as well as between the mother and the father (or father substitute in the case of absent fathers). The son having been wounded, and not even aware of that wounding, with the energy that burst forth out of the mother’s activated complexes, is primed to respond to similar patterns of energy in later life. Nothing is going to be simple when it comes to relationships in the boy child’s future as an adult male.
“Consider the obvious, then, that we can hardly have a conscious efficacious relationship with the Other, when we have a deeply wounded relationship with ourselves. Consider, then, how difficult it is to have any relationship at all. All that I do not know about myself, all of my secret projects for healing myself of the wounds derived from my culture and family of origin, I am now imposing on you. All the complexes I have acquired in my life on this earth, you will have to suffer from me. How could I do that to you, while professing to love you? How can you do that to me, while professing to love me?” [Hollis, The Eden Project, p. 30]
Wow! Hard words from Hollis. But, and there is always a but, isn’t there? But, what about love? I fell in love. Everywhere I look people are truly falling in love. I can see it in their eyes, in the way they move in relationship to their new-found love, the person who becomes a Magical Other. Is love based on our wounds and our projects to heal those wounds? Are we demanding our Magical Others to stay magical and to continue to feed us, nourish us, out of the depths of our wounds?
I have to admit, that I am guilty of imposing my wounding on my love, my Magical Other. Over the years, it seems new wounds present themselves, old wounds actually, but long banished into the dark depths of unconsciousness. And each time I discover, feel and am overwhelmed by these wounds, it is to my Other that I turn to and somehow expect her to take in my pain and heal me as if she was my Magical Mother. And, at times, this flows in the opposite direction when it is I who meets the wounds of her life, her childhood, and become her Magical Father, the Other who will hold her in safety and security.
What is love then?