Wednesday, December 17, 2008

An old trickster essay

Before I stumbled upon astrology it became obvious to me that I had a lot of trickster energy. I read what jung had to say and then I read Lewis hyde : Trickster makes this world. Wow!! The penny dropped in a big way. I wrote this essay at uni about 4 years ago. Its not fantastic ...but having a go at thinking out of the box or thinking via trickster. Then...I came across Rick Tarnas and archetypal astrology. If you look at my natal chart (amongst other things )you will see Uranus conjuct the Sun. Uranus is known as the cosmic trickster and the sun is our central self energy. Then the big penny dropped!!I'm not crazy after all, erratic yes but not crazy.

We don’t shoot our Visionaries do we?
The role of Trickster as Cultural Therapist

Some what grimly Ian Syson reflected, “Maybe there is also something in the Australian make-up that works against fiction. We don’t reward dreamers and visionaries, but practical people. At its best, this is manifest in the position that people like Fred Hollows and Weary Dunlop hold in the national psyche. But, at its worst, it ends up being the moral and intellectual vacuum inculcated by people like John Howard and Alan Jones. Mordue (2002)

So many of our social and political problems stem from the loss or absence of a living and sustaining religious vision (Tacey 1995)

As a child growing up in Perth I inevitably heard the story of C.Y.O’Connor. In some ways it sounded like an ancient Greek tragedy except it was acted out in familiar landscape.
As I heard the last act in the story I know wonder if it came loaded with a sort of cultural warning. As it goes O’Connor despite skepticism and ridicule built a pipeline from Perth to o Kalgoorlie. It is still one of the longest in the world. The dream was to pump drinking water over 500kms t o the dry and dusty goldfields. The pipeline was built an opening ceremony occurred, the taps were opened but no water! The dream had seemed to fail. His mockers were proven right. In a moment of despair he shot himself. Days later the water arrived and has continued to arrive for 100 years.

To some degree O’Connor was a visionary. He was a visionary in the way he tackled a very practical problem. In other countries they sometimes shoot visionaries, Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Benigno Aquino, Itzak Rabin.
In our country I am beginning to wonder if we do something worse. A sort of public shaming that in his case lead to literal death.
I also cautiously believe Tacey(1995) is right in the quote above, yet to arrive at a sustaining religious vision requires deep sensitivity, a wide imagination and a compelling sense of purpose. It’s been my experience that it’s these qualities that our culture doesn’t know how to support in contemporary Australia. And there is a paradox asked for in the personality of the visionary. In one sense if they are sensitive they must have at best fluid ego boundaries to be receptive to the movements of the spirit and yet to articulate publicly in the face of criticism requires strong ego boundaries. My guess is that to be something like a visionary is to be prepared to almost publicly place one’s head on the chopping block. Not the most inviting prospect.
Before I continue its worth noting that there be a taxonomy of visionaries that includes pragmatic at one end, the social in the middle and spiritual/religious at the other end. My focus is on the far end where the religious/spiritual speaks back to the social and practical. I am less concerned about what qualifies one as a visionary as to making space for a diversity of visions beyond the narrow confines of economic rationalism

The Macquarie dictionary provides a number of definitions of the visionary none very flattering: characterized by radical often unpractical ideas…purely ideal or speculative: unpractical, given to novel ideas or schemes which are
not immediately practicable: an unpractical theorist or enthusiast.
Note the repeated use of the word unpractical! I cannot help but think some sore point of the psyche, a potential cultural complex is hiding behind that word.
Peter Carey with a novelist’s nose has sniffed along the same trail, or is a boulevard of unlived dreams.
Practical. It is the word they use in Sydney when they wish to do something damaging to the spirit…It is a word dull men use when they wish to hide the poverty of their imagination. (In tacey 65)
I would add that it’s certainly not confined to Sydney alone.

On the one hand my personal interest is more around how to move beyond the poverty of imagination then to speculate endlessly about how it has come into being. Then on the other hand a working hypothesis of how things have occurred does contribute to moving forward.
To say it differently, I want add my contribution to those who are wanting to move towards a different sort of Australia. Part of this process may be to lament for the past but always in the context of movement towards change in the future.

Personal Reflection
In writing of his work with Psychotic Adolescents Jungian Analyst John Weir Perry comments, These individuals impressed me as being souls so sensitive to the climate of the times that they were overwhelmed by the magnitude of the collective plight (Perry 1987).
It’s not the place to speculate how I arrived at my own idiosyncratic sensitivity but to say that because of this sensitivity I spent many years of my adolescence intuitively feeling that I was very close to being overwhelmed by a madness that I feared I would not reemerge from. It seemed to come and go over the years and never really left until it was entered more or less consciously (I speak about this later in essay) only in recent years.
I can recall at one point almost rationally weighing up the possibility of taking a massive dose of LSD to push myself into the inner world and never return. A form of psychotic suicide.
Later as I explored Eastern Mysticism the temptation was to completely withdraw from the world into a constant meditative state. This was in essence the same move yet with the justification that I would be benefiting the larger world. Needless to say these desires reveal a very powerful pull inwards by the unconscious in response to a sense of being overwhelmed with the complexities of the world. At times I felt like I had no filter t o provide a sort of buffer to the outside world. Less obvious was a very real desire to make a difference and the beginnings of a profound sense of spiritual calling and responsibility to the larger world.
In reflection I am incredibly thankful for having very solid, down to earth parents who provided a stable home life. Added to this was a passion for surfing that kept me connected to the natural world. At around eighteen years of age I made a commitment to Christianity that provided a container and gave me a focus and purpose for over a decade.
I sometimes cringe to think what may have come of me if I had entered the Psychiatric system at such an impressionable age. The odds are overwhelmingly against the possibility of meeting John Weir Perry who could have guided me through. I cannot help but wonder about how many other nascent visionaries, thinkers, artists have had there creativity still born in the name of therapy?

When embarking upon a discussion of visionary experience, I find myself mindful of the rather lowly place to which our culture has relegated it. (Perry 1987 p21)
The quote by Perry whilst it could be generalized to the Western world does emerge out of America a nation that does seem to acknowledge the role of visionaries in its history.
If the Western world and even America has relegated the visionary experience to a lowly place I cannot help but wonder if in Australia it has never been anywhere else. I would be hard pressed to even call any usage of the word before I came in contact with Christian–church culture in my late teens. In this context it is mostly used to denote someone who has an evangelistic desire rather then the more social political role of what the Old Testament would call a prophet.
Despite internal resistance to the notion I had a strong intuition as a teenager that my calling was more in the prophetic vein then the evangelistic. The irony of this is that I had found myself in what could be one of the few cultural refuges for the visionary instinct only to find even here it was relegated to the margins.
My sense that the tension of holding onto a spiritual worldview in a secular environment put reigns or limits on that worldview. Or in other words the secular rationalism and its tendency towards unimaginative practicality had seeped into the Christianity that I had contact with.
Nonetheless the role of the visionary, however circumscribed, was acknowledged and this was a start. It provided a sort of vicarious nurturing of something I was unable to articulate.
It would be 12 years before the constricting elements of the Christian culture would be come too confining and I experienced a loss of faith.
In retrospect I wonder if I had experienced a loss of worldview, that the story I was contained within was too confining, I had to get out or a part of me would be forever silenced. Now I am thankful that the Christian community provided a context in which to grow.

