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Posts Tagged ‘Carl Jung’

c. Susan Sorrell Hill

The Illustration Friday word of the week is double.

Wizards and avatars aside, most of us cannot be in more than one place at a time, and virtually none of us will live forever. As a result of these limitations, life in a human body will be mostly about making choices.

It is an archetypal situation that pairs, or doubles, the seeming contraries of Joy and Grief. No matter how joyful it can be to choose something, inherent in every choice will be the other thing(s) not chosen… the other man, the other career, the other road… the other dinner entrée. It is the classic bitter-sweet experience… and one that becomes more pronounced as one’s years accumulate and death approaches. Perhaps humans have evolved beliefs in things like reincarnation and a heaven to compensate for the sense of things missed?

Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung (1875-1961), popularized the archetype of the puer aeternus, the eternal boy (or puella, girl), but it is a truth that has been around far longer than the recording of myth. The Puer embodies the very human resistance to the necessity of making choices in life, and the resistance to the limitations that are invariably part of those choices. The Puer in us wants to have it all… and with no consequences whatsoever! It is a stance on life that is not workable in the long-term. And it is a stance on life that cheats the Soul out of its learning experiences.

In The Book of Runes, Ralph Blum states that “The ability to foresee consequences before you act is a mark of the profound person.” But sometimes only negative consequences can be seen in the moment of choosing: options lost, forks in the road, doors closed. How do we choose wisely? By “… choosing with the heart, not the mind,” say all great teachers. By choosing what we love most, and would be most sorry to have missed…

The fear of making choices, popularized by the well-worn phrase, “Fear of Committment,” over-emphasizes the loss inherent in choice-making, and usually fails to take into account the joy of making a choice… a choice which naturally leads to more choices and more choices again, as a tree branches out from its trunk. To make a choice is not a dead-end. It is only the next step, the beginning of something new. ‘Choosing from the heart’ does require a healthy amount of faith and wisdom…faith that there will be no wrong choices… only lessons and more lessons… and the joy (and grief) of choosing once again.

What’s for dinner?

“Contemplation” (watercolor, pen & ink)

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c. Susan Sorrell Hill

The Illustration Friday word of the week is detective.

The English homeopath, Dr. James Compton Burnett (born?-1900) relied upon imagination as the intuitive source of his healing ability. At the time of his death, he had one of the most extensive and successful practices in Victorian London. Burnett’s close friend, Dr. John Henry Clarke (Constitutional Diseases) refered to this facility, and quoted Barnett:

“I don’t look where you look; I let my imaginations play about the case.”

Burnett’s imaginative ability gave him the therapeutic insight that others lacked. This bit of healing history is gratefully borrowed from Mathew Wood’s Seven Herbs: Plants as Teachers, where he writes that “Imagination is the vehicle through which the natural world communicates to us.”

It is, of course, through this same imagination that an artist accesses her own imagery, tapping into a deeper realm for the perfect solution to a creative problem. (Carl Jung grandly referred to this realm as the Unconscious, an aspect of the Mystery.)

Art-making (like healing) is a form of detective work… A patient gathering of clues, possibilities, and observations, a fair amount of leg-work, a gentle simmering and contemplating, an openness to outcome and… voila! a new image is born. (Often preceded by more than a bit of blood, sweat and tears… plenty of which are found in the detective work in those English mystery serials I have come to love…)

“Healing the Hydra (watercolor, gouache)

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