Showing posts with label dreams. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dreams. Show all posts

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Muse of the Jungian Way



The Muse of the Jungian Way

What possesses people to leave collective consciousness—the comfort and security of the mainstream—and follow an arcane path in which they cultivate their dreams and visions, follow synchronicities, talk to inner figures, use ancient divining tools such as the I Ching, study myth and fairy tales, wrestle with their shadows and generally wander far away from the familiar worlds of family and friends?

There are as many stories of how this happens, as there are Jungians. In Marked by Fire you can read 13 soulful and gripping versions of the story. Here is a part of my version, which I didn’t have space to tell in Marked by Fire.

My story begins many years ago when my children were little. I was a lost young woman, severed from my deep Self. I had a frightening dream:
My baby daughter’s head was severed from her body. My mother’s voice said: “You’ll never get her together again.”
The dream spooked me. I thought something bad was about to happen to my child.

In a synchronistic event that changed my life my girl friend’s mother—who was seeing a Jungian in therapy—invited her daughter and me to a Jungian Conference called The Forgotten Feminine. I knew nothing of Jung and had no idea what the conference title meant, except that it tugged at me. I wanted to go.


The Handless Maiden (by Lucy Campbell)

At the conference I heard mature, wise, potent women—Jungian analysts—unlike any women I knew in my life—describe their work with their patients. This was the late 1960s. They told stories of women who were lost in their lives, who had forgotten their creative gifts, forgotten their souls, who had given themselves away to their men and their children, buried their deep natures and their wildness, severed their heads from their bodies. I learned that in the sanctuary of their Jungian analyses they found their souls, reclaimed their writing or painting or dancing, connected their heads and their bodies, found their deep selves. It was suddenly clear to me that my frightening dream was not about my daughter, it was about me. I was in trouble. I turned to my friend’s mother and asked her about that Jungian she was seeing.

That is how I tumbled into a Jungian analysis. It saved my life. I wrote a poem about it:

letter to a first analyst

I caught the dream
and rose dreaming
H.D.
you sat with me in the early years when it was all
coming apart my too young marriage that business of the donkey
in the basement the father whose eyes entered
me took what they would

you sat with me and I opened like a window
in a suffocating room whose drapes have been drawn for too long
now blinds snapped up smell of hot tomatoes
strawberries in the sun

i had been living in my body
as though it were an unmade bed for years the smell of decomposing
dreams under the bedside table crumpled kleenex bad blood spotting
the sheets the children were so little they wandered in
wanting their breakfast and me just waking from a dream of spitting out my teeth on the road or dream of using a contact lens for contraception it splintered
inside me what spirit led me to you after the terrible dream—my daughter’s head was severed from her body— my mother’s voice said: “you’ll never get her together again”

i write to tell you that i danced at that daughter’s wedding on a hillside in berkeley
not far from your house she was beautiful and i was glad
for all the years of catching the morning dream the hours you sat
with me through sandstone storms and backdoor me even death’s most yellow incarnation made a pass at my bed but you
who opened windows closed that door i remember

once you told me the story of a prince and a hairy wild man fresh out of the forest
they wrestled for a long time fought until each knew
the other’s body and mind until they were inseparable friends
(published in crimes of the dreamer)


Gilgamesh and Enkidu

Years later one of the women who stood on the stage of that conference on The Forgotten Feminine—Elizabeth Osterman—would greet me when I was a new candidate at the Jung Institute. She’d been watching me, she said. “You are a poet. You must follow your nature.” Though she was never my analyst or consultant, she was a powerful figure for me; I felt her support for my deep nature. When she died I wrote a poem called “Dirge” in which I looped back to my first experience of her. Here is that section of the poem:

You stood
on a university platform
in Wheeler Auditorium
where I had heard
many famous professors
but no one had ever told me

that a woman
writing down her dreams
can spiral inward
to her dark center
and come back out with flaming colors
and her own wild tongue!
(published in red clay is talking)

My story is not unusual in the Jungian world. In Marked by Fire, the collection of memoirs edited by Patricia Damery and me, there are many such stories. Sometimes it is a dream that opens up a person’s psyche, sometimes a longing, a difficult conflict, a terrible event like the death of a mother or a serious illness. The Jungian way involves noticing the small voice within you—your muse, your soul—that speaks from another realm; it requires attention to the world of dreams and synchronicities, an openness to the irrational and the awesome, an ability to see life’s pain and suffering as a meaningful aspect of one’s path.

These personal stories by Jungian analysts are about the direct experience of the unconscious—the fiery process of becoming ourselves. They are food for the soul.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

“The Word Made Flesh: The Living Symbol - San Francisco Jung Institute

Oct. 10th, “The Word Made Flesh” a presentation at the San Francisco Jung Institute Conference on The Living Symbol.

CONFERENCE:
The Living Symbol In and Out of the Consulting Room - Maria Chiaia, Naomi Lowinsky, Richard Stein, Bryan Wittine, Suzanne Wagner
Saturday and Sunday, October 10 & 11, 2009
9:30 am – 3:30 pm

Reserve for this event at San Francisco Jung Institute"Symbols act as transformers"
- C.G. Jung (CW Vol. 5: 232)
Living symbols are messages from the depths of our being to our conscious "I", messages that reveal mysterious things about ourselves and our lives. Psychotherapists across traditions have found that symbolic images open the way to the creative possibilities of the unconscious. We discover these images through free association, dreams, fantasies, creative productions, and within the relational field between analyst and analysand. They evoke fascination, awe, fear, joy, upset, disorientation, but are inevitably transformative when we approach them with respect and attend to them in a contemplative way.