Possible explanations
David Tacey's writing in the Edge of the Sacred and Reenachntment: The new Australian Spirituality are important Jungian understanding of the Australian Psyche. There is much in them that I am in agreement with, but also some emphasis that I want to amplify in this essay.
He writes how we still like t o see ourselves as a secular nation despite a groundswell of interest in the spirit. He states that, When any visionary artist or profound thinker sees through this surface persona, armies of rationalists, bureaucrats and petty thinkers rush to shore up public defences against the holy. (Tacey 2000)
He goes on to ask and then answer an important question, Where does this taboo against the sacred come from and what fuels it?
Further he gives some important possible reasons such as, modernity’s fear of the sacred, as well as secularization, the masculine protest against greater forces, and the youthful or adolescent passion for independence and self-control (Tacey 2000).
These points provide an important framework that I want to briefly explore and build upon.
Firstly in my reading of Tacey it is like at some moments he is reacting defensively against the Australian national character, especially male character. Then at other times it’s as if his defensiveness is dropped and he can see hope and possibility in trends within our national character.
I too can sense this ambivalence in myself. As if one part wants to put down my culture for not understanding me, and yet another part has empathy and can still see possibility.
When I can stay in my centre or for want of better words my higher self (or is the angel of the nation intervening?) then sometimes I can sense the pain and fear that drives rationalism and petty minded beaucratism. My sense is that Australian national character is so sensitive to criticism (as I too can be) that anything smelling of disapproval will be met be angry cynicism.
This can at times lead to a sort of self fulfilling prophecy in which the spiritual person who after suffering rejection by the rationalist, retreats justifying to themselves that Australia fears the sacred. On the other side the Rationalists can snicker amongst themselves partly justified in their belief that spirituality is all hot air and can’t cut it in the “real world” of hard knocks. Spirituality and its associated vision of the world can then be read as a sign of weakness and delusional thinking.
Of cause this is a caricature of a complex cultural process, yet there is some truth in it. I have seen a form of this process happen externally and I have witnessed it internally in the process of my own therapy.
Whilst there does seem to be some loosening up of the culture in regards to spirituality I think it is too early to proclaim victory. From where I stand there are just as many signs pointing to spirituality being unimaginative, rigid and conservative as there are pointing to it being a revolution (Tacey 2003).
There is always the ever present danger of taking on the symbols of spirit without its disturbing and transforming power.
Or in light of the current argument, the notion of a energizing and catalyzing vision for the future sounds attractive but the idea of having ones psyche profoundly rearranged in order to receive the vision is far less attractive!

To return to Tacey's argument, on the other hand it seems universal that there is always those who reject the authentic manifestation of the sacred when it appears in a new form.
The question I have is whether or not it’s the sacred that is taboo or how it’s been and is still being presented. Could it be that those of us who have attempted to present the sacred are stuck in out-moded language and forms of expression?

From the Individual to the collective psyche
Then on a slightly different angle when I read the statement of Tacey's again I cannot help but hear similarities to the traumatized psyche and the defense mechanism of dissociation. He actually calls them public defences but then takes the potentiality in this explanation in a different direction.
Its worth noting that he glides over the complexities and dangers of using terms invented to describe individuals and transplanting them to cultural dynamics. Not that this should not be done, and I will be doing something similar but I think care must be taken and awareness kept of what one is doing. The Post-Jungian Andrew Samuels (1993) has been especially thoughtful and cautious in this regard and his critique is includes, any…psychology deriving at whatever remove from the individual, were it be employed in political and cultural analysis.
So aware of the conceptual problems involved I want to develop the idea of public defences.
In light of what Tacey says about the armies of rationalists, I want to introduce a contemporary Jungian take on defences that holds out possibility for understanding them in a new light.
Donald Kalsched (1996) describes one defense in particular: dissociation. This defense is used by those who have suffered acute trauma. He states that amongst other thing it involves, a good deal of aggression- apparently it involves an active attack by one part of the psyche on the other parts.
Whilst I am wary of one explanation that covers all phenomena to think of the Australian psyche as a traumatized psyche opens up different and a more compassionate way of reading it. In a similar fashion Craig San Roque (2001) has commented, psychoanalysis was formed out of the catastrophes of Europe. Psychoanalysis in Australia may need to be reoriented in the light of its own peculiar catastrophe
To return to Kalsched, I want to speculate that their may be three levels of aggressive attacking that results from the dissociation of trauma. The intrapsychic level that Kalsched is speaking of. The interpersonal level that can happen between therapist and patient or indeed anyone in an emotionally loaded relationship. This level too is given considerable attention in contemporary Psychoanalysis. Then perhaps at a cultural level that shows up when someone like Tacey's, visionary artist or profound thinker, inadvertently sets off the public or cultural defenses.
Unfortunately artists or thinkers are not trained as therapists and there is indeed an entirely different dimension at work when a culture attacks compared to an individual client.
Perhaps there is no way around this but I am at least interested in exploring the possibility of gaining an awareness of the dynamics at work. If this does nothing more then prevents naïve attempts at cultural change.
Or in a different way cultural change is always interconnected with interpersonal and intra psychic change. If any of the levels are ignored then overall change is incomplete.
As I think about it seems through no fault of their own our visionary artists or profound thinkers, have not had the knowledge, skills, or support mechanisms to facilitate the changes that they have begun. And how could they? To facilitate deep lasting change in individuals requires unique gifts and long training. The depth psychological approach to facilitating large groups, let alone cultures is still piecemeal and embryonic.
So with this in mind it seems that when the inevitable attacking happens it’s easy to counterattack with the standard cliches about cultural cringe, tall poppies and to idealize how other cultures deal with their artists and thinkers.
It is like the change agent has an entire well defended cultural mythology that they can withdraw too but this inevitably keeps both side polarized and stuck.
If I can dare to say it it’s like our culture or a significant number of influential people in it have not experienced a Coinunctio. If there can indeed be such a phenomena as a cultural coinunctio it still awaits us in the future.
Kalsched in a discussion of certain individuals in analysis notes that, after an initial period of growth and improvement, reached a kind of plateau where they seemed to stagnate in therapy and, instead of getting better as a result of treatment, seemed instead to get stuck in a “repetition compulsion” of earlier behaviors, which left them feeling defeated and hopeless (Kalsched 1993).
He could very easily be describing Australia. So despite our nation moving up towards the edge of the sacred (Tacey) it seems that many of us because of powerful intrapsyhic defences keep returning to the regressive bubble of redneck mediocrity and conservatism.

