Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

The Psychology of Creativity November 25, 2014

1024px-Macarons_Marcolini_04“From the living fountain of instinct flows everything that is creative; hence the unconscious is not merely conditioned by history, but is the very source of the creative impulse.” (Carl Gustav Jung)

I’m feeling inspired to write poetry these days, and this has me thinking about creativity.  Jung says creativity originates in our instincts.  In other words, our body, with its physical needs and functions, is the matter (L. Mater), or mother, of our urge to create.  And the psyche governs our responses to our instinctual urges.

Jung said we have five basic instincts:

“Whatever creativity is, it is in part a solution to a problem.” (Brian W. Aldiss)

Nurturance: Our bodies need fuel, and we get hungry, irritable and desperate when we don’t get it. They also need protection from the dangerous and uncontrollable forces of nature.  Some human caring and creature comfort don’t hurt either. So if we, our loved ones and our tribe are to survive and prosper, our basic needs for nurturing and being nurtured must be met.  Thus, creativity originally arose in the marshalling of conscious thought and focused behavior to create the necessary tools, weapons, strategies, rules and codes of conduct that would satisfy this instinct.

1280px-Paul_Gauguin_104“The essential ingredient for creativity is wasting time.” (Anonymous)

“I have always regarded manual labour as creative and looked with respect – and, yes, wonder – at people who work with their hands. It seems to me that their creativity is no less than that of a violinist or painter.” (Pablo Casals)

Activity:  Food and water don’t just automatically show up in edible and potable form when we need it, so we have to get off the couch and do something to procure them!  And once we have thoroughly stuffed ourselves it feels good to celebrate with other creative activities such as walking dinner off, participating in games and athletic competitions, and cleaning and fixing up the cave.

“The emotional mind creates, and the rational mind explains it. Another way of saying this is, your ‘heart’ perceives it and your ‘head’ translates it.” (Alvaro Castagnet)

Reflection:  If, after all this eating and fooling around we have a spare moment or two, and if we still feel comfortable and secure, our thoughts move into new areas. For example, we might reflect on how beautiful the sunset is;  figure out how not to starve or freeze to death next winter; wonder why the kids are so cranky!  So we ask questions and try to solve problems. We devise strategies and make plans. We create religious rituals to thank the earth, the animals, the plants and the gods for meeting our needs and to make sure the sun will rise in the morning, spring will return, and a saber toothed-tiger won’t have us for dinner.

Hermann-Paul_-_Les_Danseuses“The creative process is a cocktail of instinct, skill, culture and a highly creative feverishness. It is not like a drug; it is a particular state when everything happens very quickly, a mixture of consciousness and unconsciousness, of fear and pleasure; it’s a little like making love, the physical act of love.” (Francis Bacon)

Sex:  Every living creature is born with the instinct to preserve the species. Plus, humans and other complex animal forms have an instinctive need for love and intimacy with others. And it feels good! So we use our creativity to attract partners and be appealing to them.

“I believed that I wanted to be a poet,
but deep down I just wanted to be a poem.” ~ Jaime Gil de Biedma

Creativity:  So the instincts activate our creativity and creativity is itself an instinct, an urge that satisfies our souls and enriches our lives in numerous ways and forms.  Stories told around the fire.  Figurines of animals and gods.  Vessels for food and flowers, gathering and gifting.  Music:  songs, dances symphonies and the instruments to play them.  Painted images from myths and dreams.  Delicious foods.  Ornaments for our bodies, fabrics to wear and beautify our homes, poems to enlighten and inspire us, to make works of art of our very lives.

NPG 1899,Elizabeth Barrett Browning,by Michele GordigianiAnd in the process, to make life worth living.

“Creative activity is more than a mere cultural frill, it is a crucial factor of human experience, the means of self-revelation, the basis of empathy with others; it inspires both individualism and responsibility, the giving and the sharing of experience.” (Tom Hudson)

“If I didn’t have my films as an outlet for all the different sides of me, I would probably be locked up.” (Angelina Jolie)

“The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To them… a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death.  Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create – so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.” (Pearl S. Buck)

“When I can no longer create anything, I’ll be done for.” (Coco Chanel)

I’m with you, Coco.

Ebook versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.  Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.

All quotes except the one from Jaime Gil de Biedma are from the website Art Quotes.  That one comes from my friend Jenna Farr Ludwig’s Facebook page.