In this conference five Jungian analysts with different approaches will speak to their experience of living, transforming symbols in their lives and clinical work. What does the living symbol look like in clinical practice and in life? How does the symbol enter our psyche, and what does it do once it becomes known? What are the spiritual implications of symbols? Through lectures that include theory, art, poetry, and clinical material, the speakers will offer their unique perspectives on the ways symbols guide processes of growth in and out of the consulting room.


The Word Made Flesh - Naomi Ruth Lowinsky
It is as if the poet could still sense, beneath the words of contemporary speech and in the images that crowd in upon his imagination, the ghostly presence of bygone spiritual worlds, and possessed the capacity to make them come alive again. As Gerhart Hauptmann says: "Poetry is the art of letting the primordial word resound through the common word." - Jung, (CW 5 p. 303)
Our medium, in analysis, is language: the spoken word. Like poets we seek the "primordial word." We are engaged in the Promethean art of bringing life, fire, libido back to our analysand's word: so the word is made flesh; the symbol comes to life; the God is renewed.

When a person stumbles into analysis, she is typically split off from the surge of her libido, cut off from the meaning of her words, severed from her authenticity and from her Gods. She is incarcerated in taboos and constrictions that block her feeling, steal her breath, smother her fire.
If the analysis goes well she will find her way back, through the circumambulations and meanderings of the analytic conversation, to her own primordial word. She and her analyst will create a private language, a personal Tarot deck of living symbols, born of their shared wanderings in her internal landscape: her Gods and demons, dreams, memories, wounds, and longings. This is the stuff of her soul. Together they come to know what moves her, what excites her, how her words become flesh. Perhaps she will find a creative form in which to manifest the power of her personal symbols.

I propose to tell the story of such an analysis, the one I know best – my own – and to reflect on how language and poetry expresses the living symbol: the word made flesh. A series of poems about my analytic experience will structure the talk.

Naomi Ruth Lowinsky, PhD, is an analyst member of the C. G. Jung Institute of San Francisco and a widely published poet. Her book on creativity, The Sister from Below: When the Muse Gets Her Way, has just been published by Fisher King Press. She has published a collection of poems about the analytic experience, crimes of the dreamer. She is the poetry editor of Psychological Perspectives, teaches writing classes in many settings, and is in private practice in Berkeley.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Muse Gets Her Way

January 15th, 2008

With great pleasure, Fisher King Press announces another forthcoming title.

Available Spring of 2009

The Sister from Below: When the Muse Gets Her Way
a Jungian Perspective by Naomi Ruth Lowinsky

Who is She, this Sister from Below? She’s certainly not about the ordinary business of life: work, shopping, making dinner. She speaks from other realms. If you’ll allow, She’ll whisper in your ear, lead your thoughts astray, fill you with strange yearnings, get you hot and bothered, send you off on some wild goose chase of a daydream, eat up hours of your time. She’s a siren, a seductress, a shape-shifter . . . Why listen to such a troublemaker? Because She is essential to the creative process: She holds the keys to the doors of our imaginations and deeper life—the evolution of Soul.

The Sister emerges out of reverie, dream, a fleeting memory, a difficult emotion—she is the moment of inspiration—the muse. Naomi Ruth Lowinsky writes of nine manifestations in which the muse visits her, stirring up creative ferment, filling her with ghosts, mysteries, erotic teachings, the old religion—bringing forth her voice as a poet. Among these forms of the muse are the “Sister from Below,” the inner poet who has spoken for the soul since language began. The muse also appears as the ghost of a grandmother Naomi never met, who died in the Shoah—a grandmother with ‘unfinished business.’ She visits in the form of Old Mother India, whose culture Naomi visited as a young woman. She cracks open her Western mind, flooding her with many gods and goddesses. She appears as Sappho, the great lyric poet of the ancient world, who engages her in a lovely midlife fantasy. She comes as “Die √úr Naomi,” an old woman from the biblical story for which Naomi was named, who insists on telling Her version of the Book of Ruth. And in the end, surprisingly, the muse appears in the form of a man, a long dead poet whom Naomi loved in her youth.

The Sister from Below is a personal story, yet universal, of giving up a creative calling because of life’s obligations, and being called back to it in later life. This forthcoming Fisher King Press publication describes the intricate patterns of a rich inner life; it is a traveler’s memoir, with outer journeys to Italy, India and a Neolithic cave in Bulgaria, and inward journeys to biblical Canaan and Sappho’s Greece; it is filled with mythic experience, a poet’s story told. The Sister conveys the lived experience of the creative life, a life in which active imagination—the Jungian technique of engaging with inner figures—is an essential practice.

The Sister speaks to all those who want to cultivate an unlived promise—those on a spiritual path, those who are filled with the urgency of poems that have to be written, paintings that must be painted, journeys that yearn to be taken…

Naomi Ruth Lowinsky is the author of The Motherline: Every Woman’s Journey to Find Her Female Roots (1992) and numerous prose essays, many of which have been published in Psychological Perspectives and The Jung Journal. She has had poetry published in many literary magazines and anthologies, among them After Shocks: The Poetry of Recovery, Weber Studies, Rattle, Atlanta Review, Tiferet and Asheville Poetry Review. Her two poetry collections, red clay is talking (2000) and crimes of the dreamer (2005) were published by Scarlet Tanager Books. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize three times. Naomi is a Jungian analyst in private practice, poetry and fiction editor of Psychological Perspectives, and a grandmother many times over.

The cover image "Phases of the Moon" is an oil painting by Bianca Daalder-van Iersel, an artist and Jungian analyst practicing in Los Angeles, California. You can learn more about the artist and her work at www.bdaalder.com.

The Sister from Below:
When the Muse Gets Her Way

—by Naomi Ruth Lowinsky
ISBN 978-0-9810344-2-3
Estimated shipping date June 2009,
call or email to place your advance order.
+1-831-238-7799


advance orders can also be placed with amazon.com