To deepen Kalsched’s argument, what he in effect says, is that for individuals who have suffered severe trauma something like an auto immune system of the psyche sets in. The core of the self the, personal spirit goes, or is put into hiding and another part of the self takes on a role of protect at all costs. He calls this primitive protector figure daimonic as it the daimon, appears to personify the psyches dissociative defenses in those case where early traumas has made psychic integration impossible (Kalsched 1993)

I would argue that in our culture the daimonic self care system is personified by what Tacey calls the armies of rationalists, bureaucrats and petty thinkers. That in effect they are unconsciously defending and protecting a part of our cultural psyche from more trauma. If they can be seen as playing a necessary, even if at times destructive role, in the national psyche can there is more chance of depotentiating them.

In April this year I had a dream the night before a planned meeting with Craig San Roque at Byron Bay. The aim of the meeting was to thrash out some of what was a long debilitating depression and loss of direction. A sort of informal therapy session.
The dream is a key one. It was short and simple and provided a relatively unambiguous image.
I am seeing only my nose reflected in a mirror. I experience surprise as I notice lots of red veins that I recognize as a sign of alcoholism. Then as I looked again I notice that in place of the veins are names. In tiny fine black print various names are printed all over it. There was Jesus, St Francis, Martin Luther King, Gandhi and even Hitler. There may have been others that I don’t recall. The dream finishes.
This is not a surprising list, I even have all these names, bar Hitler, written down as a sort of list of inner mentors. They provide inspiration and they are all visionaries. In discussion with Craig it was agreed that I was being given something like an ultimatum, that I had a choice of two paths. One would potentially lead to alcoholism and the other would mean being true to myself in the way that those men (Hitler withstanding?) were true to themselves. Or in other words a choice between the spirit in the bottle or the divine spirit. Craig identified a messianic energy/spirit that is at work in my psyche that when is ignored tends to debilitate the ego.

Psyche in History/ History in Psyche

The notion of Henri Corbins, that, history is in us, not we in history. And Jung’s notion of, not the psyche in us, but we in the psyche (Hillman 1986) when put together to provide a rationale that is both helpful and yet profoundly disturbing.
Maybe I have read it wrongly but it sounds like if I find a CYO Connor figure emerging within me, a visionary, then I can also expect his nemesis, the mocking crowd who will want to denigrate at all costs. Then the odds are that the visionary within me will expect this and perhaps even knows that tragedy is the only outcome. That killing itself either literally or metaphorically is part of the pathway already laid down. Not only will this happen out there in the social reality but also “inside” or intra psychically. That the two are inextricably intertwined.
Even as I write this I am aware of a sense of dread that has accompanied me at times over the past two decades. As if, at certain moment’s, a part of me would have a glimpse into the inevitable future.
Now I have another thought, not that I am to be a literal visionary at some point in the future but my role is to facilitate or nurture the visionary in others. There is a subtle difference and maybe I am avoiding my calling…maybe not.
Whilst the fiery, desert wandering, ascetic approach of John the Baptist doesn’t excite me the fact that he clearly knew his role and never overstepped it does. He was clear that he wasn’t the Messiah and was happy to only prepare the way. To not be the literal visionary but to open up space for the others. Maybe in Australia we isolated visionary model will never work and it’s more about facilitating what’s emerging from the ground up. Is this closer to the indigenous approach?. To return to John the Baptist and his being beheaded could speak to the fact that history indeed repeats itself. We can be thankful for the irony in that as literal minded as Australians can be, the expression, lopping the heads off tall poppies remains metaphorical.
In some ways the recent spate of beheadings in Iraq should not come as a shock. This is our history as well. As no doubt Hillman would say we are still in it. My point is that we should not be so quick to point the finger and make accusations of brutality. Or perhaps this is the inevitable out come when one side believes it has the truth to deliver.
Then again it could speak to the need for some other role to intervene. Or, perhaps in simpler terms every system and the humans in that system have a tendency towards conservatism and rejection of change. That those of us who want to be change agents need to understand this is within us as well. Unless we firstly can approach change differently then we should not be surprised by the counter reactions we get.
I want to return to this point later but first I want to explore the nature of the visionary.

Visionary or Mythical thinking
Thus the sorcerer, the visionary, is always the thinker of the tribe, who brings about the manifestation of the spirits or gods. (Jung 1976)
Jung captures an essential aspect of the visionary personality and there social role in that firstly they are thinkers. But not abstract intellectuals but more like alchemists of the mind in which, thought is visionary and audible and also has the character of revelation (Jung 1976). Or in other words they sound like, they are, in there own way practicing a form of active imagination in which what we might call “thoughts” are experienced as personified and imbedded in narratives and myths.
As Jung (1976) continues to say this, surprises us only because we have largely succeeded in de-sensualising the psychic image; we have learnt to think abstractly.
No doubt there would be some who might argue that in Australia there are many in the general population who have not even learnt to think, let alone think abstractly! A rise in the educated populace does not always equate with thinking. Nonetheless we are still in the flow of a long European evolutionary process. The rationalist Australian dismissal of visionary thinking is the end result of this long historical process.
In his discussion of Isaac Newton and his mechanistic philosophy Morris Berman (1981) states that, With the acceptance of the Newtonian world view, it might be argued, Europe went collectively out of its mind.
Isaac Newton died less that 50 years before Australia was “discovered”. This strange European madness sailed with the convicts and made itself at home here. With no tradition of white indigenous spirituality or even an intellectual heritage to offer any counteracting force this madness has bloomed.
We may mock the United States and its religious fundamentalism but perhaps at least there is some context for the visionary. The visionary has a place in the culture. The current war against terrorism may be blatantly wrong in many ways but it is undoubdably an American vision that the rest of the world has lined up for or against. America debates its place in the world whilst Australia worries about interest rates.
To return to Jung’s definition of the visionary thinker, he goes onto specify the outcome of this sort of thinking. It is not practical solutions to problems though that may happen but firstly the manifestation of the spirits or gods.
Here we can sense our distance from this entire worldview. If on a scale the of the visionary we have the practical visionary down one end and the spiritual visionary at the other, our culutre barely even gets to first base.