Images: Macarons, Marcolini, Wikimedia Commons.  Paul Gauguin, Wikimedia Commons.  Hermann Paul, Les Danseuses, Wikimedia Commons. Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Michele Gordigiani, 1858, Wikimedia Commons.

 

And the Beat Goes On November 17, 2014

In September I had a particularly meaningful dream about my remodeled childhood home.  When I shared it in The Interior Designer Within, the feedback was so fascinating and the discussion so provocative that I wrote two more posts about it: Viewing Your Life Through Mythic Eyes, and Written in the Stars.  Meanwhile, nine nights after that dream my unconscious gave me another “house” dream:

#4570:  The Remodeled Hall. I’m standing with my back to the back porch of my childhood home. In front of me is the hall that leads to the kitchen.  What used to be a narrow, musty passage between the two, with a bathroom on one side and my parents’ room on the other, is now a large spacious gallery, perhaps 18 feet wide, with a ceiling so high I can’t even see it. It’s filled with light and the walls are painted a bright, glossy white. I think someone is painting the last coat on it now.  I think this would make a beautiful art gallery and imagine a huge square painting on one side. The dominant color should be red and other fiery colors. Yes, I’ll use this room for art, but not too much. I don’t want it to be cluttered or distracting.  Just simple and beautiful. I wake up planning where ceiling lights should go.

Although the two dreams occurred several days apart, they felt connected.  The first said that the living room, dining room and kitchen—symbolically, areas of my psyche related to my conscious living—had been dramatically remodeled over the years.  The second one said that remodeling was also underway in the hall at the back of the house—symbolically, my personal unconscious.  Whereas the front of the house was occupied with the more public and practical aspects of my life, this central part in the back was becoming a space for light, art, and creativity.

I loved these dreams.  I loved my childhood home and my life there. And I love the growth I’ve undergone since then. Perhaps that’s why all my dreams of that house leave me with good feelings that last for days. It also makes sense that this recent series of house dreams came at a time when I was feeling particularly good about my life, my work, and myself.

The beat goes on, beat goes on
Drums keep pounding a rhythm to the brain
La de da de de, la de da de da

Charleston was once the rage, uh huh
History has turned the page, uh huh
The miniskirt’s the current thing, uh huh
Teenybopper is our newborn king, uh huh

And the beat goes on, beat goes on
Drums keep pounding a rhythm to the brain
La de da de de, la de da de da

My two most recent dreams, 7 days apart, speak to a different experience of life. Both feature stressful situations in unknown public places where I’m looking for my husband, my car, and my cell phone. Here’s a brief summary of the latest.

#4587:  Stressed and Unprepared I wake up from a nap in a public place. I realize it’s 3:30 in the afternoon on Thanksgiving Day! I have 20 people coming for dinner in two-and-a half hours and I forgot to put the turkey in the oven and peel the potatoes! I start searching through a crowd of hurried passers-by for my purse, my cell phone, my car keys, my husband. I see my husband and send him to Costco in his car for the potatoes and green beans.  As I head for the parking lot I worry: How will I have time to do everything?  How will I even get home?  I can’t find the keys to my car and I can’t call for a cab because I don’t have my phone!

I was frowning and feeling frustrated when I awoke from this dream Monday morning, and the mood lasted half the day! So what’s my issue? Have I been doing too much or too little?  Are my priorities out of whack?  Am I wasting time on things I love which are not that important in the bigger picture?  Should I give more attention to my outer life and less to the inner? Do I feel guilty for loafing all day Sunday?  Am I afraid of being unprepared for Thanksgiving dinner?  For the book I’m starting to write?  For my keynote speech next summer? Am I having trouble communicating my concerns to Fred and/or my animus and asking for their help?  These are all things I’ve wondered lately.

My “childhood home” dreams tell me what I’m doing well.  They remind me to be grateful.  They affirm my growth and encourage me to keep going.  Stress dreams tell me when things are out of balance. They set up possible scenarios and rehearse strategies I might want to consider. And though they may bring me down for a time, I usually bounce back before long.

Neither state of mind is a constant and this is as it should be.  The psyche needs balance, just as Nature’s seasons.  And the opposites of life deserve their due.  Yet, regardless of which phase we’re in, we can be assured that the beat goes on. Like my two favorite kinds of jazz, sometimes the pace is frenetic, sometimes it’s slow and easy. But it goes on.

