Monday, March 15, 2010

“The Muse is both the anima and the Self.”

Patricia Damery, a writer and a member of the C. G. Jung Institute of San Francisco, reviewed The Sister From Below in the Winter 2010 issue of Jung Journal (Patricia Damery’s articles on shamanism and alchemy and her poetry have appeared in professional journals.)

“…The Sister from Below: When the Muse Gets Her Way, maps a creative person’s developing relationship to the psyche through active imagination and dialogue with inner figures and ghosts. Marbled with details of what is also a remarkable life, Naomi’s story leads us through a series of conversations with muses, beginning with Our Lady of Florence….The muse is both the anima and the Self—at once, psychopomp and feminine core of the psyche.

Damery points out that the cover painting (Phases of the Moon, by Bianca Daalder-van Iersel) is an image that also carries the theme of the book. “In Florence at certain times of the day, the Ponte Vecchio is two bridges: the bridge itself and the one reflected in the water.” She quotes from The Sister from Below,

There is the flesh and blood bridge, full of tourists, which you’ve just walked over, looking at rubies and pearls. There is the other, deeper bridge, insubstantial, with its reflected arches and yellow painted shops in the dark waters of the river. They touch each other, these two bridges, reflect on each other, can’t be without each other, and yet are inhabitants, like you and I, of different realms. Your lost Lydia is like the bridge, dreaming of itself in green waters. It is because of her, that every time you come to Florence, poetry flows. For it is not just the Lady herself, but the longing for the lady, out of which poetry is made. (38–39)

“Experienced at once, these two bridges form a mandala. To know wholeness we must access with both realities, often through suffering.”

Damery continues, “The book is also smart, steeped in mythology, literature, and history. The Shoah, in which most of Naomi’s extended family perished, is ever present. There are the other muses too: Sappho and her erotic poetry; Helena, the Root Vegetable, first met in a dream; ancient Naomi of the Book of Ruth and of Canaan, where the goddess was still worshipped; and last but not least, a male muse, John, a poet Naomi loved in her youth.”

“Through Naomi’s sensitivity…we learn how one woman has lived and created in the watery realms of synchronicity and of dreams. It is memoir of her soul. It also reflects the transformative power of the creative process that can heal not only the wounds of personal self, but also, through the honoring of mystery, that which ‘appears to us when we close our eyes and look into our own darkness—the place where gods and humans meet’, those of a culture that has become overly rational and linear.”

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