What this phrase the manifestation of the spirits and gods means is for me of utmost importance. To take it literally would mean becoming a literal sorcerer or shaman but if held in a metaphorical sense its meaning is far more accessible.
Jung (1983) gives a clue when talking of the gods he states; Today they are called phobias, obsessions, and so forth: in a word neurotic symptoms.
What I take this to mean is that the gods or spirits that the sorcerer manifests are not so much the neurotic symptoms but what produces the symptoms. Our lack of wisdom and knowledge in dealing with the ways of the unconscious especially the stripping of a sense of reality from dream imagery hinders us in understanding this.
When Jung(1983) then continues in his oft- quoted phrase to say, The gods have become diseases…,I cannot help but wonder if he is using a figure of speech for emphasis and that it should read ,The gods have always manifested in dis-ease yet now we don’t recognize them as such. Or in other words we don’t recognize the connection between the persons, places, and events in our dreams, fantasies, odd thoughts/feelings and our daily ailments (both physical and psychological). Or to say it again, that humans have always lived in an ecological web of relationships in the world. To speak of the gods is still perhaps the best way to imaginatively describe that relationship although some forms of physics and new science are vying for that place.
The role of the visionary thinker in the tribe was to make manifest the sources of dis-ease and this was done through a variety of means but in essence a common thread is the enacting the personified thinking process in the form of ritual, ceremony, etc. That discerning the source of disease could mean entering into a process of active imagination, a reflection on images with images.
It is in the Old Testament that we see this function performed on the widest scale especially in this classic passage from the Book of Jeremiah,
See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms,
To pluck up and to break down,
To destroy and overthrow,
To build and to plant. (Jeremiah 1: 10)
It is possible to read this passage as a visionary template. It involves the prophet in two main functions that could be termed deconstructive and reconstructive. Or in alchemical terms solve et coagula, dissolve and coagulate, or again in Jungian terms analyze and synthesize. It could be argued that he is working with kingdoms and nations like a therapist might work with parts of a personality.
In my imagination he might say to me, yes there are aspects of contemporary Australian culture that deny the sacred and they need to be plucked up and broken down, destroyed and overthrown. But maybe you need eyes to see where the building and planting is already going on. Or to extend the metaphor if you are to be a builder and planter pay attention the foundations and the soil and the rest will come easily.
Then again it’s a reminder that no nation is in isolation. Just as our individuation happens in a social context so does the individuation of a nation. I want to return to this aspect later. But also this passage is a haunting reminder that success is not inevitable even if “God” is on your side!

Other Voices
In 2002 for want of better words I had a visionary experience. It was during a ten day training workshop in Worldwork led by Max Schupback. WorldWork as it is know is a form of large group conflict resolution that has emerged out of Process Oriented Psychology (P.O.P). POP has its roots in Jungian Psychology as well as Physics and Taoism.
It needs to be said that I had previously been exposed to POP over two years through my supervior. She had also facilitated a number of staff conflict resolution processes over time. It was in those smaller groups that I had noticed an ongoing tendency to step into a certain role in the group. Time and time again I found myself articulating what was in the air. Some times it was the gossip that almost everyone knew but would not say directly. Other times it was what was felt but not spoken of, sort of Unthought known. In Jungian terms it could be said that I was picking up the group shadow. In Pop terms I was stepping into the ghost role. Mindell (1995) states that, A ghost role in a group is something we feel but cannot see.
As this experience occurred again and again I found that I could trust it more and even relax into it.
Nonetheless the shift from work groups of up to 20 people whom I had a relative sense of what to expect to a group of 70 strangers whom were unpredictable was almost overwhelming.
After 7 days of intense group process I had the sense of beginning to come apart at the psychological seams.
At day 8 I woke to a fleeting thought that said “today’s a good day to die”. Thankfully not literally.
In short the group process focused around the experience of migrants and the pain they had gone through. A small group within the larger group gathered together and proceeded to weep and wail. After some time another subgroup formed which was attempting to give voice to the pain of the earth. This smaller group too was weeping and wailing. In retrospect I can see how the sub-plot was almost a competition between whose pain was more valid.
The details are now unclear but the facilitator took sides with the migrant group for reasons I am not entirely clear about.
In a quiet moment I spoke about my fear of “wailing” and a sense of being “torn in two”. A pull towards expression of personal grief for my own and others pain and an equally strong sense of the pain experienced by the earth. I was doing the best I could to avoid this conflict as I had a fear that to go into it would mean descending into“madness”. In retrospect I feel that I have carried that fear of madness at least consciously since I was in my teens.
A member of the group asked in a tone of curiosity about the “madness”. This was the trigger and I recall feeling an overwhelming movement of energy rising up inside. The energy literally knocked me over and I came to consciousness in a comatose state. I was on the ground my hands curled up on my chest; my legs drawn up, in a death like pose supported by others. Completely unable to communicate in any way. Yet I felt ecstasy. It was like one part of me had departed and was a thousand miles away whilst the other part of me was fully cognizant of being in the room, in my body. Slowly during the first hour I regained subtle movement and eventually my voice. During the third and fourth hours of the state I experienced one distinct visual “vision” and a second (for want of better words) kinesthetic of bodily vision.
I want to recount the second only.
At the time the larger group process had finished and the participants had all but a few left the hall to return later that night. I became aware of an almost hypersensitivity to sound and especially the voices of two people talking in the hall. The voices sounded harsh and intensely irritating. I had to ask through my dogged supporters that they move away. Over time I had felt that the part of that had left as slowly returning to my body. Now I had the sense that my consciousness could move outside me with ease. Outside I heard the wind fill a tree and simultaneously my consciousness was in the tree as the wind filled it. I as is the way with such ecstatic experiences words cannot do it justice. The least I can say is that it was absolutely exhilarating.
What struck me afterwards was the contrast between the human voices and the voice of the tree, the sounds of the leaves filling with the wind. I reflected on how easy it is to stay confined in ones head or a small part of it engaged in endless chatter whilst the world is literally speaking with the tongues of angels literally right next door.
There is much I have drawn from and continue to draw from the experience but most of all there is a sense of telos, a sense of purpose that I struggle with to this day. At its most basic is the sense of what does one do with this knowledge? How I can I make difference now that I know this? How can I open space for others to experience this? How does my life have to change in accord with this?

We must try for a new dreaming, a new cosmology, and a new pact with the invisible forces that move through and beyond us. Australian society needs something more than common sense and rational economic goals to make it work. (Tacey2000)

When I read of Shamanism or other practices they are fascinating yet archaic. Unlike some I don’t believe we can simply go back and literally replicate them. But I do agree that implicit in them is a critique of the Western culture and perhaps even hints at healing our dis-ease. Visionary though he was even Jung was a product of his time and culture and this set limits to his vision.
Perhaps the greatest stumbling block towards grasping the nature of the visionary experience is our insidiously individualistic worldview. Even for therapists of a Jungian orientation it is difficult to imagine outside the therapeutic dyad. One person thinking for another. Yet the shaman or visionary thinker that Jung refers to is always working with the larger ecology.
This distinction is spoken of by Wolfgang Giegrich (Brien 1996), in reference to individuals who have performed the shamanic task of providing inspiration and vision…they did their dreaming, thinking, and creating not as singular individuals, but as the soul of the tribe, as “the whole”, as “universal”.
Added to this the assumption that unlike most therapeutic practice the manifesting of the spirits was done in a communal or large group setting.
During my own visionary episode reported above I had a very strong sense that my experience was not just my own arising out of my history and for my personal healing. It was that and more. It continues to resonate as an experience that has to be passed on in some form or the other.
Mindell(1993) reflects on how, Shamanism is meaningful for me because it illuminates not only personal experience, but also a cultural path toward a future, more sustainable world than our present one. I too agree that shamanism offers a different worldview that we can explore without taking on its literal practices.
In summary what has emerged are a number of places where the bridge between the tribal and the contemporary has been almost severed.
Australia stands at perhaps the furthest place away from having a link to these practices.
For one the ability to think sensuously through the medium of the imagination whilst it has not been lost is certainly not the norm. Those in the healing professions, whose lineage, however tenuous, is the visionary thinker are trained solidly in the social sciences which has little space for the imagination. I am thankful for my own background in theology, literature, the visual arts, and of course Jung. In a sense this was in preparation and made the visionary experience easier to integrate.
Then to have context/s in which to present the results of this thinking to the “tribe” are not as self evident, though they do occur. The setting of the Worldwork forum as a large group, a sort of extended community committed to working deeply no doubt gave a receptive context and container for my experience. In its way it came close to descriptions of indigenous ceremonies and there function as described by San Roque(2001), The ceremonies are, possibly, where Bion’s alpha function operates and collective psychological work is done. The essence of the psychological work has to do with reaffirming a special kind of connectiveness.
Then there is the problem of translation. As Jung has said “Eternal truth needs a human language that alters with the spirit of the times(??). Its one thing to think for the soul of the tribe in a visionary manner it’s another thing to then present it in a way that will be understandable.