And the beat goes on, beat goes on
Drums keep pounding a rhythm to the brain
La de da de de, la de da de da

Songwriters
PRINI, ROSSANO / SANDRINI, PAOLO / NARAINE, WILLIAM / ULIVI, VITO / BARATTA, MARCO / SUDANO, RICCARDO

Published by
Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

 Ebook versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.  Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.

 

Do We Need Schools for Forty-Year-Olds? November 10, 2014

ArrienbookSome years ago I was working on a precursor to my latest book, a manuscript about creating partnership between our psychological opposites.  Throughout history cultures have found the categories of “masculinity” and “femininity” useful for designating differences between pairs of opposites in many areas of life, including languages, electronics, social roles, leadership styles and so on.  Curious about the different ways men and women develop psychologically over a lifetime, I used the same categories in an assessment tool I created.  The Partnership Profile estimates the relative weight an individual gives to the masculine and feminine qualities of his or her psyche.  I wanted to use it to help people understand that everyone contains both kinds of qualities, and both are equally necessary to a successful adaptation to life.

As Jung wrote in 1930 when gender and sexual stereotypes were more widely accepted and adhered to than now:

“We might compare masculinity and femininity and their psychic components to a definite store of substances of which, in the first half of life, unequal use is made.  A man consumes his large supply of masculine substance and has left over only the smaller amount of feminine substance, which must now be put to use.  Conversely, the woman allows her hitherto unused supply of masculinity to become active.” Jung, CW, Vol. 8, para. 782

Over the next few years I administered The Partnership Profile to over 700 people in various stages of life, from college students to old age, and used the results to refine my instrument and draw some preliminary conclusions about the natural changes that occur in the psyche over a lifetime.  I’m not sure I agree with Jung’s observation that men have a larger supply of masculine qualities and women of feminine, but my results did bear out his findings that everyone has both, and that our use of them changes over time.  He wrote,

“How often it happens that a man of forty-five or fifty winds up his business, and the wife then dons the trousers and opens a little shop where he perhaps performs the duties of a handyman.  There are many women who only awaken to social responsibility and to social consciousness after their fortieth year.  In modern business life, especially in America, nervous breakdowns in the forties are a very common occurrence….Very often these changes are accompanied by all sorts of catastrophes in marriage, for it is not hard to imagine what will happen when the husband discovers his tender feelings and the wife her sharpness of mind.” Vol. 8, para 783

For a while I conducted partnership workshops at the Disney Institute. At one session an elderly man stood up and proudly shared his score which was heavily weighted on the feminine side of the continuum.  Then he said something like this:  “I was a marine for over thirty years, and I’m proud of it. But I’m here to tell you that the score I got today is right on.  It sure wouldn’t have been when I was a young man, but I’ve changed.  My wife and I live next door to a little old lady whose health is bad and I go over there every day to help out. I cook, clean, buy groceries, run errands, do odd jobs.  My wife won’t go with me.  She says she’s had enough of that and would rather read.” At this point his wife nodded vigorously in agreement.  He continued, “But I can’t get enough.  I love helping her!  That’s a whole new part of me I never knew I had when I was a marine.”

hollisbookJung wrote:

“The worst of it all is that intelligent and cultivated people live their lives without even knowing the possibility of such transformations.  Wholly unprepared, they embark upon the second half of life. Or are there perhaps colleges for forty-year olds which prepare them for their coming life and its demands as the ordinary colleges introduce our young people to a knowledge of the world?  No, thoroughly unprepared we take the step into the afternoon of our life;  worse still, we take this step with the false assumption that our truths and ideals will serve us as hitherto.  But we cannot live the afternoon of life according the programme of life’s morning;  for what was great in the morning will be little at evening, and what in the morning was true will at evening have become a lie.” Vol. 8, para. 784

Have you experienced this reality?  What do you think?  Should someone start a school for forty-year-olds?

Note:  For those interested in reading more, I highly recommend The Second Half of Life by Angeles Arrien, and Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life by Jungian analyst James Hollis.

Ebook versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.  Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.

 

 

 

 

Birth of a Poet? November 5, 2014

SearchingforHummingbirdsI’ve been feeling a bit estranged from myself for awhile.  This might seem odd coming from one who’s made a profession of self-discovery. Yet, the fact is that since my last book came out, I’ve been beset by a restless discomfort and confounding dreams.

