In my previous post – the Altar, Bird, Torch with Master R – (and also The Desert Rose in my other blog) the traveller begins his journey in the desert. These passages from C.G.Jung’s Red Book companion it:
“Your heights are your own mountain, which belongs to you and you alone. There you are individual and live your very own life.
“If you live your own life, you do not live the common life, which is always continuing and never ending, the life of history and the inalienable and ever-present burdens and products of the human race. There you live the endlessness of being, but not the becoming. Becoming human belongs to the heights and is full of torment. How can you become if you never are? Therefore you need your bottommost, since there you are. But therefore you also need your heights, since there you become.”
I am deep down in myself just now, this morning, standing in the ravine, looking up and out among my mountains of affection, sharpened cares, and failures, the way they peak the sky. In alchemy we are called “the miners of the mountains.” Within the mountain strata are veins of congealed sunlight, the living gold. This is life, and all the weathers.
I recall right now, a very early childhood nightmare (age 3 or 4?) – a range of glittering white mountains, all of them wept with some unendurable song of the Spirit: I cried, and ran to my parents’ bed.
There is more, on the heights and in the depths, and: “You think you are standing still like swamp water, but slowly you flow into the sea that covers the earth’s greatest deeps, and it is so vast that firm land seems only an island imbedded in the womb of the immeasurable sea. As a drop in the ocean you take part in the current, ebb and flow. You swell slowly on the land, and slowly sink back again in interminably slow breaths. You wander vast distances in blurred currents and wash up on strange shores, not knowing how you got there. You mount the billows of huge storms and are swept back again into the depths …
“You had thought that your movement came from you and that it needed your decisions and efforts, so that you could get going and make progress. But with every conceivable effort you would never have achieved that movement and reached those areas to which the sea and the great wind of the world brought you.”
There is so much here about the brilliant underworld of the sea, that I feel his paintings and their colours begin to stir. There would evolve – I think – the “method” whereby the unknown surfacing onto distant shores becomes lucid, and delivers itself through subconscious-associative “strings”. There is a mystery and an accuracy. There is a condition of watchfulness: the music. Be still and know I am God.
“But from far off, your heights shine to you above the sea in a golden light, like the moon emerging from the tide, and you become aware of yourself from afar. And longing seizes you and the will for your own movement. You want to cross over from being to becoming, since you have recognised the breath of the sea and its flowing, that leads you here and there without your ever adhering: you have also recognised its surge that bears you to alien shores and carries you back, and gargles you up and down.
“You saw that it was the life of the whole and the death of each individual. You felt yourself entwined in the collective death, from death to the earth’s deepest place, from death in your own strangely breathing depths.
“Oh – you long to be beyond; despair and mortal fear seize you in this death that breathes slowly and streams back and forth eternally. All this light and dark, warm, tepid and cold water, all these wavy, swaying, twisting, plant-like animals and bestial plants, all these nightly wonders become a horror to you, and you long for the sun, for light dry air, for firm stones, for a fixed place and straight lines, for the motionless and firmly held, for rules and preconceived purpose, for singleness and your own intent.”
The fossils of early creature organisms, look like feathers. Their DNA lattice is simple. They were planted in the seabed and they couldn’t move. They were epidermally nourished – they had no mouth. As aeons passed, they shifted, the organisms developed little creeper filaments on their underside, like starfish. And when the tide cast them ashore, because they were Life, they adapted, and with the aeons, they became shoreward beings; they grew, and moved, and devoured, and returned to Nature what they ate.
The early organisms – in the atomic lattice – are what we are now. It is in our bones and lizard memory – the medulla oblongata. And what is this within us, yet to be? to become?
Jung’s paragraph about the sea and land, is also about the desire, from immersion in the Mother Anima, to become defined, to make straight lines and plant flags – to become male. When we are conceived, we all are feminine – the primordial element: and at around three months gestation (or a little earlier?) the embryo differentiates the sexual organs; in his case, to the male. To a man. Male children are immersed in their mothers, then they wrestle to get free.
In elder traditions, the adolescent boys are taken into the forest or the desert for their Initiation. When they come back, they no longer belong to their mother, but to the tribe; their seed is strong and fertile for the women.
The paragraph reminds me also of childhood dreams in the Yorkshire moors or on a road; I couldn’t move, I couldn’t walk forward, however hard I tried. Everywhere around me was huge, and the parents were a struggle to reach. Small children have this powerful and frustrating desire in the soul, for independence and to travel. Suddenly aware in the new and powerless “I-me”, we burst out crying, and raise our arms to be lifted and taken.
little girl at a party, 1954
“The knowledge of death came to me that night, from the dying that engulfs the world. I saw how we live toward death, how the swaying golden wheat sinks together under the scythe of the reaper, like a smooth wave on the sea beach.”