Where to from here?
It would be quite justifiable to read our current situation with despair. To retreat to a cult like ghetto of like minds and lament about the state of the nation. Or to adopt a cant beat em join em mentality.
So to say it differently if a visionary is someone who imagines a culture being a certain way that it is not now then how do we help the culture move? How does the vision become reality? We can tell new stories about ourselves but that may be a denial of our shadow our blind spots. Denigration is like a defense mechanism against something we don’t want to experience. Like Kalsheds sort of internalized daimonic figure- a dark aspect of the self or a protective device against re-experiencing trauma.
For some reason some part doesn’t want to move. There may be a time where confrontation is necessary but first comes empathy and compassion. Then the direction of the vision may not fit, it may not have been understood, the language may not be in resonance with the dreaming. It may not be the direction the myth is moving in.
Surely the visionary must be partly a lover who woos and calls softly to the beloved his/her group, culture or nation. Surely the task of the visionary is to prepare the way and to remove as many of the obstacles as possible.
One assumption I will hold is that culture is rooted in the dreaming and the dreaming is connected to the whole ecology. Is it possible that to listen to the land is to sense where the dreaming of the culture is moving? Is wholeness to be open to and in relationship with the wider culture/ecology, the land, birds, and rocks not only in our dreams but our bodies? Is there alchemy between the individual dreaming and the collective dreaming?
I want to return to Kalsched (1996) who articulates the issue, albeit in a individual context, of what is it at stake, Mythology and all the great religions of the world are preoccupied with one essential question-the question of relationship between the human and divine and how it is maintained in the face of human suffering. How and through what agencies is a connection maintained between the transcendent world, with its life giving energies, and the mundane temporal world bound by time, space, history and routine.
This is the key issue, how can this culture have access to the transcendent world, with its life giving energies? Or as Jung might say in various ways how can the culture have access to the archetypal of to the numinous in ways that are healthy? Or to return t o it, how can the Gods and Spirits be manifest apart from becoming destructive dis-ease? Can this process be facilitated or moved along apart from in individual consulting rooms?
As I approach these questions I am aware of the voices within me that are wary of mere speculation yet at the same time I know that reality begins in the imagination. Unless I can dream of potential futures first then there is no possibility of them emerging in reality.

Angels of the Nation
All through this essay I have been coming up against the issue of the national psyche. Whilst technically the word psyche is not limited to individuals in our culture its usage is most likely individualistic. This has problems when thinkers especially those of a psychoanalytic bent (including Jungian) extend there thinking to larger groups and cultures yet still use individualistic tools. Jungians have made moves with the notion of the cultural complex, the collective and psychoid unconscious. Hillman’s usage of the Gods is particularly insightful and can be applied to groups and cultures though not in a simplistic manner, without its problems.
What is becoming evident is that ancient cultures had a variety of names for the more then human forces or powers that have such a profound effect on human existence. It is not the names that are important but the experiences they attempt to describe. As I am writing I am realizing that I am in a sense I am trying to kill two birds with the one stone. To make space for the visionary in our culture is t o also carve out an intellectual context for the visionary to function. Perhaps part of the denigration of the visionary in our culture is that we just haven’t had the intellectual scaffolding to appreciate, to understand or even make sense of this ability. So when it appears it looks like something bizarre, magical or occult and draws more defenses then necessary. If like cures like then perhaps the New Physics has offered us a gift in being able t o give a rational explanation for what can easily be dismissed. My only argument with Hillman is that he at times moves too quickly, and takes the imaginative leap and leaves the less imaginative behind. Whilst I love and value his use of Greek Mythology I wonder if it needs to bridge to Christianity more in our culture. The personal irony is that as I distance myself further from Christianity I can see its metaphoric value more deeply. The Australian Psyche still has a reservoir of Christian metaphors to draw upon.
All that said I want to now turn to the notion of the Angels of the Nations. The term could also be the Gods.
In W. Winks (1996) book Unmasking the Powers he introduced the ancient notion of the the Angels of the Nations. Before I describe how he understands the term I must say that I have a fondness for the term that is not entirely rational. When I first encountered it nearly 15 years ago it fitted and despite my moving away from Christianity in general I find specific terms within it are immensely useful.
It does at least two things for me. It gives me a link to a long history of thinking about large groupings. Secondly it provides an imaginative construct to personify and in a sense approach a culture therapeutically. Or if the notion of therapy with
ones own culture is too idealistic this notion at least enables on to stand back and not be so caught in ones culture. If nothing else this process is surely an aid to my own individuation and contributes to being a more active citizen.
Firstly Wink (1986) he speaks of them as, representing the actual inner spirituality and actual possibilities of actual entities. The entities are various social grouping from small to large.
He then goes on within a Christian framework to define the value of this notion, I will argue…that the gods or angels of the nations have a discernible personality and vocation; that they too, though fallen, pernicious, insatiable, are a part of the redemptive plan of God; and that our role in this redemptive activity is to acknowledge their existence, love them as creatures of god, unmask their idolatries, and stir up in them their heavenly vocation (Wink 1986).
I do not agree with his Christian take on this to appreciate that he is onto something important. What I take from this is that the angel has a discernible personality and vocation or telos, and that this can be addressed, unfolded and confronted.
In this sense David Tacey’s work can be read as discerning the angel from a Jungian perspective but he is not he only one and in the strange times like this my guess is we will see even more attempts occurring.
Don Watson (2001) does an admirable job from a different perspective and offers this about the angel’s possible telos, An Australia whose guiding principle was possibility, and that valued intelligence and skill more than what it has in recent years, might revive the sentiment uttered a century ago – that, with America, it was the hope of humankind.
My sense is that he is grappling with similar notions intuitively from a more secular bent as in this reflection, The language of national leadership, like the concept of the nation itself, asks us to make a huge empirical leap. It asks us to set aside everything we have learned from birth, including every prejudice; everything we know to be true about human nature and the nature of societies; all that is obvious about social and political boundaries; and speak as if words can defy history, culture and reason and persuade us that we are –to coin a phrase-one nation (Watson 2002).
Or maybe we can believe we are one nation because the Angel or the God or the Spirit speaks to us or through those in leadership, even if only occasionally. My issue is that Wink is only articulating and naming an experience that occurs. The point is not to agree or disagree with his terminology but to ask how this can help the task I/we are called to. My guess is that the notion of the angel gives a sense of trust that one can speak out of something that is more then just the personal. That in naming it the angel of the nation it almost sharpened ones perception and discernment.
In an earlier essay I spoke of how I was in the process of learning t o discern or metaphorically digest the spirits as it was a physical alchemical process. The spirit or god or angel can come in many forms, including this one. I think the issue is to not become too literal and remain theoretically open to the phenomenon. That the spirits can be individual or collective. The key issue is to be fluid in dialogue and to be able to play with differing viewpoints. To bring all of whom I am and that I know to the process of understanding what may be required of me.
Already I am beginning to slip into articulating the role of the fluid one, the trickster.
On the other hand I like many other can see a great possibility for the future and that trickster.