A part of me is not surprised.  I can’t count the times I’ve undergone similar transitions after leaving an outworn psychological house behind. And I know I’ll experience more as long as I’m alive and growing. But another part of me expected this move to be shorter and easier.  Shouldn’t I be getting better at adjusting to change?

Actually, I am getting better.  I trust the processes of my psyche. I know my yearning for closure comes from an impatient ego longing for an end to the questions:  What’s going on with me?  What next?  And I know closure will come when I’ve stayed present with the questions for as long as it takes.

Nonetheless, to give my unconscious a little nudge, last year during a ritual at Maeve’s tomb on the summit of a limestone hill in Ireland I asked the Celtic Queen of the fairies for a clearer understanding of the recurring symbolism of excrement in my dreams.  Then last month in Greece, after a year of numerous dreams featuring the color orange, new babies, and feelings of being helpless and overwhelmed, I asked the Oracle at Delphi for direction in my life and writing.

So yesterday morning I wrote what may be my first real poem!

I’ve tried poetry off and on for years, but even the published few wouldn’t get air time on Amateur Hour.  This is not false humility but an honest assessment of my limitations. I’m wordy. I tend to ramble. I have lacked a proper appreciation for subtlety; a true understanding of the power of imagery;  and the patience to condense wimpy words and loose thoughts into a coherent idea with emotional impact.

This summer I received a book of poetry titled “Searching for Hummingbirds” from Betsy Holleman. I met her years ago at a writing conference led by novelist Rosellen Brown and poetess Dorianne Laux.  I hadn’t written any poems since the conference, but Betsy’s book inspired me to write a memorial poem for my mother.  I’m not happy with the result, but the process filled several enormously pleasurable hours.

SkinfulofDustI think that’s what motivated me to order “A Skinful of Dust” by Brian Carlin, an award-winning poet from Glasgow.  We’ve followed and commented on each other’s blog posts for a few years and often find inspiration in each others’ writing.  His book is a treasury of sturdy words and startling images that sparked a deeper resonance with poetry than I’ve ever felt before. And a book he recommended, Gaston Bachelard’s “The Poetics of Space,” is opening my mind to creative depths I never knew existed.

Then yesterday morning I was blown away by the latest post from poet/artist Steven McCabe.  His post “Autumn Morning,” is based on a poem by Pablo Neruda and complemented with original art and a vintage-looking video. It evoked such an unusually rich reverie that I set aside my morning Sudoku ritual to write a poem about it.

I’m not prepared to share it here yet.  The poem is too fresh, my emotions are too raw, and my baby is too vulnerable for mass exposure.  But I feel like I’m standing at the threshold of an exciting new adventure in creativity and I wanted to celebrate with you.

Ebook versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.  Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.

 

Death with Dignity by Carol P. Christ November 3, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — jeanraffa @ 10:33 am

FallWinter

“Tears, sorrow, and disappointment are bitter, but wisdom is the comforter in all psychic suffering.”

Carl Jung, Mysterium Coniunctionis, Page 246, Para 330.

My friends: I’ve just returned from a long weekend in the mountains of North Carolina, where we relished some delicious fall colors before being surprised by the first snow. As we enjoyed Nature’s spectacular reminder of  life’s never-ending cycles, the personal drama of Brittany Maynard’s dying and death was played out on a national stage. I fully support her decision to die with dignity and am pleased to reblog this post about it by Carol P. Christ. My deepest sympathies go out to Brittany’s loved ones. Jeanie

 

 

Carol Christ in LesbosIn the summer of 1960 when I was 14 years old my much loved grandmother Mae Inglis Christ died of a cancer that affected her brain. The last time I saw my Nannie was shortly after her diagnosis in the early spring. While we were visiting, the cancer affected her back, and she took to her bed. In those days children were not allowed in hospitals. I never saw my grandmother alive again, but my mother told us that our grandmother was hooked up to tubes much longer than she should have been. Mother vowed, “This will never happen to me.” I was driven to the funeral in a limousine with my grandmother’s girlfriends. They spoke about my grandmother’s last days, describing how (because her mind was affected by cancer) my little grandmother had screamed and screamed at them for not visiting–even though they were with her every day. They…

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