Continued from front page…
Part of where the field of psychology got lost is that it was born in the era of science. It was designed originally to find a fixed point or an end point, a cause of our personal woes, a kind of germ theory of mental illness. It was fighting against religious beliefs at the time, that completely denied human attempts at deeper understanding of who we are. Thus the field most filled with the promise of exploration of the human psyche, lost the potential of what was best within these spiritual traditions.
This is a huge part of why Freud and Jung split off from each other. Freud was terrified of Jung’s exploration of the occult and ideas of “synchronicity”. Jung himself and then his family after him hid the “Red Book”, what he himself called his most important work, until a hundred years after he started writing it, presumably because it was too “unscientific” in some way.
Jung’s “Red Book” is many things including his own personal exploration of consciousness on the deepest most personal level. It is also a sad testament to how broken our lineage is. Jung is one of the greatest and deepest thinkers of the modern era and yet his most important work, he himself hid for fear of exposing what he really felt and believed.
Maybe it is no wonder that we live in the era of the memoir, as a healthy response to all that has been hidden. But Jung’s “Red Book” as memoir is a totally different kind of beast. The depth of Jung’s writing makes it hard to even read because maybe understanding his journey is not what this is all about. Jung’s “Red Book” is more importantly an invitation to be on the journey. His transparency with his own personal struggle is an invitation join him in that exploration. There is no other way to understand the book, than to on some level be part of the living of your own Red Book.
Part of Jung’s process in the book is to kill Siegfried, to kill the hero. As a result there is no happy end point to his story, no process that is all neatly wrapped up in a bow. Instead he closes with his own struggle to let in the love. He offers his own imperfection up as an invocation to not find the answer but to instead be part of the living question. This site is devoted to that question for me and hopefully for all of us.
Last night I had this dream: I was going on a long journey and trying to figure out what to do with my van – whether to leave it to my son, give it to someone else or to park it somewhere until I got back. At a certain point I realized that I was fussing over the van and I decided to just let it be and go. Then it shifts and I am asking for directions to the subway station, which is the starting point for my journey but as I am in the town of Hardwick, in northern Vermont, there is no subway and no-one knows what to tell me. Despite all of that I do find it and as soon as I enter the station the dream shifts and I am in a large city in a foreign world. I have no idea where I am or how I got here but I am a teenager now with a teenage girl who I believe knows her way around. All I know is to stay close to her.
It is an incredibly vulnerable feeling to be in that new world. It is a challenge for me to stay present in a place that my mind cannot make sense of in any way. Challenging to not try to figure things out but instead let myself be dependent on this girl, to trust her, to trust whatever this journey is that I no longer understand.
This inner experience in my dream parallels in a lot of ways the way I feel in the world at the moment and is part of the reason for this site coming into being. I have just finished a 15 year process of being involved with an incredible community of dreamers at North of Eden – an organization and community founded by Marc Bregman and Christa Lancaster to train teachers to bring the process of Archetypal Dreamwork, that Marc began 45 years ago, into the world.
This site is part of a graduation process for me from North of Eden. A way to bring this work into the world in a way that is beyond the more specific scope of North of Eden’s mission as an intensive teacher training organization. It is a huge personal transition for me to step out of the core of this organization that I have devoted the last 10 years of my life to build. There has been a huge blessing in this training and the time has come for me to bring that blessing into the world in a different way.
It is time for me to go down into the subway station that no-one else sees. To not fuss over what I am leaving behind in this process and to step into this new world and learn to trust in my own self who knows enough to be a student of this teen girl, this girl that knows her way around here.
This site will be a place for me to share my own ongoing personal journey and be a part of the larger process that belongs to all of us on this planet. No matter who you are, your dreams are reaching out to you, wanting to guide you, wanting to be in relationship with you on your path.
The words of Martin Luther King Jr. kept coming up for me as I wrote this piece over the last few days. He gave his famous “I have a dream” speech just over 50 years ago now. In that he was beseeching us all to come together as a nation. He presented an outer world dream where – “With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.”
Martin Luther King held this dream for us as a nation and also for the world. But as with many of our greatest teachers he has been lost to us. Yet we are still in need of a vision for how to find faith and hope in the midst of a “mountain of despair” in this nation and in this world. The isolation and trauma that is apparent in many people’s lives and communities can be overwhelming. You don’t need me or anyone else to remind you of the various personal, social and spiritual crises of our time. MLK’s words “mountain of despair” resonate for many to this day.
Our dreams reflect this condition and they hold a promise for those who are willing to listen. They offer a very particular hope in the face of the world’s despair. They come to us each night and ask us to not ignore the ways that we have many of us, each in our own ways given into that despair in some way and settled for being less than who we really are.
In my own work and in my study of 12,000 plus dreams, I have never seen a dream that did not also offer a promise in its own way. Dreams for reasons that are beyond me, hold a particular faith and hope and love for each and everyone of us. They show us our foibles and even more they show us a kind of love that puts all our foibles and all our failings into a bigger perspective. They teach us about a kind of love that is beyond what most of us have experienced and beyond what most of us are capable of understanding.
The process of Archetypal Dreamwork that Marc and Christa taught me, took me on a journey through my dreams, to the darkest places in my psyche and they taught me to face the personal demons that lived within me with brutal honesty and a kind of integrity that I found lacking in most of my other experiences in this world.
In that willingness to face what Jung called the “Descent into Hell in the Future” I learned that there was no place that was so dark that the light of consciousness could not overcome. That in willingness to simply be honest about what is so, there was space for even the worst splits and hurts to be healed.
In the catholic tradition that I grew up in, it was the eating of the apple of the “tree of knowledge of good and evil” or in other words the tree of consciousness that creates the split from the innocence of the garden of Eden. Dreams have the capacity to be part of turning that equation around. We cannot return to a time before the evolution of consciousness in humans but we can use the lineage of consciousness that is passed on to us through our dreams to begin to bring that innocence and grace into our modern era.
With love, Bill St.Cyr