Trickster as Cultural Therapist.
So far I have only spoken of two archetypal roles, for want of better words the visionary and the rationalist. In Hillman’s terms these could be personified as the Peur and the Senex.
But of cause after Jung and with Hillman’s insistence of the Polytheistic psyche, there has to be more roles at play then just two. My sense is that the Collective Psyche has such a powerful tendency to split in Australia that what ever other roles are present get dragged into oppositionalism very quickly.
Nonetheless I want to introduce only one more role whilst acknowledging that this is a thoroughly incomplete picture. The trickster is especially important as this role has the potential to open doors between the Visionary and the rationalist parts of our cultural psyche. First I want to focus on leadership and this curious comment by John Carroll recently, This country in refusing the great leader archetype-from Moses to Abraham Lincoln-invited the people themselves to preside. John Carroll(weekend Australian )
Carroll sounds like this was a self conscious decision to reject the great leader archetype when perhaps it was just an accident. After all Moses and Lincoln were facing extraordinary circumstances and perhaps our circumstances just haven’t been extraordinary enough. Not that our people haven’t survived the extraordinary but for the most it’s happened overseas. Gallipoli, Kokoda and perhaps more recently Bali.
What this says to me is for the potential visionary in our culture must consciously avoid looking like a great leader, that other patterns are necessary. That to lament the lack of obvious visionaries and our treatment of them is in itself staying with in the pattern, the system we disagree with. Instead this pattern offers the possibility for creativity. The introduction of the visionary material will not follow pre–determined paths in Australia. Perhaps in some perverse what can be perceived as a defense or a block in cultural character can be what Mindell (1993) calls the Ally. The ally is a neglected collective spirit. It is the outlaw, the shadow of your whole community, that aspect of culture that will not abide by the present system.
I have no doubt that many people feel this neglected collective spirit and in some ways the culture personified by John Howard is a response t o it. The challenge is t o experience it and bring it into being. Mindell continues, Thus, the demon is everyone’s disorder, but also everyone’s potential future renewal. It acts out an important role in the world, a role typically missing in culture: it is the mad you, the perverted you, the ecstatic you, the rebel, the suffering and the wise you. (Mindell 1993 p119)
Whilst I don’t want to get niggly about terminology this sounds like it comes under the rubric of Trickster behavior. The trickster has a multi faceted role both within the psyche and culture. As Lewis Hyde states …trickster is a boundary crosser. Every group has its sense of in and out, and trickster is always there, at the gates of the city and the gates of life making sure there is commerce. And later, Trickster is the creative idiot, therefore, the wise fool, the gray haired baby, the cross dresser, the speaker of sacred profanities. For me the notion of the speaker of scared profanities resonates with something in the Australian culture. After all we seem to have a tendency to celebrate rogues, villains and criminals.


To assert one’s individuality and genius in Australia is, as Lawrence saw and knew, one of the cardinal sins of our society. The disadvantaged person is the talented individual. (Tacey1995 p48)

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, then to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much or suffer much, because they live in that grey twighlight that knows not victory nor defeat”
Theodore Roosevelt 1899

If divination counted as a sacred art in many cultures, and peoples lives intertwined with these practices in familiar ways, in Western culture today, most of us live without access to this visionary part of the psyche-unless we happen to have developed our own techniques for getting over the edge of ordinary consciousness”. (Italics mine)
Gablick: Living the magical life p 155.

After reading some of Freya Matthews I couldn’t help but wonder if the very notion “visionary’ itself needs revisioning in the context of Australian culture. Or in other words does our (possible) denigration of the visionary reveal something of the telos in our unique culture. If the land affects human culture, is the land somehow involved in this pull towards the practical? Am I too idealizing other cultures and longing for us to be like them when instead what is needed is to find ways to dream the myth onwards?

It is not that great deeds have not been done: it is that they do not amount to something articulate and powerful enough for the country to gather around (44 Watson)

To have a vision can in Hillman’s terms be a manifestation of Spirit. That big picture stuff. Is there something In the Australian psyche that has resisted that because of the lack of soul in it? Is this what we resisted in Keating and Whitlam? Do we need a national vision that “unites” us? A national vision that helps us to “rise up” out of our selfishness, depression and become great? As this just more disguised Christianity that I was thoroughly informed by for a decade of my life? Are there other, more soulful, pagan ways to think about this?
Not vision but imagination? Or purpose? /or collective challenge
In so many organizations vision statements are more to do with advertising then substance a presentation of persona or idealized image rather then substance. Would any sort of vision for the nation especially from a politician be read as more window dressing?

Today I wonder if visionary is really the wrong word. That such words trail with them certain connotations that are unnecessary. In my self I wonder if what I am seeking is only “life”. That what has been given to me as life is really what lifton calls psychic numbing. I have a desire t olive a deeper life. A more fulfilled and richer life then

The archaic dreaming soul, which is buried beneath the busyness of contemporary white rationality, is the missing ingredient necessary for Australia psychological health and cultural stability (Tacey 1995 p12)

There is in fact a considerable chasm between society and nature- a chasm that can be further conceptualized as a psychological gap between consciousness and the unconscious. (Tacey p 61)

If our consciousness is situated, metaphorically, below sea-level, and is therefore subject to flooding by the unconscious, then the nationalist character sets about erecting strong barricades and bulwarks, artificial defences to keep the unconscious at bay. (Tacey 1995 p 50)

If Australians remain unaware of their need to make a spiritual adjustment to the land, the place itself will act like a lead weight upon consciousness, drawing it into inertia, indifference, and inactivity. (Tacey 1995 p87)

In the two quotes above David tacey offers some suggestive allusions as to the causes gathered around our national inability to access the visionary capacity. In my own experience they tend to ring true. I am not suggesting they are true but more that he has offered what could be called “useful fictions”. Stories to make sense of the often bewildering experiences of life. I have noticed in myself and in some counseling clients this fear of being “flooded” of being overwhelmed by the madness.
As I write I am an aware of a conflict between part of me that carries a strong desire to understand the experience alongside another part that wants to communicate it or live out its implications. Lurking in the background is the fear of being laughed at or thought crazy, just another impractical dreamer. I want to build a bulwark of understanding to sort of defend myself from sounding stupid. How hard it is t o let myself not sound authoritative, to allow mystery to just be.

