Working with Archetypes Feb 27, 2010
I first learned about archetypes when I took a dream class with Charles Ponce. Finding universal archetypes showing up in my deams widened my life considerably. I also read Jung’s autobiography Memories, Dreams, Reflections, and learned a lot from how he lived his life.
I see archetypes more as patterns than as figures, empty patterns that we then fill out from our own experience. Keeping track of my dreams and watching major figures change over time gives me an indicator of how I’m growing and healing. Watching images of “mother” changing from damaging to nurturing shows how I’m transforming my inner landscape.
Jung doesn’t speak about God, but about the “god image in the psyche.” I have watched my god image change from someone punitive and judgemental to a being that is loving and forgiving. Initially I believed in a white bearded god sitting on his throne, watching and judging us all the time. By the time I was an adolescent, I didn’t believe in god any more. I remember thinking (not sure what I was so angry about) “God can go to Hell,” and then waiting for the lightning bolt which didn’t happen. In college I majored in Astronomy, and I was lucky to have a very fine teacher. I was very well trained in scientific method, learning to identify assumptions, data, and hypotheses, and I’ve found that training to continue to be useful in my struggle with PTSD.
So I replaced god with the universe, a universe beautiful, creative and complex. At one point, I don’t remember now what sent my thoughts in this direction, perhaps people were talking about their images of god. I thought “I don’t have a god image, I haven’t believed in god for years.” So then I thought about what the universe was really like, and three words came to mind: “capricious, malicious and wilful.” I was shocked, since the image of the universe that astronomy had given me was of something orderly, beautiful, and impersonal. Where did those words come from? Who in my experience was “capricious, malicious, and wilful”? A pair of alcoholic parents, that’s who.
Since then, I’ve watched my god image change. I’ve prayed a lot, and rarely got any answers. On the other hand, sometimes I’ve spoken to god and been greatly surprised by what god said back.
Here’s a journal entry from October 2007
I’ve been sitting here thinking of all the failures — the things I tried to do that didn’t work — like the kayak, the screen tent — and that still have to be dealt with. I’m looking back over my life and seeing nothing but failures — at the moment, Neskaya feels very far away. Have I made a difference to any other being? Well, I have made a difference to Lynelle, and to Kayla, and to Gene. To the people who wouldn’t have found Circle Dance if I hadn’t built Neskaya. And surely I’ve made a difference to people who’ve been helped by Heifer and FINCA, and the whales, and the buffalo… but that’s all mostly money. Money, generosity, and good will — it’s how I’ve chosen to use my money. What will god think when I bring this thin harvest? And I have a sense of huge compassion and delight, a sense of being welcomed and gathered in to a being to whom it doesn’t matter at all what I’ve done or not done. O my. My heart feels all warm and soft.