I have to copy nearly all of this poem – to honour it now.
“He who abides in common life becomes aware of death with fear. Thus the fear of death drives him toward singleness. He does not live there, but he becomes aware of life and is happy, since in singleness he is one who becomes, and has overcome death. He does not live his individual being, since he is not what he is, but what he becomes.
“One who becomes, grows aware of life, whereas one who simply exists, never will, since he is in the midst of life. He needs the heights and singleness to become aware of life. But in life he becomes aware of death. And it is good that you become aware of collective death, since then you know why your singleness and your heights are good.
genesis in the retort (3)
“Your heights are like the moon that luminously wanders alone, and through the night looks eternally clear. Sometimes it covers itself, and then you are totally in the darkness of the earth; but time and again it fills itself out with light. The death of the earth is foreign to it. Motionless and clear, it sees the life of the earth from afar, without enveloping haze and streaming oceans. Its unchanging form has been solid from eternity. It is the solitary clear light of the night, the individual being, and the near fragment of eternity …
“… Your gaze rests on silvery seas, on snowy peaks, on blue valleys, and you do not hear the groaning and howling of the human animal.”
Isn’t it interesting that Jung wrote this, fifty years before we saw what our Earth looks like?
“The moon is dead. Your soul went to the moon, to the preserver of souls. Thus the soul moved toward death. I went into the inner death and saw that outer dying is better than inner death. And I decided to die outside and to live within. For that reason I turned away, and sought the place of the inner life.”
Bridging the soul Triad on the Tree, is the path of the woman who gentles the Lion. The soul-triad balances Hesed and Gevurah – Opportunity and Restraint – with Tifareth. I lift my eyes up into the hills, there is nothing to say. And earth it with my body root – where am I sitting just now? The firmness of my seat on the floor – the swift speaking fingers on the keyboard at intervals – the sun coming in – cars and trains passing – the bare but pregnant branches of early Aries – my crossed-over feet – the strange chirp of a bird? No it is a car alarm being adjusted. It is more distant now.
Root and shoot, seed and flower – the quiet stem greets my sisters, mothers and daughters, they endure.
Red Book – Liber Secundus, Chapter 4: The Anchorite
In the irascible and blazing desert, he finds bare human foot-prints … the sole of the foot is the path of the soul. He follows them along a high dune. The mandala he illustrates this chapter with, is the desert colour, hot brown and dull red, with the cloudless blue sky in its centre. The rocks and dunes are runes, from which arose the human dream and all its history. They are shifting runes. The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind.
The wind is sand along the air, and earth responds by ripple formation, like the sea. The sand flows like water; the sand flows as the blood in human veins, and in the animal kingdom; it is our sap. The sand is the Rock, eroded to infinitesimal particles and jewels. It is blown along the wind, forming kingdoms of time.
Having lived in times past, among the sands, and carried water from the well, the element is in my bones and I know and recognise it well. There is no landscape or direction other than the wind which softly pressures my back, so I turn as softly, with it. And out of the vast nowhere of the wadis and the plains and the bony ridges of encircling hills, appears a tiny human in a dark cloth, walking towards me.
Those are my memories: now, Jung’s.
He followed more than one set of footsteps. They elided with each other, they crossed and recrossed the crest of the dune: he follows them downward in astonishment.
“The air glows and the rock burns my soles. Now I have reached the bottom; there are the tracks again. They lead along the winding of the valley, a short distance. Suddenly I stand before a small hut covered in reeds and made of mud bricks. A rickety wooden plank forms the door where a cross has been painted in red. I open it quietly. A haggard man covered in a white linen mantle is sitting on a mat with his back leaning against the wall. Across his knees lies a book in yellow parchment, with beautiful black handwriting – a Greek gospel, without doubt. I am with an anchorite of the Libyan desert.”
Pause there. Meister Jung, that is how I sit with “my book” in the mornings, leaning my back against the wall – my seat. Inside the hut, with you and the anchorite, it is very hot, and the silence fills the silence with its shout: the purity of the sands. You and I meet the Hermit.
Sitting by your unknown spring,
a lizard upon a rock bathes
in glowing heat of peppered sand.
In that ancient eyelid
the sun’s hour motionless flows.
My dry sponge may wait
hearing the source of the hidden element
in the drought of every pore.
The drier I am, the sweeter fills
the well of listening;
in my way without skin, seeing not yours,
I am touched by what you are directly,
through not knowing.
From a Poem of Eclipse, 1999
The photos of the sea were taken by my daughter, along the north Cornish coastal path.
Aquariel – an angel of the waters and of the air through the woods of life. COPYRIGHT – All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012-2014. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address https://janeaquariel.wordpress.com/