I am concerned that they don’t give a map out of the madness of defended rationality
From far off, from down long fern-dark avenues there seemed to be the voice of Australia, calling low…[He] knew [it] would go on calling for long ages before it got any adequate response, in human beings. (Lawrence in tacey)

Whenever persons are faced with new conditions for which the habitual outlook and responses are no longer adequate to provide meaningfulness and motivation, this deep level of the psyche is roused into activity and manifests itself in vivid dreams, fantasies, visions, or disturbances of varying degrees of severity. (Perry1987pviii)

Between the human and the non-human worlds
“…myth-making characteristically has not occurred In the placidity of contemplative states amid stable and quiet circumstances, but rather In the turmoil of crisis and cataclysm.(Perry 22) The problem with much of life in Australia as that it is possible to live without a sense of crisis or cataclysm. As Hillman talks of psychic numbing that abounds in peacetime. To me this creates a dilemma; how does one communicate the dire circumstances we are in, or get below the defenses with out sounding like a doomsday prophet, a Cassandra. To offer a way forward that mobilizes energy not add to defences layers of depression and powerlessness.
Profound change is sensed as hazardous to the continuity of the familiar, and hence to life itself, whether individual or collective. Cultures, as well as the individual, have alarm reactions designed to preserve the life of the organism.

Ways forward: Acts of last resort

Coda: Last hour Reflections
I have no doubt that he lot of a visionary, artist, or creative thinker is a difficult one in Australia. Then as I’ve written this essay I wonder if it’s so different to these in other cultures in other times. As I reflected on the Jeremiah passage especially it was sobering to think that his voice was not heard in a deeply religious culture. Or perhaps it was heard but that does not guarantee success. That nothing is guaranteed. That the task is to be faithful to ones calling first and that means letting go of any notions of success, of being heard or taken seriously. That it may feel especially difficult in Australia or maybe that is just the nature of the game. The sooner one accept it the better?


Brien, D.E. (1996) Today’s Magnum Opus of the Soul. The Round Table Review of Contemporary Contributions t o Jungian Psychology. January/February V.6, No3.

Berman, M (1981) The Reenchantment of the World. Bantam, New York.

Hillman, J. (1986) Notes on White Supremacy: Essaying an Archetypal Account of Historical Events. Spring A Journal of Archetype and Culture. Woodstock.

Hyde, L. (1998)Trickster Makes this World: Mischief, Myth and Art. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York.

Jung, C.J (1976) Psychological Types. Collected Works Volume 6, Princeton University Press, Princeton.
(1983) Alchemical Studies. Collected Works Volume 13, Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Kalsched, D. (1996) The Inner World of Trauma: Archetypal Defenses of the Personal Spirit. Routledge, London.

Mindell, A. (1993) The Shamans Body: A New Shamanism for Transforming Health, Relationships, and the Community. HarperSanFrancisco, New York.
(1995) Sitting in the Fire: Large group transformation using conflict and diversity. Lao Tse Press, Portland.

Mordue, M. (2000) Fictions Lost Plot. Sydney Morning Herald, January 25-26, Spectrum 5.

Perry, J.W. (1987) The Heart of History: Individuality in Evolution. State University of New York Press, Albany.

San Roque, C. (2001) Coming to Terms with the Country. In Formaini, H. (complied by) Landmarks: Papers by Jungian Analysts from Australia and New Zealand. Australian and New Zealand Society of Jungian Analysts, Manuka.

Samuels, A. (1993) The Political Psyche. Routledge, London.

Tacey, D.(1995) Edge of the Sacred: Transformation in Australia. Harper Collins, Melbourne.
(2000) ReEnchantment: The New Australian Spirituality. Harper Collins, Melbourne.
(2003) The Spirituality Revolution: The emergence of contemporary spirituality. Harper Collins, Melbourne.

Watson, D. (2001) Rabbit Syndrome: Australia and America. Quarterly Essay 4, Black Inc, Melbourne.
(2002) Recollections of a Bleeding Heart: A Portrait of Paul Keating PM. Vintage, Sydney.

Wink, W. (1986) Unmasking the Powers: The Invisible Forces that determine Human Existence. Fortress Press, Philadelphia.

fragmented raving continued

This is a piece I begun to write a few months ago. Its a bit awkward and disconnected...but its trying to hit a nerve in our culture. The split between the scientific and the romantic/meaning-full view of life. So much more to say, s o little time at the moment. And you will notice that i a mthinking out as I go.

This story began as a way of leading into a discussion and review of a book by Richard tarnas: Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a new worldview. It’s a truly magnificent, extraordinary book. Life changing and I am convinced potentially epoch changing. If you are a top-notch intellectual then make sure you read his Passion of the Western Mind first as it lays the ground work. If you do nothing else in the next year read bot h books. Don’t trust me have a scan of the reviews There I've said it. I wanted t o put my rather feeble influence behind it, t o champion it and I will do that but as I wrote and reflected on the experience I had at the recent writers festival it dawned on that another agenda was pushing its way to the surface. This is the gift of writing and reflection isn’t it. Writing is exploring the unknown. I wanted to write out my frustration with the academy, with hard-nosed scientists, narrowly focused psychologists, tail chasing postmodernists. Create a straw man, a few decent enemies t o aim my pen and now its dawned on me that path is not my path I want to create something new.

I sat in the capacity-filled lecture room at the Brisbane State library recently as? /spoke about the writing of her recent novel?? She told a poignant story of how life seemed to imitate art as one of her close friends found out she was dying in a similar fashion to the central character of the yet to be completed novel. Then with slightly curious, slightly mystified tone in her voice she told how one morning she woke early and broke all her writing habits by going to the computer to write. She emphasised that she “never writes in the morning”. And yet he she was not only writing in the morning, but also writing in an inspired fashion and the novel was completed in that sitting. That magical flow or momentary opening that many a writer craves had just happened. Later she found out that her friend had died that morning whilst she was writing. The two events then felt meaningfully connected, another friend commented that the novels ending was the now deceased women’s final “gift”. That in other words the death of her friend in some mysterious fashion opened a door in her heart and mind perhaps that allowed the inspiration to flow and finish the novel. It was a genuinely moving story.
Then as a is often the fashion when people are genuinely reflecting on there experience she articulated the great split that runs through post-modernity. To put simply between the poet and the scientist, the head and the heart, the Romantic and the Rationalist. It was like the voice of science and reason spoke as it speaks to all of us. How could the two events be connected? Impossible! She doubted that the two events could be connected then chose to follow the poet if you like. She was after a writer all and a creative one at that and Romanticism is in our blood.
By now my mind was beginning t o buzz and I listened intently to the rest of the session whilst a number of thoughts and feelings and questions bumped and rattled about in the back of my mind. Why did she have to choose to believe that the two events were meaningfully connected? In effect putting it in the realm of faith. Like believing something that you secretly know is not really true. True in a sober scientific way that is. It was like a holographic moment, a hot spot, in which the history of the western world and its philosophy, psychology, cosmology and its pain had been unconsciously squeezed together into a few sentences that would be lost. I felt like I was in some form of public psychotherapy with no therapist, leader or facilitator. Those couple of sentences that were meant as an aside to the real business, had profound emotional and intellectual reverberations and they continued to echo within me and no doubt others in the room and yet there was no therapist to facilitate its unfolding. My frustration must have been palpable as this is not the first time I have found myself in a situation like this.
Now this is where it dawned on me as I wrote, that my frustration my passionate almost fury is only partially about what I perceived as …In fact the frustration has left me and has been replace d by a sense of optimism. Frustration grows when we feel like we cannot contribute t o a closed system. It’s intensely frustrating if the world is rolling towards an ecological disaster and your own unique abilities cannot be creatively utilised. Now I can see an opening. But I am jumping ahead of myself. Let me finished the story.
The rest of the session was fascinating and the other writers spoke eloquently and I wanted to read all there books and then it was question time. Hands went up. I wanted to ask a question, I wanted to make a statement I wanted to listen. The session finished and we all filed out.

I stumbled upon her hours later in the cafe courtyard. She was with the other author and I was conscious of just barging into a conversation. I approached and asked if I could talk. I mentioned the story and how in my mind that’s what could be called a synchronicity and that as a therapist these strange, bewildering and deeply meaningful connections between disparate events are par for the course when someone faces death. She looked at me patiently like the way you might like look at Grandmotherly Jehovah’s Witness clutching The Watchtower at your front door. I try and smile and think of my own Mum, as I will gently repeat “Thanks but no thanks” and close the door, not slam it. I suspect that in some fashion I had arrived at the front door, the boundary line marking her worldview and like most of us she wasn’t going to let any strange fleeting thought cross that threshold. Especially when delivered by a strangely intense man at a Writers conference.

Then came the academic version of the curt no thanks. She smiled slightly and said “yes but I am sceptical”. Conversation over. I wanted to object, and argue, maybe provoke but no I knew the conversation was over and in retrospect how could I have thought other wise?
My guess is that opportunities like this for potentially transforming conversation and dialogue occur all the time yet they are lost for lack of containment. What do I mean by “lack of containment?
For want of better words I consider my self a therapist. The word therapei means to care for the Gods, the larger the n human.
Some one once said therapy is two people sitting in a room talking or two people talking whilst a crowd of people listen in. In that sense therapy can and does happen in a multitude of places outside the therapy rooms with professional therapists and it doesn’t happen as well. What makes a conversation between two people therapeutic or healing or transformative is when the conversation is deepened and if you like the Gods are allowed to show there faces. A therapist, metaphorically speaking, is the person who understands that the gods are like animals that need to be tracked. They don’t stand still, they are full of surprises. They appeared for me most clearly in the ad hoc story before the real business. Now what if there was a public therapist/ facilitator in the room who had a nose for this and who was prepared to follow the unknown when it presents itself. Seasoned therapists secretly jump for joy when the client arrives saying I don’t know what t o talk about today? Or I was going to talk about this but something strange happened on the way here. Remember Freud said what he called the unconscious appears in dreams, slips of the tongue, jokes and accidents. Jung would most emphatically add synchronicities and we could also add throwaway comments and stories.
Now I need to be clear I am not suggesting a sort of public spectacle ala Dr Phil (Dill) –like characters violating all standards of privacy to reveal secrets.
No, that s American culture. We need t o find a form a container in which our powerful, even disturbing public emotions, ideas, hopes and dreams can be cared for and deepened. Let me give some other examples.

Remember the ubiquitous poster in Scully and Moulders office in the X-files. It showed a UFO with the words underneath I WANT TO BELIEVE. My guess is that many of us want to beleive that the there is some greater meaning to our lives. That life has poetry and magic and meaning despite the fact that science would tell us otherwise. Yes the discourse of science is powerful says the Romantic postmodernist and yes it can be critiqued. Psychology and Psychiatry our healing arts of the sick mind are firmly rooted in science not religion.
Like many of my guess is that she had come t o some sort of uneasy truce, like placing your bets bit h ways. Going t o the Naturopath for minor health issues with the conventional doctor as the fallback position. Many of want to live a more spiritually harmonious, creative, and meaning filled life and we are also o aware that science in a way is the final arbiter or judge of our
Simultaneously for perhaps 40 or more years The Western world has been edging towards a new worldview, a new epistemology and new paradigm whilst we have edged closer t ecological catastrophe. The two are intimately interwoven. We can point he finger at the ecologically destructiveness of developing Counties yet any thoughtful observer know that its our worldview and its incarnate in consumerist capitalism….(to be continued)

Monday, December 15, 2008


Forgive the spelling mistakes, missed words etc. editing is not my forte...One day I will take my own medicine and slow down.

Astrology and the creative religious Explosion

Just a few short words about astrology on the run…Its something that like a lot of educated people I n the Western world took a lot of resistance to even contemplate looking into. What a load of crap is what I used to quietly think to myself when people would talk about being Geminis or Capricorns, Virgos or Pisces. Utter nonsense! Yes I have always been fascinated with the spiritual world and especially dreams, but the idea of planets out in space being connected to personality, well give me a break please!!!
It’s a long story and I intend to write an article about it, but in the past 6 months I have had something like a conversion experience. No other words convey the depth of the experience. It’s happened and now I have to reorientate my life around the experience.
I think the implications of astrology are huge and we are going to see the battle lines being drawn between hard line, hard headed rationalists who believe the universe is a empty meaningless void and those of us who have had the experience one way or the other that the universe is filled with an amazingly creative deeply meaningful and mysterious intelligence.
Cosmos and Psyche by Rick Tarnas is a big kick arse book for the total sceptic to swallow or just take a punt and get your natal chart read…I guarantee you will be in for a surprise.
The revolution is beginning and this time the whole planet, the whole cosmos is invited! I am committing myself to this revolution or the better term the Creative Religious Explosion. Australia’s going to be at the centre of it and if I have my way Brisbane will play a uniquely catalytic!! Rock n Roll!!
Stay tuned…there is lots more to say.


Mukeh Bright Power

Born 4/12/08
Welcome to the planet little man! You’re only three months early but no doubt that’s because you’re in a hurry to get your work done. You’re going to be a spiritual warrior no doubt with Mars sun mercury conjunct.